This post contains an affiliate link for 100% Pure. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase. Know that I would not support a brand I didn’t 100% believe in. Ever.
Another Disclaimer: This post is not intended to shame or hurt supporters of MLM companies. It’s your life, and if you choose to use or sell these products, I’m completely fine with it! These are just my personal opinions.
Everywhere on the Internet these days, I’m seeing Beautycounter. And everywhere off the Internet, I’m also seeing Beautycounter. Some of my favorite wellness bloggers and other influencers swear by the stuff and promote it all the time. So, I became very intrigued. People I trust who create content that I love are promoting a product that claims to be clean and safer for the skin.
At the same time I began seeing Beautycounter all over Instagram, I began to see local influencers posting about these shake shops that were popping up around Cleveland. The names include: Lakewood Nutrition, Parma Nutrition, Beachwood Nutrition. Again, it was people who I trust that create amazing content promoting these shops.
The shakes look incredible. There is a huge variety of flavors, including birthday cake and peanut butter Oreo. The shakes are always filled to the brim and topped with tasty Oreo chunks or cake crumbles. There are also teas in a variety of interesting flavors, like Skittles and green gusher. On the shops’ Instagram pages, they describe themselves as serving nutritious shakes and energizing tea and coffee. The aesthetic of these shops is also very trendy and clean. And the shakes are under 250 calories. What could be better, honestly! All this being said, I was naturally interested in visiting one of these “nutrition” shops.
I’m still fairly new to the Cleveland area, and I love spending my time driving and driving around to a bunch of different places all around Northeast Ohio. What can I say, I love exploring! So, I decided to go to one of the new shops that opened near where I live, called Heights Nutrition.
My First “Nutrition” Impressions
I was really excited when I arrived at Heights Nutrition. I walked in and immediately was overwhelmed by the huge menu of flavors. Being a vegetarian, I try to avoid whey protein. So, I ordered a vegan peanut butter Oreo shake and a green gusher tea (you have to purchase both a shake and a tea, something I was surprised by). Then, whilst I was waiting for my drinks to be made, I noticed that the whole wall was filled with Herbalife products. And that’s when I realized- this was a Herbalife front.
I’d heard of Herbalife before. Herbalife has been around since the 1980s’, and it is a company that creates and sells dietary supplements, weight loss products, and sports drinks among other various “nutrition” products. This company is structured like LuLaRoe, Mary Kay, Avon, and Beautycounter. In extremely simple terms, these companies rely on having individuals sell products to the public by word of mouth while also recruiting other individuals to sell the products. Typically, the person selling the products makes commission not only on their own sales, but also on the sales of those they have recruited. I’ll talk more about this later.
My problem with these places in Cleveland selling Herbalife products is that nowhere on these shops’ Instagram pages does it straight up say it is a Herbalife store. This is false advertising. And the owners should be more honest! Herbalife has a history of problems. The company has been sued for negligence and fraud and the products have been said to cause liver damage. There have been many more lawsuits other than the one that I have included. So, of course I would want a store to be honest about the products they are using. The shake and tea weren’t even tasty. The shake was watery and the tea didn’t even taste like tea. It tasted more like Splenda mixed with other sugar substitutes. I threw both drinks away immediately, wasting my eight dollars.
So, how does this relate to Beautycounter? It’s the multi-level marketing (MLM) business structure that’s more of a problem for me than the products themselves.
So Beautycounter claims to be “clean” and non-toxic. While Beautycounter’s products are more vigorously tested and contain less heavy metals than products of other beauty companies, they are not 100% organic, non-toxic, or sustainable. Being “all natural” means almost nothing these days. With food products, “all natural”, according to the USDA, only means that the food is minimally processed and does not contain artificial ingredients and preservatives. However, an all natural food may contain growth hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals. The same goes for cosmetics. Like any company Beautycounter has a variety of complaints, many about customer service. I’ve linked other helpful blog posts in this paragraph.
Beautycounter is doing a lot better than other cosmetics companies when it comes to testing and using less harmful ingredients. It’s the structure of the business that is problematic.
Or Pyramid Scheme?
I recently watched an incredible documentary by Vice on the MLM company LuLaRoe. It described the experience of three women who sold product for the company. It described how much money a person had to spend to start selling LuLaRoe, which was $5,000. And many women never earned any of the money back. How LuLaRoe and other MLM companies are structured is that the people at the top, or those with the most recruits, earn the most in commission. They are rewarded with cars, vacations, and other glamorous things. They also earn money from the recruits of their recruits.
It’s a cycle. And this cycle makes it virtually impossible for sellers without recruits or with very few to make back the money spent to start selling the product. LuLaRoe also targets stay-at-home moms as a way to make extra money for their families from home. LuLaRoe had multiple lawsuits filed against them and issues with quality that brought down even the highest making sellers, as described in the documentary.
Many MLM companies are pyramid schemes in disguise. A pyramid scheme is an illegal business structure in the United States and many other countries. Participants make money by recruiting new participants. The business or promoter usually promises high earnings in a short period of time, questionable or illegitimate products or services are sold, and there’s a complex commission structure. The main goal is recruiting. Pyramid schemes are illegal because they will always collapse. It’s impossible to keep gaining participants, which makes the business structure unsustainable.
Beautycounter and Herbalife = Scam?
I can’t flat out say whether Beautycounter or Herbalife are scams, especially Beautycounter because it is fairly new. Herbalife, because of the lawsuits filed against them, is more questionable. But the business structure is why I can’t recommend Beautycounter, though I haven’t 100% completed my research. Beautycounter is much less expensive to join than other MLM companies, which makes it a little more sustainable from a business perspective. There are also many, many positive reviews of the product- meaning that it’s legitimate. However, people do make money from recruiting other sellers and make commission if promoted to a higher consultant level.
Here’s a great post on Beautycounter as a business. I can’t personally speak for the products, but because of the business structure, I can’t recommend Beautycounter and don’t plan on purchasing from them. But all in all, I don’t believe the company and its products are a scam.
Green Beauty Alternatives
Here are some clean beauty companies that I love:
OY-L: luxury skincare products local to Cleveland- they are based in Akron, Ohio. They use all plant-based ingredients, besides honey. I am obsessed with their Face Wash. It is made with Manuka 20+ honey and essential oils, making it great for daily use. And, honestly, it’s the best smelling skincare product I have ever used!
Dr. Bronners: pure-castile soaps and organic lotion, hand sanitizer, lip balm, toothpaste, and other body products. I use their lip balm regularly. I also use the peppermint liquid soap to heal my tattoos and I’m obsessed.
Meow Meow Tweet: a super adorable, whimsical brand that creates small-batch skincare products. All of their products are made with organic vegetable butters and oils and cold-pressed essential oils. The brand is focused on giving back and reducing plastic packaging while also being vegan and cruelty-free! I use their Everyday Sunscreen and I’m smitten; it smells so good! I’ve also heard great things about their deodorant. Here’s another natural deodorant I adore.
And there are my unpopular opinions. Again, I am not trying to put down anyone that supports Beautycounter and other MLMs, or anyone that chooses to sell their products. These are only my personal thoughts!
Thanks for reading! Any thoughts on Beautycounter, Herbalife, or alternative brands? Leave a comment below!
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We live in a culture where women are generally told not to get tattoos. People will always say that they look too masculine, that having them will make it hard to get a job, that you’ll obviously regret having them on your wedding day. It’s also generally said that women that have tattoos are promiscuous, attention-seeking, do drugs, and aren’t attractive to men.
Obviously, all of these things are solely dependent on the person with the tattoos, not the tattoos themselves.
