It’s Self-Improvement Month! Here are easy(ish) ways I’m trying to be a better human being

This morning, something made me feel like going on a run. It was a super bizarre feeling, considering I dislike running. I dislike it very much. When I run, all I can think about is not running. But for some reason, this specific morning I woke up and just…felt like running. So I threw on my Nikes and started my playlist and just casually went out the door and did a 5K without even realizing it.

Going on a 30-minute morning run is something that a lot of people do every day without a second thought. But for me, it’s a damn big deal. When I first moved to San Francisco a few months ago, it had probably been at least two years since I had gone on a run- and not like a 20-minute stint on the treadmill before kickboxing class. I mean an honest-to-God run outside where I run with the full intention of doing my best and going as far as I can.

When I moved here, I looked around at the Golden Gate Bridge, at the ocean views, at the beauty of my city, and I knew it would be a crime if I didn’t at least try to become a runner while I can run by the GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE. So I started by running for 10 minutes (yeah, 10 minutes, I totally sucked, okay? But like, everyone sucks when they start something, right?), and then for 15, and then for 20. I downloaded the Nike run app for motivation and before I knew it, I got into a rhythm of running 3-4 times a week, and I was getting farther and farther. After just one month in, I could run 5 miles and not die. I legitimately felt like an Olympic champion. And today I got up and ran 5K without even noticing it. In the next two months I’ll probably get to 10K, and then within six months of starting to run I’ll be able to run a half marathon. All this because I just wanted to give it a try.

This all brings us to the whole point of trying to do things like running, which is that we all want to be our best selves. We’re all looking for ways to improve ourselves, whether we want to be better at our jobs, better at our health and wellness, better partners and friends, better learners. This is why there are so many industries dedicated to self-improvement, and you can probably think of a few things off the top of your head that you’ve spent money on for self-improvement- I know I’ve bought a yoga membership to get better at fitness and mindfulness, pre-made meals at Trader Joe’s to get better at spending less money on takeout, and even a subscription to the New York Times, just to do a better job of staying informed from a credible source.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the little ways I can be a better self- not a better version of myself trying to be like someone else (there is a DIFFERENCE people), but just a better me. A better Alex doesn’t necessarily mean better at sports or better at cooking. A better Alex means I take time to read more. I take care of my mental health. I spend more time on the things that are important to me, like my career and my family.

Here are some of the little steps I’ve taken (and that you can take) toward your better self:

Wellness

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  • Download the Headspace app to practice mindfulness
  • Start journaling, even just in bullets
  • Stop obsessing about things that upset you. Let things go. It’s fine.
  • Pick up all of the clutter in your room. All. of. it. Clutter in your physical space causes clutter in your brain.
  • Call your family.
  • If you have a bad headache, take an Advil instead of just sitting there trying to tough it out. You are accomplishing nothing. Take the Advil.
  • Spend more time just listening to new music and discovering bands you like instead of complaining that “there’s no new music that’s good anymore”
  • Reach out to a friend you’ve lost contact with.
  • Go on more walks during the day, even just a 10-minute walk in the middle of a busy workday

Fitness/Health

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  • Go on a run- even if it’s just a short run, it’s better than if you had never ran at all
  • Show up at the grocery store with a grocery LIST and have meals planned out (I have a bad habit of just running in with no plan and I end up making dumb purchases like frozen mac ‘n cheese bites)
  • Switch afternoon coffee for green tea
  • Drink more water. And then drink more.
  • Put at least one vegetable in every meal. No more popcorn for dinner. Or if it is popcorn, at least eat it with carrots?
  • Eat almonds NOT chocolate covered almonds FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST
  • Try a new fun workout once a month, like aerial yoga or hip hop
  • Laugh more! Watch more funny Netflix shows, go to a comedy night at the neighborhood bar, talk on the phone with your hilarious friend

Learning

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  • Learn a new skill in just one day- there are so many fun, free online classes that only take a few hours. Like this one on graphic design.
  • Stop by Barnes & Noble and buy an actual book. Yeah, books are like $15 but also how much did you spend last night on drinks? Okay? Okay.
  • Subscribe to a newsletter on something you don’t know anything about.
  • Go to a museum. Any museum. It can be the Art Institute or it can be a historic vibrator museum for all I care. You’ll learn something.
  • Watch a documentary or a “Netflix Explained” video instead of another episode of Sex and the City or Gossip Girl
  • Take a tour of something in your city that you’d normally ignore. I recently went to Coit Tower in San Francisco, which is a 20-minute walk away from my apartment, and it turns out the tower is full of these incredible historic murals that I never would have seen if I hadn’t decided to “be touristy.” And it was like $6.
  • Play games on the Peak brain training app.

