A Lovely Body: Staying Committed with FitnessSocial

FitnessSocial_logo_transparent

Once I returned from my trip to Charleston, I looked forward to getting back into my workout schedule at FitnessSocial and on track with my diet. I’m sure most of us feel that way after eating and drinking more than usual!

Last week (the first week back) and even the beginning of this week, I felt pretty lethargic, not as strong and not as focused. Like I’ve mentioned a lot in this series, I made modifications so that I didn’t overwork myself. I really appreciate that the instructors totally support that, which sends me the message to listen to my body – the key to a lovely body and a lovely lifeFS TRX class{TRX class at FitnessSocial}

Near the end of this week, I had more energy so I increased the kettlebell weight for some swings. Yay! Energy level isn’t the only factor though. It’s also staying focused and committed. Of course, when I began this fitness and weight loss journey, I was really excited and into it. But, over time it’s normal to lose momentum. For me, this week has been about getting back into the zone. Listening to the instructors break down the exercises, the parts of the body they work and calling out encouragement was and is incredibly helpful.

I was interested to see what my measurements this week would be. I hoped I hadn’t gone up in inches since I last measured (I didn’t!), but I was happy just to know so I can make adjustments. Here goes:

Total inches lost since vacation (2 weeks ago): -1 3/4″

  • Arm: -1/4″
  • High hips: -1/4″
  • Low hips: -1/4″
  • Bottom: -1/4″
  • Upper thigh: -1/4″
  • Lower thigh: -1/4″
  • Calf: -1/4″

Total results since beginning March 9th (7 weeks): -17 1/4″

To further help me clean up my diet, I’m doing a cleanse next week, Monday-Friday. Check back next week as I write all about it.

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A Day in the Life of Rachel Meis Communications

logoAs curious beings, it’s always fun and interesting to see what happens behind-the-scenes. Usually, even more so in so-called “glamorous” industries like fashion, beauty and entertainment. Why else do you think magazines like Us Weekly and People fly off the shelves?

And what better way to get the inside scoop than by going behind-the-scenes with a mover and shaker in the beauty & accessories world: Rachel Meis Communications, also known as RMC. RMC is a Public Relations Firm specializing in celebrity wardrobing and editorial placement. I can say from personal and professional experience that they’re a truly amazing and (nice!) team led by CEO + Owner, Rachel Meis, Beauty Executive, Alyssa, and Editorial + Digital Executive, Luna.

Last year, Rachel hired me as a freelancer for RMC, primarily focusing on Celebrity Outreach for the 2014 Awards Season. In case you’re not familiar with Awards Season, in the entertainment world it’s the mad dash of a marathon beginning in January with the People’s Choice Awards and ending in March with ultimate event, The Oscars. The Golden Globes, Grammys, SAG Awards and more are in between.

From the outside it sounds and looks like it’s all about movie stars, designer gowns, jewels, the red carpet, parties and champagne. In reality, it’s a lot of hard work, long hours, persistence and hustle. Thick skin is a plus. Even though it’s not as flawless and fabulous as it appears, if you love fashion, beauty & entertainment, then it’s worth it. From a fruits of labor standpoint, it’s rewarding because you can see the results of your effort – whether the celebrity wears your clients jewelry on the red carpet or if it shows up on the pages of a magazine or blog.

RMC has a great roster of clients that keep them on the go. They represent jewelry brands, Jane BaschJason of Beverly HillsJulieriLivHaley, as well as professional beauty line, Hot Makeup.j lo in JBH{Jennifer Lopez wearing Jason of Beverly Hills diamond rings at the American Music Awards}

You’ve seen their clients pieces without even knowing it. They’ve been worn by basically every A-lister – Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Garner, Jennifer Lopez, John Legend, Katy Perry, Madonna, Ryan Seacrest and more.

