Archive of ‘Healthy Living’ category

Natural Self Care

I’ve been obsessed with natural products, everything from makeup to skin care to supplements. I love knowing that what I’m putting on my skin or in my body is healthy for me and isn’t filled with preservatives or chemicals, which can disrupt your hormones (sign up for the IG newsletter for more on this).

The only downside to using more natural products is the cost, which can sometimes be double the price of drug store finds. Although there are products that I will often splurge on (hello argan oil shampoo!), I have found that a couple natural items are serious rock stars when it comes to self care and can be found in almost any grocery store.

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Coconut Oil

My favorite brand is Trader Joe’s organic cold-pressed coconut oil. A bottle is roughly $9-10 dollars but lasts for months. Do you remember the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding who puts Windex on everything, I feel like I do this with coconut oil. Seriously, what can’t you do with this stuff? My favorite uses for it (beyond eating it) include putting a tablespoon in a hot bath with a few drops of lavender oil. I also use it as a body moisturizer. It smells amazing and definitely makes your skin feel very noursihed, you just have to let it sink into your skin for awhile so it’s not greasy.

Lemon

We’ve all heard of putting lemon in a hot mug of water and drinking it in the morning to reap health benefits. However, going beyond that I have been using fresh lemons as face toner. I just squeeze a little bit of the fresh juice on a cotton swap and swipe it on my face. The cool tingly feel of the lemon definitely perks up my skin in the morning and feels very refreshing.

Mint Leaves

My latest habit is making my own fresh mint tea before bed every night. If you have a green thumb you can grow your own mint, otherwise you can buy a fresh bunch from any health food store. I like to take a few leaves and put them in a loose leaf tea strainer. I love almost any type of tea but I especially enjoy this one because it is so natural and doesn’t require a tea bag (you have to be careful of the bleach in some tea bags).

Make sure to subscribe to the Influential Gal newsletter as I’ll be sharing all of my favorite natural product resources soon.

Happy healthy living!

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Minimalism, the practical way

There has been so much hype around the concept of “minimalism” lately. I’ve read blogs and have watched videos on minimalism to see what this “new-age” concept is all about and I must admit at first I was a bit skeptical, especially those who give up all aspects of consumerism. This exploration got me thinking about how those of us who are intrigued but don’t necessarily want to give up our Starbucks and Banana Republic could apply these concepts to our life. Because I completely agree with a lot of the principles of “more is less” and sometimes it’s healthy to get away from the mentality that more stuff will make us happier.

With all of the research I’ve recently done, I’ve summarized a few things I think are completely practical yet may turn you on to the minimalism lifestyle and its benefits.

1. A solid clean-out every once in a while is a good thing!

Remember moving to and from college and in the process you would go through all of your clothes, shoes and accessories to identify the items you wanted to keep? Then the rest would either be donated or sold. I still remember how liberating this feeling was of pairing down to the essentials. I mean do I really need six black v-necks that all look similar? No probably not. So why wait for a big move or life transition to do this? I think it’s feasible to plan to do this at least once or twice a year. The new year has always been realistic for me as it’s the start of something new so I feel the need to clean out everything anyways and I usually have some time off work. Whatever works best for you, just make sure you’re being realistic with what you’re keeping. If you haven’t worn that fur vest in two years, probably a good idea to donate it.

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2. Get creative in the kitchen before you buy more food. 

Something I love to do (my husband thought it was a little strange at first) is eat most everything in my pantry and fridge before going to the grocery store to buy more food. Towards the end of this process, I definitely get some interesting lunch creations (rice, beans and avocados anyone?). But it forces me to be more creative with my meals and it’s extremely satisfying clearing out my fridge and pantry, yet not wasting it by throwing half-eaten items away.