Career

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  • Tell a coworker you appreciate them. It’s literally as easy as sending a quick “I appreciate you” over Slack or Gchat or IM or whatever you use these days.
  • Don’t do any work the whole weekend. Don’t think about work. Don’t try to work ahead. Just give yourself an actual break. (normal people do this anyways but I’m a workaholic so)
  • Raise your hand for a project that is scary and sounds like a pain in the ass
  • Speak up in a meeting, even if you think you’ll sound stupid. You probably won’t sound stupid, you’ll sound engaged. And anyways, why are you so worried about looking stupid? Stop that nonsense.
  • Spend a solid two hours a week just getting organized and doing administrative stuff. Like filling in spreadsheets or getting to Inbox Zero on your email. The stuff you hate and normally put off. This is the best gift you can give your future self.
  • Volunteer to attend an industry event, like a speaking panel or cocktail networking hour, which might sound like hell but actually could make a huge impact even if you just meet one new person.

Style/Beauty

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  • Read an issue of Vogue just like you used to when you were in middle school and high school, and you were excited about the different trends
  • Keep up with your skincare routine instead of getting mad at yourself when a zit pops up (it’s probably because you didn’t wash your face like you were supposed to)
  • Go to the mall more. Yes, go to the mall more. (Another Alex goal, since I have a habit of never letting myself splurge on my wardrobe. Which sounds great, but in reality I need more clothes and I forget how much I love Topshop). It’s okay to buy nice things sometimes.
  • Your eyelashes don’t have to be perfect every day. They just don’t.
  • Keep dressing up for work, even if you work in tech and you’re allowed to wear a sweatshirt. It feels good to look professional and polished.
  • Do your nails more. Plz.

Those are just some of the small things I’ve been trying to do to be a better me! Happy Self-Improvement Month, and holler if you have your own ideas for becoming a better you!

XO,

CC

Decision fatigue: What it is and how to fight it

Every day, we are bombarded with decisions, big or small. If you really think about it, it’s a miracle we don’t go completely insane.

Think about just your morning: You decide whether to get out of bed or hit snooze. You decide what to wear. You decide whether to respond to an email. You decide what bus to catch, or if you want to walk, or drive. You decide what makeup you wear and what hairstyle you feel like putting effort into and then when you get to the office, you decide what task you’re going to tackle first, if you’re not already stuck deciding what to grab for breakfast.

And this is all before 9 a.m.

I am the world’s most indecisive person, no matter what the decision is. I’m such a classic overthinker that I can’t even decide between two colors of a top at Forever 21, and then I end up either buying both, or neither, or I just go with black. So I end up with a lot of black in my closet.

It also means I exhaust myself every day. We all do. We tire ourselves out just from making decisions all day. Judges do it when deciding cases. Quarterbacks do it during games. You just can’t keep deciding and deciding things all day, without it taking a toll. This whole situation is called decision fatigue.

Decision fatigue is basically the phenomenon that making decisions all day will eventually exhaust you and deplete your willpower and self-control, so you start making dumb decisions just from being tired of it all. Hence buying Cheetos at the grocery store when you meant to stick to broccoli, or in my case, going with the color black because I can’t pick between blue and pink. We feel overwhelmed because in modern times we’ve got so many choices (as opposed to cavewoman days, when your dinner was what you managed to catch that night, and not one of the million ridiculous concoctions at Trader Joe’s).

The good news is that once you know about it, you can start making your life easier. So, knowing we get tired of decisions, what can we do about it?

How to fight decision fatigue

Never make decisions on an empty stomach.

Research shows that when we’re hangry, we’re more likely to make bad decisions. Glucose levels might actually affect your ability to make decisions (if you’re low on sugar, you’re low on willpower). So grab a Snickers bar the next time you’re not feeling like yourself. Because as Snickers already knows, you’re not you when you’re hungry.

Sleep on it when you’re tired.

If you have a big decision to make and it’s late in the day and you just can’t think anymore…don’t. Just stop and make the decision later. That’s why “sleep on it” is a thing: You wake up each morning with a clearer head and no decision fatigue. And if sleep isn’t an option? Take at least ten minutes for a walk, free of any devices or distracting thoughts. It will give your brain a break.

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Simplify your life where you can.

You know how Steve Jobs famously wore the same outfit all the time, or how Obama only wore blue and gray suits while president? This eliminated that wardrobe decision and they could spend more energy on important decisions. And while you might not be able to show up to work every day in the same outfit, you can at least pare down your choices (hint: start with a capsule wardrobe). Maybe you can spend a little more time meal prepping on Sundays so you don’t have to decide what to do for lunch every day. Or you can decide on a set morning routine so that you don’t deplete yourself within just a couple hours of being awake.

Get organized.

The fewer things you have on your desk, the better you’ll feel. Even if you aren’t a neat freak, it can often clutter your brain just to have physical clutter in your environment. With to-do lists and notebooks and all kinds of paperwork, your mind will just keep turning to those things and flipping the switch too much. Just get rid of it. Clear your space and you’ll be able to focus more on the decisions that matter.

Take away the fear that your decision is irreversible.

99% of the decisions we make are not permanent. If I end up hating something I bought, I can return it. Even for a bigger choice, like moving to a new city, I can always just move somewhere else. We often get stuck thinking that a decision is the end-all be-all, when it usually isn’t at all. Ask yourself: What’s the worst case scenario? What happens if I make the “wrong” decision? If the answer is something like, “I won’t enjoy my lunch as much as I would have if I’d gone with the other restaurant” then you should probably spend like five minutes on that choice, max.

