Category Archives: Beauty

Holiday Survival: Essential Oils Edition

Essential Oils 2I think it’s pretty safe to say that we have all heard of essential oils or know someone who uses them or is a distributor of them. Being the skeptic that I normally am, I didn’t buy into this hype at first, but I finally caved after ending up in the hospital with terrible headaches last year.

A friend of mine sent me some Young Living essential oils samples, I gave them a try and they worked!

(Note: If you receive samples, be very careful when opening the tiny packets. I was not and spilled Lavender oil EVERYWHERE. It resulted in the entire family having the best night of sleep they’ve every had, so I guess it wasn’t the worst experience ever.)

As we head into the holiday season and the winter, I thought this would be a good topic to cover, so I spoke with some friends who swear by their love of oils and put together a short list of how essential oils can help you to relax, destress and just flat out survive the holidays!

Plus they apparently make good stocking stuffers too!

essential oils stocking stuffers

Lavender: Can be diffused for a calming and comforting scent. You can add a few drops to Epsom salts for a relaxing nighttime bath. They can also be added to lotions or use with a carrier oil to apply to skin to soothe and help promote relaxation before sleep. You can add a few drops to distilled water in a spray bottle and spray on pillows and sheets as a linen spray to promote sleep.

Frankincense: Can be diffused or inhaled directly to increase spirituality and inner strength, lift mood and help balance emotions. I have also heard that when inhaled, it has been shown to reduce heart rate and high blood pressure. It has anti-anxiety and depression reducing abilities, but unlike prescription medications it does not have negative side effects and does not cause unwanted drowsiness. (This is not proven…just personal accounts from people I have spoken to.)

Peppermint: Peppermint has many uses that can come in handy for the holidays. It can be added to herbal tea to help soothe upset stomach. Some people also use with a carrier oil to rub topically on the stomach for stomach issues or use it topically to help with muscle stiffness and pain caused by shopping marathons again.

While I am not tied to Young Living Essential oils, I know that they can be used in recipes requiring peppermint extract. Substitute 1/8 tsp of Young Living peppermint oil per teaspoon of extract. After that a drop at a time can be added until desired taste. (Note: Check the labels before using other brands of oil for ingestion. Many oils are compromised with synthetic materials and I would not recommend ingesting that.)

Thieves oil:  A proprietary blend developed by Young Living but it has been duplicated and I have seen it elsewhere. Thieves essential oil blend was inspired by the legend of four 15th-century French thieves who formulated a special aromatic combination composed of clove, rosemary, and other botanicals they used while robbing the victims of the plague. Amazingly they did not fall ill. Therefore Thieves oil supports healthy immune function.

There are so many oils that I couldn’t possibly cover them all, so I found a neat little chart for you instead!

How to use oils: Apply directly on the desired area according to dilution instructions. Always use a carrier oil, which is a non-essential oil used to dilute the essential oils. This also makes your oils last longer. Some examples of a carrier oil are: coconut oil, sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil and olive oil.

-Research has shown that Essential oils quickly penetrate the skin. because of this ability, essential oils can affect the cells of the human body within minutes. Suggested areas for application: feet, behind the ears, wrists on the front of neck, and base of the skull.

Aromatic use: Diffuse oils with an ultrasonic diffuser. Putting a drop in your cupped hand and inhale slowly for 1 minute. Smell it directly from the bottle. Put a couple drops on cotton balls near air vents at home or in the car. Essential Oils containing sesquiterpines have the ability to pass the blood brain barrier making them an effective alternative in enhancing mental clarity and memory, while also promoting calmness and peace of mind.

 So, as you can see, essential oils can allow you to take control of your own health and wellness while keeping your environment free of toxic chemicals. They can help to reduce some stress and take the edge off of the holidays season without turning to nighttime cocktails while wrapping presents or driving from store to store.
 
For more information, contact your local Young Living or other independent essential oils rep and see how they can help you!
 
Already using oils in your daily life? Share your favorite oil and how you use it in the comments below!
 
