Spoil Me Sunday: Soak It In

Hey, y’all!

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a soak in the tub kind of girl. I feel like I’m wasting my time, it wastes water, and it kinda grosses me out if I overthink it. Sometimes you just have to suck it up, though. My muscles, especially in my back, are still a little angry with me after that flexibility workshop last week. The heating pad and ice packs are helping, but it was time to up my recovery game and do an Epsom Salt soak.

Comfort & Calm Pure Epsom Salt Soak with Chamomile

from Dr Teal’s

Photo of Comfort & Calm Epsom Salt Soaking Solution with Chamomile from Dr Teal's
$20.40 for 6 lbs; Amazon

This stuff smells so good! I’ve used it before to help my hands heal faster after Lyra class rips them up, but I usually don’t take the time to soak my whole body in it. The healing properties of the Epsom Salt plus the increased blood flow induced by the warm water help fast-track you to feeling less pain after soaking for 12-20 minutes. The essential oils leave a bit of a residue on my skin, but a quick shower afterwards fixes that.

So how does it work? Well, Magnesium Sulfate aka Epsom Salt is a naturally occurring mineral compound with multiple healing properties. When the Magnesium is absorbed into the skin, it can reduce the brain’s pain responses, but it also helps control other body proteins, increasing overall performance. Sulfate, a combination of sulfur and oxygen, flushes out toxins and forms proteins that improve joint and tissue performance. The essential oils in this particular Epsom Salt soak also provide an aromatherapy component that helps you to further relax.

You can get this on Amazon (link in photo caption), or you can find it at most drug stores. PS: this product isn’t tested on animals. 🙂


How do you recover after an intense workout? Any tips or tricks? I’d love to hear them!

Have a great week!

Love,

Sarah xoxo


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Spoiled Rotten: Birthday Weekend

Hey, y’all!

I didn’t need to do a Spoil Me Sunday this week because I’ve been absolutely spoiled all weekend! Thursday was my birthday, so my husband and I took a 4-day weekend. Before the weekend even started, my office roomie, Jessi, was so sweet and gave me the DIY Masks kit pictured above as a birthday present. I can’t want to try it out!

There are links throughout this post for various things we tried and places we went. These aren’t affiliate links; I just like sharing, especially when it comes to local businesses!

Thursday

We started off the day with lunch at Fogo de Chão, which was delicious as always. Jeff’s aunt and uncle had given us a gift card for Christmas, so that made it even better. Yeah, we’re trying to eat mostly vegetarian, but that was out the window this weekend, and I have zero regrets. If you’ve never been to Fogo de Chão before, it’s a Brazilian churrascaria; other similar restaurants are Texas de Brazil and Chama Gaucha. A dozen different cuts of meat are brought out on large skewers and sliced right onto your plate. You can choose from beef, pork, chicken, and lamb, and they’ll keep bringing you more until you tell them to stop. It’s a meat-lover’s paradise, but it’s a great place for vegetarians, too. The salad bar is fantastic with a wide variety of green salads, grains, fruits, and cheeses. It’s probably one of my favorite restaurants on the planet.

After lunch, we had a few minutes to kill so we stopped by Whole Foods to stock up on Zevia, and we got some Mochi ice cream, which I’d never tried before. They look kind of like dipped Oreos, but they’re different flavors of ice cream wrapped in various flavors of Mochi, which is a sweet rice dough. Jeff got Chocolate Espresso, Navel Orange, and Pistachio; I got Green Tea (a little disappointing), Chocolate Mint, and White Chocolate Raspberry. If I were to get it again, I think I’d stick with the fruity flavors because they taste so light and refreshing.

Then it was time for our couples massage at Massage Oasis. We first discovered this place when Jeff’s mom got him a gift certificate while he was studying for the CFA. This place is the absolute best. They use traditional massage techniques, which includes walking on your back, if you want them to. My masseuse found tight spots I didn’t even know were there. I felt a little tender when we left, but soooooo relaxed. A full tummy and a full body massage makes for a perfect birthday, especially when it’s spent with your favorite person. 🙂

Friday

Why confine birthday celebration to just one day? We started out with brunch at Se7en Bites for Burger Friday. This is one of our favorite brunch restaurants in Orlando, and part of what keeps it interesting is that the menu rotates. They have some staple items that are always on the menu, but on Fridays their burgers rotate, and on weekends, they have a specials menu that changes each week. I was hoping the “Italian Stallion” burger would be on the menu (a delicious thick patty with a plank of fried mozzarella on top), but it wasn’t, so I went with the 7th Heaven (pimento cheese and bacon). Their 5-cheese mac & cheese is to die for, so we shared some. You can’t go to Se7en Bites without checking out their sweets counter, though. Homemade magnificence that changes just like the savory menu: some staples are always available (one of my favorites is the “Don’t Fudge With Me” bar cookie) and some specials rotate through (we got a Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bread Pudding to take home). We also picked up a slice of cake to act as my birthday cake–dark chocolate stout cake. So freaking delicious. Seriously, if you live in Orlando and haven’t been to Se7en Bites, get on it! If you ever come to visit, don’t miss out!

