7 WAYS I AM SIMPLIFYING THINGS THIS WEEK wellness challenge

If I am being honest – and we are all friends here, so of course I am being honest – this end of winter/beginning of spring in between season always kind of gets me down. Call it the wacky weather or maybe because the skies tend to be more gray than blue, either way, I get bummed out. So, in an effort to simplify things, I am trying to make some small changes with big results. So…for this weeks challenge….

Here are several ways I am trying to simplify my life this week. Some of these might be up your alley, some maybe not so much, but I would love to hear your thoughts!

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1 – No more falling asleep with the TV on

I know, I know, it’s a bad habit, but some nights my mind is racing so much that the only thing that will help me go to sleep is watching mindless TV shows (Arrow, anyone?) But, as we all know, falling asleep to the TV doesn’t exactly provide the foundation for rest, now does it? This week, I am putting down the remote and picking up a good book.

2 – No more waking up & checking emails

Do you do this? It’s the first thing I do when I turn the alarm off at 5 a.m. It’s like clockwork. I turn off the alarm, refresh my email, check the news (depressing), and Instagram. Immediately I feel stressed and rushed and it’s no bueno. This week I am putting my phone on airplane mode and giving myself a little extra time in the morning to ease into things.

Airplane mode keeps all your notifications from coming through (i.e. no emails, calls, texts, Instagram notifications, and all the other nonsense you get notified about). Here is to hoping this small change makes a BIG difference.

3 – No more chips and salsa for dinner

Tell me I am not alone in the weeknight meal struggle. Sometimes it’s hard to whip up a meal after a long day, you know what I mean? And once the pizza guy knows your name, that relationship has to end ASAP.

For those of you who meal plan, I envy you. While it’s not hard, it is just a bit time-consuming which is always the hurdle. This week, my goal is to meal plan for three dinners, nothing crazy, just something basic and easy to work into being a fully functioning adult.

4 – No more double booking

Scheduling every moment of every day is exhausting and a fool-proof way to set your plans up for failure. Happy hours and catching up with friends are meant to be fun, not stressful. Try limiting your hangouts and catch-ups to two days or swapping the happy hour for a walk outside or spin class. This week I am opting for a fewer hangouts of higher quality – you in?

5 – No more stuffing & cramming

By no means am I a hoarder, but there are just certain things that I can’t seem to organize. Random match books, receipts, random screws, you know, normal things. And don’t even get me started about the chair. You know when clothes aren’t dirty enough for the hamper, but not clean enough for the hamper — it’s the chair. So between the chair, the random junk drawer, and the other corner piles, something has got to go. This week, it’s time to tackle the chair…

6 – No more elaborate morning routines

When I was in college I was all about the elaborate morning routine. I woke up, stretched, journaled, had some quiet time, made breakfast, showered AND blow dired my hair, plus probably singing to the plants and talking to the birds because that is how much freaking free time I had. Who the eff has that kind of time now? Not I, said the over scheduled fly, not I.

While I am still a huge proponent of a morning routine (we talked all about it here), mine looks way, way different. It is all about waking up 10 minutes early, leaving my phone on DND, meditating for a few minutes, and giving myself a little extra love – maybe some mornings that means actually make a breakfast, or taking time to do my hair, or hey, here’s a big one, trying to make that morning meeting on time.

This goes for evening routines too! 

7 – No more multiple outfit changes per morning

I am notorious for changing multiple times in a morning, are you that way? Even if I think I know what I want to wear, majority of the time I spend half the morning picking out shoes or switching a top – it’s a nightmare. Your decision making skills begin to decline once you’ve made a certain amount of decisions in a day (it takes a lot of energy to make decisions all day and your brain gets tired), so spending a lot of time and energy on choosing an outfit takes away strong decision-making skills from something else.

This week I am giving my brain a hand and selecting outfits ahead of time, that way I don’t have to worry about it!