3. More space = more stuff and more cleaning.

As my husband and I prepare to eventually move to Sacramento (he secured a residency position at UC Davis!), we are considering selling a majority of our furniture. We don’t want to haul everything across the country and our place will be smaller than what we currently have so it makes sense to pair down. I thought I would struggle with this but I’m extremely excited to have a smaller space and less furniture because we can start fresh but also be very intentional about items that we do buy in the future for our new place. Right now I’m not in any rush to decorate our new place because I’d rather take my time and only get items that I absolutely love and can’t live without. Also, with a smaller space means less rooms to clean. That’s a PLUS!

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Ultimately, you can apply the minimalism concept to any aspect of your life (or all of it if you’re feeling ambitious), just make sure you have the golden rule of ‘less is more” in the back of your mind.

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Own Your Morning.

It’s morning.

Not morning as in, “It’s time to get up, get dressed and get to the office” morning. It’s Saturday morning. The one you’ve waited for all week. It’s Saturday morning and you are perfectly content all snuggled up in your pink pajamas under the covers.

Oh, you didn’t know that I knew you have pink pajamas?

Weird.

There’s a list of things you need to get done today. Laundry, clean the bath tub, plan your cousin’s bridal shower, grocery shop. You know what needs to be done and you know how tiring it will be to do it. But you also know the kind of week you had. You deserve another hour of sleep, so another hour of sleep it is.

By mid-morning you get up, get some coffee and decide to catch up on your favorite show. It’s Saturday, after all.

Four episodes later and you’re still in your pink pajamas??

We’ve all been there. And we will probably all be there again from time to time… keep the coffee warm for me.

But a place where none of us women want to be is falling behind. Whether it be on our to-do lists or in the gym, at home or at the workplace, nobody wants to fall behind.

Fortunately, we can have some control over that. I want to share four ways I stay productive when I feel the urge to pop open a bag of Cheetos and turn on Netflix.

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Wake Up Early

This one is hard to do, but once you get in the rhythm of it you’ll find it comes natural. Let yourself own the day. If you wake up at the last second, the day already owns you. When you give yourself plenty of time in the morning, you won’t feel rushed and hurried. That rushed feeling can easily turn into a stressed feeling that can carry over into your whole day. And besides, CEOs wake up early. It’s science.

Workout

We all know how beneficial exercise is for us physically, but have you ever noticed how much it also does for you mentally? I’ve recently realized how much more productive I am after a run. It’s like it just gets in me and I keep going. After a run I come home and reorganize my night stand; I clean off the counter tops; I’m just not content sitting around when my heart rate is booking.

Make A List

Sometimes the key to getting things done is good old-fashioned writing it down. Oldest trick in the book. When I make a list, it feels like it’s just staring at me all day until I cross it off. So I cross it off twice just so it know who’s #GIRLBOSS. Our days get filled up easily and things pop up unexpectedly, so making a list ensures that what really needs to get done won’t slip to the back of your head.

Walk Away

Sometimes the best thing to do is take a break. Go for a walk, grab a coffee, switch gears and work on something else for a while. When you come back to your task, you will find yourself refreshed and mentally renewed. You might even find that you are working harder after a “brain break”. And I can think of more than a few times when I have been stuck on a project, but upon coming back to it I see answers I hadn’t seen and realize which details matter and which don’t. And, if you need to play Paula DeAnda’s Walk Away from 2006, that’s fine. It’s your life. It needs a soundtrack.

So there you have it. Four tips on how to stay productive and make the most of your day.

Girls like us have things to get done. We have clear goals and purposeful direction. And sometimes you just need a little shove in the bum to get out of bed and get it while it’s hot. I hope this list can be that for you.

 

DSC_0928Hannah is an Influential Gal contributor and blogger behind the witty “It’s Hann’ah-clock!” blog. She is also a wife and mother in the prairie lands. Hannah lives for holidays, pies and parties. Occasionally, she’ll go on a run just because I love the feeling of the shower afterwards.