To give us a glimpse into this world, we’re following the team at RMC for a day. Here’s a day in the life of a PR powerhouse (in their words): An overview of our daily magazine research - looking for clients placements_finalWe start the morning with daily magazine researchlooking for our client placement/pieces in the most recent monthly and weekly magazines. We also check online publications, like Refinery29, Who What Wear and The Zoe ReportPulling inspiration for editorial send outs_finalOnce a week, Luna makes editorial collages to send to all the magazine/blog editors with our “new arrivals” or lookbooks. She gets inspiration from current collages in magazines to see how we can better improve our own and keep up with the latest trends. Masthead hunting for new contacts_finalIt’s key to know who the editors are at each magazine. An editor might leave one publication for another or a new one might join the magazine, so we consistently check the mastheads. (Note: a masthead is a list of the roles of everyone at the publication.) It also helps us discover new stylists to work with. LOOKY LOOKY! Found LivHaley credit in Star Magazine_finalDuring our magazine research we found our client, LivHaley, worn on Brittany Snow! And credited!! Luna arranging flowers for RMCOMM event_finalThere’s no job too small. After picking up flowers from the store, Luna arranges them for that night’s RMC-produced networking event.Made labels for social media tags during event_finalOn the flower vases, social media reminders were attached so everyone stays connected during the event and shares their favorite moments! Being social media savvy is part of the job. Final flower arrangement_finalThe simple + chic final flower arrangement. Final Event set up_finalThe final event set up! A few years ago, I (Rachel) heard lots of people in the industry say how hard it is to meet nice people in LA. This inspired me to create this networking event. I started by getting all my nice industry friends together.  We call it the Nice Girls Club LA. It used to be 12 girls, but this time we had over 20 attendees, gift bags and even sponsors (Loft & Bear, Hask Hair, Purse Case, and Cycle House LA), which was so crazy and exciting! It was held at The District by Hannah Anring picking for celebrity appearance_finalStylists began to get in touch to borrow pieces for their celebrity clients for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. We send options and they pick their favorites. RMC will even deliver the chosen pieces to the stylists. Anything to make their life a little easier!Post event lunch to discuss outcome and new connections made_finalWe like to go to lunch the day after events to discuss new connections made, goals for the next event and chit chat about our favorite moments. This time we had our post-event lunch at Thyme Cafe & Market.

And it doesn’t end there. In between all of these images, Rachel, Alyssa and Luna are constantly keeping in touch with editors/stylists over email. This includes:

heartsetting up pick up times.

heartsending options for events and appearances from pieces we have in-house.

heartasking how photo shoots went.

heartsending credit information to publications.

They are busy girls on-the-go! If you want to hear + see more of their daily adventures, follow RMC on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook!

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A Lovely Body: By the Numbers…

FitnessSocial_logo_transparentThis week marks the 1st goal date of my fitness and weight loss journey with FitnessSocial. I can definitely say it’s been a journey. My daily routine has changed with scheduled workouts. This has helped make them a priority so I get a full workout instead of just trying to squeeze one in. Pre-registering for classes really holds you accountable! I think more about what I’m eating and how it makes me feel, not compulsively, but enough so that I’m aware. FS_props by Kelsey Here’s the first half in numbers:

  • 5 days a week of work outs.
  • 6 weeks of working out at FitnessSocial.
  • 27 45-60 minute classes taken.
  • Increase from 5/10 lb to 15/20 lb kettlebells for overhead & 2 hand swings.
  • 5 weeks of working with my personalized nutrition plan.
  • 15 1/2” total inches lost (not including this week).

Week 5: FS_one arm swings{pic from week 1}

Last Friday, I took Melissa’s Cardio Circuit with Kettlebells class. I felt stronger and more comfortable doing a lot of the exercises, like overhead swings and rotating lunges. Even Melissa noticed the difference! I’m able to use heavier kettlebells, increasing from a 10 lb to a 15 or 20 lb bell for overhead swings – a pretty big improvement for me. When I first started I was very careful not to do any swings above my chest since I’ve had shoulder issues before. My firmer abs have helped as engaging your core is involved in basically every exercise we do. fs3_KB, glider for core{a core-engaging exercise}

