Bikini Ready Tips: How To Stop Snacking Like A Toddler

Before I had kids, I would have never touched a chicken finger or a cheddar bunny. I used to see moms eat off their toddlers’ plates and feel disgusted. But, now? I find myself snacking on their food all the time.

Sure, it seems pretty innocent but these calories can add up. It’s even worse if you aren’t aware you are doing it. Am I the only one who has snapped back to reality and realized they just ate an entire bag of fruit snacks? Probably not. Snacking off your toddler is an epidemic, people!

When I first started working with Kelly for my #BikiniAfterBaby program, I was very honest from the start. I needed a toddler snacking intervention.

Here are some tips from both myself and Kelly to remember next time you are reaching for your child’s plate. You’ll be surprised with how much better you’ll feel once you break this habit! 

photo credit: Erica Hampton Photography

Tip #1:

Make a cup of tea before you prep dinner/lunch or your kids’ food. Pick a strong flavor like mint or ginger. You’ll be less likely to take a bite of their food and it will curb your hunger.

Tip #2:

Eat your own food when they eat. When you have your own food and fill up you are less likely to eat their food. It’s just like not going to the grocery store hungry. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made my kids dinner, sat down at the table, and never got around to making mine. Instead, I’ll just snack off of them and be full by the time the meal is over. If you already have your plate made, you won’t be as tempted.

Tip #3:

If you are hungry when it’s not mealtime, make a “roadie.” All you need is chocolate protein and almond milk. It will help calm your hunger and fill your tummy so you can bridge to dinner without grazing.

Tip #4:

If you love the taste of their chicken fingers (guilty!) and can’t stop eating them, buy a ‘new” brand and don’t try/taste them. We are more likely to eat things when we know they taste good. It’s a lot easier to make a new habit then breaking an old one. Or if all else fails, prepare grilled chicken shaped as chicken tenders but serve with their favorite sauces. Works every time!

Tip #5:

Fill a big glass or bottle of water and every time you feed your kids take the water challenge. Try to drink water the entire time. It’s a great way to hydrate!

Tip #6:

Make a compromise. Prepare things both you and your kids can eat together. This may sound impossible but kids love healthy choices if you serve it to them in fun ways. For example, we love doing food art at our house. All you need is lots of colorful fruits/vegetables and some creativity. It’s healthier for everyone and you’ll feel less guilty for snacking. Check out some fun ideas here!

Do any of you mommas have the same problem? Comment below! I’d love to read your funny stories and tips! 

For more #BikiniReadyTips, check out these links: 

My Hacks To Eat Healthy At Home // Healthy Swaps While Eating Out // Healthy Swaps While Traveling // Healthy Carbs Decoded // Healthy Proteins Decoded 

Foam Rolling 101 With Lauren Roxburgh

All my life I’ve been an athlete. But through modeling, I was introduced to an entire new world of fitness and wellness. It wasn’t all about cardio and the standard weight training anymore. I tend to bulk up pretty quickly so I needed to build leaner muscles for my shoots. That’s when I was first introduced to foam rolling. I became obsessed! Not only did I love the way it made me look (like a lean, mean, fightin’ machine!) but it made me feel better, too.

Now that I’m in full #BikiniAfterBaby mode, I decided to start taking advantage of foam rolling again. Weight loss begins with taking care of yourself from the inside out. Along with Kelly’s Be Well nutrition plan, I’ve been working with THE go-to trainer and alignment guru, Lauren Roxburgh. She’s fantastic!

If you don’t know what foam rolling is, Lauren is on the blog today sharing all the details and how it can benefit you, too! 

1. What Is Foam Rolling?

 Foam Rolling is my secret weapon to getting a gorgeous, slimmer, more elegant posture and smoking body.  Most people think of the foam roller as a tool to roll out tight IT bands but used regularly, it can completely transform your body, posture, confidence and even your state of mind.

The easiest way to explain how foam rolling works is to think about a rolling pin rolling out and smoothing dough.  The foam roller works in a similar way in that when you put weight on it, the pressure you feel as you move over the roller is thinning out and healing your bodies tissue, smoothing it out and wringing out toxins and scar tissue that build up in the fascia.   Fascia is a thin layer of connective tissue that lies under the skin and wraps around the every muscle and organ in the body.

The role fascia actually plays in the body is really only now being fully recognized.  Fascia helps connect the muscles to the bones and joints and plays a key role in our structural integrity – in a way it is like the scaffolding of the body.  The best way to imagine fascia is to think of a thin Saran wrap-like layer that lies between the skin and the muscles like a web.  If you’ve ever seen the white stringy layer when you cut into an uncooked chicken, that is fascia.  Fascia is also where the nerves and the lymph nodes sit – so it is now being called a sensory organ because this is where pain originates and is communicated to the brain.

The problem is fascia can store toxins and can thicken and harden when it is not exercised correctly, so when you have a stiff shoulder, for example, often it is not the damage to the muscle that it causing it but a hardening or thickening of the fascia around the shoulder muscles and joint.  Poor posture, poor flexibility, and repetitive movements can also pull the fascia into ingrained patterns.  Adhesions form within the stuck and blocked fascial tissue like snags in a sweater, and make our bodies feel heavy, wider, compressed and run down.

But the good news is your fascia is incredibly malleable has almost ridiculous self-healing abilities.  And that is where the roller comes in!  I have used the roller for over 15 years in my work with clients and during that time I have realized it was capable of much more than just being a tool to massage sore muscles and can be one of the most useful things for a busy and active mama to have in their arsenal.

