The Best $2 I Spend Each Month on a Beauty Product….And Other Favorites

While I have pretty good skin, it is oily in the T-zone and my nose always has clogged pores.  Yes, that gross black stuff – those are clogged pores!  I use face masks every week and the Clarisonic everyday, but the clogged pores just wouldn’t go away.  (And I read that Biore-type products actually make the clogged pores worse.)  A few months ago, I was chatting with a friend who had recently visited her dermatologist and was informed about a product that was a good substitute for a microdermabrasion – a face loofah.

I have to admit I was surprised that a dermatologist would recommend a face loofah.  Isn’t it too harsh on the skin?   After I learned more about her conversation, though, I decided to give it a try.  When my friend discussed her skin and how best to take care of it with the doctor, the doctor replied, “I could give you a microdermabrasion, but let me save you some money.  Go to the local drugstore and get a loofah made for your face.  Use it once a day, and you should be fine.”

After a week or two of debating whether to try this and being reminded daily by my bathroom mirror that my clogged pores were not exactly disappearing, I decided to give it a try.  I went to three Duane Reade’s and finally found what I was looking for – in the loofah section.  It looks something like this. I tried a new routine of using the Clarisonic in the morning and the face loofah at night.  After a few days, my clogged pores were gone!

I do find I have to replace the loofah every two to four weeks because it starts to smell.  However, it is much cheaper than the $25 Clarisonic brush!

By the way, I still keep my weekly facial regimen.  My favorite masks are Boscia Detox Mask and Korres Wild Rose Mask, which I use consecutively.  They are great for making my face look like I just had a facial.  For special occasions, I will use Chanel’s Hydramax + Active Moisture Mask.  When I worked on the Chapstick brand, our team marketing met with a makeup artist who tells her clients to wear this moisture mask overnight to get that natural, dewy look in photo shoots.

If you have other skin routines you’d like to share, do tell.  New products and information is always helpful!

Posted in boscia detox mask, chanel hydramax, Clarisonic, favorite face masks, hydrating masks, korres wild rose mask, substitute for microdermabrasion, using a face loofah | Leave a comment

What I Learned from My Nutritionist – 7 Tips

Recently, I decided to go to a nutritionist to better understand what I should be eating.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, I have been tracking what I eat on, which has been a great tool for knowing how many calories I eat each day and the proportion of carbs, protein, and fat.  However, the tool did not help me understand whether I was eating the right combination of foods – I always felt hungry!  Meeting with her turned out to be quite helpful, and I thought I’d share some of the great tips I learned.

Certainly, we all know the basics:  watch how much sugar we eat (or drink if you are a big fruit juice or soda drinker) and booze we drink as well as maintaining a balanced diet.  Whether we act on these is another thing.  Additionally, even when we are trying to have a healthy eating habit, it is sometimes tough to know how to do it.  Below are some great refreshers and even new insights.

  • Tip 1: Eat protein at every meal. At lunch and dinner, this means 5 oz of things like chicken and fish.  (I started to weigh my protein and was surprised at how much chicken and fish 5 oz comes out to be!)  Other options are oats, almonds, eggs, and cottage cheese.
  • Tip 2:  Two to one ratio of vegetables to starch.  In other words, have 2 cups of veggies (frozen or fresh, not canned) and one cup of brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or other starch for lunch and dinner.  Again, I measured these to get an idea of how much food it is, and it is quite a lot!
  • Tip 3:  For breakfast, I already eat steel cut oatmeal and add almond milk to it for substance, but this does not fill me up.  She recommended added a couple of hard-boiled eggs rather than fruit.
  • Tip 4:  While we all know fiber is important for our health, I often wonder if I eat the right kinds of fiber.  She suggested a couple of food items I should add to my regimen, both of which I have found to be helpful.
    • Idea 1:  Scandinavian Crisp Bread, which is 12 calories with 5 grams of fiber.  I put peanut butter on it and have two as a snack.  You can find them at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (at least the one in New York City) or click here to order it on their website.  As for taste, it is certainly not a cupcake, but it does act as a great morning or afternoon snack.  I feel satisfied and don’t look in my cabinet for more snacks.
    • Idea 2:  Simply Fiber cereal, which is 140 calories per serving with skim milk and contains no sugar.  I will tell you up front that the cereal looks like rabbit pellets.  Again, it’s not a cupcake, but it is healthy and filling.  I purchased the cinnamon flavor one so that it is not so plain.
    • Idea 3:  Popcorn!  No, not movie popcorn and not microwave popcorn.  If you don’t have a machine that air pops corn kernels, then pour a tiny bit of olive oil in a pot, add the corn kernels, place the lid on top and start shaking the pot until all the kernels pop.  Very filling and so few calories.
  • Tip 5:  Sugar – The more you eat it, the more you crave it.  How true this is!  When I eat a cookie, I just want another one, and another one!  She suggested I think about how I feel after, which is still hungry and a bit sick from all the sugar.  So far it’s worked.  For instance, the Haagen Dazs I purchased for my husband is still unopened.  (Note:  His milkshake recipe is one pint of Haagen Dazs, a dash of milk, and chocolate syrup…for one serving!  In our five years together, I have only had one of these.)
  • Tip 6:  Fluids – I must drink 64 ounces of water, at least.  While many of us know this, do we really drink this much?  In my case, I never know if I do, so she suggested I buy a plastic container and fill it with water at the beginning of each day, which will help me better monitor how much water I drink.  I have read that starting your day with an 8 ounce glass of water helps curb hunger.
  • Tip 7:  Fats.  It’s OK to eat fatty foods like walnuts, avocado, and olive oil – all in moderation, of course.
Of course, there are other important factors such as eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, drinking skim, rather than whole, milk, etc.  You can read about these basic FDA recommendations on various websites.

