Connecting the Dots

stevequotes

Let me start by acknowledging that I’ve been on a bit of a personal hiatus lately. And to be honest with you, it hasn’t been because I’m too busy or didn’t WANT to post, but because I simply had nothing to say. I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately and have experienced a few solid months of the universe kicking my ass and nothing really going my way. The details aren’t necessary to share, but I’ve been out of a job for a while now, which has put a lot of stress on us. The irony of the bad luck that we’ve had in recent months is almost laughable, and someday probably will be. However, the humor is hard to see right now, and the recurring question of “WHY?” (surrounded by expletives) has gone unanswered.

Every post that I write on this blog comes from my true self, and I didn’t want to bring the negativity I was feeling to this space. Life can be tough, and no one needs another source of negativity in their day. I know damn well that life is not all smiles and roses, but I’ve been pretty deep in this one and was losing the ability to pull myself out.

My wise and caring mother sent me the quote above a few weeks ago, and I’ve used it for motivation and reassurance. Inexplicable things happen in the world every day, and I’m not saying we will always have the answer, but it is true that our only choice is to move on. Whatever it is, from big to small obstacles in our lives, we have to move on and trust that there is something better awaiting us. I think the biggest word here is trust, which can be very difficult to achieve sometimes. When you don’t have the trust or faith in something bigger, it’s easy to fall deeply into whatever bad situation you are going through.

Steve Jobs talks about connecting the dots. I prefer this perspective over the belief that “Everything happens for a reason,” because assigning a reason to an event seems to be giving it justification. For me, it’s easier to look back on things that happened in the past and see where they led me. Situations can lead you to certain people or certain experiences that you wouldn’t otherwise encounter. Maybe they bring someone very important into your life or help you to discover a new path or a new side of yourself.

While some may criticize that this is a blind belief, for me it’s a necessary one…….necessary to keep me going, and to trust in the purpose of my future. So here I am, pushing through to the future, and back at the blog. Stay posted…

Friday Faves

This week has been a busy and fun one, serving as tour guide of Denver for my mom and her husband. Today, I’m sharing with you a few of my favorite summer finds, and hoping that the summer never ends!

Finding the perfect pair of white denim is always a feat for me. After multiple stores and failed fitting room sessions, these Old Navy gems are the ultimate steal.

Take your choice of color combos for these versatile summer sandals that can either be dressed down with shorts and a tank or perfectly paired with a sundress.

You won’t be able to put down this bestseller by one of my favorite authors, Liane Moriarty.

My jumpsuit obsession lives on in this classic Madewell piece. How genius and adorable are those shoulder knots?!

A 90s throwback plus comfort? I am not mad about the re-emergence of the Birks.

Cheers to the freakin weekend y’all!

weekend bar

3 Common Makeup Mistakes: Corrected

With the deluge of makeup advice and methods that are out there, you’re bound to receive some unfavorable tips along the way. Perhaps you were misinformed or are just stuck in a bad habit, without even realizing it. While I may be a girly-girl and beauty lover at heart, my beauty advice on this blog is meant for the everyday girl who wants to keep things simple but feels like she could benefit from a few tips and tricks along the way.

Here are the corrections to three common mistakes or misconceptions about your beauty routine (more to come later)

#1 Test Foundation Shades on Your Neck, Not Your Cheek

foundation shades

Due to increased sun exposure and breakouts, your face often has a different pigment or slight discoloration from the rest of your body. Luckily, foundation helps to smooth out those imperfections and create a more flawless look. To make sure your face matches the rest of your body when using foundation, test different shades on the area of your neck directly under your chin. This is an area where you should be blending out your foundation anyway, so that you don’t end up with the dreaded makeup-mask line.

Color-Matching-Bad

 

#2 Don’t Skip on Moisturizer because of Oily Skin

Now, if you’ve been paying attention, you know that I’ve already addressed this major misconception in my post here about why you should use grapeseed oil, even if you have oily skin. Having oily-prone skin myself, I was one of the people who had this idea completely backward. After all, it seems only logical that adding moisturizer to oily skin would only make it worse. The TRUTH is that, skipping on moisturizer actually dries out your skin and causes it to produce more oil! The way to help your oily skin is by using a toner morning and night, before your moisturizer. A couple of all-natural toners are green tea or an apple cider vinegar + water mixture.

#3 Don’t Apply Bronzer to Your Entire Face

While bronzer is one of those holy grail products that every girl should own, it can go horribly wrong when used incorrectly. One of those times is when it is applied to the entire face, and you end up with a fake, orange, oompa-loompa look…not pretty.

paris hilton

Oh, Paris…

Bronzer should be used to add color and dimension to the face, rather than create one solid tan tone. There are a couple of easy rules to stick with here.

