🎶Rain, rain...[don't] go away [yet because I've got some cute hats to wear]... 🎶
That's how that song goes, right? Anyway, we've been hit with a rain spell here in Iowa and I am so not here for it. It seems like every small-talk conversation revolves around how terrible the weather is which makes those quick encounters pretty exhaustingly negative. I think we can all agree that this weather make us feel tired, lazy and a little bit sad. (Except for those people that enjoy it. How?)
Quick Rant: I also hate doing everything in the rain. Like -- walking into the grocery store, filling my car with gas, taking the dog for a walk, getting the mail, going shopping, loading my car with groceries, going to work, AND LITERALLY ANYTHING THAT REQUIRES ME GOING OUTSIDE.
Now that we've gotten all of that negative energy out and I've given you a quick Iowa weather update, let's move on to something a bit more fun. Everyone's hair reacts a bit differently to humidity. Mine get's SUPER flat and looks greasy, maybe yours frizzes out, gets a wave, or a little bit of it all (which would be super cool). So with all this rain and humidity gracing the great state of Iowa, I've found myself becoming a hat person. Here's a few ways to rock hat hair on rainy or humid day!
Messy Bun Out the Back
Just something real simple -- I wish I knew how I make mine into a messy bun, but honestly I think I just warp it around a bunch of times and stick some pins in it...
Pulled Apart Side-Braid
I started with a regular braid and just slowly pulled each piece of it out a bit. I love this look because it looks like you have super thick hair, even if you don't!
Messy Bun Out the Side
Same principal as the one out the back... just... out the side...
For real though, this one I love because sometimes I'm not a huge fan of having all of my hair out of sight.
Loose Side Ponytail with a Scrunchie
A lil' side ponytail made even cuter with a bandana scrunchie holding it all together. I just placed the scrunchie halfway down my ponytail to give it some volume on the tome and bottom of it.
(are these descriptions even necessary? The photos are pretty self explanatory)
Standard Ponytail and a Scrunchie
I feel like I saved the best for last. Big fan of this one because it takes a standard hat look and makes it look a little more put together.
You could do a neutral colored hat and pair it with a fun colored scrunchie to jazz it up a bit, too.
Last Sunday I spoke at a health expo here in Iowa and chatted about ALL the important stuff! Between confessing my love for STEAZ and eating patterns, I pretty much touched on everything I feel passionate about in the health and wellness world and had a ton of fun doing it. I thought I'd throw everything on here in bulleted points and a summary to recap what I talked about for those that couldn't make it. If you have any questions, don't be afraid to leave a comment or fill out the contact form!
1. Diet vs. Lifestyle
I'm not sure I've written a blog about this? I don't believe in the word "diet". I talked a lot about this at the expo because it' something that hits home for me. I've tried every fad diet in the book a few years back when I was trying to loose weight and none of them ever truly worked. I was a total yo-yo dieter experimenting with unrealistic guidelines to completely cut out sugar, carbs, and bread. Pinterest was the Holy Grail of silly diets (like the 3-day military diet where you eat a cracker for dinner...) and it killed my self confidence.
I do, however, believe in a lifestyle. Changing up the pattern of my eating and rather than being restrictive, being conscious of my food choices is the key to success for me.
2. Intermittent Fasting
I know I've written a blog on this one! I get the most questions here, too. Here's the simple breakdown:
3. Pre and Post Workout
Here's another one I get a lot of questions about. I've scoured the internet for the best pre and post-workout drink and finally found my favorites! My requirement for the pre-workout is that I get steady energy that doesn't make me too crazy, that there's not a ton of added sugar, and that I don't crash right after. I found the perfect match and that is STEAZ Energy. Here's why I love it:
4. The Workout
By now I think you know that I LOVE a good H.I.I.T workout. I'm all about that after burn affect and getting the most out of my 30 minutes. You can find examples of my leg, arm and cardio workouts on my Beauty&Bod tab right here on the blog! That afterburn affect that I mentioned is the process of your body replenishing the oxygen stores that became depleted during your workout. After a good, intense H.I.I.T session, you're preparing your body to continue to burn calories 16-24hrs after the workout is OVER. That's why I choose that form of training and why low weight, high rep is the right method for my body. I'm looking to burn fat and tone muscle, so that's what gives me the results I'm looking for.
