Okay, so if you read my most recent post on my health update, you know that I recently started seeing a new primary care doctor. So far she has been great and I am super positive about my switch. One of the things I really like about her approach, is that she really strives to see the bigger picture, instead of just focusing on all symptoms separately. This is so critical when you are dealing with autoimmune diseases since they manifest so differently in everybody and their symptoms can be tricky to pin down. I wanted to share a conversation that we had because, number one, I really liked how she approached it, and number two, this advice may be able to help other IBD sufferers. Full disclosure, I am not a medical professional, or qualified to give any medical advice. What I can do, is share my experience in hopes that it may inspire you to have similar conversations with your doctor.
Our main discussion was around a few concerns I have had over the past few months, related to weird symptoms I was experiencing. I couldn't tell if these were related to Crohn's symptoms, medication side effects, or some other issue entirely. I had been getting headaches as well as spikes in my blood pressure pretty frequently. Usually my BP runs pretty normal and stably, I've been hooked up to vital machines every six weeks for the past four-ish years so I know. I had exams, blood work, EKGs, the whole nine yards done, but no one could figure out what was going on. Everyone was assuming these were due to my anxiety, which could be the case some times, but honestly I feel like my anxiety has been more in control over the past few months than it has ever been. Things weren't adding up.
My new doctor and I started having conversations around this and we uncovered the almost annoyingly simple answer. In my frustration I ranted about how my Crohn's symptoms being better the past few months, obviously not gone entirely, but things have been under control. I went on about how conscious I was about taking care of my body when my symptoms were bad and how I don't understand why something else seems to be wrong now. Then the question of how much water I was drinking came up. Of course I make sure to stay hydrated! When my Crohn's is bad I actually HAVE TO pay attention to my hydration at all times to make sure I don't end up in the hospital. Things started to click together as I explained my diligent hydration routine. I realized that since my Crohn's symptoms have been better, my avoidance of dehydration had slipped to the back of my mind. When I was doing a physical activity or out in the sun I was always careful to pack a DripDrop packet and track my water intake, but as far as day to day, for some reason I guess since I wasn't losing as much water due to my symptoms, all was well. This is NOT THE CASE. My symptoms aren't gone completely so I am still at a higher risk of dehydration, but I was acting like this wasn't even a factor anymore.
As we pieced this together I honestly felt like an idiot. She explained how your blood pressure can be seriously impacted by dehydration and I needed to make sure that was a priority even if I was seemingly feeling fine. She was convinced that the chronic dehydration I had recently been unknowingly experiencing was the cause for my blood pressure spikes. I was cracking myself up with how crazy this sounded after I went through all of these tests and freaked myself out to no end. "I have a partnership with the best Oral Rehydration Solution company out there. I drink them whenever I work out or am outside or am sick." I was literally yelling at myself in her office. "Well start not just drinking them when you think you 'need' to. Start drinking one per day at least and two in the summer." My doctor literally just prescribed me DripDrop to fix my BP and headache issues.....
Over the past six weeks or so, I've been taking her advice and making sure I am being way more conscious of my water intake and making sure I am adding DripDrop to my water at least once per day. I also have been diligent about the one glass of champagne to one glass of water ratio rule, which I am very proud of. Go. Me. Miraculously my headaches have improved and my blood pressure has been way more normal. Wow.
So what did I learn from this story and why am I sharing it. One, I am thankful I have a doctor that actually thought of chronic dehydration instead if just trying to prescribe me an unnecessary pill. Two, sometimes the seemingly more simple answer is the right one. Three, just because you are feeling okay doesn't mean you can slack on your usual care and precautions. Last thing, I was really excited to share this story because DripDrop genuinely has helped me so much. I know I talk about DripDrop often and how it is a product I am proud to be a partner to. But I also know in the world of social media where bloggers are promoting products all the time it is hard to tell what is authentic and what isn't. I like being able to share a story like this, where you can see how DripDrop truly is a part of my health protocol. It isn't just part of an Instagram post, or a blog post. This isn't just a lifestyle product I am taking cute photos of (although, yes, I think they are very cute). This is a product that changes lives and saves lives. And I am very proud to work with them.
With nice weather (finally) upon us, I have been jumping at any chance to get outside more. Whether its taking the dogs for an extra walk, parking farther back in the parking lot for a few extra seconds outside, or when I’m able to work remote, doing it from my backyard, I have been taking every opportunity I can get. Usually the nice weather means Matt and I trade some gym time for activities that let us enjoy the outdoors. We are lucky enough to have a hiking trail right near our house which is probably our favorite outdoor workout replacement to do together.
Another one of my favorite ways to get active outside are with local studios that host outdoor classes and events. My barre studio has these at least every month or so when the weather is nice. I love it because you mix up the location so instead of working out in the studio you are outside on a restaurant patio or a brewery, something like that. It definitely breaks you from your routine and, not going to lie, it motivates me way more to get up on a Saturday for an early class.