That night, the signs of a cold started to creep up on me and by the weekend I was full-blown sick with the cold. After taking Saturday off, I went for a walk outside on Sunday because the weather was so beautiful and I feel like light movement is usually always a good idea. I obviously didn’t expect to be sick the days leading up to the goal date. It was a bummer since I would have loved to be able to get in a few more good workouts, BUT it was a lesson. Instead of “powering through”, I knew I needed to put the brakes on and practice self love + self care by getting rest. With my trip coming up the end of the week, I wanted to get better fastlemon_next to water{great way to detox: drink warm water with lemon + honey}

I took Monday off from working out, stayed home for most of the day, got extra sleep (9-10 hours) and drank lots of liquids – warm water with lemon & honey, ginger tea, water, orange juice and nourishing foods like oatmeal and salad with sweet potatoes for dinner. I felt good enough Tuesday to take Melissa’s class, but made sure to take it easy and make modifications as needed. Before leaving town on Wednesday I got in an early 6 AM workout. I’m not an early morning workout person. I’ll avoid them as much as possible, but I knew I’d feel good afterwards.

How I Feel:

Leaving for my trip I felt more toned. I see a difference in my body – more sculpted and lean in a lot of areas. I don’t know if it’s very visible to others, but one of my close friends noticed the difference. How you feel is so important, but it’s nice to receive validation from other’s.

What’s Next:

In the first sentence I say this is my 1st goal date because I want to continue to get in better shape and fine-tune my diet. To do this, I’m going to continue to work out at FitnessSocial, ideally, keeping the same schedule of the past 5 weeks and follow the nutrition plan.

Please continue to follow my journey!

I’d love to know – what have you enjoyed and what would you like to see more of in this A Lovely Body series?

Photos by Kelsey Burton Photography for A Lovely Life.

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Charleston, South Carolina here we come!

Charleston_view of Ravenel bridge{The Arthur Ravenel Bridge}

The end of this week I’m going on a weekend girl’s trip to Charleston, South Carolina! It might seem like a random place to visit from California, but I’m really excited that we chose to go there. About 3 years ago I had saved this weekend guide to Charleston I found in the WSJ. I was drawn to it and knew I wanted to go there at some point!  charleston map

I’ll admit that to get me in the mood, I’ve been binge-watching Bravo’s reality TV show set in Charleston, Southern Charm. I know that’s like watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills to find out how Los Angeles is. 😉 But, it is acquainting me with the beautiful city and the southern charmCharleston, SC City Guide{Rainbow Row by A Beautiful Mess}

Post-trip I’m planning on doing A Lovely City guide, but in the meantime here’s a Charleston City Guide by A Beautiful Mess.  It includes lots of places we’ll be trying, so will keep you posted!

Keep following this week for more on Charleston. Have you been? xoxo

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A Lovely You: Plant Seeds of Intention for Spring

Spring_cherry blossomsI had the pleasure of meeting Lisa McCardle a few months ago in Monterey, California. Anytime I travel and am going to be somewhere for more than a few days, I ask around for recommendations (or google) for go-to health & wellness-focused places – yoga studios, healers, juice bars, restaurants, etc. I heard about Lisa, a colon hydrotherapist & energy balancing practitioner, through the Detox The World website. Lisa McCardle{the lovely Lisa McCardle}

Lisa was a massage therapist for more than a decade at the renowned Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, CA. That speaks for itself. Post Ranch is all about impeccable quality, so you know Lisa is really good. Upon moving to Monterey, she realized her dream of opening her own center with a focus on deep therapeutic healing. This became Flowing Waters Wellness Center. To assist her clients in deep mind & body healing, she expanded her repertoire by becoming certified in Colon Hydrotherapy, Craniosacral Therapy, Reiki, Reflexology, Prenatal Massage, Guided Imagery, Feng Shui and Energy Balancing.

We put importance on preparing our home for spring (a.k.a. spring cleaning), so I asked Lisa how we can prepare ourselves for spring – physically, mentally + emotionally and spiritually. She was kind enough to break it down for us.

