30 Day Blogging Challenge?!

As of late, I’m often mentioning how my blog, the place where my Diva and the Divine brand all began, had taken a major backseat to my other methods of content creation (primarily my YouTube channel).  Since my channel often has easy reasons for me to create content, especially during vlogging months, it’s no surprise that my video content is more plentiful, but I truly want that to change.

Enter: the September 30 day blogging challenge!

There are plenty of month-long challenge out there, so I figured there had to be one for blogging as well. I popped it into the Pinterest search bar and a ton of results popped up with various prompts and writing challenges that last all month long, so I decided to jump on board! There are 30 days in September, and I want to publish a blog post of some kind for every single one of them.  Challenge ACCEPTED!

These posts will take on different forms. Listicles (articles that are written in list form), my normal content, fun things you didn’t know about me, and diary-type entries are just the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities are endless!

What I’m hoping to gain from this challenge is a little bit more motivation to really get cranking on my website. My hope is that I feel inspired to write, share more about myself and that I also figure out how to balance my time a bit better with a more emphasized focus on written content. I’m already getting better about waking up earlier, so the goal is to use the energy and time I gain from that to truly embrace the blogger lifestyle.  

That being said: 30 posts in 30 days! What would you like to hear about? Do you have any topics you’d like me to touch on? Do you have any questions about me that you would like me to answer? It’s an anything-goes kind of month. Come along for the ride! It will be a blast!

My Grace and Lace Sale Order


I know I am not typically the blogger that makes “hold the phone! There’s a big sale happening right now!!” posts, especially knowing that posts like that are usually just an excuse to pop some affiliate links on a post, but I’m making an exception today.  Grace and Lace is having a pretty significant Labor Day sale, and I just wanted to share my excitement because I personally took advantage of the sale.  Yes, there are affiliate links, but I’m not writing the post simply to post them, okay? 

Grace and Lace is a company that somehow made it onto my radar before their big break on Shark Tank, so I feel like I have an “I knew them when” relationship with them (they don’t know who I am at all). Over the years, I have watched the Grace and Lace inventory grow and change and now it’s a shop that makes me wish that almost every item was in my closet. Their style is very similar to mine, and if it wasn’t for the prices, I’d own a lot more from Grace and Lace, which is why this sale excited me greatly.

Pictured above and below are the 3 (yes only 3. I really restrained myself!) items I purchased from the sale. The denim jeggings are perhaps the most exciting piece, as I’ve been wanting them for a long time. Guys, these have an elastic waistband! Hello, looking cute and put together on days I just want to wear pajama bottoms around because I’m bloated and feeling blah! The excitement about these pants is very, very real.

The pocket T-shirt is final sale, which supposedly means there’s a flaw, but at the price for a still good quality shirt (in theory…I haven’t gotten to try these shirts yet), I decided to take my chances. Finally, the oversized cardigan is something I already have in my wardrobe and use all the time, so when I saw that it was half price, I jumped at the chance to buy another one in the beautiful blue shade because it’s so warm, so comfy, and just the perfect item for fall! 

Altogether, my order is one complete outfit, every item on sale, and all the pieces I will wear over and over again. I saw at least 4 or 5 other things I wanted to put in my cart, but by some miracle managed to control myself. I wanted to make sure I told you all about the Grace and Lace Labor Day Sale because it will be over before you know it.  Is there anything you have your eye on? If you’re interested in my choices, click the pictures!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mental Health Breaks (and Why It’s Okay to Need/Take One)

If you follow me on YouTube you might have seen that I posted about needing to take a mental health break even though I’m right in the middle of Vlogust and the goal of posting daily (which didn’t happen). I hesitated to publically announce that I needed a break, but once I did, the feedback was nothing but supportive. I’m not sure what I was worried about. Was it that I was going back on my word of posting something every day, or was I concerned that people would judge me for taking a mental health break? Whatever the reason was, my anxiety about it was clearly not necessary, and now, after a 4-day break of putting all of the work down, I feel ready to attack this again.

Why is there such a stigma around taking a break? It’s like if you’re not working yourself into oblivion then you’re doing something wrong. Granted, this judgment didn’t actually come at me from the outside (which I know it can), but I was the one judging myself for my “need” to take a break.  How crazy has this overworked society actually made us? 