Tattoos have become much more accepted during the past decade. The procedures of finding artists and booking appointments have changed a lot in the age of Instagram. But the reasons why people get tattoos haven’t really changed. Some people are tattoo collectors, some people get tattoos that are super meaningful, and some people just get whatever tattoo they think looks cool. But what isn’t talked about super frequently is getting a tattoo as a form of mental wellness and self-love.
A beautiful tattoo can change a person’s perception of themselves completely. With culture and politics constantly telling women what they can and can’t do with their bodies, getting a tattoo can be a form of self-beautification, love, and recovery. Getting a tattoo can be deeply empowering. In this post, I want to talk about my experience with tattoos and what they have done for me.
My First Tattoo
I never really thought that I’d ever want to have a tattoo, let alone many tattoos. Growing up, I didn’t really have any feelings towards tattoos that were good or bad. I just thought they were whatever.
One of my friends got her first tattoo right after we finished high school. It is a Harry Potter reference on her inner wrist, and it covers some scars that she has. I was obsessed with the placement, and I decided that I pretty much needed to get a tattoo. Constantly, I was scrolling on Pinterest looking for inspiration (or “tattspiration”). My first tattoo came after one of the worst summers of my life in 2016, a few years after I started thinking about getting my first tattoo.
It’s a geometric arrow on my wrist. It doesn’t have much meaning to it. I just thought arrow tattoos looked cool, so I got one. After scrolling through Instagram, I booked an appointment with an artist I liked at a local shop. The process of getting this tattoo was extremely quick. And immediately, I loved it. It made me feel different about myself, more confident and, may I say, “edgy”. It was a part of my body that I just wanted to stare and stare at. I had never experienced something like that before. Immediately, I knew that I wanted to get more tattoos. And so I did.
My Second Tattoo
Shortly after getting the arrow tattoo, I started getting into watching tattoo-related Youtube videos by Qcknd and Treacle Tatts. The art behind tattoos really fascinated me, and I started learning more and more about different tattoo styles, the healing process, tattoo blow-outs, and other things that people without tattoos would never know exist. I started following tons of artists on Instagram. The work that I found blew my mind. I never knew that tattoos could be so good, that some tattoos could be hanging in art museums.
I was particularly taken by the work of artist Lilly Anchor (disclaimer: Lilly is a lovely artist and I am not trying to hate on her in any way!). The clean lines and delicate dots of her work was breathtaking. I saw that she was guesting at a shop in Chicago during a time I was on break from school in November 2016. I had to get tattooed by her.
My second tattoo is a delicate portrait of a cat. This one, I have an interesting relationship with. I chose to get this piece on the side of my calf. I’ve always loved my lower legs. They’re probably the only part of me that is muscular and slim; they’re my favorite part of my body. Naturally, I wanted to tattoo this area so that I would love it even more. This is interesting because that’s not really what happened.
Right after getting the tattoo, I began to pick out all of its flaws. There are a few lines that are a bit wonky, but they’re hardly noticeable. But for some reason, I was just really really bothered by it. On top of this, I had a really difficult time healing this tattoo. Weeks after it was done, it got red and swollen. Thankfully this wasn’t an infection, but it hurt my relationship with the tattoo.
When I look at this cat portrait, I think of the difficult healing process and the grief it gave me. Now, I never really see it since I wear long pants for most of the year living in the Midwest. But when I do see it, I continue to nitpick all the things I don’t like about it. It was a tattoo I looked forward to so, so much. While it is still beautiful, I’m just not a big fan.
My Third Tattoo
My most recent tattoo was done in Chicago by Julia Campione in November 2018. It is a “traditional” style tattoo of a coffee tree sprig.
I. Love. This. Tattoo. I love how it represents a daily ritual that is so comforting for me, although this may be the caffeine addiction talking…. I love the boldness, the smooth and bright colors (Julia is the color queen!). Literally everything about it I adore. I love how some of the leaves peak out when I wear 3/4 sleeve tops. I feel sexy when that happens, and I never feel sexy! Whenever I look at this tattoo, I’m just like “wow, this is a piece of art“. This gorgeous thing is on me, in my skin, on my body. And that’s liberating, empowering.
Tattoos Tell My Story
I used to question whether I was “qualified” to get tattoos. As an overweight person, I was questioning whether tattoos would look good on my body. What I used to do was google “plus size tattoos” to see how they looked on other women like me. I’ve always wanted a sternum tattoo and a thigh tattoo, but I never knew if these would look good on fat rolls and cellulite.
Now, I don’t think about that. I see people like Corissa Enneking, aka @fatgirlflow, on Instagram, who has an amazing sternum piece that looks bomb on her. Tattoos suit everyone and every body.
Tattoos have unsung power. The excitement behind booking an appointment and looking at the first sketch and then (after all the pain, yes tattoos really hurt!) seeing the finished product. It’s elating; it brings me so much confidence and joy. Why is something like this considered “taboo” to so many of us? It’s artwork. Tattoos are beautiful, the art of them is beautiful. And tattoos can make people feel more beautiful!
To me, getting a tattoo is self-love. It’s a treat to myself; a treat that makes me feel good and a treat that will last for my entire life. After having a tattoo for a while, it just begins to feel like a birthmark that you really really love. And I adore that feeling, I really do. My tattoos remind of where I was in life when I got them. They remind me of how far I have come since I got my little arrow tattoo, how different I am as a person today. They tell my story and my journey with self love and care, and I’ll always be so grateful for them.
Tattoo thoughts and experiences? Leave them below! Thank you so much for reading, xo.
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Ah, yes. Money. I love it and I hate it. I’ve never been particularly great with handling money the right way. I cannot save money to save my life. I have champagne taste on a beer budget, and I literally cannot stick to my beer budget! I’ll admit that I love the finer things in life, and sometimes I can’t find it within myself to compromise. My parents always said that money burns a hole in my pocket. The moment that I have it, I have to spend it! It’s truly not a good problem to have. With all of this being said, bad financial decisions were definitely on the horizon for me.
I moved away from home when I was 18 for college, but I never really had to worry about managing all of my finances. I knew nothing about personal finance, and I honestly still don’t four years later. Being 100% responsible for all of my finances hasn’t been a thing until very recently while in graduate school. I’m 22 years old and still learning the ropes of money management and budgeting. My parents don’t (unless I have a money emergency) pay my rent or utilities. Learning how to manage my income to sustain my current ways of life has been a real challenge this year. I’ve had to give up a couple things and also make decisions about where my money should really be going.
I’ve made some really, really dumb money mistakes in my teenage years and within the first two years of my 20s. Some of them, I didn’t regret at all in the moment. However, a lot of these things are causing me some serious stress right now (it’s called debt, people!). Here are some of the worst and dumbest financial decisions I have made in my 20s so far.
1. Buying a Celine Handbag
Yep. Just reading that sentence sounds dumb. I had wanted a Celine Micro Luggage Tote for years, literally since I was a junior in high school. In December 2018, I decided that the time was right. I found a bag on a secondhand website that was gorgeous, in completely mint condition. And it was a beautiful seasonal color and only $1100. I sound totally crazy for saying only. For those of you who don’t know, a Celine bag like this usually retails new for around $2900 or more depending on the materials used. I had never ever found an authentic Celine in this good of condition for $1100, so I decided that I had to have this bag. I, being super impulsive as always, decided to take out a loan for this purchase from a service offered on the website I bought the bag on. Yep, I took out a loan for a purse!
With interest (which I didn’t even realize was a thing when I took out the loan), I owe about $95 a month for this purse until it is fully paid for in December of 2019. These payments have been stressful! I always forget that they are due, and $100 is a lot of money to be investing in purse debt each month on top of rent, utilities, gas, and food. So, I’m currently looking into consigning this bag in hopes of making a little money from it. Then I’m hoping to pay off this annoying loan and use whatever I have left to buy a new Fount bag or pay off some credit card debt. However, because Celine just changed creative directors, I may end up keeping the bag in hopes that it will gain value over time. Insert face-palm emoji here!!
