How-To Guide: Affordable and Quality Activewear

❄ Hi everyone, ❄

I created this how-to guide on deciphering quality and affordable activewear. Because, in the current financial climate, we can’t afford to keep winging it and ending up with disappointment. Ripped seams, questionable fit, undesirable price tags… we’ve all been there. We want performance quality clothes for the gym, that also look awesome on. It really is possible. And it’s a beautiful thing.

The two brands I’m featuring in this post are 90 Degree by Reflex and GapFit. Both have exceeded my expectations on style, fit, and durability. I received all of these items on discount (GapFit) or at a very reasonable base price (90 Degree).

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Here’s me on Christmas Day wearing my high waisted 90 Degree charcoal leggings, complete with fuzzy robe and Santa hat. 
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Same leggings, different day. This is the GapFit Breathe open-back top in Black. 

When you’re buying activewear, you are constantly debating price versus performance. Do you buy the Old Navy leggings in a pinch or splurge on the high grade $100 ones from (insert high price point brand here)? Tricky question, I know.

You can have both. The lower price point and the performance. My tips:

❄ When you buy matters a lot here. Taking advantage of sales and holidays really bring down price points. For instance, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which is when I purchased all of the GAP clothing pictured in this post.

I received 8 items from GAP on cyber Monday for a grand total of $195, as opposed to the original price of $355. I’m currently loving my modal sleep joggers while I type these words of wisdom.

 

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These are the gFast High Rise Sculpt Revolution leggings in New Vineyard. I’m trying to add more colored leggings to my wardrobe! Shoes: Under Armor Lightning 4 basketball shoes.
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Top: GapFit Breathe open-back top in crystal dusk 

❄ Always read reviews. From actual customers, not the website. If multiple people are complaining of ripped seams or unforgiving fabric regarding the same brand of leggings, you want to take that into account. My advice: go to YouTube. Customers there are brutally honest, and you can find many videos actually comparing affordable versus high-end brands.

❄ Beware of social media influencers advertising activewear. I myself almost purchased GymShark leggings based on the promotional reviews of their top influencers, but once I went to YouTube, I found horrible reviews. I am not in any way judging this brand, I’m just using them as an example of oversaturated social media advertising.

Instagram lovers, I get you, but just know that these individuals are compensated to claim the quality of the activewear they represent. What fits one girl’s body shape might not fit yours. And 15 reviews of a ripped seam WHILE in the middle of a gym routine? I cringed. Definitely do your research.

❄ Even if you love that celebrity’s music, you might not want to invest in their activewear. Carrie Underwood’s activewear line was all over Dick’s Sporting Goods, and I  know how I feel about it. Kate Hudson’s Fabletics has gotten a lot of hype and a lot of hate for the quality of clothing and the strange membership requirements.

❄ Stick to brands you know. Whether you’re a Nike or Under Armour enthusiast, these brands (and many more) are designed for athletes and active people with performance needs. Buying activewear from brands that specialize in activewear is crucial.

I know it’s tempting to get the deal at Victoria’s Secret Pink for their leggings for the holidays, but for real, I’m not going down that rabbit hole again. Every brand out there is trying to make activewear, but what’s the common drawback? You buying the brand not the quality, and the clothes lacking performance. Sad, sad tale.

❄ If you love Nike, for instance, but don’t want to mourn your bank account, don’t go to the actual Nike store. Nordstrom Rack and Dick’s Sporting Goods, to name two, always carry discounted items from brands like Nike. And if you really want to be a pro, I would recommend TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. Target carries Champion, and Costco often has brands like Columbia and outdoor active brands.

What I’m saying here is, I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for clothes.

 

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Top: GapFit Breathe deep V-neck short sleeve tee. These are on final sale for $14.97! The Back says “Girl Pwr Wins” 
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Under Armor Lightning 4 basketball shoes in Black

❄ Fabric matters. If I can’t sit down, squat, lunge, or do a cartwheel in a pair of leggings, chances are I won’t purchase them. I only buy online if I know the brand or the fabric of the item, because I am so picky on fabric.

