Fitness: Interval Running Workout #1

I hate running. I love working out, I love going to the gym, and I love being active. But, I don’t love running. No matter how many land sports I tried growing up and throughout high school I always went back to swimming. Not just because it was the sport that I felt like I excelled the most at, but because it also does not involve running. My hatred for running was evident at an early age. During my kindergarten soccer games I would plead with the coach to be the goalie because that was the one position that running wasn’t really involved. Plus, the ball was not really flying at you that hard, if at all. Through middle school and high school I tried tennis and lacrosse. I tolerated the running but it was definitely not something I looked forward to. In college, I pretty much abandoned the running world altogether and just stuck with swimming. Once I graduated, that is when the real problem arrived. I needed a cardiovascular exercise to partake in. I had been so active my entire life that it felt strange not to have an activity to turn to. Swimming was pretty much out of the question. First, I was kind of sick of it after about fourteen years of competitive swimming and second, the membership to all the pools around me are expensive. I tried biking at the gym, and using the elliptical as well, but I just wasn’t seeing the results I wanted and wasn’t getting that same post-workout “high.” That was when I decided I needed to face my biggest fear: running.

Over the next couple months I slowly tried to build myself up to running 3 miles. I was getting there but it was a slow process that really wasn’t much fun. At all, in fact. I searched for a new running method, talked to some friends, and was introduced to interval training. This has completely changed the way I feel about running. I actually don’t mind running now (I won’t say I like it). What is interval training? Interval training is when you push your body really hard for about 30 seconds to a couple minutes, then you “rest”/take it easy for another 2-3 minutes, then you work your body back up to high intensity for a couple more minutes and repeat, etc., etc. You get the point. I like interval training for many different reasons. One, it’s quick. All you need is 20-30 minutes. If you can make it 40-45 minutes, great but it’s not needed. Two, I can see and feel the results. I love how interval training is sculpting my body without me even having to pick up a weight. I also notice that the actual running is getting easier each week enabling me to push myself a little harder than I normally would. It seems to be working a lot faster than just straight running. Three, it burns more fat (especially for women) than just straight running. Pushing yourself hard for a few minutes, “resting” for a few minutes, then going hard again actually makes your body work harder. To achieve that mountain/roller coaster effect your body needs to work each time you increase your intensity, then it gets to rest, but only before it needs to work its way back up all over again. Lastly, interval running also keeps your body burning long after your workout has finished. I can feel my body working, sweating, and radiating off my hard earned heat throughout my drive home from the gym and until I hop in the shower. After one of these workouts I feel like I have accomplished something, like I have just done something really good for my body and myself. Probably because I have.

I have a set of about eight interval running workouts that I continually cycle through. I hate doing the same workout twice in a row because I get bored very easily. I am always finding and adding new running routines to keep my workouts fresh. In hopes to inspire other running-haters to give interval training a shot I will be sharing my workouts here with you, one at a time. This week I am going to share one of my favorites because it really doesn’t involve a lot of running but it’s still highly effective. But you will need to get your butt and calf muscles pumping because there are a lot of hills involved:

 

1st Set: Warm-up!

0-3:00: set incline on treadmill at 2 and the speed at 3.5 mph

3-5:00: incline- 4; speed- 4.0 mph

5-7:00: incline- 5; speed- 5.0 mph

7-8:00: incline- 2; speed- 6.0 mph

2nd Set: Get the blood flowing!

8-16:00: Repeat the warm-up set above

3rd Set: Hill time (a.k.a. booty time!)

16-20:00: incline- 12; speed- 3.7 mph

20-21:00: incline- 15; speed-4.0 mph

21-23:00: incline- 10; speed-3.0 mph

4th Set: Feel the booty burn!

23-30:00: Repeat the 3rd set above!

5th Set: You’re really working now!

30-37:00: Repeat the 3rd set above, again!

6th Set: One last time!

37-44:00: Repeat the 3rd set above! Yes, again.

7th Set: Sprint- give it all you have left!

44-45:00- incline-2; 6-10 mph- whatever you can do, push yourself, it’s only 60 seconds.

8th Set: Cool down!

45-50:00- no incline; speed- 3 or 3.5 mph

*Disclaimer: This is one of the longer work-outs. I don’t always have time to do the whole thing but even if I just do half of it, I’m sweating big time!

