2018 Initiative: Becoming Body Positive Through Fitness

Fitness has unlimited benefits to an individual’s lifestyle. Not only is it essential for cardiovascular health and disease prevention, it also improves mental health and body positivity.

It can be difficult to believe that fitness and body positivity can coexist, with the heavy influence around us every day. We see ‘fitspo’ imagery on social platforms, phrases like “beach body’ and articles on how to constantly cut food cravings. Following these phrases and trends can be confusing and skew the purpose of fitness.

Essentially, these phrases and terms that are thrown around through media are body-shaming readers. Fitness ‘gurus’ have workouts even called ‘beach body workouts’ or tips on how to be bikini body ready in (insert time period here). Which body type are you trying to promote? It can’t be a universal one, because that would be impossible, wouldn’t it? Genetics are a slight obstacle with that one…

Let’s skip the awkward labels and cut to the chase here. You should workout for you. Year round happiness over seasonal happiness is key as well. Summer is great, but it offers a lot more than your showing of how many pounds you shed with that at home pilates YouTube streak. You are more than your size, babes.

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Be PROUD of your progress so far, and take on the rest you have to go as a challenge, not a chore. ❤

Hitting the weights or making it to your favorite Zumba class can improve your confidence in your body, by being active and learning to love the progress you make. Fitness can be an amazing release, not a chore to get closer to an ‘ideal’ body that is unattainable. Embrace your body, and workout because you want to be healthier. Have your fitness goal be happiness, whichever exercises bring you that. If you’re bored, mix it up. 

Don’t workout to earn food, or obsess over a particular waist measurement. Discovering a true balance of focusing on how you feel rather than just how you look is an important step towards body positivity and the power of confidence.

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Nourish your body and give yourself credit when you push yourself. 

I’m not saying I don’t succumb to body critiques. I just don’t let them run my life, or my relationship with fitness.

When was the last time you told yourself what you’re grateful for with your body? What makes your body ‘yours’? Because you are one of a kind, don’t forget that. Use fitness to start finding the positives, such as increasing your energy or strengthening your immune system.

Set your own standards. There is no finish line, because fitness isn’t a race. You don’t need to make comparisons to another’s body when it’s not a competition. Give yourself encouragement and set goals that will make you truly happier, and ensure that those goals are for you and you alone.

Make 2018 about body positivity. Go with friends to workouts or enjoy hikes outside. Take a new group class you’ve always wanted to try. Make challenging yourself a passion as opposed to a hurdle. Learn to love what you were born with, and use it as your source of inspiration, not as a subject of critique.

Exercise as sight seeing? Yes please… 
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If you open yourself up to your surroundings and a bigger picture, you’ll see more than the small details. 

Why? Because you deserve that confidence. Self-compassion and acceptance is not always easy, and is a practice that is often overlooked. Step off the scale and push aside the numbers. Choose a starting point and go from there. And enjoy the process.

How are you going to become more body positive? Let me know in the comments. xx

-Kelly

Five Ideas to Consider Before Starting a Blog

Hi everyone,

This week I’m sharing my tips and idea’s for how to start a blog. A beginner’s guide, if you will. I’ve had my blog for about a year and a half, and I have to say, it’s my favorite activity. I love to write and share info and education on topics I love. If you’re wanting to do the same, then read on! ❤

1 . There are a few more technical steps to setting up your blog, but the one decision I’ll give my input on is the platform. I prefer WordPress and have been loving it since I started. There are approximately 82 million WordPress users, so your engagement possibilities are great here. I find the platform user friendly and straightforward for uploading content and images.

If you’re unsure about which platform you want to use, research always helps. What kind of content will you be uploading? For instance, an image dominated blog may apt to go for a platform like Squarespace, for that modern clean look. I, however, love to include a bunch of text in my blog pieces, and compliment it with photography.

WordPress allows me to post aesthetic posts with my writing and one of my new found loves, photography:

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2 . Consider investment. If you aren’t willing to invest some money into your platform, it’s better to know at the beginning stage. A few investments instantly make your blog more professional. The two that I invested in were a domain and a template.

A personalized domain is much more personal to you, as opposed to having the platform name be in the domain. And people respect and appreciate a blog that has gone the extra mile.

WordPress, for instance, offers a variety of templates free of charge, however, my advice would be to look through the free ones and paid ones without focusing on the money factor. Which template stands out to you? Which properly displays the type of content you’ll be posting? After that, it’s up to you. You could always go with a free template to start out and switch later.

