Easy + Effective Health Hacks

I haven’t done a post about health and wellness since my Whole 30 experience, and a lot’s changed in my routine since then. I generally try to adhere to the 80-20 rule now, where 80 percent of my diet is clean, whole foods and 20 percent is more splurge-y items. Healthy weekday habits help get me to that 80 percent mark, and then I most definitely go balls to the wall on the weekends.

Speaking of the weekend: Last weekend was CMA Fest, a wonderful and exhausting four days of country music concerts, lots of walking, lots of beer, and little sleep. To kick off the weekend, my brother was in town for a night on his was to Bonnaroo, and I thought it would be a good idea to show him and his friend downtown Nashville (that place with a hundred honkytonks and live music and late nights where I also spent the following four days). So, when I said I “generally adhere to the 80-20 rule,” last week did not count whatsoever. I pretty much lived on Michelob Ultra for those several days, and I am feeling it now.

So, a good sit-down about health could not come at a better time, since I really, really need some of that in my life ASAP. Prior to Beer Fest 2017 — or, I mean CMA Fest — I had started incorporating several new wellness tricks into my weekly routine. Many of them come from blogger/everything goals extraordinaire Lauryn Evarts of The Skinny Confidential. (Do I mention her in every blog post? It feels like I mention her in every blog post. Again, because GOALS.)

Most of them are easy and only require a quick trip to the Internet wonderland that is Amazon. These hacks mostly revolve around food and diet habits, but I also strive to get a few weight-lifting workouts, yoga classes, and jogs in throughout the week to balance everything out. Here are my most recent favorites.

1. Put it in a smoothie. I recently bought a blender, and it has changed my entire (breakfast) world. Pretty much every day, I’ll throw a banana, a handful of frozen mango, a cup of spinach/kale OR a half avocado (something for greens), some coconut milk, a spoonful of peanut butter, a quarter cup of raw oats, chia seeds, and a scoop of collagen powder into my Ninja.

I used to make eggs and toast or Greek yogurt with fruit and granola every morning, but I love these smoothies now as an everyday thing because I can kick off the morning with just about everything I need– protein, complex carbs, fiber, good fats — and I can drink them on the go. You can put almost anything in there (I’ve seen people put charcoal powder in them for hangovers, among other supplements), and I love these travel glasses and these reusable straws from, you already know it, Amazon.

2. Speaking of collagen, this one from Vital Proteins has been a savior for my skin. I have had breakouts since I was in high school; they were horrific back then, and although they’ve tamed some since, they would still pop up on a weekly basis. Even though I care way less about what someone might think of a zit on my chin than I used to, it’s still annoying. But, I swear, since eating collagen every day, it has almost completely cleared up any acne and reduced some of my scarring. It also reduces joint pain; strengthens nails, hair, and teeth; boosts metabolism and muscle mass; is anti-aging; and improves liver and cardiovascular health. It’s magic. You can also mix it into your coffee or tea if you’re not a smoothie person, too.

3. Suck it up (literally) and drink your ACV. A shot of apple cider vinegar is worse than a shot of whiskey, and I will not take a shot of whiskey — EVER. ACV is absolutely revolting, but it’s so, so good for you that I’ve been forcing myself to down it almost every day. I’ve heard you can mix it with honey, water, and a little lemon juice, which I did the first time I tried it and still dry-heaved. So, now, I have to mix it with a pure, no-sugar-added fruit juice and some water to be able to stand it. There’s a good beet-strawberry juice from Trader Joe’s that I’ve been loving as a mixer.

Apple cider vinegar, no matter my love-hate relationship with it, has so many health benefits: It helps with acid reflux, lowers blood pressure, aids weight loss, clears skin, helps with stomach issues, boosts energy, helps control blood sugar, and way more. Tip: Even if you can stand it, don’t drink it plain because the acidity by itself is so strong that it’s bad for your teeth and throat.

4. Take your vitamins. Ever since I overdosed on biotin when I was a sophomore in college and woke up covered in giant, burning hives (good times, good times), I haven’t been able to find a women’s multivitamin with a low enough dose of biotin/B vitamins that doesn’t make me feel itchy. (Side note on that: taking three times the suggested amount on the bottle, in fact, does NOT make your hair, skin, and nails three times better, to my dismay. Instead, it can create an allergic reaction to the buildup of biotin in your body, leaving you at an urgent care getting a steroid so you can go to class not looking like a diseased freak the next day. Fun fact!)

I guess I’m extra sensitive to that vitamin since then, but I recently started taking Vitafusion gummies, which don’t make me itchy or hive-y but get me all the good stuff. Score. I also started taking a probiotic, which helps with gut health, and a joint supplement that I found at Trader Joe’s, which has gelatin in it to promote joint strength. As a former dancer in high school who hyperextended my hips and knees on a way-too-regular of a basis, I’ve noticed I already get hip and lower back pain. I don’t want it to worsen over the years, so a joint supplement is the way to go. (Plus, gelatin is also good for skin and hair, too, so double-win!)

Let me know if you already do any of these or have different, simple tips to incorporate in my week. I’m all about adding fast and effective tricks to my routine!

This post was not sponsored by Amazon, but I sure wish it was. Yo, Amazon, wanna work together?

Noruz Organics Skincare Products For One, For All!

noruz organics scrubs skincare products

I am very particular about what I put on and in my body (unless it’s chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream; in that case, I have zero standards and will eat it all). But really, I like to consume as many organic, fair-trade, non-GMO foods and beverages as I can — without breaking the budget, of course — and I prefer my skincare products to be just as wholesome. There is a difference between treating your body with natural nutrients and products versus pumping yourself with harmful chemicals. You can feel the difference, and you can see it.

