HOW GOOD ARE YOU TO YOUR FUTURE SELF?

CANCER PREVENTION #realtalk today

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Continuing with the health and wellness series, I want to thank the American Cancer Society for sponsoring this discussion about cancer prevention. This is all my own #realtalk, but trying my best to bring positivity to this heavy topic.

A bump in my breast led to being slightly cut open for a surgical biopsy. I was very young. Too young to know about cancer yet. I don’t recall that much about it, although I remember the look on my mother’s face when she was listening to the doctor. It was a scare, a benign fibrocystic lump. But something about that time stuck in my mind forever.

Fast forward to my twenties when a dermatologist dramatically reacted to moles on my body. And more biopsies happened. I have long, deep scars from the scares that time. And although my parents taught me a lot about protecting and taking care of myself, this series of tests really woke me up. I started reading more about prevention and taking some big steps. I slather on sunscreen and have never gone near a tanning bed again. 

It seems I hear way too often that someone is going through chemo. Or was diagnosed with stage...you name it. These people have their lives changed in an instant. The thing about cancer is this: it does not discriminate. It affects any race, any way, at any time. But, the more knowledgeable we are, we can actively work to try and prevent it to some degree. 

There’s so much we cannot control with the unknowns of cancer, but if we can make small daily changes, it definitely won’t hurt and very well might greatly help. Approximately 42% of cancer cases and 45% of cancer deaths in the United States each year that are linked to modifiable risk factors, thus potentially being preventable. Those statistics woke me up! February is world cancer prevention month. It’s a great time to gently remind those we love of little habits we can implement to change our world...and BE GOOD TO OURSELVES, too. Any regulars here know I’m all about clean living. DOESN’T MEAN I DO IT EVERYDAY. I try. I’m not a doctor (even though I'm Dr. Bridget Forrester on B&B;), but I have the privilege of meeting with specialists that lead me in the right direction.

I bet you could write the below on your own. However, it never hurts to be nudged. I just took a break from writing this to refill my water bottle and go walk on the treadmill because all this is reminding me of the benefits. You all help me stick to my regimen, too. It’s so easy to get lazy; accountability helps. 

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MY TOP TIPS:

  1. SCREENING

I got my first mammogram last year. It’s already time to get my next one. I’ve been avoiding scheduling the appointment, but I’ll do it today. Will you?  Screening and early detection of certain types of cancer is paramount. If you’re feeling something is off anywhere or if you have a question, please, talk to your doctor. And even if there’s not a question, talk to your doctor about what screenings are best for you. PLEASE. 

2. NO TOBACCO

Quitting smoking is not easy, but you can do it. To have the best chance of quitting and staying quit, you need to know what you’re up against, what your options are, and where to go for help. Check out a great source here at cancer.org

3. FOOD AND ALCOHOL

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Diet: what are we putting in our bodies food and drink related (if it’s not pure water)? High calorie foods, regular consumption of alcohol, and processed foods are not wise choices. We know we should be eating more whole foods: fruits and vegetables high in anti-oxidants, limit processed foods.  My boys love going to our local farmer’s market. I remember blogging about it last year and loved reading your responses about your local markets — those that have access to one.

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4. EXERCISE

Exercise. Yep. Yep. Just do it. I try to get in at MINIMUM 3 hours a week. I’ll be honest, before Hayden, I was a 6 day a week girl. I did the work. Now, it’s harder, so I get that life can take over. If we are trying to look like Cindy Crawford, we probably need to put in the time, but if we are trying stay healthy and work at preventing cancer, a little goes a long way. 150 moderate minutes a week, or 75 high intensity minutes will fit the bill. (And when I make time to do this, I feel like I’m floating afterward. The natural endorphins seriously kick in.) If you’re following my stories, you often see me participating in yoga. I love the intensity and principles of yoga.

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5. PROTECT FROM THE RAYS

SUNSHINE I love it. I need it. I live near the beach for it. A little goes A LONG WAY. My family and I are so used to slathering sunscreen all over us, my kids know the drill, even thought Hayden hates it. Appreciate the sun and all its Vitamin D benefits and mental health benefits, but don’t worship it. Our skin cannot take the heat, so to speak. Even in cloudy, snowy climates— wear your sunscreen. And your sunglasses; protect your eyes! Just a reminder that the top of our heads, hands and tops of our feet need protecting, too. Hats, glasses, enjoying the sun IN THE SHADE, and sunscreen protect us. Give your whole body the love of protection. You all know I’m pale. If you ever see me tan, it’s spray or makeup. The real me is as white as Capser the friendly ghost.