2. Getting a Credit Card with the Intention of Spending
My first credit card arrived in the Fall of 2018. I was so excited; I felt like I was becoming more of an adult by getting one. However, I got this card with the full intention of using it to pay for expensive things over time. This should not have been my thought process! What I should have done was educate myself about building credit and learning other important things (like what interest is, what a credit score is, why people care about your credit score, etc). At first, I used my card only for small purchases but then I became more reckless. Now, I rarely even use my card. I’m still paying off my Boston trip which is alllll still living on my credit card. Truly one of my worst financial decisions!
3. Taking on Too Much Student Debt
I am over $100,000 in the hole with student loan debt. YEP. For me, I hope it will be worth it. With pursuing music, I knew that education was super important and that I couldn’t compromise by going to a school that was more affordable but not as good. I am so, so grateful for my time at Indiana University and feel like I got the best undergraduate education I could have ever imagined. However, I feel like I should have done more planning for how I’m going to pay off these loans after I’m done with graduate school. Personally, I think that education is 100% worth taking on debt- but thinking about and making a plan for paying it off is super important.
I also wish that I would have fought harder for better scholarships in graduate school. Majoring in music is hard in this aspect since most of the best schools (besides large state schools and Juilliard) have very little money to give out.
4. Not Having Roommates
Granted, all the places I have rented apartments in have been amazingly affordable compared to places like Boston, San Francisco, and New York City. However, if I would have had roommates, the stress of having to pay my rent could have been way less. I cannot believe that some people only pay $300 a month for rent, but these people I know also live with two or three other roommates.
Another thing I will add to this point is that I should have gotten used to living without nice appliances, central air conditioning, and an in-unit washer and dryer. Now that I have had all of these things in previous apartments, I’m going to want them in all of my future apartments. If I had learned to live a more “simple” lifestyle without all the bells and whistles I love, I could be saving a lot of money on rent right now.
5. Eating Out Too Often
This is pretty self explanatory. Eating out is always so tempting! When I lived in Indiana, my friends and I would eat out at least three days a week. Now, I try to eat out only once a week (although I don’t really count fast-casual places as “eating out”, which I really should). Things have improved, but I constantly go over my monthly grocery budget as well. I love food and spending money on it. This whole thing is definitely a learning process!!
I’ve made a lot of silly financial decisions in my 20s. This decade is definitely one to enjoy but also one full of hustle and learning from past misdoings. Of course, I am incredibly grateful for all the nice things I have spent my money on, but I am beginning to realize that it is time to shift my focus towards the future. Eventually, I do want to buy a condo or a small house, go on vacations, and get married. And all of those things require saving for and planning ahead!
I hope you guys learned something from this! What are some of the dumbest things you have done in your younger years? It doesn’t have to do with money! Let me know below. Thank you so much for reading; I am always so, so grateful!
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While this post mentions a product and company that I love, it is not sponsored!
CBD oil. I’m pretty sure that we’ve all heard of it at this point. I first heard about CBD in 2016, during my junior year of college. Some of my classmates were very excited because a local tea house had started carrying CBD-infused tea. They basically saw it as a way to access marijuana legally, since this was in Indiana after all. I was kind of curious about CBD oil, but I decided not to look into it. I always meant to try the local CBD tea, but I never got around to it.
Fast forward a couple years, it’s 2018. And the CBD craze is real, people! I started seeing bloggers and wellness influencers post about it more and more, but I still wasn’t exactly sure what it was. All I knew was that it couldn’t get you high. Meanwhile, I would walk into my local health food stores, like Lucky’s Market and Fresh Thyme, and see CBD all over the supplement section. Finally, after becoming pretty oversaturated in advertisements and Instagram posts about CBD oil, tea, lip balm, and body lotion, I had to start doing some of my own research.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for ‘cannabidiol’. It is one of the naturally occurring compounds extracted from the hemp, or cannabis, flower. Cannabidiol had been known in the past for its therapeutic properties. What CBD oil (or hemp oil) does is stimulate the endocannabinoid system, which helps to promote homeostasis in the body. This is what lends it properties that help with stress, pain, and anxiety. But with the negative opinions currently surrounding marijuana, CBD is just now resurfacing.
CBD is both safe and non-addictive. It has been the subject of extensive scientific research, and has been thought to provide relief for chronic pain, inflammation, depression, and anxiety. It is also being researched for its potential to treat people with many different disorders and illnesses. These include Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, autism, ADHD, Crohn’s, colitis, psoriasis, and so on.
So, based on this brief overview of the “powers” of CBD, why would a person with no serious health conditions or disorders (like yours truly) take CBD regularly? The answer is: anxiety.
My Experience with Anxiety
It’s hard for me to write about all of this and throw it all out there, but I need to be transparent and honest with you guys.
I had an inkling that I had anxiety for a long time. I have always had trouble meeting new people or even holding a conversation with classmates and acquaintances. In my childhood and teenage years, I was fearful of answering the phone, sending emails, or even ordering food for myself at a restaurant. My “anxiety” worsened during my years of poor health in high school, and I basically became irrationally concerned when anything “out of the ordinary” was happening with my body. I also developed breathing problems and was prescribed an inhaler that I probably didn’t need (today I don’t need the inhaler, and I think the breathing issues were caused by anxiety).
Most of my anxiety symptoms manifest themselves physically. Shallow breathing, heartburn, headaches, dizziness, fogginess, numbness, chest pain. I’ve experienced all of these things with anxiety.
When I was around 18 years old, I basically self-diagnosed myself with social anxiety. Knowing that such a thing existed (thanks Tumblr!) was very comforting for me. However, I still struggled during my sophomore year of college. I became super anxious about my arms falling asleep at night or that my hands were shaking. I was afraid of having some kind of neurological disease. Eventually these things went away and I was at peace.
During the summer after my sophomore year, I had a, may I say, “mental breakdown” while at a music festival in Colorado. Basically, I was alone, in the woods, in a cabin with no air conditioning or heat. I didn’t have any friends at all, my roommates always left me out of their activities, there was no Internet or cell service, and the bathroom was outside (silly, but walking in a storm just to get in a shower filled with moths and spiders was stressful, ok). Giant moths and wasps kept getting in the cabin, and I was always so worried I could barely sleep.
Camping has never been something I enjoy, but this, with no support from basically anyone, was almost traumatic. I was crying about 24 hours a day (besides when I had orchestra rehearsal). Eventually, I realized that the experience was really destroying my mental health and that I had to go home two weeks early. I do not regret doing that, but I don’t think my parents will ever forgive me.
After that, things were going pretty well in my life (besides a little “postpartum depression” after adopting my cat junior year). Then came the Fall of my senior year of college. This was when anxiety hit me the hardest, and when I knew that I finally had to get help.
The Last Straw
The first semester of my senior year is a blur to me now. I can only really remember that I was obsessed with the fact that I could be going crazy or developing a more serious psychological disorder, particularly schizophrenia. Granted, I was super miseducated about schizophrenia, but I was still completely obsessed with the thought that I could have it. I was so worried that what I was seeing was an illusion, or that I was hearing things that weren’t actually real. I was even worried that my cat wasn’t real! Now, all of these things that I remember thinking about seem silly. But at the time, they were so real to me.
I remember one day, it snowed in Bloomington. I sent a photo of the cars outside my building to my mom. Then, I asked her if she could see the snow.
