You deserve it. Soak in a hot bubble bath, do a full-on Korean skincare routine, cozy up with your favorite book or movie…this the shiz I live for.

These are my 5 favorite beauty products to pamper myself with after a long week at work.

Treat Yourself Beauty

A few of my favorite things …

  1. Lush Bath Bombs

    I only joined the “Lush cult” within the last couple years, but now I’m a total believer. Toss one of these babies in running water and sink into a multi-colored, fizzy, beautifully scented dream. My favorites are Twilight, Blackberry, and Dragon’s Egg. They’re all totally different but completely amazing.
    Note: I’ve ordered online from Lush a few times with success but I’d really recommend visiting a store for the full Lush experience, especially if you’ve never tried them before. If you’re a DIY-er I’ve seen some great DIY Bath Bombs here and here.

  2. Face Masks

    Really, any face mask will do. Skincare is really such a personal thing and what works for one person, may not work for another. Lately, I’ve been loving Korean Sheet Masks like this one from The Face Shop. You can also give the Sephora Collection masks a try. I’ve used a few and love the Pearl one in particular.
    I also love a good kitchen face mask like these tried-and-true faves from Pinterest. Personally, I love mixing extra virgin olive oil with honey to treat dry skin with acne (a confusing skin condition that I find myself with during the winter months).

  3. Body Butters

    You don’t really have to buy anything for this one because chances are, you have a really thick body lotion lying around somewhere. And to be honest, most of them will work fine for this. But when I get out of the bath, I like to slather on a body butter. You know the kind – those lotions that are too thick to wear on a normalday , but make you feel soft and luxurious once they sink in. Apply it anywhere you have dry skin – heels, knees, elbows and, hands. Seal the deal by putting on a pair of thick socks and your comfiest sweats.

  4.  DIY Deep Conditioner

    If you aren’t going anywhere for awhile, why not treat your hair to a mask too? I love slathering olive oil on my split ends and then throwing my hair up into a ponytail. You can leave it on overnight, but I usually wash it out before going to bed so my pillowcase doesn’t get all greasy.

    You can find some other great DIY Deep Conditioners here.

  5. Eat Your Antioxidants

    I probably don’t need to tell you that foods rich in antioxidants are great for your skin. And any “treat yo’self” day isn’t complete without a little snack. I like dark chocolate with a hot cup of green tea (the Yogi brand is my fave). You can also chow down on berries, almonds, smoothies or even an iced coffee. Coffee is an antioxidant too!


In terms of activities, I love to watch feelgood nostalgic movies like Harry Potter (always) or read a fantastical book that takes me way out of my everyday life. The absolute best thing? Go to bed early and catch up on my beauty sleep!

What are your favorite things to do when you’re de-stressing or treating yourself? Are there any beauty treatments you do on a regular basis?

I’m particularly interested in DIY stuff lately since it costs less money. If anyone has a good beauty recipe, comment below!

Related: 15 Steps to Self-Care


Is it weird that I sort of love grocery shopping? My mom thinks it’s a form of “nesting” but I sincerely enjoy making lists and stocking my pantry and fridge with items I love. This time of year, it’s all about getting back on track with health and fitness. I’ve been using MyFitnessPal to track my calories over the last year and have learned a few tricks in the process. The following low-calorie grocery list is my go-to for filling my kitchen with low-calorie noms.

  1. Guacamole
    Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Guacamole
    (or Homemade Greek Yogurt Guacamole – recipe here)

    Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Guacamole
    I go through about 2 cups of guacamole a week. No kidding. For guacamole grilled cheeses (like this one from Closet Cooking), chicken tacos, or avocado (guacamole) on toast – this greek yogurt and guacamole mix is so satisfying yet remarkably healthy at just 30 calories per 2 tablespoons.