Limit your choices. 

Can’t decide what to get at Starbucks? Tell yourself you can get either an iced coffee or a vanilla latte. Choosing between two eyeshadow palettes? Pick one factor that’s most important to you- like price- and decide based on that one important factor. Writing a blog post and can’t decide on a topic? Put yourself in a box and limit yourself to a prompt or theme- for example, “Self-Care Sunday.”

Paralyzed at Forever 21? Well, I can’t help you there, the place is a madhouse.


More awesome reading on decision fatigue:


Do you feel like you’re affected by decision fatigue? Tell me more so I feel better about my own overthinking brain!

XO,

CC

 

Starbucks + Beauty Pairings: Matcha-needed stress relief

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I’m stoked to introduce my newest series, Starbucks + Beauty Pairings! When beverages and beauty products share the same ingredients, I can’t help but put two and two together.

Today we’re sippin’ on the Starbucks matcha green tea latte, while we use the world’s most relaxing green tea sprays and scrubs. Green tea is an antioxidant, which makes it the ultimate natural skincare ingredient. It not only soothes your skin, but it also has anti-aging benefits, so it’s no wonder that beauty brands put it in products like face masks and lotions and Starbucks puts it in a latte. You can have it all!

I’ve been on something of a wellness kick lately, from going on longer runs to eating actual quinoa. San Francisco is changing me, people. I don’t know what’s happening, but I feel better, so I think it’s good? Anyways, part of my new lifestyle involves more matcha green tea. I always loved the matcha green tea smoothie at Jamba Juice (my tried-and-true hangover cure), but never actually drank green tea on a regular basis.

Now that I’m an Adult with a capital A, working a Real Full-Time Job, I haven’t had the time to take care of myself that I did in college. Or so I thought. Then I realized taking care of yourself doesn’t necessarily mean big life changes- it can just mean making little decisions every day that improve your well-being. Like going on a quick walk just to get outside. Or…drinking matcha green tea instead of my usual coffee.

Pair that with incredible skincare, and you’re on your way to Namaste in no time!

 

Starbucks + Beauty Pairings: Matcha-Needed Stress Relief

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Mario Badescu Facial Spray: This does so many things at once, it’s ridiculous. It can work as a primer, setting spray, and even hairspray. The aloe soothes your face while the green tea works its magic.

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MILK Makeup Matcha Cleanser: If your skin gets red, this one’s for you. The Matcha Cleanser exfoliates and calms redness. It also hydrates, a major plus for the drier fall and winter months.

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Green Tea Matcha Mud Mask: Love me a good mud mask, and this one has all the benefits of green tea: anti-aging, antioxidant goodness. I love doing a face mask at least once a week, and since I have acne-prone skin I’ll do an intense clay mask every other week (to exfoliate the crap out of my pores) and then alternate it with a soothing one like this.

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The Body Shop Tea Tree Face Wash: Tea tree oil is known to help clear up skin- whenever I feel a zit coming on, this stuff usually does the trick. It does a deep clean and leaves your skin feeling less shiny and more refreshed.

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Earth Therapeutics Green Tea Konjac Sponge: A beauty sponge with green tea in it?! Yep! Just use it with warm water like you would any other face sponge. It feels amazing and does double duty since it has K-beauty ingredients like charcoal. This one’s also on sale right now!


 

Hope you enjoyed my first installment of Starbucks + Beauty Pairings! Now go get a matcha green tea latte and pick up some green tea products so you can feel like an absolute wellness GURU without even having to run. That’s what I call happiness.

XO,

CC

 

Money Talks: How Much Should You Really Be Making? Here’s How to Check

Let’s talk cold hard cash for a minute here, because I’m going to get real with you: Part of the problem we face in achieving salary parity is that we don’t talk about it enough. And while we continue working toward equal pay, we can start making change just by changing our daily conversations around money.

When I was job searching in my last semester of college, one of the first things I paid attention to was salary, because the dreaded salary negotiation part of the interview process gave me ridiculous anxiety. How TF was I supposed to negotiate salary when I was feeling lucky to get an offer at all? Who was I to push back, when for all I knew, I was already getting a good offer?

The issue with that mindset is obviously that if you don’t push back, you could very easily be leaving money on the table- and worse yet, you could be setting the bar low and setting yourself up for years of lower pay. Think about it this way- if you accept your initial offer at the beginning of your career, it could cost you $1 million over time. Because that money you left on the table- even $5,000- would have gotten higher and higher over time, and haunted you for years. Thanks but no thanks. I’ll take the $1 mill and run with it.

The key to negotiating your salary is to come prepared. Arm yourself with information about your specific career path, your location, industry averages and your own experience. Here’s how you can check how much you should really be making, so that you have the info you need to ask for the salary you deserve and provide a smart answer to the sweat-inducing question, “What are your salary expectations for this role?”

Start with your industry average, by location and sector

While this will only give you a rough estimate, it’s extremely helpful to know what the industry average is for your job. Next, go beyond the industry (for example, my industry was PR) and check individual sectors (for example, technology, health/beauty, consumer, B2B). I found averages in PRWeek, a PR trade publication, and knew from the get-go what I could expect to make as an entry-level PR professional in technology at a small agency in San Francisco.