Joel loves picking a shady spot wherever we go.

Joel loves picking a shady spot wherever we go.

I sincerely appreciate and praise those that share their own stories with cancer. I followed the hashtag #worldcancerday and broke into tears. It isn’t fair.

BE GOOD TO YOURSELF. Love life. Visit the American Cancer Society’s website for more tips. Don’t forget to share this post with those you love as a gentle reminder. And will you share with us in comments what you’re doing for yourself for disease and cancer prevention? We can continue to encourage each other.

xox AJH

STARTING THE YEAR CLEAN AND PURE

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First things first, I need to say I feel very privileged and blessed that I have the luxury to voice opinions about the topic of water. I am aware that there are millions of people that can’t get remotely clean water every day. Let alone have it coming out of their tap. So, this is definitely a first world “thing.”

Right after I had Hayden, I chatted with Dr. Oz on his show about being a new mom. If you caught the episode, do you remember his advice? Not just for new moms, but all of us? Drink two (TWO) GLASSES of water first thing in the morning. I tried doing that! I still try. Then last year at this time, I wrote a column for Soap Digest about resolutions and drinking more water was at the top of the list. Even the mid-year check in post was… you guessed it. WATER! 

 And I must pat us on the back…  I heard from more than a few of you that were excited about meeting your water intake for the day. I really felt great the days I followed through. I got fun water bottles to carry my water (even thinking about branching out and creating my own with ALL the little details I’ve been missing in the ones I have). 

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The days I didn’t follow through I started asking myself why. Stay with me here…. I’m going somewhere with this. We have a so called “top of the line” refrigerator with filtration (or so I thought). But the water comes out so cold, it was often hard for me to drink it immediately. I had to let it sit for a while. I LOVE super cold soda, but not water so much. Just a quirk of mine. Then, Joel started testing the contaminants in the frig water. They were higher than he wanted. And this was the water I had been using to make Hayden’s bottles when we first moved in a year and a half ago. This was the water we all drank everyday. Keeping hydrated with clean and pure water is the basis of good health. So, I started buying bottled water again. UGH. It’s expensive. It’s heavy. It’s extremely wasteful. And IT STILL HAS CONTAMINANTS. NO JOKE. Although I don’t believe our tap water in small doses would gravely harm our family, I also know that impurities, disease causing bacteria, chemicals and toxins are what lower the quality of water. **

If 2018 was focused on drinking MORE water, perhaps my 2019 commitment is look into the QUALITY of the water I am drinking and offering to my family.

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Joel wanted to end any questionable issues by installing a system of reverse osmosis, ph balanced mineral water right out of our kitchen sink. It sounded expensive, big and I hated the idea we had to cut a hole in the counter top to put in the new faucet. Little did I know, reverse osmosis eliminates sodium, removes lead, it’s easy to maintain, and does NOT take up much space. We could get it custom ordered for our needs and it would arrive quickly. We found this re-mineralizing, reverse osmosis system from Home Master. I found a guy on yelp to cut a perfect circle in about 10 minutes. Plus, it’d pay for itself in a matter of months. And it tastes so good, not too cold. 

photo courtesy of HomeMaster (this is our exact system, but not the exact one in our home). Check out instagram stories for that.

photo courtesy of HomeMaster (this is our exact system, but not the exact one in our home). Check out instagram stories for that.

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The contaminant level of our new system is so low, it’s shockingly awesome. I love they the good minerals we want (unlike other systems) are not compromised so the water is re-mineralized. It’s basically #MineralWaterOnTap.

But this is just the beginning. I researched Home Master and started a dialogue with them. They offer a great deal more for all stages of life: college students all the way to established home owners that want to add water filtration throughout the entire house. Naturally, I get excited. This blog is about sharing ideas. It just makes sense to share these thoughts with you. Home Master and I have some big plans ahead! And we’re starting with a little gift for you readers:

 

Free shipping and a FREE second year Filter Change Set with the purchase of any RO System – Use code ASHLEY at checkout.