PS: Get there early, and if you see the line out the door, don’t freak out–it moves quickly.

PPS: If you go on Sunday after 10:30, they serve fresh homemade cinnamon rolls. Like with everything else, there’s a staple (classic cinnamon) and a special flavor that rotates (I’ve had butter pecan and s’more for example.) They sell them until they run out.

Once we made sure we had full tummies, we checked out Bulk Nation. I’d passed by it a hundred times, but I assumed it was another health food store like GNC or Vitamin Shoppe, so I didn’t pay much attention. Turns out it’s a bulk food store that has an incredible selection of everything from beans to dried fruits to grains to coffee to candy. We will definitely be going back. I stopped by Ulta, too, to get some things and pick up my birthday gift. Not everything I was buying was in stock, so I’ll post about my haul once the last few items arrive.

Next came the facial (cue the angel chorus), which was my birthday present from Jeff. I go to Lavender Spa in Celebration for waxing and facials, but I didn’t feel like driving all the way over there for my facial, so Jeff found The Skin Studio in Baldwin Park. Amy was very knowledgable and friendly, and she didn’t mind answering all my questions. I really enjoyed my signature enzyme facial, and she used some tools on me that I really want to buy for myself now! I’m looking at you My Skin Buddy, and I need to do more research on ultrasonic skin scrubbers, but I really want one for extractions at home.

We went and saw Incredibles 2, which we really enjoyed. It was hilarious, but I wanted more Edna Mode. 🙂

Saturday

After all the indulging I’d done, I decided to kick my own butt by going to 3 classes in a row at Elevated Fitness. I started out with Flexibility to get my muscles warm (they were still tender from the massage). Then Aerial Yoga increased the blood flow and decompressed my spine. Finally finished off with Silks, which is always a great calorie burner. I’m definitely feeling my abs today.

Later in the afternoon we started slowly getting back to reality by grocery shopping, working on laundry, blah, blah, blah. I countered that with watching some nostalgic movies like A Troll in Central Park and Homeward Bound on our Amazon Firestick. It’s all about balance and feeding your inner child. 🙂

Sunday

Today is all about sleeping in, meal prepping, blogging, and finishing up laundry. It’s been a wonderful weekend with my best friend, and the birthday wishes from near and far have been truly humbling. It’s also Father’s Day! Don’t forget to call the important father figures in your life to tell them how much they mean to you!


28 was a good year, and I can’t wait to see what 29 has in store. Subscribe to Balanced Life Beauty to stay in the know!

Have a great week!

Love,

Sarah xoxo


If you’d like to be notified when new posts go up, please subscribe to Balanced Life Beauty.

Instagram: sarah.elizabeth614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

Twitter: @SarahLiz614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

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Spoil Me Sunday: Roll With It

Hey, y’all!

I’ve been thinking about it, and my blog is called “Balanced Life Beauty,” but it’s been pretty slanted towards the “beauty” part lately. I absolutely love beauty products, skincare, and all that fun stuff, but I need to work on incorporating more of the “balance” part into my posts. You and I are both so much more than the products we’re trying, the techniques we’re using, or the overall outward appearance we’re presenting to the world. What are we doing for fun? What are we reading? What are we doing for our bodies, minds, and spirits? I’m going to work on sharing more of that with you, and I hope you’ll do the same so that we can feed off of each other. Beauty treatments and home spa days are a fun way to spoil yourself, but there are so many other ways out there. Let me know if that’s something you’re interested in me writing more about! Don’t worry, you’ll still be seeing plenty of beauty-related posts from me, but I’m eager to expand topics a bit.

In the spirit of changing things up, this week’s Spoil Me Sunday had absolutely nothing to do with skincare or beauty products in any way. Instead, I gave myself some quality time on my foam roller while I watched a movie. Between Silks, Barré, Flexibility, and Aerial Yoga this week, my quads and hip flexors were killing me. Foam rolling is my jam for a few reasons:

  1. I’m a pretty high-stress individual (always have been), and I carry a lot of tension in certain muscle groups.
  2. I do aerial arts as my workout 5 days a week, Zumba 1 day, and rest on the 7th to give my muscles some recovery time. (I’m planning to post more about my workout regimen in the future.)
  3. I can do it as part of my stretching routine while I’m doing something else, like reading a book, watching TV, talking on the phone, etc.