This morning, my mom and I went to a “Crunch & Brunch” event at a restaurant which was right on the water in the harbor. We got to do barre in the fresh air and it was SUCH a beautiful morning. Of course, when you are opting for an outdoor workout, you have to make sure you are prepared with some extra items. Of course if you need a yoga mat or resistance bands, you remember to bring those but, I’ve rounded up the items I always take with me for an outdoor class that may not be a part of your regular gym bag.
1. Sunglasses - These are a must for me! Some people hate working out with sunglasses on but if it is bright out I need them. I want to be focused on the workout I’m doing instead of squinting to see what the instructor is demonstrating. I have specific ones from MVMT that I like for outdoor activities. They are matte and non reflective so I don’t get any extra glares. They also are a little smaller than my usual pairs and sit on my face securely so they don’t fall off mid-downward dog.
2. Hat - Number one, this will protect your scalp from the sun while you are outside. Two, it helps keep your hair out of your face. And three, if you choose to forgo the sunglasses, a hat should do the trick of keeping the sun out of your eyes.
3. Sunscreen - I think this one is pretty self explanatory but no matter what you are doing outside, lather on that SPF. My favorite are the Sun Bum sprays. They are so easy to put on and don’t stain your clothing at all. I have one that sits near my front door for us to spray on before we head out for an activity. It also smells SO good. I also like the face stick from Sun Bum because it’s easy to throw in your gym bag to touch up sensitive areas like your nose and cheeks, or other areas that get extra sweaty.
4. DripDrop - We’ve all been there. You’re in a workout class and you’re like I might throw up or pass out because I am sweating out my whole body weight. You’re dehydrated so you chug water and lay in child’s pose until you feel like you won’t puke all over your mat. I can’t be the only one? RIGHT?! Working out obviously puts your body at a higher risk for dehydration and when you mix that with a workout outside, under the sun, when its 80+ degrees… game over. I highly recommend packing DripDrop ORS packets to bring with you. Usually I drink one on my way to class/during and then if I need to I have another one afterwards. Especially if you are waking up early to go to a class or go on a hike, these are a game changer since your body is already in need of some morning hydration. I always pack some extras too incase there is that poor girl suffering in child’s pose who needs a dehydration savior to help her out.
5. Towel - Usually studios will provide towels so if you are offsite it is a given that if you want one, you’ll bring your own. Even if you don’t usually grab one while you’re in a studio workout, I highly recommend bringing one to an outdoor class. A lot of times these classes can be on cement or other hard surfaces. If you are on your wrists, knees, or forearms a lot this can get painful. It is nice to have a towel that you can roll or fold up for some extra cushion if you need it!
If you are looking for outdoor workouts near you, check Facebook! If you don’t have a studio that you get regular updates from, Facebook events are a great place to see what exciting things local studios are doing near you. You can also find local workout groups, charity runs/walk, and events to bring your kids (or dogs) to, if you want to get active and more involved in the community.
Let me know, what is your favorite kind of outdoor workout?
The incoming of summer sunshine reminded me that I was overdue for my annual dermatology appointment. I made an appointment to be seen this Friday and have a nice skin check up to make sure all is well. I never used to put much thought into skin abnormalities because the chances of it being skin cancer seemed so far fetched to me. This was seriously naive behavior considering both of my grandfathers have a history of skin cancer and in college I was visiting the tanning bed like it was my second home. Bad. Idea.
As I took more of an interest in skincare I realized how horribly I was ruining my skin by baking it in the sun. I started lathering up with SPF instead of tanning oil and called it a healthier lifestyle. Once I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, my awareness of the risks of skin cancer heightened. The more research I did, the more I understood the link between Crohn’s and skin cancer. The immunosuppressants us with Crohn’s are often on, can highly increase the likelihood of skin cancer. While the exact reason for this link is not 100% explained yet, the correlation can’t be ignored.
I started lathering SPF 50 all over my face, neck, and hands on the daily. I started covering up my scalp while on walks with my dogs. And I started spending a whole lot more time under the umbrella while on the beach. The risk of skin cancer is not worth a balmy glow I can easily get from a bronzing lotion. Even if you are not at a high risk for skin cancer, the sun is the most damaging thing to your skin. Is it worth getting prematurely wrinkled? I vote no.
All things in the table here, I am a firm believer in regular dermatology evaluations, especially if you have an autoimmune disease/ are on immunosuppressants. No matter how much you do to protect your skin now, you can never be 100% immune to the dangerous effects of UV rays, and sadly, the damage you have done can contribute to problems you may face now or in the future.