3. Think about cross-promotion. By that I mean promoting your blog content on multiple social media platforms to gain more exposure. Currently, my top priority of cross-promotion is Instagram. I feel like I can really show my photography on there and draw my followers to my blog site. I always put my recent blog post in my Instagram bio for easy access.

4. Time commitment/management. Posting regularly on a blog does take time. I aim to post once a week, mostly on a Wednesday or a Thursday according to my posting statistics. Some bloggers aim to post twice a week, and some manage every two weeks. The key is finding what schedule works for you, and sticking to it.

If you’re adding a blog to a current full schedule, blocking out time in your week to write posts and take photos is essential. Sometimes I’ll arrange 5 flatlays in the same sitting and save them so I have them for upcoming posts on Instagram and on my blog. It helps to think ahead! Some examples of flatlays I plan out (when the winter light allows):

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5. Lastly and most importantly, you need a niche. When trying to figure out what your blog will be about, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I know? (You don’t need to be an “expert”, but go for your strengths)
  • What am I passionate about?
  • What content would I like to read?

Your niche should be something that flows more naturally. If you have always loved keeping up with the latest fashion trends, fashion blogging would be great for you. If you just love photography and taking photos and want to show them to an audience, a photography blog would be great. If you’re passionate about health and wellness, design a blog that covers those topics. Go for your strengths and write what you know.

I consider this point the most important because it ensures authenticity in your writing. I myself strayed from my passions for a few months posting more style and fashion, and my excitement for it faded. Writing about health and wellness and fitness are always on my mind and in my lifestyle, so I found my way back to what I consider to be my strengths.

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Be yourself. Let it come through your blog and through your writing. You’ll be amazed at the feeling of people responding positively to it.

I hope this guide was helpful! For any further inquiries about starting a blog, feel free to drop a comment below or email me. x

-Kelly

 

 

 

My Take on the Fashion Industry: Being A Part of the Sustainable Fashion Initiative

 

Hi everyone,

As you may know, one of my jobs is being the lead blogger and freelance photographer for a Seattle based fashion company, Fashion for Conservation. I’m sharing my thoughts on the fashion industry, because I’ve been working in it for about a year now.

I’ve always loved having my own personal style, however, I was skeptical of getting involved in an industry that is driven by mass consumerism.

I love certain aspects of fashion, but I haven’t been fully on board until I was introduced to the idea of sustainable fashion. Why are we not focusing on driving a massive industry towards sustainable practices? Why can’t our clothes be the best of both worlds; sustainable and fashionable?

Fashion for Conservation aims to combine conservation and fashion, best of both coexisting worlds. That’s what drew me in.

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Photography: Kelly Zwicker
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Photography: Kelly Zwicker
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Photography: Kelly Zwicker

The tough thing is, it is completely possible, it’s just a matter of creating a shift in thinking from big brands and the audience that keep those brands afloat and relevant. People love their stuff, their clothes, their possessions. They love the fabrics that made it all happen, the precious fibers that hold their statement pieces together.

But there’s a bigger picture here. As the earth warms and animals are in a panic trying to  migrate from their beloved habitats, are we still going to care more about how exactly our clothes are made? If we have to switch to sustainably made clothes and accessories, is this going to drastically change our lives? No. But it could for the creatures we should be aiming to protect.

In 2017, I attended London Fashion Week with Fashion for Conservation, viewing designers’ work from all over the world. Yet as I attended the shows, I started to observe the people attending, as opposed to the designs. Why? I started to ask myself if they were there for the art and fashion design, or for the entitlement.

Why can’t beautiful designs be both sustainable and a representation of art and talent?

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Photography: Kelly Zwicker
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Photography: Kelly Zwicker

I have an entirely new view of fashion from working with Fashion for Conservation. There are multiple aspects of the industry I don’t care for, but collaborating with sustainable brands and designers, or featuring animal rights activists and wildlife photographers, is what makes it worth it for me. I feel like I’m playing a part in this bigger initiative, to make fashion and conservation work together for a brighter future.

As a blogger, I aim to work with sustainable brands, or cruelty-free makeup and skincare lines. It feels better ethically to be using products that don’t support animal testing, because I love animals. I refuse to wear them and I don’t believe in fashion sacrificing them for a trend.

I see zoos differently, and tourism. I now know what elephants, the majestic and beautiful creatures that they are, have to endure in order for a tourist to ride them. I know the history of what circuses did to their animals to get them to jump through rings of fire or behave absurdly for human amusement. I’m not trying to impose guilt with these words, I’m trying to share the progress we’ve already made and how much farther we still have to go.

