No Pants Blog

We're talkin' Sexual Health + Wellness

Women’s sexual health impacts every part of a woman’s life. It has a direct effect on our overall health and wellness, and directly contributes to self-love and confidence. It aids in shaping how we view and enjoy intimacy, affecting our relationships and families. How ‘sexual health’ is defined varies as...

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Women’s sexual health impacts every part of a woman’s life. It has a direct effect on our overall health and wellness, and directly contributes to self-love and confidence. It aids in shaping how we view and enjoy intimacy, affecting our relationships and families. How ‘sexual health’ is defined varies as each culture, sub-culture, and individual has different standards. We believe it to be: to embrace and enjoy our sexuality throughout our lives as it is crucial to our physical, emotional, and mental health.

Women should never feel ashamed of their sexuality, and you should always have somewhere to turn when you have questions. Today, we’re sitting down with Keelyn Cazzolla, a Sexual Health and Wellness Educator who is answering our questions and giving us a positive perspective on sexual health.

*Keelyn is a sexual health educator, NOT a doctor. Please always consult your doctor with any concerns you may have.

 

 

What foods are good for sexual health? 

Having a well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet is extremely beneficial for all aspects of your health. Foods that improve functions such as circulation, hormone balance, energy, hydration, boost endorphins and serotonin are great to incorporate into your diet for sexual health benefits. A few examples of these foods include avocados, watermelon, almonds, dark chocolate, eggs, and peaches. More importantly, you should avoid (or reduce) foods that may be detrimental to your sexual health, or overall health in general. These foods include anything processed, cheese, high amounts of sugar, canned soups/meals, microwave popcorn, low grade meats, soy, spicy foods, and foods high in trans fat. Alcohol (especially beer), soda (especially diet), and marijuana have also been linked to being detrimental to sexual health and sexual performance as well. 

  • Myth: Pineapples can make your vulva smell and taste sweeter. Yes and no. Your diet does impact your smell and taste, but not just from pineapples alone. Basically, you are what you eat though! If you eat a lot of sweet fruits or foods with high sugar content, your bodily fluids may smell and taste a bit sweeter. This isn’t instant though, this is done through a consistent diet. If you are eating more pungent or bitter foods such as broccoli, garlic, coffee, alcohol, etc, then you are more likely to be on the bitter side. Don’t let this scare you away from bitter foods though!



What are some top initiatives you can take to increase your sex drive? 

There are many things that can influence your sex drive, such as your diet, mental health, and physical health. Targeting these areas would be your best bet at increasing your sex drive. The top initiatives I would suggest are to make scheduled sex dates with yourself AND with your partner, as well as to increase sensuality without expectations, and make sure you are providing your body with proper nutrients (without restricting yourself!!). Some partnered ideas could be back rubs, intimate massages, tickling, hugging, synchronized breathing, or even just holding each other while naked. Sexting is another great way to engage in foreplay with your partner before a sex date. It also helps to communicate what you like and what turns you both on. If these don’t help or you are looking for more alternatives, consult with a sexual health professional or sex therapist! It’s their job to help you navigate through it!

  • Myth: Engaging in sexual activities must always end with an orgasm. Nope! You and/or your partner are not required to have an orgasm. In fact, it can help your sex life by taking that goal oriented thinking out of the equation. Focus solely on the pleasure your body feels with your partner or by yourself!

 

What are some lubricant substitutes? What lubricants are NOT safe? 

Let's start with what is not safe to use. First thing I need to mention is that spit is NOT a lubricant or lubricant substitute. It can transmit infections and STD’s into your vagina, just as unprotected oral sex can and it is not slippery enough to be an effective lubricant. Other noteworthy and unsafe lubricant substitutes are baby oil, refined oils, shortening, petroleum jelly, lotion, and pure essential oils.

For lubricants in general, I always recommend a good quality water-based lubricant. Pure Romance, Good Clean Love, and uberlube are a few of my go-to sources when helping to figure out what lubricant would be best. When using lubricants, it's always good to keep in mind NOT to use a silicone toy with a silicone based lubricant! Silicone breaks down silicone, which will not be a fun experience! As for substitutes, I have found mixed opinions on what to advise, I’ve done some research on coconut oil and aloe vera, but have yet to find hard evidence to advocate on their behalf.

  • Myth: You don’t need a lubricant because you produce enough naturally. Even if you think you produce enough lubrication to be Niagara Falls, you should make sure you have a good quality lubricant! Lubricants help prevent vaginal micro tears and friction burns! If your partner has a penis, they are extremely porous and will absorb your natural lubrication and contribute to these burns and tears. You may not feel them when they occur, but trust me when I say “get a good lube” and use it!



Is vaginal discharge normal? 

Absolutely! Vaginas are self cleaning (how cool) so discharge is expelled during this process. Discharge varies in color, consistency, and odor depending on where you are at in your menstrual cycle. Even if your discharge looks slightly different from week to week or even month to month, it doesn't always mean you have an STI or infection. Keeping an eye on what is normal for your body is important for indicating when you should consult a doctor if something has changed. There are a number of reasons your discharge could change, such as antibiotics, STI’s, birth control pills, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), douching, scented soaps, bubble baths, yeast infections, and so much more. If you are ever worried about your discharge or experience itching or discomfort, please consult your OB/GYN, they are here to help! 