Free shipping with the purchase of any Whole House System (no free filters for Whole House System - Use code ASHLEY2019 at checkout.

Tell me something: are you drinking enough water? Do you drink tap? Filtered? Have you thought much about this yet? I really wanna know! 

I’m thinking about doing a facebook live next week to demonstrate some of the info I’m talking about in this post. And show you my exact system under my counter, etc. Stay tuned on that!

xo

AAJ

 **The more I am learning about clean water, the more I’d like to share with you. If you are using a TDS meter, it is not a “poison” meter! Often, the numbers are high due to GOOD minerals.      Can you test the filter performance with a TDS Meter? – Not really actually. Calcium and magnesium minerals comprise the bulk of TDS. TDS isn’t necessarily an indication of poor water quality – it depends on what elements comprise that figure. Because of marketing tactics employed by companies like bottled water companies in particular, people get the impression that all TDS is bad, and that a TDS meter is a “poison meter”. TDS is a measure of Total Dissolved Solids -- irrespective of whether those solids are good or bad. Dissolved solids can be good like calcium and magnesium, or bad like uranium. Distilled water bottle companies might have zero minerals and zero TDS. Bottled water companies that market mineral water will have lots of minerals and sometimes up to a 400 TDS.

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Have a GOOD day (chocolate)!

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Hey y’all... sharing something too "good" to keep all to myself. No, it's not another baby (I keep getting asked) or what show I'm working on this week. But, I do get to reveal that soon! Actually headed in for wardrobe fittings in a few minutes. I'll try to share some hints in my stories if I can. SHHHh;)

This little secret is sweet goodness.

The wellness series is full of a lot of stuff I don't necessarily love doing, but know is good for me to do. Like swallowing huge supplements, downing all my water, working out, etc. I'm learning to love those things, but let's be real. So, I wanted to share a treat with you guys. Y’all asked for some of my favorite items from the Bloom Summit Health and Wellness day. I didn't forget. I've just been using some products and researching to find the ones I love the most. Now, part of what I think is cool about learning and experimenting with new products is two part: 1) I like switching things up occasionally and 2) not everything works for everyone's body. So, it's nice to throw ideas out there and see what might work well for you. 

One of the things I learned about is Good Day Chocolate. The creators are self professed “supplement geeks with a chocolate obsession.” It’s a chocolate vitamin (in the cutest packaging you’ve ever seen). Yes, it might sound confusing….a complete treat that is good for you? But, in the name of chocolate, I simply embraced the concept and have since enjoyed many a good days;) It is really hard for me to get everything I need from just food or one or two supplements. I really appreciate creative ideas to mix it all up!

I tried the “energy” chocolate first and loved the taste and gentle pick-me-up. Then, later that evening, I tired the “sleepy” version. I munched on a couple bite-sized chocolates and downed a large glass of water. I woke up refreshed. Hayden must have gotten the memo ‘cause he’s handing us the sleepy time version in the picture above! lol This mama could use a little extra sleep! He must know!

I'm interested in the turmeric supplement. Do y'all take turmeric? I looked up reasons why it's beneficial and was blown away. So, I would like to integrate these antioxidant bites into my weekly supplements.

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I did a bit more research and….this is why I like this company:

1) They support SmileTrain. (One of the founders is a plastic surgeon). 

2) Hayden and Huck beg for them (check out the kids section). Also, check my stories today on instagram. And for kids, they have a daily multi-vitamin that I love giving the boys. They are highly-tested, non GMO and made with fair trade chocolate. Your kids will remind YOU to give them their vitamins.

3) I can have a little sweet tasting something and know it’s beneficial. My go-to is one probiotic and one vitamin D in the AM. If I take one at night, it’s the sleepy time one. Since I'm trying to eat clean and drink the water right now (er...always!), it's a treat I'm adding that I don't feel guilty about. How fun to get a bite of something sweet that is packed with goodness in more ways than one? Really FUN. Great gift, too. Who wouldn’t want to receive this sweetness!? This variety pack is a fun hostess gift.

Warning for toddler moms: if your child is anything like Hayden, he likes to put any treat in his mouth, then hold it for a while in his hands, then put it back in his mouth. We’re working on this, but in the meantime, the chocolate does rub off on his little hands, so keep an eye. For more great info on this company, please visit: GoodDayChocolate.com where you can purchase (they also can be found here on Amazon and the kids' line can be found at your local Target). I have to give them a thank you shout out for sponsoring this portion of the wellness series! 