 

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8 questions you should ask before marriage

There is no question that marriage is hard work. It’s a huge commitment and one of the biggest decisions you will ever make so it’s no surprise that this decision causes angst and anxiety. To help ease these feelings, it crucial to ask your partner the following questions before rushing down the aisle.

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1. Do you want to have children? There are people who believe that having a child will make their rocky relationship better. This is almost never the case. Raising kids is hard work and can complicate feelings further. It’s best to be in a good place with your partner before kids are even in the picture to build that solid foundation. If you both do want children, you should also talk about how many.There’s a huge difference between wanting six kids and having an only child. You both need to agree.

2. What personal roles will you take on? Is there a breadwinner in the family? Will one of you focus on work while the other focuses on your home life? Will the duties of childcare fall mainly on one person or will you split the time? It’s almost impossible to be completely equal in a relationship. You both have individual personalities, wants and needs and those traits will continue to develop over time. Figure out who you are, who your partner is, and what role you’ll play in your marriage.

3. What sacrifices are you both willing to make? It’s inevitable that you’ll each have to give up something, or a number of things, once you’re married. It could be a certain level of privacy, time spent with friends, career goals, and a rearrangement of priorities. Are you willing to sacrifice something to better your relationship? If not, you need to reevaluate your dedication to the relationship.

4. What is your financial situation? Is your partner in debt? If so, are you willing to take that on when you’re married? You’ll probably open a joint banking account – are you okay with sharing financial information with your partner? What if one of you makes a significant amount of money over the other – does that make you uncomfortable? Money can be a sore subject for some people.

5. How much do you trust your partner? A marriage is nothing without trust. You have to trust that they’ll stay loyal to you, even in tempting situations. You have to trust that they’re constantly looking out for you and your family. You have to trust them with your finances. You have to trust them with your life. So, do you and do they?

6. Is there a reason you’re marrying besides love? When asked, “Why are you marrying me?” the obvious answer is “Because I love you.” But marriage takes more than love. You need trust, compassion, dedication, happiness, compromise, understanding, and more. Sure, your partner may love you, but they should be able to detail why they love you and expand on other traits about your relationship that will make a marriage worthwhile.

7. Do you really want a marriage, or just a wedding? This is probably more common with women. Ladies, we start planning our dream wedding as little girls. Most of us know exactly what we want once that ring is placed on our finger. But are you getting married just because you want to live out that dream wedding? Remember, that wedding will be just one day in a lifetime of marriage. Don’t marry for the wedding. Marry for all the happy days that come after the wedding.

8. What is the dedication level to our extended families? How will you split holiday visits? If you’re in need of a babysitter, who is at the top of your list? Do you all get along or is it a struggle to spend time together? Extended family can be a touchy subject. Your parents and siblings were probably the most important people in your life until you decided to start your own family. Make sure you’re both happy with the time spent with extended family and try not to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Overall when you marry the right person, it is one of the most rewarding and wonderful decisions you will make. Yes, sharing a life with someone can be hard work but if done right, it is fulfilling and a special bond that cannot be broken.

Laura Dignan_1 cmykThis post is by Laura Dignan, an Influential Gal contributor. She is a Millennial from the small wonder they call Delaware. Laura is a marketing, public relations, and business development specialist and an advocate for the Oxford comma. In her free time she loves reading, writing, running, and drinking endless amounts of coffee. Laura’s personal blog, Can Ya Dig It?, explores topics such as marketing, the Millennial generation, and some personal ramblings.