  • Myth: Douching is a healthy way to clean the vagina. Vaginas are self cleaning!! Please do not douche. Ever. You should only be cleaning your vulva (gently) with an unscented, mild cleanser (preferable ph balanced if possible). Avoid anything scented near your vulva or in your vagina. Fragrances are a harmful irritant and can cause infections. Also worth noting: douching does not prevent STI’s or pregnancy. In fact, it can actually make it easier for you to become pregnant as it pushes the semen further up towards the cervix.



Are hormone replacements bad for women? 

If you are considering hormone replacement therapy (HRT), please consult your doctor first so you can discuss the benefits and risks. For a majority of women, the benefits are considered worth it as the benefits outweigh the risks and improve quality of life. Follow up with your doctor annually if you chose to do HRT. If you are looking for an alternative to HRT, discuss that with them as well and come prepared with a list of questions and symptoms you are concerned about. When it comes to your health, it's best to be prepared and pay attention to what your body needs and is trying to tell you!

  • Myth: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases the risk of cancer. This myth is based on one study from years ago, but has been debunked many times since then and have even found flaws in that research. While it may increase the risk of certain cancers, the risk is minimal and only applies to a tiny portion of the population.



What are the necessary feminine-care checkups in addition to your annual exam? Always make sure you are doing your own self exams of your breasts and your vulva. It's important to know how they both look and feel to make it easier to report any changes to your doctor. For self breast exams, look at your breasts in the mirror to check for any visual changes such as shape and/or swelling. Also use the pads of your three middle fingers to feel your breast and apply different levels of pressure. There are three ways to do this: circular, vertical, and wedge. Remember to check your underarms and upper chest as well. For a self vulva exam, use a handheld mirror to make sure you can see your genitals clearly. Check your pubic area, clitoris, labia majora (outer lips), labia minora (inner lips), and perineum (area located between vagina and anus). Check for anything abnormal, such as growths, bumps, rashes, lesions, white bumps, red bumps, pimple like growths, etc. Report anything abnormal to your doctor, even if it seems small! Vulvar cancer is one of the most unknown, but easily treatable if detected early!

 

 

Commonly asked Q’s about Pap tests:

  • At what age should you get your first Pap test?
  • The recommended age to start getting a pap smear is 21 OR when you have been sexually active for about 3 years. Whichever comes first.
  • How often should you get a Pap test?
  • You should repeat your pap smears every 1-3 years, or every 6 months if your pap comes back abnormal. 
        • Do you have to see a gyno?
          • Some primary care physicians perform pap tests, but typically they are done by a gynecologist. 
    • How do you prep for the test?
          • Avoid sex, douching, spermicidal foam/creams, and any vaginal medicines for at least 2 days before the test. Body hair is completely natural and normal, no need to worry about that before your appointment. Also, avoid scheduling during your menstrual period! Call your doctor before going to your appointment if you end up having your period the day of your exam. Sometimes menstruation can obscure the results of the exam.
    • What should I expect during the test? What should I expect after?
          • The test only takes a few minutes. You will lie on your back on the exam table, then your doctor will gently insert the speculum so they can observe the cervix. Your doctor will take samples of your cervix with a soft brush and a flat spatula. Afterwards, you are free to go about your day!
    • Does it hurt?
          • Everyone is different, but you may feel pressure and discomfort in the pelvic area during the test. Good news is that it's super quick!
    • How long does it take to get results?
          • Each doctor varies, but around 1 week is average.
    • What if I get abnormal results?
        • Don’t stress if you have abnormal cells from a pap smear! Your doctor will have you schedule a colposcopy to examine the tissues of the cervix, vagina, and vulva and to also obtain a biopsy of the areas that appear abnormal. This tissue will be sent out for analysis and diagnosis!

       

       

      What are some of the top myths about women’s sexual health?

    • A pap smear is also an STD test.
          • A pap smear tests for cervical cancer and changes in the cells within the cervix, it does not test for STI’s or STD’s specifically. Talk to your doctor if you wish to have an STI/STD screening. 
    • It’s “dirty” or “bad” to get an STI/STD test.
          • There is absolutely nothing wrong or bad about getting tested! In fact, it's totally normal. Even if your test comes back positive for something, it does not mean you are “gross” or “dirty” or “unworthy” AT ALL. There are still a lot of stigma and myths that revolve around STIs/STDs. It is much better to know if you are positive for something than to unknowingly spread it or to leave it untreated and begin to impact your health. Discuss a treatment or management plan with your doctor. Leaving it untreated can sometimes lead to issues such as infertility or cancer. If having a positive STI diagnosis is causing distress in your life, please consult a therapist, specifically a sex therapist if you can. They are trained in helping you learn to cope and life a healthy, normal life even with a positive diagnosis. You are not alone and it does not mean you are unworthy of love or a normal sex life! 
    • Women orgasm through vaginal penetration alone.
          • 70% of women need clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm. Roughly about 30% of women are able to reach an orgasm through vaginal penetration alone. 
    • You can’t get pregnant during your period.
          • While it is more unlikely during this part of your cycle to become pregnant, that does not mean you are unable to. Sperm can live up to 72 hours in your reproductive tract.
    • The “morning after” pill causes an abortion.
          • This is not the same as the pill that causes an abortion. Actually, if you were to take Plan B while you are already pregnant, it won't make a difference. Plan B pills work similar to birth control pills, but have a higher hormone content. There is no limit on how often you consume the morning after pill, just as long as you follow the directions, you’re good to go!
    • Vaginas are tight or loose depending on the amount of sex a woman has had.
        • The vagina is a muscle and works similar to an elastic band, meaning it has the ability to expand and contract. When you become aroused, your vagina begins to soften and expand in order to make penetration easier. If not, the walls of the vagina will stay contracted and make penetration more difficult. It does not matter who (or what - think vibrators and dildos) you have sex with, or how often. Penetration will not cause your vagina to stretch permanently, but childbirth or age, however, can cause changes.