What about you? What changes have you made in your life to feel less stressed?


photography by Iron & Honey

DRINKING MUSHROOMS would you try the latest health trend?

Drink mushrooms for a healthier diet

Before you start thinking I’ve gone off the deep end, or have a penchant for psychedelics, hear me out… I’ve been adding mushrooms to my morning routine and it has been AMAZING! Mushrooms might just be the next big superfood and if they taste as good as Four Sigmatic’s, we are all in.

It is no secret that certain mushrooms are packed full of healthy heroes that help your immunity, digestion issues, and various other healing properties, but knowing, finding, and using those magic mushrooms has always been a bit of a hurdle. Luckily, a bunch of guys from Finland set out to make mushrooms (and all their good juju) more mainstream and now we have Four Sigmatic in all it’s glory.

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Here’s the shroom boom breakdown:

  • Mushrooms like reishi are adaptogens (turmeric is a popular adaptogen) meaning they help your body manage stress.
  • Their blend gives you the boost of caffeine without the jitters, in fact, it actively works to heal your body from stress induced issues
  • Reishi, Chaga, & Cordyceps are three main types of mushrooms the teas tend to focus on…
    1. Reishi is the Queen B of mushrooms because it helps regulate hormones, lower stress, and break down cortisol.
    2. Chaga has the highest source of antioxidants, helps lower cholesterol, and has been proven to help manage diabetes
    3. Cordyceps are really good for oxygen intake so it’s great for runners and athletes

MUSHROOM LATTE
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (i.e. almond, cashew, etc.)
  • 1 Four Sigmatic packet
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
Instructions
  1. In a small sauce pan, heat all ingredients to a simmer.
  2. Transfer the liquid to a blender and blend slowly until nice and frothy
  3. Pour into a mug and enjoy hot!

What do you think? Would you jump on the mushroom train? After a week of drinking their blends, I feel caffeinated without the jitters and have noticed that I am more steady and focused then ever before. Plus I feel bad ass because I am drinking mushrooms every morning.

USE THIS, NOT THAT March clean beauty roundup

Alright my clean beauty babes, it’s time for another roundup. March marked the beginning of our journey in to clean beauty, ditching dirty products, swapping them for clean ones, and educating ourselves on ingredients and learning just exactly is in our beauty products. This all started because I downloaded the Think Dirty app and went to town scanning in our bathroom products and became freaked out because of what I was putting on my skin. It’s freaky stuff, babes, freaky, freaky stuff.

But! Thanks to a little digging, ditching, and trial and error, I present to you the first ever Use This, Not That clean beauty roundup. Ideally, I want to do these every month and showcase new, clean products that work just as well as your tried and true beauty favorites, just this time without all the icky chemicals.

Meow Meow Tweet Body Cream

I’ve talked about this cream before and I will talk about it again and again because it is truly amazing. It’s different than a normal lotion in that it isn’t creamy, more solidified like a coconut oil, but man is it amazing. Rub a little bit of this on after the shower and you feel soft and subtle all day long. Seriously, it’s totally worth it.

SWAP FOR: Jergens

Pacific Mint Natural Toothpaste

If you are looking for a natural toothpaste, I really love this guy. It’s refreshing and lightly minty and cleans amazingly!

SWAP FOR: Colgate Advanced Whitening

Glossier Super Pure Serum

Everyone and their mother is obsessed with Glossier right now and truthfully, you should be too. I use their Super Pure serum for my acne-prone skin, but each of the three – Super Pure, Super Glow, Super Bounce – are all equally amazing. Not greasy or slimy, the serum blends easily and absorbs within a few seconds, leaving your skin feeling super (sorry, I had to!) Plus, with minimal ingredients, it’s a major clean win.