Now, I do firmly believe that it is very easy to over-use “mental health break” as an excuse to be lazy, so let’s save them for when we really need them and not just when we don’t feel like putting in the work.  Read more

Why I’m Finally Setting (and Sticking To) Boundaries

I’m truly finding it difficult to find the right words for this post. I’m in a pickle that involves my personal boundaries that I’ve set for myself and the guilt I’m feeling for standing my ground. In the past, I wouldn’t necessarily have had the guts to stand my ground this firmly, especially after several people close to me try to list reason after reason why I should break my boundary and why I am a huge disappointment to them for saying “no.”

Ah, saying no. Something we women are known for having a very difficult time doing.  If saying no is something we were good at there wouldn’t be over a million search results that pop up when searching “how to say no.” Clearly, it’s something we are bad at, and I’m tired of being one of those people who can easily get guilted into doing something I honestly don’t want to do.  It’s easier for me to say no to some people, but it’s incredibly difficult for me to do, especially without getting significant backlash, when it comes to family. 

Having been a people pleaser my entire life, the last thing I want to hear is “I’m disappointed in you” or to have someone mad at me, so to prevent that from happening I would keep my mouth shut about how much I don’t want to do something and give of my time and/or resources anyway. More often than not this results in developing some negative feelings towards that person or thing, and the more I time I’m spending on this Earth the less tolerance I’m developing for feeling those negative emotions. I’m truly over harboring resentment and bitterness, and I want to approach every area of my life with joy and peace. Even if it’s something I don’t want to do, I can still do it joyfully. However, I feel like the lines in life are starting to blur together and what I value and prioritize is not getting respected by others, and this is an unacceptable thing.   

Recently I’ve started setting boundaries and let me tell you, it has ruffled some feathers. As I’ve gotten older, gotten married, and started a life that is separate from the home I grew up in, I’ve learned a lot about myself, the kind of goals I want to have set for my life, the desires my husband and I have for our life together, and the priorities I need to have set to be my best and happiest self. Learning these things and setting these goals came with a list of commitments and boundaries, and I’m finding that many of the things on this list people on the outside don’t really understand. 

As humans are all a little (or a lot) misunderstood. I don’t claim to fully know or understand anyone’s story or anyone’s truth other than my own. All I can give you is a little more information about me so you know exactly where I’m coming from and what my truths are. This is me (and now you’re singing that song from The Greatest Showman. You’re welcome!), and this is a little more of my thoughts about the parts of my life that are often misunderstood, even by those close to me.  Read more

Balancing My Buckets

My best friend from college texted me today asking for my top advice on how to start a blog.  While I hardly feel qualified to give her legitimate advice, one of the things I did tell her was to “just start.” How hypocritical of me to tell her to simply get something posted when I myself have only posted a whopping one blog post this entire month.  Granted, it’s mostly because I’ve got Vlogust happening over on my Youtube channel, but while that’s the truth, it’s also a totally reasonable excuse for me to hide behind. 

The truth is I’m trying really hard to find my “flow,” but it’s proving to be a struggle. The balance between blogger work and housewife work is quite frankly a little pretty difficult for me to figure out. If I’m being honest, without having a legit 8-hour work day income to show for the work I put into Diva and the Divine, it makes it difficult to prioritize putting in the crazy amount of work for such a small amount of payout when at the same time the whole housewife thing (which technically pays nothing, but it is, in fact, my job..for now) needs to take priority because my husband depends on me to be there. 

As a woman, there’s always this internal struggle to do what others expect of you first, often putting caring for yourself on the backburner. While this is only sort of the case for me, I still have several totally separate yet completely intertwined “buckets” that my activities and choices fall into. 

Bucket 1: Housewife

Being a housewife is truly a blessing. As you know, we don’t have any children (except for our dog, Gracie) and we are not planning on having any. This means that being a stay at home housewife is mostly just managing myself and my husband, which you would think would be pretty easy. Still, a 6.5 lb puppy makes messes and kicks up dust from who knows where, while my hardworking husband comes home and somehow manages to create more dirty laundry than I do, is often the reason I have to go grocery shopping more often than I would if it was just me, and the clutter that occurs between the two of us makes me feel like I could always be picking up, cleaning, or organizing something. Even without kids, housewifing can be a 100% full-time job. I honestly don’t know how you mommies do it. I know a handful of stay-at-home moms raising their beautiful kids, and I see some of what they post on Instastories (I have one friend in particular who posts the honest look at stay-at-home mommyhood and all its realness) and I salute you all. That job is not for the faint of heart.  And don’t even get me started on the mommies that also have jobs outside of the home. You all are the real MVPs, and I’m over here griping about how hard it sometimes is to manage a completely self-sufficient man (except when it comes to remembering where things are…that’s apparently solely my job) and a 6.5-pound pup. 