       

      Our Fave Motivational Books + Podcasts

      Whether you are initiating your never ending journey into personal growth or simply lacking motivation, the resources are endless. Overwhelming in fact. For those of you who are just starting out, I want to help guide you down the path that leads to results. This journey is an exciting one...

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      Whether you are initiating your never ending journey into personal growth or simply lacking motivation, the resources are endless. Overwhelming in fact. For those of you who are just starting out, I want to help guide you down the path that leads to results. This journey is an exciting one and needs to be approached tactfully to be most beneficial. My first visit down the Self-Help aisle of Barnes and Noble ended with my arms full of what quickly turned into Shelf-Help books that collected dust. I had too many options at my fingertips and it felt like a larger task at hand than I had prepared myself for. Before you embark on this mission, ask yourself this important question, “Why?” And before you head down that aisle, I strongly suggest you swing by the stationary section and pick yourself up a journal. Tracking your journey, the good, the bad and the ugly is vital. 

      Let’s get to the good-good.

       

      Top 2 foundational books:

      • The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
      • The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

      Top 2 dive deeper books:

      • What To Say When You Talk To Yourself by Dr. Shad Helmstetter
      • The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday

      Top 2 books for the career focused:

      • Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
      • Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop

      Top 2 relationship books:

      • Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
      • The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

      Top 2 self-help books for the curious who cringe at self-help:

      • You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
      • Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight

       

      And for the non-readers - me. No fear, these are all available on Audible. I am not a reader by nature. I have to re-read sentences, paragraphs, pages and even chapters a couple of times to actually retain the information provided. This brings me to Podcasts. There are so many outstanding, value packed Podcasts out there that have become rituals in my world. 7/7 days a week, I turn on a Podcast while I get ready for the day to help set the tone. Even on my worst, least functioning days, they help.

      Top 10 Motivational Podcasts in no particular order:

      • The Tim Ferriss Podcast
      • The Skinny Confidential Him and Her Podcast
      • Happier with Gretchen Rubin
      • The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes
      • Work Party with Jaclyn Johnson
      • Earn Your Happy with Lori Harder
      • LadyGang
      • How I Built This with Guy Raz
      • Help Me Be Me
      • Perfectionism Project with Sam Laura Brown

       

      And finally, be patient, and kind to yourself on this journey. We are complex beings who need to be loved. Love yourself good and hard.

       

      Career Profile: Jaclyn Johnson

      Create + Cultivate is exactly as it sounds. A female-focused organization for women looking to create and cultivate the career of their dreams. With it’s online platform of social groups and digital mentors, and it’s offline conferences, summits, and pop-ups, Create + Cultivate is taking the ‘women in biz’ industry...

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      Create + Cultivate is exactly as it sounds. A female-focused organization for women looking to create and cultivate the career of their dreams. With it’s online platform of social groups and digital mentors, and it’s offline conferences, summits, and pop-ups, Create + Cultivate is taking the ‘women in biz’ industry by storm.

      We have loved getting to know Jaclyn Johnson - CEO of Create + Cultivate, Author of WorkParty, AND host of WorkParty Podcast - but we are still wondering… “How does she do it all?”. We’re sitting down with this self-made woman to hopefully get some answers…

       

       

      If you could go back to the beginning, would you do anything differently? And if so, what?

      Get it in writing! When I was starting off, I was so excited and I’d say “sounds great!” to everything that came my way. Trust me, you have to be able to go back and reference a contract and its terms. Really think about the long-run and what’s going to happen. It’s important to be smart and have those terms upfront. Make sure you’re protecting yourself.

       

      How do you deal with the ebb and flow throughout the evolution of the brand?

      There are always growing pains when scaling a business, but we have an amazing C&C community. Knowing that we’re providing them with the resources they need has been the biggest reward.

       

      You are doing SO much and killing the entrepreneurial game. How do you stay inspired to keep going?

      I think everyone has different definitions of what self-care is. I think, for me, self-care is very personal, in the sense that only you know what you need to be your best self. Whether that’s exercise, whether that’s eating healthy, whether that’s napping for 15 minutes, or binge-watching Netflix on a Saturday, all day… it’s what you need to be your best self; mentally, physically, and emotionally.