SWAP FOR: H20+, Caudalie, Clarins, Lancome face serums

Beauty Counter Dew Skin

Another skin care line you’ve probably been hearing left and right is Beauty Counter, and again, it’s because they are absolutely killing the organic, clean, not weird beauty game. Now, this Dew Skin is everything you ever wanted if your goal is the Non-makeup, makeup look. If you want glowing skin that says, “I don’t sweat, I glow,” this is abso-freaking-lutey it. It’s disgusting how amazing this skin tint is.

PS – if you want to try some BC products or looking for more information, visit this link and get connected with my gal Clare. She is an absolute wizard on natural skin care and beyond helpful. She even taught me how to apply concealer the right way.

SWAP FOR: Hourglass Illusion Tinted Moisturizer

Beauty Counter Touchup Skin

It clicks, it’s in a gold pen, and it’s basically real life photoshop. No joke. I am terrible at makeup (meaning, I don’t know how to do it and I rarely have time for it) but this is an absolute goldmine if you use concealer. Perfect for under eye or for spot touch-up, the concealer isn’t shiny or oily and it lasts all-freaking-day.

SWAP FOR: Physicians Formula, Almay, Maybelline, Revlon, Benefit, Smashbox stick concealers

Glossier Brow Boy in Brown

Again, you’ve probably seen this all over the internet, but it really is worth the hype. If I am in a rush, I usually throw on some face oil, a shade of lipstick, and run these through my eyebrows and it always makes me feel more polished and put together. Brow Boy comes in various shades (I use brown, but clear is a great option as well) which lightly fills in your eyebrows, making them slightly more full and keeps the hold without the powder or putty finish.

SWAP FOR: Eyebrow pencil

ILIA Highlighter in “Polka Dots & Moonbeams”

For all my highlighter loving babes, toss out whatever you are using and get ready to be swept off your feet by Ilia. It comes in a fat little stick, so it’s perfect for your cheekbones, but it’s translucent enough to go on just about everywhere.

SWAP FOR: Revlon, Almay, Rimmel London highlighter

Beauty Counter Nourishing Eye Cream

After learning what was in my regular eye cream, I ditched that as fast as I could and straight into the arms of thisBeauty Counter favorite. A little dab around your eye sockets (the boney part above and below your eye) and your eyes feel hydrated, fresh, and bright all day long. I love this cream because the skin underneath my eyes feels amazingly soft and never oily or greasy. Total must have if you like eye cream.

SWAP FOR: Olay, Boots No.7, H20+, Aveeno eye creams

Kiehl’s Breakout Control Spot Treatment

This is my favorite spot treatment because it gets the job done and is light enough to wear under makeup during the day. It has Vitamin B3 in the formula (and while it isn’t the cleanest product out their, it isn’t wildly terrible either) and it blends evenly into skin and works to help reduce the appearance of blemishes.

SWAP FOR: Neutrogena or Clean & Clear spot treatments

Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap in Rose

Cruelty-free, biodegradable, vegan soap in a gently formula (that smells faintly of rose…AMAZING) and while you can use it on your face, hair, and skin, I just use it as my shower soap. I love Dr. B’s because it moisturizes, fortifies + nourishes skin with natural oils for a thorough, fragrant clean that won’t strip your skin of natural oils.

SWAP FOR: Ivory, Dove Shea Butter bar, Yes to Tomatoes, Old Spice, Olay bar soaps

What clean products are you loving right now?

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Okay, little disclaimer, do your own research. These products are based on my personal review as are the suggested swap products. Some of these companies might have great, clean beauty lines, and that is totally up to you whether you want to use them or not. That’s the joy of having so many beauty options!

IGNORE YOUR PHONE wellness challenge

Last week I met a girlfriend for lunch and as I sat there waiting for her, I couldn’t help but notice that someone at every table was on their phone. Everyone either had their phone face up on the table, in their lap, or they were endlessly scrolling away on it. Not just the majority of tables, but every single table had phones out, face up, ready to distract them from a fabulous lunch with someone they wanted to grab lunch with.