  • Use a bronzer that is only a shade or two (max) darker than your natural skin
  • There are two types of bronzer, and the type determines how to use it:
    • Shimmery – use this to the emphasize the areas of your face where sunlight would naturally hit – apply around temple area, on cheekbones, and down the bridge of your nose to achieve a natural glow
    • Matte – often used to contour the face (ahh the dreaded contour!), the easiest way is to apply to the forehead by your hairline, down your temples, under your cheekbone, and across your jawline, blending well

See, that wasn’t too tough, right?! Just a little summer refresher on those makeup skills!

Celebrating One Year

This past weekend, my hubby and I celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary. It has been an eventful year with many ups and downs, through our move to Colorado, unemployment and job searching, financial stress, and establishing our lives in a new city. It’s also been a growing experience in learning how to lean on and depend on one another, and realizing that’s okay. One thing about marriage that’s been really special for me is becoming each other’s family. Before that binding commitment, I always felt the need to maintain my independence and keep a tiny part of myself still guarded. There is a special bond and trust that exists with family members, and adding your spouse to that group creates a new kind of connection. I feel like I’ve gained a partner in life, and that we are building our own identity as a little family here in CO.

To celebrate, we visited Crested Butte for the weekend, which is called the “last original mountain town,” due to its ban on chains and focus on all local businesses. It’s a fairly small town in a country valley, surrounded by mountains in every direction. Time moves more slowly in Crested Butte, and the colors of surrounding nature are like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The iPhone pics don’t even do it justice.

IMG_6070

IMG_6068

We had a wonderful weekend hiking, relaxing, and flying by the seat of our pants!

IMG_6069

Dusk on our last evening

IMG_6071

Our exhausted baby after a day of hiking – check out those rocks!

Looking back on our big day one year ago brings back the fondest memories, which were captured by my dear friend and amazing photographer, Jennifer Reeves. View more of her work here. Also, her beautiful photos landed us on a few wedding websites (below) and in an upcoming bridal magazine issue. She’s the real deal!

The Knot

Borrowed and Blue

Midwest Bride

Here’s to many more years of adventure!

The Newest Health Drink That’s Already In Your Kitchen

I’ve always been one to have my friends’ backs. And today, I’m defending a dear friend of mine who has gotten a bad rep. A friend who is always there for me, to add some pep into my step….. Okay, it’s coffee. But I’m sure many of you hold this lifesaving drink in as high of regard as I do. I would classify myself as fairly dependent on the stuff, but I’ve always had a lingering feeling of guilt for getting that extra cup. Somewhere along the way, I had been brainwashed to think it was unhealthy for my heart….or something. I recently came across some pro-coffee health articles and started digging further. It turns out that most of coffee’s health drawbacks are myths!

Recently, researchers far and wide have been discovering several serious health benefits associated with coffee. If you want the nitty-gritty, I’ll post a link to the articles at the end, but here’s the breakdown for you…

IMG_5991

Heart

  • Three separate studies looking at the long term consumption of coffee and the risk of (1) cardiovascular disease, (2) stroke, and (3) heart failure showed moderate coffee consumers (2-5 cups a day) were at lowest risk for these conditions, compared with those who drank none.
  • Consumption had to reach 10 cups of coffee to see negative associations
  • Coffee previously blamed for causing heart disease – new research suggests in may actually help prevent it
    • Study of more than 25,000 middle-aged people (aka A LOT) – those who drank 3-5 cups per day had 41% less calcium buildup in arteries than non-coffee drinkers

Cancer

  • Anti-cancer effects come from coffee’s high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds
  • Italian scientists gathered 16 years’ worth of data (A LOT) to find direct link between coffee consumption and fewer incidences of liver cancer – 3rd most common cause of cancer death
  • May improve insulin signaling, which helps prevent diabetes, which can increase the risk of developing liver cancer
  • Drastically reduces the risk of malignant melanoma
    • National Cancer Institute study of 450,000 men and women, controlled for other factors that could impact skin cancer risk, showed decreased risk
    • Regular coffee only, not decaf
    • Only people consuming 4+ cups of coffee saw significant risk reduction

IMG_5992

Other Awesome Benefits

  • Shown to slow the cognitive decline of aging including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
  • Drinking coffee before your workout: increased energy and effectiveness
  • Drinking after your workout: coffee combined with carbs helps glycogen transfer more quickly from blood to muscles, essentially restoring muscles after a workout

Another myth to debunk is that tea is better than coffee…some researchers now believe that coffee is better for you than tea because it contains more caffeine and antioxidants, which are the main factors that result in benefits. Like most things health-related, there’s a right amount, but surprisingly, less is not always better. The recommended dosage is 3-5 cups a day, which doctors say allows you to reap the benefits without negatively impacting blood pressure. If that seems like a lot to you, remember we are talking 8 oz. cups here. I, for one, know that’s not my standard size. We’re also talking black coffee, not vanilla lattes and mocha frappucinos…now that would be too good to be true.

