How To Find Balance During The Holidays | There is no doubt that the holidays bring plenty of stress. Your waistline expands as your wallet shrinks. Your to-do list lengthens as your sleep shortens. Here is how to find balance during the holidays!


According to Andy Williams, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year”. I can’t argue with him on that one. How could you not adore the twinkly lights, steamy hot chocolates, and fireside snuggles?

However, there is no doubt that the season brings its fair share of panic and stress. Your waistline expands as your wallet shrinks. Your to-do list lengthens as your sleep shortens. Unfortunately, it’s not all “kids jingle belling” and “gay happy meetings”, Andy.

I am constantly striving to find balance in all aspects of my life, which becomes even more crucial around this time of year. Today, I am sharing how to balance your time, body, and money during the holidays!


BALANCING YOUR TIME


1. Prioritize your tasks. There is nothing more daunting than a never-ending to-do list. Rather than overwhelming yourself with a million things to complete, choose the three most important tasks you want to accomplish each day. A realistic to-do list will help you to stop procrastinating, and focusing on what is most urgent will ensure that you are not wasting time or energy.

2. Volunteer. When we get caught up in our own lives, it is easy to forget that a world exists outside of our subconsciously-created bubbles. Volunteering will broaden your perspective and remind you to be grateful. While you might be thinking, “I don’t need another thing to add to my to-do list…”, giving back to those in need is one of the best uses of your time. I personally enjoy preparing and serving meals at my local soup kitchen. Soup kitchens and homeless shelters are flooding with volunteers during the holidays, but don’t forget that help is needed year-round.

3. Set boundaries. I am all about saying “yes”. An attitude of “yes” can lead to new opportunities and long-lasting memories. On the other hand, there is power in saying “no”. With the busyness of the holidays, it is common to over-commit and end up with way too many responsibilities. Turning down requests and invitations can be difficult when you feel like you are letting others down. However, keeping your social schedule and number of tasks reasonable will relieve stress and make the yeses much more enjoyable.

4. Make time for yourself. The idea of “self-care” has been thrown around like confetti throughout 2017, and for a good reason. Much of your time is probably devoted to others during the holidays, but we need to show ourselves some love, too.  Incorporating self-care is essential to boost your mental health. If you feel short on time, set aside 10 minutes each morning or night to do something simple you enjoy, whether that is journaling, stretching, reading, or watching a Youtube video.


BALANCING YOUR BODY


5. Eat what will make you feel good. Many experience a constant internal battle surrounding food, especially during the holiday season. Should you choose the salad for dinner, or give in to the honey-glazed ham and mashed potatoes? Should you pass on the pumpkin pie or indulge in a slice? Ultimately, pick what will satisfy both your body and soul. One day, chocolate chip cookies might be tugging at your heart, so eat some without letting food guilt get to you. The next, your body could crave veggies, so whip together a green smoothie for breakfast. My advice is to give yourself full permission to eat what you want. Maybe you fear that this freedom will result in you eating junk 24/7. However, once you realize that those cookies aren’t going anywhere, you will find the right balance between eating for physical health and eating for pleasure.

6. Move intuitively. Curling up under a pile of blankets sounds much more appealing than going for a run in the cold winter weather. That is completely understandable, but lounging around every day will not make you feel your best in the end. Lethargy can be avoided by incorporating gentle movement regularly. There is no need to create a strict routine that you must follow to a T– this could lead to your workouts feeling like a chore, when in reality, you should enjoy exercise. Instead, move intuitively. If you are feeling sluggish and sore one day, go for a leisurely walk or do some yoga. If you have more energy the next, bump up the intensity of your workout. Exercise according to how your body is feeling.

7. Stay hydrated. You’ve heard it countless times, but we could all use the reminder to drink more water! In the winter, we often overlook the importance of staying hydrated. Just because you aren’t panting and sweating under the beating sun does not mean you need any less H20! Drinking enough water will banish dry skin, improve digestion, and keep you energized all winter long.


BALANCING YOUR MONEY


How To Find Balance During The Holidays | There is no doubt that the holidays bring plenty of stress. Your waistline expands as your wallet shrinks. Your to-do list lengthens as your sleep shortens. Here is how to find balance during the holidays!

8. Go the homemade route. Christmas shopping is fun and all, but it sure does some damage to your bank account. Instead of buying all your gifts, make something for your friends and family. Whip up a sugar scrub, decorate a DIY ornament, put together a scrapbook…get creative! The time and effort that goes into a homemade gift is much more meaningful than a store-bought item.

9. Be a selective shopper. In the past, I wanted to buy something for nearly every person in my life…partly because I love to give, and partly because I worried that I would receive a gift from so-and-so and not have anything for them in return. However, it is unnecessary to shop for everyone, and this mentality leads to a quickly shrinking wallet. Choose only the most important people in your life to purchase presents for. Bake cookies to hand out to the others; this gesture can be equally as thoughtful, while saving you money.

10. Participate in free activities. Staying at a ski resort and seeing The Nutcracker are great, but there are plenty of free activities available during the holiday season that are just as exciting. Drive through a decorated neighborhood, have a Christmas movie marathon, build a snowman (if you are blessed with a white winter)…there are tons of options that won’t break the bank!


Balancing your time, body, and money will allow you to make the most of this season. Always remember to be fully present and live in the moment because the holidays only come once a year! I hope you found this post helpful. How do you find balance during the holidays?

How To Fight Food Guilt During The Holidays | There is no reason to beat yourself up for indulging during the holidays. Learn how to fight food guilt so that you can focus solely on celebrating the joys of the season!


I love the holiday food scene, from the creamy mashed potatoes to the cheesy casseroles to the sticky stuffing…and don’t get me started on the sweets. Nothing brings more joy to my tastebuds than a sizzling slice of pie with a scoop (or five) of vanilla ice cream.