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**Disclamer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products ideas and techniques mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. This is not a sponsored post. I did not receive any compensation to write this. They are just my thoughts and opinions.

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{Summer Beauty} Coconut Lime Scrub

Can you believe it is July already?!

Sorry I’ve been MIA again lately. With the end of the school year, two kids graduation from their schools and getting into the summer routine, I’ve been a little lost. On the bright side, my brain has been going non-stop about new posts to s

We’re been having some strange weather here in New Jersey. Warm one minute, fall the next, however my skin is a constant reminder of winter. It’s dry and itchy and just not summer ready. I decide to quit relying on just lotion and I whipped up some exfoliating scrub after hitting Pinterest for some winter skin solutions.

This stuff smells ah-mazing and left me skin feeling smooth, hydrated and ready to slip into a pair of short or sundress.

Coconut Lime Scrub

Coconut Lime Scrub
1/4 cup Unrefined Coconut Oil
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
2 Tbsp Lime Juice
Lime Zest
Lime Essential Oil (if desired)

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Store in a mason jar and use while you shower!

You can use the base recipe of coconut oil & sugar and change the scent if you’d like. Essential oils are very popular these days, so get creative and have fun! Lavender would be a great option to help you relax if you like to shower before bed.

Do you have a summer beauty tip that you can’t live without? Please share below so I can give it a try!

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My New BFF…Coconut Oil

Coconut OilI first heard of coconut oil a few years ago when my husband was trying to replicate his beloved movie theater popcorn. We bought some and it was used only making popcorn…and I don’t mean the healthy kind.

A little over a year ago, I began learning more about the Paleo style of eating and noticed that many of the recipes called for coconut oil instead of olive oil or other conventional oils. Around that same time, a friend of mine said that she recently began using coconut oil as a hair mask and I had to try it. Obviously curiosity took over and I tried using coconut oil in these new ways. I was instantly hooked and coconut oil has quickly become my go-to item for many different uses. As a matter of fact, I have three jars of it in my house at all times…1 in the kitchen for cooking, 1 in the bathroom and 1 in the bedroom for moisturizing and health & beauty purposes.

Ways I Use Coconut Oil
Cooking – I have been using coconut oil instead of olive oil when cooking for almost a year now. Coconut oil is able to tolerate high heats very well, so I’ve been using it in when I stir-fry or saute vegetables. It’s also great for baking and can be substituted in a 1 to 1 ratio. Coconut oil is a saturated fat, but it is cholesterol free and trans-fatty acid free and has actually been shown to help lower cholesterol levels due to its ability to stimulate thyroid function.

Skin Care – NJ winters tend to leave my skin dull, dry and scaly, but not anymore! I started using coconut as a moisturizer and my skin is now silky smooth. I began by applying a small amount of coconut oil to my skin after my showers, but now I even use it in place of shaving cream. You can also use it as a facial moisturizer. It may feel a little greasy at first, but the skin quickly absorbs it and leaves your skin looking refreshed and glowing. Coconut oil has even been shown to help with skin issues such as psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema.

First Aid – Speaking of applying it to skin, I recently found out that coconut oil helps to repair skin that has been cut, scraped or bruised. I noticed it on myself as a side effect of using it daily and after a little reading, found out that it forms a barrier that keeps dirt, bacteria and viruses out of wounds. It also speeds up the healing process and can help bruises heal faster. I was skeptical when I read that it can help reduce the visibility of varicose veins but I tried it and guess what…it works!

Hair Care – As I mentioned above, a friend of mine told me that she used coconut oil as a hair mask, so I had to give it a try. I warn you…it gets messy, but it’s totally worth it. I applied the coconut oil to my hair liberally and gathered my hair on top of my head so I could apply a shower cap (trust me, you want to use the shower cap. I tried it without and was running down my face and neck. Gross). I left it on for about an hour and then shampooed as normal. My hair instantly felt soft and smooth and my curls were more manageable. I’ve also noticed I don’t have issues with flaky scalp or dandruff anymore, which is a nice bonus!