Get a narrower ballpark estimate from job search sites

Peep sites like Glassdoor to find salary estimates at specific companies, job titles and locations. I used Glassdoor to set expectations for what I could earn at different PR jobs in different locations- the salary at a large PR agency in St. Louis was very different from a small agency in San Francisco. Salary.com, Indeed, and Payscale.com are other good sites to check. This will give you a good range to keep in mind when you’re hit with your first offer- and then you’ll have a pretty accurate idea of whether you’re getting low-balled. It’s also really fascinating and I found myself deep in the salary rabbit hole on Glassdoor looking at salaries in completely irrelevant jobs. It’s a fun time. Go look.

Talk to other professionals in your field

While it might seem awk at first, you can simply ask others what to expect. I have yet to see anyone offended when I ask- if anything, people appreciate a candid, authentic conversation about your career. I talked to trusted mentors to get their honest opinions, and I also had honest conversations with my peers who were also graduating and getting job offers. My friends in my PR classes and I made it a point to openly discuss our salaries, and as a result we all got a better picture of what we all should be earning.

Consider your own background and qualifications.

What’s your education level? If you have your master’s degree, you might deserve a pay bump. Got any experience? Internships count. Remember that you have something to bring to the table, even as an entry-level applicant. Make a list of everything you’ve got- from work experience, to specialized courses you’ve taken, to soft skills like public speaking and project management. Be ready to use this list to make your case for more salary.


 

Have you ever successfully negotiated your salary? Got any advice on sussing out the right pay? Share your experience in the comments and keep the money conversation going $$$

XO,

CC

How I Actually Kept my New Year’s Resolution to Work Out 5 Times a Week

What do ballet and boxing have in common? They both keep you on your toes.

I wanted to do a post about my workouts, and it occurred to me that my workouts are kind of not normal. I do about three hours of ballet a week– honest to God ballet, with pirouettes and all– and two hours of boxing and turbo kick, with a few classes in power yoga, pilates or Insanity to even it out.

But it’s pretty darn perfect, and I’m going to tell you why.

It started with my New Year’s Resolution to work out more. Basic AF but necessary. As a former competitive dancer and cheerleader, I used to be super tough and toned, but now my college years have started catching up to me. I was starting to feel blah this year. Like, panting after walking up stairs blah. And while I normally love my body shape, I was not feeling myself. There’s a difference between self love and body positivity, and realizing your abs got lost somewhere between your first and last frat party over the past four years. 

So I finally got into that “I need to make a change” mindset that most people get in January. But I’m stubborn and I was determined to stay in that mindset through February, March, April, May, June and happily ever after.

So I gave myself a concrete goal (I respond well to concrete goals) and said that I would work out five times a week.

And while it’s only February, I feel like I’ve finally turned into one of those Gym People. I’m like that Workout Person Friend who gets other people to come work out. I’m actually a good influence for once. Other than my transformation into a Morning Person, this was probably the most shocking lifestyle change I’ve ever made.

Here’s the deal, though. You can’t just tell yourself to work out five times a week and then automatically be like, Oh, yeah, now that you say so, I’ll totally go work out five times a week. There are a lot of tricks to keeping your mindset.

10 Commandments for Becoming a Workout Person

  1. Thou shalt not make excuses. This is a common truism of those gym inspiration Instagram posts: No excuses. It’s a truism because it’s TRUE. If you keep telling yourself you have homework or a dinner or you’re tired, it’s the same as telling yourself that your fitness is not a priority. Treat your workouts like you would important dates. Because this is a date with your HEALTH and that’s more important than anything else.
  2. Pick forms of exercise that you actually like. Just because you see someone else on a treadmill doesn’t mean you have to run on a treadmill. Running on a treadmill makes me personally want to cry within five minutes.
  3. Use the power of peer pressure. If you go to a Pilates class every week where the instructor is awesome and knows you, you’ll feel more guilty missing that class. If you bring friends to your workouts, you’re less likely to bail. And if you verbally tell someone you are going to the gym, you will feel more obligated to actually go to the gym.
  4. Do workouts that show results. I started boxing because I can see the physical results of my body getting stronger and more powerful. And also because Adriana Lima does boxing. The first week I started, I was hitting like a total wimp (not hitting like a girl. I don’t know where that expression came from. Girls hit HARD. And they can kick harder). Now, I can punch and kick that punching bag across the room. The feeling of making progress is so satisfying that you will be motivated to keep going to your workouts each time.
  5. Switch up your routine. If you stop showing up to work out, you might be getting bored. This is why I do a lot of different workouts: HIIT, yoga, Pilates, Insanity, ballet, boxing, all that fun stuff. It’s good to have your core workouts, but sometimes it’s good to throw in a fun new thing.
  6. Block out time in your calendar. I have my schedule set up so that I’m going to the same classes each week, so that my friends and coworkers know that I do not joke around with going to ballet every Thursday. If you don’t do workouts in a class setting– maybe you run or you practice yoga at home– you should still be doing your workouts in the same times consistently each week.
  7. If you absolutely must miss a workout, make it up another day. I usually do yoga every Thursday, but things come up, and if I truly have to go to an important meeting or travel, I add another workout in on a different day. Again: No excuses!
  8. Thou shalt invest in cute workout clothes. This is a serious one. I love Victoria Sport and of course Lululemon, but most stores carry cute fitness clothes since athleisure is a thing and it is beautiful. If you spend money on a cute bra and gym bag and yoga mat, you’re more likely to use it. Same goes for buying a gym membership or paying for classes!
  9. Reward thyself. You are doing something good for your body and you deserve to feel good about it. Don’t be afraid to grab ice cream once a week each time you meet your goal. Honestly what’s the point of working out if you’re going to deprive yourself too? Just don’t overdo it on the syrup.
  10. Love thyself. Remember that your fitness goals are all about you and loving you. The more you work out and fulfill your goals, the better you will feel. In the words of Elle Woods:

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Enjoy your endorphins! Have you discovered any secrets to sticking to your workout goals?

XO,

CC

Nailing the Morning Routine

Somewhere between my first year of college and first year of grad school, the unthinkable happened: I became a Morning Person.

I’d always thought Morning People were evil because only the devil could feel so alive at such an ungodly hour.

But necessity is the mother of invention, and last summer I finally had the necessity to get to my summer PR internship bright and early, with a smile on my face, a polished outfit and the ability to jump right into whatever crisis was already happening at 7:30 a.m. So I had to trick myself into becoming a Morning Person. And that was when I realized that Morning People have it MADE. Why? Several reasons:

  • No one bothers you until around 9:30, so you can actually have time to yourself to knock a few tasks out before you get sucked into meetings and new tasks
  • You’re the first one in the office, so you get automatic points just for showing up and being there early. People notice that. They also notice when you rush in out of breath at 9:45 and get to the meeting unprepared.
  • It gives you back an extra hour or two to do personal things like meditate, work out, make a good breakfast, read, or whatever else makes you happy. #selfcare

So it’s obviously beneficial to be an evil Morning Person. But how do you do it? It’s all in the routine. You can’t just start doing these things, you have to establish it as a habit. Just like going to the gym is a habit (a habit that you might even pick up better if you start a morning routine).

A Caffeinated Californian Morning

6:30: Triage: I do a quick skim of my emails to make sure nothing has gone terribly wrong in the day yet, or that there’s nothing urgent I need to respond to. I flag any emails that will need my attention when I get to work. Then I roll back over and go back to sleep for another 15 minutes.

6:45: Beauty: I do my morning skincare and makeup routine, which involves washing my face and brushing my teeth and applying makeup and all that fun hygienic stuff. Then I get dressed– I usually try to pick out an outfit the night before so I don’t have to spend time worrying about what to wear.

7:00: Mindfulness: I meditate for about 3-5 minutes using the Headspace app (it’s amazing) and then make myself drink water, since I’ve needed to get better at staying hydrated and starting with water before I get into the coffee!

7:15: Breakfast Briefing: I make a quick breakfast, like avocado toast or a bagel, and turn on the coffee. Then I sit down and read through all my daily news: The Skimm, New York Times, Fast Company, etc. This helps me know what’s going on from the start and stay updated, so I go into work or class informed.

7:30: Blogging: I do some writing if I have extra time, and it helps me start my day creatively and reflectively. It’s like getting all my creative energy out while I can so I can better focus on my work duties throughout the day.

7:45: Commute: I’ve been lucky enough that my commute has been a walk, whether it was the 20-minute walk to the office in downtown Chicago over the summer, or the five-minute walk to class during the school year. When I’m working, I try to get there around 8 a.m.. My morning walk takes the place of a morning workout, like yoga or stretching, and I do my real working out at night, when my brain is tired of thinking and it just wants to take a break while my body does some working.

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Some tips for creating a routine

  1. Take time for creative outlets. Do you enjoy reading? Blogging? Painting? Listening to music? If you add something you love doing to your morning routine, it will make you actually look forward to mornings.
  2. Be mindful of your health. A lot of people work out in the mornings. Even though I don’t work out, I use my morning to meditate, to take care of a personal health need. I also use the morning to drink as much water as possible (before I start forgetting) and do some stretching to feel physically ready for the day.
  3. Block out time in your calendar. My Google Calendar literally has a slot for “Meditate”, scheduled at the same time every morning. If you don’t defend your morning time as a scheduled routine, you won’t take it as seriously.
  4. Be consistent. While holidays and weekends are different, for the most part you need to get it together and participate in your routine every day. It will suck at first. And then you’ll be shocked at how fast you get used to it.
  5. Prep the night before. Make it as easy on yourself as possible. Fill the coffee maker. Set out your clothes. Make your lunch (I’ve started meal prepping on Sunday nights).

Need more ideas for establishing your morning routine? My Morning Routine is a weekly newsletter that you can sign up for (it’s free), and each week you get a new morning routine in your inbox from a real person in the working world, usually someone successful and productive like a CEO or travel blogger.


 

Have you started establishing a morning routine? How long have you been sticking to it? Is it easier to live your best life? Tell all!

