Summer Beauty Favorites

Edited in June 2018 to add: Since this post, I began switching to natural beauty products (although I still use the RMS Lip2Cheek mentioned).  You can find my favorite natural beauty products here.

Summer is a great time to bring in some new beauty products.  This time of year is usually filled with plenty of happy events you're going to want to look and feel good for, so if you're having your wedding, baby shower, or attending one, this is for you.  Why keep your favorite beauty products a secret?  I've added a few game changing products into my routine and I think you're going to love them just as much as I do.

Tarte's Full Coverage Amazonian Clay Airbrush Foundation is my favorite for when the weather starts warming up and you need something that isn't just going to slide off after a few hours.  It does a good job covering redness and feels weightless on the skin.  I love feeling like I'm not wearing any heavy makeup on my face, and this does this trick without compromising the benefits of full coverage.

This Pixi Lower Lash Mascara was in my Christmas stocking.  It's genius and you need it!  No more tarantula bottom lashes for you.  And since it's only available at Target, you can go smell the new spring candles and home decor sales with a Starbucks Chai Latte in your hand while you're at it.  Go ahead, treat yo self.

I owe the Tarte foundation, this primer spray and the lower lash mascara to my favorite beauty blogger, Kate of The Small Things Blog.  She never steers me wrong.  Derrik walked by the first time I used the primer spray and said "that smells so good!".  That's always a good sign for me.  Kate mentioned it's comparable to the Matrix primer spray, but at a lower price point.  I tried it on a whim and now I can't go a week without it.  It cuts my drying time down in half.   

This RMS Lip2Cheek in Demure was my favorite new product throughout winter because it added some much needed moisture to my cheeks.  It helps give that dewy glow even if you're dealing with dryness.  I'm going to keep wearing it into the summer to see how it wears in warmer weather, but Demure is the perfect pink!  It's just the right amount of muted mauve with rosy hues.  You can see in the picture above it just adds a fresh flush that looks like it came from your own skin, rather than something powdered on.  While it's supposed to work for both cheeks and lips, this particular color looks washed out over my normally rosy lips, so just keep that in mind as you're choosing which color you'd like and whether you want to use it for both.  I bought mine from Anthropologie but you can also order it directly from RMS.

Which beauty products are your tried and true favorites?  Are there any I should try?

All-time Favorite Nail Polish

The search for the perfect light pink nail polish began many moons ago after watching Giada De Laurentiis elegantly slice fresh vegetables for some delectable dish on Food Network's Everyday Italian.  Her nails looked so beautiful with that clean light pink polish.  It took me a while to stumble upon the eventual winner in my personal search: Essie's Ballet Slippers.  But alas, finding the perfect polish is only as perfect as the base and top coat to complement it.

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Enter: the Orly Bonder Rubberized Basecoat.  When I was in-between base coat purchases, I tried using my top coat backup as a base.  Half the polish on one of my nails chipped off that same day.  Oops.  Orly redeemed my wrongdoing.  This base coat gives a great, tacky surface for your nail color polish.

The perfect pink: Essie Ballet Slippers.  I typically do 3 thin coats, letting the polish dry between each coat.

And finally, Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat.  This little bottle of magic is a widely-held favorite.  It popped up in every "favorite top coats" article I read during my search.  This top coat outshines the competition (get it?) in the glossy finish department.  Sally Beauty Supply sometimes offers this on sale for $6.99.

This trio is a winner.  I'm currently on day 4 with minimal chipping.  If I hold both hands up, I can't immediately spot any imperfections.  I'd say that's a big improvement on only 2 days of near-perfect wear I had using my former routine!  

The trio: ORLY Bonder Rubberized Basecoat, Essie Ballet Slippers and Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

Do you have any favorite long-lasting nail products I should try?  Let me know in the comments.

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you decide to purchase one of the items linked in this post.  As always, I genuinely like these products and hope you found this review helpful!

How I Lost 30 Pounds

How I Lost 30 Pounds

The beginning of 2016 seems like a great time to talk about something very positive in my life - getting healthier!  I lost 30 pounds in 2015 and am eager to accomplish new goals this year.

I’ve always gravitated toward stories about overcoming struggle, because persevering when you feel too frustrated to keep going is something I think we all face eventually.  I’m no professional when it comes to giving out diet and exercise advice (yet! we'll see...), but I would love it if sharing my story and ongoing journey encouraged you in some way.  I realize there is a plethora of options out there to help someone lose weight, but today, I’m focusing on what has given me such great results.  