Racing thoughts were consuming me. I felt miserable almost every second. I knew in my heart that I didn’t have any serious psychological disorder, but that it was just anxiety. But I kept wrestling with myself. I knew the anxiety had to end as soon as possible for me to continue with the two most important semesters of my undergraduate career. Graduation was right around the corner. I had tried almost everything. Drinking less coffee, journalling, moving my body, getting outside more often, taking vitamin D. I tried it all. With the waitlist that my university had to see a therapist, I knew that I had to see a doctor off campus to get medical attention. I was desperate to put an end to my own suffering (cheesy!).
Looking back on this whole situation, I can say that I was experiencing this anxiety because I was about to go through graduate school auditions and a major move and shift in life. But at the time, I was so sad and every day seemed impossible. I finally saw a doctor and was prescribed 50mg of Zoloft.
Managing My Anxiety with Medication
It took a really long time for me to see improvement with Zoloft. I eventually bumped up my dosage to 100mg, and I still take this dosage today. I can confidently say that Zoloft has helped me in more ways that I imagined. Usually, I experienced indigestion and breathing problems, but now I know they were caused by anxiety. I haven’t had either of those problems since I started taking medicine. The obsessive thoughts took until the summer after I graduated college to go away completely, but now I never think about these things unless there is some kind of trigger. I usually feel pretty good! But I still experience a little bit of anxiety with phone calls and emails and social situations. Medication doesn’t solve all problems, and it doesn’t make you a super happy person with no other emotions. It helps me feel more like me.
I do have some problems with Zoloft though. The main thing is that I get really, really crazy dreams. This started happening when I upped my dosage from 50mg to 100, and I have heard that this is pretty common for people on Zoloft. My dreams are so vivid that sometimes I think they actually happened. This gave me even more anxiety at first, but now I know that it’s just a thing that is always going to happen. But this little issue is what initially piqued my interest in CBD.
Finding and Choosing an Oil
The CBD oil that I use today is from the brand Ned, based in Boulder, Colorado. They refer to their product as full-spectrum hemp oil. I first heard about this brand through the blogger (whom I’ve talked about before) Addie Martanovic. She has written similar blog posts on using Ned’s hemp oil. She had a discount code for Ned, so I decided to look into the brand and the benefits of CBD oil.
Before I go on, I want to emphasize that Ned cannot cure any illness or disease. Most of the following information is based on Ned’s FAQ page.
To summarize, I chose to use Ned’s full-spectrum hemp oil because it doesn’t have any unnecessary ingredients in it. The only additive that Ned uses is MCT (coconut) oil. Ned doesn’t use any synthetics or CBD isolates (a lab isolated CBD compound that doesn’t contain other beneficial phytocannabinoids). Ned cold extracts their oil straight from non-GMO hemp flowers, and their oil contains other phytocannabinoids (which are other naturally occurring compounds along with CBD). These include CBG, CBC, CBDV, and hemp terpenes (which are what contributes to the oil’s unmistakable scent). Ned’s full-spectrum hemp oil also contains the smallest trace of THC (less than 0.3%), and it will not get you high.
Ned offers three different concentrations of their hemp oil: 300mg, 750mg, and 1500mg. The difference between these three is the ratio of the hemp oil to the MCT oil. Ned recommends that a new user should start with 10mg of the oil. This is one full dropper of the 300mg as compared to about a fourth of a dropper of the 750 and just a tiny bit of the 1500. So, the bottles with a higher concentration of hemp oil are way more cost effective! I currently use the 750mg.
If you choose to use a different CBD brand than Ned, please do your research! Know what you are putting into your body!
Now, let me delve into my own personal experience taking hemp oil daily for two whole months.
2 Months of CBD
I first started with the 300mg concentrate of Ned. My routine with it was taking one full dropper of the oil in the morning and again right before I went to bed. What I will say was the most shocking about taking the oil for the first time was the smell and the taste! Ned totally smells like pot. Very high quality pot. The taste is also the same, like pot. It takes a little getting used to (and plugging your nose), but I think it’s worth it!
CBD in the Morning
Initially, I didn’t really notice a difference. It definitely took me a few weeks to notice the effects (also I ran out of my 300mg bottle within 2.5 weeks or so! So the higher concentrations that Ned offers are a better deal as you run out less frequently!). Eventually, I began to see that taking the hemp oil made me feel a little more at peace in the mornings. It has helped me feel less panicked while getting ready and thinking about all the things I have to accomplish in the day. Now that I have switched to the 750mg, the same holds true.
CBD for Sleep
In regards to sleep, hemp oil hasn’t helped me very much. Typically, I don’t have any trouble falling or staying asleep, but I think CBD oil can be really effective for people that do have these issues. I was hoping that CBD would help ease my crazy Zoloft dreams, but it hasn’t. I think the only way to make these vivid dreams stop is to eventually wean myself off of Zoloft. It’s a little unfortunate! But of course, this product isn’t a miracle worker!
Now, I take Ned once a day- in the morning. I found that taking it at night made it a little difficult for me to wake up early, as I sometimes have to wake up at 5:30AM for my coffee shop job. Sometimes, I found myself feeling a little groggy in the morning if I took Ned the night before. If I had a lifestyle in which I could wake up later than 8AM every day, I would be fine taking Ned before bed!
Another important thing about CBD is how you take it. Personally, I follow the instructions that Ned provides and drop the oil under my tongue. Then I let it sit for about 30 seconds and swallow. I only put it in my coffee one time, but I have heard from other people that put it in their drinks that it is just as effective! I just wasn’t a fan of oil floating on top of my cold brew, and I wasn’t sure if I was getting the full dosage because of that.
A Summary of My CBD Experience
I think Ned’s full-spectrum hemp oil has been positive addition to my life. Ned is great because they don’t use any additives in their products, which means you can feel good about what is going into your body! While hemp oil hasn’t helped me personally with sleep, it has helped me calm down in the morning and look forward to the work ahead of me rather than panic.
I truly feel like Ned is a great company that is honest about its ingredients and effects of their product. Seriously, I feel that the hemp plant has powerful healing properties to help people in their everyday lives, as well as to possibly assist those with serious illnesses. I am happy to see the CBD “trend” grow, as well as wellness and food brands that are transparent that aim to make a positive impact on the world and people’s health!
I hope this post was helpful to you all! Have you tried Ned or another brand of CBD oil? Let me know below or send me a DM on social media! I’m always curious to and want to hear from you guys!
Food is fuel.
Is this the only purpose of food?
When I first started my journey to living a healthier and happier life three years ago, this was a phrase that I was constantly surrounded by. I first created my current Instagram page as a way to find inspiration and hold myself accountable for one thing: losing weight. The Instagrammers that I decided to follow at that time were all in with weight loss, whether it be naturally or assisted by weight loss surgery. On the daily, I saw their stories and posts about the grilled chicken and veggies they were having for every meal. Then there were the photos of hotel breakfasts, which were usually just a few pieces of fruit and a cup of yogurt on a white Styrofoam plate. There were boomerangs of these influencers taking their pre-workout, photos of meat wraps, meal prepping videos. The list goes on and on. And I kept reading the same proud phrase over and over.
Food is fuel.
With recently having switched over my focus from purely weight loss to all-around health and wellness, I started to question this phrase and the real purpose of food. Of course food is fuel, we all know that. A calorie itself is a unit of energy. The number of calories in a piece of food describes how much energy our body can get from eating it. Calories are the fuel that keeps our bodies is good working condition. When we consume more energy than our body needs, we store it and gain weight. It’s science. Of course food is fuel. But it’s so much more.
It’s Not Just Biology
Tongues and their tastebuds exist for a reason, and that reason is highly biological. Speaking from this biological perspective, taste allows our body to prepare for digestion. Taste activates our salivary glands and prepares our body to receive and process the food. Taste also allows us to detect poison and other survival-of-the-fittest things. But through evolution, these initial purposes for taste have gotten less and less important for survival. Although we still use a combination taste and smell to tell if foods have gone bad, it’s not a huge concern in our daily lives. Taste is one of our strongest senses, and it is mainly used for enjoyment now. This is because our lives as humans have gotten much easier. But there is a lot of “taboo” within that.