 

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Beautiful Women Sharing Their Beauty Secrets: Jessie Artigue

Today, I am chatting with Jessie Artigue from Style & Pepper. I had the opportunity to first meet Jessie at a go blog social conference last year and was so inspired by her natural beauty that radiates inside and out. She has a natural glow about her that instantly draws you in, so when thinking about who I would feature next, it was a no brainer.
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1. What is your beauty routine?
I definitely have a basic routine for morning and night, but love to switch things up depending on the season and my current favorites. I always start with a cold water rinse followed by homemade toner (which is just unfiltered apple cider vinegar mixed with water) and then apply 30+ spf before my morning workout. On the days I apply makeup, I use bare minerals complexion rescue (tinted moisturizer) and hardly ever leave the house without concealer, a bit of cream blush and 2-3 coats of mascara. At night, it’s cleansing with a blend of essential oils + a warm washcloth (no soap for me!) followed by another round of my toner and more oil: Jojoba under the eyes, tea tree oil for any blemishes or pimples, and coconut oil on any dry patches and chapped lips. I also drink a TON of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, and stay away from all types of sugar to keep my skin clear of the cystic acne that I used to have as a teen. (Lovely, I know.)
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2. What do you think makes a woman beautiful?
I am a huge believer that when women find their confidence in truth, we appear as the most beautiful version of ourselves. I also know that taking the precious steps toward self-care can be a wonderful way to cultivate that confidence, and I LOVE teaching and coaching women through this process by using my approach at Pepperologie.com.
3. What were you taught about beauty growing up?
 I feel so blessed to have a family who is very generous with compliments on inner AND outer beauty… I can actually remember when my brother or I were little and would make “good decisions” as kids, my parents would say – “That is beautiful!” as an affirmation. Looking back, I can see the importance of hearing that working hard in school or helping someone in need was just as beautiful as a bright smile or a new braid in my hair.
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Thank you Jessie for sharing!
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Shining From the Inside Out

I don’t know about you but there are some days when I feel like my beauty routine needs a little boost and not from the outside. I am a huge believer in taking care of yourself from the inside to allow you to feel your best on the outside. Here are my several tips for literally glowing from the inside out. They are also perfect for those busy weeks when you don’t feel like you have a ton of time to devote to your beauty routine.

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  1. Biotin– I swear by this vitamin. It helps keep your skin clear, and hair and nails strong. My hair is always silky smooth after I have taken Biotin, You can pick them up at your local grocery store.
  2. Water – You have been probably heard this over and over but drink 8 glasses of water a day! It keeps your skin hydrated, your appetite in check and gives you more energy. Add a little lemon or fresh fruit for a twist. Start drinking!
  3. Wheatgrass – Okay so this one is a little bit different but one of my health conscious friends encouraged me to try a wheatgrass shot. You can get them at Whole Foods and it is basically a concentrated shot of green juice with plenty of vitamins and goodness.

Every once in awhile, everyone needs a little pick-me up especially during those busy workweeks.

Whenever I focus on my beauty from the inside out, it helps me refocus my energy on being healthy and happy. What are your tips for inner wellness?

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Beautiful Women Sharing their Beauty Secrets: Cait Fore

I don’t know about you but I love hearing other women’s beauty routines and hearing about their “can’t live without” products. However, I also like hearing what they were taught about beauty growing up and how that has shaped their perspective of what beauty is as an adult. The first feature is on one of my best girlfriends/family, Cait Fore, from Sophisticaited. Cait and I have known each other for a couple years now and one thing I have noticed is how polished Cait always looks. So I thought I would get the inside scoop on what products she loves, her daily beauty routine and more.

CaitFore pic 21. What is your beauty routine?