Although holiday food is undeniably delicious, its presence causes anxiety for many people. Diet culture encourages us to pursue an unrealistic body type by cutting out foods deemed “bad”. This mindset is toxic, especially during the holidays when you are surrounded by these forbidden foods 24/7.

In past years, I constantly battled between what I “should” and “shouldn’t” eat. I felt miserable seeing other people enjoying treats that I denied myself, but if I indulged, my guilt weighed me down.

Now, my outlook is completely different. I eat intuitively and do not restrict anything from my diet. However, I know that not everyone has found balance with food. After Thanksgiving, several of my friends and acquaintances were beating themselves up, feeling disgusted because they “ate way too much of X” and “probably gained 20 pounds” and needed to go “work it all off”.

The stress and guilt tied to certain foods can definitely escalate during the holidays. Today, I’m sharing how to fight food guilt so that you can focus solely on celebrating the joys of the season!


DUMP THE FOOD RULES


The food rules we impose on ourselves probably came from something we’ve read, heard, or watched. Over time, it becomes engrained in your head that “dairy and gluten are the devil” or “eating past 7 p.m. is bad” or “carbs make you gain weight”. ETC.

Obeying these rules can give you a sense of control. However, this becomes dangerous when you take it to the extreme and become overly obsessive. Your internal dialogue about whether or not you should eat something might become all-consuming. The joy gets sucked out of food.

Instead of asking yourself if you can have something, ask yourself if you want it. Trash the rules! The shame they cause does not serve you. Allowing yourself full permission to eat whatever you want whenever you want may sound scary, but this mindset shift will subdue your urges to leap at every food that was once off-limits. Sure, you might have one too many cookies at first…but eventually, you will realize that they are not going anywhere. This freedom will relieve stress around food.


DON’T SKIP MEALS TO “SAVE SPACE”


During the holidays, it becomes common to skip breakfast or lunch in order to “make room” or “save calories” for a big dinner. It sounds harmless, but this practice can set you up for a binge later.

You don’t need to eat a 12-inch stack of pancakes for breakfast if a feast awaits you in a few hours, but there is no reason to omit a meal altogether. Your body deserves to be nourished at least three times a day. Plus, eating regularly beforehand will ensure that you are not ravenous come the feast, which will only lead you to overeat (and feel guilty about doing so).


WEAR CLOTHES YOU FEEL CONFIDENT IN


I love high-waisted skinny jeans and crop tops, but they just won’t cut it on Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Knowing that the holidays might result in a slightly fuller belly, pick an outfit that you will feel comfortable in no matter what. If trying to squeeze into a bodycon dress makes your body feel anything less than beautiful, ditch it. Wear something that you can embrace with confidence, whether you end up eating a kale salad or an abundance of buttered bread rolls.


EATING FOR PLEASURE IS OKAY


It sounds very doable to “eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied”. This idea has good intentions, but it completely ignores the fact that we humans have souls, not just stomachs. My stomach might not need a second serving of sweet potato casserole, but my soul sure does.

There are going to be occasions when you eat for experience rather than to ease physical hunger. Your body can manage it if you eat past fullness sometimes. In fact, a full belly can actually aid in improving digestion by prompting the process of moving things down. One day, a second plateful could be totally worth it. Another day, you might decide to honor your physical fullness and pass on an extra helping. Either way is A-OK.


ENJOY THE COMPANY


Hyper-analyzing food prevents you from being fully present and living in the moment. When you are too busy cloaking yourself in judgment, you are unable to wholly enjoy the people around you. Your memories should be centered around your loved ones, not the guilt you felt after dessert.

Engaging in conversation can distract you from your worries about food and remind you to direct your energy towards more important things. The holidays come once a year, and they are probably one of the only times you get to reunite with certain family members and friends. Cherish these moments!


INCORPORATE GENTLE MOVEMENT


Exercise should be a form of self-care, not a form of punishment. An extra slice of cake does not mean an extra 30 minutes on the treadmill. Our bodies are fully equipped to handle a little more food than normal on any given day. You do not need to interfere by working out strenuously.

Now, I am not telling you to forget about exercise. Movement is good for your body. But if you are not enjoying exercise, you are causing yourself more harm than good. Maybe intense HIIT sessions and 7 mile runs are your jam. If that’s the case, go for it! But gentle movement, like walking and yoga, are just as awesome.


How To Fight Food Guilt During The Holidays | There is no reason to beat yourself up for indulging during the holidays. Learn how to fight food guilt so that you can focus solely on celebrating the joys of the season!


Overall, remember that one meal, or even several, will not make or break you.

I am not saying that the holidays are a time to give up on healthy eating, but I think our society has a skewed definition of “healthy” eating. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and the anxiety and stress that many experience around certain foods can be more damaging than the foods themselves.

At the end of the day…eat that slice of pie. Enjoy it. Savor it. And don’t feel one bit guilty about it.

How do you fight food guilt during the holidays?

How To Incorporate Self-Care Into A Busy Schedule | You probably don't have enough hours in the day to complete your to-do list, let alone squeeze in self-care. But showing yourself love is vital to your overall well-being and should not be ignored. Here are some practical ways to incorporate self-care when you feel like you have no time!


We could all use a day devoted to nothing but a deep Thai massage, mani-pedi, and nap that lasts for hours…or a week of lounging on a beach in the Bahamas with a book and Piña Colada in hand…

buuutttt let’s get real. Most of our tight schedules do not allow for 5 minutes of disconnection, let alone a full day or an entire week.

Self-care is essential to boost your mental health, heal your gut, and simply stay sane in this “go-go-go!” culture of ours. Regular spa days and tropical vacations might be unrealistic, but giving yourself a bit of love shouldn’t be forgotten altogether.

There is no need for anything extravagant– simple acts can make a huge difference in your overall well-being. Today, I am sharing some tips for sneaking self-care into your busy schedule.