Bottom line: bust out the WhiteStrips and drink up!


Links: Here, Here, Here

The Diet That DOESN’T Work

Why do so many people go on a diet, to then end up gaining more weight than before? It’s because there are so many misconceptions out there about dieting and weight loss, and the majority of dieters are under-informed. Like most things out there, there is a right way and a wrong way to diet, and it all comes down to the means you use to get to the end. The end being the weight loss.

Arguably the most common method of dieting is counting calories. While it is proven that consuming less calories leads to weight loss, there are other factors to this method that also determine your short-term and long-term results. Let’s take Weight Watchers for example. As a former user of WW, the goal is to stay within your assigned number of daily calories. Let’s say you cave and eat a muffin along with your normal egg breakfast and suddenly realize you are already up to 550 calories and it’s only 8:30am. It looks like you’re skipping lunch to make up for that overindulgence, and by dinner you’re ravenous and can’t resist that second serving. Even if you managed to stay under your daily calorie allotment, this method WILL NOT lead to long-term sustained weight loss.

Skipping meals is not the way to go, and will usually backfire…right back on to your hips. Studies have shown that skipping meals can mess with your metabolism and cause you more trouble; here’s how it works.

When you skip a meal and don’t eat for an extended period of time, your body triggers a famine response, which means that your metabolism slows down in an attempt to preserve energy and your body increases fat storage for survival. The longer you go without eating, the more you are training your body that it must store (rather than burn) fat and calories, because it doesn’t know when the next meal will come. Our bodies are biologically programmed this way for survival.

diet cycle

Inevitably, one day you get off your diet and go back to eating normally. Even if you had temporarily lost weight from the calorie decrease, you’re in for a surprise. With the slower metabolism you have created, every mouthful you take is going to affect you more than it did before the diet. You will likely regain the weight from the fat that your body has learned to store during those starvation periods. And then it was all for what???

While everyone is different, these are scientifically proven processes in your body that many people don’t take into consideration. More frequent eating keeps the metabolism running and active, and prevents the body from using the emergency-like famine responses. If you think that this means your food choices don’t matter and you can eat whatever you want as often as you want, then you need to go back to the basics. Obviously, when you are eating more often (and even when you’re not), you should choose healthy food options, which also will keep your calorie count low.

So, my friends, permission to snack. But put down the Cheetos…

I'm watching you

The Color That Screams Chic

Perhaps the most underrated and easily forgotten neutral in the bunch, camel is an easy way to add chicness to any wardrobe. I’m a firm believer in pairing solid neutral pieces together when your look needs an extra dose of sophistication. Camel fits right into this and often looks its best when combined with black, white, or gray. Below are some of my favorite inspirations for incorporating camel in your everyday look as a piece of clothing or an accessory, without coming out looking like a big potato (mm I’m hungry).

camel skirtMixing with all solid neutrals and a pop of print

camel shirtThis creamy caramel top looks amazing against her skin tone

camel hatThe hat makes the look, and I adore the bohemian feel this one gives.

camel shortsThe unique structure and material of this skirt just WORK.

camel bagEven a camel bag looks expensive!

Bottom line: try camel, and I don’t mean the one with humps.

Embracing Your Body

This video moved me when I came across it today. The way that us women often describe our bodies is heartbreaking. Eating right and exercising rank high on my priority list, oftentimes in the interest of health, but also too often in the interest of physical appearance.

Each of us has our own insecurities that influence this body shaming, but where did we learn the rules of how a body is supposed to look? We start off as babies with beautiful round tummies and rolls on our legs, and as we grow up, we are taught by our surroundings what a “perfect body” is. Our society, family, friends, and social media are some of the things that teach us how we’re supposed to look. I, for one, can’t remember many times in my life that society helped me feel BETTER about my physical appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I love my social media and don’t plan to give it up anytime soon, but it surely contributes to the perfection standards that exist all around us.