Why I love these two brands: 

These 90 degree by reflex leggings are available on Amazon for an average cost of $22.99, and they are so comfortable. I bought them in charcoal grey and black to start out with the neutrals. The material is wicking, so they are great for cardio as well as weight sessions. I can kick high and squat low in these babes (they did pass the squat test).

These are the high waist leggings, full length, and I can’t tell you how important a compression waist is for me. Nothing bothers me more than a slipping waistband. My hips to waist proportions give me a very hourglass figure, making it difficult to keep pants up without the high waist. These even have a hidden pocket in the front waistband! I love them, and three washes in, they haven’t lost any shape.

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GapFit has been a longtime success for me. I feel like the regular prices are more reasonable than high end activewear, and I still get the same quality. I love high waisted leggings, and there are always multiple styles online and in store. I stick with the gFast high rise sculpt revolution line, because I like the fit and waistband, so I actually purchased two capris in addition to the purple leggings photographed above.

Gap has sales all the time, so I would highly recommend trying one of their leggings or workout tops. No pilling after washes, either.

I hope you guys liked this hybrid post of product review and how-to guide. Have an amazing rest of your Wednesday! Any questions on the above purchases, just drop a comment below.

The links: 

Under Armour basketball shoes for $74.99 as opposed to $94.99 (although I purchased them during a sale for $54.99)

GapFit Breathe Deep V-neck short sleeve on final sale

GapFit Breathe open-back top (they are all out of the ones that tie, but here are similar tops with the same colors)

gFast High Rise Sculpt Revolution Leggings (same style in Capri version as well)

90 Degree by Reflex High Waist Power Flex Legging (check out all of their colors!)

xx

-Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

7 Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas

Hi everyone,

I wrote it in the title; this is indeed a last minute gift guide for fellow stragglers. The thing about Christmas is I don’t like to scurry and hunt for gifts under pressure. I like to accumulate gifts in advance that I know are solid choices, however, sometimes I revert to gifts like these that are always thoughtful! I hope you find them helpful.

Spa Packages

Spa packages are full-proof for someone to get a couple hours of pampering and relaxation. You can’t put a price on happiness, but you can put a packaged price on bliss. I got my mom a facial package at my aesthetician’s office for a facial and chemical peel. I trust my aesthetician so I didn’t go for the groupon route.

Tickets 

Concert venues, art exhibits, sports games, theatre shows.. the list goes on. Depending what the person enjoys, a ticket to a show that they might not normally splurge on themselves is always a nice gesture.

Tea/Coffee 

Tea set possibilities are endless. Cute tea cups, infusers, variety of tea flavors? Tea shops, like the Teavana one I have in the featured image, come with Belgian rock sugar, two types of teas in cute canisters, and an option to add an infuser. This will make someone feel a little more sophisticated and luxurious when they reach for their nightly tea.

Makeup/Skincare

This could be self-explanatory. A skincare kit all rose themed or fun makeup for New Years, Sephora would probably have it in the store.

Trinkets

I don’t know about you, but if someone got me a fox shaped car refresher to hang on my mirror I would be elated. Key chains with cute inspirational (or sassy) sayings and little trinkets are always a fun option. You could even resort to small trinkets for home decor. Game of thrones themed coasters, anyone?

Accessories

Plaid scarves for the holidays, colorful headphones for the gym (extra points for Bluetooth ones), there are a lot of ways that accessories can improve an individual’s daily life post Christmas.

Gifts that Give Back 

There are tons of companies now that donate money to a cause when you buy a product, so why not do it for a Christmas gift? If your friend or family member loves animals (or even a specific animal), you can buy them a token of their donation. You can make them feel happy on Christmas Day that their gift helped saved lives, or aided working towards a better future. There are so many charities to choose from, get creative!

I hope you found these last minute Christmas gift ideas helpful, and I hope you have a lovely holiday. xx

-K

Clear Skin Diet: My Personal Tips

Hi loves,

If it is not already clear from my previous posts, I care a lot about the health and clarity of my skin. Unfortunately, it is often portrayed that the one and only saving grace to clear skin is a prescription, or using products with intense ingredients. I personally have not experienced either of these options to be a saving grace. And I’m going to share why I’ve changed my mind about what it takes to achieve clear skin.

