This at-home spa treatment will make you feel fancy AF

Self-care is ALL over the internet these days; seems like every outlet and Instagrammer is finding new ways to meditate and essential oil yourself into serenity.

The movement is getting all sorts of backlash—is it selfish? is it a manifestation of privilege? etc etc—and a lot of those criticisms ring true, but one thing I am appreciating about this renewed focus on chilling the F out is that there are all these new creative ideas coming out about how to chill out … in ways that are more accessible than usual. It’s not just, go on this 3 day luxury wellness retreat and feel restored unto the universe, but also practical stuff like, hey, got 2 minutes? FLOSS. Waiting for the bus? Take some deep breaths already.

Those reminders to take space that already exists in your day and make it into something restorative feel really relevant to me right now. One of my most intense secret fantasies is disappearing for an afternoon to go to the spa. I don’t even want a treatment; I just want to surrender to an infinite loop between hot tub, sauna, and steam room. I imagine coming home and pretending like I had been at work the whole time. What, my skin looks extra buttery and silky? Weird, it must just be my natural glow.

Sounds dreamy, right?

Now that you know my (basic, banal) most secret desire, I feel like I can trust you with my backup plan, my spa treatment that I can implement at home, even while a toddler repeatedly crashes her doll stroller into my ankles.

I recently got to test out one of those super fancy Korean face masks—the kind that cost upward of $100—and see if it gave me the same glow as my annual splurge facial (plus of course the infinity loop of spa facilities).

self care sweat pink

Here’s the inside of the pretty box: it feels like a luxury item from start to finish.

The Onyx Youth Magnet Mask is magnetic skincare therapy, using the power of magnets to moisturize your skin and reduce signs of aging. (I had no idea magnets could do that, but hey, for those results, sure thing!)

I put this to the test at the exact moment when I’m least likely to feel fabulous: Friday morning, shortly after waking up, after a couple of days of being sick, and going on three days since I last washed my hair. It would take a miracle to make me feel all self-care-refreshed and glowy.

My takeaways:

My Victory Band headband was a champ at keeping my hair out of the way.

The mask is really easy to use. You spread it over your face with the included spatula and it glides on like butter. I appreciated that I didn’t have to get my hands messy to apply it. Even with a few toddler collisions throwing off my balance, I didn’t make a mess.

Mac was not a fan of my new look.

You should not post any internet selfies without context. While I let the mask work its magic (5-10 minutes), I got Mac to take some selfies with me. She was a little suspicious of my new look, and kept saying, “Mama take face OFF!” I appreciated that it was a quick process—just a few minutes of marination during which my toddler was extremely wary of my face. I also suspect that if I had posted this look on in the internet, sans explanation, it would have been too easy to misinterpret what I was up to. 

Taking it off is really easy, too. The included magnetic wand is kind of magic; it grabs onto the mask with no effort on your part, and even as the mask piles up onto the wand, it still continues working. You look at the collected mask and think sure you’re going to start rubbing it back on your face, but thanks to the power of SCIENCE, it just keeps removing more and more mask.

I did have to touch up a few spots with a washcloth: I found that the wand couldn’t quite maneuver into tiny crevices like around my nose, but that was a minor issue and so easy to just spot-finish.

I got the glow! Here I am, all dewy and super-moisturized, immediately after removing the mask. My bathroom light is pretty substandard, but my skin looked as dewy and glowy as if I’d just had a legit spa treatment.

You get more than I realized for the money. For some (unfounded) reason, I assumed this was a single-use product, which made that $110 price tag even more fancy. But, there was a ton of product left after I finished.

Ugly photo, but you get the point.

I can (and will) keep using this for a quick, self-care touch up when I’m feeling most bedraggled or dehydrated.

It’s on sale right now! If you want to try it yourself, or, if there’s someone you want to give a super luxe gift to (this would work great as a gift; it’s such a beautiful experience, the packaging and branding make it feel really luxurious and special), you can use the code BEMAGNETIC for 20% off here.

 

I received the Onyx Youth Magnet Mask for free—thank you Onyx for the opportunity! As always, all opinions are my own. 🙂 

p.s. Speaking of beauty—if you’re the kind of person who, like me, has failed spectacularly at replicating makeup tutorials on Youtube, here’s a channel that upends the whole genre. By far my favorite thing on the internet recently. Enjoy!

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I’m not a runner, but I’m grateful to run

I participated in a turkey trot on Thanksgiving, like I’ve done for the last eight years, but this year was different. In past years, I’ve gone with family, and our entourage is always replete with strollers and babies and grandparents and a pack of dogs. Our trot is more of a stroll; I usually sip coffee the whole way and we’re habitually at the back of the pack.