 2. How did you get interested in foam rolling? 

I first discovered the roller about 15 years ago when I was becoming certified as a personal trainer.  I really just started experimenting and soon realized the roller was capable of so much more.  Over the years I’ve developed a series of moves that utilize the foam roller as the basis of a total-body workout and actually mimic many of the moves you do on the Pilates reformer (think long and lean dancer bodies).  And the best part of it is you can do it in your own home or even in the office or a hotel room without the expense and the space required for an expensive equipment.

3. What are the benefits? 

 One of the key benefits of the roller is that it helps smooth out and hydrate the fascia.  This oxygenates the blood and improves circulation throughout your entire body, boosting lymphatic drainage and flushing toxins from the body.  The roller also helps to ‘lubricate’ the joints, and reduces inflammation in the body while increasing flexibility and range of motion.  It also improves the connection to the intrinsic or core muscles which we tend to lose connectivity to as we age.  So bottom line, the roller is an incredible tool for overall fitness, wellness and vitality.

The roller can also boost circulation and lubrication to tissues and organs, which makes the skin and muscle look and feel more supple and youthful.  Rolling also stimulates the lymphatic system to help flush toxins, get rid of bloating, and even reduce cellulite.  The result of this is that a regular rolling routine reboot your entire system and help you lose inches, shrink your waistline, gain height, and even feel calmer.

Used correctly, the roller can also be an incredible tool to help you improve the connection to your intrinsic or core muscles, which we tend to lose connectivity to as we age.  In fact I’m so convinced of the benefits that I wrote a book about the roller and the title says it all Taller, Slimmer Younger (here is a link to my book + roller combo! )

The foam roller program I outline in my book ‘Taller, Slimmer, Younger – 21 Days to a Foam Roller Physique’ is a 21-day total-body transformation, but many people say they start feeling and seeing the benefits within just a few days. They start standing taller and with more confidence and elegance, they starting breathing better, glowing from the inside out and they look calmer.  What’s different about my program is that I use the roller as the basis for a total mind-body workout that draws on many of the different modalities I’ve studied, from yoga to Pilates to the miraculous bodywork practice called Structural Integration.  Why is the mind part of this?  Well as I mentioned, the roller can really help your mind to reconnect with your body, especially the intrinsic or core muscles like the backs of the arms, the inner thighs, the tush, the middle upper back, and of course the deep waist shrinking abs that are often difficult to engage in traditional workouts.   And we need to engage the mind if we want to engage those muscles and really tone, elongate and de-stress our bodies.  I find the roller incredible after a long day. It helps me decompress and literally roll away the day. Sure, there are some exercises that can be challenging and get the burn going in the precise places needed. But if rolling really hurts you, you’re doing it wrong. With the right roller and the right technique, rolling should feel really good! You can also check out more of my foam rolling videos here.

4. Who would you say, in particular, can benefit from it? 

Anyone who just wants to move and feel better and integrate some self-care into their lives can benefit from the roller – and let’s be honest, at one time or other, that is basically all of us!   So if you’re suffering from persistent pain, poor posture, general stress or pain, rolling can help you – whether you’re a yogi or an athlete or just someone who is trying to juggle a busy life, work, and other commitments.

The bottom line is that our modern lives take a toll.  We’re over-worked, over-busy, over-stressed, over-fed – and with the constant bombardment of being connected to email and social media 24/7, we’re also over-stimulated.  The result of all this is our bodies get jacked, tight, stiff and compressed.  We slump at desks all day, hunched over our computers and phones.  Our necks and backs get out of whack.   We end up with poor posture, neck pain, digestive issues, tendonitis, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome and a myriad of other physical ailments that are a result of the way we’re living our lives.  Add to this that many of us have suffered injuries over the years that often cause chronic pain and lack of mobility – and the result is that many people are simply living in misery and not getting the most out of our bodies or lives.

So whether you’re an athlete or you simply find yourself sitting at a desk all day, pain and immobility create a vicious cycle because these issues contribute to poor posture and alignment, which in turn have an adverse effect on metabolism, digestion, energy levels, pain and overall wellness. So if any of these issues sound like something you’re familiar with, the program I outline in Taller Slimmer Younger and in my videos can truly help you.  Using the foam roller as a self-care tool will help roll away the tension, stress, and congestion and improve alignment and suppleness in your body which will completely rejuvenate your mind body and soul.  And who wouldn’t want that?

5. What sort of foam roller do you recommend? 

 A lot of people think of the roller as some sort of torture device because they’ve tried a very hard roller and found it painful.  Rolling isn’t necessarily always super comfortable, but it should not be painful either and many of the rollers out there are frankly too hard.  I did a lot of research and ended up developing my own roller, the LoRox Aligned Roller that I have found to be the perfect density for most people.  I also developed a smaller Travel Roller that is small enough to pop into your carry-on bag and is perfect for rolling out the kinks when you’re on the road.  You can find a link to these rollers and free videos on my site at www.laurenroxburgh.com – but if you have a roller you like to use that will be totally fine too!

6. What advantages of foam rolling have you seen personally in your own life? 

Although I’ve worked with hundreds of clients, I am first and foremost my own guinea pig. I’ve been a swimmer since the age of four.  As a collegiate athlete and water polo player, I pushed myself physically constantly, yet still wasn’t satisfied with what I saw in the mirror.  I read all of the fitness magazines and books, and they all recited the same mantra over and over again: Run more! Do more cardio!  So I did.  The end result was that I had great muscle tone, but was also hungry, thick, tight, wide and far from feeling like my best self.  It wasn’t until I ditched the cardio and intense training and turned to relieving, aligning, elongating, hydrating and stretching my body with the foam roller that things began to change in a big way—suddenly, I was taller, slimmer, and looked younger.  My body became more streamlined and lithe.  Best of all, I felt lighter and better.  It’s safe to say that I look way better at thirty-eight than I ever did in my twenties.  And, might I add, this program allowed me to maintain all of this post-pregnancy.  So the reason I’m such an evangelist for foam rolling is it has made a huge difference in my own body, vitality, and life.