TAKE STRETCH BREAKS


How To Incorporate Self-Care Into A Busy Schedule | You probably don't have enough hours in the day to complete your to-do list, let alone squeeze in self-care. But showing yourself love is vital to your overall well-being and should not be ignored. Here are some practical ways to incorporate self-care when you feel like you have no time!

You may be on-the-go a lot, but there’s a good chance you spend more time on your butt than on your feet.

One of my favorite ways to move my body is through hot yoga. It eases my mind, relaxes my muscles, and leaves me feeling energized. However, driving 30 minutes to and from a one-hour yoga class is not feasible when I have a million-and-one things on my to-do list.

On days when I am desk-bound for a long time, taking frequent stretch breaks is a must. Stretching stiff muscles throughout periods of sedentary behavior relieves tension, improves circulation, and helps me to refocus. Try setting an alarm every 20-30 minutes reminding you to get up and take a 2-3 minute stretch break.


PRAISE YOURSELF


Self-care does not always need to be a physical activity or reward. A positive thought can be even more effective than a bubble bath or facial when it comes to showing yourself some love.

When you have a list of tasks that need to be crossed off, you might plow through one after the other without recognizing the accomplishment of completing each one. Pausing after each task to give yourself a mental or verbal pat-on-the-back may sound silly, but that extra encouragement could be just what you need.

Overall, maintaining a positive internal dialogue will boost your confidence and happiness. Whether it’s reminding yourself that you are smart and capable, or noticing that your hair looks extra good one day, filling your mind with kind thoughts is bound to keep you in good spirits.


RECHARGE WHEN YOUR DEVICES DO


How To Incorporate Self-Care Into A Busy Schedule | You probably don't have enough hours in the day to complete your to-do list, let alone squeeze in self-care. But showing yourself love is vital to your overall well-being and should not be ignored. Here are some practical ways to incorporate self-care when you feel like you have no time!It’s easy to get lost in technology for longer than what is healthy.

When you see that your computer battery has reached the red zone, you probably plug it in and continue tapping away. But just like our computers and phones need recharging, so do we.

Instead of plugging in your computer while you work, take it off the charger until it is close to dying. Once you’ve used up all its juice, plug it in, step away, and give yourself the opportunity to re-energize. Knowing that you have a limited battery life will motivate you to be productive and prevent procrastination. Of course, you will also be giving your mind a well-deserved break.


BOOKEND YOUR DAY


Once your day has started rolling, it feels impossible to carve out any spare time. Forcing self-care into the middle of the day can be unrealistic when life is hectic. Try practicing it first thing in the morning or last thing at night.

Set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier and devote the extra time to stretching, sipping on lemon water, or preparing a delicious breakfast. End the night with light reading, a face mask, or a cup of tea. Bookending each day with some stress-relieving strategies will help you to set the mood each morning and unwind for a good night’s sleep.


Making time for self-care is difficult, but it is certainly doable (and well worth it). I hope you found this post helpful! How do you incorporate self-care into your busy schedule?


Gut health has been all the rage this year, and for a good reason. According to Hippocrates, “all disease begins in the gut.” Research has revealed that an unhealthy gut can lead to a wide range of problems, from diabetes to depression to cancer. Yikes.

People jump straight to cutting out food groups when they experience digestive distress. But before you flee from gluten or dairy, consider all the other factors that could be influencing your gut health. Let’s discuss how lowering stress, eating mindfully, and incorporating specific foods can resolve digestive problems before creating tons of dietary restrictions.

Besides, why would you want to eliminate any foods with the holidays just around the corner? #GimmeAllTheTurkeyStuffing.

It’s time to get to the root cause of your gut issues. We’re about to get a bit science-y here, so bare with me!


 THE IMPACT OF STRESS ON GUT HEALTH


Before giving a public speech or going on a scary rollercoaster, do you ever feel like your stomach is in knots?

This feeling is a result of your gut-brain axis, which refers to the bidirectional connection between your central nervous system and enteric nervous system (often called “the second brain”). The two-way relationship between your gut and brain means that increased stress will lead to decreased GI function, and vice versa.

PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM

The Autonomic Nervous System regulates digestion, and it consists of two divisions: the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). The SNS is responsible for your “fight-or-flight” response (cue red flashing lights and screeching sirens), which puts your body in battle-preparation mode. This system is activated when you are bracing for a plane crash or running from a tiger…but it is also initiated by small stressors, like sitting in traffic, dreading a workout, or procrastinating. Either way, the SNS diverts energy from certain body functions, including digestion.

The PNS, on the other hand, is responsible for your “rest-and-digest” mode. This mode allows your body to do exactly what it sounds like — restore, rejuvenate, and digest.

The thing is, only one branch of the Autonomic Nervous System can be active at a time. I can tell you rather confidently that your “fight-or-flight” mode is probably on waaaay more than the alternative. If this is the case, your digestion may be suffering.

So, how do you activate your PNS to optimize gut health?

INCORPORATE STRESS-REDUCING PRACTICES DAILY

Stress is inevitable. We can’t run or hide from it, but we can manage it.

Turning to some simple stress-relieving practices will allow you to cope in healthy ways when you feel overwhelmed. Some of my favorite mechanisms include going on walks, taking hot yoga classes, reading my Bible, and spending time with friends and family.

BREATHE

Deep breathing is a great strategy to boost your mental health. Taking a few belly breaths whenever you feel anxious will stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. Try to focus on making each exhale a few counts longer than each inhale, and pause for one count at the top of the inhales and at the bottom of the exhales. Using this breathing technique before meals will calm you down and ease digestion.


HOW TO EAT FOR OPTIMAL DIGESTION


We’ll get to the what later. For now, let’s discuss how we can eat to optimize digestion.

SPACE OUT LARGER MEALSHow To Heal Your Gut and Improve Digestion | If you think eliminating gluten and dairy will improve your gut health, think again. Before cutting things out of your diet in an effort to solve your digestive distress, let's get to the root cause of the issue. This post discusses how stress management, eating mindfully, and eating certain foods can heal your gut for good!