XO,

CC

 

 

Cold temps, hot products: Favorite moisturizers from head to toe

It’s that time of year when I regret my decision to go to a college in the Midwest! But only a little bit. The Midwest is awesome. I just miss being able to walk outside without crying.

There is one positive to negative degree temperatures, though: Beauty. When it comes to cold weather, the beauty industry has you covered. Dry skin? There’s a product for that. Dry hair? There’s a product for that. Dry hands? A million, gazillion, bajillion products that will make you wish for cold weather just so you have an excuse to put on lotion.

So I decided to have my weekly Spa Night with more emphasis on moisturizing everything. But moisturization isn’t just for a spa night: It’s something you should be doing pretty much all day. Which sounds like a drag, but if you get the right products, it’s amazing. Here are my favorites in each category!

And P.S., you get the best results when you combine these products with drinking a ton of water. I mean a TON. Like be a camel.

Okay, here we go:

Favorite Moisturizing Products

Hands

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Hand cream: Victoria’s Secret PINK

When the weather gets cold, my hands are the first to go. Once everything starts to crack, I know it’s time to get it together and start using hand cream. I have three of these Victoria’s Secret hand creams and I keep one on hand at all times– it’s easy to stash in my backpack, purse, nightstand, wherever. They’re gorgeous, they smell gorgeous, they’ll make your hands gorgeous. Or at least, less like you’ve just punched something.

Hair

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Hair mask: Living Proof Restore Mask Treatment

This. This is THE best hair mask I have ever found, and I’ve used it for the past two years. If it weren’t for this magical tub of happiness, my hair would be sad and limp and dry all winter. What makes it so special, you ask? If you use it once a week, it makes an actual difference in moisturizing and strengthening your hair. But the real selling point for me is that it still repels dirt, making it easier for me to go between washes. Hallelujah.

Face

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Moisturizer: Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief

My skin is oily, but it also gets angry and even more oily when the cold dries it out. So I keep my skin happy by moisturizing with an oil-free moisturizer twice a day, at morning and at night. I love Clinique products because I trust the brand and the products on my crazy sensitive face, and the Moisture Surge is luxe AF. It’s more expensive, yes, but it’s something I use twice a day, and nothing makes my skin glow more. If you’re still on the fence, try the travel size for a lot less, and I promise you’ll feel the difference.

Lips

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Tinted lip balm: Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm

Chapstick is boring. Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm is not. I’ve been on the hunt for a good lip balm for a while, since my lips are constantly chapped, but it’s tough to find a lip color that looks good and stays on but doesn’t dry you out. Enter Burt’s Bees, champion of all lip balms. They have a tinted lip balm that you’ll actually want to wear year-round, not just when it’s cold. It comes in different everyday colors, and it’s sheer, so you don’t feel like you’re caking your face with the stuff. Plus, you’ll look like a goddess that thrives in cold temperatures when inside you’re really just ready for a day above 20 degrees.

Body

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Body butter: Bliss Lemon + Sage Body Butter

You really can’t beat the classics like body butter. They’re classic for a reason. And Bliss does body butter best. The Lemon + Sage is my all-time favorite, and I’ve made it a habit to put it on every night after I shower. And then I put on my bathrobe and watch Netflix, and I don’t know if there is a time in the day that I feel more stoked on how I’m running my life. Anyways. Buy the body butter. Live your best life.


 

How do you stay hydrated and moisturized when it gets unbearably cold? I hope my suggestions helped! ‘Til next time, goddesses.

XO,

CC

Seeking Simplicity, Part I: Creating a minimalist closet

Welcome to Part 1 of my blog post series on finding simplicity! In my mission to start simplifying my life, in everything from my career to my wardrobe, I’m writing a new post each week on how I’ve started keeping it simple. This first week might be the hardest: Simplifying my closet.

Less is more. Less is more. Repeat this to yourself, and you just might be able to get through the emotional experience of purging your closet.

Well, it kind of worked for me, anyways. Which was nothing short of miraculous, considering the circumstances: I’m a total pack rat with too much sentimental attachment to my clothes. But this was precisely the reason that I wanted to start with cutting down on my closet. That, and also the basic fact that I’m just literally tired of having all this stuff. There is such a thing as too much stuff, and if you’re feeling what I’m feeling, I think you’re ready for a good old wardrobe overhaul.

We’re going to be shooting for what some call the Capsule Wardrobe. Various lifestyle bloggers have managed to cut their closets down to 40, even twelve pieces. A capsule wardrobe is basically a closet with your favorite versatile pieces that you mix and match. Sounds easy enough, right? Except not, because it totally sucks getting rid of clothes.

Or does it?

Here are the benefits of reducing your wardrobe:

  • You use less time choosing what to wear and more time on things that matter, like actually spending time with your friends instead of being late because you couldn’t decide on a damn outfit
  • It gets easier to define your style and what’s important
  • You can invest in quality pieces that you absolutely love
  • Selling or donating clothes you don’t need is awesome for you, the community, and the environment. Everyone wins.
  • SPACE.