Now, in my defense, living with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease often means that many tasks (I’m looking at you, folding laundry, deep cleaning, and grocery shopping) takes me a bit longer and uses up a higher percentage of my energy than the “normal” person, but still..even knowing that fact about my body I still want to be the woman who can accomplish it all. Spoiler alert: Odds are I won’t ever get there. I need to start accepting that as fact and moving on.

Bucket 2: Blogger

This is where I want to be spending most of my time. Do you have any idea how much time creating a blog post or a Youtube video actually takes? Odds are the answer is at least twice as long as you think it does. I can easily spend 6 hours at the computer finishing up a video and blog post. Not starting and finishing…we’re talking 6 hours on a project that’s already halfway complete. No, I’m not exaggerating. Putting in the work to make my brand as lucrative as I’d like (which is to say actually adding an impactful income to the family bank account) would mean that I’m working at minimum a 40 hour work week. I know that’s what most people do to begin with, but they actually have the cash flow to back up that work. I know, I’m complaining and my lack of success is likely due to poor time management, but I swear I am actively trying to get my head screwed on straight, a schedule in order, and actually make this what I want it to be. 

I am one of those people who is a lot of brainstorming with a significantly less amount of production to show for it. I have lists of ideas everywhere. I get giddy with excitement when I come up with a new title for a post that I’m sure is going to help someone or motivate someone. I love using my blog and channel to help people, and ultimately that’s what I want to do: Help others. However, I probably crank out one post for every 5 that I come up with. Even as I’m typing this word-vomit post my head is spinning with 42,057 other thoughts floating around in there trying to pull my focus. It’s what I deal with every single time I try to work. There’s a reason I went into music in college. Singing tunes out the crazy. Typing does not. 

Bucket 3: Chronic Dieter & Weight Watcher

This might sound silly giving weight loss a bucket all it’s own, but every single day it truly feels like it is it’s own highly time-consuming bucket. Not only do I want to spend time prepping meals, tracking calories or Points, and getting to the gym for myself, but it directly corresponds with bucket #2, as 95% of my followers consume my weight loss related content more than anything else. The fact that I haven’t gotten where I want to go yet in this arena infuriates me to no end, but I also believe there are some huge mental roadblocks here. My biggest one: If I hit my goal weight I won’t be able to talk about my weight loss journey anymore and people will stop watching/reading. Is this fact? It could be, but what a stupid reason to be mentally stalled out at achieving something so important to me. 

So what if people stop watching? Quite frankly, for one reason or another, my views have tanked on YouTube anyway (I fully blame something on YouTube’s end, but hey, it could be my fault too), so it doesn’t actually matter! The “worst” has already happened, and guess what? I’m still here, I’m still creating content, and the people that are meant to see it will see it, so stop screwing with yourself and just get it done. Then you’ll have an entire bucket that can just go away! Won’t that feel great?!

(Clearly, this is turning into a pep talk for myself)

What’s the point of my ramble? 

The point was to have something to publish today so the advice I gave to my friend wasn’t completely hypocritical. Even more importantly, it was to give all of you a little insight into the way my mind has been messing with me lately. As I typed out all of this, as legit as it all might be (or not), I see what I wrote as a giant list of excuses for why I’m not doing what I want to be doing. Am I being too hard on myself? Maybe. Am I actually spot on and these are all just excuses, and I just need to get it together and get things done? Very likely. Either way, it’s out in the open and you guys now know what the struggles are and you can keep me accountable to managing my time and tasks, and hopefully, I can balance my buckets better.

I am truly inspired by all of the women out there working hard, hustling towards their dreams, and raising little ones on the way. Kids or no kids, I want to be more like you, and that is what will motivate me to get up and try harder tomorrow. 