If you want to try at home, check out Lauren’s videos here on VHX. She’s offering 30% off on her Body Love Bundle for my readers with the code MollySims. Here’s a free sneak peek: 

Bikini Ready Tips: Healthy Swaps While Traveling

I’m off on vacation so I thought it would be the perfect time to get some tips from Kelly about my biggest struggle: eating healthy while traveling. I think a lot of people struggle with this. Vacation often means taking a vacation from your typical food and exercise regimens, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Scroll down for a Q&A on how Kelly stays on track and also a little encouragement on when it’s okay to splurge a bit:

1. There are so many junk food options at the airport, how do you resist the huge sugary Cinnabons and french fries calling your name?

I don’t eat airport food. The healthy food is iceberg lettuce with rubbery chicken and the fast food is too tempting. Growing up on CPK, Cinnabon, and McDonald’s (yes it’s true!) means I remember what those foods taste like and they can be tempting. By choosing to bring a clean meal or eat right before the airport I walk directly to my gate without even considering it. I either save my food for the flight or dig in right before I board. The caveat would be if I know there is a healthy option through the gate, for example, terminal 5 at LAX now has a Lemonade. Grabbing a clean meal when it’s available is always easiest, however, there is no guarantee. Google your terminal before you go if bringing food proves to be difficult. You never want to buy a meal near the entrance and find a healthier option near your gate so do your research. Honestly, I always find myself stopping at a Whole Foods before heading to LAX is the best plan even if that means my Uber driver waits for me to run in. I would pay $4 extra dollars for a travel day of healthy options.

2. What are your favorite on-the-go travel snacks?

I will always choose a meal over snacks. After snacking all day I feel a little sick and never totally satisfied. That doesn’t mean I go unprepared, my go to flight snacks are hard boiled eggs, nut packs, almond butter packs with an apple or celery slices or packet of chocolate protein powder and a shaker bottle. I pack snacks for the trip not just my flight to ensure I have things to pack in my purse throughout the trip and my favorite snack bars are Primal Kitchen and Bulletproof!

3. What should you eat in the morning to give you enough energy to start a long day of traveling?

My breakfast on a travel day is the same as any other day; a veggie omelet with avocado or a #Fab4smoothie. You need the protein, a fat and fiber to hold you over between meals and keep your blood sugar balanced when you are on the move.

4. I would rather be out exploring than spending time at the hotel gym…what can I do to stay active while on vacation?

I totally agree! Traveling is an easy way to get moving. Use your iPhone Health App or Fitbit and keeping moving until you hit 10 thousand steps. A good tip is to map your first destination. If its 1-2 miles, get a long walk in post breakfast to start your day to see the city. Push yourself by taking the stairs and/or walking in the sand on the beach. If you are one for a really sweaty workout Yelp can help you find a class in the neighborhood where you are staying and if you use Class Pass you can change your city and use your membership when you are traveling.

5. How do I let myself indulge while on vacation without going overboard?

Vacation is for relaxing, recharging and enjoying the culture of a new place. If you are in Italy, taste the gelato. But does that mean you should get a double and taste it every day? Vacation isn’t vacation when you come home bloated and heavier than when you left. That is just more work when you get home. I love to enjoy wine on vacation and for me, that is my indulgence. It’s sugar and if we share a bottle that might mean I am having two glasses. On drinking days, I don’t order the lattes, gelato or desserts. I enjoy the savory culture of the country and choose to enjoy the wine. If it’s a gelato day, I am not drinking. It’s about making the right choices without denying yourself, just remember you are already having more fun than any normal day at home.

6. What are some go-to healthy options when eating out?

Dinners are easy, I always choose proteins from the main menu. I opt for fish near the ocean or red meat if you are in Europe or Central America because the animals are raised in naturally organic settings. At lunch, choose a vegetable-rich salad to get in healthy fiber and help ensure you are still “going” on vacation. A salad isn’t complete without healthy fat, look for avocado, nuts, and clean dressings to help make lunch last. Breakfast is a toss up, I pack protein powders so sometimes it is an espresso and a simple shake. Other times, I enjoy eggs from the hotel buffet but it all depends on how late I ate dinner, if the buffet looks fresh and what we have planned for lunch.

7. What are the best airline food options? Drinks?

I drink water or sparkling water with lemon/lime on flights. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine on flights is a good idea, the altitude and recycled air is already very dehydrating you don’t want to add fuel to the fire. Depending on the length of the flight, I also like to use the flight as a scheduled intermittent fast. Just a few hours without food is a great way to surge your metabolism and start the process of getting back to your normal eating habits. Besides, most of the time people eat on a plane out of boredom.

Alright. Back to vacay! Stay tuned for more tips from Kelly on both my blog and Kelly’s, Be Well By KellyFor the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing recipes and tips to help you get ready for bikini season…post-baby or not! 

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Watch: 6 Fitness Moves To Bust Cellulite

cellulite workout

photo credit: Erica Hampton Photography

We all have cellulite. And we can all agree on the fact that we hate it.

Today on my channel, fitness expert Christine Bullock is showing us how to blast that cellulite with a few simple moves. I filmed this video awhile ago…which means that I really, really, really need it now. Post birth cellulite? Yeah. Not pretty. You better believe I’ll be doing these moves the second I’m able to work out again!