Obviously none of us are perfect. There have been days I forget my SPF and there are days I’ve spent too much time in the sun in favor of a good time with friends. I’m not saying you can never allow your skin see the light of day because, let’s get real, that’s super unrealistic. What I am saying though, is that you can do your best to 1. protect your skin and 2. do your due diligence with check ups.
Hopefully I’ll be reporting back after my appointment tomorrow with good news of no skin concerns. Until then, I wanted to leave you all with a few kick ass sunscreen recommendations. These are a few of my favorite products that infuse my love of skincare with the responsibility of protecting my skin.
Drop me a comment and let me know your SPF loaded product recommendations. I’m always in for a good new product to try.
Photo by: Madison Short
It’s been a while since I’ve done a post about me. I talk about what trips I’m going on, products I’m trying, recipes I’m cooking. But, it has been a while since I’ve pulled back the curtain and given an update on what is going on behind the scenes of social media perception. Honestly, when things are feeling crazy in my life, it is a whole lot easier to keep my content light and airy. It is an escape from having to deal with the hard stuff. The thing is, the reason I started this blog in the first place was to talk about that hard stuff. The outfits, beauty products, vacations, and shopping recommendations are an added plus. Through feedback I’ve gotten, I know it is the hard stuff that makes the most impact and means the most in this community. It is also Mental Health Month so... what better a time than now?
The past two and a half years have been a total whirlwind. I bought a house, I got promoted, I bought a new car, I moved into my house, I got engaged, I got married, I planned another wedding, I had a big wedding, I planned a honeymoon, I went on a honeymoon, I finally feel like I got my health under control. And last fall I freaked the fuck out. It was literally the weekend of our first wedding anniversary I had an anxious meltdown. I had done so much and checked so many things off my list over the past two years, what do I do now? I thought it was just me being affected by the season change and feeling a little more down in the dumps. But, as I continued to have overwhelming anxiety week after week I called my mom because I knew I couldn’t keep being that miserable.
When I talked things through with her, it really made me realize what was going on. For the past two years I had been going, going, going. It had been great. I had been achieving goals and conquering huge life events. I had been in a constant state of planning, working, and productivity. I was at a point where I had so many big things planned, that once they were done, I was lost. I’ve always been someone who need to feel constantly productive and if I can’t be I pretty much lose it and shut down. Don’t worry, I’ve been in therapy for this for a long time. I also love and crave the stability of always knowing what is next and having a plan.
So here I was, coming out of my first blissful year of marriage, not knowing what is next. People were asking me left and right when I was going to have a baby, as if that were the only logical next step in my relationship. Was I a horrible person because I selfishly wanted more time to spend with just my husband? I came out of busting my ass at work only to find I don’t know what my next step is or what I am working towards. I was happy in my house, with my dogs, with my family, with my life. But I felt so, so sad and hopeless. For absolutely no apparent reason. My anxiety was back in full swing and my OCD that I struggled with as a child was back and terrorizing me. This also truly didn’t make sense to me because my Crohn’s was the most under control it has been in years and everyday was no longer a fight. But what do I do when I’m not just fighting to get by? Its like I had no idea how to function in a calm world.
I started up therapy again and I have gotten medication to help with my anxiety and OCD. Its a work in progress to simply be happy with how things are instead of always chasing the next achievement. I am getting there day by day and I’m also being a lot more open with what I’ve been going through. I was reluctant to share how I was feeling before, because I felt ungrateful. If I was sharing how anxious and unhappy I was when I was blessed with so many things in life people would 100% think I was a selfish, crazy, asshole. Turns out, that is not the case and the more I share, the more I realize there are a lot of other women (and men) out there going through the same thing or who have gone through it before. Its like you have an emotional hangover that you can’t get rid of. It can happen after a big life event, after achieving a goal that you’ve been working towards, or coming back from an amazing vacation. I just listened to The Skinny Confidential Him & Her Podcast episode with Mark Mason and they were literally talking about exactly this. For those of you who don’t know, Mark is the insanely successful author of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck”. If he feels this emotional hangover and is so wildly successful, that in a weird way, made me feel even more validated in my feelings. The fact that he shared his experience so openly AND wrote his next book about it too, is a testament to his vulnerability and drive to help others. I recommend for everyone to listen to that podcast episode because it may make things click just a little more. It might make you feel like you’re not alone and it is valid what you are feeling. Or maybe this post will do that for you too. Who knows?
I think we all have our own “why’s” behind why we get this dark, heavy feeling. I haven’t figured out my “why” yet because, truthfully, this is always how I’ve been, and it's probably going to take years for me to unravel the root cause. Over the past 5 months, I’ve been working on balancing being happy with the now while still moving forward to whatever “next” is. Its been a test of my patience, self awareness, and mindfulness. While it hasn’t been easy, I feel so much better and more equipped to deal with life in general. My anxiety can still be crippling some days. I might have meltdowns about stupid shit. But, hey, at least I am owning it. I don’t know what is next for my family, my career, or pretty much anything else in life. Do we ever really know? Instead of focusing on the unknown I’ve been focusing on embracing that wild freedom of the universe and appreciating it for what it is.