 

 

 

 

My 5 Favorite Self-Help Books (and How To Read Them For Free)

Today is Book Lover’s Day! To celebrate the day I want to share a few of my favorite self-help books with you. I am a huge lover of the self-help genre, as I firmly believe there is always something more that we can learn to grow, develop, or simply gain a different perspective on life.  I’m not just talking about diet and fitness books either. I love reading about everything from productivity and changing your habits to marriage and relationship development. Within the self-help genre, there is definitely something for everyone. 

My top 5 books cover all different genres and I believe each one is worth a read for one reason or another.  If you’re interested in getting your hands on these books for free, it turns out they’re all available on the Scribd app (this isn’t sponsored by them or anything. This just happens to be how I consume most of my books as of late). If you want two months of Scribd for free, use my referral link and your first two months are on them ($8.99 a month after that). Some of the books are audiobooks on Scribd, but there is access to all 5 in one form or another. Of course, you could just go on Amazon or even your local library to get your hands on these books too. Whatever works for you. Read more

My 2018 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks

I know, I know. I’m not a fashion blogger. Far from it, actually.  When it comes to clothes I regularly live in 2 different camps: comfy loungewear/workout clothes or “I need to look put together” for when I go out. Both of these categories will have one trait in common if they’re in my wardrobe and that is comfort.  Even if I’m trying to look super done up and cute, I still want to feel comfortable and be able to move with ease, which is why most of my clothing choices are basics that I can easily dress up or down.

Every year I look at the Nordstrom anniversary sale primarily because so many bloggers that I follow keep dishing out their recommendations and I end up intrigued. This year, I decided to look on my own, without much influence from those I follow on Instagram, just to see if there was anything that jumped out at me as something that would end up on my personal wishlist, and much to my surprise there was a solid handful of items that I would love to add to my cart. 

In the images below you’ll see all of my choices. I managed to find several things that fit right into my typical wardrobe choices like leggings and inexpensive basic Ts, but I also found a few things that I don’t own that I want, like the hoodie with a wider neck. Does anyone else feel like regular hoodies are a little too constricting around your neck area?

I’m learning that I am very drawn to the colored moto jacket, as evidenced by my two choices below. There’s just something so perfect about being able to wear jeans and a T, and by adding this brilliantly colored jacket you’ve automatically dressed it up into something fabulous. I seriously wouldn’t be opposed to having a moto jacket in 5 or 6 different colors. 

Of course, I had to take a stroll through the beauty sales, and while there was a lot that didn’t interest me, there were several items that are 100% worth it. First, the Elemis cleanser that I use regularly is available in a jumbo size for a killer price. I’m still working my way through my first bottle that I started using in December, so a little goes a LONG way. Believe it or not, I’m a big fan of Makeup Eraser cloths, as they actually do what they’re supposed to, and you can get a 2 pack on a pretty deep discount. Lastly, there’s a great trio of Stila’s glitter and glow liquid eyeshadows that are basically all I want to wear on my eyes lately.  I own 4 of them and am truly anticipating a Christmas wishlist with at least 5 more shades on it. They’re wonderful, especially if you like sparkle as much as I do. 

All of my picks for the sale are down below, and there’s a little something for everyone.  Enjoy! 

Food Sensitivity Testing With EverlyWell | EverlyWell Review

Food sensitivities and intolerances are a hot-button topic right now. People are self-diagnosing left and right and you see all sorts of diets (gluten-free, dairy-free, etc) all over the place. Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t people that legitimately need to avoid these foods, but I also am saying that are probably many people starting elimination type diets simply to be on trend or because they think they have an intolerance to something. 

I’m not going to lie, I’ve often wondered the same thing about my body. I don’t want to be required to live a dairy-free or gluten-free lifestyle, but I can’t help but wonder if I should.  Some of the symptoms of food intolerances are things I experience regularly, like skin issues (major skin issues), fatigue, brain fog, and of course the whole gas and bloating thing.  What originally sparked my interest in food sensitivities was not because I had these symptoms, but because I seemed to get these symptoms at weird and random times. There are some days I wake up and am having a great skin day (some people have good/bad hair days. I pay more attention to good/bad skin days) where my acne and redness seems to be less angry than normal and I feel somewhat confident in my skin. Then there are days where I wake up and my skin thinks I’m 15 again, hormones raging and acne raging right along with it. Breakouts everywhere. I never know if it’s my skincare (not likely) or my diet. If it’s my diet, why do I have good days and bad days?