  2. Reduced Fat Shredded Cheese

    If you’re anything like me, you know you can’t commit to any New Year’s Resolution that doesn’t involve cheese. I’ve tried the fat-free cheddah and while it works in a pinch, it’s not quite cheese. Reduced Fat or 2% shredded cheese is the way to go – on tacos, sloppy janes (turkey sloppy joes), quesadillas or chili. The one pictured rings in at just 40 calories an ounce.

  3. Old Thyme 647 Bread

    Old Thyme 647 Bread

    For the aforementioned grilled cheese and guacamole on toast – you’ll need a low-calorie bread. If you can’t find this one (40 calories a slice), the Pepperidge Farm Light Style Bread is a good alternative at just 45 calories a slice.

  4. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast

    An absolute classic. This protein is the basis for most of my low-calorie meals – BBQ Chicken Sliders, Salsa Chicken Tacos, and Sriracha Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

  5. Old El Paso Taco Shells

    Old El Paso Taco Shells
    Did I mention tacos? Okay yes, I’ve already mentioned them 3 times but tacos are a GREAT way to lose weight and still eat a satisfying meal. These taco shells are 3 for 150 calories – a VERY low-cal alternative to flour tortillas or bread.

  6. Sriracha

    I know the rest of the country may have gotten sick of this trendy chile sauce but I’m still in love. I like it in my slow cooker chicken, on eggs, avocado toast and even on popcorn. I mean, have you TRIED sriracha on popcorn? Get on that. Seriously.

  7. Cholula Hot Sauce

    Cholula Hot Sauce
    This is my go-to, standard hot sauce of choice. It’s zero calories and beats out most of the taco sauces I’ve tried in taste.

  8. Shishito Peppers

    Blistered Shishito Peppers
    I first discovered these at my favorite tapas restaurant here in Northern Virginia (Barcelona – TRY IT!) They may be hard to find at some grocery stores but I’ve been able to find them at both Trader Joe’s and Wegmans. At just 15 calories per 7 peppers, these make a delicious salty appetizer or side to any meal.

    I sautee them with a little olive oil and kosher salt (it sticks better than sea salt). Sometimes I’ll throw in some charred cherry or grape tomatoes to mix it up.

  9. Cherry or Grape Tomatoes

    There are a few specific brands I buy, but the ones from your local farmers market are best. These are a standard go-to for me for avocado on toast, omelets, sauteed with shishito peppers, or in a variety of curries or stir-frys.

  10. Bananas

    I’m gonna be honest. Most weekdays, I don’t have time for a full-on breakfast. Bananas are a great way to start your day and are easy to take on-the-go. Plus, they’re all-natural unlike most of the breakfast bars you’ll find in the cereal aisle. Averaging just 100 calories per nanner, these are a great addition to any breakfast.

  11. Calafia Farms Almond Milk

    Califia Farms Almond Milk
    At this point, you’ve probably already heard that dairy causes acne. Given that I can’t sacrifice my cheese, I decided to seek alternatives for my daily coffee. My vegan sisters recommended this brand of almond milk and it does the trick. Plus, it’s great for smoothies and even for homemade hot cocoa (almond milk + chocolate chips). It’s sold at most grocery stores in my area and only 18 calories per 1/2 cup. I find I only need about a tablespoon for my coffee.

  12. Frozen blueberries/strawberries/mixed berries

    I love a good smoothie or yogurt bowl but unfortunately, buying fresh berries every week is really wasteful. There’s no way I can go through them all before they go bad so I go the frozen route. I love these mixed with almond milk for a tasty smoothie or with greek yogurt topped with sliced almonds, banana, and honey for a powerhouse breakfast.

  13. Chobani or Fage non-fat greek yogurt

    Chobani Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
    Some people don’t like plain greek yogurt but I personally love it. It’s not too different from sour cream and can be mixed into a lot of recipes. It’s chock full of probiotics and only 60 calories per 1/2 cup. I like to mix it with avocado for a lower calorie spread, with frozen berries and bananas for a smoothie bowl, or sriracha for a zesty sauce on rice bowls (got that idea from Cava).

