Self Care: Beauty Edition

Today I want to talk about self care.

Today I am anxious. Mostly about finances, which I know logically are fine but I still worry about them. I’ll need to get a new car soon, and I’m trying to prepare for that emotionally as well as financially. My car has been paid off for several years, and a car payment as a single woman can be intimidating.

This morning I woke up with the full intention of going to the gym. I even got my workout clothes on, minus socks and shoes. But I didn’t go. Why? I wasn’t feeling up to it. Instead I decided I needed some self care today, and I stayed in and watch an episode of Maniac on Netflix. While I watch that, I gave myself a pedicure. Okay, I just painted my toenails, but sometimes that’s enough.

20180926_180212.jpgAfter Maniac was over, I cleaned myself up, put on a pretty dress and sat down at my makeup table. My allergies have been walloping me lately: autumn brings mold and spores and mold and spores brings post nasal drip and sore throats. And on days when I wake up not feeling great, either emotionally or physically, I find it helps me to dress up and put on some pretty makeup. It helps me feel more upbeat about my day if I feel like I look extra good, you know?

20180926_080442Some people think that women only wear makeup to cover up their real face. I think for some women this is true: they’re ashamed of their face and they want to hide their flaws under a thick coating of foundation. For me this is not the case. My skin isn’t perfect: I have forehead wrinkles I refer to as “incredulous lines” because they come out most when I’m raising my eyebrows in disbelief. I have dark spots from the bad habit I have of picking my face when I’m feeling anxious. But all of that is a part of me, and I’m okay with it.


So this morning I put on my makeup (brown, green and cream shimmer eyeshadow to match my dress), straightened my hair and got ready to face the world. I’m glad I took a photo before I went out to walk Bingley, because it’s so humid here my hair puffed right up and was no longer straight after about 5 minutes outside! No matter, I made it through the day feeling pretty and confident even though I had to throw my hair up in a bun.

20180926_165742I get it if you aren’t a fan of makeup, or if it stresses you out. But for me, it can put a positive spin on a stressful day, and in my book, that’s fantastic!

(All the makeup I’m wearing is Younique brand and can be purchased HERE.)


signoff postcard

AML Tries Gym Classes: Les Mills’ Body Pump and Les Mills’ RPM

I’ve been going to my gym for about six months now, and since I joined I’ve always wanted to try a spin class. In fact, my gym (Edge Fitness) has spin classes as part of the top level of membership, and that’s why I signed up for that level. So far I’ve tried two Les Mills classes: Body Pump and RPM.

What is Les Mills’ Body Pump?

Body Pump is a fast paced workout where you lift light barbells for high reps to up tempo music. It’s a full body strength training and cardio workout intended to help you build lean muscle.

Picture courtesy or Oregon State University via Flickr.

AML & Body Pump

I freaking LOVE Body Pump. This is the perfect workout for me: steady reps of weightlifting with quick transitions and low down time. This workout gets your heart rate up without making you feel like you’re going to die, and the music helps keep you in the rhythm of it all. My instructor was upbeat and friendly, and the mood was positive the whole time. My first time I was sore for several days, and I LOVED it.

What is Les Mills’ RPM?

RPM is a spin class, meaning you and several other people are all in a spin room on stationary bikes. RPM features hill climbs, sprints and flat riding without any special moves. You just use the speed of your pedaling and the resistance knob on your bike to make the workout harder or easier. This is all done alongside loud, upbeat dance music to help you keep pace, similarly to Body Pump.

Fitness 'sanctuary' for families
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Miguel Lara III)


I have been intimidated by spin classes for a long time, but I’ve always wanted to try one. I introduced myself to the instructor before the class and told her that I had never taken a spin class. She warmly showed me how to set up my bike and explained how the class would work. I chose a bike in the front row but slightly off to the side so I could see the instructor well, and so I wouldn’t be able to see other people and compare myself to them. What helped was that the room was darkened and flooded with a cool blue light, giving the room a dance club-like feeling.

The moves were all relatively easy to pick up, and it’s very easy on the joints if you set your bike up correctly. The hardest part of the workout was when we did hill climbs: cranking the resistance up on the bike so you need to stand and use your body weight to pedal. There were definitely times where I had to lower the resistance and return to sitting, as my heart rate got into my red zone. But once I was back in a safe range I went back to following the workout, making adjustments as necessary.

By the end of the 45 minute workout EVERYONE was literally DRIPPING with sweat. It took me a moment to allow my legs to slow down so I could carefully stand, but as I exited the spinning room I was struck by such a sense of elation from the adrenaline I felt on top of the world.

There is a tiny downside to spinning: I was sore… on my “seat”. As in, where the seat hit my… uh… you know. Where you sit on the bike. Ladies, you know what I mean. This lasted 3 days! Not awful, I just had to be careful how hard I sat down on my couch at night! I didn’t experience any leg soreness, but I did burn more than 500 calories in a 45 minute session, and I count that as success. In the end, it was a blast, and I’d definitely try it again!

Ready to Try a Class?

Arrive early and introduce yourself to the instructor. I made sure I let both instructors know that I was new to both their class and to that style of workout. It’s in their best interest to help you both enjoy yourself and get the best workout, so they’ll want to help you. And don’t worry about the other people in the class, they’re all all just focused on their workouts, and you should too. So go, try it out, and have fun!

Healthy Desserts with Surprising Ingredients

No one really wants to give up dessert when they choose a healthy lifestyle. Desserts are often high in sugar, fat and carbs, while also being nutritionally void, so we’re advised to skip them if we can, or replace them with fruit. But what about boosting the nutritional value of desserts while reducing processed sugars? That’s where these delicious recipes come in! Each one of these recipes contains a VEGETABLE surprise. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Brownies (V, GF)

These are, in short, incredible. This recipe calls for the larger, more expensive Medjool dates, but I’ve made them with regular dates and they are so deliciously textured. I use brown rice flour instead of buckwheat flour and honey instead of maple syrup and get wonderful results every time. They’re rich, fudgy and sinful feeling without using any processed sugar.


Chickpea Blondies (V, GF)

These are good. Dangerously good. As in I ate the entire pan by myself in 2 days good. The best part is they’re not overly sweet, and there’s something really satisfying to me about the slight graininess of the finished product. It feels like it’s loaded with sugar while being totally natural. As usual I subbed out the maple syrup for honey and used regular non-vegan chocolate chips. I’d love to make these again next week but to be totally honest with you I don’t need a binge food just lying around the place. They’re THAT good.


Not Quite Banana Bread (GF, DF)

I adore parsnips. They’re sweet and floral and might just be perfect for dessert, and apparently during WWII bananas were scarce and housewives used parsnips as substitutes! Maybe I can adapt this to be pure parsnip bread someday. This recipe is dairy free and gluten free but not vegan as it does contain eggs. Although perhaps flax eggs could be substituted to convert this recipe to full vegan. I haven’t given this recipe a shot yet but I’m super excited about trying it!

Cauliflower “Rice” Pudding (Paleo, GF, DF)

I need to try this, for serious. Growing up, rice pudding was a regular staple in our house. My Gran’s rice pudding was always warm and rather thin, spiced with cinnamon, and often made with raisins. But rice pudding made from CAULIFLOWER?! Is there anything cauliflower can’t do? This rice pudding does contain egg to form the custard, but it’s dairy free. And it sounds SO GOOD. Can’t wait to try it!

So there are tons of interesting vegetable dessert recipes out there that are healthy for you to try! I even left over a beet cake because honestly I don’t like beets very much, but a quick Pinterest search will reveal plenty!

Even when eating healthy, you CAN have dessert!

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