This is what Lisa says:

The theme for April is expect the unexpected, affirming that anything and everything is possible. Let’s divide this into 3 categories, beginning with: actionrunningshot_NewheartPhysically

Let’s clean house. Spring is an excellent time for a full body cleanse to rejuvenate, refresh and renew from the inside out. There are many options when diving into cleansing, My favorites are food-based cleanses. I would recommend 21-28 days. Start with eliminating the foods that are not serving you. Some favorites are Caffeine, Alcohol, Sugar, Dairy, Grains and ALL processed foods. If you’re going to keep meat and eggs in your diet, then please make sure they are hormone-free and organic. Increase your veggies and fruits (but keep in mind that fruits can be very high in sugar, so eat them consciously), lean healthy proteins, plenty of good fiber, fermented veggies and probiotics. I’m also a huge fan of bone broths.

You could add an herbal cleanse to the elimination diet to support your cleansing desires or do a juice cleanse. I would recommend adding a 1-3 day juice cleanse into the middle of your elimination diet. There are many ways to enhance the results of the cleanse:

  1. Drink a minimum of 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of water per day.
  2. Dry skin brushing.
  3. Colon hydrotherapy.
  4. Lymphatic massage, Chryotherapy and Infrared saunas.
  5. Daily exercise.
  6. Proper amount of sleep, about 7-8 hrs.

MeMeditatingpose2heartMentally + Emotionally

Ok, it’s time to take the deep dive into the truth of yourself and your life. Carve out some time to sit and get honest.  Use this time to do a life inventory, perhaps sit and meditate upon this, write it down so you can get really clear. Begin with “What is working fabulously in my life?” So often, when we do stop to look around, we focus on what isn’t working instead of celebrating our victories. Find 1-5 things you can stand up and say a big YES to. Celebrate these wins in your life and take full responsibility that YOU are the creator of these wins!

Now, settle back in, clear the slate, and get down and dirty with the truth. “What could be working better in my world?” “What needs to change?” and “What is holding me back?” Make a promise to yourself to be an open truth-telling book on this one. The first steps to change are to fully acknowledge that change is needed! Then ask yourself. “What would it take to blank?” Insert: Change jobs, recreate or leave a current relationship, get right in relationship with your body, lose the weight, cut the addictions, spend more time with family. Fill in whatever your truth may be. In the asking, you’re opening up all availability to receiving the answer. Reach out for support from a friend, a counselor, a mentor, or a life coach. You don’t have to do any of this alone! Get real, get honest about what is working, what is not, make a plan, get support and take action! The seeds of intention that you plantheartSpiritually

I inspire you to dream bigger then you’ve ever allowed yourself to dream before. Never in the history of time has there been a more profound time to align yourself with your vision and to magnetize that which is your greatest desire.The Universal law, The Law of Attraction, states: That which is like unto itself, is drawn. So, be clear in both your vision and your intention. Ask yourself, “Am I willing to live ALL that I am thinking at any given moment?” The power of your thought is so grand and undiscerning that you must be a clear, concise and conscious creator, and your thoughts are your magical wand.

This brings us to the challenge of our limiting belief systems.  We all have them and mostly we acquired them. The unfortunate truth is that often we are groomed into belief systems that our family of origin hold and also were given, the offering usually goes back many generations. These belief systems are often around money, self-esteem, self-worth, self-value and limitations as to what is or what is not perceived as possible. The truth is that part of your birthright is that ALL you desire is available to you; the trick is YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE IT!! Often when manifesting, having it all, creating what you desire is opposed to what you think you’re allowed to have.

In the name of spring, planting new seeds and creating fertile soil for manifestation, I invite you to begin looking at people who have the things you most desire, not just material things, but a way of being in the world that you admire. Perhaps they are confident, social, seem to “have it all”, whatever it is that speaks to you, I invite you to observe them, spend time with them, ask them how they do it.  We tend to shy away from people who have what it is we desire, maybe even judge them.  The truth is moving towards that which you desire allows you to fall into vibrational alignment with it and therefor magnetize it to you. Be gentle with yourselves, these can be deep seated and generationally strong belief systems. But, you have the power, the grace and most importantly, the right to plant new seeds and reap the harvest of new possibilities!