5. In Summary
My main point is to choose a healthy lifestyle that is realistic for YOU and your body. Choose the workouts and eating patterns that will benefit your body and do your research! While an eating pattern is a great option, you also have to be conscious of what you're putting into your body. Take the time to look at your meals and snacks and make sure things are fresh and prepared by YOU. Stay away from boxed snacks and meals!
THE MASTER POST!
Okay, I've finally done it. One giant video post on my everyday makeup routine! I've broken it up into face, eyebrows, fake lashes, and lastly, eyes & bronzer. This way, if you just want to know about lashes, you can just watch that and not bore yourself to tears with my mindless chatter about my foundation. I've also linked all of the products that I use under each video.
Full face of foundation and some light "contouring". Definitely no James Charles, but here's how I add some definition and coverage to my face!
All Over Foundation
Light Contour Foundation (Light Ivory)
All Over Foundation Brush
Angled Foundation Brush
In middle school I shaved my eyebrows off thinking it would be cool to have really thin ones. It looked SUPER good... but now I can't grow them back to save my life! Not to mention, the brow hair is naturally blonde. I gotta color them in - here's how I do it.
Here ya go! I've had a ton of questions on the lashes I use and how I apply them. It's the easiest process and I feel like I invented it... but I'm probably a bit behind the times.
EYES & BRONZER
The final steps! In this one I'll finish off my eyes with shadow, liner and some mascara to seal the deal. Then I'll just apply my bronzer and call it a day!
The last of three! You've got a killer cardio set, an arm workout, and now we'll cap it off with a good leg day. Lately I've been doing cardio Monday, arms Wednesday, legs Friday. Then over the weekend (if I go to the gym) I'll do the cardio again on Saturday or Sunday.
You might know by now I work cardio into every lift I do. Straight up lifting heavy weights just doesn't work for me, so this leg day is a version of a HIIT workout, much like the rest of my workouts. As always, I start this workout with treadmill sprint intervals. On leg days I'll do 15 minutes on the treadmill, then hop into the weight lifting set.
Here you go! I hope you're able to feel the burn throughout this set. I'd recommend printing this off and marking the sets off as you go. You know the drill - 3 times through!
If you follow along on Instagram, you already know where I go exclusively for my spray tans. I do partner with Your Tanning Bar, but I was going there long before we partnered. It took me awhile to find a great place with a solution that my sensitive skin liked.
Look, I've been doing spray tans since I was in 2nd grade *Side note: I have a sister that's 10 years older than me, so I was always doing exactly what she was* I've been through my fair share of bad spray tan nicknames - Cheeto Fingers, Oompa Loompa... the list goes on. Point being, I've been through enough bad tans to know what a good one is. Here's my guide to spray tanning: how to get the most out of it and keep keep looking like it's summer forever!
1. Planning for Your Event
Assuming you're getting a spray tan for an event, you should always try to plan it out to get the best color for the event. I'd recommend getting your tan the day before your event or at the most, 2 days before your event.
I always shower and shave my legs the day of the tan. After shaving, be sure to use some sort of exfoliator on at least your legs and arms. I use a sugar scrub from Target, nothing too fancy.
After your shower, be sure to moisturize! I can't emphasize this enough, because there have been plenty of times that I've forgotten and regretted it. If you try to get sprayed on dry skin, there's a possibility of your skin having a cracked look after just a couple of days.
My all-time favorite moisturizer actually comes from Your Tanning Bar. It doesn't leave an oily residue, it doesn't stink, it's completely natural and paraben free. It's called the MOOREA MOISTURIZER from South Seas.