Oral Health – While I’ve seen pins about brushing your teeth with coconut, I have not tried that. What I have tried is “oil pulling” which  involves rinsing (swishing) approximately one tablespoon of coconut oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes and then spitting it into the trash before rinsing your mouth out with water. As the oil hits your teeth and gums, microbes are picked up as if they are being pulled out by a powerful magnet, then bacteria hiding in the gums and in pores within the teeth are sucked out of their hiding places and held firmly in the solution. The oil needs to be swished until it turns a milky white which means it is full of bacteria. It takes a little getting used to and you may need to start with a smaller amount of oil and work your way up. Just make sure you spit the oil into the trash and not the sink or toilet. Coconut oil turns hard at certain temperatures so it can clog drains. You also want to make sure you don’t swallow any of the oil since it is full of bacteria. People that “oil pull” claim that it helps to whiten their teeth, reduces halitosis, relieve gum and tooth sensitivity and reduce gingivitis. I began trying it when I heard it can help to alleviate jaw pain and it’s worked!

Digestion – The saturated fat in coconut oil has anti-bacterial properties that help control parasites and fungi that can cause indigestion and other digestion issues. The fat in coconut oil also helps to aid in the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Coconut oil has also been shown to improve your metabolism and thyroid function, while increasing your energy levels.

These are only a few of the many uses for it…and as you can see it’s pretty damn versatile!

Do you use coconut oil in your daily life? Have a use for it that is not listed above…please share cause I’d love to hear how you use it!

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{Product Review} Ivory 2-in-1 Hair & Body Wash

I recently received another product from Influenster to test and I must say, I was quite impressed.

The product I received was the Ivory 2-in-1 Hair & Body Wash.

Ivory 2-in-1 Hair & Body Wash

I’m not normally a fan of 2-in-1 products, but my husband and son are so I asked them to join in and give this product a try too.

Upon first opening the box to see what I received, I was not at all impressed by the design Ivory chose for this product. If I was in the store shopping, I’d pass it right by, but I wasn’t in the store, so the next obvious thing to do was flip open the top and check out the scent. This I was very pleased with. It had a nice, clean scent it, without being overpowering, too feminine or too masculine. Nice save Ivory, however that packaging still needs some help.

Of course the next step was to actually shower with it. I reluctantly hopped into the shower and used only one product for my entire shower. This is completely foreign for me but I was pleased with the results. It gave a nice lather when added to my puffy sponge (do those things even have an actual name?) and it left my hair clean and manageable without drying it out or leaving a heavy feeling to it. (Both a plus since I have curly hair that I straighten daily.)

My husband and two kids also really liked this product, so it was a win with everyone in the family. (How often does THAT happen?!)

I think this would be a great addition to your gym bag or suitcase when traveling. Who wouldn’t want to lug around less bottles but still smell good, feel moisturized and have clean manageable hair?! I know I’m all for “less is more”  in both of these cases.

While I don’t think the Ivory 2-in-1 Hair & Body Wash will replace my normal products, I do see a use for it and would definitely purchase it. I know my kids liked it and showers become a twice a day thing around here in the summer, so this could definitely make life easier. Two kids, one product, less empty bottles to recycle…. who knew my laziness could be good for the earth as well!

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A Day In NYC for #FitBlogNYC (Part Two)

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Welcome to Part Two of my #FitBlogNYC recap! I hope you found some helpful info from my first post about the amazing speakers who FITNESS lined up for us! If you somehow missed it, please take a moment to check it out here: A Day In NYC for #FitBlogNYC (Part One)

After our information packed morning of seminars, FITNESS provided lunch for all of the bloggers in attendance and an opportunity to visit all of the sponsor tables that were set up inside of the Mercedes Club. When we arrived at the event, we were given a program and on the back of it was a list of all of the sponsors. We had to use this as a sort of passport and collect stickers from each vendor in order to earn an amazing swag bag!