Somehow, our society has come to glorify the idea of consuming smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. While “grazing” may work well for some people, spacing out your meals and increasing your portion sizes could help alleviate digestive distress.

When the intestines are fasted for 90 minutes or longer, a wave called the migrating motor complex kicks in. Think of this wave as a broom that “sweeps” any leftover undigested material through the GI tract. If you tend to nibble throughout the day, there is a good chance you do not let 90 minutes pass before eating again. Giving your gut longer breaks will allow it to completely digest food.

Your portion sizes also play a role in digestive function. Snacking on a handful of almonds here and a piece of fruit there does not always signal to your body the process of moving things down. Don’t glaze over your hunger by nibbling until you feel neutral; eat solid meals that will fill you up completely. Larger meals will get things moving along and satiate you for longer periods of time.

CHEW

I am the slowest eater around. It takes me twice the amount of time to finish meals than it takes most people…apologies to my friends who have to wait for me in restaurants!

Gobbling up food without properly breaking it down will lead to incomplete digestion. Digestion begins in your mouth, and you do not want to let large particles of food end up in your stomach. Focus on thoroughly chewing to make the rest of the digestive process much easier on your body. Chewing mindfully requires practice, but eventually, it will become habitual (as it did for me).


GUT-HEALING FOODS


Like I said earlier, people often think that eliminating food groups will solve their digestive problems. What they don’t realize is that cutting things out decreases the bacterial diversity in their guts, making their stomachs even more sensitive.

With that being said, there are definitely cases when a food is truly harmful to a person, and there might not be many ways around it. However, I believe that restricting foods should be the last resort. Rather than taking things away, let’s see what we can add to our diets to heal and seal the gut.


PROBIOTICS

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that balance your gut and allow it to thrive. They reduce the harmful bacteria in the intestines, thus preventing inflammation and infection in the GI tract. While taking a daily probiotic supplement can be very beneficial, here are some foods that are naturally rich in probiotics:

  • yogurt
  • kefir
  • sauerkraut
  • kimchi
  • kombucha
  • sourdough bread
  • aged, soft cheese
  • miso
  • tempeh

PREBIOTICS

More people have started sippin’ on kombucha for extra probiotics, but the importance of prebiotics is often overlooked. The good bacteria existing in your gut must be fed with prebiotics, which are a type of non-digestible dietary fiber. Foods rich in prebiotics include:

  • garlic
  • onion
  • asparagus
  • leeks
  • apples
  • under-ripe bananas
  • jicama
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • chicory
  • dandelion root
  • honey

HEALTHY FATS

Healthy fats will coat and soothe your gut lining, leading to smoother digestion. Incorporate more of these fats into your diet:

BONE BROTH

The collagen and gelatin found in bone broth seals the gut lining, reduces intestinal inflammation, and fights food sensitivities. While making your own bone broth is ideal…ain’t nobody got time for that (and kudos to you if you do!). I love Bonafide Provisions Bone Broth, which can be found in the freezer section of health food stores. All you have to do is heat it up in a pot for a few minutes. Easy peasy!

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

Raw, organic apple cider vinegar undergoes a double fermentation process that aids in the production of healthy gut bacteria. It increases stomach acid which helps break down food if you experience indigestion. Try taking a teaspoon of ACV diluted in water when you wake up in the morning or before going to bed.


How To Heal Your Gut and Improve Digestion | If you think eliminating gluten and dairy will improve your gut health, think again. Before cutting things out of your diet in an effort to solve your digestive distress, let's get to the root cause of the issue. This post discusses how stress management, eating mindfully, and eating certain foods can heal your gut for good!


REMEMBER, YOU’RE NOT PERFECT.


You won’t always have time to make avocado toast with a fried egg and a forkful of sauerkraut for breakfast…not to mention chewing each bite 30+ times. Some days require scarfing down an Eggo on the way to school or work. The worst thing you can do is beat yourself up over it.

Thinking about how “bad” the gluten in that Eggo is can lead to more GI distress than the gluten itself (this is known as the nocebo effect— basically the placebo effect in reverse).

The point here: don’t stress about being perfect. You’re only doing your gut more harm. And have patience! The stomach aches and bloating won’t disappear overnight. Reversing damage to the gut takes time.


I hope you found this post helpful! What steps will you take to heal your gut?

I love fall and winter. My skin, on the other hand, begs to differ.

I can’t say that fall has brought changing leaves and chilly air here in SoCal, but I think we might be on the cusp of weather that sorta-kinda resembles autumn (my expectations aren’t very high).

With the cooler temps and lower humidity, this is the time of year when my skin begins cracking and flaking. One of my goals for this month was to rehydrate my dry skin, and after incorporating these 5 products into my routine, my face has felt much more soft, smooth, and supple!



  1. Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream – I find that intense night creams are one of the best solutions to repair dry skin, so I went on a search for one that wouldn’t break the bank. This product has made a huge difference ever since integrating it into my nighttime routine, and at under $20, you can’t go wrong! A little goes a long way, so you won’t run out anytime soon. The formula is thick, but it doesn’t feel heavy and it absorbs quickly. My skin is moisturized and plumped when I wake up!

  2. Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Eye Cream – Concealing dark circles looks cakey and flaky when the skin is so dry. This cream has been a lifesaver! It is gentle and lightweight, but effective for hydrating the skin around the eye area. After applying the night cream, I squeeze a few dots of this product underneath my eyes and on my lids, then pat it in softly with my fingers. No more cakey concealer!