I’ve found that thinking of food as only something that makes my body function to be detrimental for my mental health. Thinking of food as an energy source and nothing else rejects that food can actually be enjoyed. It places shame on the fact that eating can be pleasurable. And as weird as the word “pleasurable” sounds when describing food (mostly because of its sexual undertones, merp), it’s true!
The immense amount of shame placed on enjoying food is something that really harms the relationships that many people have with it. Societal pressures are all around us to not eat fast foods, sweets, carbohydrates, and fats. People are doing Atkins, then Paleo, then Keto, then juicing, then the potato diet. It seems like everyday there’s a new diet fad that demonizes one or more categories of food and steers us all in a different, confusing direction. Demonizing food is what causes people to have painful food relationships.
To deny the fact the food is emotional and that enjoying food is natural is what causes the misery and guilt attached to it.
Food and Fat-Shaming
The negative stigma surrounding enjoying food is what also causes society’s negative perception of fat people.
Fat people are that way because they did it to themselves. Fat people are irresponsible and eat only for pleasure. They’re lazy and just lay around grazing and watching Netflix all day. They don’t take care of themselves. The only things they eat are cupcakes, fried chicken, mac and cheese, and donuts.
Before anyone takes this out of context, this is obviously not the truth.
I could go on and on for hidden reasons as to why people struggle with their weight and also why body positivity is so important, but that’s not my purpose in writing this. What I will say is that one of the many reasons why people say these things about fat people is to make themselves feel better. While living the grind-or-die lifestyle and depriving themselves from the joy of food, these people feel morally above people who decide to live a bit differently. I can respect the different lifestyles and diets of all people, but I cannot respect people looking down on others just because they don’t eat processed sugar or fast food or something.
Having a negative view towards food can condone these extremely hurtful things to be said about fat people. They can also cause people to really struggle with how they feel towards food. What is morally right and wrong when it comes to how we consume food? Nothing. Everyone has their own life and own viewpoints on nutrition. And nutrition itself is ever-changing. We should be entitled to our own thoughts on food without judgement!
Food is Cultural, Emotional, and Communal
Of course food is fuel. Obviously. But these are three things that food also is.
Food is cultural. I, a caucasian American girl, even have a little bit of culture attached to the food I eat. In Wisconsin (where I grew up), hearty Germanic foods are the tradition and bring people together. Grilling brats on Sunday summer nights and pairing them with cold glasses of beer. Going to the Wisconsin State Fair and sitting down at a picnic table with a cream puff on one plate and cheese curds on the other. My grandma bringing Kringle over on the weekends. Having fish fry on a Friday night and going out for frozen custard afterwards. All of this, all of these memories associated with food, are at the core of who I am.
My best friend has memories attached to his mom’s paneer makhani, which was his favorite as a kid. I know people who get sentimental around matzah ball soup, tamales, and homemade gnocchi. Even a pint of Ben and Jerry’s can remind people of nights spent in watching TV. One simple pint can bring back the nostalgia of late college nights or a bittersweet break-up.
Food is not just fuel.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Lunar New Year, Día de los Muertos. Weddings, birthdays, baby showers, barbecues, and potluck dinners. People are brought together through food. This is one purpose of food. Food is joy and food is love.
It’s okay to enjoy food.
What the Purpose of Food Really Is
To repair a relationship with food is hard. But giving yourself permission to enjoy the food you eat is so freeing. To allow yourself to experience the memories and sentiments that come with food is the most liberating thing. Eat mindfully and enjoy each bite, and try not to beat yourself up if you eat a little too much birthday cake. Food is more than just gasoline for humans. Food is beautiful, delicious, and powers our bodies.
The purpose of food is complicated. It’s more than fuel.
I know I could be seriously bashed so much for this last sentence. It’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it sums up what I have come to believe:
Food is everything!
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This past week, I traveled to Boston, Massachusetts to visit one of my best friends from college. It was a seriously amazing week of exploring, catching up, riding the T, and eating- mostly eating. Getting back on track from this trip has been a little tricky.
I love food. I’m never not going to love food. My relationship with food is a little complicated and stems from my childhood. Growing up, I never was very disciplined with food. I was never taught to be. I don’t blame this on my parents at all, but I think learning more about nutrition early in my childhood would have been good for me. As a kid, my family ate frozen meals, pizza, tacos, sandwiches, spaghetti. All of these are easy meals for a family of four to afford and prepare. Making these foods more nutritious is easy, but I never wanted to eat healthy. I was a picky eater as a child, and that has kind of stuck with me. I wanted to eat the most tasty, cheesy, indulgent food all the time. Vegetables were pretty much the enemy- I didn’t eat a salad until I was 13 years old!
In my junior year of college, I started changing my habits. I learned a lot about food. I began to care a little more about what was in the food I was consuming and what my body actually needed to function at its best. It’s been two years since I first started changing my lifestyle, and I am still a work in progress.
I don’t think that we should have to give up certain foods to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle. I truly believe that it is all about moderation and consistency. It’s about trying to live 80/20. 80% of the time, I aim to eat foods that satisfy me and that I love- but in moderation. If I’m severely craving a cookie, I’ll eat a cookie. I’m literally eating a cookie while writing this blog post! I’ll find a way to make it fit into my daily calories (side note: I know calorie counting is scary and sounds negative, but it’s what helps me at this point. I hope to switch over to intuitive eating in the future when I’m more confident!). 20% of the time, I’ll eat delicious foods that may be over my calories- I’ll treat myself.
Sometimes these treats, “treat meals”, or “treat days” (I prefer not to call them “cheats”!) can last for a whole weekend. In the case of my Boston trip, they lasted 5 days! I don’t feel ashamed at all about it. Food is not something that should cause guilt! Food should be all about fulfillment and joy. It is ok to enjoy food! I ate incredible handmade lobster ravioli, saag paneer with garlic naan, Boston cream pie, a red velvet croissant stuffed with cream cheese frosting, soft serve from Milk Bar, macaroni and cheese served in a skillet, a lobster tail pastry. Everything that I ate was so worth it.
Now I’m back in Cleveland, and it’s time for me to get back on track and not let this trip deter me completely from my goals. Here’s some tips for how to get back on track from an indulgent weekend or vacation!
1. Drink Water
It’s the simplest, most repetitive thing that people say. Drink water! It’s so important for resetting and getting back on track with healthy habits, yet so ignored. When I’m drinking alcohol or eating lots of super salty foods without drinking a good amount of water, it makes the morning after so much worse than it has to be. Water cleanses the body and I also find that it clears the mind, helping me feel more aware and focused. Lemon water is even better! Lemon juice is full of vitamin C and has antioxidant properties that can help give your immune system a boost.
2. Prepare a Healthy Meal
Have some ingredients on hand? Make one of your favorite, nutritious meals to help you reset mentally. My go-to is my avocado toast: two slices of whole grain toast, avocado mash seasoned with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and two over-easy eggs with Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning. You can take out the bread and make this into a salad if you want something more refreshing. It’s nutritious and perfectly proportionate with whole carbs, healthy fats, and protein. Avocado toast isn’t just a trend- it’s a well balanced and satisfying meal that is great for when your body needs a reset!
3. Take a Work Out Class
Or just go to the gym, on a walk, a bike ride, or a run! Exercise has a transcendental power to boost your mood (endorphins make you happy!) and also improve mental clarity. This is something I never realized until I was 20 years old. I always thought exercise was a chore or a punishment, but now I have learned to enjoy and look forward to it. Spin class is what has really helped me come to this realization.