I know this post got a little deep, but I feel like it needed to happen. I’ve been focusing inward so much the past few months and if you have noticed or not, I felt it would be beneficial to provide some context. As you all know, mental health is something I am very passionate about, whether it is in relation to chronic illnesses or a stand alone battle. It is something that impacts me, my family, my friends, pretty much everyone I know, in some type of way. Whether it be for fear of being judged or other reasons entirely, a lot of us suffer in silence. In today’s world that seems absurd. We are sharing what we have for every meal on Instagram but we aren’t addressing something that has such a large and painful impact in our lives? I hope moving forward we start sharing more about the real shit.
Saying a little proactive cheers to the weekend today. I’m counting down the days until this Friday when I’m going on a much needed long weekend girls trip to New York City. Amy Scripts and I are headed to Create & Cultivate. We’ve been dreaming of attending this conference for years and now that we finally have the opportunity, we’re making the most of it with a jam packed weekend in the city that never sleeps. As crazily excited as I am, anytime I look forward to an event, I enter the situation with an overwhelming amount of anxiety that honestly really sucks. There have been countless times that I’ve looked forward to events or trips, only to be hit with a Crohn’s flare or complication that has put a damper on my day. That’s the reality of IBD and while I can’t eliminate the possibility of feeling sick, I can make sure I am armed with the proper tricks up my sleeve to help me stay feeling as good as possible.
I scheduled my Remicade for today (a Tuesday ugh), but I needed to have it before the trip so I’d be feeling as good as possible. I stocked up on all of my prescription and OTC meds to throw in my extra large tote bag. And I’m making sure to throw ample amounts of DripDrop ORS packets in my purse. Everyone has their own way of navigating IBD and for me this is how I do it. I know certain things that will make me sick and avoid them. Then there are other things I have no idea will affect me until my digestive systems makes up its mind that day. When I’m traveling, I’m constantly eating at new places and trying new foods and cocktails. I’ve mentioned this before, but trying out a city’s unique cuisine and cocktails is one of my favorite things. IBD you’re not stopping me from that! I know the chances of me having a reaction to a food I eat out is higher than making something at home, but let’s be real, I’m going to NYC.... girl’s gotta enjoy herself. Where I’m really careful though (and where DripDrop saves me) is in the cocktail department. You know I’m a fan of a rosé or a cold glass of champagne, do not get me wrong, but the dehydration risk really does freak me out..... no matter how many times you see me post #roseallday.
Let me tell you, when you’re already dehydrated (thanks Crohn’s) and indulge in a few alcoholic beverages, things can take a bad turn. Most likely you’ll end up extremely hungover with GI symptoms to boot. Not fun when you’re trying to have a lively girls weekend, not fun when you are trying to make the most of your days exploring a city, and not fun when you are sharing a bathroom. SOS.
That being said, I am not saying see ya to my favorite NYC cocktail spots (While We Were Young and Pietro Nolita, I’m looking at you!). Life is about BALANCE. And enjoying the heck out of yourself when you get a well deserved break. After indulging in a couple beverages I make sure to drink a packet of DripDrop in my water before I go to bed AND when I wake up. This helps me to feel so much better when I get up in the morning and keeps my body from experiencing those negative impacts of dehydration. It’s like my secret weapon for not feeling like a total hungover human. My favorite packets to use in this case are the full serving sticks that you mix into 16oz of water.
This also makes me super popular on group trips because everyone is asking me for DripDrop. How popular now are those services who give you in home IVs to cure your hangover? I’ve basically got that in a little pouch. Dehydration is honestly one of the worst feelings and I’m incredibly happy that I won’t have to deal with that mess this weekend. I’m not saying this means you can go out and get college drunk and feel fine. I’m saying that you can enjoy celebrating with friends, trying cocktails at an event, and trying that bottle of wine you have no idea how to pronounce. You can live life without the constant anxiety of how dehydration will impact you. You can avoid that pit in your stomach that makes you feel like you are going to miss out. You can feel a little more like your 27 year old self who just wants to laugh with her friend at dinner and cheers to celebrating a well deserved weekend off.
Photos by Madison Short
The holiday season is upon us which means you are looking for gifts to give to the special people in your lives. I love consulting gift guides of my favorite bloggers to get some ideas especially when it comes to buying for my sisters and friends. I wanted to kick off my series of gift guides with one that is near and dear to my heart.... a Spoonie Gift Guide!