To help you, here is a clearing for limiting belief systems. Say this to out loud to yourself as often as you’d like:

I release all thoughts, all beliefs and all emotions that are no longer serving my higher good. I release all limiting belief systems, all judgements and all fears, that are holding me back from living the life of my dreams. I release familial and generational agreements that I or my family may be holding that is limiting our potential to thrive in the manner of which we desire. I forgive any and all experiences, belief systems or agreements that may have occurred with anyone in my life so we may both be free to move forward, with love, light and joy. I release the past in its entirety and all of the experiences of the past that hold me to a belief that is no longer true.  I set myself, my family, and my lineage free. I open completely to that which IS possible. I plant my seeds of manifestation with clear intention, with optimism and with trust in the perfection of ALL that is. I see myself and my pathway forward in the light of the divine and in absolute perfection. I open to receive fully, completely and unconditionally. In honor and gratitude..so it is..and so it shall be!

I hope this helps you as you go forward into Spring! Thank you Lisa!

To book an appointment with Lisa, call 831.333.0409| flowingwaterswellness.com

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A Lovely Body: Slow + Steady Results

FS_weight for wide leg + rotationIt’s now been 24 days that I’ve been on my fitness, diet and weight loss journey with FitnessSocial. For much of that time, I haven’t had any obligations out of town. Staying local has been helpful in keeping me very consistent with the work outs and maintaining a fairly clean diet. This past weekend we went on a short getaway to Vegas. As you all know, Vegas is no wellness retreat. It’s not a pristine, natural environment with clean air and lots of positive vibes. The truth is you’re in a massive hotel & casino with pumped in air, surrounded by smoke and (more likely than not) intoxicated people. I’d be shocked to be served a green juice instead of a vodka soda! It’s not the best place to be while on a weight loss journey, but it’s totally okay. It’s important to be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle wherever you go AND to go with the flow.

The Diet:

I’ve been on a pretty good roll with following the nutrition plan and losing inches, so I didn’t want the trip to sabotage my weight loss progress. I talked to Dina about it and she helped me put together a game plan. After all, Vegas doesn’t HAVE to be ‘Sin’ City. 😉

heartThese are some of her tips:

Drink: she recommends either vodka tonics or wine. Only 2 glasses a day and always make sure to drink a glass of water in between. Also, if you’re going to drink alcohol, skip fruit for the day.

Eat: Try to stick with mostly protein and veggies. If you’re going to have something off plan, have one serving and savor it.

Overall, I thought I did pretty well. I did cardio in the hotel gym and detoxed in the spa’s steam room. (Note: a lot of people do actually use the gyms there!)  I was also more aware of what I was eating. I did slightly indulge with small bites of food not on the nutrition plan, for example, a bite of a buttery roll from Craftsteak.

Back at home this week, I’ll admit I haven’t had the cleanest diet. A few nights I had a glass of wine and a slice of pizza at a happy hour with friends. This isn’t the best way to make my body more lean, but it’s progress because I’ve slowly incorporated the plan and improved my diet. For now, taking it slow and steady will help me not feel too regimented and prevent me from getting burnt out, especially as I’m seeing changes!

The Workouts: FS_balance pose, step 1 final{standing balance pose, step 1}

Getting back into my work out routine on Monday was a little tough. I felt fatigued and was just tired for most of the day. I’m sure my body was recovering from flights, being out of town, the Easter holiday and I was about to start my menstrual cycle. I took Robyn’s class. She tends to focus a lot on using your own body weight to increase your heart rate. We did cardio, like mountain climbers, plie jump squats, as well as this standing balance pose. FS_balance pose with foldover, step 2{standing balance pose, step 2}

Proof that a day can make a difference, on Tuesday in Dina’s TRX, Kettlebell & Barre class, my energy level was much higher and I felt “in the zone”. I focused on engaging my core and sculpting my arms.  FS_wide leg squat with rotation final {wide leg squat with rotation} FS_high pull, step 1 final{High pull with 5 lb kettlebell, step 1} FS_high pull, step 2 final{High pull, step 2}

The Results:

With a weekend trip to Vegas, involving cocktails + eating out (higher sodium intake), and my menstrual cycle, I didn’t lose inches in certain areas, but the positive is that I didn’t go up either! For the most part, I maintained my progress from last week AND lost an inch. Dina said that with those two factors and 1-2 less days of working out, “losing an inch is BIG! Most would be up in inches or stay the same.”