I have to be totally honest and say that I’m not huge into the “beauty routine” thing like everyone is supposed to be. Like, I don’t usually wash my face every night. I usually moisturize when my face is just super dry. Oh and I maybe wash my hair three times a week. So let’s say that dry shampoo is my best friend and I love the Dove dry shampoo. It smells so good and doesn’t leave a ton of white residue and gives a little bit of volume, and what’s not to love about that. Oh and I also love the Sachajuan dark volume powder I found it a my favorite blow dry bar Parlor and it also helps add volume at the top of the crown. Which I feel like is hard to get when my hair feels super heavy. And I just love the way my hair looks when there’s a bit more volume (who doesn’t right). Okay back to the beauty routine, I wear make up everyday. I literally have worn it basically everyday (even when I worked at a camp one summer in college) since like 7th grade. I think my first little bit of make up was light blue eye liner from bath and body works (back in the day when they sold make up) and I wore it like eye shadow. I’m sure there’s super embarrassing pics lingering around somewhere.  And I feel like of all things beauty aren’t really my thing, but I dabble in things anyone tells me about. But here are my favorite beauty products for my daily make up routine. I wear liquid foundation with powder foundation on top to set everything. Then I brush on bronzer on the hallows of my check bones and up around the crown of my forehead. It gives me a sun kissed look – instead of just looking like I just put a lot of make up on. Then I add blush to the apples of my cheeks. Dust on some brown eye shadow in the crease of my eye lids and a little bit of a lighter shadow in the corners of my eyes. Add some black liquid eye liner and volumizing mascara and a bold lip gloss is what completes my daily make up look. It might sound like a lot – but it usually take less than 5 minutes to do it all. Then onto my hair! It is definitely my thing and I have found what works best for my thick hair. I usually take night showers, just because it can take so long to blow dry my hair. But, if I do blow it dry, it is usually a rough blow dry, then when it’s almost dry I use a round brush to blow it out and give my hair volume. Then I use my straightener like scissors curling ribbon to create loose looking waves. And hair spray to hold it all together.

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2. What do you think makes a women beautiful?

When I was thinking about this I totally imagined a chic blonde woman wearing red lipstick. Not sure why, because I think there are so many different things that make a woman beautiful. I think confidence and lipstick are what makes me feel the most beautiful. I believe most women feel their most beautiful when they are confident with themselves. It’s just something that beams from within. It’s definitely something that my husband helped me notice. He always let’s me know when I look beautiful and can always tell when I am my most confident. And I just love that he can notice it in me. I do have to say it’s amazing how beautiful I feel when I workout! I love how I feel after a good yoga session or after lifting weight. I definitely feel taller and stronger that makes me feel confident and beautiful. Also – I think lipstick is a life saver. There is just something about a woman with a perfect red lip that I think is just so beautiful and classic.

3. What were you taught about beauty growing up?

For me I grew up with a mama that wasn’t/isn’t super girly. But, she was super supportive of all of my beauty questions and allowed me to be super girly! I loved getting to go to department stores with her to talk to the make up artists about any and every question I had. I loved getting to hear about new products and testing them on my pale freckly skin. I remember going to the Bobbi Brown counter and testing out the concealer stick and loving it. I remember my first Chanel lip gloss and how excited I was when Chanel came out with silver eye shadow (it was a big deal for the year 2000). I also taught my self how to curl my hair and never curled the back sections, not sure why that was a struggle. But, it was real. Yep, always just curled the front, and I probably did that for a solid year. Again, I’m sure the pictures of these days are just magical (adolescence is just super tough). And I have to say that when bronzer came on the market – I didn’t even know there could be such a magical product that could make me look tan all year round. Simply amazing! So basically my idea of beauty is the fun side of being a girly girl. I loved learning how to curl my hair and do my make up to feel my most beautiful.

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4. Three products you can’t live without?

This is definitely a tough one. Honestly I would have to say elf oil based concealerelf bronzer and voluming mascara and if I can add in a fourth option it would have to be lip stick! Oil based concealer is always the best way to hide those dark circles that tend to sneak up on us when we least suspect them (and never want them). This bronzer is my favorite to contour with. It’s a deeper brown that doesn’t look super orange or sparkly. And lastly this lipstick is my go-to. I love any lipstick that comes in a rich berry color and this kind has a heavier pigment that always stays longer on the lips. Whenever I go out to an event, I make sure to have at least those three (I mean four) things.

Thank you so much Caitlin for sharing your beauty routine with us!