I watched as people felt the buzz of their phone, put down their silverware mid-conversation, and replied, scrolled, clicked, and ‘grammed. We are all guilty of this & I get it, it’s easy to multitask, but I had to wonder how, after being plugged in and available to everything/everyone all day, we are able to refill ourselves and…to a maybe larger question…how is it changing us? Is unplugging the new freedom?

You’ve read a million articles, heard a trillion podcasts, and I am sure have had several thousand conversations about digital detoxing, it’s benefits, it’s downfalls, and all the peaks and perils in between. And while I am a huge fan of putting boundaries on your tech use (no phones in the bedroom, shut your tv off by a certain time, etc.), I get that not everyone has that luxury, or that tech serves different uses for different people. But, here is what I want to challenge us to try this week…ignore your phone at meal time. That’s it.

Studies show that time away from technology

help improve posture and eye contact

improve short and long term memory

open up new perspectives

makes you seem more trustworthy

improves relationship quality and sense of closeness

makes people want to talk to you more

Don’t pull your phone out of your bag, or nestle it in your lap. Don’t allow yourself the temptation of looking at it every time you feel a buzz or a high pitched chime, turn it on silent. Hey, maybe go crazy and just leave it in another room while you eat at home. What could be the worst thing that happens?

This week, try thinking these three simple thoughts:

I put my phone on silent if I know I am going to be with other people in a social setting.

I leave my phone in my bag, rather than on the table, so it’s harder to access.

I look more open, trustworthy, and friendly without a phone in my hand.

photography by the fabulous Iron & Honey

sources Fast Company & Scientific American

ELIMINATING TOXINS IN YOUR BATHROOM ROUTINE

Did you know that your skin is your biggest organ? Now think about all the junk you put on your skin – soap, shampoo, conditioner, scrubs, lotions, deodorant – it’s a lot! Now think about how much you know about all those products? Are they organic? Paraben free? What even is a paraben?

I have had terrible skin since I can remember. Terrible spots, flakes, the works. From 13 to almost 30, it doesn’t get easier to deal with. BUT, a few great things have come out of having shit skin, I have tested almost every product on the market and have become a total nutter about researching the isht out of what I am putting on my body. That nuttiness has migrated from purely facial products to just about everything that falls under ‘bath and beauty.’

There is a crap load of funky stuff floating around in your products that you probably don’t even think about because it’s in a pretty package (I am so, so guilty of this) or because it’s sold at a certain store, and it could be affecting your whole body, not just your skin.

Now I know re-stocking isn’t cheap, but I am taking on one room a month and figuring out what stays and what goes. Join me and take an hour out of your night and go through your bathroom cabinets. Pull out all the product from your shower, under the cabinets, all those samples, and even those bins you keep in the back full of half used bottles and tubes. Grab a trash bin and toss out anything that has the following:

BHA and BHT (commonly found in moisturizers)

MEA, DEA, & TEA  (or monoethanolamine, diethanolamine, and triethanolamine)

P-phenylenediamine (coal tar dye) and anything with CI, FD&C, or D&C followed by a five-digit number (found in hair dye or colored products)

Parabens (found in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products)

Dibutyl phthalate (found in nail polish)

Methenamine or Hexamethylenetetramine (found in eye makeup, as well as shampoo and hair conditioners)

If you want help or more guidelines, try downloading Think Dirty or EWG’s Healthy Living. Both apps allow you to scan your products to see where your products rates on the dirty/clean scale.

This week I am taking on my bathroom products. I’ve thrown out a ton of lotions, funky soaps, and countless samples. Here is a list of clean (or more clean) products that I’ve swapped out. Okay, from left to right…

Lime & Coconut Salty Scrub

Palermo Charcoal Soap Bar

Meow Meow Tweet Natural Deodorant

Goodwell Toothbrush

Pacific Mint Toothpaste

Meow Meow Tweet Body Lotion

Ritual Vitamins

What products do you love? I am always on the hunt to clean up my routines & would love to know your favorites <3

Stay tuned for posts on clean lipsticks, beauty products, and lots of other swaps. Here’s to clean cleaning!