  14. Baby carrots + garlic hummus

    This is another great recommendation from my sister, Beth. It’s healthy, salty and low-calorie at just 4 calories per carrot and 50 calories per serving of hummus.

  15. Baked Tostitos Scoops + Fresh Salsa

    Baked Tostitos Scoops
    When the carrots and hummus just don’t cut it, I need to satisfy my chip cravings. These baked scoops are some of the lowest-calorie (yet still satisfying) chips I’ve found. At 120 calories per 16 chips, they’re still not great. But I’ve found that just putting a handful in a bowl with a side of salsa is enough to satisfy my savory cravings at snack time. And really…there’s worse snacks out there.

I wanted to refrain from putting too many sweets on here but if you have a Trader Joe’s near you – these little gems are perfect to satisfy your mid-afternoon candy cravings.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Almonds

I used to keep these at my desk at work. Although almonds aren’t a low-calorie food, they’re quite filling. Snack on 5-10 of these babies for just under 100 calories. Overall, they’re a great way to satisfy your sweet cravings without going overboard.

That’s it folks – 15 items/ pairings for your weekly grocery list. I’m not trying to pretend I’m a nutritionist or that these things are all amazing for you – but if you’re trying to cut calories in 2018, this may be a good way to start. These are literally my go-to items that I’ve bought over and over again.

What are your favorite healthy or low-calorie items to pick up at the store?

As of tonight at midnight, it will officially be 2018. According to the Chinese Zodiac, it’s soon to be the year of the dog. Apparently, for rabbits like myself, this means a year of better fortune than 2017, the year of the rooster. Whether or not you put stock in such things, the new year always brings to mind a “fresh start.” A chance to start over and resolve to be better this year. When deciding on my own New Year’s Resolutions, I found that I could break them up into 3 distinctive categories – health, wealth and personal development.

Without further ado, here are my 2018 New Year’s Resolutions.

(See my 2018 Beauty Resolutions here)

Health + Fitness

1. Sign up for weekly Pilates and Yoga classes.

I’ve always heard how great these are for staying in shape and I know I respond well to fitness classes. I’ve taken Yoga in the past and found that while the beginners’ class wasn’t doing anything for my physical health, it did wonders for my mental health. So hopefully, I can advance past the beginners’ stage and benefit from the physical benefits of yoga. And in the meantime, I’ll receive some nice relief from my anxiety through the benefits of meditation.

2. Enjoy the outdoors more.

This is a hard one to reckon with right now as it’s currently 10 degrees out. But I always find the outdoors to be so rejuvenating for my spirit. From snow day sledding to spring days hiking and everything in between. It doesn’t even have to be exercise; I just want to spend more time appreciating the outdoors this year. I got the only apartment I could find with a balcony and a view – I should appreciate it!

3. Snack Less / Snack Smarter

I’m such a sucker for snacks. From chips to cookies, they are 100% my caloric downfall. While I don’t think I can truly fight my nature, this year, I’d like to just improve on these habits. In 2018, I’m only going to allow myself to purchase 1 sweet snack and 1 salty snack for my pantry per month. Additionally, I’m going to stop snacking past 10:00 pm.



4. Contribute more to your 401k.

I’ve had a 401k for a few years now but I’ve always only contributed the bare minimum. This year, I really want to invest the maximum amount to have a little security for my eventual retirement. (I’ll probably never fully stop working, but it’d be nice to know that I can one day).

5. Invest for things before retirement / Learn about investing

I’m not sure if buying a house is in the cards for me. At least not for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, it’d be good to take that money that would have gone towards fixing the roof or replacing the washing machine and put it into a different kind of investment. That way, I’ll be ready for whatever life throws at me. And if I do decide to buy a house one day, I’ll have a nice nest egg for a down payment.