From my measurements to date, I’m down -15 1/2 inches, down 1 inch from the end of last week.

It’s happening slowly but surely!

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A Lovely Home: Beautiful Waterfall Countertops

kitchen_demo 2 final{Kitchen Demo}

In the last kitchen post, I talked about how in a remodel multitasking is key. While we were working on the kitchen layout and cabinetry, BDG started to show us material selections for ALL the rooms. That includes countertops, tiles, paint colors, flooring, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures and more.

They typically prepare a vision board with samples and images of the various materials. Since I went to their office and we wanted to get a lot accomplished in one meeting, they had a “vision table” ready. Literally, an entire table covered in potential materials for the house! There was a lot to look at, but it was really helpful to see it all together and it gave me a “feel” of the overall theme of the house. Also, when selections are narrowed down and in front of me, I’m pretty quick to edit.

Let’s continue with the kitchen… Kitchen Floor Plan{Kitchen floor plan}

I’m obsessed with waterfall countertops, also called a riser. In almost every kitchen picture I saved as inspiration there was a waterfall counter. It became a “must” for our kitchen remodel. If you’re not familiar with them, Granite Grannies, a custom counter fabricator, says they’re “a fresh addition to a kitchen (or bathroom) because it breaks away from the expected horizontal countertops. The stone continues vertically down the sides of the island, creating a wonderful flow. This ties the countertops to the floor, giving the whole space a unified, connected feeling.” Since we’re keeping the existing aggregate flooring in the space, a light-colored waterfall counter will brighten up the space and add some movement.

We have both an island and a peninsula in the new kitchen design, giving us two options on where to incorporate the waterfall edge. The peninsula is larger, more visible from the other rooms and is, overall, more of a statement piece, so we chose to do the waterfall edge there.

heartSome of our inspiration for the waterfall look: Traditional Home waterfall countertopA Calacatta Gold marble waterfall countertop. The grey veins are bolder with lots of movement. The nude-painted base mimics the cabinetry. Another detail: the built-in ledge above the range for oils, salt + pepper, etc. |via Traditional Home|Waterfall island with marble countertops + light wood cabinetsA marble waterfall island resembling a Parsons table with light wood cabinetry. |via Domaine Home|Waterfall Peninsula with smooth white carrera marble.A waterfall peninsula (similar to ours) with smooth white Carrara marble.|via C Home|

To find the “perfect” slab for the peninsula, Diego suggested I first take a look at Fresno Marble & Granite. He’s had good luck there in the past. The mission: to find a slab of marble with a white background, not cream, but a pure white. Calacatta marble slabThis is a beautiful one with heavy movement. Diego says, “This is a more expensive material (and looks it!) and will reveal beautifully on that waterfall edge. One thing to watch out for is if it’s seamed anywhere that does not follow the natural grain, you’ll have an offset look. This would be the only downside. They should show you how the cuts line up.”Statuario marble slabAnother one I found is this Statuario slab. Diego’s thoughts on it are “there’s nice, clean white in there and any seams will be less noticeable. It’s a classic material so you can’t go wrong there.”

I also wondered about going with marble or quartzite countertops. A lot of people love marble because it’s so elegant and beautiful. When they love it, they really love it! They say it lasts forever, but you do have to be okay with it not looking brand-new forever. Then, I’ve also heard great things about quartzite. With this being a big investment and not knowing the difference between the two, I did some research:

heartMarble

Pros:

  • Comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
  • Has a smooth surface.
  • Won’t chip or dent.
  • Heat-resistant.

Cons:

  • Expensive.
  • Porous, so can stain more easily and requires more maintenance. It can be scratched by acids (citrus, coffee, alcohol, some cleaning products) even if you seal it. But, if you’re vigilant about spills and seal your counters a few times a year, marble is a good option.