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BOTTOMS UP...drink your H2O

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Bottoms up!

However, this post is not about emptying your glass of Rose' all day! I just downed 14 oz of water. This post is too simple. I really should get a big fat 'ol "F" for this. It's too easy, too on-the-nose. Everyone knows they need to drink water

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We’ve heard this our whole lives: DRINK MORE WATER. It’s basically the panacea to many ailments. Most of this wellness reminder series is simply that— great reminders. We know all of this already, but I still like new reminders. I recently overheard someone say in conversation, “Drinking water is a no-brainer, well, it’s 90% of your brain, so it’s more of a BRAINER than we think!” 

Anyhow, that joke wasn’t very funny. And I’m not trying to be funny here. Just straightforward. And bring your mid(ish)-year reminder about many of our new year’s resolutions. And if memory serves me, we all had several different resolutions, but the consistently ones were: drink more water and weight loss.

So, while typing and doing a bit of research here, I got super thirsty. As I said, I downed water. I think part of my issue is that I forget, then I get tired and and busy and distracted. I need a pick me up.  I instinctively reach for caffeine. And THAT IS MY DOWNFALL.

I appreciate my yoga teachers telling me all the benefits of water and why it's so important for me drink it. As I'm doing my last down dog of the class recently, I hear the lecture coming. I roll my eyes back so far, it's as if gravity is going to make them stick there. But, alas, I rise up once again and it is on my mind. 

For better or worse, the thoughts that get me thinking are more vanity based. Does this happen to you sometimes? I'm thinking, "Duh, we ALL know we need to drink water to make our digestive system work. Are you really saying this OUT LOUD. I mean, we're paying $20 a class to be here, we clearly on the "body-wellness" path, so tell us something I don't hear everyday." And then she did.

She reminded me of things like this:

Calorie control

Water simply helps people feel full, and as a result consume fewer calories. Timing can help, too. Drink 16oz. before meals. And cold water helps metabolism.

Fuels Muscle/Gives us Energy

When the muscles don’t have enough water, they get tired. So for extra energy, try drinking water to push through that final set of squats. And water in general can give us all more energy! If only I had the energy of my two year old! 

Clearer skin

Part of the detoxification benefits of drinking water, it helps flush out toxins that can clog our pores and cause acne. The jury is still out on if it scientifically helps with wrinkles, but I'll tell you this much, it doesn't hurt!

Improves Brain Function

I don't know if it's just from being tired a lot of the time, but I will take all the help I can get to improve my brain function! Like I said earlier, our brain is mainly water and needs enough of it to function properly. I don't know the science behind it, but it makes sense.

Relieves Constipation In Many Cases

Pretty self explanatory, but worth mentioning. If problems persist, see your doctor, but this is a good place to start.

extra credit: 

IT’S FREE!

Even if you splurge for bottled water, it’s cheaper than Starbucks or wine!

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You might remember my post with Dr Oz reminding us all to immediately drink 2 glasses of water upon rising. I do that about 40% of the time if I’m being honest. UGH! Coffee calls my name in the morning. SO Loudly!!!

BUT, bottoms UP. It’s time. If you haven’t been consistent, let’s start this challenge and get ‘er done. If you don’t love the taste—er— non taste of water, there are fun things you can do. Add mint! Add fruit. I add Usana’s Booster C and it gives me just enough flavor (and Vitamin C). This morning, I added the probiotic powder. I’m challenging myself to drink 64 oz every single day this week. I’ll report in my stories. Will you do it with me? Maybe we’ll go longer, but let’s start with a week. WE CAN DO THIS.

Tag me in any stories or posts…. What’s a hashtag we can all use? #bottomsupH2o? too long? thoughts? ha!

ONE EASY WAY TO BRIGHTEN UP YOUR DAY

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1. Amy's adorable Romper 2. My Yellow Dress (40% off!) 

Life isn't always the easiest. I'm sure we can all attest to that. I know I often put on a happy face on social media (or I just don't post at all and take a break). I don't feel like venting to the world on such a public platform, but a blog is a more personal space to share or at least seems to be, even thought I try to be positive here, too.