  3. Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Oil – I am a big fan of5 Products To Banish Dry Skin | The cool temperatures and low humidity of fall and winter brings the dreaded dry skin. These 5 products will keep your skin soft, smooth, and supple! Smashbox. Their Camera Ready BB Cream, which is one of my favorite foundation alternatives, has been a longtime staple. Although this oil is a makeup primer, it looks and feels a bit too greasy for my liking when used directly before applying face makeup. Instead, I’ll smooth a few drops onto my face before bed whenever my skin is feeling extra parched. The oil is completely absorbed in the morning and leaves a seamless base for blending makeup!

  4. Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater – This is my go-to product for a mid-day pick-me-up. Whether I am wearing makeup or not, a few spritzes is perfect for a boost of hydration. My skin always feels instantly refreshed, not to mention the scent is so soothing. This mist is versatile (it can be used as a primer, setting spray, toner, etc.) and doesn’t feel oily. Plus, you can snatch it for only $7!


  5. Coconut Oil – I couldn’t exclude coconut oil from this post! We all know that it’s not just for cooking anymore. Use it as a natural alternative to your typical store-bought moisturizers. I rub it onto my face and body after showering for nourished, radiant skin!


If your skin has been suffering from dryness, I hope you give these products a try! What are your favorite products to hydrate dry skin?

How To Be Fully Present and Live In The Moment | Time is precious and each moment should be treasured. Practice presence every day with these simple tips!


Do you ever get thoughts like,

Whoah, this week/month/year went by pretty fast…

and somehow that spirals into,

THIS TIME ON THIS DATE WILL NEVER EXIST AGAIN AND ALL OF THE TIMES AND DATES BEFORE IT ARE GONE AND NOW I ONLY HAVE THE FUTURE WHICH IS GOING TO SLIP AWAY BEFORE MY EYES AND MY LIFE IS BASICALLY BORDERING ITS END.

Yeah, me too.

I’ll remind you that I am seventeen years old, so claiming that “MY LIFE IS BASICALLY BORDERING ITS END” is a tad dramatic. Nevertheless, time flies.

I know, I know. Cue the yawn and eye roll. You’ve heard it a million times.

But time really does fly. There is no way to change its pace, so the responsibility to slow down falls on us. To truly live in the moment and embrace the present requires acting with intention rather than out of habit. The changes you make don’t need to be extravagant, though; you can practice presence in simple ways every day.



Put down your phone

How often are you on your phone?

The answer is most likely: too much.

I know I’m guilty of texting a friend to make plans while in the middle of having lunch with another, or checking people’s Snapchat stories instead of focusing on my own life. Our devices do a fantastic job of transporting us away from the present moment.

Because reaching for your phone is probably habitual, try setting a wallpaper on your lock screen that will remind you to think twice before using it. Also, prevent your phone from distracting you by turning it on “Do Not Disturb” mode. You will begin to realize how much more of the world you can appreciate when you’re not too busy staring at your screen.


Break free from routine

We live on autopilot a lot more than we realize.

You wake up to your alarm at the same time each morning, drive to the same location, eat the same soggy sandwich for lunch, sit in the same spot on the couch once you get home…

When every day is structured to be nearly identical, your routine becomes second nature. There is never a need to stop and think about what you are doing.

By altering your routine, you awaken your senses and snap yourself out of autopilot mode, thus bring full awareness to the present. Take a new route to school or work, start a conversation with a stranger, turn dinner into a picnic, make spontaneous plans with friends…anything to shake things up a bit!


How To Be Fully Present and Live In The Moment | Time is precious and each moment should be treasured. Practice presence every day with these simple tips!

One thing at a time

Everyone thinks they are a good multi-tasker, although in reality, they aren’t. I hate to break it to you, but you’re probably no exception. Neither am I (…even though I sometimes pretend like I am).

When you try to do too many things at once, your attention becomes divided. Not only does this slow you down, but it also takes away from your ability to enjoy each task in its entirety. If you are eating a meal while drafting an essay while watching TV…you will never be able to wholly appreciate the flavors of the dish, finish the essay in a reasonable amount of time, or fully unwind to your favorite TV show.

I am the queen of accompanying my dinners with Grey’s Anatomy and bouncing back and forth between a zillion tabs on my computer, so know that I ain’t perfect either, folks. But I definitely think that making the effort to focus on one thing at a time is a change for the better!


Quiet the noise

In a world that is so fast-paced and cluttered with noise, a moment of silence is rare. And when that moment does come, we often choose to fill the gap with more noise.

I play music while driving, watch Youtube videos while getting ready, and listen to podcasts while taking walks. These are all opportunities to immerse myself in silence, but silence can be…boring. Uncomfortable. Maybe even scary.

Noise is numbing; it distracts us from certain emotions that we might not want to deal with. Truly feeling your feelings is difficult if you have the tendency to criticize them. But instead of constantly suppressing your emotions, allow them to surface and observe them without judgment.

Welcome more silence into your life. Lower the volume and give yourself a chance to ponder, explore your imagination, and simply breathe.


Listen without thinking ahead

When you converse with someone, how much do you actually listen?

Instead of devoting our full attention to what another person is saying, our own thoughts can easily distract us. You may have a story that you’re just dying to tell, so you become restless as they speak. Or maybe you get anxious that there will be a lull in the conversation, so you constantly plan out what to say next.

Approach conversations with interest rather than anticipation. Learning to listen without letting your mind wander into the future will allow you to fully embrace the present moment.


Develop Mindfulness triggers

It’s impossible to be 100% present all the time. However, setting some type of reminder to do so can reel you back into the moment when you begin to stray away from it.

Choose a certain action to associate with bringing your mind into the present. For example, walking through a door could be your mindfulness trigger. Whenever you touch a doorknob, be reminded to detach from your routine and focus on the moment you are in.

You can also choose an object as a trigger, like a ring. Anytime you see the ring on your finger, take a few minutes to tune into your senses. Observe your view, notice the sounds around you, identify any scents, and recognize how your body is feeling.


How To Be Fully Present and Live In The Moment | Time is precious and each moment should be treasured. Practice presence every day with these simple tips!


