Best of Body: What I Love

Yes, this looks like a lot of stuff and yes I use almost all of them daily because I am obsessed with pampering myself because if I don’t who will? Little luxuries like these don’t have to be expensive, but the time you dedicate to keeping your skin and body happy and healthy is priceless.

giphy7Body Lotion – Your skin is your largest organ, and it does a lot to keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. It takes a lot of stress from the sun, heat, cold and wind all while keeping you safe and alive. Find a great body lotion to pay it back for all that hard work. If anti-aging is a concern for you, as it should be at any age, then the St Ives Renewing Body Lotion with Collagen Elastin is your new best friend. It smells like cucumber melon and can be found at any drugstore for a super reasonable price. It absorbs nicely and leaves your skin nice and hydrated. Another favorite of mine solely based on scent is the Hempz Original body lotion, I am a sucker for that floral banana smell!

Body Oil – I use a body oil on certain parts that need a little extra TLC. For me, that is the back of my upper arms and the back of my thighs and butt. I have a little bit of that pesky keratosis pilaris that manifests as little red, flaky bumps, so a good body scrub in the shower followed by Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Skin Therapy Oil keep it all in check and help fade any scarring that can happen.

Bust Cream – I am by no means a big busted girl, but since the bust can show a lot of signs of aging, it’s not a bad idea to have a cream dedicated to tightening and firming that delicate skin. Again, Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Bust Cream makes it easy to get familiar with your breasts and perform self-breast exams.

giphy6Self Tanner – Everyone needs a little boost in the cold, winter months. I only use self-tanner when my tan starts to fade in the late fall and when I need to start showing my legs again in the spring, and the Alba Botanica Sunless Golden Tanning Lotion is the perfect product to give you a chemical-free glow with a pleasant scent and no orange tone.

giphy8Body SPF – I was at a BBQ one summer and ambushed a girl to find out what she was using that smelled so good, turned out to be this Alba Botanica Hawaiian Coconut Dry Oil Sunscreen SPF 15 and I’ve been using it ever since. I love that it is in an oil form so I look great at the beach, and my skin feels and is very moisturized.

Hand Lotion – For a super moisturizing, non-sticky hand lotion without any icky ingredients AND supports a good cause, look no further than Out of Africa Shea Butter Hand Lotion. It comes in a variety of scents, but the Vanilla, Almond and Lavender are my favorites. With every Out of Africa purchase, you help provide education and medical care to children and women in West Africa.

Body WashDr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap in Tea Tree is by far my favorite body wash. The tea tree scent gives me that spa experience every time I shower, plus its antibacterial properties help with body acne. I got a pump for the bottle so it’s easy to dispense.

IMB_WaFhdz.gifBody Scrub – I like my super simple DIY Coffee Coconut Scrub, which is really just ground coffee, coconut oil and maybe some sugar if you’d like some more grit. You can totally customize the amount of oil to scrub to your liking! The caffeine works wonders on cellulite while the oil helps to moisturize while you exfoliate. You can add some essential oils if you’d like but the coffee and coconut combination is heavenly.

Body SprayRose Water is the best full body spray you will find. You can use it head to toe without worrying about any greasy feeling or getting oil all over your bathroom. It is very refreshing, hydrating and soothing for all skin types.

Deodorant – Native makes hands down the best all-natural, aluminum-free, effective deodorant on the planet. They come in great scents and they actually work.

Eczema CreamAvalon Organics Eczema Relief Body Cream helped me when I needed it the most late this winter when the skin on my arms and back decided to freak out and get all red and flaky. The colloidal oatmeal is soothing and made my skin feel like silk, I was tempted to use it all over!

Cellulite Cream – I am obsessed with the scent of this Sol de Janiero Bum Bum Cream. Not only does it smell good but it has some good things coming for your rear. Moisture is your booty’s best friend.

Foot Cream – Yes I use a foot cream nightly, I hate it when dry foot skin scratches against the sheets when I’m trying to sleep. Our feet do so much for us so we should repay them with a mini foot massage regularly. There are a few I’ve tried, and as long as they are pepperminty they’re all the same to me. Burt’s Bees Peppermint Foot Cream, J.R. Watkins Peppermint Rejuvenating Foot Cream and Out of Africa Peppermint Menthol & Tea Tree Foot Cream are all great options, the J.R. Watkins one may be the biggest bang for your buck though.