Okayy, so that’s all fine and good, but what about the actual hard part of reducing your wardrobe? Here’s where I step in with my real experience and real advice on making those tough cuts.

Creating your capsule wardrobe

Step 1: Grab a laundry basket and start filling it with the first round of cuts. 

These will be the easy things to get rid of: Tops that are out of style, old t-shirts, underwear you never wear, sweaters that you like in theory but actually hate.

Step 2: Count the number of items you have in your closet. Then decide on a goal. 

My number was unspeakably high when I started this experiment, and decided I’d try to get it down to 50. That was ambitious of me, but you have to shoot for the moon, right?

They say the magic number is 37, but I currently go to college in Missouri and that number just is not fair with the number of coats and jackets I need. So I made a compromise and decided that coats don’t count, since this is really about my outfits and not what I’m throwing on over them. Choose whatever goal works best for you, but remember: Less is more. Less is more. Rinse. Repeat.

Step 3: Choose wisely.

Here comes the hard part. This time, start with the things you love: Your absolute favorites that you are obsessed with and would grab in a fire (note: do not grab clothes in a fire). These should be a combination of versatile, tried-and-true basics that you can always count on (your favorite jeans, a plain white tee, the LBD) and the more fun, fancy pieces you can’t live without. My list looked a little like this:

“Basics”:

  • Black leather jacket
  • DKNY Denim jacket
  • Blazer
  • My favorite flannel
  • Plain black Topshop t-shirt
  • Blush & black lace camisoles
  • Black dress
  • Dark skinny jeans
  • Distressed jeans
  • Leggings
  • Cable-knit sweater

“Fun”:

  • Fur vest
  • Vintage pink bomber jacket
  • Urban Outfitters jumpsuit
  • Striped culotte Loft pants
  • Graphic concert tees
  • Floral kimono
  • Metallic workout jacket (Victoria Sport, my latest obsession)
  • Bodysuits
  • My entire cardigan collection

You’ll be surprised at how fast you decide what your favorite things are and what you can live without.

Once you’ve zeroed in on what you are obsessed with, it’s time to tackle the things you’re less obsessed with.

Step 4: Make the deeper cuts.

Alright, we’ve had our fun pretending this whole minimalism thing will be a breeze. But then we look at that old Charlotte Russe top and think, “But what’s the harm in keeping this crop top?” I hear you. I am with you. I, too, think it is unjust to ditch the going-out tops. But going-out tops are trendy, and you can always invest in two trendier tops to replace the five you threw out.

Are you keeping that cashmere sweater because it was expensive and you keep telling yourself you like it but you haven’t worn it once in the past three years? Pitch it. Do you still have that dress from high school that you share fond memories with, but you don’t seem to be making more memories with it? Time to let someone else love it.

BTW, the more you get rid of/sell, the more money and space you have for sushi. Just saying.

Keep cutting down. Figure out what’s most versatile, that you wear most often without thinking about it. Think about the classics versus the so-yesterday-trends. And remember: LESS. IS. MORE.

Step 5: Enjoy your newfound freedom.

Even if your experiment seems like a complete failure and you’ve only managed to get rid of three things, I consider this blog post a success because I got you to reduce your wardrobe! Well, you got yourself to. I just gave you the moral support.

For more expertise on building a capsule wardrobe, Unfancy has the ultimate guide with beautiful resources and pictures.


Have you ever tried to create a capsule wardrobe, or make your closet more minimalist? Let me know how your experiments turn out!

XO,

CC

Low-calorie coffee drinks that are still 100% delicious

Coffee is a magical thing, but it’s easy to forget that we love coffee for the coffee, not for all the other stuff we put in it. With drinks coming out like the Unicorn Frappucino, we lose track of what made us fall in love with coffee in the first place, and start racking up a scary 600 calories per drink. I’m not normally one to count carbs, but I have to draw the line somewhere, and it starts to get problematic when half my dietary intake for the day comes from a Starbucks order.

As some of you may know from my Instagram, I often drink my coffee black. This is partly because I don’t always have it together and I run out of milk and creamer. But I also just learned to like coffee better without all the sugar. This has not always been the case for a massive sweet tooth like me. I used to be the biggest Frappucino fan on the planet. There was one point in my life that I got my caramel Frap once a day. I’d grab my grande Frappucino with caramel drizzle on top and head to class, feeling happy and caffeinated and just way too sugar-loaded. It had to stop. So I eventually switched to a vanilla latte, and then a skinny vanilla latte, and finally mostly iced coffee.

I picked up a few tips along the way:

  • Hold the whipped cream
  • Order it nonfat
  • Ask for sugar-free syrup
  • Use skim milk or almond milk (you can also do soy milk but I personally can’t stand soy in much of anything)
  • Order the “skinny” version (e.g., a grande skinny vanille latte at Starbucks)
  • Order the smallest size

General rule of thumb: Remember that the more flavoring and dairy you put in, the more calories build up. Keep it simple!

Okay, it’s time to give you what you came for. So without further ado, here’s how to keep it 100 (and under) in your favorite coffee orders. Please note that these are all approximations!