I also experience the same thing with gas and bloating. As a chronic Weight Watcher and calorie counter, I consider a good day of eating to be when I’m fueling myself with healthy, clean foods and staying within my calorie range. Imagine my surprise when I am fueling my body so well (think lean protein, fruits, and veggies, whole grains, clean, good stuff) and in the evening I still end up extra gassy and feeling bloated despite doing everything “right” and staying away from junk. Then there are days where I feel great and have no issues. What in the world is going on?!

It dawned on me recently that while I don’t have any food allergies, there could always be a possibility of there being foods that my body has a reaction to that could be causing my issues. Ever since I considered this possibility, I wanted to get an official test done. Not an allergy test (I’ve had that done and despite being allergic to plenty of things, I’m not allergic to any foods), but a food sensitivity test. Apparently, this isn’t as easy to find as you’d think.

Until now…

Meet EverlyWell

I can’t remember how I heard of EverlyWell, but I know they were on my radar before they had their big moment on Shark Tank (one of my all-time favorite TV shows). EverlyWell is a company that offers at-home health testing. No doctors appointments, no health insurance. Just collecting a few drops of blood and sending it off to the lab the company works with. Then you can view your results online.  I mean, how can you not want to participate in something that easy?

EverlyWell has a ton of at home tests available, but the highlight for me was knowing there’s a food sensitivity test available. The EverlyWell food sensitivity test measures the body’s IgG immune response to 96 different foods that are most common in western diets. This test is different from a food allergy test. Allergies can be life-threatening, so if you think it’s an allergy you should head to your doctor. Allergies are tested by measuring IgE antibodies, which cannot currently be done at home. 

As I said, food sensitivities can trigger different physical symptoms. Some examples are:

  • Dry and itchy skin
  • Other miscellaneous skin problems (my issue is adult acne)
  • Food intolerance
  • Feeling bloated after eating
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Migraines
  • Headaches
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) distress
  • Stomach pain

Are you intrigued yet? I certainly was. Thankfully, I reached out to EverlyWell and they agreed to let me take the test in exchange for a review about the experience. As you guys know by now, I’m always honest and transparent about things like this, so yes, I got to take the test for free, but my experience and opinions are 100% my own opinions. Okay, now that we’re clear about that, let’s dive into my personal experience with this test. 

My EverlyWell Experience

I received my test in a timely manner, and everything was so organized it’s basically fool-proof. Here’s what came in the box:

  • alcohol wipe
  • bandage
  • gauze
  • 3 lancets
  • sample collection card
  • biohazard bag
  • EverlyWell bandage holder
  • mailing bag
  • registration code
  • instructions

The first thing you do when you have your kit is go to the EverlyWell website and get it all registered. Since all of your results are online, this is very important.  After you get your kit registered it’s time to get your blood sample collected. 

Using your ring or pinky finger (that’s what they suggest anyway) for the sample, all you do is wash your hands under running warm water (they don’t say anything about soap) for 30 seconds, dry, then take the alcohol wipe and clean the area. Use the lancet to prick your skin, then squeeze so you get a complete drop of blood. in a perfect world, you get 5 beautiful drops smack in the center of the circles on the first try, however, we all know things don’t always work out like that. Hence the bonus lancets, just in case you need to prick yourself again. Once your samples are collected let the card air dry for 30 minutes before putting it in the biohazard bag. Then package it back in the box, put it in the already labeled bag and send it off. Easy peasy!

Once the package arrives at the lab they’ll let you know and then it’s about 5 business days until your results are ready. I was super anxious to get them simply because I love knowing what is going on in my body, good, bad, or otherwise, and these results would hopefully give me even more insight into how my body works and how I can aid it in feeling its best.  Finally, 4 days later (yes, earlier than estimated) my results were in!

My EverlyWell Food Sensitivity Test Results

The first thing you see when you log in to your test results is a summary page telling you how many of each of the 96 foods landed in which level of reactivity. Your 4 options are high, moderate, mild, and low reactivities.  Foods clocking in at high and moderate are the ones most likely to be causing any issues and are the place to start when it comes to elimination in your diet. After doing that they suggest trying to eliminate some of the mild reactivity foods and after a period of time adding them back in one by one to see if they cause any of your issues as well. 

Ready to see my results??  Drum roll, please!