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Be Present

The busier we get the more we start to try and do many things at once. However, this can often take a toll on our relationships, our emotional health and wellbeing. Being present in the setting you’re in can help quite a bit. This includes trying not to take work home at night or on the weekend (I know, I know, we are all guilty of this sometimes). It also means that when you are at work, you are strictly at work. I am all for taking a Facebook break every so often but try and be productive as possible while you are in the office.

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Some of there tricks that might help you be present more, include:

  1. Breathe – many of us don’t take enough deep breaths during the day. Deep breathing (or as I call belly breathing) can be extremely cleansing and relaxing and will help get you centered and focused.
  2. Prioritize – make a list of what has to get done right away and another of more long-term items that don’t need to get accomplished right away. This will help you focus and conquerer the most important items and will ensure you don’t feel completely overwhelmed.
  3. Set time aside – set some time each day where you can let you mind wander and think or dream about anything but after that time is up, come back to the present moment and refocus your energy in the time and place you are currently in.
  4. Relax – a racing mind will only make being present harder. Only think about the here and now and let go of the past and future. It is out of your control so focus on what you can control.

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Taking Seasons to Breathe

As a high achiever, as probably most of you are, I can often work myself into the ground. However, this isn’t always sustainable. Especially when some major life event happens. When my mom passed away two years ago, I took a whole year to revoker and take care of my basic needs and myself before I could reinvest myself into my “side hustle” and other activities again. It was extremely hard to sit still and just breathe. But I knew that if I didn’t take that time, I would always regret it.

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You may be going through a season in life where you need to take a step back from all of the “extras” your doing. Start by ridding your life of everything but the basics, so keep your daily work, close relationships and basic needs met. If it falls outside these three categories take a break from it, this could include your side hustle, organizations your a part of, etc. I am not suggesting getting rid of everything that makes you happy but rather, just the things that are taking up too much space in your life that might be hindering your healing process.

You’ll know when the time is right to continue on with your “extras” and I promise that after taking a break, you will come back refreshed and inspired, and most importantly you took the crucial time to heal your soul and spirit.

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How Successful People Spend their Mornings

Whenever I meet someone who I think is successful, the number one thing I want to know is how they spend their mornings. Mornings are a lot more crucial than I once thought. I used to sleep in on weekends and woke up at the last possible minute during the week in order to get to work on time. Don’t get me wrong, I still take one day a week to catch up on sleep and sleep as late as my body will let me but I have collected a few tips on how to better utilize your morning from some of the people I admire most.

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Natural Energy

I love coffee! LOVE IT! But whenever possible, I try to get my energy in more natural ways. One of them being exercising first thing when I wake up. However, I work a corporate job and leave for work around 7:15 in the morning. I end up coming home from work exhausted and not wanting to workout so I recently started waking up an hour earlier and working out at 5:30 a.m. Let me tell you the first 10 minutes I am awake are horrible. But the rest of the day, I feel completely relaxed and energized. I highly recommend trying it for three weeks (the time it takes to build a habit) and see what you think.

Green Smoothies/Juices

This morning ritual goes beyond the recent juicing fad. I incorporate fresh fruit and vegetables (usually spinach) and make a smoothie every morning after I workout and drink it on my way to work. If you are not a morning person, try chopping all your produce the night before that way all you have to do is throw it in the blender the morning of. Also try adding some citrus, which instantly makes me feel awake and revitalized.

My favorite smoothie recipe:

  • 5 large strawberries
  • 1/6 of fresh pineapple
  • 8 oz. of unsweetened almond milk

Meditation

I must admit that the mornings I workout, I don’t have time to meditate before work but if you alternate between the two, I think it makes a significant impact on your morning. The term meditation means many things but what most important is that it’s a time for you to sit quiet with yourself and your thoughts. If you are religious, you can pray or just sit quiet and try and calm your thoughts. Here are several great resources on mediation. This is so crucial for starting your day with a clear mind and conscious. I feel much more receptive and present for my day.

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