3. Why I Love Your Tanning Bar
I really love their solutions. They offer a few different types including, anti-aging, express, and a straight up tan. I usually go for the straight up, but have tried and loved all of them! Their solutions come out the most natural that I've ever used. It doesn't come out orange or green (so there's no room for the Cheeto Finger comments).
I also love that they're custom. A certified technician sprays you so she customize your spray, unlike those booths that leave it up to your crazy poses. I like getting my legs a little darker and a second coat on my face so that it doesn't get too light after I wash my makeup off every night.
**Use the code: LAURA for 50% off of your tan on your next visit!**
P.s. I don't get any money from you using this code.
It's strictly an awesome deal provided by Your Tanning Bar :)
If you went with any solution other than the Express, make sure you avoid any sort of water for 24 hours. This is why I'd suggest getting sprayed 1 or 2 days before your event. When you do shower, don't use any sort of exfoliator or skin-drying body wash or soap. Try to stick with a body wash that moisturizes as you wash.
After your shower, moisturize again! I use South Seas Tan Extender. It's literally meant for spray tans. It's basically a tinted moisturizer that helps keep your tan around a little longer than normal. I use this everyday following a spray tan. Again, it's all-natural, paraben free, doesn't leave an oily residue, and it smells awesome! You can find this at Your Tanning Bar too.
I hope this helps to answer some of the spray tan questions I get a lot. Feel free to ask any other questions on the contact tab!
Don't forget to use the code: LAURA for 50% off.
You Know How This Starts (if you read my cardio post)
If you read my cardio workout post, you know that I begin every workout the same way. I like to kickstart it all with a treadmill sprint/walk interval. When I'm lifting arms, I start off with 15-minute treadmill interval set. 4.0 for walking speed and 8.6 for running speed (I've amped up the speed just a bit since my last post. Woo!). Walk for 1-minute, run for 1-minute, walk for 1-minute, run for 1-minute, and repeat until you've completed 15-minutes total.
Lifting x Cardio ALWAYS
I never just lift for my workouts. For me personally, I've seen the most benefit in weight loss and toning since I start to religiously incorporate cardio into my lifting sets. It's important to get your heart rate up and then bring it back down again throughout your workout -- you'll actually burn 25-30% more calories by doing this!
I used to train arms or legs on certain days reserve cardio for days when I didn't lift. While I was able to gain more muscle, I wasn't seeing any changes in how much fat was on my body. When I started to kick my butt into gear with HIIT cardio and weight training, I finally saw the difference I was looking for!
The Printable Workout
Screenshot this workout and mark off the exercises as you go. We're going through this three times total! Take a 1-minute and 30-second break in between sets, grab some water and get back to work.
CURLS: standard curls! Use dumbbell weights that you are able to lift with ease at first, but by the 10th rep it feels pretty difficult. Put all of your focus into one arm at a time, making sure that you're only using your bicep muscle to lift the weight.
SHOULDER TRIO: Stick with me on this one. If you're not familiar with the names of these movements, click the link to see YouTube videos that will describe them. You'll want to do these exercises with small weights. I use 7lb dumbbells. Matt taught me this one -- I attribute most of my shoulder muscle gains to these movements!
Movement 1: side lateral raises (8). *move immediately into second movement!*
Movement 2: dumbbell front raises (8). *move immediately into third movement!*
Movement 3: 45-degree angel raises (8).
FRENCH CURLS: this is a fantastic tricep exercise! Watch this video, you'll probably recognize it when you see it.
UPRIGHT ROWS: here's another video! Make sure you're watching yourself in the mirror... because your shoulder muscles will be poppin'!
SHOULDER TAPS: okay, final video for you to check out if you're not familiar. I use this one as a cardio exercise in this workout, but you'll definitely get your shoulders working too.
I know, I know... cardio sucks. I will say though, I've come to love the process of gaining more stamina and just being out of breath when I workout. In the moment you might hate how tired you feel or that you stink at cardio in general, but while you're going, try reminding yourself all the good that you're doing for your heart and body. It's also helpful to remember that this is one of the best ways to burn fat and tone muscle. Lifting is great, but you won't see significant changes in your BMI until you commit to training with cardio.