Foot Care – I have seen first hand how important it is to take care of your feet. You literally walk all over them every day all day and all they get in return is to be crammed in pointy high heels and exposure to athlete’s foot. There are a lot of preventative steps you can take to ensure that your feet are happy and healthy for a long time. YogaToes Gems are one of my favorite nighttime rituals, wear them for 10-15 minutes per day to give your feet a nice stretch and realign some common issues. Bunions, hammer toes and plantar fasciitis are all remedied with a little TLC.

tumblr_owkhsvp8qx1veenguo3_540FitnessClassPass needs no introduction as I am always talking about it. So many people get expensive gym memberships and then never go. This is beyond me, what a waste of money! Plus you aren’t going because you don’t want to go, so why pay for it in the first place? This is why ClassPass is genius, sign up for classes you want to go to, only pay for classes you actually go to and nothing in between. I have found my perfect balance of realistic and enjoyable types of classes at studios that I love to meet my fitness goals. Personally, that is ballet, hot yoga, dance, barre, row, kickboxing, rock climbing and booty boot camps.

What is your perfect class combo? Do you have any body care products that you swear by? Let me know!

Header Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

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Relieving Pain Naturally

Many of the following options have been used for centuries, we got it right the first time and have been trying to make pain relief easier ever since. Drugs are great when used properly and very convenient, but if you can try one of these methods it will most likely bring long-term relief instead of just putting a band-aid on it.

Detox Bath

I love taking a weekly detox bath to carve out time for myself, put on a hair mask, a face mask and to soak uninterrupted for 40 minutes. Soaking in hot water no matter what you add to it can help relieve pain, lower blood pressure and make arteries more flexible for vascular health.

DIY Detox Bath

giphy17Mix all these ingredients in the hottest water you can stand to sit in and soak for anywhere between 20-40 minutes. Your heart rate will go up and you may get a little sweaty, but power through it. Initially, you may only be able to handle 20 minutes but if you make it a routine you will be able to watch an entire episode of your favorite show. Drink a ton of water before, during and after.

The Epsom salt relieves inflammation that could be causing pain, and soaking in it can also helping with bruising and allow you to absorb magnesium through your skin. Magnesium can help give you some good feels and offset depression. Apple Cider Vinegar can also help with joint pain but I really add it for the skin benefits. It’s also a fungus fighter and can help with hemorrhoids since sitting in the bath is kind of like a big sitz bath. We all know and love Bentonite clay as a face mask mixed with water or apple cider vinegar, but your skin if your largest organ and extends past the face! Soaking your whole body in it is great for the skin and is a big part of the detox process since it draws out the toxins.

Topical Lotions

Boiron Arnica Gel is one of my favorite topical muscle pain relievers. This one is not greasy and it doesn’t have a strong scent like tiger balm, yet it still is nice and cooling. As a bonus, it works on bruises and stiff joints as well!

Peppermint lotion is a nice, natural way to soothe soreness due to it’s tinging and cooling sensation. I love this one by Dr. Bronner’s, their products are all natural and use high-quality oils very liberally. You can also take any one of your favorite lotions and add Peppermint essential oil to it, just don’t be too heavy handed with it and make sure you mix well before every use! One of my favorite combos is Palmer’s Cocoa Butter and peppermint oil, it smells like mint chocolate!

Infrared Sauna

giphy16Infrared Saunas use a modest 115-130 degree heat that penetrates your skin to heat you up internally, sounds scary but it’s really not compared to a traditional dry sauna that can get between 170-200 degrees. It helps relieve pain by improving circulation while detoxing and aiding in weight loss. The benefits are huge and you don’t even have to leave your home to get to one, you can get one of these portable infrared saunas that fold up under your bed when you aren’t using it.

Acupressure

Acupressure consists of laying on a mat of plastic spikes, or a “bed of nails”. This stimulates the skin and accesses pressure points that release endorphins to relieve pain. You can lay on it, you can stand on it, though admittedly that is hard, and the neckroll pillow feels great. They also have a neck and head pillow that cradles the back of your head and an acupressure body strap you can apply anywhere, even at work.

Foam Rolling

Anyone who has been in a gym or a physical therapists office has seen a foam roller, but they are great for targeting muscle pain from lactic acid build up. Those couple days after a hard workout can be pretty brutal, so invest in a foam roller and embrace more pain because foam rolling is not a walk in the park. I contributed to a Kickstarter for this travel foam roller called Neofit, and it’s now on pre-order.