IS STAYING IN THE NEW GOING OUT? and are we mad about it?

Have you heard about this latest trend – staying in is the new going outTBH, I am having a hard time containing my excitement. Don’t get me wrong, I love going out as much as the next gal, but between the late nights at the office, crazy travel schedule, and trying to squeeze some gym time in there somewhere, staying in becoming trendy is just the break I was looking for.

Nesting is officially the new going out.

Call me old, but there is nothing that I love doing more on a Friday night then coming home, taking my makeup off, making a great dinner, and slipping in to a scalding hot bath. I turn off my phone, pile on the epsom salts, and maybe…if I am feeling extra crazy…dive head first into a good mud mask.

With professional burnout rates being so high, people giving up social media for Lent because the pressure to be doing something “cool” all the time is too much, and not to mention all the other emotionally exhausting sh*t that greats us every time we walk out the door, it’s no wonder self care searches are up by 121%. But let’s be real, going out isn’t going anywhere, it’s just getting prioritized a bit behind casual quality time with friends and some self care action.

What do you think? Do you believe the hype? Is staying in really the new going out?

TURMERIC IS THE NEW BLACK wellness challenge

Turmeric and ginger latte recipe via Lauren KelpI was at a swank little coffee shop in the West Loop the other day and saw “Golden Latte” on the menu, so naturally, I ordered it because it sounded weird and maybe magical and I have to say…I was very pleasantly surprised!

Little did I know that this fancy latte has a cult following. You’ve heard of matcha lattes, but have you heard of the latest wonder drink – turmeric lattes? From Sydney to San Fran, people are ditching their morning cups of joe for this healthy alternative and swearing by it’s many magical benefits.

What are the benefits you ask?

  • anti-inflammatory
  • potent antioxidant
  • boosts immunity and brain power
  • aids in muscle pain relief
  • helps with digestion
  • reduces cholesterol
  • lowers risk of diabetes
  • helps fight infection, depression, anxiety, and I am sure a bunch of other annoying ailments
  • PLUS it’s amazing for your skin and a great source of natural caffeine

Okay, so here is my health challenge for the week — I am going to swap out two of my weekly morning cups of coffee for turmeric lattes and see how it goes. Join me?

Ginger and Turmeric Lattee
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 cup
 
Soothing and delicious latte that is packed full of anti-inflammatory properties.
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup of almond milk
Instructions
  1. Combine turmeric, ginger, sugar, and coconut oil in a blender and wait to blend
  2. Heat almond milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until just simmering.
  3. Pour the hot almond milk into the blender and blitz everything until smooth and frothy.
  4. Serve, sip, & enjoy!

Turmeric and ginger latte recipe via Lauren Kelp

 

DEEP BREATHING TO MANAGE ANXIETY wellness challenge

Deep breathing for anxiety via Lauren Kelp

Maybe it is the season or the current state of affairs (can we just get one day without a CNN alert, puhhlease), but I have become increasingly more and more anxious. I have never considered myself someone who has anxiety but recently I find myself becoming stressed more easily and overwhelmed more quickly – which is gross and super not fun. So, this week I am trying to give myself a minute to take some deep breaths whenever I am feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Join me?

DEEP BREATHING FOR WHEN YOU ARE FEELING ANXIOUS

1. Close your eyes and take a deep inhale through your nose for five seconds

2. Exhale through your mouth for good five seconds

3. Now repeat and count to 10 (an inhale is “1” and exhale is “2” and so on)

4. If you need another go, count to 20 or until you feel more zen

I have started doing this when I get overwhelmed with work or in rush hour traffic (sans the closing eyes bit) and it has really helped take the edge of the situation. Do you find deep breathing to be helpful? Excited to be working towards a less anxious week with you!