Right off the bat, I can rest easy, as there are ZERO foods that I’m highly reactive to. Hallelujah, happy day! However, you can see that I’m not totally in the clear, as I do have a whopping 1 food in the moderate category and 19 in the mild category.  Any guesses as to what my most reactive food is?  I thought for sure I’d be reactive in some way to dairy products, because dairy can cause acne and digestive issues and thanks to my love of protein, which includes yogurt, cheese, and of course all of the whey protein found in Quest products, it would only make sense that dairy is my obvious answer.  Was I right??

This deserves another drumroll…

GRAPES?!

Yup! Apparently, the food I am most reactive to is grapes. Who would have thought? Certainly not me!

Thankfully that’s the only thing that had a high enough reactivity for me to be concerned. I also reacted to 19 foods in the mild area, and the rest were low (meaning nothing to be concerned about) reactivity. See all of my results below. 

 

 

 

The surprises (other than the grapes) were gluten (and everything associated with it) and eggs being reactive and dairy having low enough reactivity where it isn’t an issue. I thought for sure dairy would be something that causes an issue for me, but alas, I was wrong! 

Will this change any of my habits? Maybe..

Grapes aren’t difficult for me to give up, as I don’t consume them much anyway. The biggest sacrifice would be having to give up wine. I don’t drink often at all, so having the occasional glass of wine is totally worth it for me, as I rarely overdo it anyway. Generally, leaving grapes behind will be easy. 

Gluten and eggs were a big shocker, and they’re both things that are in my diet every single day. Will I stop eating them? Probably not, but I will be considerate of the amount I consume in the future. Mindfulness is key here.

If I wanted to properly do an elimination diet, EverlyWell suggests eliminating all reactive foods for 30 days, then slowly re-introducing them one by one until you discover which food is the one causing the problem. While this is something I could do, I don’t immediately feel the need to go through such a serious process. However, if lightning and being mindful of consuming the foods I appear to be reactive to doesn’t solve my problems, then I might consider doing an elimination diet in the future. For now, I’m just going to be aware of what I’m eating and try and focus on more foods with a low reactivity, and peppering in my miles reactivity foods when they really count.

So that was my experience getting a food sensitivity test done from the comfort of my own home. Does this have you intrigued yet? If yes, I’ve got great news for you. The lovely people EverlyWell gave me a special code just for my readers. 

Use code DIVADIVINE for 15% off any EverlyWell test!! Hooray!

I emphasize the word any test because EverlyWell does more than just the at-home food sensitivity test. You can test your hormone levels, metabolism, and even get STD testing from the comfort of your own home thanks to this company. There’s an entire list of available tests on their website, so head over to EverlyWell to find out what tests are available to you. My code will get you 15% off whatever test you might decide to try. 

Have you ever had a food sensitivity test done? What were your reactions to the results, and did they change your eating habits in any way? Let me know in the comments below.  

Sephora Play! July 2018

Sephora Play is one of two subscription boxes I still subscribe to (the other being FabFitFun) and for good reason. Most of the times, my boxes are filled with deluxe-sized samples that are things I’m actually thrilled about trying.  This month had some exceptional choices that are perfect for me, so I’m beyond thrilled with my box. I know I’m really bad at sharing them with you, but I promise I will try and get better about making it a monthly habit to share these subscriptions.

This month’s box was themed “the good stuff,” which means everything in the box is free of parabens, phthaltes, and sulfates for a cleaner beauty routine. 

Here’s what my $10 earned me this month.  

Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer

A hydrating gel that uses 100% plant-derived ingredients for brighter, balanced skin. Both squalene and probiotics are definitely hot in skincare right now, so it’s nice to have them both packed into one little moisturizer.  Biossance is a brand that seems to be getting really high reviews, and while I’ve only ever tried a sample of their retinol serum, it’s a brand that is on my radar, so I’m excited to have something else of theirs to try. 

Algenist GENIUS Liquid Collagen

A vegan, collagen-based serum that visibly restores skin’s suppleness and resilience. Collagen is also very trending right now, both topically and as something to take internally.  Apparently, we don’t get enough collagen naturally, and it’s one of the best things for our skin to help prevent signs of aging. I tried this serum once, and the consistency is a little weird because of the beads of microalgae in the container, but they melted into my skin quite nicely. This is also something I’m looking forward to using. 