Often times, prescriptions are antibiotics. Your body will progress to adapt to this antibiotic, and it will stop working if you try to continue usage for long-term. Essentially, prescriptions are short-term solutions. Not that these medications don’t help severe cases of acne, however, if you’re constantly getting more mild forms of blemishes, you should look to other reasoning.

Drink tons of water. Carry a water bottle around with you to hold yourself accountable.

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Your diet is huge for your skin. Have you ever heard “you are what you eat”? It doesn’t just apply to your figure. The food you consume can most definitely alter your skin negatively, just as much as it can improve it.

A list I normally follow for my skin:

➳ Limit refined sugars, which are essentially derived from sugar cane. Refined sugar is present in soft drinks, fruit juices, and candies and sweets. They are used to sweeten food, and you do not gain any benefit from the addition. Speaking of soft drinks, they are high in fructose corn syrup, which is a very common aggressor to insulin spikes, in turn causing a stage of inflammation in the body. Due to this inflammation, enzymes actually break down collagen and elastin, causing premature wrinkles and loose skin.

➳ Ease up on the dairy. The effect of dairy on someone’s skin varies quite a lot, and studies have been all over the board on if dairy causes acne. Given that I would consider myself somewhat resistant to dairy to begin with, I take it out of everything I eat that can have a dairy substitute.

♥ Take your coffee with a non-dairy milk (soy, almond, hemp, coconut)

♥ Don’t overdo it with cheese, and even consider replacing the cheese with a spice or other addition.

♥  Re-consider whey based protein substances. In other words, you can get vegan protein powder and bars. Whey protein is a milk protein, and even dermatologists are catching on to tell athletes to consider non-dairy vegan protein powders.

➳ Fast food will show in your pores. Your pores will thank you if you eat cleaner, and reduce your fast food intake. To put it in perspective, I might have a batch of fries with a meal every two weeks, or have white bread in a sandwich once in a while. Pizza will occasionally happen. But I don’t frequently eat these things, because they are not going to aid you in the path to clear skin. Besides fast food being highly caloric and full of processed unnatural ingredients, they are also packed with high amounts of sodium and sugar, again spiking insulin levels and clogging pores.

Here’s a pic of super clean, whole food at a market in London:

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➳ Eat like you carefully choose skincare. I think of the ingredients of my food and how it will impact my skin. Salmon and avocados are great Omega 3-s, for instance, and the more you  look at food as a reflection of your skin, the better your skin will look. I promise! Here’s a pic of one of my favorite things to make: a salmon protein bowl.

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Ingredients:

1 piece of salmon filet

Handful of kale (or more)

1/2 an avocado

Carrots and mushrooms

Yumm sauce (from Café Yumm)

Salt and garlic

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Just like when you’re training to be fitter, you can definitely make exceptions sometimes and splurge to eat something that isn’t the best for your skin. The key is not to make it a habit! On that topic…

Alcohol. Do not underestimate the negative effects of alcohol on your skin. It comes out through your pores! If you drink on a regular basis, I would be very surprised if your skin remained poreless and plump. In general, alcohol dehydrates you, and by extension your skin. Dehydration causes premature wrinkles and reduces the elastin in your skin layer. It’s tough to maintain your skin’s hormone levels as well because alcohol will change them.

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However, the link of an unhealthy complexion and alcohol depends on the frequency of alcohol consumption. If it’s less frequent and you drink more water to compensate, you should be totally fine. When you do drink:

Reach for clear liquors, not dark. Dark liquors contain congeners that are from extra fermentation. Congeners will cause premature aging in the skin if frequently consumed.

Another fact about alcohol’s negative effects is the sugar content. The excess sugar in cocktails and other mixed drinks will spike your insulin levels and cause systemic inflammation, worsening your complexion and putting you at risk of premature wrinkles. Alcohol in general is better to avoid completely for better skin health, however, the above tips will be exponentially helpful to reducing effects on your skin.

There are no negatives of making your diet cleaner, and your skin will only thank you. This way you can keep your skin healthy from the inside out, not rely on products and medication to do the work.