Deep breathing for anxiety via Lauren Kelp

3 WAYS TO STAY HEALTHY DESPITE A BUSY SCHEDULE

three ways to stay well besides a busy schedule via lauren kelp
It’s easy to dream about keeping a schedule that’s perfectly balanced between self-care and being productive on a calm Sunday afternoon. However, as soon as the work week starts and things get a little crazy, all of that self-care and balance usually tends to go out the window. Most of us almost always fall back into old habits as soon as things become a little bit challenging. So how do you combat that? How do you set yourself up for a successful week even when you’re super busy? Here are three simple tips that can make a world of difference.

 

START YOUR MORNING IN A PEACEFUL WAY

Instead of waking up and immediately checking your email, pause and take a few deep breaths. This small change will make such a big difference in the way you feel throughout the day. If you want to take it a step further, try not to check your phone until you’ve gotten out of bed and stepped into the other room. Giving yourself space from the outside world and all of your responsibilities will help you feel more calm and grounded as you begin your day.

 

BE PREPARED WITH HEALTHY SNACKS

Eating well when you’re really busy can be challenging. That’s why it’s so important to have a little bit of foresight and to plan ahead, especially when you know you’re going to have a crazy week. Have your desk or bag stocked with a couple of healthy snack options at all times. This could be anything from fresh fruit to your favorite nut (preferably unsalted), or a minimally processed protein bar. Making sure you have healthy snacks allows you to make better choices when you get hungry in the middle of the day and you’re pressed for time. A little bit of planning can really go a long way here.

 

TAKE TIME TO REST

Amidst your busy schedule it can be really easy to forget the value of downtime, but don’t be mistaken, it’s incredibly important! Carving out a little bit of intentional downtime every night (yes, every night!) will absolutely help you be well and stay well. I say intentional downtime because it’s very different from mindlessly falling down an internet rabbit hole and staring at your phone for 30 minutes. When your resting time is intentional it allows your mind and body to get on board with one another which will help you really chill out. You can read, listen to music, even just spend time drinking a cup of tea and chatting with your partner or friend- the sky’s the limit as long as you feel relaxed.

 

There you have it! Three ways to be well even with a busy schedule. No matter how much you have going on, I’m confident you can make the time to take a deep breath in the morning, buy some healthy snacks, and take a few minutes to rest in the evening. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

3 TIPS TO FEEL GREAT THIS SPRING

natalie springNatalie here! It’s springtime and it’s the perfect time to refresh and reboot. You’ve probably done a spring cleaning in your home, your beauty regime, or at least attempted a spring refresh, but have you considered doing one for your lifestyle? Just like it’s important to live in a clean space, it’s important to live with a body and mind that feel clean as well. Today I’m sharing 3 tips to help you feel great this spring.

ONE | REFLECT & SET GOALS

Take some time to take a step back and look at where you are in your life. Reflect on what feels good, what feels tolerable and what absolutely needs to change. Once you’re clear on those things set goals based on what you’d like to let go of this spring and what new things you’d like to invite into your life. Write those goals down and make sure to check in with in throughout the next couple of months to keep yourself on track.

TWO | DO ONE THING A DAY THAT HELPS YOU FEEL CENTERED

We all have actives that help us feel centered. Do you know what works for you? This spring, commit to taking time every single day to do at least one thing that helps you feel centered. Personally I find that movement really centers me so I make sure I do yoga, go for a walk or dance in my living room pretty much every single day. Committing to doing this daily will help you feel refreshed and empowered.

THREE | CLEAN UP THOSE HABITS

Do you have any habits that you’d be better off without? Maybe you check social media too often, maybe you’re eating too much sugar or maybe you bombard yourself with negative self-talk. Whatever habits you have that are holding you back from feeling great, now is the time to notice them and let them go. Just like a good springtime closet clean out, clearing out these habits will help you put your best foot forward and really feel amazing this spring!