If you are someone living with a chronic illness you know there are some really special comforts in life that truly are some of the best gifts. There may not be a magic pill you can gift to someone who has a chronic illness that will make it all better, but there are plenty of gifts you can give that can help reduce anxiety, create a more comfortable way to relax, and provide a bit of luxury to a day of self care.
You can shop my picks below so you can treat the spoonie in your life this holiday season (or yourself... alway appropriate to treat yourself). I also have included some brief descriptions, giving you the scoop on why these are the perfect gifts!
1. slip Silk Pillow Case - When you aren't feeling so hot it's no secret that you can spend a lot of time in bed. Having a luxurious pillow case can make you feel at least a bit pampered while you are getting your beauty sleep. The numerous benefits for your skin and hair simply by switching to this pillow case can make you feel like you are treating yourself while you snooze.
2. Herbivore Detox Bath Salts - Baths are won of my favorite ways to unwind after a long day and they help a lot with chronic joint and muscle pain. I also love how cute this jar is because you will actually want it to be displayed in your bathroom.
3. slip Silk Sleep Mask - I never understood the hype around sleep masks until I wanted to sleep in a bright doctors office. Game. Changed. This is a gem to someone who is constantly exhausted.
4. Audible Membership - Audible is the gift that keeps on giving. It allows you to consume content straight through your earbuds in a relaxing way. When you are nauseous or have a migraine the last thing you want to do is read a book or look at a screen. Audible solves all of these problems and is also a great companion for when you are getting infusions or suffering through a long wait at the doctor's office.
5. Pajama Set - Feeling cute and put together goes a long when when it comes to mindset and morale. Even if your hot date this weekend consists of Netlixing by yourself it feels good to get a little fancy in these adorable (but still ultra comfy) pajamas.
6. Earbuds - This goes hand in hand with the Audible Membership. Listening to books, podcasts, or music can be a great distraction during medical procedures or when you just aren't feeling great and need to take your mind somewhere else. Also, great to wear when you don't feel like speaking to any other humans.
7. Mask Frenzy by Peter Thomas Roth - Masks are another great way to practice self care. This set has all of the greatest highs from PTR but isn't necessarily something you can justify spending the money on yourself. This is a special gift that will remind the spoonie in your life to spend a little extra time treating themselves.
8. Gravity Blanket- These are proven to help with anxiety and insomnia which are two things many spoonies experience. Who doesn't want the gift of better sleep?
9. Teddy Bear Faux Fur Bath Robes - Again, sometimes its nice to feel pampered without having to leave your home.
10. Acupressure Mat - These are out of this world when it goes to helping decrease muscle pain and discomfort. They are are proven to help lover anxiety.
Did I miss anything? Let me know what else you would add to the list.
Also, stay tuned for my next gift guide coming soon.
Going into a holiday that is pretty much solely revolved around food can feel like a real nightmare for someone who has IBD. The Thanksgiving table is an uncharted war zone full of things that could potentially set your digestive system into full SOS mode, not to mention the exhaustion of having to actually speak to humans all day, oh and did I mention a limited number of shared bathrooms. Yikes.
My family is always extremely accommodating and supportive of my dietary needs and medical situation which is a relief but even so, I still experience a variety of road blocks throughout Turkey Day. I figured if I am running into these issues, I cannot be alone in my struggle. We are getting it all out here on the table (no pun intended)… all of the annoying things about this food focused holiday. Actually feel free to share this with your family/relatives so they know what you are going through. Never fear though, I will also supply you with some tips on how I get through the day and actually end up having a pretty enjoyable time.
The first issue with Thanksgiving, or really eating at anyone’s house where you did not prepare the food, is how are you supposed to know the actual ingredients of what you are eating? Grandma might say that her dish is gluten free until she realizes that whoops there were bread crumbs in there, do those have gluten? and BOOM your whole day goes to shit. Literally. Or there are the other types of people who know what is in their dish but INSIST you try it anyway. Like I get that your corn pudding was pinned 700 times on Pinterest but that STILL does not change the fact that me and corn are not friends. I don’t see you asking the person with a shellfish allergy to “just taste” your crab dip because its “that good”. Just because my reaction doesn’t involved an epi-pen doesn’t mean it doesn’t count. And to be honest, I still may also end up in the hospital. Re: the last time I though quinoa was a good idea.
As I mentioned before, my family is really good about being accommodating with dietary restrictions. Even still, I can’t always predict that the dishes that on paper meet all of my requirements still won’t make me sick. It could be a spice or an oil that I sets me off, or maybe a specific vegetable that I don’t normally eat. Or honestly it could be anything under the sun that my body just decides to hate that day. Either way, you can try as hard as you want to avoid things that will make you sick but at the end of the day there are no guarantees.