Luce de Luna - Brazilian quartziteA slab of Luce de Luna – a Brazilian quartzite.

heartQuartzite

Pros:

  • Stain-resistant. It’s non-porous, meaning it won’t absorb liquid or stains, which makes them ideal for an application where food and liquids are prevalent.
  • Low maintenance. Unlike granite, quartz surfaces don’t need to be sealed. Once they are installed, they only require soap and water for maintenance.
  • Scratch-resistant. Quartz is an inherently durable material, which makes a lot of sense for areas of high use, like the kitchen.

Cons:

  • The look is fairly contemporary. Some prefer the look of a natural stone, like marble.
  • The seams on engineered stone countertops are sometimes noticeable.
  • Not as heat-resistant as marble.

I’d love your suggestions! Which would you choose: marble or quartzite?

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Monday Mantra: Life is All About Balance

warrior3Part of living a lovely life is living a balanced life. What makes for a balanced life? When we spend an equal or close to an equal amount of time engaging in all parts of our lives. It usually consists of family, friends, work, play (free time), self-love + self-care, and education. People who live a “balanced” life tend to be more happy, healthy and fulfilled.

I know about not living a balanced life too well. For years in my 20’s, I struggled with it. And I think we all do at some point. Even then, I knew I needed more balance in my life. I was focusing too much on work and not enough on what really mattered to me and would keep me grounded – friends, family and self-care. Thankfully, I’ve now learned lots of tips on how to have a more balanced life.

A friend recently recommended the book,  Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, about the art of living. I stumbled upon the (below) text in it and found it really eye-opening. It’s a great reminder to do your best work, then take a step back:

Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill.

Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.

Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench.

Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.

I’d love to know – how do you stay balanced in your life?

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A Lovely Body: A Core Connection

FitnessSocial_logo_transparentIt’s been almost a month now (20 days) that I’ve been working out exclusively at FitnessSocial. I take classes 5 days a week, sometimes 6 with yoga, and follow the personalized nutrition plan. It feels really good to have made this commitment and stick with it because I want (and am excited) to see results!

Week 1, I was focused on doing the correct form by watching the instructors. Now that I feel more confident with the exercises, I’ve noticed myself concentrating on specific parts of my body. The #1 area I’ve been thinking about is CORE. It’s a mind-body connection that if I imagine my core toning and tightening it will actually happen. It helps that the instructors say reminders like “focus on your core”, “work deep into your lower abs”, etc. Along the lines of:

“What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.” – Buddha

heartThis is how I’ve been putting the core connection into practice: fs3_glider forward{half circles with kettlebell overhead, step 1}

In Dina’s Kettlebell, TRX & Barre class, we did exercises with Gliders (love/hate relationship with them) – backward lunges and half circles with a kettlebell overhead. The half circles are especially great for the core, so I really focused on stabilizing it while staying balanced!fs3_KB, glider for core {half circles with kettlebell overhead, step 2}

When we moved over to TRX, Dina said it’s a total body workout. That it’s up to you what part of your body to work. For example, to work your arms in squat & rows, pull up with your biceps. To work your lower body, push up through the balls of your feet. Both ways, engage your abs when pulling up. It clicked that this is an opportunity to again direct my attention to my core or anywhere else I want to focus on.FS_squats with TRX{TRX squat & row}

Another mind-body challenge has been increasing from a 10 to 15 lb. weight for some kettlebell exercises, as well as knowing when to make modifications. It’s a reminder to take it at my own pace for where I am now. fs3_crunches w: trx straps{crunches with TRX straps, working deep into the lower abs, step 1} fs3_crunches w: trx straps step 2{step 2}

Ballet Bodies with Robyn is another supportive class for connecting with your body. Just small instructions like pointing your toes and flexing your entire leg while working the inner thighs really makes you think.

A new workout regimen is a mental and physical investment. You want it to pay off. That’s one of the reasons why they take weekly, sometimes daily, measurements at FitnessSocial. Dina says,”We can ask about workouts and eating habits giving us the body results we are looking for, but measurements help give us a guideline. You could say “well, I can see it in the mirror or notice it in my clothes”, but unfortunately most people do not notice the little changes that add up to keep them motivated. Also, additional changes could be made to workouts or eating habits so they see even more results in areas they want to focus on. Measurements should only be positive…it is just information. Measurements are used to motivate us to change something or do more of something.” I, personally, like being measured because it’s confirmation that results are happening, even though I may not necessarily see them right away. I also like knowing the areas where I’ve lost/gained inches.