First up was Saucony, since we encountered their table immediately upon going inside. They had a table set up with amazing running shoes, in bright, fun colors. Looking at the array of colors just made you instantly happy, so you could image how I was about to burst with joy when I found out that we were all receiving a pair of them!! The shoe being featured were the Kinvara 4’s and they are simply #Kickassimus and will help me #FindYourStrong!

#Kickassimus #FindYourStrong

For specs on the Kinvara 4 running shoes click here.

Next up was the Athleta table. They had a table full of swimwear on display for us to check out and two racks full of different athletic wear. While taking everything in, we were told about an Instagram contest they were running. We were to pick out an outfit we liked from the rack and Instagram a photo of it with the hashtag #PowerToTheShe. A winner was selected at midnight based on who had the most likes. Obviously, I did not win, but it was fun anyway!

Athleta #FitBlogNYC 2013

From there we moved over to the Marmot table where we met Paige Claassen who is a Professional Climber. She will be taking part in the Lead Now Tour, which is a global tour to inspire people through rock climbing. While speaking with her, I learned that she will be traveling the world for year during this tour and that she is most excited to visit South Africa, which is where the tour kicks off.

Marmot #FitBlogNYC 2013

For more information on Paige and Lead Now, click here.

The next table I visited was sponsored by Tonalin. I had never heard of them before, but learned that their products are used for reducing body fat and are sourced from natural safflower oil. Tonalin CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is natural and environmentally sustainable. I don’t know how much I buy into supplements like these, but if you have ever used them and have seen good results, I’d love to hear about your experience.

The items shown here where offered as a giveway during the event.

From here I moved on to the Reebok table and it was fabulous! They had a great display of their CrossFit sneakers set-up for us to check out, along with some of their new #LiveWithFire apparel! There was also a photo-op set up here. We got to write a catchy phrase on a white board, along with our blog/twitter information and have our photo taken. Later, we found out that Reebok had also given us all a pair of their SubLite Train 1.0 sneakers (not featured in this photo) to try out! Score!

#LiveWithFire

For more information on the SubLite Train 1.0 sneakers, click here.

Vichy Laboratoires was the next table I visited. Upon arriving there, we were presented with an iPad and earbuds so we could watch this funny video, which is part of their #celluliteconfessions campaign:

After laughing for a while and joking with Violet Zaki (Fitness Expert, Owner of ZakiFitness and Equinox Instructor), we were introduced to CelluDeStock and their new Capital Soleil Lightweight Foaming Lotion SPF 50, which smells amazing and doesn’t leave that gross sunscreen feeling on your skin. Vichy was kind enough to offer us a full size bottle of each in our swag bags, so I’m sure I’ll have more to offer on these products soon!

#celluliteconfessions

Our next sponsor was Smart Balance and they had a very fun set-up for us. First, we were offered a little snack made with Smart Balance peanut butter, of course! They were No Bake Peanut Butter Cocoa Cookies and they were yummy! They were also kind enough to have the recipe printed out for us to take home, so I figured I’d share with you, too!

Smart Balance No Bake Peanut Butter Cocoa Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Smart Balance Fat Free Milk and Omega 3s
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 Tbsp Smart Balance Blended Butter Sticks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups oatmeal
  • 3/4 cup Smart Balance Rich Roast Chunky Peanut Butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Boil the Smart Balance Fat Free Milk and Omega 3s, cocoa, Smart Balance Blended Butter Stick and sugar in a small pot for two minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add oatmeal, Smart Balance Rich Roast Chunky Peanut Butter and vanilla.
  • Drop by heaping tablespoons onto parchment paper or way paper. Let cool for at least 1 hour before eating.

Nutrition Fact: Serves 40. Nutrition per serving: Calories 72, Fat 3g, Saturated Fat 1g, Poly Fat 0, Mono Fat 2g, Trans Fatty Acids 0g, Cholesterol 1mg, Sodium 29mg, Carbohydrates 9g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Protein 2g.