Happy healthy eating!

Posted in Healthy Eating,, nutritional tips, scandinavian crisp bread, well-balanced meal | Leave a comment

Empowering Ourselves to Choose

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes struggle to make decisions.  When I get to the core of why I have this challenge, I realize it is because I am overwhelmed by how I can do/get what I want while at the same time being attached to the outcome – whether it’s to make everyone else happy or having an expectation.  After speaking to a friend recently about her struggle to find a date to celebrate something important to her, I realized I am not the only one.  She had wanted to select a date because she wanted the event to look and feel a certain way.  Why does this happen and how do we get over it?

I believe a part of this indecisiveness comes from women’s innate nature to be caretakers and with that we sometimes get into “people pleasing” mode.  Of course, we don’t realize it at the time.  Remember what they say on airplanes – put the oxygen mask on your face and then put it on your child.  Why?  If you can’t take care of yourself, how can you be there for others?  Certainly, it is important to be considerate of others, but there is a fine line between “taking care of others” and “neglecting ourselves.”

The decisions I am speaking of can be as big as being in someone’s wedding or as small as whether to attend something you were invited to or when to have your child’s birthday party.  I can’t tell you the countless times I have done something because I felt I had to, had an ulterior motive for doing so, or expected a specific outcome.  In these cases, I tended to walk away with regret.  I’ve noticed I have had the most enjoyable time and been the best company when I “choose” to do something.

“Choice” is actually an interesting concept when you dig into it.  Years ago, I attended a seminar series, which talked about choice.  Essentially, the thought is that we empower ourselves to decide whether to do or not do something without an attachment to the outcome.  It took me a long time to truly understand this concept.  The seminar leader conducted an exercise where I had to choose chocolate or vanilla ice cream.  When I chose a flavor, she asked why.  Each time, I gave a reason:  it tastes good, it will make me happy, etc.  She kept telling me to start again and to choose a flavor.  I was confused, but after a few tries, I finally got it.  When truly choosing chocolate or vanilla, I am to choose it simple because I want to.  That’s it!  This is much more powerful than the ifs, ands and buts we usually have around that which we choose.

Perhaps we need to just step back and choose!

So what did my friend do about her celebration?  At the end of the day, she “chose” and in her final invitation email she sounded genuinely excited and not at all worried about the outcome of who showed up.  I’m so excited for her.

Posted in people pleaser, the power of choice, women being people pleasers | Leave a comment

A Costa Rican Adventure

For our one-year anniversary, my husband and I decided to take a trip to Costa Rica.  We chose this destination because it has been on both our bucket lists for some time now, and given the increase in tourism over the past ten to fifteen years, we wanted to come before Burger King and McDonald’s took over the country.  (Starbucks should never dare enter Costa Rica, which already has many coffee bean farms and frankly, better coffee.)  We are on our 7th day here and since it is pouring down rain, I thought I write a bit about our take on this trip.