At that point you are stuck out of your house, utilizing a common bathroom, and still having to speak to people despite feeling horrible. Not a great situation. Side note here really quick: this is all assuming you are going elsewhere to celebrate Thanksgiving. If you are hosting it at your house, damn girl, good for you. I can barely figure out how to make my Sunbasket deliveries so I am not with you there but like I said, good for you. So back to the situation where you are sick and have one bathroom and have to talk to people. Sneaking away for a 20 minute bathroom break can be a good excuse to get some downtime from the fam but I also would rather spend that hiatus hiding in a closet somewhere, strolling around the backyard, or literally anywhere but one of the common bathrooms.
Even if you make it through the day without any digestive melt downs it can just be a really exhausting day. Between prepping food, catching up with family, and having little to no time for yourself, it can take a toll on you even if you love being around your family and are having a great time. Over exerting yourself around the holidays can be hard to avoid because you are just really so excited to spend time with your loved ones and celebrate.
So now you’re reading this, nodding your head, and wishing someone had a magic pill to make your Thanksgiving digestive drama go away. Well I don’t have that (because TBH science isn’t my strong suit) but I do have some suggestions based on what I incorporate into my own life and a whole lot of research (aka years of trial and error).
I try and set aside “downtime” every holiday… including Thanksgiving. I usually do this by creating a tradition out of it. No one messes with traditions. For example, on Thanksgiving morning instead of jumping right into big groups and festivities I watch the parades with my mom and my sister. This gives us all time to relax and ease into our day. It allows us to spend time with each other but also not be “on” having to really socialize. We are all on the same page with this one. Maybe you make a new tradition for yourself that revolves around being home at 6pm and getting a start on Christmas movie watching. Relaxing, festive, and still fun.
Next up… Bring your own food if you are concerned. To be full disclosure, I’ve heard mixed reviews on this. Some hosts says its super rude to bring your own meal. Some say THANK YOU because they don’t have to deal with your dietary restrictions and risk being the one that sends you into a shit storm. I personally think this is totally fine and you are actually doing your host a favor. As long as you are messaging it properly that you are doing this because you value spending time with everyone so much and want to make sure you are feeling your best to do so, then I think its perfectly appropriate. Bring a nice bottle of wine to share with everyone and one as a host gift and you should be good to go.
In addition to bringing your own meal, or instead of if the thought of rolling into dinner with your own lunchbox is giving you anxiety, at least bring a dish to share that you know you can eat. By doing this you are sharing the love and contributing to the dinner but you are also hedging your bets because you know there is at least one thing YOU made and YOU can eat. This is also a fun opportunity to show your family that your “weird” diet can still yield some really delicious recipes. And hey, if no one else is into your gluten free stuffing, you will get all the leftovers to yourself. Win, win.
Last piece of advice, and actually my favorite, is to make the holiday not about the food. I know this sounds absurd and impossible especially when we are talking about Thanksgiving. It is doable though. Think about what are the other things you can enjoy and celebrate about the holiday. Thanksgiving… you are (most likely) off of work, you are spending time with people you love, you get to wear a cute outfit, this is a perfect excuse to force your significant other to take corny Instagram photos with you… or dress your dogs up in turkey costumes… maybe that is just me. What I am trying to say is there are plenty of things to look forward to about the day that are non food related. Parades, football, getting ready to Black Friday shop, or literally just celebrating you have a day to not be at work. I don’t care what it is but there has to be something that gets you excited that has nothing to do with turkey.
I know all of this is way easier said than done and the holidays can be a tricky time. Try and hang in there, enjoy what you can, and accept when it’s time to tap out early to binge watch Hallmark Christmas movies. There is NOTHING wrong with that.
This week I have a total badass babe, Julianna Rubino, on the podcast. She is the creator of one of my favorite blogs, Barre to Table, where she shares her workout routines, wellness tips, delicious recipes, and more. Her content always is super informative and she has me updating my grocery "wish list" every time I watch her Instagram stories. She balances working on her blog, teaching barre classes, heading up Baltimore's Electric Flight Crew, oh yeah, and working her day job in sales. Casual.
That being said, not only am I so excited to have you all hear her tips and tricks in regards to fitness and nutrition but she also has an inspiring take on how to balance everything you have going on in your life. She is the epitome of "hustle hard" but she knows how to still make time for herself and her family. #goals.
In this episode we cover some much requested topics, like time management, food recommendations, and her routine, as well as diving into things like how we feel about today's nutrition trends like intermittent fasting and plant based diets. Throughout the episode she drops some gems of advice and knowledge (along with some of her must have's and favorite products) so I can't wait to hear the takeaways you get from this one!
One of my favorite things about the advice Julianna gives is that her tips are so easy to seamlessly integrate in your life. Think, adding a 10 minute HIIT workout in when you first wake up in the morning or swapping ingredients in your favorite dinner with ingredients that will make you feel like your best self. Her recipes are also actually doable... as in not super complicated and don't take you an entire evening to make but impressively taste like it did. Seriously, her sweet potato gnocchi recipe is INSANE and way less complicated than it sounds. Promise.