Briogeo Rosarco Blow Dry Perfection Heat Protectant Creme

A heat protectant blow dry cream that boosts hair’s luster and softness. I love a good blow dry creme, as I find they really do help make my blowdry a little sleeker and smoother. My current go to is by Bumble & Bumble, but I’m always open to trying something new.  The only bummer about this is it’s a single use packet, but I much prefer something like this over a perfume sample, so I’m glad to have received this instead. 

Korres Wild Rose Vitamin C Active Brightening Oil

An Ultra concentrated vitamin C face oil that reduced the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Two oils in one box? Yes indeed.  This serum is formulated to help brighten the skin with a heavy dose of vitamin C in each drop.  I gave this a try last night, and I won’t lie, my skin feels really soft this morning. I’m not entirely sure if it’s because of this serum or the combination of products I’ve been using lately, but either way, I like it. Buyer beware: if you don’t like the scent of rose, you will not like this product. 

Tarte Color Splash Lipstick in Salt Lyfe

A long-wear, full-coverage nude lipstick with a satin finish that hydrates and conditions. It’s formulated with algae to helps lips look smoother, and it’s vegan-friendly. I just applied it to see how it looks and feels, and I actually am really enjoying it. The color applied evenly and with pretty heavy pigmentation considering how light the lipstick feels. It’s got a hydrating almost watery feel to it, which is pretty comfortable, but I’m not optimistic as to how long the color actually lasts. Still, it’s hydrating, looks nice, and feels even nicer, which is good enough for me. Also, thank you Sephora for sending me a nude shade rather than the crazy bold colors you normally send that I’ll rarely wear. 

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-hour Blush in Paaarty

This blush was worth the $10 alone for me, so if you add in everything else, I definitely got my money’s worth this month. The shade Paaarty is a Sephora exclusive shade and it was actually part of last year’s Beauty Insider birthday gift, so I already have this exact shade in this size. Why am I so pumped about getting something I already own? Becuase I absolutely love it! It’s a beautiful matte pink that is perfect for everyday wear, and it has been the blush I’ve been reaching for most often, so of course, I’d be thrilled to have another one. 

As I said, I am super pleased with this box, and I look forward to giving all of these products a try. For $10 a month, Sephora Play is hands down my favorite monthly subscription because it sends products from brands found in their store, which are all brands I trust. Are you a Sephora Play member? What did you receive in your July box?

7 Days of the Fab 4 Smoothie

 

As a chronic Weight Watcher, I’ve always had a certain way of thinking when it came to various macros. Generally, the rules are protein and fiber = good and fat and sugar = bad, right? Well as our diet culture continues to grow and change (which is a whole topic on its own), the keto diet has become a wildly trendy diet to be following. For those that don’t know, the keto diet is ahigh fat and way low carb way of eating. Think no sugar but all of the bacon and avocado you could ever want.  Now, before you get all in a tizzy, no, I am not going Keto. Simply put, I like sugar and carbs too much to give them up completely. While I’m not team Keto, I have been more and more intrigued by the idea of fat not being a “bad” food, but instead embracing the fat and using it to my diet’s advantage. Enter: Kelly LaVeque.

Kelly is a nutritionist and the author of the book Body Love. I actually heard Kelly speak on two separate podcasts that I love, so once I heard her the second time, I started thinking I should look into her way of eating a bit more. In a nutshell, Kelly’s approach involves creating your meals based on the “Fab 4”

The Fab 4

  • Protein

  • Fat (yes, fat)

  • Fiber

  • Greens

Notice how fat is listed in there? A solid combination of these types of foods will help keep you fuller longer, prevent blood sugar spikes, and help prevent turning your fuel into fat as well as promoting weight loss if that’s your goal.  I could dive in a lot deeper, but basically, that’s what you need to know about Kelly’s way of eating. If you want more information, I highly recommend her book, Body Love.

A cornerstone for Kelly’s Fab 4 lifestyle is the Fab 4 Smoothie. This is basically taking all of the components of a Fab 4 meal, and blending them up into an easy to consume breakfast that is satisfying, healthy, and metabolism-boosting.  Since there are a lot of her clients that start the day like this, I decided I wanted to give it a try, so I challenged myself to an entire week of consuming a Fab 4 smoothie at the start of my day just to see what happened. My start date was last Monday 7/9/18, and now the results are in.

My 7 Day Fab 4 Smoothie Challenge

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