In reality, we could learn from Animals. Fashion for Conservation’s Elephantasia campaign celebrated the elephant. How could they not be a priority?

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Photography: Chantelle Melzer
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Photography: Chantelle Melzer

I love personal style, finding new skincare products that work for me, and products here and there that compliment my everyday life. But they don’t have to come with the expense of an animal’s life. Animals aren’t here for our amusement or utility. We can all aim higher with our contribution to conservation efforts, and as long as I hold this position within Fashion for Conservation, I will keep doing so and inspire other individuals to do the same.

I consider this piece from a reporter’s perspective, given my realization London. I’m also thinking of starting a series of ethical and sustainable fashion trends. Thoughts?

How are you being sustainably fashionable? Let me know in the comments. xx

Happy Wednesday!

-Kelly

 

 

 

Organizational Tips for 2018

Hi everyone,

I hope you all are having a lovely week so far. I wanted to post about what I’ve been cultivating most in my resolutions for 2018: organization.

Staying organized is crucial for efficiency, productiveness, and maintaining a schedule. I hope you find my tips helpful. And happy 2018 (how did that even happen)

1.  Learn to love a planner. Planners help you avoid cramming every appointment, event, and blurb into your brain for storage. Planners are cute, organized, and give you the relief that you won’t forget important details. Where are you supposed to be at 3 pm before your work shift? At the bank depositing checks, according to your planner of choice. Here’s mine:

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I got my planner at TJ Maxx for $9.99, the original retail price being $29.99. Saving in small ways, right?

2. Wake up at the same time each day. Regardless if you are a morning person or a night owl, setting the same time to get up regulates your body and mind to start the day at the same time. Consistency is key here. Want to know how I, a night owl, have been getting myself up in the morning? My Phillips wake-up light. It looks very futuristic.

This wake-up light has 5 bird sounds to wake up to, or the option of the radio. You also customize the volume and brightness of the lamp, which mimics the sun in the morning. Bottomline: if you aren’t having luck with the standard iPhone alarm clock approach, maybe give this method a try.

3. Dedicate specific days to specific tasks. Today I’m posting on here on the blog, as well as on the blog of a fashion company I work for. Wednesday is dedicated to posting blog posts. Ever since I committed to this, I found myself less scatter-brained. You can dedicate a specific day to clean, go to the bank, do grocery hauls, whatever it is you sometimes have to put on the back-burner due to lack of time. Hold yourself accountable. Need to walk your sister’s dog who’s the Amazon jungle? Pencil that in.

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4. Speaking of grocery hauls… keeping an actual list is handy. Having an ongoing list in the kitchen of things you need at the store makes the trip more efficient and saves you getting items you don’t need (or when you’re hungry).

5. Budgeting methods. Finances doesn’t have to be daunting or disappointing. It’s a relief to visually see yourself saving. I like to keep notes for myself of things I’m saving up for, things I know I’ll purchasing, or I’ll take notes on things I’ve splurged. I’m considering getting a budget journal to log my expenses, or an app to use on my phone. Getting in the mindset of constantly budgeting can save you a lot of money in 2018! Hold the $5.00 for a month and see where you end up!

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6. Start prepping essentials on-the-go. I keep hand cream and moisturizer in my car, along with body spray, extra hair ties, and headphones. I keep essentials in my car and purse in case I need them later. These are very small things, however, you’ll start appreciating thinking ahead when you’re waiting in a long line or your hair tie snaps from the volume of your mane. Just saying. I have mu makeup in a designated bag for work, and I put protein powders and BCAA’s ready to go in shakers and small containers for later use. I’m not a pro or anything, but I’m pretty close.

7. De-clutter. Everything. Maybe tackle or your room one day, your bathroom the next day, and your work space the next. But de-cluttering old receipts, notes, and boxes de-clutters your mind too. They go hand in hand, my peeps.

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Those are my 7 tips of organization! Short and sweet. Which one speaks to you most? Let me know in the comments. xx

Happy productivity!

-Kelly

 

 

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

 

Introducing Hoja Nueva: A Peruvian Based Nonprofit

Happy Sunday Babes,

Cocktails for Conservation, and event held by Fashion for Conservation (FFC), was on the 28th and had a great turn out! I wanted to introduce the non-profit benefitted at the event, Hoja Nueva, which is based out of the remote Piedras region of Madre De Dios, Peru. Samantha Zwicker, the executive director of Hoja Nueva, spoke at the event as well. Samantha also happens to be my sister, and I’m planning to visit her eco-lodge at some point this year to possibly do a health project.