Background:  I grew up living a very active lifestyle.  From the swing-and-miss cuteness of t-ball to winning a National tennis title in college, being active was my way of life.  But after starting a desk job after college, paired with poor eating habits and a lack of knowledge about nutrition, the pounds crept on.  

I sat down to think through what worked, what was different from other times I’ve started a program, and what I hope might be helpful for someone looking for advice to put into practice right away.  

Top Takeaways

  • Identify with the people who embody your goals.  As the habit of consistency began to take root, my thoughts began to shift from how much I didn’t want to workout, i.e. “who has time to do an hour-long workout?  I work full-time, and I’d rather catch up on my blog reading” to “This is what I choose to do.  An hour of my time in exchange for the results I want?  I can do that”.  The lifestyle was normalized in my mind.  Watching YouTube videos and using workout tips from people like Zuzka Light and Heidi Somers helped along the way.  I also found the HER Body podcast on Body.io FM to be very helpful.

 

  • I decided I was going to do “the work” as long as it took to get to my goal.  I knew from the scientific research behind my methods that if I were doing it correctly, the results should start showing.  Of course, the catch to this is that you never really “arrive”.  Fitness is a life-long journey.  But working off 30 pounds?  That’s a measurable goal you can break down into incremental achievements.

 

  • I found a workout buddy.  My husband Derrik is one of the biggest reasons for my success.  If you can find someone to workout with who is eager to adopt the same eating habits, you’ve found a gem!  

 

  • I found a lifestyle that I believe I can (and want to!) maintain for the rest of my life.  Sticking to a diet and exercise program that leaves you feeling deprived and hAngry isn't sustainable.  Finding something that is has made such a big difference! "Low carb" doesn't equate to tilapia and asparagus for every meal.  I've found cooking low-carb meals throughout the week to be fairly easy and enjoyable.  I am someone who believes bacon to be the pixie dust of the culinary world.  I also happen to believe donuts are rings of near heavenly delight.  I might not be able to eat both at the same time (if you're following the Carb Nite guidelines for insulin spikes - see bottom for resources), but if I time it right, they fit into my lifestyle (and even help).  
  • I started lifting heavy weight.  I know many women fear that lifting heavy weights might make them look bulky or masculine, but I’ve found the opposite to be true, from my own results and research.  Exercises like barbell squats used to intimidate me (and sometimes still do), but I think they have played one of the biggest roles in getting more muscle definition.

 

  • I tracked my food (using MyFitnessPal) and workouts (Metric Me) in order to tweak things one at a time and find out what was and wasn't working.

 

  • I became convinced that this would work for me, not as a power of my will, but because I armed myself with the scientific knowledge behind why it would.

 

  • I found help when I didn’t know what else to change.  After about 9 months of consistency in this lifestyle, my results just didn’t seem to match the effort.  I hired a training and nutrition coach through Body.io - Alex Navarro (she’s the best!) and ended up making big changes that I wasn’t able to recognize I needed by myself.

What I’m doing:  the “protocol” I’m using is called the Carb Nite Solution, which is built around when to eat as much as what to eat.  It is a high-fat, low-carb lifestyle with one evening per week used to replenish your body with carbohydrates (this is where the donuts on my Instagram feed come in!).  On a typical day, I eat 20 grams of carbs or less, mainly coming from vegetables (the goal is 30 grams or less).  The fats in my diet come from sources like avocados, heavy whipping cream, coconut oil, bacon, etc.  I found I had better results once I started limiting cheese and used it as a garnish rather than a main fat source.    

The Carb Nite Solution was created by physicist John Kiefer of Body.io.  I understand that at first glance, anything labeled high-fat might seem counter intuitive.  Plenty of labels at the grocery store tout low fat options as the superior choice, but further research into how the body responds to nutrients (particularly related to insulin spikes), and my results, have convinced me otherwise.

Finding this lifestyle has felt like finding the nutritional holy grail.  If you’re interested in reading more, or simply curious about the science behind it all, I’ve linked to some helpful resources.  I hope some of these tips were helpful and encouraging.  Wherever you are on your path to health and fitness, you can do it!  Consider this my fist bump to you.

Resources:

What is Carb Nite?

Carb Nite

In Depth Look at Ketogenic Diets and Ketosis

Ketogenic Dieting: Frequently Asked Questions

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet: The Best Bodybuilding Diet?

Long-term Effects of a Ketogenic Diet in Obese Patients

Beyond Weight Loss: A Review of the Therapeutic Uses of Very-Low-Carbohydrate (Ketogenic) Diets

*I was not compensated for this post.  I just wanted to share what’s been working for me and to be an encouragement!