This workout is one that I do two times throughout the week. I'll do it on Sunday or Monday because it's a perfect way to kickstart my week and burn off those weekend calories. I also do it on Fridays to get a good prep for the weekend (& so I feel a little better about saying yes to fries on the side on our nights out).
How to Begin
I start every one of my workouts the exact same way whether I'm doing cardio or lifting. After I stretch I hop on a treadmill and do sprint/walk intervals to get my body warmed up and begin the fat burning. Although it's the first step to any of my workouts, it's definitely not an easy warmup, it's more of a kickstart. I utilize this time as a way to start sweating and get my body ready for whatever else I'm doing that day.
On cardio days, I do my sprint/walk intervals for 15-minutes straight (on legs days, 20-minutes and on arm days, 30-minutes) with a 2-minute cool down tacked on the end. On a treadmill, my sprint is at 8.3 and my walk is at 4.0. I keep this consistent and throughout the entire 15-minutes -- 1-minute walk, 1-minute sprint, 1-minute walk, 1-minute sprint, and so on.
After that 15-minute treadmill kickstart, I'll find a spot in the gym with a mirror and some open space. This part of the workout can totally be done at home since you're using no equipment! All you'll need is a stopwatch, I use my phone for that.
The most important part of these sets is to never stop moving until your break BETWEEN sets. It doesn't matter how quickly you're getting through them, it does matter, though, how diligent you are about your form. Don't let your form sink because you're tired, take it a bit slower at first and your body will thank you!
You'll notice on this sheet that you have three columns to the right of the exercises. That's because you're doing this entire set three times through.
I'd recommend printing this sheet off and marking off each exercise that you complete as you go. It helps to keep you organized and stay motivated as you mark them off!
I really love this cardio set because it's a full body workout and it's all up to you how quickly you're running through it. You'll definitely be feeling it in your legs the next day, but you'll start to notice toning in your arms too. You could integrate this into your weekly workout plan by doing it twice OR if you're looking for high fat burning, bump it up to three times.
Ready to Amp It Up?
If you like the style of this workout and you're ready to take a healthy lifestyle to the next level, hit the Lifestyle Coaching tab. Then, fill out the survey to determine if you're a good fit for the program! I'll be choosing 5 women to receive the program at the end of this month.
I love and NEED my sleep. Ever since I can remember I've needed more sleep than the average person. Unfortunately as adulthood has crept up on me, so have more sleepless nights and that just doesn't jive with me.
I've done my best to create a nightly routine for myself that helps me to wind down and ease into an easy, deep sleep.
1. A Clean Face
I wash my face and remove my eye makeup every single night no matter what. I won't be able to fall asleep unless my face is clean, mostly because I know I'm going to wake up to blemishes and visibly clogged pours.
I swear by two drug store products that I've been using for over three years now. First, I remove my eye makeup with the Neutrogena Oil-Free Makeup Remover. I'm big on oil-free because I can't afford to rub more oil into my face! Plus, I only wear water proof mascara, and this is the only product that removes it quickly and gently.
Next I wash my face makeup off with the Neutrogena Acne Wash Daily Scrub. I love this product because it has little beads in it that really scrub away the dirt and makeup in my pours. It gives me that refreshed feeling without drying my skin out.
I wish I was telling you I use some kind of hundred-dollar moisturizing routine, but by now you should know that's not really how I roll. Honestly, I don't even use a product "designed for women" (whatever that means).
I use Nivea For Men face moisturizer for sensitive skin. It's not oily and a little goes a long way! It also has sunscreen in it, which is a definite plus. I bought it for Matt and ran out of my own one day... so I've officially adopted this little guy into my nightly face routine!
3. Brush the Hair
Duh... right? I know this one is silly, but if I don't completely brush my hair out, I have a tough time getting to sleep! If I back-combed it at all, I need to get that ratting out of there. It just feels so good to have a smooth head of hair before laying it on my pillow.