Pictured: Hoja Nueva Executive Director Samantha Zwicker 
Pictured: Hoja Nueva Executive Director Samantha Zwicker
Pictured: Samantha Zwicker in the Peruvian Amazon 
Pictured: Samantha Zwicker in the Peruvian Amazon

Samantha is a PhD student and current global health scholar most days, and other days she is trekking through the Peruvian Amazon camera trapping  jaguars, treating dogs, or working in the sustainable development of remote, impoverished communities. Her work with Hoja Nueva is very diverse and covers a wide range of health and environmental topics. When Samantha is home you can find her off exploring with her dog Copper in the Pacific Northwest, or spending time with her family.

“My love for animals and nature is what guides me,” says Samantha, “and continuing to provide a voice for the people and animals that go unheard.” Samantha aim to be a sort of global leader, inspiring others to make a difference and help much needed communities around the world. This drive to help created the idea of Hoja Nueva, a U.S 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Samantha began working in the lower Peruvian Amazon almost five years ago, drawn to the frontier forests within the controversial region of Madre De Dios, known globally for illegal mining and logging operations. The interoceanic highway was the last straw – a vast expanse of concrete stretching from the ports of Peru to the ports of Brazil brought an influx of people to corners of the Amazon that have never been reached before. Like other areas of the world opened up by roads, the interoceanic highway led to the creation of thousands of more roads for logging, agriculture, and settlement. For migrants in search of free land and a better future for their children, the unprotected forests of Las Piedras, albeit viewed as untamed jungle, were a blessing. The deforestation and habitat destruction incurred over the past six years however, has been detrimental for the future survival of wildlife and rainforest.

“We started Hoja Nueva as a grassroots organization,” Samantha says, “to raise standards of living in impoverished communities while maintaining healthy rainforest habitat.” Samantha and the Hoja Nueva team aim to effects change at a local scale, for the lives of people in both migrant and native communities. What is so commonly misunderstood is that these people are vital to rainforest conservation, therefore they must be constantly prioritized in research and conservation projects.

Sustainability projects have become very important to Hoja Nueva’s recent initiatives, or in other words, guiding Peruvian communities to thrive and develop in a sustainable way. Some of these projects include native communities gaining legal rights to their lands, and creating microfinance programs and alternative income opportunities.

Developing waste management and water quality projects, linking sustainable cocoa producers with buyers in the U.S., and bringing students and experts from around the world to educate support in the ways that they can, are very clear goals for Hoja Nueva. To reach their conservation and research goals, Hoja Nueva raised $60,000 in 2015 and 2016 to build a research station and eco-lodge, as well as buy 150-acre plot of land within one of the largest destructive agricultural communities in the Piedras region.

Pictured: The eco-lodge built for Hoja Nueva's research 
Pictured: The eco-lodge built for Hoja Nueva’s research
Pictured: The Hoja Nueva team camera trapping in the Amazon
Pictured: The Hoja Nueva team camera trapping in the amazon
Pictured: Samantha Zwicker with a child from Lucerna's community 
Pictured: Samantha Zwicker with a child from the Lucerna Community

Although Hoja Nueva has made great leaps since its founding, Samantha recognizes that are always limitations and obstacles when working in a nonprofit. “We find ourselves consistently faced with issues – big and small – that we want to confront and work on but we do not have the funds,” she claims, “One of the most difficult parts about running a nonprofit that is needs-based is not always being able to help.”

Hoja Nueva goes through periods of getting significant donations and funds to aid projects, and then there are also equal periods of time when Hoja Nueva struggles to make ends meet. It takes a lot of well though out distribution of funds and saving to keep the projects going, as Samantha has already experienced in her dedication to Hoja Nueva so far. “It is not always easy, but in the end it is always worth it,” she says.

Pictured: Hoja Nueva's official logo 
Hoja Nueva’s official logo
Pictured: Samantha Zwicker and Ronee Collins with members of the Lucerna community
Samantha Zwicker and Ronee Collins with members of the Lucerna community and volunteers

Local events, such as Cocktails for Conservation, spread awareness in a very effective way, through networking and creative stimulus of additions such as eco-fashion.

This brings in Hoja Nueva’s partnership with Fashion For Conservation (FFC), one Samantha is very proud to continue. Hosting events with FFC spreads awareness of Hoja Nueva’s efforts to a consumer crowd, which is crucial and hard to reach solely with Hoja Nueva’s media efforts. “The fashion industry is the third most destructive on Earth, ” Samantha claims, “especially as it relates to dies, cotton, and an uncanny amount of waste.”