After a weekend of treats, working out is probably the last thing that anyone would want to do. Going to a class can make this much easier. Being in a space with people that have similar goals as you creates a sense of community. The day after I got home from Boston, I went to a St. Patrick’s Day themed class at Harness Cycle in Cleveland. It was one of the funnest classes I have ever taken! It put me in the perfect mindset to be productive for the rest of the day.
Don’t like work out classes? See if a friend wants to exercise with you! Having a buddy always helps!
4. Journal and Forgive Yourself
Maybe your indulgent weekend wasn’t just that. Maybe it was a binge. Or maybe it was something more serious, like a relapse into binge-eating or another disorder. Feeling yourself slip back into old habits can be discouraging. Sometimes we can feel like one night (or a few nights) can erase all the progress that we have made. This is a common anxiety that isn’t true. But sometimes, feeling guilty is inevitable. The sooner you can realize this, the better. Journalling really helps to release the negative thoughts that you might have after over-indulging. Write down how you’re feeling, why you feel that way, how you can make the next time better. If it was a binge, write down your trigger foods and other things that caused the binge. Write down other coping methods you can use if it was stress related or emotionally charged.
If you don’t like to journal, talk to someone. If you have a therapist, talk to them. Is there someone in your life that you trust 100%? Like your best friend, parent, or spouse? Tell them how you are feeling. If you feel embarrassed to tell someone, make a voice memo on your phone and just talk. Let it out!
While coming to these realizations is hard, it is important. An enormous weight will be lifted from your shoulders by releasing your thoughts. It will help you give yourself some grace and stop you from spiraling. It is an act of kindness you can do for yourself.
I definitely took a longggg nap the day that I got back from Boston. I also drank two coffees (this may not seem like much but it is for me, ok!). Even if you go out with your friends and refrain from alcohol, chances are that you’ll still feel gross the morning after. Anyone would after staying up until 4AM! So Sunday is the perfect day to catch up on sleep. Take a nap. Go to sleep early instead of staying up late in bed scrolling on Instagram. The blue light emitted from phones and other devices suppresses the production of melatonin and can disrupt your sleep patterns.
If you do have to use your phone or watch TV before bed for whatever reason, make sure that Night Shift is activated on your phone or invest in a pair of blue light blocking glasses. You can buy them at Warby Parker and there are cheaper options everywhere, including Amazon!
You Have the Strength!
With these few things, getting back on track after a period of partying or overeating can be made so much easier. Knowing that you might end up off track is important to keep in mind while trying to live healthier. Having a personal plan for when this happens can make one step back turn into two steps forward. Knowing that the potential weight gain and other consequences aren’t permanent is incredibly empowering. You have the ability make the changes you need and to completely flip one or even seven bad days around! Knowing that you have the power is a priceless and freeing feeling.
If you have any other tips you would like to share about how to get back into a healthy routine, leave a comment below! Thank you so much for reading my little tips for getting back on track. I hope this helped some of you, especially after St. Patrick’s Day weekend!
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International Women’s Day is this Friday: March 8, 2019! Before International Women’s Day existed, National Women’s Day was first celebrated in the United States on February 28, 1909. Shortly after in 1910, several female political leaders at the International Socialist Women’s Conference suggested that an International Women’s Day be founded. They viewed the potential holiday as a way to promote suffrage and equal rights for women. While no specific date was specified at the conference, International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time on March 11, 1911. Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark were the first countries to celebrate the new holiday. As the years went on, other countries began to celebrate. This includes Russia, England, and the United States.
While we aren’t facing the same conditions today as women were in the early 20th century, it is still important to recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day in 2019 and in the future. Why? The pay gap still exists and female victims of sexual assault are still blamed, silenced, or simply not believed. Stereotypes for women rooted in the past still exist. Women are constantly judged more harshly than men for what we look like, wear, say, and do. International Women’s Day is “a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.” This is stated on the United Nations website.
How I’m Celebrating International Women’s Day
This year for International Women’s Day, I want to celebrate by sharing with you five women that motivate me daily, whether it’s through their writing on their blogs or their Instagram stories. All five of these incredible women are based in the Midwest. I chose Midwestern gals because I wanted this post to celebrate women from my part of the United States- which is seriously underrated! These women are strong, beautiful, accomplished content creators that add so much positivity to my life. Each of them focus on health, wellness, food, weight-loss, or a combination of the four. All of them have influenced me in such a powerful way (maybe that’s why they’re called influencers lol). I hope you’ll check them out and love their content as much as I do!
1. Addie Martanovic (@chickpeainthecity)
Seriously what a ball of sunshine! Addie is a blogger from Cleveland, Ohio based in Chicago, Illinois. She posts frequently on her website, chickpeainthecity.org, about everything wellness related. She covers everything from healthy recipes, to travel guides, to her experiences with hemp oil, to yoga teacher training, to leaving her job. Addie is also a little matcha obsessed, ODESZA obsessed, and SoulCycle obsessed. Aren’t we all at this point? She’s been through a lot in 24 years. This includes disordered eating and other heavy things you’ll learn by following her. Even having gone through difficult times, the light she radiates is undeniable. Addie is dedicated to sharing her wellness tips, favorite products, and the joy she finds in the little things with all who want to read her work.
I met Addie one time at Beet Jar in Cleveland, and she truly is the same in real life as she is on her Instagram stories! Also her dad is one of the funniest humans on the planet; you can see what I mean if you look at her Instagram story highlights. Seriously this man always makes my day!
2. Lexi Reed (@fatgirlfedup)
Take one look at Lexi’s Instagram page (if you’re not already following her!) and you’ll immediately know that she’s one of the most inspiring humans on the planet. Lexi lives in Indiana with her husband, Danny Reed (@discoveringdanny). Together, they have lost a total of 407 pounds. 4-0-7! Lexi began her journey at 485 pounds. She always says that she felt trapped in her body and that she wasn’t living- she was just existing. Lexi lost 312 pounds with no special tricks. She simply learned how cook healthy meals, count calories, and use the gym as therapy.
Lexi is one of the purest and most naturally happy people that I’ve ever watched on Instagram. She’s real. Lexi made changes she realized that she needed to. She was able to lose the weight with dedication and her own power- no special diets, teas, classes, etc. This is why she is an inspiration to me and why I needed to include her on this list.
3. Aubrey Johansen (@thatswhatsheeats)
Oh Aubrey, how you inspire me. Aubrey Johansen is a food and lifestyle blogger based in Cleveland, Ohio. She shares her life post-bariatric surgery. After studying opera in college, she changed her career path and became a personal chef. Aubrey is always posting photos of her delicious, beautiful food and adorable cat and dog- Chip and Queso. Honestly, I can’t think of a cuter combination! She also shares her recipes on her website. Aubrey’s posts are always raw and transparent. Now that I think of it, she’s probably the person who I can credit the beginning of my spin class obsession to! Aubrey has also exposed me to so many amazing small businesses in Cleveland. I’m grateful for her posts every day!
4. Meg Marrone (@better_meg)
Ah, yes. Another Cleveland blogger has made my list! Who goes by Meg! Meg Marrone is the lady behind Better Meg. Little side note: her website design is adorable! She’s Meghan, a Whole 30 alum who believes that health and wellness should be accessible for everyone. Meghan is also passionate about the earth and living a zero waste lifestyle. On her Instagram, she shares her daily life, wedding planning adventures, Whole 30 recipes and more. I haven’t met her in real life yet, but she seems like such a sweet person. She is very candid and transparent, and even admits that she’s still figuring everything out. Her content always nudges me to keep moving forward.