They also had a fun aspect to their table. There were headbands for us to wear with the hashtag #BalancedBlogger on it and we had to attempt to do a fun pose on a Bosu Ball while wearing it. It was an interesting couple of minutes as I tried to balance on one leg for a photo. Luckily the representative taking the photo caught it right before I fell off. Good times! For our efforts we earned a jar of their peanut butter in our choice of chunky or creamy. If you Instagramed and tweeted the photo, you also earned the chance to win free Smart Balance peanut butter for a year.

I'm a #BalancedBlogger

The final sponsor we visited before giving into our hunger and breaking for lunch was Crystal Light. They had a table set-up with cups of water and a few sample flavors of their new #CrystalLightLiquid flavoring. We had a choice of trying Blueberry Raspberry, Pomtini or Strawberry Lemonade, which is what I opted for. I liked that you could control how much flavor was added to your water and that it wasn’t overly sweet because of that.

#CrystalLightLiquid

From here we took a break to grab some food and head back outside to socialize and enjoy the gorgeous weather NYC was having that day.

CamelBak #FitBlogNYC 2013

#FitBlogNYC 2013 Menu

#FitBlogNYC 2013 Reunion

I wish I had taken more photos of the bloggers I met during the event, but it complete mental overload and I was honestly more into socializing than documenting by this point. It was nice to meet up with Jen (@MomsGottaRun) since we went to High School together and it had been years since I’d seen her.

After lunch we headed inside to visit the final sponsor table, which was brought to us by Ford Fiesta and their #FiestaMovement. They had a fun photo booth set up so myself, Sylvia (@Frolic_Life_Syl) and Susan (@SusanFishback) participated together.

To view our video as well as others from this event  click here.

Our final event of the day was the group workout. Those of you who read my blog regularly already know we had a choice of three workouts. A Cardio Dance Party, Yoga or a Group Run. I chose the run so I quickly changed into a tank top and met my group. The run was being sponsored by Saucony and was being lead by Dorothy Beal (@MilePosts) who is a marathoner, mom of 3, cover model and running coach. Our group wasn’t very big, but it was full of some runners who know their stuff and could easily do the 3 miles we set out to do. I felt great at first and was keeping pace with some of the newer runners, like myself, but as we continued our run along the Hudson River, I suddenly felt the familiar tightening of my chest… the one that has driven me crazy since I was Derailed By The Plague back in March.

I was starting to have an asthma attack and I didn’t have my inhaler with me. Awesome! I slowed down and walked, tried to run again to catch up and then realized I had to walk if I wanted to make it back to the venue. I instantly felt like I failed and tears began to stream down my face. I called my husband to vent once my breath returned and he tried to reassure me that it was okay and I didn’t fail, but it’s hard to accept in the moment. I felt embarrassed and I felt like my body let me down. I eventually came to terms with what happened but it still sucks.

Upon returning back to the Mercedes Club, many of the bloggers had already grabbed their swag bags and were leaving. I quickly changed my shirt and headed over to claim my bag awesomesauce before meeting a few of my new blogger friends for a drink and some snacks.

Photo Credit: Susan Fishback

Photo Credit: Susan Fishback

My bag full of Awesomesauce! (Ignore the mess behind it)

My bag full of Awesomesauce! (Ignore the mess behind it)

This was hands down and amazing event and I hope I am lucky enough to be invited to attend next year. I promise to share more information about what was in this amazing bag as I use the items, but the brands include Saucony, Reebok, CamelBak, Vichy, KIND, SparklySoul Headbands, Smart Balance, Marmot, Goody, Pure Barre, Three Jane, Athleta, Julep, Bliss Labs and many, many more!

Sugarfina #FitBlogNYC 2013One quick one I’d like to feature is Sugarfina.

They gave use a beautifully packaged, delicious box of dark chocolate covered goji berries that even my kid liked!

They are offering our readers 20% off their antioxidant collection until May 31, 2013. Just visit Sugarfina.com/antioxidant and enter the code FITNESS at checkout!

 

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