This year was different. I ran a 5-mile Turkey Trot with friends. (Well, they actually ran way faster than me, so I did most of it with temporary, pace-matched buddies from among the thousands who participated.

As I was running, I overheard snippets of conversations from the walkers I passed. Words like “I wish I were a runner, but…” or “I just can’t get into running…” or “Running just isn’t something I enjoy …”. I didn’t hear the tail end of any of those sentences but I didn’t need to, because they’re all sentiments I’ve spoken, many a time, during many a 5K stroll or while cheering at many a finish line for friends’ races.

I still don’t consider myself a runner. My ‘running’ happens in fits and starts and is punctuated by momentary highs, rookie mistakes. and lapses of activity. I’m slow. I still take walk breaks and I don’t really see my leisurely pace as something that needs a fix or an upgrade. But I’m beyond proud of myself for running those five miles on Thursday, and beyond grateful that I was able to.

During the moments when I ran alone, I kept thinking about my grandma, who passed away just a year and a half ago, and who had lost her mobility, slowly and begrudgingly, over the course of 30-some years. She was a fighter and resisted her loss of mobility longer than most humans would have endured. She never complained or let herself wallow in self-pity. She was always her witty, sharp self up until the end.

Though she never spoke to me about her feelings about being disabled, I have no doubt that she would have jumped at the chance to be able to walk or run even a few steps. And in her honor I was grateful to join the thousands of runners and walkers and babies in strollers and families in our course around downtown Austin on the most perfect, clear, sunny day, and relish the opportunity I have to move in any way I choose.

I actually didn’t get a time for this race – my chip never picked up any activity (??)  but I swear, I did the whole thing!

Even if I don’t really like running. Even if I’m not a runner. Even if my friend’s dad who power-walked the course finished just 10 minutes after I did. (No joke, he’s a machine). No matter what, I’m so glad that I can choose to run. That walking or running is available to me, and that I’m no longer the person offering the “I would like to be a runner…” excuse.

 

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Only in Texas: guns and parenting

The night before Sunday’s devastating church massacre, I learned a parenting lesson that I never would have thought to seek out on my own.

I was sitting around a dinner table with parent friends whose kids are a few years older, chatting about the ins and outs of slumber parties, when the subject of weapons in the home came up. I’m so grateful the conversation landed on this topic because it never would have occurred to my oblivious California-bred self that one of the pre-screening questions for playdates or slumber parties, at least in my neck of the woods, needs to address whether there are weapons in the home.

And not just that question; it’s a good start, but it can’t stand alone. Instead, it’s a conversation that needs to be primed and carefully managed to make sure you feel comfortable sending your kids to another home, and to also make sure potential guests are comfortable in your home. Here’s what I learned:

“Do you have guns?” can be interpreted lots of ways

This sounds so crazy to me, but people will answer “No” to the question “Do you have guns” because they don’t have, for example,  a gun case with 50 rifles, or they don’t consider themselves collectors or hobbyists. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have a handgun in their bedside table or another gun in their truck for hunting. Instead of saying, “Do you have guns?” ask “Do you have weapons in your home?” The question is (hopefully) broad enough to remind them of the various types of weapons that may be stored somewhere on their property.

Start the conversation yourself.

Asking about guns in someone’s home can be a potential landmine, especially in a region where people have strong opinions about their arms and their rights. The consensus around the table was to bring it up yourself, by offering something like:

“Would so and so like to come over for a playdate? So that you know, we do have guns in our home that are unloaded and locked in a safe in the garage.”

Of course that’s a simplified script, but by proactively offering the information yourself, it opens to door to ask in return without putting the other family on guard.

If you don’t have weapons in the home, my friends recommended not saying “we have no weapons,” but instead starting the conversation by saying, “How do you store your guns?” That way, you don’t risk making gun owners feel judged, or that you might not green light a playdate if their answer is different from yours. Of course, non-gun-owners can just say, “Oh, we don’t have any.”

Don’t ask “Are they stored safely?”

Instead, ask, “How are they stored?” The definition of safely stored varies, from “oh, we just keep the one in our bedside table, it’s loaded, but that drawer is so hard to open, no kid will succeed,” all the way to, “we keep guns unloaded and locked in a safe in the garage, and ammunition in  a separate, locked safe with a different password.”

Terrifying set of questions to ask, isn’t it? I admit I was completely in the dark before this weekend about just how fraught and necessary this conversation is for potential playdates.