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Get the full workout here + a Q&A with Christine: 

MOVE #1: Pilates Kick With A Twist 

cellulite workout

MOVE #2: The Bridge 

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Move #3: Chair Pose

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Move #4: The Malasana

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Move #5: Thigh Clap Jump

Move #6: Donkey Kick

For more fitness + wellness tips, make sure to subscribe to my channel here

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Self-Improvement Books For The New Year

self-improvement-books

Self-improvement or “self-help” books get a bad reputation sometimes. I can’t decide if it’s because people still correlate them with the Chicken Soup For The Soul books or if we hate to admit that we don’t have all the answers. Either way, I’m the first to profess my love for them. Whether it’s to improve my health, strengthen my spirtuality, or channel my inner badass–there’s some great information out there.

Since 2017 is upon us and resolutions are being made, I thought it would be the perfect time to share some of my favorite self-improvement reads through the years. Here are some titles that have helped me and may help you, too:

Health:

 

1. Taller, Slimmer, Younger: 21 Days To A Foam Roller Physique by Lauren Roxburgh 

If you’ve never tried foam rolling, I highly recommend it. Lauren’s program is designed to improve posture, release tension and stress, activate and strengthen the core, and heal from the inside out. When I was a model, I used a foam roller to lengthen my muscles. I’m so excited to get back into it once I give birth! Oh, and Goop dubbed her “The Body Whisperer.” Enough said.

2. Two Turns From Zero: Pushing To Higher Fitness Goals–Converting Them To Life Strength by Stacey Griffith 

We all need a little kick in the ass every once in a while to get that workout in. That’s where Stacey Griffith comes in. I was first introduced to Stacey at a SoulCycle class (she was a founding instructor) and I was instantly hooked. Even when I felt like giving up, she gave me that last bit of grit and inspiration to keep going. Oh, she’s also hilarious. Her book isn’t out yet but it’s available on pre-order. She gave me an advanced copy, though and let me tell you–it’s worth the read.

3. Eat Pretty Every Day: 365 Daily Inspirations For Nourishing Beauty, Inside And Out by Jolene Hart

Think of this book as your “beauty bible.” Instead of verses and psalms, Jolene gives daily tips on how to live clean, eat beautifully, and look good doing it. It’s actually split up by season which makes it that much easier to implement into your daily life. I keep by my bedside so I can start my morning off on a healthy note. The other option is to read it all at once–but that’s not as fun!

4. The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night At A Time by Arianna Huffington 

These days, we see it as the norm to be completely and utterly exhausted–especially as moms. The only time I can truly catch up on sleep is if I’m on a weekend getaway with Scott or on that 5-hour flight from LAX to JFK. I feel like that’s where this “mommy guilt” comes in. Even when the kids are asleep, there is still so much to do. If we go to bed early, we feel selfish. But, guess what? It’s horrible for our physical and mental health. Sure, you did the dishes. But, you won’t be as engaged with your kids or in the office the next day if you only have one eye open. The Sleep Revolution helps bring awareness to how sleep-deprieved we really are and how we can change it.

5. Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go Of Bad Habits, Guilt, And Anxiety Around Food by Melissa Hartwig 

In my twenties, as a model, I had a lot of unhealthy habits. My priority wasn’t health–it was losing those inches. Even if it meant starving myself and drinking Dieter’s Tea non-stop. Yeah, gross! It began to also affect my mental health, too. All I did was think about food. I felt guilty if I indulged a bit. It was horrible. That’s why I’m such a fan of Melissa Hartwig’s program, The Whole 30. It’s all about re-training yourself to eat for health. No anxiety, no guilt. Food Freedom Forever is just the book if you’re looking to change your mindset for real results.

Personal Growth/Spirituality:

 

1. 21 Days To Resilience: How To Transcend Your Daily Grind, Deal With The Tough Stuff, And Discover Your Strongest Self by Dr. Zelana Montminy 

As a busy mom and wife, things can get pretty hectic. Stress can quickly creep in and take over! Since stressors in our lives are inevitable, it’s more about dealing with them effectively—not trying to abolish them entirely. In other words, shit happens! Not only does Dr. Montminy give you the tools to deal with the tough stuff, she also gives you realistic exercises to discover your strongest self. Keyword: realistic. And that’s what I love about this book!

2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is a life changer. I’ve read it. My mom has read it. My friends have read it. My sister-in-law has read it. The list goes on and on. Paul Coelho’s wisdom and stories have helped me make decisions, take risks, and embrace the present (to name a few!) It’s one of those books that are meant to be read over and over whenever you need those little reminders.

3. The Year Of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion 

Another classic. The Year Of Magical Thinking is actually more of a memoir than a self-improvement book which makes it extremely unique. Joan writes about grief and loss in her own words and experiences. I’ve found that reading this book has given me comfort and wisdom, even if my experiences were different.

4. You Learn By Living: Eleven Keys For A More Fulfilling Life by Eleanor Roosevelt 

This is another one of those books that I gift to friends or force them to read. Eleanor Roosevelt was a strong, badass woman and her advice proves it. The chapters cover everything from individuality to overcoming fear. Honestly, each piece of advice makes me want to conquer the world…twice #GirlBoss style. I definitely plan on passing this book down to Scarlett.

5. The Happiness Project (Revised Edition) by Gretchen Rubin

I picked this book up at the airport a few years ago and nearly finished it by the time I landed. As much as we want happiness, sometimes we don’t help ourselves find it. Most of us just see it as an emotion that comes and goes rather than a state of mind. Gretchen Rubin challenged that by asking herself, “What do I want from life anyway?” When she realized she wanted to be happy (like we all do), she took matters into her own hands and dedicated a year to finding it. The Happiness Project shows how she did it and some great studies to back it up.