6. Stay debt-free and always have AT LEAST 2 months’ worth of rent in savings.

Most financial experts would advise you to have more than 2 months’ saved up but I live alone in an expensive area so I have to be realistic. I recently paid off my credit cards at the end of 2017 and want to make sure they stay paid off. Plus, having been laid off from 2 jobs in 3 years, having that extra couple months’ rent in the bank would really help ease my financial anxiety.

Personal Development

7. Continue to post on this blog!

I’ve really enjoyed this hobby over the last few months and have found it to be really therapeutic. When work is hectic or stressful, it’s nice to know that I have this little space online to talk about the things I love. Even better, I get to connect with others who like the same stuff as me! That being said, like all things that are good for us, it takes diligence. I want to make a point of posting at least once a week. 

8. Buy a camera and learn photography.

So far, all of the photos on this blog have been taken with my iPhone 6. While I suppose it does the job, I’d love to take better pictures. Ideally, I’d like to take an actual college course in photography. Besides being helpful with the blog, I think it would really satisfy my creative yearnings to learn a new skill like that.

This may not be something I accomplish early on in the year, given my financial goals above and the cost of a good camera and photography classes, but I do hope to achieve this by the end of 2018.

9. Try new recipes and experiment more in the kitchen.

One of the biggest changes I’ve made over the last few years is learning how to cook for myself. That being said, I’m still a beginner in the kitchen and tend to fall into “cooking ruts.” In 2018, I’d like to try 1 new recipe once a month – preferably a healthy one. It’s good to try new things. 🙂

10. Watch less TV and read more!

I used to read a lot when I was in high school and college. But as soon as I started a full-time office job after college, my free-time hobby of reading went down the tubes. I seem to have replaced it with television. It’s almost constantly on and was actually a source of arguments when I lived with my bookworm sister.

For a copywriter, marketer, and blogger such as myself to read so little is, quite frankly, a little embarrassing. In 2018, I’d like to read at least 1 book a month and turn off the TV every night at 10 pm. And that includes watching Netflix on my iPad before bed! It’s bad for my sleep cycles and is probably rotting my brain. This is the area in which I need to make the biggest improvement in my life.


So that’s it, folks. 10 New Year’s Resolutions in all to make me a better me next year. Cheers to the year of the dog! (Cheers using hot apple cider because #dryjanuary).

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Comment below!

Note: I know the holidays are probably the worst time to publish a fitness post but I started this whole calorie-counting/lifestyle change around this time last year.

Hopefully, my story and experience can help anyone else trying to stay healthy during the holidays. Look at this way…if you can do it in December, think what you can accomplish in January!

It’s been a little over a year since I officially started eating healthier and exercising. I thought it might be helpful to share what’s worked for me and how it’s going now that I’m in maintenance mode.

First off, a little about my attitude towards food…

I love food. I’m an epic snacker and my eating style most resembles that of Belle in “Beauty & the Beast” a la “Be Our Guest.”

I don’t tend to eat a lot in one sitting but can eat quite a bit over the course of a few hours. So if eating was like running – I suppose you could say I’m built for endurance. Which funnily enough, is the exact opposite of my ACTUAL running abilities.

How It All Began…

Anyway, I can’t watch tv without something to eat and I am far from gym-rat status. That was the case a year ago and it’s still the case today. But the day after Thanksgiving last year (11/25/16 #neverforget), I weighed myself.  I was shocked by how much I had gained. Although I didn’t even own a scale until a few months before, I knew it was the heaviest I’d ever been.

It’s a funny thing, body image. Because I’m naturally on the more slender side, I never worried about my weight. And unfortunately, that meant I also never cared about eating healthy either. I started gradually gaining weight after starting my first full-time office job. But gaining 5 or 10 pounds didn’t change the way I felt about myself. Overall, I felt pretty great and saw no reason to change.