5. Sarah (@itfinallyclicked)
Sarah is similar to Lexi Reed in that she started losing weight with her spouse. She lives in Minnesota with her wife. Sarah started her weight loss journey at 404 pounds. She has lost 205 pounds since October 2016 by counting calories and exercising all on her own. No gimmicks here! Sarah’s pictures say it all. She posts transformation photos of her and her wife, healthy and simple recipes, workouts, thoughts on intuitive eating, non-scale victories, and other significant parts of her life. Like all the other women I have mentioned here, Sarah is incredibly positive. She reminds her followers that her weight loss wasn’t easy, but she also emphasizes that someone’s weight loss does not equal their worth.
Who are some of the women that inspire you most? Let me know down below! Thank you so much for reading.
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There’s so much stimuli in today’s world. Just walking down the street, people can easily become overloaded with information. A dog barking, a phone buzzing, a car honking at another car that didn’t start moving immediately when the traffic light turned green. Not only do we have outside distractions happening all the time, we have our own internal monologues constantly running through our heads.
What are some things that a person could be worrying about? These are all too familiar. You could be thinking about: your daily schedule, if you need to put gas in the car, if you’re going to miss the bus, if your boyfriend will ever forgive you for whatever the hell you said to him. Did I forget my phone? Did I remember to put my clothes in the dryer? I unplugged the toaster, right? Ugh, I forgot to scoop the litter box! The Bachelor is on tonight, but I have a meeting scheduled! Is today the day that I’m finally going to get fired? I’m so unprepared for class, this is gonna be bad.
For people with anxiety, these thoughts can be even more brutal. They can seem like they may never end. It’s this chatter and endless worry in our heads that can really start to bog us down, turn into negative self-talk, and keep us from focusing and being able to rest. My senior year of college, I was in this same spiral. I was worrying about things that would probably never happen, the worst of the worst scenarios. I couldn’t focus on anything. Also I couldn’t sleep or eat. The only thing I was really doing was distancing myself from where I was in the moment. I was shoving myself into a dark world of my own thoughts.
That was about a year ago now. Since then, things have drastically changed for me. Mindfulness is much more important and natural to me now. I also make efforts to acknowledge the little things in life that I took for granted before. I want to share with you all the ways I am able to keep myself out of that black hole of worry.
In a modern world with technology and so many other distractions, it is important to find things to clasp on to in everyday life- things that bring us back into the moment.
1. Focus on Your Senses
Find things that can really feed your senses and cling onto them. Order a cup of coffee and look at the little bubbles in the foam on top. Take in a deep inhale through your nose and smell that bittersweet aroma. Try to taste every note that you can identify. Feel the smooth sides of the mug in your two hands. Key in to the music, maybe test yourself and try to guess what song it is or what artist it’s by.
Being able to intensely focus on these small details that we usually don’t even process keeps the mind busy and also creates curiosity and a feeling of calm. This is why we’re told to eat slowly or to not drink with a straw. Take time to slow down and give your senses some attention.
2. Acknowledge How You’re Feeling
Are you super tired today? Admit it to yourself. Didn’t study last night for an exam? Just tell yourself that. It is important to accept our emotions and physical conditions. Either say it to yourself silently or even out loud. Writing these things down can also be helpful. We’re taught to always act like everything is fine. “Don’t let them see you sweat”. With these lessons ingrained so deeply in us, we don’t think about how these philosophies can actually create a wall between our true self and the outside world. We can sometimes be using this mentality defensively and not even realize it. Living in this kind of “denial” can be exhausting. Take time to have a talk with yourself and process what is actually happening in your mind and body. You will feel a greater sense of peace for sure!
3. Focus on What’s Important
Forget about multi-tasking. Schedule ample time in your day for everything you want to do. Instead of trying to make dinner and watch TV and eat and do your homework or work assignments at the same time, separate the tasks. While this will take a little more time and planning ahead, the result will be more efficient. With your full focus on each task, nothing will be “half-assed” (is there another word for this??). Don’t check your phone while you’re watching Netflix, don’t open up tabs you’re not using on the computer while doing work. Focusing on each thing will allow you to notice more details of each hobby or task, and this is extremely gratifying.
4. Have Your Rituals and Break Them
I have a morning and nightly routine. On slower days, my morning routine is what follows: I wake up and check my phone (exactly what you shouldn’t do, ha!). Sometimes, my cat will come in bed with me and I will take this time to love him up, pet him, and also listen to his purring, which is actually really soothing! I’ll delete emails and other things before looking over my schedule for the day. Then, I get up and brush my teeth and do all the other typical morning things. Sometimes, I’ll make breakfast and then get dressed; sometimes I’ll do the opposite. Other days, I’ll go to a coffee shop to get breakfast. And some days, I’ll put on my eye makeup before I fill in my eyebrows and vice versa.
It’s important to switch things up, even if they seem minuscule! It keeps you from going on autopilot and focusing on what stressful things could happen during your day.
5. Find Beauty in the Little Things
This, again, has to do with focus and the senses. There are so many beautiful things in life that go unnoticed. Some of my favorites are: crisp air on a fall day, how light falls onto the floor through the windows, unique grains in each piece of wood, birds’ little tiny legs, milk swirling into coffee, snow dancing against my window, light reflecting and creating little rainbows everywhere, cute flowers, fuzzy fat squirrels, an amazing chord in one piece of music, small and unexpected sayings on the sidewalks or packaging of products. These things bring me so much joy!! Even just typing these things right now, I feel uplifted and so, so grateful.
In practicing these different techniques daily, I have experienced immense growth and change in my identity. I feel like I’m a completely different person in this regard now compared to a year ago. While these habits take a bit of time to form, they will help you become a more present and mindful person in the long term. Embracing the current moment is so important and helps you feel alive and at peace.
Thank you so much for reading! If you have any other tips for staying aware and in the moment, leave them in the comments! I’m always looking for new things to think about and try.
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One of the easiest ways to start living a healthier lifestyle is to make little substitutions for your favorite calorie-laden foods and drinks. This was especially true for me at the beginning of my health and wellness journey a few years ago. I live right down the street from a Starbucks. Although I’m a self-proclaimed coffee lover (I literally have a tattoo of a coffee tree sprig), I frequent Starbucks pretty darn often. How could I not? It’s 3 minutes from my house and they have a super convenient app and rewards program! At this point, we all get Starbucks and don’t want to admit it. It’s kind of like (God forbid I say this) McDonalds! It’s a little guilty pleasure that we aren’t the proudest of, but still enjoy.
Just like McDonalds, most of the signature items on Starbucks’s menu are very high in calories and sugar. For example, the standard grande caffè mocha has 360 calories hot and 350 iced. A caramel macchiato has 250 calories hot and iced, and a peppermint mocha has 440 calories hot and 420 iced. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in the full-calorie recipes. But if you are planning on counting calories or macros, ordering lower-calorie drinks will allow you to save those extra calories for your actual meals. Easy ways to lower the calories of these drinks are to order them without whipped cream and substitute the 2% milk for nonfat or a non-dairy option, like almond milk. But I’m here to provide some simple recipes that will sometimes cut the calories of your favorite Starbucks drinks in half!
Disclaimers: I do not have the calorie count for all of these recipes. The calories depend on the barista, as some can be move heavy-handed with the half-and-half and other add-ins. All of these recipes are made without whipped cream, and all of them can be made with dairy or non-dairy milk. Most of the drinks are cold brew, caffè misto, or americano based. You can order a blonde americano instead of the regular for a more subtle taste that lets the flavor syrups shine. Some of these recipes are variations on those by @themacrobarista on Instagram. Check out his page for more healthy recipes!
All of the recipes I will be talking about contain artificial sweeteners. Here is your guide to what is in each of the sugar-free or skinny flavors mentioned.