The Equipment

Photo of GRID 2.0 Foam Roller from Trigger Point Therapy
Grid 2.0 Foam Roller, $64.99; Trigger Point Therapy

A foam roller is a cylindrically shaped piece of high-density foam that is used for self-myofascial release, aka self-massage. I first learned about foam rolling after I was in a car accident in college. The nature of the impact slightly twisted my spine because of how flexible it is, so through physical therapy I worked to realign it and then strengthen the supporting muscles. The therapist recommended foam rolling as a way to massage my back myself, increasing blood flow, and minimizing muscular scar tissue. I bought one that looked kind of like this, and I enjoyed using it regularly.

When I moved from Texas to Florida, I drove, and I only brought what could fit in my car; my foam roller didn’t make the cut, so I left it at my parents’ house, and my dad still uses it regularly. A few years later, a college friend of mine had become a physical therapist and recommended the Grid foam roller from Trigger Point Therapy. The hard, hollow core is wrapped with dense EVA foam, which makes it harder than the type I’d had before. Because of the hollow core, it also uses less foam, which makes it more environmentally friendly. What really sets it apart, though, is the three dimensional surface, which my old roller didn’t have. It promotes oxygen and blood flow, which gives your muscles what they need to repair themselves. The multiples surfaces are meant to simulate the effects of a massage therapist’s hands, and the firmness means it can target deeper muscle pain than traditional softer foam rollers.

Trigger Point Therapy has several different models of foam rollers to choose from. Here’s a quick chart I made for easy comparison:

GRID
GRID 2.0
GRID X
GRID Mini
GRID Vibe
Diameter
5.5″
5.5″
5.5″
5.5″
3.5″
Length
13″
26″
13″
4″
12″
Tested Weight Capacity (Static Load)
500 lbs
500 lbs
550 lbs
250 lbs
400 lbs
Roller Weight
1.5 lbs
3 lbs
1.5 lbs
.5 lbs
2.15 lbs
Defining Characteristic
The original
Twice as long as GRID
Twice as dense as GRID
Compact size makes it ideal for travel.
Note: due to small size, not recommended for use on your back.
Vibrates to further increase blood flow and loosen muscle tension.

Their website recommends using the 2.0 if you’re new to foam rolling because its larger size provides you with more stability that the original. I chose the 2.0 because with it being so long, I can also lay on it lengthwise to help release tension in my chest . You can also find some of these foam rollers on Amazon, sometimes for a lower price.

How to Use It

Part of what I love about foam rolling is how simple it is to do because you just let gravity do the work. Put whatever part of your body needs it onto the roller and slowly roll over it, stopping occasionally on the parts that hurt the most. Generally, it’s recommended to let it sit on a sore spot for about 30-45 seconds to give the muscle time to adjust and relax, but you can do it up to a minute, if you want. If you’re still not noticing a difference, move on to another area, and come back to that one later. Some of my favorite areas to foam roll are my back, my lats, my IT bands, my quads, and my front hip flexors. Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, and more importantly, I’m not your doctor. It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor or physical therapist for sharp pain and receive approval before starting self-myofascial release.

The Benefits

It’s pretty difficult to overdo it with foam rolling. 3-5 times a week is sufficient, and with regular use, you can experience several benefits:

  • Facilitating the muscle healing and recovery process through increased oxygen and blood flow to your muscles
  • Releasing trigger points to help reestablish correct movement patterns and enhance performance, especially when done in conjunction with regular stretching
  • Breaking up adhesions between muscle layers

The beauty of self-myofascial release is that you control the pressure. It’s uncomfortable just like any other massage, but if it’s done correctly, it’s not outright painful. You can perform self-myofascial release with a tennis ball, massage stick, or any other similar tool, including your hands. I prefer the roam roller because it’s easier to cover a wider surface area, and its larger diameter helps me to pop some of my joints, like my back and sternum.


How do you like to recover from working out? Do you want to see more posts like this? I’d love to hear from you!

Have a great week!

Love,

Sarah xoxo


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Instagram: sarah.elizabeth614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

Twitter: @SarahLiz614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

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Spoil Me Sunday: Lift Me Up

Hey, y’all!