And you all have been incredibly supportive when I do open up here. Thank you. Plus, I've really appreciated hearing your thoughts on things. You all give great tips! Some of my recent favorites were in a post on instagram where I asked about stress relief (at bottom of this post). 

I'm learning there are different levels of stress and disappointment. {UPDATE: after reading some of the comments below, I felt the need to edit this. Yes, I've always known there are different levels of stress, but not until certain life events happen do I realize how I would react. I can project how I would react to major events, but there's not way to know until you are living it.} Some things alter life permanently, while other stresses you won't remember in a month. When life feels so all over the place, sometimes I have to do small things that I can control. I remember Dr. Oz telling me the easiest three things I can do for myself are: drink water, do some sort of movement for the body (even if it's rolling your shoulders back and forth) and take a vitamin. I'm adding two things to this very easy list. First and foremost, prayer. I believe in prayer. It keeps me focused on God and changes my perspective on Earth.  

And this other one may sound silly, but wearing a pop of color like my yellow dress really does raise my mood. A doctor told me this when I was pregnant. She said even if it's underwear that only we see throughout the day, bright colors can elevate our mood! Ha! I thought it was bogus, but tried it anyway when I was pregnant.

So, recently, I've been opting for patterns that make me happy. This yellow dress did the trick! It's the ultimate summer pick me up color. I'm wearing a size 2 regular, for reference. And it is 40% off right now at $82. 

And Amy's romper is everything. Right? I love the pockets, too. I mean, if my yellow fruit basket of a dress is too much, opt for her romper. It really is the best. I would be borrowing, but as you can tell, one of is in in a petite size and one of us is not! lol For reference if you are petite like Amy, she is wearing a 0 petite. I would wear this in a regular size 2. 

What are your simple tried and true tips for elevating mood?

ps- a few of you have asked here and I've been getting DMs about vitamins and all around "health and fitness" type of stuff (which I believe goes right along with this post), so I'm going to do my best to make time for it this week if there is still interest?

 

World of Soaps

I'm collaborating with Carved Solutions on a line of soaps!

I'm excited to finally share this new endeavor with y'all. For a long time, I've wanted to collaborate on a line of products and eventually create my own. It just made sense to start in the soap world;)

Some of you that follow along on social media might remember me asking for favorite quotes. (I can't tell you how fun that was to read them all.) I originally wanted the quotes carved into the soaps. However, even though the bars of soaps are a good size, they are still a bar of soap with limited space. So, the quotes will be used for something else in the future. As for the soaps, I put "words to live by" on them. There's a trust, believe, faith box. And a love, hope and peace box. I'm enjoying the fresh, clean feel and subtle smell. 

Our Eco-Luxury line is revered for its guilt-free pampering. Each bar is made in Vermont, triple-milled, and features a vegetable-based formula with our famous water-based Aqua Mineral fragrance and antique white color. Trusted by connoisseurs for those with allergies, sensitive skin, or delicate noses! I appreciate that I can use these on my children. 

It's a luxurious present I hope you'd be pleased to give or receive. These make perfect hostess gifts! I will be looking forward to your thoughts. For Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday, get 20% off with code 'Ashley.'  

xoxox

GIRLFRIENDS and Sunday Casual

HEY y'all... I was scrolling and posting pictures of recent events when I found this one with my girlfriends Amy and Ali. This photo is from the post HERE about Awair and the Creative Coalition.

I decided to do a separate post about the outfits for those of you that want to know;)

You've already seen me wearing this sweater in my insta stories on instagram. I kinda fell in love with it because it's like a party all by itself. Still subtle, though, not loud. It's on sale at JCrew right now. And due to the fact items have been selling out so fast, I'm adding this link HERE where you can also get the sweater. I'm wearing the same earrings you may have seen me wear recently, too. The jeans are ones I've had for a while and love. They were pricey, but I always feel like they look clean and polished and "hold me in," so to speak. I even wore the maternity version of them while I was pregnant and filming GH.

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I really like Ali's over the knee boots. I've seen her wear them a few times and they look so chic and still comfortable to walk. And this adorably cozy poncho is under $50. I love it. What a great gift for someone in your family or circle of friends.... sister, babysitter? Or, for you! I appreciate gifts that are one size fits all- much easier!