I'm pretty particular about the brush I use too. I don't have the thickest hair, so it tangles very easily. I found the WET Brush, and refuse to use anything else on my hair! It's visibly decreased my breakage and split ends.
3. Heat Pack
I've alway struggled with neck and trap pain. It gives me headaches and keeps from a good night of sleep far too often. To help ease that pain and stretch out my neck and should muscles, I've been using a heat pack right when I hop into bed.
It's a simple reusable heat pack that I pop into the microwave and it's really done wonders for my neck pain! Plus, that small amount of heat really helps me calm down for the night.
4. Wait for the Cozy Clothes
After a long day in tight leggings or jeans, I just want some sweat pants. I do my best to wait just before bed to throw those on! Why? I want to save that feeling of "ahhh..." for when I'm ready to get sleepy. If put my comfy clothes on mid-day, I have the hardest time staying motivated to get things DONE.
It might sound weird, but saving up that relaxed feeling for bed time helps me to unwind in the best way.
5. Hop into a GREAT Bed
The best part of the night! Honestly, this has been the game changer in my nightly routine. Before we got a new mattress I was struggling to stay asleep all night. Every morning I woke up with pain all over my back and I'd finally had enough. We switched to a Lull mattress and I haven't any back issues since. I haven't woken up with pain and I sleep soundly ALL NIGHT.
My favorite part about it is that when Matt moves (ALL THE TIME), I can't feel a thing on my side of the bed. And it's got this cooling gel on the top layers that keep us cool all night - no more waking up in a pool of sweat that isn't mine! (gross)
When I do settle into bed though, I try to keep my phone and electronics at a minimum. The darker the room, the faster I'll get that beauty rest in! GOODNIGHT!
All photos by Ivy Towler: CLICK HERE FOR MORE
*UPDATE! IT'S OVER!*
I've finally completed my April Challenge (so I'll stop updating you weekly on my Insta Story). If you need a refresh on what exactly I was doing this month, the story is below this post!
I learned a lot this month about myself... things like, what motivates me, how to peel myself out of bed, and how hard I'm willing to push myself at 5am.
WHAT MOTIVATES ME
To be honest, a lot of my motivation came from thinking about my "after" photo. I wanted a big change to show you all what can be done in just four short weeks. I also wanted that "after" pic to be even more motivation to keep on pushing for another four weeks.
Taking photos can be great motivation for you to remember what you're working toward. In my every day life I couldn't see a huge change in the mirror, but when I threw those before photos next to the afters, I saw where I made improvements.
HOW TO PEEL MYSELF OUT OF BED
4:23am got real old. Real fast. If I'm being honest. I stayed motivated to get up with a few tricks. First, I set my clothes out the night before. I did my best to actually like the outfits I put together so I was excited to put it on in the morning.
Another tactic I used was the 5 second rule (thanks to Emma Kittle and your Insta Story for introducin me to this!) When I felt like I couldn't get my feet to the ground, I counted to 5. It's said that if you don’t move within five seconds, your brain will kill the idea and you’ll talk yourself out of doing it. It works, trust me!
Alright, let's just get to the "transformation" photos. Maybe you won't see a whole lot of improvement, but I do and I can defitnely FEEL the improvements. Here we go!
Interested in what I did? Contact me!
*APRIL CHALLENGE POST #1*
Happy April everybody! A lot of my posts recently have revolved around springtime, but I can't help it. I love when the spring season comes around. Daylight Saving Time is past and we're getting more sun time, the weather is getting increasingly warmer, and we're just one step closer to summer!
Truth be told, I've really been slacking on my physical fitness. 2017 wasn't my most "fit" year, I'll admit. My diet was on point, but working out wasn't at the top of my list. I lost the fat I wanted to, but in the process I shed some muscle that I'd like to get back.
Don't get me wrong here, I'm not complaining about how I look or looking for any positive reenforcement. I simply want to continue to challenge myself and my body to be at my best. I'd also like to run up a flight of stairs and not be out of breath...