That’s why I was so excited to partner up with Noruz Organics. It’s a Dallas-based, organic (as the name implies) skincare company whose products are so good for your skin while also making it feel like its dreamiest version. Trust me. I got to sample two scrubs, the Cinnamon Sugar Scrub and the Green Tea Scrub. I used the latter on my face two to three times a week, and my skin felt significantly refreshed afterward. Green tea is an antioxidant, and antibacterial (good, especially, if you’re prone to breakouts like I am), and it soothes the skin while reducing inflammation. Love.

organic skincare exfoliation

green tea scrub

I used the Cinnamon Sugar Scrub, which by the way smells like the best coffee cake you’ve ever tasted, on my entire body. Not only did I smell like a Yankee Candle every time I used it, I also sloughed away dead skin on my whole body while the raw sugar moisturized and exfoliated and the cinnamon restored suppleness. It’s just as heavenly as it sounds.

The best part is that you won’t find one lick of chemicals in any of Noruz’s products. It’s all organic essential oils, vitamins, and herbs that moisturize, scrub, and anti-age your skin to its most luminous state. Like, where was this stuff in my adolescent, horrible skin-awkward stage? Next on my list to try is the Coffee Scrub, for the obvious reason that I would love to smell like coffee all day, and also because coffee beans help with cellulite and evenness of skin tone. (I’m not too high and mighty to admit that I could use some more help with each of those.)

Enough bragging about my experiences with these fun skincare products. I want y’all to try them out, too! Go to NoruzOrganics.com to browse the rest of their yummy products (they have moisturizers and body butters, too), and get 10% off of your purchase by using the code FRECKLES at check-out!

(Giveaway details below.)

face scrub exfoliator

green tea exfoliate

I’m also hosting a giveaway to win a sample set of all four Noruz Organics scrubs — green tea, coffee, rose petal, and cinnamon sugar — for you AND a friend each on my Instagram! Follow these rules to enter:

  1. Follow me (@frecklesandfigs) and Noruz Organics (@noruzorganics) on Instagram.
  2. Like my Instagram post featuring a photo of me with my Noruz products (posted today).
  3. Tag a beauty-junkie friend who you’d like to get a sample set in a comment on the IG post.
  4. BONUS: repost my photo for an additional entry to win!

Contest ends at midnight central time on Sunday, March 20, and I’ll announce the winner Monday the 21st! Let’s make our skin happy. Good luck!

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green tea cinnamon sugar scrubs

The Best Regimen for Combination Skin

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Throughout high school, I felt like the pimpliest, most greasy-faced kid in my class. It was really a cute time for me. I’d sit under my mom’s enlarger mirror—the kind with a bright light encircling your zoomed-in reflection (very good for self-esteem)​—after school each day, examining and poking at my sensitive skin. I had no idea what I was doing. Any hint of impending zit was immediately squashed between my two index fingers and then rubbed raw with witch hazel, an astringent my mom swore by for flawless skin.

On the worst days, I’d boil a pot of water and stick my face over it with a towel covering my head for a makeshift facial-steaming setup: just a high school girl doing regular things trying to open up her stubborn pores and whatnot. It was really a highlight moment of my life in terms of character-building, that’s for sure. Awkward stages are the BEST for that sole reason. I was so self-conscious about my dry and splotchy, but simultaneously oily and blemished, skin that I’d pile on makeup before school and quickly apply more powder to hide shininess between classes. Needless to say, I was probably doing a lot more harm to my skin with the overuse of products and makeup.

Anyway, fast-forward six years, and I definitely don’t have perfect skin still. Whatever. I have accepted it’s genetics and have quit chopping years off my life from stressing about it over my mom’s mirror. I’ve also found a skincare routine that doesn’t wreck my skin; it actually complements it and leaves it in its best condition attainable for me. Combination skin-bearers out there know: it is so hard to find a good skincare routine that fits this strange realm of the derma-verse, but y’all, I think I’ve done it. Check out and try out the (much gentler and kinder) products I now use to get my best skin. Also, being out of adolescent puberty probably helps a whole lot, so for you youngins, just keep powering through.

My Favorite Skincare Products:

1. Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Facial Cleanser ($8): perfect for washing off makeup after a long day.

2. Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer with PureScreen SPF 50 ($16): light formula that moisturizes and protects skin all day long.

3. CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream ($17): ugh, I could go on and on about this yummy cream. By far the best night cream I’ve tried.

4. Blistex Lip Medex Analgesic Lip Protectant ($2): a lip moisturizer that, no joke, moisturizes for hours on end; it’s the only one I’ll use.

5. Cetaphil Skin Cleanser ($15): I use this in the mornings since it’s gentle and calming.

6. Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Synchronized Complex II ($58): my secret is that I got a free sample of this guy that I’m making last FOR. EVER.

7. NESURA Charcoal Pore Strips Blackhead Remover ($7): my boyfriend and I like to throw these on before a nice Netflix binge.

8. Aura Cacia Pure Essential Oil, Lavender ($10): a few dabs of this on your neck and temples before bedtime is hea-ven-ly.

9. Eclos Skin Renewal Clay Mask ($6): I’m not a big mask person, but this does the trick every once in a while. It’s not too drying and leaves my skin feeling fresh.