Heating Pad

Yes, the heating pad has been around for a while, but its effectiveness in soothing a variety of muscle pain makes it a popular option for many people. Just don’t rely on it too much or you put yourself at risk for toasted skin syndrome! This is when you slowly and minimally burn the top layer of your skin and it creates and splotchy pattern. This can happen if you sit in front of a fireplace for too long as well. Using a heating pad before stretching or foam rolling can help loosen up those muscles.

Swearing

giphy18Yes, folks, studies show swearing can get you through a painful situation. So when all else fails, use your favorite expletive, it increases your heart rate and decreases your pain reception.

How do you deal with muscle aches and pain? Any tips I missed?

HeaderPhoto by Tanja Heffner on Unsplash

Wonder Woman Made Me Do It

giphy2I started by doing a little research on what Gal Gadot did to get in shape for the film (while pregnant??) and vowed to work it all into my routine. Okay so a lot of it admittedly requires a full gym and a trainer to keep you on track, but I picked out some realistic activities I could see myself enjoying. I’ve been a huge ClassPass fan for almost a year now and I quickly found studios near me that could help me get that Gal Gadot-ness, even though I’m not a 5’10” Israeli bombshell.

Row

giphy5Rowing is not only a great workout, it’s also a great skill to have in life just in case you are thrown into a boat to row for your life like Gendry here. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but it ended up being one of the hardest and most rewarding workouts ever, and as a cardiophobe, this is a sneaky way to get my heart pumping. It helps that my fav instructor is so wonderful, beams positive energy and has a great playlist. The 50-minute class consists of a combination of wave songs, off the row circuit and races. At the start of class, you figure out your low, medium and full pressure row metrics which you use in the wave songs. Typically it’s low pressure on the verses and high pressure on the choruses.

I like to compare it to a spin class on a rower but you aren’t chugging away on the machine the entire time, which is a nice break and also a killer workout on its own. You’ll use the sliding seat for abs and the oars for arm/back strength, along with weights and squats for full body toning. Then you get to the fun part, the races; a race against time, and a race against yourself. Using the built-in screen on the machine you push yourself as hard as you can for 90 seconds and then try to beat your own distance a second time by at least 10 meters. By now your limbs are trembling and you can’t imagine putting forth any more energy but you somehow make it through and may even surprise yourself.

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I highly recommend some sort of grippy fingerless gloves to protect your palms from calluses and to enhance your grip so you can relax your hands a little. I have something like these weightlifting gloves but anything that covers the heel of your hand and grips the oar will suffice. The rower has a screen to track your meters rowed and other metrics which keep you accountable when you inevitably come back for more delight/torture. I may even take it up a notch and find out where I can find the real deal once summer comes along to row on actual water but until then check out ClassPass to find a row studio near you!

Kickboxing

I have always wanted to try kickboxing, but after watching Wonder Woman kick so much ass I finally got the courage to try a beginner class at a small, instructor-owned studio by my apartment that I found on, you guessed it, ClassPass. I ended up buying my own gloves after the first class, not only because the rental gloves were kind of gross but because I loved the meditative quality of punching and kicking a heavy bag and knew I would be back soon.

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Since then I have also been going to CKO Kickboxing which has locations all over the US, Canada and is a ClassPass studio! It’s a much larger gym but both studios have a similar MO. First, they get your heart racing with some jumping jacks and burpees, then you get to some simple drills that build on each other as they add on more complicated punches and kicks. I have a ballet background so the kicking is by far my favorite part, but the boxing compliments the strength I have built up from rowing and yet my arms have not gotten as bulky as I thought (which is a good thing).

As for equipment I bought these 12oz Everlast Gloves at Target for under $30. I rented 14oz gloves in my first class but my wrists are quite small so the velcro fastener on the 12 oz fit better. I also recommend wraps, they did not offer them in my first class and my left wrist was a bit sore afterward. I’ve tried gel wraps but don’t like how stifling it can get around the fingers. I bought these Everlast Hand Wraps at Target as well for under $7, and after a quick YouTube tutorial I figured out my best wrap. Plus they’re machine washable, I just toss them in a garment bag and air dry them. To keep the gloves fresh I got little sachets of cedar shavings to pull out moisture and bacteria, this little Cedar Storage Set had a great selection that I ended up using in my closets and drawers as well.

Have you ever taken a row or kickboxing class? Tell me your experience in the comments! Let me know if you have any other Wonder Woman worthy workouts to share.