10 coffees under 100 calories

  1. Regular brewed coffee: 0 calories (boring but effective)
  2. Americano with cream: 20 calories (10 calories without cream…I find that Americanos don’t normally need much cream)
  3. Iced coffee with nonfat milk: 20 calories (60 with classic syrup flavoring)
  4. Nonfat cappuccino: 60 calories
  5. Flat white (a shot of espresso with steamed milk) using skim milk: 70 calories
  6. Iced macchiato (a shot of coffee with milk) using skim milk: 70 calories
  7. Skinny vanilla latte: 100 calories
  8. Cold brew with cream:100 calories
  9. Tall Caramel Frappucino Light:100 calories
  10. Skinny caramel macchiato: 105 calories (technically over 100 but WHATEVER it’s fantastic and deserves to be on this list)

Other resources:

Dunkin Donuts DDSmart Menu

Starbucks Delicious Drinks Under 200 Calories Menu

McDonald’s McCafe Nutrition Summary

Have you discovered any coffee orders that taste amazing without robbing your calorie intake for the day? Please spill the beans!

XO,

CC

Keeping it positive in 2018: How to bring a new attitude to the new year

2018 is coming. Are you ready for it?

I know I am. After what might have been the hardest year of my life, I am so ready for a new start. The funny thing is, 2018 isn’t a new start. It’s just a new number that I have to remember to write when I write the date. But it somehow represents a new chance to change something about your life for the better.

Not that we need an excuse to do that, but New Year’s gives us an excuse to do that with style. It’s not every night you can celebrate life changes with champagne. Or maybe it is. Shoot. I’ve been doing it wrong.

But anyways. My point: New Year’s is a perfect time to think about having a more positive attitude.

How do you know when you need an attitude adjustment? Is it when you wake up and realize you can’t remember the last time you woke up excited for the day? Is it when you break down into tears from one small setback (which may or may not include broken escalators)? Or is it when you just have this general feeling that you’re just not giving enough, to your job, to your friends, to the world, to your life?

Maybe you feel this. Or maybe you don’t, and you just want more ways to feel positive. Whatever your situation, I’ve been there, and I know the power of positive thinking sounds cheesy, but hear me out: It’s legit. Your mind is a powerful thing, and once you believe in that power, you can honestly do whatever the hell you want. This includes eating ice cream for breakfast, and having a positive attitude. Both very important priorities.

And as usual, I’ve got the details…


What you should be doing this year to keep a positive attitude

  • My analytical-brain twist on the whole “count your blessings” game: Whenever something happens that puts you in a bad mood or bums you out in any way, big or small, write it down. Whenever something good happens, write that down too in a separate list. Compare the lists. Did that many bad things actually happen, or does the good outweigh the bad? Were all the bad things that big of a deal?
  • When a challenge or crisis comes up (you mess up at work, you have a big presentation coming up and your team isn’t working well together, your boyfriend is talking to that girl you hate, you drop your pizza…okay, some bad examples in there but these things tend to throw us off), allow yourself to have a private mini freak-out session. This can be as simple as screaming for ten seconds into a pillow. Let it all out. Cry if you need to. But then you’re done. Panic time is over. And then you can focus on solving the problem.
  • Speaking of problems, there is a solution for all of them. Believe this. Make it your mantra. If you buy into the prophecy that there is a solution, you’ll be a lot more likely to fulfill your own prophecy and actually find the solution.
  • Figure out what helps you feel invincible. It can be clothing (I have this gorgeous floral print Free People kimono that for some reason gives me all the confidence in the world when I wear it), a song, a workout, a perfume, a photo, anything. It can be a combination of all of the above. And then keep those things close. I love the scent of rose, and I love skincare, so I keep a rose water face spray at my desk for a quick spritz whenever I need to feel refreshed and powerful. Sounds a little crazy but it works!
  • Heed the wisdom of Legally Blonde: Endorphins make you happy. I’ll let you finish the rest of that line, but the point is, get the endorphins going by exercising frequently. If you feel your mood dipping, take a 5-minute walk and see how you feel after. My guess is you’ll feel magical compared to your mood before.
  • Create a “smile file,” or a list of all the good things people have said to you. I have a folder with emails from my supervisors whenever they tell me I did a great job on something, and I look back at it any time I need a boost.
  • Surround yourself with as much positive energy as possible. This especially means keeping positive people close and cutting negative people out. If some toxic friend is bringing down your mood with constant complaints and anxiety-inducing behavior, distance yourself ASAP because you do not need that around. Even the most optimistic among us can get dragged down by pessimistic people if they let it happen.
  • Focus on a positive vision: It’s like they say with practicing a sport or doing well on a test. If you even just imagine yourself performing the perfect pirouette in the ballet performance, you’re already setting yourself up to do the real thing. Focus on believing in your ability to do what you need to do. Envisioning success and happiness will help you make it happen. Because self-fulfilling prophecies are a real thing and the power is all yours.

What you think, you become.

What you feel, you attract.

What you imagine, you create.

– Buddha (but also Pinterest)


Happy New Year and thanks for reading! I have a lot of things to be positive about, including this blog and all of my readers. I can’t wait to see what the positive energy brings this year. Cheers!

XO,

CC