       

      Have you always been aware of the need for self-care in your business plan? Was there ever a point you fell into workaholic tendencies and lost that? If so, how did you bring it back?

      This is definitely something that I’ve worked on and have become more aware of over time. I definitely fall into workaholic tendencies and find myself having less and less time as my business grows, so for me, my form of self-care, oftentimes is sleeping eight hours. That’s a luxury for me. I always suggest putting your phone away at the end of the day, not having it in your bag. Or even something as simple as treating yourself to ice cream. Self-care, in my opinion, is a question of, “What makes you feel good?”

       

      You are so lucky to surround yourself around other power-house women that are absolutely killing it! Do you ever find yourself comparing or suffering from ‘imposter syndrome’?

      I talk about imposter syndrome in WorkParty and we’ve discussed it on our podcast. No one prepares you for imposter syndrome in business school, but the fear of personal failure is very real. I experienced it earlier in my career. The best way to deal with it is to remind yourself why you’re here and that you deserve to be here.

       

      What are some of the key takeaways from influential women you’ve talked to on the WorkParty podcast?

      Every modern working woman has her own strength in business, whether it be negotiating, or honing a pitch, or creating a killer tagline.

       

      What does a typical day in the life of Jaclyn Johnson look like today and how has it evolved from where you started?

      I get up early and like to be in the office before everyone else so I have some time to myself. Every day is different depending on what we’re currently working on, but I always make a to-do list. I'm a list maker and typically write my list once a day, crossing off items, and moving items over to the next day. After work, I enjoy spending time with my husband and disconnecting when I can. Entrepreneurship isn’t a 9-to-5 job, so I am usually answering emails at night, but I really love what I do so it’s worth it.

       

      We're 4!

      Holy shit. BootayBag is FOUR. Can you believe it? We can hardly. And DUH, we wouldn’t have made it to FOUR without you loyal AF babes! I started BootayBag on my apartment floor 4 years ago because SOMETHING had to be done. I just could no longer bring myself to...

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      Holy shit. BootayBag is FOUR. Can you believe it? We can hardly. And DUH, we wouldn’t have made it to FOUR without you loyal AF babes!

      I started BootayBag on my apartment floor 4 years ago because SOMETHING had to be done. I just could no longer bring myself to wait in line at another VS Semi Annual Sale. The unorganized sale bins, the over-bearing sales clerks, the ‘Angels’ everywhere you look, and the much over-used scent of Love Spell body spray. LIKE WHY was this the best option for underwear shopping? It wasn’t long until I realized many of you shared my same feelings. The amount of stress that went into shopping for something so intimate, yet an essential piece to a woman’s every day.

      So I figured, ‘Someone’s gotta do something about this’, little did I know it would be me. You know when you have that thought, ‘OMG, someone HAS to invent ‘x’ to solve for ‘y’’. It was exactly that thought. It was a real issue that needed solving, and I was the inventory. Plot twist: I had no idea what the hell I was doing. Even bigger plot twist: I still don’t. HOWEVER, I’ve learned a shit ton. So here it is:

        

      1. Underwear should be affordable. Why did I have to wait for the VS Semi Annual Sale to get affordable cute + sexy undies? Real talk: I was not about to be checking out at Target with a pre-packaged 4 pack of semi-cotton Hanes…

      2. Comfort can be cute. Secrets revealed: When I got into buying wholesale underwear (before BB had our own label), my options were camel-toe-lace, or cotton. I couldn’t understand why those two styles couldn’t be one (minus the unwanted camel toe). When I started designing our label, I had one focus in mind: mixing comfort + cute.
        
      3. You need more than basic black thongs in your underwear drawer. Listen, us basic babes need basic undies. BUTT* we also need those ‘feel good’ pairs.
        
      4. ALL WOMEN are Angels. You can be any shape, size, color, you name it - you’re an ‘Angel’. Marketing campaigns used to only feature 2 women: 00 and plus size. Wait, what? What about the in between? Did you know our social feeds are primarily made up of user generated content? Yep, it’s real. It’s you. It’s me. It’s authentic.
        
      5. Underwear is the most requested, LEAST donated item in women’s shelters. We were blown away by the demand for women’s underwear in shelters. Women need undies, and we’re doing our part to help with that in more ways than one (and encourage you to do the same!).
        
      6. STOP listening to the noise. Ok, this last one has nothing to do with undies, but just a reminder that there is a lot of noise and BS in this world, especially on social media. Everyday I remind myself to stay true to the brand, our mission, our community, and bust out the best product + service for our babes, sans noise.  

        I am SO beyond proud of this brand, our small but mighty all-female team, and of our expansive women-run community that continues to amaze me with the support and love you ladies give. Yes, we read ALL the comments on social. Yes, we hear you. Even better - we’re listening. We are coming together and creating some really cool shit… so with that — Cheers to 4, to a new decade, and to all you lovely ladies rocking your BB undies. Thank you for allowing us at BB HQ to do what we love every damn day.