It’s been one heck of a week, and I’m sure next week will be a doozy, too. Even if I’m keeping my cool, sometimes stress will start to show on my skin: dullness, breakouts, uneven tone, fine lines, etc. No thanks! Yeah, I need to make sure I’m getting enough sleep (the answer is usually no), and I need to make sure I’m drinking enough water (the answer is usually yes, but sometimes I lose track). Sometimes, though, you need a little pick-me-up.

Face-Lift in-a-Bag

from Skyn Iceland

Photo of Face-Lift in-a-Bag from Skyn Iceland
$19.50; Skyn Iceland

Let me start off by saying that Skyn Iceland is 100% vegan and cruelty-free! It was also started by a fellow Sarah, so there’s that. 😉 Anyway, about this product:

Each bag consists of:

  • 2 pairs of eye gels
  • 2 pairs of smile line gels
  • 2 forehead gels

You can use these gels all together or individually as needed. All you have to do is cleanse your face, pat dry, and apply the desired gel(s). Leave them on for 10 minutes (take some time to relax!), then remove the gels, toss them, and voilà! The cooling sensation when you apply the gels is incredibly soothing, and I could really see the different under my eyes and around my mouth when I took them off. It’s a nice rejuvenation for my skin when it needs a little boost but I’m strapped for time.

Active ingredients include:

  • Organic tomato callus stem cell extract – full of antioxidants (only found in the forehead gel)
  • Hydrolyzed extension – helps skin retain moisture
  • Hydrolyzed elastin – helps restore firmness under eyes
  • Ginseng callus stem cell extract – full of antioxidants and improves collagen production (only found in smile line gels)
  • Ginkgo biloba leaf extract – improves blood flow under eyes, reducing puffiness
  • Copper tripeptide-1 – increases collagen production and cell turnover
  • Coenzyme Q10 – antioxidant that fights free radicals
  • Acetyl hexapeptide-8 – calms muscles under the skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles

I definitely recommend this product if you’re prone to stress like I am. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wear my stress on my face. (Stressing less is a whole other conversation for a different day.)


How do you like to de-stress? Leave a comment below. I’d love some new ideas!

If you’d like to be notified when new posts go up, please subscribe to Balanced Life Beauty.  You can also follow me on Instagram (click the icon at the top of the page.)

Ready for another week? We’ve got this!

Love,

Sarah xoxo

Photo of Biore Self Heating One Minute Mask

Spoil Me Sunday: Fire & Ice

Hey, y’all!

After being out of town the past couple of weekends, the name of the game this weekend was getting back into a regular routine. The biggest focus was meal prepping (we’re making an eggplant parmesan from scratch that I’m super stoked about) and cleaning our condo. I wanted to focus on deep cleaning my skin, too. It’s finally starting to clear up, and I’d like to stay on that trajectory.

Self Heating One Minute Mask With Natural Charcoal

from Bioré Skincare

After using my ExfoliKate, I wanted to heat things up a little more, so I popped on this mask for a minute. The warming sensation felt so good, and when I rinsed it off, there was a refreshing cooling sensation, thanks to the menthol that’s in it. Yes, it has fragrance in it (sigh), but I noticed the menthol more than anything else. I loved how clean and fresh my skin felt afterwards. After a day of cooking and cleaning, it’s exactly what I needed!

You can find a box of 4 single-use packets for as low as $5.82 on Amazon, or you can find it at your local drugstore for a little more (usually around $7.99.) This is a skincare item I always like to have on hand for whenever my skin needs it.


What do you think of self-heating skincare products? Are you a bigger fan of products with a cooling sensation? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have a great week!

Love,

Sarah xoxo

Spoil Me Sunday: Calm Down

Hey, y’all!

This week past week was a blur, and the upcoming week is going to be even blurrier. My skin is definitely reflecting the stress coming from all the running about. For this week’s Spoil Me Sunday, I wanted to focus on cleansing and calming my skin to help combat the breakouts I’ve been dealing with. Let’s get to it!

Mint Julep Masque

from Queen Helene

Photo of Mint Julep Masque from Queen Helene
8 oz. from $5.99; Amazon.com

I’ve been using this one for years, and I keep coming back to it again and again. It helps to dry out pimples, clear out blackheads, and reduce the appearance of pores. Sometimes I’ll do a spot application to wherever I’m breaking out, and other times I’ll just apply it to my whole T-Zone, depending on what my skin needs. I love the smell of mint, and I really enjoy the cooling sensation on my skin, but I wish they would have left the added fragrance and artificial coloring out. I would still recommend this for when you’re breaking out or your pores are feeling clogged, though.