The next morning, it felt so timely, in the worst possible way. Sunday’s massacre was horrifying, with the chilling bonus of being just down the road from us. And most horrifying of all is just how routine this kind of news is beginning to feel, from the initial reports of a mass casualty event, to the predictability of how it will be interpreted and spun by our leaders and media. We can fill in the blanks of the narrative with just with a few variables: what color was the shooter’s skin? What color and religion were his victims?

From there, the story just falls into place, and we begin screaming at each other over semantics—what kind of gun was used, whether it was legally obtained, whether he’s a terrorist, whether it was mental health to blame, whether the good guys with guns stepped in fast enough, whether now is the right time to address policy changes. Those deeply felt arguments, shouted into the algorithmic void, are just as rote as the mass shootings that keep happening, again and again.

I find the conversations happening online mortifying. How easily our leaders regurgitate the same anodyne statements that do nothing to help and nothing to prevent. How adeptly the reactionary public contorts a tragedy to support its own world views. How quickly we spread memes and misinformation to blame, vilify, retrench.

What kind of sick culture uses a community losing nearly 10% of its population as a catalyst for more violence against our neighbors?

Why can’t we all concede that we have a problem with gun violence in America? That acknowledgment does not invalidate your strongly held beliefs on gun ownership or gun control or masculinity or mental health or immigration or hate crimes or politics or anything else, other than that we have a gun violence problem in America.

You can remain pro-2nd Amendment and still recognize that this epidemic of tragedies is surely not what our Founding Fathers intended.

You can be pro gun control and still engage in pragmatic and productive conversations about how to stem this tide of violence.

Let’s stop spewing bile from our firmly established trenches. Our lives depend on it.

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What new moms actually need

Over at Fit Approach, we’re in full-on holiday planning, so I’ve been thinking a lot about gifts. It’s too early, I know—I shudder to think I’m contributing to the holidays happening earlier every year trend—but I guess I am. Oops. This is sort of a holiday gift guide but really it’s a primer on what to give your mom friend, especially your new mom friend, for any occasion.

Don’t get her a stroller or baby clothes or anything that’s “for her” but really for the baby. Get her some of these things instead.

Below are the items that transformed my postpartum life. Most of these took me plenty of trial and error to figure out, so consider this your cheatsheet for what’s actually going to improve her life.

Wireless headphones

There’s no way to say this gently, so I’m just going to say it: sometimes momlife is really, really boring. You may be watching a butterfly mobile, pushing a swing, or inspecting individual pieces of bark at the playground for what feels like an eternity. Listening to podcasts and audiobooks has been a sanity saver for me, and I wish I had started doing it back when Mac was super new and I spent my whole life nursing and changing diapers. Next time, I’ll know.

I rely on my trusty wireless headphones for everything. Wires are just a no-go with a grabby baby and a chronic shortage of hands. If you follow me on the internet you know that my Aftershokz are my constant companions – they are literally the best headphones I’ve ever owned. And they make everything from conference calls to running to boring momlife moments better.

A workout app that helps her feel connected

 

I’ve been very honest about my postpartum fitness journey, and how long it took me to find a way to fit it all in. I’m still working on that. But my ace in the hole lately, something I wish I’d had available to me back when I was on a tight breastfeeding tether, was Gixo. It’s a workout app that I actually like (this is a big deal, people), primarily because of the built-in social interactions and accountability. The classes are live so the instructor is talking to you the whole time, encouraging you, even video chatting with you during water breaks.

I use it after Mac goes to bed, or I’ll even pop into a 15 minute class while she’s busy identifying every rock at the park. Even though I know the instructor can’t see me (unless I opt to share my camera during water breaks), knowing she’s there leading the class and hearing her provide feedback in real time makes me work harder to avoid getting ‘caught’ slacking. Silly, I know, but so effective. Without the live accountability, there is NO WAY IN HELL I would ever decide to do a workout, alone in my house, after she goes to bed, when all I really want to do is collapse on my couch and stare vacantly into space.

Instead, I do a Gixo workout or two, then dive back into work, reenergized by an evening dose of endorphins.

Get one month free plus 20% off here.

 

A cell phone wallet

We made these adhesive wallets for BlogFest this year, and this simple little gadget has been life-changing for me. When you’re swapping bags all the time, from diaper bag to purse to just cramming what you need in your pockets, it’s easy to forget the things you actually need. I keep my baseline essentials—ID and credit card—in my cell phone wallet, which means all I have to do is grab my phone and, even if I do no other purse swapping, I can make it through just about any day. No unloading my wallet, no collecting loose cards or items, and no forgetting things in random pockets.