        No Pants Blog

          PUMP THE BREAKS. You’re probably wondering… “Wait whaaaat? BootayBag has a blog? Since when?” Well, Since 2020 ;) Welcome to the No Pants Blog, babe! That’s right, you heard it here first… pants are optional. Here’s the 411: We’re real women with real-life shit going on every damn day. We...

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        PUMP THE BREAKS.

        You’re probably wondering… “Wait whaaaat? BootayBag has a blog? Since when?”
        Well, Since 2020 ;)

        Welcome to the No Pants Blog, babe! That’s right, you heard it here first… pants are optional.

        Here’s the 411: We’re real women with real-life shit going on every damn day. We are one-in-the-same, and we’re here to let you know you are not alone. We’re opening up the conversation to share that it’s all relatable. You’ve been there, we’ve been there. This blog is for you - a mix of light-hearted content, and a deep-dive into the real shit no one talks about.


        So with that,
        we ask that you please ask the hard questions and submit topics of interest. Let’s try our best to get through this thing called life together. Please keep in mind we are by no means experts here, (pretty damn far from it) but we want to share and celebrate the good, and laugh at the ugly, together. Why go through life in the dark? We’re here to shine the light.


        Here’s how it works: 
        We want to hear from you! All of our content is going to be based off of submissions from our community. To start, we are going to be opening this up on our Instagram Stories, so keep your eyes peeled for your opportunity to chime in on the conversation! We mean it when we say, ask us anything. There is no limit on the discussion we can have together as women! We can’t wait to get to know ourselves, our community, and you, the best that we can through collaboration and conversation.  

        PS - Are you a writer? Educator? Entrepreneur? Or just a boss babe?? We are looking to bring on some collaborators and guest authors so keep your eyes peeled for a submission form coming soon! 

        Finding Your Why

        I genuinely used to cringe when someone would ask me, "What is your purpose?" or "What are you passionate about?" Like, how TF do I figure that one out? Nothing like a loaded question from a total stranger sitting next to me on a long flight. I am passionate about...

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        Finding Your Why

        I genuinely used to cringe when someone would ask me, "What is your purpose?" or "What are you passionate about?" Like, how TF do I figure that one out? Nothing like a loaded question from a total stranger sitting next to me on a long flight. I am passionate about pizza. Does that mean I am supposed to tr(eat) pizza as my purpose? Now I am officially freaking out.

        I was quite literally searching for my purpose in all of the wrong places and felt incredibly lost until the day that question was reframed for me and now I ask everyone, "What is your why?"
         
        Look, I know this can sound like an overwhelming task, but I am here to help you.
        Pull out your sleek notebook, a cute pen and let's. get. to. work.

        Ask yourself these five questions:
         
        1. What am I doing when I feel my absolute favorite self?
        2. How am I adding value to those around me?
        3. What are my greatest strengths?
        4. What is my mission statement?
        5. How will I measure my life?

         
        Now, bathe in all your "why" glory. Sure, maybe right now all you see are words or doodles, but your answer is a unique combination of all the things on that beautiful piece of paper. Do not overthink it, do not try to piece it all together right this second IF what you are looking at is not completely igniting you. Our why is not surface level, it isn't a specific amount of money or a job or a partner or a status. In my experience, your why is number 90% number 5. How will you measure your life? You decide what you stand for and you live in alignment with it. Pay attention to how you feel, yes - feel, when you are going through the motions of your day to day. What moments are you looking forward to and why? Dive in with no judgement, no restrictions. Tuck any expectations about what you thought you'd be or who you'd be in a box that is contained by a chastity belt of sorts. Give yourself permission to explore what makes you feel the most YOU. Your why is slapping you right in the face. In a loving, sassy, pay attention to me kind of way.
         
        If you are still sitting with a blank face backed by a confused brain, end your list by writing down the answer to this question. What is your greatest weakness? Sit with that one for a moment. Once you wrap your beautiful head around it, think of how you can turn that weakness into your greatest strength. We wildly bizarre, curious, tough human beings often shove baby in the corner if you know what I mean. Let your freak flag fly and even if it is just for tonight, entertain the idea that you can be successful, fulfilled, fruitful and genuinely happy embracing the parts of you that feel foreign, tucked away and shamed.
         
        Stop Googling "What career path best suits my personality?" and start taking action.

        Morning Routine

        It is Sunday at 8pm and I am preparing for a kick ass week. I just finished up a face mask and turn on my humidifier. I crawl into bed with my planner and map out my week. FEELIN’ GOOD.

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        It is Sunday at 8pm and I am preparing for a kick ass week.

        I just finished up a face mask and turn on my humidifier. I crawl into bed with my planner and map out my week. FEELIN’ GOOD. I grab my phone, set the alarm for 6am and go HAM on the label because, when I see that in the morning, I will 1000% jolt out of bed with a pep in my step. Right?  

        "Beep! Beep! Beep!” I look at my phone and hit snooze to calm the abrupt sound and I remember what I did the night before. The label reads, “Good morning, gorgeous! Today is a shiny, new day! Don't you dare think about hitting snooze. You are capable and beautiful and smart, plus you promised you wouldn't hit snooze, so, you can't. The day is waiting for you! Let's seize it!”