I hope you enjoyed this post and found these tips helpful! How do you live in the moment and practice presence?

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October Goals | Very Much Mia


I know that September 22 technically marked the beginning of fall, but the start of October is when I feel like autumn truly takes over. A new season means new goals! Setting goals for myself is essential to ensure that I am constantly growing and working towards a life I love. We’re already a few days into October, but better late than never, right? Here is what I hope to achieve this month…


1. Balance out my hormones. I’ve been in and out of the doctor’s office more this past month than I have in the last few years combined. Without giving TMI, my hormones have been all outta whack. Obviously, the way to balance out hormones will differ from person to person depending on which levels are too high and which are too low (that is, if you need adjusting in the first place). For me, balancing my hormones means:

  • Eating more.
  • Exercising less.
  • Lowering stress.

I know that the idea of more food and less movement goes against everything we are taught in our culture, but in my case, this is what needs to happen. Refraining from working out will be tough because I truly enjoy exercise. I’ll still be incorporating gentle movement like walking and yoga, though! Lowering stress is something that is a bit harder to have control over, but these 10 ways to relieve stress will help to keep my cortisol levels at bay.


2. Complete early action college applications. For those of you who don’t know, I am a senior in high school. The college application process has definitely been overwhelming. Life lately has been a blur of writing essays and answering supplemental questions and filling out personal info…all that jazz. Anyways, the early action application deadline for some of the colleges that I am applying to is November 1st, so I’ll be knocking ’em out this month!


October Goals | Very Much Mia

3. Finish decorating my bedroom…or at least get pretty darn close. My bedroom has been a work in progress for quite some time now, and I’m ready to be DONE! I’ve got the furniture covered, so now it’s just a matter of adding the final touches. Check out my bedroom Pinterest board to see what has inspired the look of my room…think lots of white and grey with touches of mauve and gold, plus plenty of faux-fur accents! I’m on the hunt for artwork to hang above my bed, so let me know if you have any suggestions for affordable places to purchase prints!


4. Read the Bible every day. For a while, I was really good about devoting time to God daily…until life got in the way. I became extremely busy and put my relationship with Him on hold. Recently, I’ve realized that being overly occupied has distracted me from what is most important. I’ve re-evaluated my priorities and am now carving out time to read my Bible on a daily basis. This is definitely a practice I want to uphold! Currently, I’m reading through the book of Proverbs. I can’t wait to continue gaining wisdom and growing in my faith!


5. Rehydrate my skinThis is the time of the year when my skin gets dry. I mean dryyyyyyyyy. Like, my hands are scary looking from cracking so much (…I guess they go with the ghoulish vibes of Halloween?). My skin definitely needs an extra boost of hydration, so I plan on incorporating more heavy-duty skincare products and upping my H20!


6. Get into the fall spirit. I don’t know how I feel about snuggling under blankets with a cup of cocoa while it’s still 80 degrees here in SoCal. But the weather won’t stop me from at least attempting to get into somewhat of the autumnal spirit! A trip to the pumpkin patch and trying out a new fall recipe (or creating my own) are two things on my to-do list.


7. Lights out by 10 p.mMy nights can go a little something like this:

*Me at 10:00 p.m.* I should probably go to bed now. Lemme just take a quick scroll through Insta…

*Me at 10:20 p.m.* Okay, time to sleep FO REALZ. But watching this Youtube video first might help me to unwind a bit…

*Me at 10:40 p.m.* OOO! Just got an idea for a new blog post (…or something or another)! Gotta write while the inspo is fresh and flowing!

*Me at midnight* …whelp.

So, yeah. Actually getting to sleep by 10 p.m. is the goal.


I hope you enjoyed reading my October goals! What are your goals for the month?

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Ah, stress…I’ve become all too familiar with it.

Unfortunately, I know I’m not the only one. Everyone appears to be stressed these days, and it is often worn as a badge of honor. It seems as though stress equals busyness which equals success. But this is not something to flaunt; it puts both our physical and mental health at risk.

I’ve felt more overwhelmed than ever these past few months. Being a senior in high school has meant that it’s time for me to apply to colleges…and the application process has added a lot of weight to my load of pre-existing worries. Let’s just say I had a slight mental breakdown a few weeks ago, and it definitely was not my prettiest of moments. However, this episode made me realize how much I had been neglecting self-care and the importance of prioritizing my mental state.

We all have to face the pressures that come with this deadline and that drama and alllllll of life’s other troubles, but how we handle it is what will determine our overall wellbeing. I’ve compiled a list of 10 ways I cope with stress, ranging from movement to pampering to venting!


Move


10 Simple Ways To Relieve Stress | Everyone experiences stress, but how you handle it is what determines your overall wellbeing. Here are 10 simple ways to unwind and destress!

1. Take a walk. Movement and nature do wonders for boosting mental health. Taking evening walks around my neighborhood while watching the sun set is the perfect reminder to slow down and appreciate the little things! I love listening to podcasts while I walk; my favorites are health and wellness-related, but a guilty pleasure of mine are Bachelor Nation podcasts (the Ben and Ashley I Almost Famous podcast is my top pick!).

2. Sweat it out. There’s no doubt that intense exercise (like running and HIIT) can be beneficial, but limiting strenuous workouts may be best in order to avoid increasing your cortisol levels even further. Nothing leaves me drenched in sweat like a hot yoga class does, and it’s one of the best forms of exercise for stress-relief in my opinion. An hour of hot yoga challenges my strength and willpower, but also relaxes me with the deep stretching and focus on breathing. I always leave feeling physically and mentally detoxified.

The most important thing is to enjoy the exercise you are doing. Don’t add to your stress by forcing yourself to work out in ways that you dread!

3. Stretch your body. If doing chaturangas in a 100 degree room doesn’t quite appeal to you, then simply try taking a few minutes to perform some basic stretches. When stress builds up, your muscles contract, and devoting 5-10 minutes to stretching your body will help to ease the tension and improve circulation. You’ll feel much more relaxed and revitalized!