Each person’s body acceptance is a deeply personal process, but this video served as a good reminder for me to be less critical of myself and to focus on health and fitness as tools to refuel and refine this vessel that God has given me to carry me through this life.

I’m looking forward to what the Embrace Documentary will bring us in the future. Follow their progress here.

Higher Vibrations

The spiritual masters and yogis out there will probably know exactly what I’m talking about from the title. For other readers, this may seem like a fancy, hippie-ish way to classify a topic that each of us encounters in our daily lives. Now, I am a very logical, factual-thinking type of person, but this concept, that was recently introduced to me in a book, fully resonated with me. It’s not the Denver culture rubbing off on me, but living in a new city for the last six months has helped open my eyes to different ways of thinking and living. This concept may or may not work for you, but I found it as an interesting way to view a topic that can help you take control of your life.

First off is the understanding that the world is made up of energy, and all energy vibrates at a certain frequency. The concept of “thought vibration” is determining whether the way you think is empowering or disempowering. “Essentially, thoughts that vibrate at a higher level are likely to be strong, positive and healthy thoughts, whereas thoughts that vibrate at a low level are liable to be negative, harmful and disempowering.”

The law of attraction then comes into play, meaning “like attracts like,” and that focusing on positive or negative thoughts can bring about positive or negative results. The argument is that what you think about most is what you manifest in your life.

change your thoughts

I’ve had some unfortunate things happen in my life lately, especially over the past month. It’s been a great example of the saying “when it rains, it pours,” and I’ve found it difficult to stay positive or to see happiness in my surroundings. This method is about turning your mindset around and believing, even when things are at their crappiest, that there is a bright shiny flipside within your reach. But, belief must be coupled with action, and this concept would suggest that I have to raise my frequency to match the vibration of the one I want to tune into.

We’ve all been around people who we would describe as giving off “good vibrations” (cue Marky Mark), and feeling drawn to them. In turn, we’ve also experienced the people who “give off bad vibes.” So, this concept isn’t as far from our regular lives as it may initially sound.

Raising your thoughts to a higher level of frequency is not an overnight change. Gradual improvement will lead to the point where higher vibrations become your natural state. Some actions to achieve this include becoming conscious of your thoughts and only letting the positive ones affect you, acknowledging and dismissing the negative. Good energy can also come from hanging out with people who vibrate highly, practicing random acts of kindness (who doesn’t feel better after that?), and being grateful.

While this might already sound like how you try to live your life today, everyone falls off track and into low frequency thought patterns – depression, sadness, anger – at times. This is another example of how much power your mind has over your life, and how you can change it, and therefore, change the world around you.

vibrate higher

Info source

The Go-To Online Workout You Must Check Out

I’ve been on a bit of a personal hiatus lately, after the death of someone dear to me. I may address this subject later when the time seems right, but for now I’m trying to move back into normal life.

I was out of town for several days due to this situation, and missing my regular ass-kickings at the gym. Fitness is a very important part of my life, and I just about go crazy if I haven’t had a workout in a few days. I become convinced that I can feel the extra pounds around my waist and face, and miss the endorphin-inducing sweat that I’m used to.

When I’m on-the-go, I refer to my repertoire of online workouts to keep me moving. I am by no means a gym rat and need variety to keep me motivated, so my online exercise sources are a weekly complement to my classes at the gym. I want to share with you one of my favorite places to go to quickly pull up an exercise routine.

Tone It Up was created by two beautiful young women to inspire women everywhere to get moving and get results. Staring at their rockin’ bods during your workout video is motivation enough! On their website, they feature hundreds of before-and-after photos of amazing results from women using their workouts and healthy eating plans. Perhaps one of the transformations that caught my attention the most was of one of the creators herself. Here it is…and don’t attribute it to photoshop. You can witness her toned bod for yourself in her workout videos.

tone it up before after kat

I’ve tested out countless numbers of online workout videos in my years, and these girls nailed a few of the factors that make me come back for more.

  • Targeted workouts for specific parts of the body: the drop-down menu under “Fitness” allows you to choose from abs, arms, booty, legs, etc.
  • Light-hearted, fun workouts: these 2 ladies bring their cute personalities to the stage, making you want to be their best friend (who you secretly loathe for their body)
  • Recipe ideas
  • SHORT WORKOUTS: people, most of the workout videos are less than 15 minutes, but still get the work done! Combine a couple of videos to focus on different parts of your body, or do a short video in addition to a walk or run
  • Social media: their Instagram account is a fun mix of their daily lives and new, exciting exercise content on the site

Check them out at toneitup.com, and I guarantee you won’t regret it!

fitness