        Truth is, I am not a morning person by nature. There. I said it. But, I do believe that through trial and error, there is a successful way for each of us to start our day. What works for a pal or badass influencer you admire, may not work for you and that is completely ok. I have done my research on morning routines and have tried nearly everything I have read and listened to. Through that, I found what works for me and I feel it is important to share.

        Morning routine tips:
        1. Really. Do not hit snooze. In the moment, it can feel incredible to imagine even 7 minutes more of beauty rest. However, the reality is, you will be more tired and more inclined to hit snooze for a second time. Monitor your habits. If you set your alarm for 5:45am, but hit snooze everyday until 6am, do yourself a favor and set your alarm for 6. You will genuinely gift yourself 15 extra minutes of your best sleep.

        2. Make your bed. This small action may feel impossible as you are still waking up, but it is indeed small movement which allows the blood to start flowing. Making your bed is an immediate accomplishment and will leave you feeling less enticed to lay back down if you are dragging.

        3. Natural Light and water. Let your entire body wake up at it’s own pace, yes, this includes your eyes. Make your way to the kitchen and begin opening curtains along the way. Let the natural light flow in and pour yourself a tall glass of water. We dehydrate over night and treating your parched, hard working vessel with H20 is the greatest gift you can give yourself. I promise myself I will finish my glass of water before I consume any coffee or tea.

        4. Fresh air. While I finish my water, I step outside into my backyard for a quick, light stretch and a few deep breaths of morning air. You can accomplish this tiny task in all seasons by simply opening a window momentarily. Breathing in fresh air replenishes the body and cleans out the lungs.

        5. Gratitudes. I could write and write and write on how gratitudes have set the tone for my day. Like attracts like, it is science. It is incredibly easy to get overwhelmed by the days to-do list, so do yourself this honor and acknowledge your gratitudes first. There are no rules about what you can be grateful be for, just mean it.

        That is it. That is my morning routine. It takes me 10 minutes.

        Listen up, I encourage you to try different things and see what works for you. If you don’t like the way it feels, don’t do it. I learned that less is more for me. I absolutely have a skin care routine, I drink my caffeine, I walk my dog, but adding every single thing I do in the morning to a list was overwhelming for me. I enjoy doing those extra things, but if I don’t get around to them in the morning, I don’t feel guilty for it. Figure out what works for you and commit.

        Other tips:

        Alarm clock vs. phone. Having an alarm clock wake you up gives you the opportunity to enjoy your morning routine (you time!) before you see your screen filled with notifications and distractions. Not to mention it is nostalgic. If you are using your phone, try putting it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode before you go to sleep and do not switch your device back on until after you have accomplished your morning routine. You deserve that.
         
        Sleep tracker. What happens to your mood and energy levels if you get more or less than the “recommended” 8 hours of sleep? Some people function better on 6 hours of sleep while others function better on 9 hours of sleep. We are all different. Knowing this about yourself could change your life.

         

        Mindful Drinking

        We've all been there. No judgement zone.   A casual happy hour marg turns into a 2 AM Grub Hub McDonalds delivery. SO. MUCH. FUN. Until you wake up. Tired AF, there is this fuzzy film feeling inside your mouth even though you are 50% confident you brushed your teeth....

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        We've all been there. No judgement zone.
         
        A casual happy hour marg turns into a 2 AM Grub Hub McDonalds delivery. SO. MUCH. FUN. Until you wake up. Tired AF, there is this fuzzy film feeling inside your mouth even though you are 50% confident you brushed your teeth. You feel, just gross. After you grab your phone and text your marg mate 10 skull emojis, you grab your ice roller because you are an adult and you have to show up for the day. While showering and contemplating if you should just throw up, you drop the famous line, "I'm never drinking again."
         
        Press rewind. When practicing mindful drinking, you can indeed meet for that marg, remember the evening in its entirety and wake up feeling refreshed. Now doesn't that sounds like, so much better? I know, easier said than done. #guilty. God bless those souls that live by the one and done motto. Kudos.
         
        Unless you are living under a rock, you've probably heard sobriety is trending. Sobercurious is a thang. Is alcohol becoming the new cigarette? Stay with me. When I was utilizing my fake ID (approximately age 17) human beings were allowed to smoke cigarettes in restaurants and bars. You may recall being asked if you'd like to sit in the non smoking section. The marketing of health risks associated with smoking were on the rise, but cigarette companies were paying unfathomable amounts of money to continue running television, print and face to face marketing. Obviously we all know they didn't win that fight.

        When is the last time you have seen any marketing promoting cigarettes? Long, long, long, long time ago. Alcohol companies do the same exact thing. Google any commercial promoting alcohol. Looks like the best damn time of your life. You look so hot, the drink is so refreshing and instagram worthy, obviously the hottest guy around wants, you guessed it, you. Glorious.

        Trust me, I love a spicy marg and can easily enjoy a bottle of wine to myself, again, no judgement. Point is. Predictions are being made that soon we will see marketing exploring the health risks of alcohol. Being the go-to party friend might not be "cool" for much longer.