Skinny Mocha Sauce
Skinny mocha sauce is rumored to be discontinued at Starbucks. If your local Starbucks doesn’t have the skinny mocha sauce, you can use regular mocha sauce as a slightly higher-calorie option. Skinny mocha sauce contains a sugar substitute called Sucralose. Sucralose (the stuff that makes up Splenda). It’s a man-made substance, and doesn’t have the unpleasant aftertaste that many other popular sweeteners have. Sucralose can affect blood sugar levels, but not as seriously as real sugar. Skinny mocha sauce is also dairy free.
Sugar-Free Vanilla Syrup
Sugar-free vanilla is sweetened with Maltodextrin. This is a white, powdery substance that is made from plants, but is very highly processed. Because it has a high glycemic index and is linked very closely to corn syrup, the body processes Maltodextrin in the same way as sugar, which is not at all ideal for diabetics and other people who are mindful of their blood sugar levels. Sugar-free vanilla is dairy-free.
Sugar-Free Cinnamon Dolce Syrup
Like skinny mocha sauce, the sugar-free cinnamon dolce syrup is sweetened with Sucralose. Sugar-free cinnamon dolce is also dairy-free.
Let’s get on with the recipes!
Drinks Available Year-Round
1. Caffe Mocha
A classic chocolate drink. This can be made with or without dairy.
Grande cold brew
1 pump skinny mocha sauce
2 pumps sugar-free vanilla syrup
1 pump skinny mocha sauce
2 pumps sugar-free vanilla syrup
2. Raspberry Mocha
I only have the cold recipe for this drink. It’s fruity and chocolatey, satisfying both cravings! It’s sweet without being overdone. What’s not to love?
Grande cold brew
1 pump skinny mocha sauce
1 pump raspberry syrup
Optional 1 pump sugar-free vanilla syrup
3. Salted Caramel Mocha
I fondly remember the days in which I thought the salted caramel mocha was only available in the Fall. Then, I learned that the drink is made with the toffee nut syrup. My mind was blown! The only thing you can’t get year-round for the salted caramel mocha is the salt topping, but it still tastes great without it. I mean, you can always add some table salt?
Grande cold brew
1 pump skinny mocha sauce
1 pump toffee nut syrup
Optional 1-2 pumps sugar-free vanilla syrup
1 pump skinny mocha sauce
1 pump toffee nut syrup
Optional 1 pump sugar-free vanilla syrup
4. White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Mocha
A nutty white mocha! This recipe is very similar to the salted caramel mocha: it is just made with white mocha sauce. Unfortunately, this recipe cannot be made dairy free. This is because of the condensed milk in the white mocha sauce.
Grande cold brew
1 pump white mocha sauce
1 pump toffee nut syrup
2 pumps sugar-free vanilla
Light cream (this one is also good with light heavy cream. Extra creamy!)
Grande caffè misto (this is half brewed coffee, half milk)
1 pump white mocha
1 pump toffee nut
1-2 pumps sugar-free vanilla
Substitute 2% milk for nonfat or non-dairy milk
5. Peppermint Mocha
The peppermint mocha is a year round option, just like the salted caramel mocha! Starbucks has peppermint syrup year round. They just don’t have the chocolate curls they top the drink with during the holiday season. The peppermint mocha is a cooling yet cozy drink any time of the year. The peppermint mocha can be made dairy-free!
Grande cold brew
1 pump mocha sauce
1 pumped peppermint syrup
Optional 1 pump sugar-free vanilla
Grande americano (I recommend blonde roast for this particular recipe)
1 pump mocha sauce
1 pump peppermint syrup
6. Cherry Mocha
This is one that I have been ordering almost everyday this Valentine’s Day season. I go for the iced version, naturally (I’ll be drinking iced coffee in the snow and wind chill warnings, ok). Because this recipe is made without sugar-free vanilla, it tastes pretty close to the real thing. Vegans can substitute the cream in this recipe for non-dairy milk!
Grande cold brew
1 pump skinny mocha sauce
1-2 pumps cherry syrup
1 pump skinny mocha sauce
1-2 pumps cherry syrup
7. Chestnut Praline Latte
Chestnut praline is my favorite holiday coffee. The caramel flavor and nutty, spicy undertones are pretty divine. It is such a cozy classic for the holiday season. The chestnut praline latte can be made dairy-free!
Grande cold brew
2 pumps chestnut praline syrup
1 pump sugar-free vanilla
2 pumps chestnut praline syrup
And that’s it! Let me know what you think of any of the recipes I have posted. Do you have any custom Starbucks recipes that you’re obsessed with? Let me know below!
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When I hear the word “pancakes”, I immediately think of my sister, Paige. Pancakes (besides hot chocolate and soft pretzels) are her favorite food. Breakfast is her most favorite meal. She always wants to go out for breakfast or brunch when we are home from school for holiday breaks. However, I’ve never been a pancake person, or a breakfast person, really. Since I started making avocado toast (hi, I’m a millenial), I’ve started enjoying breakfast much more than I ever did before. But pancakes have really never spoke to me. I never find them to be filling or satisfying enough for me. I am definitely a savory breakfast person, unless I’m in a very specific mood. But even in that mood, I prefer French toast with berries and maybe some mascarpone as apposed to my sister’s preference, which is the most chocolatey pancakes you can create! So, I decided to create a recipe that blends my love for savory breakfast foods and my sister’s love for pancakes together!
This recipe is fairly low in calories (although I do not have the exact count) and makes about 12 pancakes. That’s enough for 3-4 people. The whole family can have pesto pancakes for breakfast!
Pesto was a food I fell in love with immediately when I first tasted it. It combines so many loves of mine: garlic, a nutty texture, salt, and fat. The combination with the sharp, fresh basil and salty parmesan cheese is divine. I’ve opted to make this pesto with goat cheese. I love goat cheese for it’s tang and creaminess. The goat cheese makes this pesto very smooth and easy to fold into the pancake batter as well!
In this pancake recipe, I use the Simple Mills pancake mix. I love this product because it is gluten-free and extremely versatile with no sugars added. You can use it for savory and sweet variations of pancakes. I’ve even used this pancake mix to make cookies before! I used Oatly for the milk and olive oil to heighten the flavor of the pesto. I topped the pancakes with a poached egg (which turned out perfectly for these photos, I’m so proud!), Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning, and some of the toasted pine nuts for some crunch.
Of course, you can edit this recipe to be dairy-free by using non-dairy cheese and milk. It is already gluten-free with the Simple Mills pancake mix!
I hope you enjoy my rustic pesto pancake recipe! Let me know if you try it and what you think!
Rustic Pesto Pancakes
- 1.5 cups pancake mix (I use Simple Mills)
- 3 eggs
- 3 tbsp milk dairy or non-dairy
- 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
Goat Cheese Pesto
- 2 cups fresh basil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 cloves fresh garlic peeled
- 1/3 cup goat cheese crumbled
- 1/3 cup olive oil extra virgin
Goat Cheese Pesto
- Remove the basil leaves from the stem and wash then with a vegetable cleaning solution.
- Toast the pine nuts in a pan until they brown and release their scent.
- Remove and peel two cloves of garlic.
- Add your clean basil, garlic, toasted pine nuts, goat cheese, and olive oil to a food processor. Pulse until well blended.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, olive oil, milk, and pancake mix together.
- Fold the pesto into the pancake mix. Be gentle, as this helps the batter stay thicker.
- Spray a pan with olive oil. Place it on the stove on low to medium heat and wait for the oil to become slick.
- Add the pancake batter into the pan and cook only one or two pancakes at a time. Wait for the pancakes to become bubbly on top and then flip! Wait for the pancakes to cook through thoroughly.
- Remove from the pan and serve!
And there you have it! Bon appétit!