Keep scrolling to see a round up of some of our favorite articles on Barre to Table and make sure to follow Julianna on Instagram (@barretotable) to get even more of her fitness and food tips. I am so thankful she came on the podcast and shared her wisdom with every one. I can't wait to work together again soon!
What were your favorite takeaways from the episode?!
BEST OF BARRE TO TABLE
FOOD + NUTRITION
When it comes to beauty treatments and tricks, I am always down to try just about anything, especially when it comes to skincare. My husband is still confused at how I have so much space in our home dedicated to storing my various cleansers, face masks, sunscreens… you name it and I probably have it somewhere in my museum of skincare treasures. He has slowly warmed up to my excessive supply as I’ve slathered creams on his face that he admits “make him feel smooth”. You. Are. Welcome.
As you can imagine, the weeks leading up to my wedding I was CRAZY with my routine. Yes, I was getting airbrush makeup (done by my friend/makeup artist who is seriously the best) but good skin is the foundation to a beautiful makeup job. I didn’t always understand the importance of this, it took working in the makeup industry and putting makeup on such a variety of skin types to realize that even the best foundation won’t look perfect if your skin isn’t up to par. When my Crohn’s acts up (aka when I get stressed aka when I am planning the best but most stressful day of my damn life) my skin rebels and I break out especially around my jaw line. I’m not talking about a little blackhead that can be covered, but serious cystic volcanos that no matter how much you push and prod, don’t erupt. You all know what I’m talking about. They are the kinds of blemishes that you need a live Facetune edit to cover.
Leave it to me to get one of these nasty guys RIGHT before my wedding. I shouldn’t have been surprised since, you know, wedding, stress, Crohn’s, but like, seriously? I tried my usual at home remedies but none of my regular combos were working rid my face of this thing. The week of my wedding I called the doctor that does my Botox in extreme panic. How do I make this thing look normal? I had researched a ton of different in office treatments that I blurted out over the phone. They told me to come in ASAP and they would laser it off for me.
I had never tried lasering before but I was like hell yes sign me up. Not only did I get to try a new skincare treatment that could make me feel great about my skin for my wedding, I also got to do it for free because my doctor’s office is the best fucking place (shoutout Dr. Tag, ILY). Side note, I also love my doctor’s office because they are SO real about treatments and what they suggest to do and not to do. I was begging them to inject my face with cortisone to make my acne go away and they gave me a serious education on how that can actually cause divots in your skin, basically scarring your face. Yikes. This is why I appreciate their honesty.
I got to the office and had this tiny laser that looked like one of those mouth rinsing tools at the dentist, zap my huge pimple a few times in a row. I was expecting pain to the extent of some light botox but it actually felt like nothing but a little heat and a tiny shock. I immediately looked in the mirror and saw a difference. The redness and swelling had dramatically decreased. I follow up with an in office topical retinol treatment and was on my way with some fun free samples and a less inflamed face in about 20 minutes total.
I watched as the swelling went down over the next few days and by the day of my wedding (three days later) the situation had really improved. It hadn’t totally vanished by the big day but it was way more manageable and my makeup and photos turned out AMAZING. I was really happy with the results and I am glad I tried this treatment out.
After a few cocktails, the days after my treatment I would show everyone who would listen my close up before picture followed by an excited “do you see how good it looks now?! like look! seriously!”. Everyone was pretty intrigued and the biggest question I got was “how does that work?!”.
I’m no doctor but here is the scoop on how it was explained to me. Basically, cystic acne is nasty bacteria backed up under your skin. The laser targets that area with heat which kills the acne causing bacteria. No bacteria, no cystic acne. Boom. If you want to read more, “The Pretty Pimple” has a great article on laser treatments that I majorly stalked.
Full facial laser treatments can cost around $200+ but for just a spot or two I recommend talking to your doctor because you can do specifically those areas for a discounted rate. If you suffer from chronic cystic acne you can get a sequence of treatments (usually around 3-5 treatments depending on severity) and clear up the acne you are experiencing. While it isn’t immediate, it is definitely effective and it also helped to prevent scarring. About a third of the time I get some type of acne scar when I have a cystic breakout (probably because I try and handle it myself, whoops) but with this treatment there was absolutely zero scarring.
So what’s the verdict:
I will 100% do this treatment again. It yielded great results with little to no pain, not a huge investment, and no recovery time.
There was no scarring after the treatment and no scarring after the cystic acne healed.
I saw instant, positive results that continue to improve over a few days.
The only thing I would advise against is doing this the week of your wedding like I did. Of course if you are in a pinch, you have to do what you have to do but ideally avoiding trying new treatments immediately before a big event is the way to go. You never know how your skin will react so you want to try new products/treatments out in enough time where you could recover if something went awry. Out of all things to get done last minute though I would say this is not super risky and probably one of the better ones.
Overall…. I saw GO FOR IT.
Now obviously due to expenses and time I can’t run to my doctor every time I have a breakout so I have to find some treatments at home to help remedy the situation. I have shared some of my favorites in the past, one of which being the Fresh Umbrian Clay Mask. I only use it as a spot treatment instead of on my whole face and you only need such a tiny bit that I’ve had this bottle so long that they’ve redone the packaging. It’s not cheap so I’m not mad about it.
I also have been loving the cult favorite Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion for like 7 years now. I use it mostly for whiteheads as opposed to cystic acne but it works super quick and is under $20. I have a set of pimple extracting tools that I keep on my vanity at all times (it was less than $10 from Amazon). I am the type of person that like NEEDS to pop a pimple when I have one which is not great for your skin but with the right tools it can be done in a proper way.
My last trick for fighting breakouts is to actually hydrate my skin. People automatically assume that when your skin breaks out you should dehydrate the shit out of it and turn your face into a desert. From my experience this only makes things worse because then your skin will overproduce oil and it becomes a vicious cycle. Do not be afraid of hydration. If done properly it won’t cause your skin to break out and it will only keep your skin looking tighter and younger which is honestly all I can ask for. I just started using the Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Gel Mask and I am in love with it. For my daily moisturizer I have really been loving the COSRX Snail Cream. It is affordable and insanely hydrating without feeling too heavy.
Maintaining even and smooth skin sans breakouts can be hard when you have underlying health issues, but it definitely is possible to a certain extent. While I have accepted that my skin will never be “perfect”, I love keeping my skin as healthy as can be and I love sharing my finding with you all!
Ya'll KNOW I am totally obsessed with self care and any product that I can add to my routine. Recently I was introduced to T Spheres which I have become completely obsessed with.
"What the heck are T Spheres?" is probably what you are thinking right now. Well they are a freaking life saver. They are massage balls that are infused with essential oils. It's like bringing the spa into your house.
I've been using the massage balls to number one, help with IBD related pain, and number two, help relieve muscle tension thanks to my new found hobby of attending barre class. You might be familiar with regular massage balls that you can use to roll out your muscles but these take it to the next level.
They can be heated or chilled to provide you with the optimal effect and they are infused with essential oils that align to a specific desired feeling. For example, I have lavender infused massage balls (Peace & Quiet) that I use for the evening on my shoulders and neck before I go to bed. The lavender is calming and soothing to help you relax before bedtime. In the morning or before/after I work out I use the Empower Mint to refresh and energize me.
Personally I like to chill the Empower Mint massage balls to give them an extra zing to help wake me up. I even bring these in the shower with me to roll out my muscles while my conditioner sits in my hair. #multitasking. The Peace & Quiet are my go to when I am have Crohn's related pain. I heat them and use them on my stomach and abdomen which sounds a little strange but it works like a charm.
There are so many ways that you can utilize these massage balls it is crazy. They have an entire tutorial/ video section on their website so you can make sure you are using them properly and getting the most out of their benefits. I also really love that they are so easy to travel with that you really can bring them anywhere. You can relieve your pain while sitting at your desk in the office. You can ease muscle tension when flying. You can pull them out of your purse at anytime. #preparedAF. I also love that these serve as portable ice pack and heating pads. As someone who often has to travel with both these are a space saver and super convenient. I mean... they can even go in the microwave. Can a regular massage ball do that... no.
I also love the oils from T Spheres. If you have been following along with my social media and the blog, you know oils have been my JAM recently. I love diffusing them as well as rubbing them all over me and anything else in sight. T Spheres actually also sent me some of their oils (because they saw I was clearly an oil obsessed crazy person) and I can't get enough. The lavender bath and body oil is seriously ideal to add into your nighttime bubble bath. Not only does it calm you down but it leaves your skin super smooth and moisturized when you get out of the bath. I also got to try the "Pep-Up Mint" oil which can really clear out any sinus problems you are having and wake you the heck up. I am not an early morning kind of girl so if I am showering it is speedy and I don't have time to soak in oils. I do incorporate oil by using it to moisturize my body, post morning shower. That way it sticks with me all day and I get the amazing moisturizing effects. Oh and in case this wasn't enough, these oils are hand blended and made to order so you can ensure you are getting the best and most fresh oils (also made with lots of love!).
T Spheres have become a crucial part of my self care routine and I am so incredibly happy be partnering with them to give ya'll a discount so you can try out your own! You can use my code "CROHNICALLYBLONDE" to get $5 off and free shipping until Mother's Day.
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.
Welcome to my unfiltered commentary on crushing chronic illness in your 20's and everything that goes along with that.