I hope this information helped you towards a clear skin diet of your own, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to comment below or email me. xx

-Kelly

 

6 Tips for Mental Health And Self-Care

Hi everyone,

This week I am writing a piece very applicable to the title of my blog (K State of Mind). I wanted to touch upon mental health awareness and why it’s important. This post is recognizing tips I use to maintain a positive state of mind, and you’ll get to know me a little more along the way. ♥

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Let’s get that out of the way. As someone that loves fitness, I can be very happy physically but low mentally.

Mental health is often not a comfortable subject to discuss. It’s often cast aside, to prioritize other parts of one’s life. People have amazing talents of compartmentalizing; putting some obstacles, issues, thoughts into mental boxes to later work on as they tackle the most urgent task at hand. However, just as machines can go into overdrive, so can a person.

I wanted to share my favorite effective ways to aid my mental health. I find them to be really good mood boosters, or ways for me to get out of my own head. And trust me, I am guilty of being an over-thinker.

♥ Writing/journaling

I’ve been writing since I was little. It started out as journal entries, and merged into poetry. Poetry is a huge release for me, not to mention a form of creative expression. I can sometimes find out how I really feel after reciting my own words back to me.  I feel as though my thoughts and emotions are being channeled into something I can utilize and reflect on.

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I am sure that one day I will write a novel. I have multiple ideas already, one in particular that would be so exposing it makes me a bit nervous to even consider. Writing is something I would highly recommend to anyone, whether it is even jotting down ideas or concepts. Writing is extracting ideas from your mind and putting them somewhere else. If journaling could be your thing (I’ve been in and out of this phase), do that. Get a small journal and carry it with you as a sort of experiment, and you’ll be amazed at the self-reflection.

♥ Organization

I find that my mood is lessened when I’m disorganized. When my room is a mess, I’m either too busy in my schedule to be my tidy self or I’m too moody to clean it properly. Basically, my room is a clear way of knowing how I’m doing. I like to be tidy and know where everything is. A cluttered mind is similar, isn’t it?

Committing to a planner is a good idea. Even if you have a relatively regulated schedule, you’ll find yourself holding yourself accountable more often if you use a planner. Whichever method you choose, electronic or not, keep yourself as organized as you can to avoid things slipping your mind. Forgetfulness is natural, but if you have something written in your planner, you won’t have to experience the stress of that forgetfulness . Stress is not your friend.

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♥ Exercise

Yes, I love to exercise. As you have seen from my social media and bio about my journey as a college athlete, exercise is ingrained in me as a positive thing. Which I am immensely grateful for. Exercise releases endorphins that moderate stress, anxiety, and depression. Exercise also aids better sleep, which, let’s be honest, is commonly associated with mood fluctuation. Cognitive function has also been connected to exercise. The benefits are really endless here.

Whichever form of exercise you like- weights, cycling, running, yoga… make going to a class or hitting the weights a priority in your routine. If you watch one less Stranger Things, you could get a workout in. Over time, your body image positivity will increase and your mind will start to automatically desire exercise. If you don’t know which kind of exercise to start with, write a comment below and I’ll brainstorm with you. xx

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♥ Nature

Getting out into nature is therapy. The fresh air and lack of concrete gets me every time. The limited technology and surplus of wildlife makes me ask myself why I don’t spend more time outdoors. Drive past the highway and take the side roads. Go on a hike or spend time at the lake.

Did you know that urban living increases the occurrence of anxiety and mood disorders? It’s interesting to think how our daily exposure, whether urban or rural, effects our mental health.

I did happen to write a blog post a few months back about hiking and its benefits for mental health. Check it out here.

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♥ Music

Music is lovely, plain and simple. Whether you’re into R &B or Country, Rap or Pop, music is a definite mind release. My go-to feel good music (yes I just wrote that) is country music. It’s simple in all the right ways and always lightens my mood. You won’t find country in my workout playlist, though.

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♥ Unplugging

I feel like this is sometimes the hardest thing to do in our current generation. We love to have our phones next to us when we sleep, in our pockets, on the table as we work. We jump to see our notifications, group chats, or hilarious memes. We communicate constantly in person and on social media.