Productivity/Success:

 

1. The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business by Charles Duhigg

I pride myself in my good habits. I also know I have a handful of horrible ones. As much as I’ve tried to quit some cold turkey, it just doesn’t work that way for me. The Power Of Habit dives deep into why we do what we do and how we can change it. The studies apply to everything whether you want to lose weight, cut that extra glass of wine, or change a habit in professional life. Once you realize how the brain works, it becomes a bit easier.

2. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert 

There have been days where I’ve sat at my computer and had nothing to type. I truly couldn’t put a word on paper. There’s truly nothing worse than a lack of creative inspiration. It always happens on the days I need it the most! Elizabeth Gilbert walks you through the process of inspiration and empowerment with her own personal experiences and insight into why we sometimes lose that spark.

3. The Pie Life: A Guilt-Free Recipe For Success And Satisfaction by Samantha Ettus 

I want to start out by saying that Samantha Ettus is a superwoman. I have no doubt in my mind. In her book, she shares her secrets on how to truly live a healthy and balanced personal and professional life. If you’ve been feeling that mommy guilt, read this book immediately. I’ll never be as on top of it as I’d like to be but at least I feel a little on my way. Baby steps, right? It’s all about the right kind of life hacks to help manage it all.

4. Outliers: The Story Of Success by Malcolm Gladwell 

This past July, there was an article in Fortune Magazine about what creates super successful families or siblings. Is it genetic? Is enviromental? Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, is all about that question and what we can learn from it. In Malcolm’s opinion, we pay too much attention to what successful people are like in the present and not what made them that way. Such an interesting read!

5. Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class On The Art Of Organizing And Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

I’ve been nesting to prepare for the new baby like a mad woman. My husband, Scott, jokingly asked if there would be anything left by the time I was done. Marie Kondo, who wrote the iconic Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, gifted us with a sequel titled, Spark Joy. I say gifted because I truly feel like it’s my excuse and answer for all of my obsessive-compulsive tendencies. If you’re looking to simplify, this is a must-read.

Do you have a favorite self-improvement book I didn’t include? Comment below with the title! I’d love to check it out. 

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5 Tips To Feel Well-Rested (Even If You’re A Mom!)

sleep tips

I never knew the true definition of exhaustion until I became a mom. Even when my kids started sleeping through the night, I still found myself struggling to get the proper amount of rest. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that sleep is a priority–no matter who you are.

The key is to not let yourself get to the point of exhaustion before crawling into bed. It’s all about finding soothing routines and habits to prepare for sleep. If possible, let yourself wind down up to an before you plan on calling it a day.

Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned to help myself look and feel more well-rested:

TIP #1: Create Your Calming Space

We are the product of our surroundings. To drift off into a soothing sleep, create your room to mimic that. Turn off the harsh lights, burn a candle, and designate that space as your quiet time. For those who catch up on work in bed, don’t. Keep those stressors away from your bedroom as much as possible. A reminder of your chaotic schedule for the next day is a surefire way to lose some sleep.

TIP #2: Don’t Leave Your Messes Until The Morning

On the same note of creating a calm space, don’t leave the housework for the next day. Just do it. Even if it requires staying up a little longer after you put the kids to bed, it pays off. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been trying to doze off and I start dreading the dishes I have to conquer in the morning. Once I realized how much that affected my overall sleep quality, I stopped procrastinating.

Repeat after me: a clean house is a natural form of Ambien.

TIP #3: Treat Yourself To Essential Oils

sleep tips

I’ve been using essential oils to naturally calm and de-stress for years. Not only does it help mentally but it feels amazing on your skin. Scents like lavender, chamomile, ylang-ylang, and cedarwood are all great for sleep specifically.

If you’re looking for something truly luxurious, the Pure Rest Wellness Oil from UMA Oils is a great option. It’s natural, organic, and feels like heaven before climbing into your sheets. To get the full effect, I like to take a few minutes to massage and let it completely sink in. You can even use on your fussy child or your husband.

1. Begin by gently rubbing the skin between your toes to create warmth in the area. Once the area is warm, take 4-5 drops of your favorite essential oil and massage between your toes, spending around 3-5 seconds between each toe.

2. With the oil still on your fingers and palms, massage the bottoms of your feet, spending about 30 seconds on each foot.

3. Move up your wrists and gently massage the area using your thumb, spending about 10-15 seconds on each wrist.

4. Next, massage the area behind your ears using your forefingers in a circular motion for 10 seconds.

5. Finally, cup your palms over your nose and mouth and take five deep inhales. This final step triggers the olfactory therapeutic benefits of essential oils.

TIP #4: Turn Off Your Electronics

This may sound insane but it seriously helps. After a day of activity (and sometimes chaos), the last thing you need is a show keeping you up. Yep, I’m talking to you binge watchers! It’s not just the show that can cause you to lose shut-eye–it’s also the light from your TV or iPad. They’ve actually done studies that have shown that the LED blue light of the electronics can slow the hormone that signals our brains that it’s time to go to bed.

Instead, find a “winding-down” ritual like journaling or reading. I’ve noticed that reading makes me fall asleep faster and also gives me a higher quality of sleep throughout the night. If you need some book recommendations, click here for some of my fall favorites!

TIP #5: Invest In A Silk Eye Mask

sleep tips

A silk eye mask is the epitome of beauty sleep. Not only does it keep the light out to make you feel more well-rested…it also can help make you look well-rested.

The skin around our eyes is extremely delicate. The more you toss and turn in the middle of the night, the more you risk that delicate skin becoming irritated. This can result in premature aging and dull skin. Let’s be honest–there’s nothing like a fresh set of dark circles to ruin a morning.

Silk also helps skin keep the moisture in. A normal cotton or synthetic sleep mask is more absorbent which draws away the moisture. The more your skin is moisturized, the more bright-eyed and less exhausted you’ll look. And when you look good, you feel good. Am I right!?