 

Dead Sea Minerals Anti-Stress Mask

from Freeman Beauty

DSC00959
6 oz. for $4.99; Ulta

I’ve been using this one off an on for a while, too. It also helps to clear out pores, but the lavender oil and bergamot oil soothe the skin, as well. Unfortunately, this mask is also guilty of containing fragrance and artificial coloring. According to the company’s website, however, they pride themselves on being “free of harsh chemicals,” so take that for what it’s worth (at least they’re cruelty-free!)

Fragrance and coloring aside, my skin feels softer and happier after using this mask, so I keep using it. My body needs all the help with stress that it can get! Now to work on that whole “getting enough sleep” thing…


Are there products you like to use to calm yourself (and your skin) and de-stress? I’d love to hear about them! Leave a comment below.

Have a great week!

Love,

Sarah

Spoil Me Sunday: Spice Up Your Life

Hey y’all!

For this week’s Spoil Me Sunday, there ended up being an unintentional theme: spices! I’m absolutely in love with these products, so let’s jump right in:

ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment from Kate Somerville

Photo of ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment
$75 for 1.7 fl. oz.; katesomerville.com or $85 for 2 fl. oz.; Sephora

Full disclosure: I didn’t buy this. My friend Jessi gave it to me because she had received it (I think in a subscription box) and wasn’t going to get around to using it. Boy, did I luck out! This stuff is incredible. I didn’t want to like it because of the price tag, but I couldn’t help it. Per the suggestion on the insert that came in the box, I used it in the shower so my pores would be more open. It’s green, which I wasn’t expecting, but the smell is what really caught me off-guard. It contains both Cinnamal and Cinnamomum Cassia Leaf Oil, so it smells very strongly of cinnamon, which is one of my favorite spices. It was like someone had turned Big Red chewing gum or Hot Tamales candies into a skincare product, and I was putting it all over my face. 🙂 Anyway, you just spread a thin layer on your face in a circular motion, let it sit for up to 2 minutes, and then rinse off. Skin tingling and some minor flushing is normal (mine definitely tingled, but since I was in the shower, I can’t tell  you if it flushed.)

Some of the active ingredients:

  • Lactic Acid: “chemically” exfoliates your skin
  • Silica: physically exfoliates your skin
  • Fruit enzymes: enhance exfoliation
  • Salicylic Acid: dissolves debris that clogs pores
  • Aloe Vera & Honey: soothe and condition skin
  • Vitamins A, C, & E: antioxidants
  • Soy-Lipid: repairs your skin’s natural barrier

 

My skin looked brighter and felt softer and smoother after just one use. You should only use it twice a week max, so this tube will hopefully last me a while. Will I repurchase? I would seriously consider making this a regular skincare splurge. I look at skincare as an investment (and hopefully a way to avoid the temptation of plastic surgery later on), so I’m not ruling this one out.

Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask from Andalou Naturals

Photo of Anadalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask
$14.95 for 1.7 fl. oz.; andalounaturals.com

I’ve used this one before, and I’ve loved it since Day 1. I bought it back in the fall, and it was perfect for the season. Between the pumpkin purée, the clove flower extract, the nutmeg kernel powder, and the cinnamon bark extract, it smells like autumn in a jar. That means that basically I can enjoy a little piece of autumn year-round, which is heavenly! It has some ingredient overlap with the ExfoliKate, but some different ones, as well.

Some of the active ingredients:

 

  • Pumpkin purée: good for your skin in multiple ways
    • Fruit enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) that smooth and brighten your skin.
    • Vitamins A & C that soothe skin and boost collagen production
    • Small molecular structure, so it can penetrate deeper into the skin for greater effectiveness
  • Aloe Leaf Juice & Honey: soothe & condition skin
  • Glycol Acid: another AHA that chemically exfoliates the skin
  • Fruit Stem Cells: anti-aging properties
  • Fruit Extracts: brighten your skin thanks to the naturally occurring AHAs

 

Applying this makes me think of putting a thinner-consistency pumpkin pie filling on my face, which is funny to imagine. You just apply, leave it on for 10-20 minutes, then rinse off. I like to use it every few weeks or so, just because I have so many masks in rotation. This one won’t be leaving the rotation any time soon!

It’s important to note that while you should wear sunscreen every single day, it’s especially important when using products that contain AHAs because your skin is more sensitive to sun exposure. If you don’t wear sunscreen regularly, you’re just going to undo all of the anti-aging work you’ve put in!

Rose Gel Restore Mask from Trader Joe’s

I talked about this mask here, so I won’t go into it again, but it was a nice way to soothe my skin after the more intensive products that preceded it.


What are some of your favorite beauty products that contain food ingredients? Share in a comment below!

I hope you have a fabulous week!

–Sarah xoxo