What sometimes really helps? Unplugging completely. I know this is a solution from personal experience. My phone dies on occasions, and I actually feel momentarily relieved. I don’t have the option to check my phone. Who’s messaged me, what someone DM’ed me on Instagram or tagged me in on Facebook. I don’t need to know. I can just unplug. I don’t have to communicate.

Communication is essential, but constant communication? Definitely not. Unplug and draw yourself a bath, or take out your neglected library book. Social media and your emails will be there when you plug back in.

Anxiety has effected my life, there’s no denying that. My body reacts to stress and anxiety, so I focus really hard on these tips to keep myself balanced. I’ve had anxiety attacks. There shouldn’t be any shame in acknowledging things like this, and I have zero shame in it. While I’m a confident and strong person, I have the moments where the small voice in my head seems to dominate my confident one. It happens. It’s a journey of getting to know yourself.

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Self-Compassion and self-care should be on your life’s to-do-list. Imagine they are written in permanent marker.

 

I hope my personal tips were helpful. xx

Have the best week,

-Kelly

 

 

 

 

Fashion For Conservation’s Behind the Scenes: The London Edition

London was a whirlwind of fashion. The outfit changes, hair and makeup, the attention to detail. It was all build up to the Elephantasia line walking down the runway at the Fashion Scout venue. An ecofashion line within an industry that is primarily driven by money, Elephantasia represents a brighter future for the relationship between fashion and conservation. And the FFC team was in London for that representation.

In addition to the actual show day, the FFC team went to other venues, some with fresher jet lag than others. We witnessed the unique work of other designers with truly original vision.

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The FFC team was still arriving in groups on various flights. The team that had arrived in London thus far made a cheers to the months of coordinating and planning and social media preparation prior to this trip.

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Pictured: Ava Holmes (Executive Producer), Laura Choi (Campaign Director), Ronee Collins (Special Events Producer), Jason Pillay (Stylist), Kelly Zwicker (Lead Blogger), Samantha Zwicker (Sustainability Director)

We have such a diverse team of creative individuals, from different cities and backgrounds. We all have our individual creative strengths. Coming together in London was a special treat for us to celebrate what FFC has accomplished so far.

The day of the show was, of course, ten million things happening at once. It was a rush. As FFC’s blogger I captured the moments going up to the show, and the Fashion Scout venue was lovely.

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We started the show with a musical performance by guest musician Anthar Kharana, setting a specific mood for the audience.

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Pictured: Anthar Kharana

As for the show’s runway pictures, a full recap of the entire line can be found on the Fashion For Conservation blog, however, here are some of my snapshots captured at the venue.

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Pictured: Nazy Alvarez (Creative Director), Ava Holmes (Executive Producer), Anthar Kharana (Guest Musician), Samantha Zwicker (Sustainability Director)

London Fashion Week was a great experience for the FFC team, and it is one of the many events we will promote not just fashion, but conservation as well, and it’s future in this amazing industry.

I hope you all enjoyed this London Fashion Week BTS post! Have a productive and creative week. xx

-Kelly

Blog Photography Spots: The London Edition

Hi everyone,

I’m working on a series of London posts to share the lovely experiences I had there! Here are my recommendations on places for blog photography spots in and around London. I hope you enjoy! Even if you aren’t a blogger, these locations are still awesome to see.

Shoreditch

If you love graffiti, you’d love the town of Shoreditch. It’s a very artsy area covered in street art. Shoreditch is definitely an area for young creatives and trendsetters, with its fashionable hangout spots, clubs, and vintage shops.

My personal experience in Shoreditch was the basement vintage market, which was so cool to experience with all the local designers and talented individuals. While I was on my trip with Fashion for Conservation, my experience in Shoreditch was exploring the artsy streets for behind the scenes photoshoots. Aside from that, our after party was hosted at Dark Sugars Cocoa House, which has the most aesthetic looking chocolate I’ve ever seen in my life.

As an area, I would say Shoreditch is definitely worth a tram ride.

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South Kensington

This was probably my favorite town of the trip. It is so pretty with its all white buildings, and cute shops. Not to mention it has the National History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, which I’ll be mentioning in an upcoming post!

Bloggers: do not miss out on South Kensington if you want to do an outfit shoot. I did one with Karya, who took the pictures below. Two Seattle girls in London during the same time, what are the odds?