Nonetheless, I could tell by how my clothes fit that I was obviously gaining weight. It was happening very slowly, but it WAS happening. By November of last year, I could barely fit into my largest pair of skinny jeans, which by Poshmark’s standards were already “plus size.” I had just gone through some major life changes and was eating and drinking whatever the heck I felt like. It didn’t really hit me until that morning.

Granted, I was on my period and it WAS the day after Thanksgiving, (the unofficial fattest day of the year), but still. I was surprised by how much I had gained. I decided then and there to do something about it.

Baby Steps

My boyfriend had been using MyFitnessPal for a few months so I decided to give that a try. I had no idea if it was going to work or if I was going to stick with it but I was determined to at least try.

I set small goals for myself at first, just 5 pounds, but it was still soooo hard to stick to the daily calorie counts. I was used to eating well over 2200 calories a day so cutting back to 1600 felt like I was depriving myself. Plus, I had never tried to restrict myself before so I really had no idea how to do it.

But I bought myself a Fitbit and committed to getting exercise. The calories burned in the Fitbit app were added as exercise points to MyFitnessPal, allowing me a few extra snacks. Every little bit counts. I took the stairs, I went for walks at work, I ran in place during commercial breaks on tv at night.

Makin’ It Work

FINALLY, in the first week of January, I lost a pound. Encouraged by my success, I lowered my daily count to 1400 a day and increased the intensity of my workouts. I bought some workout clothes and started doing a free Bootcamp that my apartment gym was offering. I learned which low-calorie meals were satisfying (tacos, rice bowls, avocado on toast) and which were not (anything without spice, sauce, or cheese).

Although you can (theoretically) eat whatever you want on a low-calorie diet, it’s almost impossible if you eat a lot of junk food or fast food. French fries, Doritos, and candy bars could never fill me up enough to be worth their respective calorie counts. In order to stay under my daily count and still eat foods I found delicious and filling – I had to be very sneaky.


Calorie Counting Results

Finally, 5-6 months later, I had lost 18 pounds. And I’ve maintained that weight since, entering my calories every day on MFP. (Trust me, it gets easier once you get used to it.) As I’ve switched into maintenance mode, my motivation to work out and exercise has gone way down. I don’t wear a Fitbit anymore and I usually only work out once or twice a week. I’m trying to get better with my workouts but it’s always a struggle. 

However, I have become a pro at tracking it all and maintaining a healthy weight. I’ve learned to balance restraint with total gluttony and still enjoy life. I’m naturally a very analytical person so I feel like calorie counting works for me. I’ll probably always use it as a way to track my general nutrition.

However, if you’re someone who tends to obsess or have body image issues, calorie-counting probably is not for you. 

Weighing the Pros and Cons…

I definitely feel more confident in my body now than I did before but sometimes I miss mindless eating. Ignorance is bliss. Now, I’m just so aware of how many calories I’m consuming.  Maybe that’s just part of a healthy lifestyle and mindset but sometimes I wonder, is this living?

But overall, that con aside, it’s definitely been a positive change in my life and taught me real restraint. I still have days where I let myself eat whatever I want (holidays, birthdays, weekends). But I’ve just learned to make up for it during the week. Everything is a balance.

I’m curious to know what works for everyone else. How do you find the motivation to exercise/work out and how do you maintain and/or lose weight? I’m still relatively new to all of it so I’d love to hear what works for everyone else.





“Self-care” has become a little bit of a buzzword lately. Older generations may view it as another hallmark of millennial selfishness but those in the know (i.e., psychiatrists, therapists, life coaches etc.) view it as a sign of “emotional intelligence.”

Apparently, my generation spends over double on self-care essentials (diet plans, life coaching etc.) than the baby boomers. Apparently, this has something to do with access to the interwebs and a wealth of scientific research to support the very real, tangible benefits of self-care.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde

With that being said, check out my 15 steps to better self-care. When I’m feeling run-down, this is what I do. And I try to make a habit of it.