The big debate we had during our planning phase was whether to rent a car, fly to each destination or hire a driver, especially since we are here at the beginning of rainy season.  Additionally, we heard that even though the last earthquake was years ago, the government has been slow to repair the roads.  After assessing the cost of each option, speaking to people who’ve been here, and recalling the suffocation we felt in Crete when we had to wait for the buses to take us to and from each destination on the island, we decided to take our chances and drive.  I am so glad we did!  We rented a Mitsubishi 4WD that we have so far taken to Tamarindo, Monteverde and Arenal.  The views along our journey have been spectacular and we’ve stopped many times along our route to take photos.  The flexibility has been priceless.

We booked our flights 6 months in advance and had no idea what our plans were beyond that.  Once we realized there were too many things to do in just 10 days, it was time to prioritize. Our list, in no particular order was: volcano, cloud forest, surf, animals, zipline, hot springs.  Based on this list, we created an itinerary that would maximize our time at each destination, give us at least 2 nights at a single hotel, and minimize our overall driving time.

Stop 1 – Tamarindo.  We based this on the fact that The Peace Lodge, near San Jose, was the nicest of all the hotels we would be at, which meant we wanted to stay here last.  (Back when we hiked Macchu Picchu, we stayed at the crappy hotels last, and this is where we brought home bed bugs.  Never again!)  And thus, Tamarindo would be our first stop.  After a five-hour flight and five-hour drive, we were exstatic to reach El Capitan Suizo hotel, which was right on the beach.  This was the perfect place to park ourselves for two nights, where we surfed, ate, drank, napped, did yoga and played with monkeys, raccoons, and cats.  Rudy Diaz’s outfit, Radical Surf, was responsible for our ability to surf our way from wave to beach in less than two hours of falling and crashing into waves.   Yes, we were quite pleased with our ability to surf, but our aching bodies were not.  I now completely understand why surfers have those hot bods!  While we took our lessons, his wife took photos and posted them on Facebook – for free!  I was pleasantly surprised we did not have to pay some exorbitant fee for photos of our surfing experience.

Stop 2 – Monteverde Cloud Forest.  Here, we decided to take our chances on the hotel.  We had nothing booked, which worked to our benefit.  Given that it was low season, some of the hotels were fairly empty, which gave us bargaining power.  We stayed at El Establo, which had beautiful rooms and bathrooms and offered great views of the sunset.  It was walking distance to two of the best restaurants in Monteverde – Chimera and Sofia’s, which are owned by the same chef.  It was also equidistant between the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and Selvatura Park, which is privately owned.  Selvatura Park was a perfect all-in-one adventure spot where we ziplined 11 different lines (the longest of which was 1 km), walked across 8 different skybridges, saw a variety of butterflies, and observed dozens of hummingbirds feeding on high-concentrate sugar water (and that is why their wings “hum.”)  The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve was not as impressive as Selvatura Park, but that could be because we were stuck with a guide who majored in forestry and showed us every single friggin’ leaf in the rainforest and told a 20-minute story about each.  I wanted to shoot myself.  Thankfully, he must have sensed our frustration and gave us a shorter tour than originally anticipated.  Why couldn’t we get the guide who took us to the waterfall!?  Once our guided tour was over, we went back in the rainforest and did our own hike, where we saw more animals than with our guide.

Stop 3 – Arenal.  After a three-hour drive through some of the most amazing scenery (I pulled over at least a dozen times to take photos), we made it to Arenal.  We decided to splurge on the Tabacon Grand Spa and Thermal Resort.  Well, it might not have been a splurge considering non-hotel guests have to pay a pretty penny per person to visit the hot springs while it was included in our hotel fee.  This hotel has been amazing for several reasons.  First, 15 minutes after we arrived, the clouds cleared from the tip of the volcano and a rainbow appeared for a mere two minutes.  If we had not been outside, we would have missed it.  According to the hotel, this rainbow miracle is quite rare.  Second, we arrived at the hot springs in sheer amazement.  There are about a dozen “pools,” some of which have waterfalls you can sit under.  We “pool-hopped” for at least an hour.  I felt like a kindergartener with a new toy!  There was even a pool with a swim-up bar.  Don’t bother with the booze here, though.  Drinks are $10 to $12 a pop, and I think the bartender only pretends to give you booze.  Third, I ran into a college friend who is here with his girlfriend.  Seriously, there was so much magic happening at Tabacon within one hour of arriving, I did not know what to do with myself!