FYI: If you’re not an eye mask person, a silk pillow works, too. The brand, Slip, has great options for both. Shop them here.

Sweet dreams! 

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7 Safe Exercises For Every Trimester In Your Pregnancy

prenatal fitness

photo credit: Erica Hampton Photography

I’ve been very open about the fact that I gained seventy-two pounds during my first pregnancy. One reason I gained so much was because of a pregnancy-induced thyroid issue. Another reason? I started retaining a lot of water early on. I was eating healthy but could have been eating better. Let’s be honest–just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean it gives you a creative license to eat whatever you want!

During my second pregnancy, I was definitely more proactive about my health. Even though it’s the last possible thing you’ll want to do, exercise really does help. When you keep your body strong, it can not only make the delivery smoother but also helps with quick recovery back to pre-baby body. It also can help with the anxiety and morning sickness that come with pregnancy, too.

We all hear about what we can’t and shouldn’t do during pregnancy but what about what we can and should do? When I found out I was expecting my third, I reached out to Jenn Seracuse who is a trainer at one of my favorite fitness classes in NYC, Flex Studios. Jen is the Director of Pilates at the studio but is also certified in Prenatal and Postnatal exercise.

I asked Jenn to put together some moves we can all do safely during our entire pregnancy. All you need is yoga mat! Here’s 7 exercises to try at home now: 

MOVE #1: Transverse Contractions (Hug The Baby)

prenatal fitness

  • Start standing or sitting in a comfortable position so that the spine is neutral and the ribs and shoulders can be directly over the hips with the hands on the belly framing the naval.
  • Inhale deeply into the belly so that it expands and pushes the hands apart, keeping the shoulders relaxed.
  • Exhale contract the deepest layer of the abdominals (The Transverse Abdominis) to bring the belly button to the spine and the hands back together (as if you are hugging your baby in tight.)
  • Hold one count
  • Repeat 25-50 times. You can break it up into 25 at the beginning of the workout and 25 at the end.
  • With every rep, think of contracting the abdominals not just front to back, but top to bottom, bottom to top, and side to side.          

MOVE #2: Knee Lift

  • Start in an all fours position with the wrists under the shoulders and the knees under the hips, legs squeezing together.
  • Exhale, engage the transverse bringing the belly up to the spine and float the knees 1-2 inches off the floor. HOLD 4 counts keeping the belly pulled in tight.
  • Inhale to lower the knees.
  • Repeat 8-10 times.

MOVE #3: Watchdog Balance 

prenatal fitness

  • Start in an all fours position with the wrists under the shoulders and the knees under the hips. On the reformer this means opening the carriage a few inches and holding it open throughout, giving the abdominals more of a challenge.
  • Exhale, engage the transverse bringing the belly up to the spine and lengthen one leg back straight off the floor and the opposite arm straight forward off the floor maintaining neutral alignment in the rest of the body.
  • Inhale to hold & balance
  • Exhale, open the arm and leg to the side in opposite directions, again maintaining neutral alignment without moving the spine, ribs, shoulders or pelvis. Only open as far as possible without shifting (6-12in).
  • Inhale return arm and leg to center.
  • Repeat on same side 8-10 times and then switch

 

MOVE #4: Squats

  • Start standing with feet parallel & hip distance apart (or slightly wider for larger bellies, but keep toes point forward).
  • Inhale as you bend the knees and hinge the hips back and down reaching the arms forward, squatting as deep as possible with the weight in the heels and abdominals engaged. Make sure to keep the knees    directly over the ankles and the pelvis neutral (not tucked under). This position is a stretch and a release for the pelvic floor and glutes, so make sure they are lengthened.
  • Exhale to stand back up to start position, contracting the pelvic floor muscles and making sure the glutes engage at the top to fully extend the hip.
  • Repeat for 30 seconds to 1 minute holding the last one down for 10 counts to really feel the release and opening of the pelvic outlet and fire up the quads.
  • Repeat sequence 3 times

MOVE #5: Lunge To Arabesque 

prenatal fitness

  • Start standing with feet parallel & hip distance apart.
  • Inhale Step one foot back into a lunge hinging the spine slightly forward and keeping the front knee over the ankle. Arms reach up with the biceps next to the ears.
  • Exhale to straighten the front leg bringing the back foot off the ground with the leg long behind the hip, keeping the spine hinged forward. Make sure standing leg is fully lengthened and glutes are engaged. Arms open out to side.
  • Place lifted foot back into lunge position reaching arms back up.
  • Repeat on same side 30-45 seconds then switch. Do 3 sets with a 10-15 sec rest between. Remember that balance and form are more important than speed. Use a chair for balance if needed.

MOVE #6: Side Lying Clamshell 

prenatal fitness

  • Start lying on one side with head resting on arm and knees bent up in front of hips in a 90 degree angle. Top hand is on the hip or on the floor in front of the torso.
  • The hips should be stacked one on top of the other and there should be length on both sides of the waist, keeping the spine and pelvis neutral.
  • Exhale as you open the top knee keeping the feet together and without allowing the top hip to drop back.
  • Inhale to lower the knee back to start
  • Repeat on same side for approximately 1 min, holding the last one for 10 counts, then switch sides.
  • For more challenge, lift the feet off the floor, but only if pelvic alignment can be maintained.

MOVE #7: Modified Pushups 

  • Start in a modified plank position with the wrists under the shoulders and knees on the floor and hips pressed forward making one line from armpit to knee. The glutes and hamstrings should be connected to one another. Head stays in line with the spine throughout.
  • Inhale to bend the elbows out to the side and lower the torso down in one piece, making sure that the abdominals are engaged to protect the lower back.
  • Exhale to straighten the arms pressing back up to the start position, again contracting the abdominals to keep the spine in one long line.
  • Repeat 30-45 seconds. Do 2 sets with a 10-15 sec rest between. Remember that form is more important than speed.