We have these cute little adhesive ones for just $3; here are some fancier ones:

A backpack she’ll want to use as a purse

 

The thing about momlife is that there are never enough hands to go around. Having a purse over one shoulder only complicates the whole juggling situation. I’ve been on team backpack for years, but becoming a parent made my commitment rock solid.

I bought this backpack as a diaper bag originally, but it has since morphed ito my purse. I get a ridiculous number of compliments on it, from people who are not parents, and who are shocked to discover it’s a diaper bag. That means you get all the pros of a diaper bag (hello, pockets and easy clean!) with none of the drawbacks.

Here are some of my favorite backpack options:

Momlife friendly athleisure

Joggers
Can we say elastic waist? I recommend joggers that are gray or heathered rather than black; they are less likely to show spit up, food, dirt and other substances she’ll find herself smeared with than a pure black pair would.

Here are some of my faves:

Tops with that are cut generously around her belly.

It’s nice to have some breathing room around the belly. IT takes weeks, or months, for new moms to not look pregnant any more. Bonus points if theyr’e nursing friendly, easy to clean, AND don’t show spit up.

These are some gems:

 

A cute pair of sneakers

 

Picking shoes out for someone else is hard, but I had to include this one because once you start dressing for mom life, it’s a slippery slope into pajamas all day and mom jeans (and I don’t mean the cool hipster kind). Having a cute pair of sneakers is a perfect way to be comfortable and able to chase around toddlers / walk around with a baby in a carrier all day without feeling like a slob. I’m a die hard Converse fan, and I also have a (stupid expensive) pair of slip-ons that I bought years ago and have been one of my best cost-per-wear purchases (what a relief!).

Why not one of these pairs?

What do you think? What’s your go-to gift for new moms?

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What kind of investments are you making?

The other day, as I was innocently typing out a post, I found myself defaulting to this tired language:

“I’ve reduced the amount of time I invest in typical beauty routines, like blowdrying my hair and putting on makeup”

Invest. Hundreds of underpaid copywriters have leaned on that default word choice in thousands of throwaway pieces, I’m sure. What a particularly capitalist flavor of condescension to women. It’s a pretty poor investment that brings you clogged pores and split ends instead of wealth or power.

I suspect that that word was embedded into my subconscious 20-some years ago by seventeen magazine. I have visceral memories of feeling initiated into a mystery the first time I ran my fingers over those pages. Each one radiated glossy seduction: eat just 2/3 of a Reese’s peanut butter cup (25 calories!) and you’ll earn the thighs that allow you to wear these jean cut-offs. Wear those shorts and you’ll be invited to join the popular girls’ lunch table. Use Night Replenishing Core Activating Anti-Wrinkle Rejuvenating Matte Day Cream with Light-Refracting Mineral Crystals in Honey Nectar, twice daily and your crush will finally ask you to prom.

Oh, what happy returns.

Surely this language is an anachronism, a hanger-on from back when we taught girls that their worth was measured by how they looked.

Or.

Well.

Sometimes it feels like the fatigue of “this still? really?” comes up and smacks you in the ass. Or is it grab – no, no, let’s not go there.

Let’s talk instead about radical prioritization. I’m winnowing, but I’m no Marie Kondo. I can’t just give up every tchotchke and 10-year-old skirt from Forever21 like it doesn’t matter to my life. My garage still guards one giant box of personalized sweatshirts from my childhood dance studio, and another of notes I wrote to my bestie in 8th grade science class.

Kari: if you’re reading this, THE SUN IS GOING TO EAT YOU. (What is happening ☝️is that the sun is slowly expanding and will someday absorb the earth.)

Compounding this imminent solar threat is that I feel always at a loss for time. Always torn in many parts. No matter where I am, I should be somewhere else, doing something else, ticking something else off that godforsaken to-do list.

I’m not minimizing material things so much as I am removing rituals that are burdensome and not, in fact, necessary to my success as a female human. This practice dovetails nicely with my dawning realization that while I have survived a particular set of cultural attitudes about women with only minor hangups and occasional flareups of rage, I cannot abide by my daughter being raised to associate the sisyphean task of pancaking and then removing twenty finely differentiated products, daily or twice daily, with the word investment.

I’m saying no to all the things and it feels so good. It feels like an opening up of possibility. Advancement through negation. Freedom and fortune. Fortune through freedom.

This is a very long winded way of saying that I’m not wearing makeup, I’m not blowdrying my hair, I’m living the capsule lifestyle, and I am considering chucking my razors, but someone recently told me that smooth, glistening skin is THE beauty trend this season, and I took the quiz on page 54 and learned that my legs are my best feature, sooo …

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