1. Learn to say no.

Do whatever it is you have to do, but life is too short to spend time doing things you’re too exhausted or busy to do. Recognize your limits. If you need some downtime, communicate that to the people in your life and if they love you, they’ll most likely respect that.

2. Use that extra time to pamper yourself.

Take a long, hot bath (or shower if that’s your deal). Personally, I love to take a bath. Use your favorite bath products, and sink into a good book or magazine. Bonus points if this is part of your wind-down time (see #6).

3. Book some couch time.

Get in your favorite comfy clothes, slap on a face mask and watch your favorite movie. Make popcorn and hot tea (or even some mulled wine for those hygge vibes) and relax.

4. Take a night to stay in and cook your favorite homemade meal.

You’ll get a sense of accomplishment from making something delicious plus you’ll enjoy eating it and even sharing it with your family and roommates.

Veggie Fajitas

5. Involve the outdoors in your morning routine.

Take a brisk morning walk or enjoy your morning coffee al fresca. Develop a morning routine that doesn’t involve hitting the snooze button 20 times and rushing out the door. Waking up a little earlier will be worth it for your mental state in the long run.

Morning Walks

6. Allow yourself time to wind down at bedtime.

Light some candles, read a good book or practice some relaxing yoga routines. Your choice, but do something in that last 15-30 minutes before bed that doesn’t involve work or screen-time (that means NO tv, computer, iPad or phone before bed).

7. Have some quality time with your pet.

…Preferably a furry one. Whether you have a dog or cat, it’s been statistically proven that petting an animal can improve your mental state.

8. Take the time to learn a new skill.

Maybe you’ve always wanted to take a pottery class or learn photography. Whatever it is, take some time to grow. Bonus points if the activity is physical like a dance class or furthers your professional career. But remember, this is for YOU! So if you won’t enjoy doing it, don’t do it.

9. Spend time with family and close friends.

This one’s tricky because sometimes we can be so exhausted from social obligations that we need more time alone, but the opposite can also be true. Isolation can wreak havoc on your mental state. Spend some quality time with someone you love and feel comfortable with.

10. De-clutter your space; de-clutter your mind.

Yes, cleaning sucks but taking the time to organize and de-clutter will do wonders for you in the long run. Take a little time to clean each day, and allow yourself time to do deeper monthly de-clutters to keep your life organized.

11. Set the mood.

Light some candles, plug in the fairy lights, create a playlist of relaxing songs (ambient, chillstep and classical piano are my favorites). If you create a routine out of this, then anytime you’ll hear those songs you’ll instantly feel a little more relaxed. I love playing a relaxing playlist while I’m at work to help make me feel calm on a stressful day.

12. Make appointments to get your life in order.

From doctor’s appointments to haircuts, take the time to do what ya’ gotta do to get your business handled.

13. Get rid of stuff.

This one sort of goes with #10 but takes it a step further than simply “de-cluttering.” Do a full wardrobe clearout – get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy. Things that don’t fit, that you haven’t worn in years, things with stains or things that remind you of bad memories. Getting rid of items like these will be therapeutic plus it’ll free up a bunch of space for new purchases.

14. Get exercise. Preferably outside.

Go for a hike, jog, bike ride – whatever. Even if it’s just a walk around the block, get some fresh air in your lungs and get your heart rate up. Sometimes, when you’re in a bad mood, this might be the last thing you feel like doing. But once you do it, you’ll feel better. Promise.

15. Set aside some “you time” every week.

Put it on your calendar or just add it to your to-do list. You may only need a couple hours or you may need a whole day but either way, setting aside real time for it helps you keep this promise to yourself. Treat it like you would any other appointment with a friend or at work. This is important for you. <3

So there you have it – 15 steps to incorporating self-care into your daily life and routines. Even when things get chaotic, working in some you-time can do wonders for your emotional health.

What do you guys do to de-stress and practice self-care?