Amy's holiday dress is so sweet on her and very Christmas-y. Eliza J makes the best dresses. We have all worn her designs. I added the earrings above because I think they would work with any of our outfits. I ordered them recently for myself. Merry Christmas to me;) 

I was thrilled to have Ali and Amy there--- (You might already follow them on their socials and sites, but if not, click on their name to see their blogs) thanks ladies! Your support means a great deal! 

GROW OLD GRACEFULLY, with a little help from modern tech!

Being a new mom, my priorities haven't exactly been focused on preventative care or anti-aging products. I have a feeling some of you, new mom or not, understand. It's hard for me to schedule self care, be it a manicure, a workout, a facial or getting my roots done. But, the better care I take of myself, the better I feel in the long run. 

I've had questions about preventative, non-invasive techniques for anti-aging. I was able to meet and chat with Zara Harutyunyan MSN, AGNP, one of the leading clinicians in Los Angeles for cosmetic rejuvenation at CRMCLaser. I enjoyed our chat so much that I decided to make a series of them and share them with you. So, in a way, Zara is like a guest blogger! This was a spontaneous idea to video Zara, so forgive the camera work by yours truly! Next time will be better. 

Our first sit-down, I asked her about a few pressing issues I have and I hear over and over from people:

  • Lines on my Neck...I've had them forever. My mom calls them cell phone/computer lines. I bet she's correct. Years of looking down at my screens big or small have not been neck friendly.
  • Pore size... is there anything I can do to make them smaller or prevent them from getting worse.
  • Wrinkles, duh.

I appreciate how she gives ideas for all price points! She also give ideas for people that could make it into a skincare facility like hers, or those that don't have access to a medical clinic. 

 

Below are the treatments Zara discussed in the video. 

IN OFFICE TREATMENTS

Ultherapy: Completely non-surgical way to lift and tighten the skin on your face, neck, and décolletage. Ultherapy addresses the same tissues as a surgical facelift. The rejuvenating treatment stimulates new collagen and restores skin elasticity without downtime.

BTL Exilis Ultra: noninvasive face and body tightening and contouring treatment. Breakthrough combinations of radio frequency and ultrasound energy to effectively tighten, tone, smooth and sculpt. Great results, but less expensive option to Ultherapy.

Aquagold: a customized  treatment that uses a device with microneedles to deliver botox, hylaronic acid, vitamins, antioxidants and growth factors to your face. This treatment will help with:

-minimizing pores

-smoothing and plumping your skin

-improving superficial acne scars

-brighten the skin


AT HOME PROACTIVE CARE:

HA5: provides smoothing in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and supports the skin's natural ability to replenish its own hyaluronic acid skin health. I've also been told it's a great primer under makeup and (ONLY if your doctor agrees) can be used during pregnancy. Check it out on CRMC's website HERE. I will be starting this tonight.

DERMAROLLER: I am so happy Zara mentioned this. It reminded me that I needed to be using a dermaroller again. Rolling titanium microneedles over the skin creates tiny punctures, stimulating your body to produce collagen. These tissue-building blocks give skin strength and elasticity and (what I've been told) help your skincare products work more efficiently due to deeper penetration in the skin. There are different size needles for different issues. Please consult your doctor and do your own research before using anything! I am only sharing knowledge I've learned or things that have worked for me.

 

At the end of the video, Zara reminds us that quality products and consistency are incredibly important. Good to remember that the little things we do everyday will pay off in the long run.


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I'm going to have another visit with her next week, so please send me your questions about anything discussed above or other questions you have.  I'd love to address them. And while I'm here, I have to thank you all for your patience. I do have a post coming about work and the recipes soon!! Hopefully by tomorrow. They aren't finished yet! And I promised Huck we could go to the Pumpkin Patch, so.... guess who gets my attention for the next few hours. 

Oh and ps- for any nursing moms-- the dress I'm wearing was from my nursing days. (It also reminds me of Charlie Brown from Peanuts! ha!)  The dress has hidden zippers that make for discreet nursing a little easier and is now on sale! Anyway, I still wear it and love it with booties for fall. And I'll pair it with a long sleeve black t-shirt and tights for winter. Here are other styles of the same dress (also maternity). If you're interested, here's the post from last year about it.

DISCLAIMER: Once again, please consult with your doctor before doing any procedures or using any products discussed in this post or on this site.