Want more info? Here’s some of the most common questions about prenatal exercise answered by Jenn: 

1) Is it safe for me to start exercising during pregnancy if I didn’t beforehand?
There are many opinions on this subject but here is mine. If you didn’t exercise AT ALL before pregnancy, it’s best not to jump into a rigorous regimen. However, you only stand to benefit from incorporating light prenatal appropriate workouts. Not only will you find labor and delivery go smoother, but it will be easier to reconnect to your muscles postpartum. You also will just feel better throughout your pregnancy and hopefully avoid some of the annoying aches and pains that can so often come along with it. Of course, every pregnancy is unique so it’s important to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise.
2) Is there such thing as “too much” exercise during pregnancy? What’s the happy medium?
Yes, I definitely think expecting moms can overdo it which is why it’s important to work with a trainer or take a class from an instructor who is prenatal certified. It’s important to remember that your body is not at the same as it was pre-pregnancy and to honor that. Your strength and stamina will not be the same. Pushing too hard will not help anyone. That said, light cardio and prenatal safe strength training work will only help you and the baby! One area I often see over training is women being so afraid of losing their abdominals that they continue to do the wrong kind of abdominal work that in fact will have the opposite effect. If the abdominals are over-worked in the wrong way (ie… flexion against gravity like a crunch or twisting against gravity like bicycles) they will split and cause an exaggerated Diastasis Recti, which is very hard to close once it happens. The abdominals should definitely be paid attention to during pregnancy, but in a stabilizing manner focusing on the deepest layer rather than the superficial muscles.
For more details on Jenn Seracuse and Flex Studios, visit their website here
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5 Benefits Of Charcoal In Your Beauty + Wellness Routine

benefits of charcoal

photo credit: Todd Parker Photography

With so many ingredients out there, it’s hard to tell what actually works. Well, I’m here to let you in on a little secret: charcoal needs to be on your radar. I’ve been using this ingredient since my early modeling days and I still use it today.

Charcoal can be used in its powder form, taken in a capsule, or infused in a product. So, what makes it so special? Here are some of the benefits:

BENEFIT #1: Treats Acne Or Oily-Prone Skin

I’ve unfortunately dealt with acne–especially in my twenties. Even today, I still get hormonal breakouts on my jawline and will break out on my forehead and temples, too. It’s not fun! If you’re acne-prone or have oily skin, charcoal can be an extremely beneficial ingredient. When applied on your face, the charcoal draws out all the impurities and bacteria that are trapped deep within.

You can use the charcoal powder as a spot treatment or apply products with activated charcoal already infused into the formula. I prefer to use a product. Garnier SkinActive actually has a charcoal line created for oily skin in mind. I love, love, love their Pore Purifying 2 in-1 Clay Cleanser Mask. It can be used as a daily cleanser to draw out dirt and oil after a long day or as a spot treatment on a pesky pimple. I love that it’s a 2-in-1! The best part? It does it’s job without drying out your skin. Read more about this product here.

benefits of charcoal

photo credit: Todd Parker Photography

BENEFIT #2: Minimizes The Look Of Pores

I have some news to break to you–it’s nearly impossible to shrink the size of your pores. But it is possible to make them look smaller! When your skin is clogged with impurities, your pores can look more noticeable. This is because the more gunk that’s in there, the more the pore will dilate. That’s why it’s always important to make sure to wash your face.

If I’m on the go, at the gym, or on the beach–I still make it a priority. How? I prepare. I pack some cleansing wipes to help refresh my skin and keep it clean. Garnier SkinActive’s Clean+ line has Purifying Oil-Free Cleansing Towelettes with charcoal that can be easily thrown in a bag and used anywhere. The towelette is infused with charcoal and it also helps mattify my skin which is perfect if I’m feeling like I need a little touch-up.

I even use them to clean up my kids’ messy fingers, if needed. These products are truly multi-functional–and perfect for moms!

charcoal

photo credit: Todd Parker Photography

BENEFIT #3: Adds Volume To Limp Or Fine Hair

Many times, it’s the buildup of excess product that makes your hair look and feel flat. That’s why it’s important to cleanse your scalp just as you would your face. Using charcoal clears out that gunk and allows you to start fresh leaving you with better texture and an easier to style your tresses. Just like in skincare,  you can use charcoal powder. But I prefer to buy products with the ingredient already infused in it.

Depending on the severity of your hair, keep your charcoal cleansing routine to a minimum. I would say about once a week should be good for most people. In the summer, when you tend to sweat more, you can bump it up to twice a week. A lot of brands have come out with charcoal lines with both shampoos and conditioners (which will be gentler on the hair).

BENEFIT #4: Detoxes Your System

Like I said, I’ve been using charcoal since my early modeling days. It’s one of the oldest detoxifying methods there is. When ingested, activated charcoal helps absorb and flush out toxins faster than they naturally would.

dirty lemon detox

You have options: you can sip the charcoal in powder form and mix with water, take it in capsule form as a supplement, or drink it in juice form with a lemon. I’m a huge fan of Dirty Lemon Raw Detox water for this purpose! Many juice shops, such as Pressed Juicery, also have great charcoal lemonades to stock up on.

Oh, and did I mention it can help a hangover? Yeah. Stock up!