The truth of the matter is, millions of people tune or attend events such as London or New York Fashion Week. Addressing this audience with issues that have erupted in the tropics and the world in general can make a monumental impact for Hoja Nueva’s cause. Not to mention that partnerships like these are a statement for future conservation efforts.

By living part of the year in both Peru and Seattle, Samantha stresses the importance of connecting with people and building networking for conservation projects. The topics of climate change, loss of biodiversity and wildlife species may have a new chance to gain awareness in the world of fashion, with the help of volunteers and those willing to put in a helping hand with education and promotion.

I’ve gotten involved with FFC because fashion really can have a sustainable base. We can make a significant difference, with the causes we choose to donate our money. There are individuals, like Samantha, who are working abroad to build a better future for the coexistence of nature and humans. We can do our part here at our home base.

When I do visit Peru with Hoja Nueva, I fully plan to photograph and document my experience. I’ve never been to South America.

I hope you enjoyed this FFC feature; a dive into my work with a fashion company that could make a big difference. Stay tuned for my next post, that will be up by Thursday evening. 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

 

 

 

 

Upcoming Event: Cocktails for Conservation In Seattle

Hello lovely people,

I wanted to check in and announce an event that will be taking place on November 28th, called Cocktails for Conservation. The event is being run by the company I work for, Fashion for Conservation (FFC). Mark your calendars and purchase a ticket to the show if you are interested. Link is here.

The event specifics:

 Location: Axis in Pioneer Square: 308 1st Ave S., Seattle, WA 98104

Time: 7 pm -10 pm

Why host this event? Because it will be fun and educational, and it will be inspiring for the merging of fashion and conservation. There will be great discussions, amazing guest speakers, and everything down to the cocktails will be jungle themed.

Fashion and Conservation could have an amazing future together as a combination, a whole new priority in the fashion industry. Starting out local with these events sparks larger projects, which sparks a much larger movement. Are you ready to join?

I will be in attendance, taking behind the scenes photography and hosting interviews. I would love to meet anyone that would like to attend, and support the benefited cause, Hoja Nueva. Hoja Nueva is based out of Peru, where the founder and executive director, Samantha Zwicker, does research on the wildlife inhabiting Peru’s lowland Amazon rainforest. Her current projects cover the topics of wildlife conservation, ecology, global health and community development.

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Pictured: Members of the community of Lucerna, Peru, with executive director Samantha Zwicker and Hoja Nueva team members
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Pictured: Khan the Ocelot, who was to be re-entered into the wild by Hoja Nueva member Harry Turner. Khan was killed by a poacher trap, and his memory drives Hoja Nueva to succeed with conservation efforts, despite resistance. 
There is an important theme of the partnership of Hoja Nueva with FFC. Hoja Nueva’s efforts are put towards a future where humans and wildlife can coexist together. A world where wildlife is not at the expense of human activity. Sustainability should not just be a trend, it should be a lifestyle people adapt to. It should be prioritized.

As for making sustainability trendy? This event is up to the challenge.

 

The evening features themed specialty cocktails, fashion design inspired by elephants and rainforests, holiday pop-up shops of local and international brands, and keynotes with jungle-dwelling Fashion for Conservation co-founder and Hoja Nueva president Samantha Zwicker.

Along with specialty cocktails and benefits to Hoja Nueva, the Cocktails for Conservation event will include fashion design inspired by elephants and rainforests, and holiday pop-up shops of local and international brands. FFC recently presented the Elephantasia line in London Fashion Week, so expect to witness some of the beauty of the eco-fashion at the event.

We are very happy to announce Endangered Species Chocolate as one of our sponsors for our goodie bags for VIP guests.

Endangered Species Chocolate (ESC), the makers of the country’s top rated non-GMO and Fair Trade chocolate indulgences, does more than make delicious treats. Through their 10% Give Back program they have been able to provide nearly $1.4 million to their conservation partners over the past three years. Currently partnering with Wildlife Conservation Network and Rainforest Trust, ESC will be celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2018, and have begun work to broaden their reach and efforts to support each of these great organizations through crafting premium chocolate.

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For the entertainment, we are thrilled to have J-NASTY, (Janice Ibarra). Janice is an emerging DJ, stylist, yoga teacher, and co-founder of Women.Weed.WiFi, which is an art collective-movement. Janice feels a strong connection with nature that she harnesses for her activities and lifestyle. The rainforest has taught her that the food of our ecosystem is  awareness. There’s a necessity for growth and change that we are responsible for initiating, and Janice loves to participate in events that get her involved with this change.

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I hope to see some of you there! xx

-Kelly