From my measurements to date, I’ve lost inches in these areas:

  • Arms: -3/4″
  • Chest: -1 1/4″
  • Waist: -1 3’4″
  • High hips: -2″
  • Low hips: -3 1/4″
  • Bottom: -2 1/4″
  • Upper thigh: -1 1/4″
  • Lower thigh: -1″
  • Calf: -1″

Total: -14 1/2″

Since Easter is this weekend with social gatherings that include food, I asked Dina and Melissa for tips on how to make healthy eating choices. Especially with my goal date coming up soon, I don’t want to sabotage my efforts.

heartTheir tips:

  1. Scope out healthy options like protein, vegetables and fruits. Eat these options first.
  2. Pay attention to if you’re actually hungry or if you’re only eating because food is around you. Ask yourself, “Am I being unconscious about eating because I’m feeling happy, socializing, stressed, overwhelmed, etc.?”  Then, allow yourself one thing you really want…that’s anything you want, but only a serving size and SAVOR!

For a fun + healthy way to eat your hard-boiled (Easter) eggs, try this avocado deviled eggs recipe!

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A Lovely Home: The Cabinets

laguna vista_kitchen final (3){the original kitchen}

A home remodel is like a juggling act. Be ready to do some multitasking because once our team was in place, multiple things started happening at once. To help me not get overwhelmed by the whole process, I’ve decided to look at it as a marathon – to take it slow and steady and be present each step of the way. It’s definitely a lesson in compartmentalizing!

Once the floor plan was finalized, BDG began designing the largest and most expensive part of the remodel – the kitchen. They designed a really cool rendering and drawing of the kitchen elevations for a better visual representation of the cabinetry layout. We loved and approved their first pass at it.

The next step was to work with a cabinet maker on cabinet details and finding the best vendor. Our contractor referred us to Earl with Cabinetry Design Center. During my first meeting with Earl, we talked about the 1) door style & finishes; and 2) cabinet interiors.

heartDoor Style + Paint Finish:

I knew I liked the Shaker style for its classic and simple look. They don’t come across as trendy, they’re versatile – good for traditional or modern kitchen designs. Definitely go with soft close doors, if possible. We wanted the kitchen to be light with a natural and organic feel, so we chose a neutral color palette of whites and greys.

These are some of the inspirations: kitchen_white waterfall countertop with cream. cream-colored cabinets. light wood flooring. final{cream-colored Shaker cabinets, marble countertops + white accents}kitchen_light grey final{light grey with bluish tint-colored flat panel cabinets, marble countertops + backsplash} kitchen_Mint kitchen cabinets with white marble backsplash| like the gold handles final{mint-colored Shaker cabinets with brass pulls, white marble countertops + backsplash}

heartCabinet Interiors:

I knew I wanted a place for everything. I work and live best when my surroundings (that I can control) are clutter-free. I made a list of all the small appliances I wanted storage for, which includes a toaster, coffee maker, stand mixer, food processor, Vitamix and a few more. The list helped Earl create the best, most convenient storage for them. kitchen_storage for everything final{roll-out shelves for small appliances}

We also talked about organization for dinnerware and flatware, the pantry, even spices and a tea drawer. Getting down to the details was a little mind-boggling! But, it’s also a great opportunity to think about flow and how you want to use the kitchen. For example, I’d like to do baking prep on the island, so we created a  place in the island cabinet for the stand mixer and another cabinet with dividers for baking sheets.kitchen_Pullout drawers for dishes + silverware final{roll-out shelves for dinnerware + divided drawers for silverware} kitchen_compact built in pantry with pullout drawers final 2{built-in pantry with roll-out shelves for easy access + to see all your food!} kitchen_tea drawer final{divided drawer for tea bags + sweeteners}

Images 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. See these + more kitchen pics by following A Lovely Life on Pinterest.

I hope you enjoy!

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