        Listen, this read isn't intended for someone who has a real dependency on alcohol. The only way to drink alcohol with a dependency is to NOT. I am just going to jump up on my soapbox real quick to say (ahem) WE NEED TO BE TALKING ABOUT THIS. If you are feeling like you may have a dependency on alcohol, do not be ashamed. You are not alone. It is okay to ask for help. Your people will love and support you on your road to recovery.

        Questions to ask yourself:
          • Am I honest when asked how many drinks I have per week? Yes, this includes when your doctor asks.
          • Do I hide my drinking from the people closest to me?
          • Do I wake up groggy or hungover multiple times a week? ...Every week?

        Please note. I am not an expert, not trying to be. Only sharing what I have researched, read and learned from being my brothers number one fan during his journey through rehab.
        Mindful drinking is all about (drumroll) being mindful. This is about reprogramming your patterns to live a more bountiful life.

        How many times have you woke up worried about what you may have said the night before? How many times have you said yes to that third martini because everyone else did? How many times have you opened a bottle of wine at home with the intention of having a glass and accidentally downed the entire thing? Me too. Me too.

        Let's get to it.

        Mindful drinking step one. You need to have a plan. When asked what you'd like to drink, it is easy to word vomit your "go to" or the classic line "I'll have whatever she's having". Your plan consists of a.) you're non alcoholic drink of choice. I personally love a good ginger beer. b.) your reason. People are nosey, curious, interested, whatever word you want to use for all up in your business and they could ask, why aren't you drinking? Honesty is the best policy, but if you have an inkling that the person asking you is going to give you a hard time or poke fun, have a plan of how you will respond. This is your body and your decision. Anyone who teases you about making healthy life decisions is projecting and you should probably reevaluate if there is a real friendship there.

        Mindful drinking step two. Sober experiences. Go to a dinner, a concert or a birthday and do not drink. If you have step one thought out, you are setting step two up for success. Having something in your hand to casually sip during the countless opportunities for awkward, silent yet extremely loud moments throughout an evening out just feels safe. Once you encounter this experience a couple of times, you will feel much less dependent on that glass and much more in control of the situation. Promise.

        Mindful drinking step three. Although Dry January and Sober September are excellent times to kick off your mindful drinking journey, try to relate a diet to our current conversation. When you are on a diet, do you notice that for the first (eh) 30 days you think about food more than you ever have before? We call this one (drumroll please) a lifestyle adjustment. Call it what it is, the law of attraction. When you are focusing on the idea of never being able to drink again, you very well may taste that sweet sip of Sauv Blanc as it touches the lips of someone three tables away. We are not complicated. We are just extremely capable of desiring what we cannot have.

        Let me elaborate. When I am on my death bed begging for my final meal, I will be demanding a bottle, maybe two (just in case) of red wine before I ask for my medium rare steak. I will enjoy champagne on fine occasions, I will consciously sip a tasty marg, I will drink a cider at Octoberfest. I will also wake up with a hangover many times over the course of the rest of my life. If I choose to. Mindful drinking is about a choice. This is not about quitting for life, unless that is the healthiest move for you, power on. This is about taking back the control back, setting new rules and redefining what part alcohol plays in your life.

        Everything you are most fearful of missing out on, you will gain in other facets of your mindful life. Give it a go. What do you have to lose other than a hangover?

        Home Decor On A Budget

        Whether you want to turn your Dorm Room into the most Instagramable spot on Campus (AYE!) or you just spent all of your life savings on the cutest house that you now cannot afford to decorate. I’ve got you. Here are my top 5 tips to flip a room right...

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        Whether you want to turn your Dorm Room into the most Instagramable spot on Campus (AYE!) or you just spent all of your life savings on the cutest house that you now cannot afford to decorate. I’ve got you. Here are my top 5 tips to flip a room right side up, honey.

        1.Fixtures. Now, I gotta be honest, I don’t know the Dorm rules on this. I know the saying “ask for forgiveness” is a real thing, but in this case, I do suggest asking first. Losing your deposit or all hope of your parents ever co-signing for you ever again is not worth a light fixture. In most cases, if you keep the original fixture, offer to replace it on your own and reinstall the old fixture upon moving out, you should have no issues. If the rules say NO, go thrifting for a floor lamp and utilize the fixture there instead! Fixtures can completely transform a room without breaking the bank. Visit Amazon or Wayfair for some of the grandest deals around.

        2. Wall Art. Did you know it doesn’t have to cost a fortune? Etsy printables are where it’s at. Search digital printing and have yourself a hay day. Best part, most shops give you options. You can either have the design printed and sent to your door or order the art digitally and send it in yourself for printing. I have price comp’d this. if you have the time and have a tighter budget, I suggest getting the high resolution image printed yourself to save you a few bucks. Use those saved bucks and put them toward a bold frame.

        3. Make it cozy. Little touches such as throw pillows, blankets and candles are inexpensive purchases that can make your space feel like home. Throw pillows can run you $50 a pop. My suggestion is to grab some old pillows and order covers that fit your style from Amazon. Best place to find quality blankets and candles without breaking the bank is TJ MAXX or Marshalls. Hot tip. Whenever I would call my mom in College or when I first moved out of state and told her I was homesick, she would send me candles that reminded me of home. Give it a try.