 


Pamper


10 Simple Ways To Relieve Stress | Everyone experiences stress, but how you handle it is what determines your overall wellbeing. Here are 10 simple ways to unwind and de-stress!

4. Get clean and cozy. When life is piling high with one trouble after another, a long, hot shower may be just what you need to feel sane again. Although we all take showers anyways (at least that’s what I would hope…), try making the experience a bit more luxurious. Play music and take your time lathering up in a scented shower gel, then  smooth on some body butter and slip on your favorite pair of pajamas (brownie points for fuzzy socks).

5. Spoil yourself with a massage or facial. I’m typically not one to spend money on getting pampered- I’ve only gotten a massage and facial once in my life. But, hey, no shame in treating yo’self from time to time. If you are on a budget, applying a face mask at home is a great way to show yourself some self-care.

6. Freshen up your manicure. There’s something about perfectly painted nails that makes me feel so majestic…anyone else? Go get a manicure at a salon or give yourself a fresh coat of polish (I suck at painting my own nails, so I tend to prefer the former).

7. Escape through entertainment. Binge-watching Netflix won’t erase all your problems, but sometimes, you just need a distraction to take your mind off your worries. Indulging in a good book, TV show or movie is one of my favorite ways to check out. All I need to unwind is 20 minutes of New Girl or an episode of Grey’s Anatomy (speaking of which…who else watched the season premier of Grey’s on Thursday?).

 


Vent


10 Simple Ways To Relieve Stress | Everyone experiences stress, but how you handle it is what determines your overall wellbeing. Here are 10 simple ways to unwind and destress!

8. Talk to someone. It’s far too easy to bottle up your issues, but this will only cause your stress to build overtime. Instead, reach out to a close friend or family member and talk through whatever may be overwhelming you. Even if they don’t have much advice to offer, having someone supportive to vent to can be extremely beneficial!

9. Turn to God. When life gets busy, I tend to put Jesus on the back burner. Recently, I have recommitted to deepening my relationship with God by spending time in His Word each day and being more purposeful with my prayers. When my faith is strong, the problems in my life have no power over me. I encourage you to pray for guidance through times of struggle and cast your anxieties on the Lord (Psalm 55:22). He does not want us to be worried, and there’s no reason to be! You can rest in knowing that God has your life under control.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6 NIV).

10. Journal. If there’s one thing I’m constantly recommending, it’s journaling. The benefits are endless; I talked about how journaling improves mental health here. Not only will it cleanse your mind by moving all your brain-clutter onto paper, but journaling will also allow you to put things into perspective. You may be surprised by the insignificance of certain issues once you’ve written them down. Setting aside time to flush out your thoughts is a therapeutic practice that you should definitely incorporate into your life!


These 10 coping mechanisms have helped me to manage my stress, and I hope you’ll turn to some of them the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed. What is your favorite strategy to relieve stress?

10 Simple Ways To Relieve Stress | Everyone experiences stress, but how you handle it is what determines your overall wellbeing. Here are 10 simple ways to unwind and destress!10 Simple Ways To Relieve Stress | Everyone experiences stress, but how you handle it is what determines your overall wellbeing. Here are 10 simple ways to unwind and destress!

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Almond Coconut Protein Balls | These balls are packed with protein and healthy fats that will keep you full and fueled all day! They're made with wholesome ingredients and take only minutes to whip up. Read this post for the recipe!


Some of you may be familiar with my love for anything nut-related (ahem…my triple-threat nut butter is a must-try!), so naturally, I tend to gravitate towards creating nut-based recipes. These almond coconut protein balls are the perfect grab-and-go snack, pre or post-workout fuel, or addition to your breakfast! They’re packed with healthy fats and protein, so they’ll keep you satisfied for a long time.


Almond Coconut Protein Balls | These balls are packed with protein and healthy fats that will keep you full and fueled all day! They're made with wholesome ingredients and take only minutes to whip up. Read this post for the recipe!


Sure, you can buy a bar or energy bites from the store, but many are filled with crappy ingredients even if they’re deceptively labeled as “healthy”. These protein balls are made with wholesome, natural foods- we’re talking about nothing but real stuff!


Almond Coconut Protein Balls | These balls are packed with protein and healthy fats that will keep you full and fueled all day! They're made with wholesome ingredients and take only minutes to whip up. Read this post for the recipe!


They only take a few minutes to whip up, and it’s simply a matter of chucking the ingredients into a food processor. Doesn’t get much easier than that! Store these protein balls in the fridge and you’ll be stocked up for the week!


Almond Coconut Protein Balls

Yield: approximately 8-10 balls

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup almonds, raw
  • 4 medjool dates
  • 25g protein powder (I used the Nuzest Clean Lean Protein in Smooth Vanilla )
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut + extra for rolling
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup almond milk

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, pulse the almonds and dates until roughly chopped.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients except for the almond milk and process until well-combined.
  3. Add the almond milk and process until well-combined.
  4. Form the mixture into balls and roll in shredded coconut.
  5. Store protein balls in a tupperware in the fridge.
https://www.verymuchmia.com/2017/09/18/almond-coconut-protein-balls/

Almond Coconut Protein Balls | These balls are packed with protein and healthy fats that will keep you full and fueled all day! They're made with wholesome ingredients and take only minutes to whip up. Read this post for the recipe!

Almond Coconut Protein Balls | These balls are packed with protein and healthy fats that will keep you full and fueled all day! They're made with wholesome ingredients and take only minutes to while up. Read this post for the recipe!