BENEFIT #5: Whitens Teeth

Over-the-counter or even professional whitening treatments can be really hard on teeth–especially if they tend to be more sensitive. Luckily, there’s always a natural solution! Activated charcoal is a safe and cost-effective way to brighten those pearly whites. Also, since it is a detoxifier, charcoal helps balance the pH levels in your mouth to help prevent cavities or bad breath.

The charcoal works like it does everywhere else. It absorbs and draws out all toxins or in this case, plaque that can stain teeth. All you need to do is wet a toothbrush and dip in a small bowl of activated charcoal powder. Brush as normal. Once done, swish some water and rinse out in the sink. Do this about 2-3 times a week for best results. If you prefer to use daily, Ernest Supplies (found at Barneys New York) has a great toothbrush with charcoal-infused bristles.

I’d love to hear if you tried any of these tips and if they worked for you. Comment below!

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Get The Facts About Adolescent Melanoma With The Claire Marie Foundation

claire marie foundation

Skincare has always been important to me. I’m not talking about fighting off wrinkles–I’m talking about preserving the health of our skin from the inside out. Now that I’m a mom, it’s even more important to protect my children.

We all know the importance of slathering sunscreen on–but it goes deeper than that. I’ve recently teamed up with The Claire Marie Foundation to do my part to bring awareness to an often misdiagnosed and silent killer: adolescent melanoma.

The Claire Marie Foundation was established in 2014 following the death of Claire Marie Wagonhurst, a sparkling 17-year old who lost a long battle with adolescent melanoma as a result of changes her body went through during puberty. Their mission is to raise awareness, clarity and hope in the fight against adolescent melanoma while celebrating the joy, color and beauty Claire embraced every day.

Here’s what we can do: 

https://vimeo.com/180497659

SOME FACTS: 

claire marie copy

FACT #1: Melanoma is the number two cancer in young people from ages 10-19 and most common cancer in young adults aged 20-30. The signs in children and young adults can look drastically different than what would normally be seen in adults. This makes it often missed or misdiagnosed. Many times it’s an atypical mole on a child that isn’t taken for biopsy.

FACT #2: It’s not always about sun exposure. More research is being conducted about melanoma developing as a result of pregnancy and puberty. This is due to moles becoming more active during hormonal changes.

FACT #3: While fair-skinned children with light colored hair and freckles are still considered to be at greater risk, it has been documented that children with darker pigmented skin and those with skin that is less sun sensitive are developing melanoma especially under the age of 13.

FACT #4: Only a qualified professional who understands pediatric melanoma can make a diagnosis, but immediately have your child evaluated if you observe any of the following signs: (courtesy Melanoma Research Foundation)

  • A bump that itches and bleeds
  • A spot that looks like an unusual wart – sometimes non-pigmented or with a pinkish color
  • An amelanotic lesion – a lump on the skin that isn’t dark or black (like many adult melanomas)
  • A mole that becomes nodular – very bumpy and sticking out far from the rest of the skin
  • A lesion that presents as a nodule, or lump, especially one that has been rapidly enlarging
  • Moles that look strange or large – especially a mole that looks DIFFERENT from your child’s other moles or has more than one color

The Claire Marie Foundation has also launched a program this spring to offer free skin cancer screenings to young people. It offers access to dermatologists who evaluate and if necessary, provide access to remove atypical moles before malignancy develops.

For more information and to donate to fund further research, visit the Claire Marie Foundation website here.

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Watch: The NEW Fertility Smoothie To Get You Knocked Up!

fertility smoothie

photo credit: Erica Hampton Photography

It’s finally here! I am so, so, so excited to welcome you to my YouTube channel (subscribe here!) and into my home. For the first video, I’ve invited my pregnancy guru and wellness coach Lori Bregman to help you get knocked up. Yes, we are talking about fertility!

As you know, I was a bit older when I started thinking pregnancy and fertility so I needed all the help I could get. Lori came in like the saving grace she is and introduced me to her Fertility Smoothie. I drank a glass every single day when prepping to get pregnant and I’m drinking one every day now that I am. This delish recipe is also healthy for your growing baby while in the womb.

fertility smoothie

photo credit: Erica Hampton Photography

Click the video below to get the details +recipe to make your own: 

Ingredients: 

  • 4 oz. almond milk
  • 4 oz. coconut water
  • 1 tsp. coconut butter
  • 1 tbsp. green protein
  • 1 tbsp. acai powder
  • 1 tsp. goji berries
  • 1 tsp. Superfood Greens
  • 1 tsp. ground flax powder
  • 1 tbsp. maca root
  • 1/4 tsp. royal jelly
  • 1/2 cup frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1/3 cup ice

Benefits: 

Acai Berries, Goji Berries + Blueberries: Full of antioxidants that promote healthy cell growth and nourish blood. Also helps with sperm quality.

fertility smoothie

photo credit: Erica Hampton Photography

Avocado, Flax Seed + Coconut Butter: Great source of healthy fat.

Powdered Greens + Wheatgrass: Helps lower FSH levels, the hormone that decreases your change for fertility.

Maca Root: Increases libido, energy, and the health of your endocrine system.

Royal Jelly: Balances hormones, reduces stress, and a great source of natural estrogen.

Bee Pollen: Full of vitamins and minerals.

fertility smoothie

photo credit: Erica Hampton Photography

Banana: A great source of potassium and magnesium. It also gives your smoothie that added natural sweetness.

Coconut Water: Keeps your electrolytes in balance while deeply nourishing.

Almond Milk: A great source of calcium and protein.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, make sure to stop at a Beaming location near you to pick up one of her special “Knocked Up!” smoothies. It’s as delicious as it is beneficial! For more of Lori’s tips and tricks, visit her website for everything pregnancy and beyond.

Also, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here for more videos every week. I have lots and lots of exciting content coming up!

Shop the ingredients: