My Skin Care Routine

 
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I want to make this post short and sweet, but I’ve received a lot of questions lately on what my skin care routine is, how I got involved with Beautycounter, and many just about the products in general. You can read about my decision to partner with the company here (link to clean beauty tab-page). But a big part of my reason is this: ONLY 10% OF THE INGREDIENTS USED IN SKINCARE AND BEAUTY PRODUCTS HAVE EVER BEEN TESTED FOR SAFETY.

In an effort to clean up my own skincare routine I am excited to share within my website that I have partnered with Beautycounter. They have banned over 1,500 ingredients from their products, all while ensuring that their products perform just as well as a luxury skincare brand. I originally fell in love with Beautycounter because their products completely transformed my skin. I decided to work with them because I wanted to work with a company that is actively trying to make changes in this industry and get better and safe products into the hands of everyone.

My Routine:

This is what I get asked the most. While I do have most of the Beautycounter products, my own routine is very minimal. I am a strong believer that less is more. I don’t think you need to complete multiple steps in the morning and evening to get the skin you want. This statement is also true from a tangible perspective. With all Beautycounter products, you do not need to use much. There is no fillers in these products whatsoever, meaning a teeny tiny amount goes a very long way which also means your products last FOREVER.  To make this less wordy, I am linking each of these products to my Beautycounter website where you can read the common uses for each product along with the list of ingredients. I have combination skin with sensitivity to hormonal breakouts.

AM: 

Countercontrol Cleanser

Countermatch Adaptive Moisterizer w/ a drop of the No. 1 brightening oil

PM:

Charcoal Cleansing Bar

Cleansing Balm

Rejuvenating Night Cream

Additional Products I Use:

Once a week I use the Balancing Facial Mask. This has been so wonderful in balancing out and diminishing my blemishes. It draws out impurities and dries excess oil gently, without being too harsh. It makes your skin brighter, smoother, clearer and is extremely beneficial for congested skin.

I am not a huge make-up person, but since joining this company I’m finding myself loving make-up more and more. I still don’t wear much, but I’m enjoying trying out different products. I will share my make-up favorites and routine in a future post.

Lastly, I just want to say that you do not, by any means, need to buy multiple products at a time. I have many clients who start with one or two things and essentially, that is what I did. They notice a significant transformation pretty fast which makes them want to make more purchases and safer swaps within their beauty, skincare, and even family’s products. But you can make this transition as fast or as slow as you’d like.  You do not need to buy a complete regimen right from the start. If you have questions or are just looking for a couple things to try, please reach out to me through my contact tab, the comments below, or on instagram which you can be linked to here. I’d be happy to share my favorites or just offer you suggestions based on what products interest you!

 

PWR by Kelsey Wells: 1 Week Review

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As some of you know, the SWEAT App is a subscription-based app on your phone and it includes four other programs: BBG, BBG Stronger, Body and Mind, and Post-Pregnancy.  I’ve personally only ever tried this fitness app (there are many out there) so I don’t have anything to compare it too. But I can compare it to something else. I love to run. Running has been my main form or exercise since before my first son was born three and half years ago. I ran through most of my pregnancy with him as well as my second pregnancy, and primarily just walked when I couldn’t run any longer. I actually just completed my first ever 10 mile running race and it truly was one of the best experiences I’ve had. That being said, I’ve been a wannabe strength trainer/gym go-er for a very long time. We purchased a gym membership about 12 weeks after Riggins was born and I would go about 2-3 times a week until I decided to cancel my half of the membership only a month in. 

I had mixed feelings about my membership the first go round. I was feeling unmotivated and somewhat ‘bored’ every time I’d go because I felt like I was doing the same exercises every single time, half of my workout being spent on the treadmill. On the other end, I also felt extremely intimidated and never really confident enough to try anything other than those exercises I was doing - which were mostly body weight things like push-ups, squats, planks, etc. All things that I could easily do in the privacy of my own home. 

I felt a huge sense of relief when canceling my membership because I literally loathed the thought of walking into the gym not having a clue what to do or what muscles to work or even where to begin. I went right back to running and was doing that happily for the last 7+ months. After I finished the 10 mile race, I knew in my heart I needed a break from solely running. I brought up the gym membership to Nick again and he had a positive response telling me that while switching things up sounds scary, it might just be the best thing for me. 

Rather than going out and getting a membership with no plan again, I decided to do some research on strength training in general. I came across the SWEAT app and decided to try the free week trial to see if it would give me a bit of structure. After downloading it, I played around with it on my phone for a couple days and then I went ahead and tried the gym membership again. The first week initially felt very similar to the previous time I had got a gym membership, mostly because I was feeling uncomfortable with the app still and just trying to figure out where actual machines were in the gym and essentially, how they worked, ha!

Fast forward through my trial week and the first initial ‘paid’ week of the App, and this is where I’m at: I absolutely love it! Once I got through the ins and outs of how the workouts were set up and found my way around, I started feeling like I actually had a purpose in the gym, like I belonged. The weights have me feeling so strong. For someone who has never really liked strength training, I actually really enjoy the workouts, and I like the structure of it now that I understand the app. You can tell that Kelsey has put thought and reasoning into the workouts. It makes me feel more knowledgable than the ultra beginner I used to be. PWR has me focusing on muscles that I wouldn’t normally think to work and it’s set up in a way that I truly feel like I get a good workout. One of the other problems I had with my original membership is that I wasn’t pushing myself by trying more complex exercises and adding more weight other than my own body. The app literally demonstrates to you what exercises to do and how they are performed. 

I also really like that I actual sweat. One thing I love about running is that it’s a heart exerting exercise. I really love the endorphins cardio gives me, where strength training never had given me that, until now. You begin each workout with an activation phase that’s mostly to warm your muscles up, but for me, I like it because it’s very little weight and also very little rest, so right off the bat my body is working and I start to immediately sweat. You then move into a Pyramid Phase which is meant to build your muscles. I’m still trying to get used to things like the actual squat rack, bench press, ‘big muscle’ areas in the gym. But knowing that the app tells me exactly what to do and how many to do has been amazing. There are three pyramid workouts with about 4 sets in every exercise. And then you move into supersets before cooling down, which again is for building muscles but I actually keep my weights low and do more reps and less rest during these too so that again, I feel like I’m sweating and burning calories, while also building strength and toning. 

If you are looking for something to follow in a gym setting, I highly recommend this app and the PWR program. It has been a really positive experience for me so far and I’m already feeling stronger and actually excited to go to the gym.  The hardest part of exercise is finding something you love. I never loved strength training. I was the queen of cardio (running). But PWR has completely shifted my mindset and I’m so thankful for that. 

I plan to do another review with more progress based information in about 6 weeks. If you’ve done PWR or any other SWEAT app workouts, I’d love to hear from you! You can find the link to the app HERE.

Our Tips for Traveling with a Toddler and an Infant.

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We are not routine travelers by any means. Our honeymoon was a complete disaster filled with food poisoning and hurricanes. We took one trip when McCoy was eight months old and left him with my in-laws. That vacation was relaxing but I spent most of my time missing my baby and making trips up to the hotel room to pump, ha! I was so nervous for this trip. Now having completing this and surviving it haha, I would definitely do it again. Below are the tips Nick and I came up with when it comes to traveling with littles, or even just one. If you have anymore to add, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Keep their Night time Routine and Essentials Consistent to Home: Both of our kids slept amazing on our vacation. In part it was because we had very busy days and McCoy didn’t nap for most of them. But I think another reason why they slept so well is because we kept their night time routine similar to what it is at home. No matter what time it was when we got back to the house from the parks, we gave them both baths and had a little time to wind down.  We packed our Dockatot for Riggins since this is what he is used to sleeping in at home and for the most part he was making it all the way through each night. 

Keep Toys and Snacks Simple: I packed a large Ziplock baggie filled with McCoy’s Tot Fruit Pouches, animal crackers, yogurt melts, and some Lara Bars for myself and Nick. I probably had too much to be honest with you. I also had water bottles for us but since we were so busy from the time we reached the air port and completing check in and security and potty breaks and several blowouts from Riggins, I didn’t even fill them. We just bought bottled water when we reached our terminal. So I would probably do without the water bottles next time. I also had two small travel size containers of my Thieves hand sanitizers and Thieves wipes for wiping down hands and the plane seats. Paci wipes were also in my carry on and they came in handy. 

Bring your own Car Seats and Stroller: We were really debating on this but I am so glad we decided to bring our own.  First of all, having the stroller to use at the airport really helped free our hands for other luggage and carry on bags.  Secondly, we looked into renting car seats that would come with our rental car and it was an extra $35 PER CAR SEAT/ PER DAY. That would have costed us an extra $560 compared to just being able to check everything for free.  We checked the car seats at check in with our luggage bags and we checked the stroller right before we stepped on the plane at the gate. They gave us our own tags and everything - it was really convenient.

Have Patience with your Spouse: We spent eight days in house with 9 people. There were times that were stressful and I prepared myself for this before even leaving for the trip. To be honest, just leaving our house to get to the airport to head out for vacation was stressful. But each day became a little easier and we got into the swing of things. Nick and I realized that we had to communicate with one another. He made sure I was stopping for water and snacks as much as we needed. I always had the bags and snacks packed for the parks and ready to go the night before. He held the blanket up until I was situated breastfeeding and he always offered to take Riggins’ to be changed. We figured out what worked well and just kept communicating. I will say we did a lot of on the fly diaper changes (on our laps in the plane, on hidden park benches, and even on the floor of the air port). You do what you have to do and move on. It’s all good.

Clip the Important Things Together: Before leaving for the airport, we had our boarding passes printed.  We clipped these together with both of our licenses and the kid’s birth certificates so when it came time to check in, everything was together. We had so much stuff and so many bags and car seats, so I just wanted the important things together for smooth transition through the air port. We left at 4 AM so when we arrived McCoy was sleepy and needed me to hold him basically all the way through security and it was so nice to be able to just have everything we needed clipped and ready for handling.

Be Flexible with their Routine: I wouldn’t say I’m a strict routine follower while being at home with my kids on a daily basis, but we do get on a weekly rhythm. McCoy is still an amazing napper for me in the afternoons and Riggins is just starting to start a nap schedule when we’re home as well. We let all of this go while vacationing. McCoy really only napped one of the eight days unless we happened to be in the car around that time. And Riggins just sort of slept when he could or would while in the stroller or in my carrier. I just remained flexible and in the end, we had some really crabby toddler meltdowns, but it all worked out - and like I said before, our kids slept great at night and until at least 8:30 in the mornings. 

 

Our Adventure to Disney World

We are coming to the end of our first ever family vacation. Nick and his family have experienced Florida and all of the Disney World parks many times, but it was my first time, and of course McCoy’s and Riggins’ also. After a little recap of our trip, I’d like to offer my best tips on traveling with a toddler and an infant in another post. I am not an expert - I rarely travel, but now having done this [and survived it], I think it will become something we do more often!

First of all, whatever is you’re hearing about Disney World, it’s true. It is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been too. I am 29 years old and I can truthfully say that I enjoyed it just as much as my toddler. The weather was beautiful and such a nice change from Minnesota. And the parks were incredible. The detail in each park, the food and drinks, the rides, and the fact that it is so smoothly set up to get in to and out of the park made it nice when we were traveling in a group of seven plus two littles. 

After a full day of traveling, we began our trip at Island’s of Adventure and Universal Studios — Ahhh-mazing for both little kids and adults. The roller coasters weren’t like any I have ever experienced in my life! This is where it came in handy to have a large group as my in-laws were so willing to stay with the babes when my hubby, myself, and my sister and brother inlaws went on rides [as long as Riggins was fed ha! - more on breastfeeding in a park later]. The next park we visited was Sea World. Riggins, 99% of the time is the most laid back little baby in the world. This day was a struggle for us and him. McCoy loved this park though! So much sea life, rides, shows, and again, amazing coasters for us adults. With Riggs having a hard day at Sea World, we decided to rest the following day and spend our time at the pool. Then we did back to back weekend days at Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom which were definitely McCoy’s favorites! If you have littles and are going to Disney World, these would be the parks I would recommend most to go to! The food and drinks at Animal Kingdom were so fresh and good also - especially since I am still on a strictly dairy free diet for breastfeeding Riggins. On Monday we rested in the morning and hung by our pool again and then spent the evening at Disney Springs doing some shopping. It’s a boardwalk style of stores with several restaurants and coffee shops. We have really had awesome weather this entire trip, most park days were low 70’s and mostly sunny with some scattered clouds which I was really thankful for. Our last day was high 70’s and pure sun, so we spent it at the pool while we just relaxed and packed for our flight home the next day. I loved every park, and this whole experience for me was so amazing. I have always wanted to come here and I’m so glad I finally did and I’m so happy that I was able to experience it with my littles and my family. We will for sure be coming back as our boys continue to grow - and I’ll be so thankful I’m not breastfeeding!

Speaking of that - here’s how it went, ha! Truthfully, I’m grateful Riggins was not on solid food quite yet as I think that would have made things a lot more complicated. He basically just needed me and that’s all which was good but also hard at times. He seemed to need to eat more often as being out of his routine and environment made him need a little more comfort.  I always made sure to wake up early enough so that I could feed him and then let him lay and kick for an hour or so before we left for the day. I didn’t do this on the Sea World day and it threw him off. He needs that play time and flexibility with his little legs before being in a wrap or stroller seat all day. Then when we got to the parks I would take him out of his car seat and feed him again in the car so he was good to go before we even entered the park. And then from there he was happy literally the majority of the time - he’s really my go with the flow baby and I’m so thankful for his calm personality. Every couple hours or so he would eat and I would just find a spot in the shade and we would all take a little rest or someone would take McCoy on a ride. It really worked out well. I’m not saying it was easy by any means. There were times where it was so hot for him and me while he ate haha (hormones), and times where I would have to nurse him while standing in a line for a ride that we were going on as a family - I’ve become pretty good at walking and breastfeeding! I always had extra hands to help hold a blanket, etc. etc. And each time he ate, he’d be happy for a few hours and just hang out in the ergo carrier or in the stroller, like magic!

We are currently about 36,000 feet in the air heading back to Minnesota. To be completely honest, our most stressful part of the trip was getting to and through the Orlando airport to our terminal. We sat in an hour of traffic, had to return and unload our car, and wait over an hour to check in and then again to get through security all with two car seats, two luggage bags, a double stroller, and four carry ons. Everything sort of seems like a complete blur, but we made it. Thank the Lord we made it. This trip was amazing. I sort of feel like I now need a vacation from this vacation haha but it truly was so wonderful to spend time with family and experience this with our babies. 

I’ll be sharing my top tips for traveling with littles in another post to come soon. For now, Riggins is asleep on my hubby’s lap, McCoy is watching Paw Patrol, and I’m going to celebrate the end to a sweet adventure with the Starbucks soy latte sitting on my lap. 

Your Photography Wedding Questions Answered

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I receive a lot of the same questions from couples inquiring about wedding photography so I've compiled some common ones to share with you here! Let me know if any others come to mind.

What is your photography style? I always say that if I can capture a person’s personality, I have done my job well. My photography style is seeing the natural and raw moments that a couple or family shares with each other. I’m a lover of candids, warm hues, and being able to share your story through my photos, from the very beginning of the session until the end. 

How important is having a second shooter? I very very rarely do weddings without second shooter. I often have clients inquiring for weddings and requesting no second shooter to save them some money. I get it, I really do. But you will not regret having one. They are my backbone, they catch things that I often miss because I am focused so much on the bride and groom. And when it comes to weddings, I truly believe it is all in the details. For example, seeing your grandpa or mama shed tears as you walk down the aisle is just as fun to see as they expression your groom gives.

Do I need to have both a photographer and a videographer? I have shot many weddings for couples who have also hired videographers. My advice is this: If you like seeing your wedding day through still photos that enable you to make prints or share with friends and family, photography should be your first choice. If you prefer a video of your day (often to music), then that should be your number one. A lot of brides choose both and I think they are equally beautiful, just in different ways.

How many hours should I hire you for? I suggest 8 hours if you are looking to get photos of you getting ready all the way through the first dance. 

What is it like being the one that photographs a wedding? Being behind a camera on your wedding day is truly my dream job. It is everything to me. I don’t do the best in front of a camera, but for some reason God has given me a gift to capture people in a beautiful and natural way. I hate awkward poses. My sessions are free flowing, and I allow my creativity to take over in whatever atmosphere I’m in. I get completely lost and fulfilled in your day. I love details. I love people. I love pets and babies and decor. And I Love, love. I am reminded at every single wedding how thankful I am for my family and my babies.

How many photos do I get? Typically you’ll receive between 600-1000 edited photos, depending on how many hours you’ve hired me for. I create a gallery that gives you and your family members access too. You can download, upload to social media, and purchase prints if you choose all through the system and it makes viewing your photos extremely easy!

Do you have any tips when designing the timeline for my day? I am so flexible when it comes to the layout of your wedding day. I always tell my clients to do whatever they’d like and I work around that. From a photographer’s standpoint, however, I will say that It is easiest for us to schedule and ensure time for everything if the first look is done prior to the ceremony. I understand couples wanting to wait to see each other as well but for photos and making sure we get everything, it is easiest to do them beforehand. Your wedding party is much more likely to want to take photos as well during this time. After the ceremony, they are pretty much ready to party ha!

What inspired you to become a photographer? From the time I took my very first desk job (8-4:30), I knew in my heart that wasn’t for me. My heart is full of emotion - creative emotion, that I like to get out anyway that I can. My husband bought me my first camera when we first married and I wasn’t sure if it was the route I wanted to take career wise. I shot my first wedding in 2014 and I honestly have never looked back. It’s a job that I can be home with my kids, but also have an outlet to release my creative energy that gets locked inside.

What if we are camera shy? It’s Okay! I hate being in front of the camera. Honestly most of the photos my hubby takes of me and my kids and I just store on my computer knowing that someday they will want to see them. So coming form me, I totally understand if you do not like being in front of the camera. I promise, I ensure that my sessions are laid back. I don’t make you do awkward poses or anything you’re not comfortable with. Mostly, I just as that you interact with each other like you regularly would - I find it creates the most natural images. And from there, I just guide you on where to look at any certain time. EASY PEASY - I swear!

Is photography worth the investment? I am not here to take your money. I truly believe that having a photographer capture your wedding day is something you will not regret. Not only do I capture the two of you, but I get friends, family, co-workers, and all of the details of your day that will be so fun to look back on many years from now. You spend all of this time planning a wedding, I think it’s so important that it’s remembered! I set my prices based on what I think is comparable to what you’re receiving. I am so willing to be flexible with my clients and create a package and price that they are comfortable with!

Fitness After a C-Section

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On Tuesday, I ran my first 5K since giving birth to Riggins. It was a slow and steady run but it felt amazing. When we first came home from the hospital, I had no exercise or body expectations, but I had a goal of running a 5K when he reached 12 weeks of age. That day was exactly on Tuesday.  I had some mama’s reach out to me mentioning that they are too recovering from cesarians and asked about my transition back into the world of fitness and running while trying to heal, raise two babies, and breastfeed. I really hadn’t thought about it that much until I was asked questions like what are you eating? when did you begin exercising? how did you transition back into running?

When these questions came up, I really had to think back to when I was six weeks postpartum and what I actually have done to bring fitness back into my life.  Exercise has always been a huge part of my life. It hasn’t always been a positive part of it, unfortunately.  I was an athlete in high school and my degree is in Exercise Science. To this day, I still am not sure why I chose to study it, but at the time, I believe it was because I so badly wanted fitness to always be associated with who I was. I was teaching cycling classes, training for half marathons, working out in my apartment complex twice daily, and I never really enjoyed any of it. To this day I still have not run one half marathon - but for some reason back then labeling myself as ‘training’ for one made me feel significant. Quite honestly, I did not enjoy running when I was 23 years old. Not at all. 

I realize now that my exercise back then was completely motivated by fear. Fear of weight gain, fear of losing the fitness label I had worked so hard at earning, and really, I was completely insecure about my body and who I was as a person and for some reason if I exercised constantly, they became insecurities that I never had to face. 

For as much as I exercised, l really wouldn’t have described me as fit. A better description of the way I looked and felt was tired, overworked, sad, lonely, and afraid of who I was and who I was becoming. I was never overweight by any means, and I definitely had the motivation mentally to run 9 miles and teach a cycle class all in one morning, but I was not happy. I was 155 pounds and the only thing I had to show for a long and strenuous workout was a torn IT band and sadness written all over my face. I became really good at pretending to love it, pretending to be happy, but inside I was really confused. 

When I met my husband, I was a complete wreck. We were married after a year of dating and to this day, I have him to thank for pulling me out of a really dark hole. God puts people in our lives to make us better, and I have so much gratitude in my heart for his patience in helping me heal.  He helped me on this path of believing that I am wonderfully and beautifully made, and that there is a world beyond health and fitness that I had yet to discover.  Almost five years and two babies later, I have a completely different outlook on fitness, and a completely different perception of the way that I view myself and ultimately everyone around me. I became a photographer because I have a very strong creative side to my heart. But I also became it because I love to capture the beauty in people - their body language, their smiles, their personalities. It is always my goal to capture who that person is, who the couple is, so that they may embrace their shape, their color, and who they are on the inside as well. If I am able to photograph and share who someone is on the inside through an exterior photo, I know that I have done my job well. 

Through all of this, I can actually say I have a complete and profound love for health and fitness again. I do nothing with my degree and I don’t teach exercise classes but I am so over the moon thankful for my body and what it’s able to accomplish every single day, whether it’s exercised or not.  I have an appreciation for pregnancy, childbirth, surgeries, long workouts, short workouts, fast walks, slow walks, five days in a row of moving and eating right and five days in a row of resting and indulging in amazing foods.  The exact moment I started resting and eating more and giving myself grace and no longer fearing who I was if I didn’t workout, was the moment my mind and my body began to change. I have a passion for running now. I love yoga. I love food. I am 140 pounds and I feel so incredibly healthy. Sometimes I weigh a little more than that and sometimes a little less. But there is absolutely zero stress about that number or who I am if a don’t exercise. I move because it feels good and I eat because it tastes good and I don’t judge anybody’s journey in health or wellness, I only cheer for them. Always. 

All of that being said, I had no intention of losing my baby weight fast. I still have a few pounds to go and am in no rush to get there. But I do still give myself goals - and one of those was to run that 5K on Tuesday. And for those of you who asked or who are interested in how I healed and transitioned back into the world of fitness post-baby, see below :)

  1. Do absolutely nothing for 6 weeks. Truly, I didn’t do anything besides hang with my littles.
  2. I went for my first walk/run around 6 1/2 weeks. It was a total of 20 minutes and I was freezing and tired.
  3. I started incorporating a lot of stretching into each day whenever I had the chance. It helped my muscles remember what it felt like to work a little bit.
  4. I try to run 2 to 3 times a week. Each time I try to go a little further than the last. 
  5. Don’t focus on your speed. Before Riggins I was running 8 minute miles. Right now I’m running 10 minute miles. It’s all good.
  6. I am so not a lover of strength training but I do believe this has helped me heal and earn some strength back. Once a week, I try to do squats with my kettlebell and body planks and arm work with my resistance bands.
  7. I eat very often. I cannot have dairy currently which makes my diet pretty bland, but I do eat fairly often and I think this has helped my metabolism, energy for exercising, and to maintain my milk supply.
  8. Exercise when you can.  It doesn’t need to be first thing in the morning. Most days we aren’t even fully fed and functioning around here until after 9. Give yourself grace on your workout schedule. It will be interrupted when you have littles running around. I accepted this right away so that when it does happen, I’m not flustered or irritated.
  9. Give someone else a compliment.  We are all on this health and wellness journey together. Rather than comparing yourself and your body to others, cheer them on. Whoever they are and wherever they’re at in this journey, be kind. The best thing you can share with others is kindness.
  10. Have fun. If you are at a place in your life like I was at five years ago, please reach out. I have two really great ears that would love to listen and hear your story. I promise you that exercise and health and putting an end to shaming your body and fearing it is possible. 

Oh, and if you're pregnant and reading this. YOU ARE AMAZING. YOUR BODY IS AMAZING. Give your belly a rub and be thankful for your body’s ability to do what it is doing. Creating a home for a baby is an incredible task and I pray that we can all find complete beauty in it.