        4. Organization and Storage. This is most important for small spaces. There are easy, inexpensive ways to keep your space clutter free. Do you have unused space under your bed? Empty drawers? Overhead closet space? Every inch can be maximized. Clothing racks are a trendy way to showcase your favorite items. End cap the rack with hats, use the bottom to store shoes and even hang jewelry.

        5. The Stand Out. Before starting in on any new space, I want you to ask yourself this question. How do I want people to feel when they are in my home? Be mindful about every little thing you buy. What is the purpose? Does it fit the intention you’ve created for your space?

        Five Healthy Recipes That Won't Break The Bank

        We know how it goes. Conscious eating can be intimidating, especially if you are working with a budget. Comparing the cost of a Tostinos Frozen Pizza to 1 pound of Organic Chicken just pisses me off. I remember the first time I bit the bullet and went for the Chicken....

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        We know how it goes. Conscious eating can be intimidating, especially if you are working with a budget. Comparing the cost of a Tostinos Frozen Pizza to 1 pound of Organic Chicken just pisses me off. I remember the first time I bit the bullet and went for the Chicken. I had no idea how to cook it and instead of calling Mom, I just went for it. No lie, it looked decent. I spent my meal budget on the Chicken, so I had Cheetos for a side. I bit into the chicken and it was so overcooked that it disintegrated in my mouth. End of the story is that I had Cheetos for dinner and it took me until Pinterest became a thing to try cooking Chicken again.

        Your body is a vessel. Let’s look at some easy, healthy, affordable recipes that’ll leave you looking forward to leftovers.

        Before we dive into recipes, let’s talk about some kitchen staples that you may want to consider purchasing next time you are grocery shopping.

        1. Sunflower Oil. This is a great alternative to the expensive Olive Oil.
        2. Jar of minced Garlic.
        3. Salt and Pepper.

        Again, Chicken is a tough place to start. A couple of these recipes call for chicken, but I selected these specific recipes because a good ol’ rotisserie chicken will do the trick.

        1. Italian Sausage Scrambler.

        Ingredients:

        1 lb italian sausage
        1 large yellow onion
        1 bag of mini peppers
        1 spoonful of minced garlic (chefs discretion)
        6 oz can of tomato paste
        salt and pepper to taste

        Directions:

        Heat sunflower oil over medium heat in large skillet. Dice peppers and onion and add to skillet. Once sauted, add Italian sausage and garlic. Once sausage is browned, drain access oil. On low heat, add tomato paste and stir until evenly mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste, let simmer for 5 minutes and serve!

        2. Healthy Ramen.

        Ingredients:

        1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
        2 noodled zucchinis
        6 cups chicken broth
        2 eggs
        1 cup green onion
        1 spoonful garlic
        1 jalapeno thinly sliced
        1 cup cilantro
        1 cup carrots
        salt, pepper, sugar and sriracha can be added for additional flavor

        Directions:

        Chop all veggies as desired. In a medium saucepan, add chicken broth, zucchini noodles, chopped vegetables and bring to a bowl. Let bowl on high heat for 10 minutes. Add chicken and let simmer. In a small skillet, scramble 2 eggs. When serving, add eggs on top of the dish.

        3. No Guilt Pasta.

        Ingredients:

        1 box gluten free or veggie noodles
        1 tbsp sunflower oil
        1 cup baby spinach
        8 oz can diced tomato
        1 cup parmesan or mozzarella cheese
        for additional taste: salt and pepper,
        red chili pepper flakes and garlic

        Directions:

        Bowl noodles in the appropriate size saucepan. Once cooked, drain and pour back into saucepan. Keep on low heat. Add garlic, spinach, tomatoes, salt and pepper, red chili pepper flakes and stir until blended. Once spinach is cooked, add cheese and watch it melt deliciously.

        4. Taco Casserole.

        Ingredients:

        1 lb ground beef
        6 corn tortillas
        1 cup Mexican blend cheese
        1 cup chopped green onion
        1 cup chopped green pepper
        1 cup cilantro
        8 oz can corn
        8 oz can of black beans
        1 pre-made packet of low sodium taco seasoning

        Directions:

        Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and prep baking dish with a light drizzle of sunflower oil. Chop green onion and green peppers to desired size and In a medium skillet, begin to sauté for 10 minutes. Add ground beef to skillet with a tablespoon of water to finely break up meat. Once cooked, drain and return to skillet. On low heat, drain canned corn and black beans. Add corn, black beans and desired taco seasoning to skillet and mix thoroughly. We are ready to build to casserole! Lay 3 corn tortillas at the base of your baking dish. Scoop a portion of your taco concoction and layer evenly on base layer of tortillas. Top your first layer off with a handful of cheese. Repeat with your last 3 corn tortillas and pour the remaining skillet ingredients on top - don’t forget the cheese! Gently toss your casserole in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Once browned, remove from the oven and let your casserole cool. Top with cilantro and enjoy!

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