Kinetic Strength and Nutrition
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen that I've joined a new gym here in Iowa. My sister and her two friends just started a boot camp-style gym, Kinetic Strength and Nutrition, and that I've fallen in love with it. I've been on the search for an affordable gym with a workout I can get on board with. I've taken three total classes and I'm hooked. It's a mix of workouts that focus on cardio, upper and lower body with an emphasis on body weight and free weight exercises. It's exactly what I was looking for.
Not only do they offer workouts based on weight loss and muscle toning, but they've also offer specialized meal plans and nutrition advice from a registered, experienced dietitian (who is also an instructor). So if you've ever reached out to me asking what I eat on a daily basis or what my meal plan looks like, she'll have a better answer for you than I could ever come up with!
As of now they offer one class per day, Monday through Friday at 5:00am. That scared me at first, and it might scare you too; but I can't tell you how good it feels to have an entire hour workout done by 6am. Driving home afterward I typically catch the sun just rising and it's the best start to my day.
So, what's the challenge?
I'm challenging myself for the entire month of April to attend every class, every day of the week. That's a lot of waking up at 4:23am (I gotta set the alarm to odd numbers).
Not only will it be good for my body to get some high quality physical activity, but it's a good mental challenge too. I'm not a morning person... so this could be the start to something new?
I wanted to write about this because I want to be held accountable. I took some "before" pictures that I'll be able to put side-by-side at the end of this April and see where this takes my body. Stay tuned and feel free to send me some 4:23am motivation... Ha.
If you're interested in trying out this workout program with me or challenging yourself for the month of April, Click here for more info OR contact me with questions.
All photos by Ivy Towler: Learn More
Over the past 2 years I've ditched the diets and said 'see ya later' to 32 pounds. I've literally never felt better and I haven't been this light since my freshman year of high school!
I started my weight loss journey like so many others - Pinterest and Google. Don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for Pinterest, but diving into their quick-fix diet pins can get a little risky.
I caught myself in fad diets like "The Military Diet", where you're eating [what feels like] less than 5 calories in 24 hours. Or those crazy apple cider vinegar cleanses that "guarantee" you'll drop 20 pounds in two weeks. Not only did none of it work for me, but I'd end up rebounding so hard afterward with an entire frozen pizza or a couple pints of ice cream. Or both... If this has ever been you or it IS you, know you're not alone!
At my heaviest (5'6", 157 lbs) I decided it was going to take more than a quick fix or fad diet to get me to a place of self love and a healthy life style. Life style is the key words here, because I refuse to live my life by the word "diet". So, how did I do it?
I live by a lifestyle now of what's called, intermittent fasting.
I do a version of intermittent fasting that I found works for me. What this means is I'm only eating for 8 total hours throughout the day. I love it because you can choose what 8 hours your going to eat in. I typically start eating at 11am or noon, and finish dinner (or dessert) at 8pm. Then I don't eat again until 11am or noon then next day.
You can see why this is successful; you're taking a 17 hour break from eating. Although, 6-8 of those hours you are, or should be, sleeping.
Since you're taking such a long break in eating, it's important to eat nutrient rich foods and dishes that are high in protein. I definitely don't cut carbs, I don't think I would make it through the night if I did! (That's an huge exaggeration, but I do love me some pasta).
As for my day-to-day schedule of eating, I typically have 2 large meals - a "brunch" around 11 or noon and then dinner around 6:30 or 7pm. In between brunch and dinner I'll have a snack or two and after dinner I might have another snack or dessert before 8pm.
Will this work for you? I can't promise that of course, but I can tell you it's a plan that takes time. Like I mentioned, it took me two full years to shed the 32 pounds, but I never felt like I had to struggle through or deprive myself like a lot of diets.
Before you give it a try, do your research and modify for what will work for YOU and YOUR body.
Be on the look out for a post on what
exercise I pair
with Intermittent Fasting!
Photo by Ivy Towler: Learn More HERE!