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Photography: Karya Schanilec 

 

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Photography: Karya Schanilec

Outfit details: Brandy Melville (cardigan), Cole Haan (boots), Nasty Gal (hat)

Kew Gardens

If you like more of a nature backdrop, and love flowers in your pictures, then Kew Gardens would be an amazing location for you. They have a botanical garden with a beautiful spiral. staircase up to the top, with exotic plants and flowers. There is also many outdoor sculptures and mini gardens with cool designs.

If you’re a succulent lover like me, there’s also a whole outdoor section for outdoor plants right outside the gift shop that make for an adorable backdrop as well.

Camden Market

The day we went to Camden was really cloudy and pretty dark, not making lighting for outfit shots, however, the market makes for a really unique hipster vibe if you’re into that for your pictures. The canal is also right next to the market, so you have cute bridges and the waterfront for options as well.

 

 

 

Surrounding Yourself with Plants for your Health and Happiness

Hi loves,

This is a plant dedication post. Because plants are essential, not to mention they have 10/10 aesthetic.

As the air gets progressively more polluted, you know what saves the day for your oxygen and respiratory health? Plants. They may as well be the superpower of global warming. The earth is heating up and there are more cars made every day, and more chemicals are released into the air and water. No, this isn’t a negative post. Read on.

I love plants. When I walk into a nursery and there are designated rooms and sections for various plants, my heart is warm. No joke. I’m growing my plant collection and there are so many benefits of owning plants in your home.

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Pictured above is me finding the adorable cafe in Sky Nursery and explaining to the barista what it’s like shooting for my blog when random people are staring at me like I’m not wearing pants. She found it all pretty entertaining. Back to the plant admirations..

Plants are the cleaners of the air we breathe. They absorb the carbon dioxide we exhale and replace that carbon dioxide with fresh oxygen. There is a reason why people feel they can breathe again when they go into nature after living in the bustling city. There aren’t as many plants and trees in a city. In fact, cities like New York, the city of concrete, are known to be extra unhealthy for your lungs and skin because there is no plant life around you. Your skin is just taking in all of the free radicals in the air.

In addition, research studies have revealed that indoor air can be up to ten times more polluted than outdoor air. There is quite an accumulation of dust and bacteria, even mold, that can occur in your household. Homes have a lot of plastic from plastic bags and containers, trash, cleaning supplies, detergents… all items that can cause allergic reactions. If you have sensitive skin or have had history of contact dermatitis, you might want to consider switching to healthier “greener” household products and adding plants to reduce your indoor air pollution.

If you want me to get all historical on you, the early Greeks and Romans started the trend of bringing plants inside, and they were onto something. The victorians also favored potted plants. A University of Michigan study even noted that being in the presence of plants can boost your memory retention up to twenty percent. I do not have the direct link to this resource, that is completely off of memory.

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I really got into my plant collection due to receiving them as gifts. Plants make amazing gifts, simple yet thoughtful, and they have a higher life expectancy than flowers. Flowers are a nice thought, but they wilt in that vase in your kitchen whereas plants grow and expand.

On another note: if you are trying to train yourself to get a pet, get a plant first. Pay attention to its health. If you leave a plant in a dark corner, that’s a red flag. Plants kind of need the photo in photosynthesis.

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Plants have amazing healing properties. Instead of buying aloe vera gel, why not have the gel from the real source? I now have my own aloe plant and I use the gel for sunburns and scratches. Not to mention it will continue to grow and the gel will be 100% natural and directly plant derived, instead of getting it from a plastic tube in the supermarket.

Another reason I have personally become so fond of plants is my recent switch to plant-based makeup and skincare. The result? Absolute bliss. My skin can tell the difference. No extra chemicals, no fake ingredients, just the good stuff.

I fully plan to continue this plant loving series with details of my new “green” makeup and skincare routines, so stay tuned for those! I hope you enjoyed these pictures in the nursery and my reasoning to start becoming a plant mom. xx

My outfit in this photo set is all from Athleta, paired with my Adidas Originals Superstars.

My Instagram blog page is @k_stateofmind and my photography page is @kellyzphoto.

-Kelly