Today, I am able to write this blog because it has been raining for about 5 hours straight.  No worries, though.  We have been quite adventurous in our seven days here.  Heck, we started off our morning with a bike ride that had to have been uphill both ways!  Having nothing to do but watch and listen to the rain for a few hours is not so bad.  After writing this, I think we will hit the hot springs!  Water is water, right?!

Most surprising about Costa Rica has been the cost of food.  Guidebooks tell you to take a cab or drive your car to town to avoid the hotel charges for food.  Yes, they are correct – going to town saves you money, but not in the sense that you will pay $5 instead of $30 per meal.  Think $20 per meal instead of $30 to $40!

With our trip being more and more amazing each day, I can’t imagine what our final destination, The Peace Lodge, will have to offer.

Pictures to be posted on Second Tuesday’s Facebook page upon our return!

Posted in Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica, El Establo,, Monteverde, Peace Lodge, Selvatura, Tabacon, Tamarindo | Leave a comment

Desire versus Obligation

I’m not sure how or when it happened exactly, but I seem to have gotten lost in what I actually want to do in life versus what I am “supposed” to do.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What are your tricks for eating healthy when options are limited – or non-existent?

It’s been a few years since I was a consultant, where I was on the road nearly every week.  Somehow, I managed to stay in shape where if there was no gym, I would go for a run.  Sometimes, I even packed two-pound weights – to do the SELF workout for arms – or resistant bands.  However, I never could figure out how to eat healthy on the road.  Sure, I could skip the booze and order salad with dressing on the side.  However, some airports and cities literally offer a choice between 3-hour old pizza under a heat lamp and a hot dog.  Seriously?

For the past three weeks, I have been on the road again and find myself asking the same question as I did as a consultant.  How in the world am I supposed to eat healthy when there are no healthy options?  Yes, I have packed Balance bars, apples, and sunflower/pumpkin seed mix (per GOOP’s Detox Diet), but these are not meals.  These are snacks that curb hunger for only a brief period of time.  Now what am I supposed to do?

Yes, I am writing this in part to ask what you do to eat healthy when you go through an airport or most American cities – big or small.  However, I am also writing this to say,

“America, canned green beans are not the same as frozen or fresh.  They taste like crap and make all the kids who eat them at school lunches think vegetables are gross, when in fact fresh vegetables are yummy! Salads with Caesar dressing are not healthy.  And restaurants, why don’t you save your money and serve us half the food portions you currently do but charge two-thirds the price!  A 9-inch plate filled with spaghetti and meatballs 4 inches high is not helping us with the increase in diabetes and other ailments!”

OK.  Now I feel better.

And now that I got that out of the way, please share with the Second Tuesday community what tricks you have up your sleeve regarding eating healthy – at home…..on the road……whenever!

Posted in airport food, eating while on the road, Healthy Eating | Leave a comment

How do you Acknowledge your Gratitude?

Do we really need to keep a gratitude journal to show our gratitude?  I recently turned on my Kindle and decided to get back into reading Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project.  I discovered the book at Christmas time and found it helpful to get me over my holiday blues.  While I loved the book, it was too much to read all at once, so I decided to read it bit at a time.  This time, when I turned on the Kindle, I noticed I was in the section about writing a gratitude journal.  I chuckled as I recently blogged about my experience in starting one of my own.

Gretchen wrote about her experience in writing a gratitude journal where she felt that after a while, it was forced.  As I read this, I realized that I might be forcing my own gratitude journal.  While I do agree it has helped me feel much more positive about life, I will acknowledge that some days, I feel like I am writing “because I am supposed to” rather than because I am actually acknowledging that which I am grateful for.  She offered some alternatives, which I thought were interesting.  My favorite one is where she sits in a quiet place and thinks about that which she is grateful for, allowing it to consume her mind, body and spirit.  As I write this blog, I am imagining how this type of acknowledgement must feel, and I notice I am feeling very soothed.

I wonder – Do we need to write a gratitude journal?  Perhaps there are other ways to acknowledge our gratitude and the good things that exist or come into our lives.  At the end of the day, we just want to feel good, right?

Now I ask you – How do you acknowledge your gratitude?  Please share.

Posted in gratitude journal, Gretchen Rubin, keeping a gratitude journal, showing gratitude, The Happiness Project | 1 Comment