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Very Much Mia | One-Shoulder Top with Black Lace-Up Skirt

Shirt: Urban Outfitters (similar here, here and here) | Skirt: LF (similar here, here and here) | Sneakers: Adidas | Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters | Choker: Urban Outfitters


I’ve found the transition between summer and fall to be a bit awkward in terms of fashion. It’s definitely difficult to get into the autumnal spirit while it’s still 80 degrees here in San Diego. I guess that’s just part of living in SoCal…not that I’m complaining about the year-round beautiful beach weather!

The sunny skies would explain why the outfit I’m sharing today is more tailored to warmer weather. The heat hasn’t allowed for knits and layers just yet! Whatever the temperature is like where you’re at, I hope you can gather some inspiration from this look!



The Shirt

You may know that I’ve had quite the obsession with bardot tops, and you won’t see me ditching ’em anytime soon! But if you happen to be sick of the off-the-shoulder trend, one-shoulder tops are a refreshing alternative. They still allow you to bare a bit of shoulder and collarbone, but the asymmetrical twist will have people doing a double-take! I purchased mine on sale at Urban Outfitters; some similar ones are linked here, here and here.



The Skirt

A black miniskirt is a great transition piece as we head into the fall. While summer style tends to be light in color and airy in fabric, a black corduroy or velvet skirt can be worn for a slightly edgy look on a sunny day. On the other hand, pairing it with a cropped sweater, tights and booties is perfect for the cooler months! Some skirts similar to the one I’m wearing are linked here, here and here.


Very Much Mia | White Adidas Superstar Sneakers


 The Sneakers

I think it goes without saying, but everyone needs a pair of white sneakers in their closet. I’ve been wearing my Adidas on repeat for obvious reasons- they’re versatile, comfortable and go with just about anything!


Very Much Mia | One-Shoulder Top with Rounded Cat-Eye Sunglasses


The Sunglasses

These rounded cat-eye sunglasses have been my go-to pair of sunnies lately. I love the glamorous shape and the mosaic print; plus, the blues and purples tied in nicely with the lilac color of my top! It also didn’t hurt that they were under $20 (on sale for $10 now!)…Urban Outfitters is definitely my top pick for affordable and trendy sunglasses.


The Choker

If you see me wearing jewelry, there’s a 99% chance that it’s gold and dainty. This gold choker is one of my favorites! Because of its simplicity, this necklace looks great layered with others, but I decided to let it stand on its own this time.


I hope you all enjoyed this post and I’m wishing you a lovely week ahead! To those being affected by Hurricane Irma, you are in my thoughts and prayers!

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3 Foundation Alternatives To Lighten Up Your Makeup Routine | Some days, you don't want the heavy feeling of foundation caked on your face. This post reveals 3 of the BEST lightweight foundation alternatives that will still help you achieve a flawless face!


The summertime was all about sporting the no-makeup makeup look by ditching foundation and turning to sheer base products. Summer may be coming to a close (check out 3 changes I made over the summer here), but it sure doesn’t feel like it in Southern California. It’s been 90 degrees and not letting up! Plus, if you wanna get technical…September 22 marks the end of summer, so we’ve still got three weeks to kill, people!

Anyways, summer or not, I tend to reach towards lighter-weight makeup options all year round. I mean…why cake on the heavy stuff when you can achieve radiant, even skin with products that are a bit more breathable?

Today, I’m sharing 3 of my favorite foundation alternatives!


3 Foundation Alternatives To Lighten Up Your Makeup Routine | This post reveals 3 of the BEST foundation alternatives for those days that you want a lightweight base while still looking flawless!


1. BB Cream

3 Foundation Alternatives To Lighten Up Your Makeup Routine | This post reveals 3 of the BEST foundation alternatives for those days that you want a lightweight base while still looking flawless!

This Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream and I…we go way back. 5 years to be exact. This is my go-to product for everyday base makeup as it evens out my complexion with a sheer finish. However, this BB cream can definitely be layered to reach your desired level of coverage. I usually apply a pea-sized amount to my skin using my fingers, then pat it in with a Beauty Blender and add more product as needed. It blends smoothly and maintains the skin’s moisture without looking greasy. Plus, there’s built-in primer and SPF 35! Whoop whoop!


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2. Tinted Sunscreen

3 Foundation Alternatives To Lighten Up Your Makeup Routine | Some days, you don't want the heavy feeling of foundation caked on your face. This post reveals 3 of the BEST lightweight foundation alternatives that will still help you achieve a flawless face!

I discovered the Tizo 3 Tinted Facial Mineral Sunscreen a few months ago and immediately fell in love. SPF should not be forgotten as we head into the cooler seasons (I suck when it comes to consistent sun protection, so this is definitely a self-reminder), and this tinted sunscreen has SPF 40. It’s also water resistant for 80 minutes, so you don’t have to worry if you’re sweating or swimming! The formula has a whipped texture and the consistency is so silky-smooth. I go straight in with my hands- no need for a Beauty Blender with this one!

The tint provides a hint of color; if you’re looking for something with medium-to-full coverage, this product is not for you. I like the light coverage, though, and the matte-finish is unbeatable! The one downside is that it only only comes in one shade, which is best suited for medium skin tones. However, because the coverage is minimal, I believe this shade would work for many people.


3. Concealer

3 Foundation Alternatives To Lighten Up Your Makeup Routine | This post reveals 3 of the BEST foundation alternatives for those days that you want a lightweight base while still looking flawless!

Rather than masking your entire face, why not lighten up your makeup by only covering certain imperfections? That’s been my method lately- a few dabs of concealer here and there, a sweep of powder and I’m good to go! The Benefit Boi-ing Airbrush Concealer has become my absolute favorite! It blurs and color-corrects dark circles, redness and minor blemishes flawlessly. Out of the sheer-to-medium coverage concealers I’ve tried, this one seems to be the longest lasting. There’s no caking and little creasing with this concealer, and it blends like a dream!


I hope you give some of these products a try! This was my first beauty/makeup-related blog post, so let me know if you’d like to see more in the future. What is your favorite foundation alternative?


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