 

For more information about this work-out, go to the awesome Blogilates website. I found this work-out there. You can also find a lot of other health/fitness tips there too. And plus, the website is super cute.

If you want to read more about interval training/running, visit Nerd Fitness. They give a pretty straight forward and simple explanation of how it’s done/it’s benefits.

I hope you all get a chance to try this workout, it’s worth a shot. Feel free to post your experiences below. Make sure to check back next week for Workout #2. Happy exercising!

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Today’s Obsession: Patagonia and Bobbi Brown

About a week ago I celebrated yet another birthday with family and friends and as usual got completely spoiled. I’m not quite sure how I got so lucky to have so many amazing people in my life but when they come bearing gifts, I’m not going to ask too many questions. All joking aside, my family and friends really do rock. Besides a ton of food, laughter, and love I received two new products (among many others) that I have head-over-heels fallen in love with.

First, I have officially popped my Patagonia cherry and I have to say I really, really like it. Alright- here’s the real story. My husband received his first Patagonia vest this past Christmas. I never really saw him as the vest type of guy but it actually looks really good on him and he actually really loves it. That’s when my natural woman jealous tendencies really started to kick in. I wanted one too. I wasn’t sure if it was the Patagonia brand or the vest I was jealous of. Now I am able to tell you, it was both. For some reason I never really liked vests but I have so many other fleeces/sweaters that it didn’t really make sense to spend a lot of money on something I don’t really need. So, I started to casually browse for Patagonia women’s vests in the coming weeks. To my surprise I found a ton of different styles that I really liked. One thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t want just the typical fleece material. I feel like it is a little too “old” for me and not something you can really wear in a fashionable way on a daily basis. Although, the models on the website made them look pretty damn good but I wasn’t convinced I could pull it off. Not for my first time at least. So it was settled, I either wanted a vest with a fuzzier fleece material or a quilted one. I continued the search for the perfect vest to lose my vest-virginity to (J.Crew has a really nice quilted vest that tempted me). But in the end, my jealous heart went back to Patagonia where I found the vest for me: the Women’s Retro X Vest, in dark walnut.

The material was exactly what I was looking for- a fluffier, fuzzier, and more fun fleece. Not to mention the color is really versatile, it can be worn with almost anything. To me, this is a vest you can wear out in public instead of just while hiking, skiing, or working outside. You can dress it up slightly with a button up Oxford shirt underneath or you can completely dress it down with a hooded sweatshirt. Whichever way you choose, it’s still a cuter and hipper version of the traditional fleece vest. I’m not ashamed to say that I have worn mine approximately four or five times in the last week and a half. The way I look at it is that I won’t be able to wear it much longer once spring finally hits us (fingers crossed). So in this case, the repetition is totally acceptable, right? This vest will typically run you about $180 but don’t settle. I was able to find my vest for about $100 here with free shipping and it was worth every single penny. Well, every single one of my mom’s pennies.

I have also developed a rekindled interest in make-up lately which I completely blame on my sister-in-law. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved make-up but I usually just run into the cosmetic aisle in Target and grab the cheapest mascara, concealer, or eye-shadow I can find. I have had my bouts with more expensive make-up like Smashbox, Bare Minerals, and Laura Geller. But once I finish the product I am usually pretty reluctant to go out and cough up more cash for a new one. But a few really good Black Friday deals at Ulta got me going again and now I want more, and more, and even more. Lucky for me, I started running out of my Laura Geller bronzer just in time for my birthday. I decided I wanted to try something new since I really don’t have a clue about the full potential of available bronzers out there waiting for me. With this very crucial dilemma on my mind I sought the help of my fashionista sister-in-law. She suggested I try Bobbi Brown. And yes, it’s amazing. I settled for the golden light shade since my skin a pretty fair and I don’t like to look like I am wearing a lot of make-up.

The color is perfect. With just a little dab it gives your cheeks the slightest healthy glow that no one would ever know is make-up. You can also apply the bronzer a little heavier to make it slightly more noticeable but still completely natural. The best part is that it stays on all day and night until I wash my face. Or perhaps the best, best part is that I have also noticed that I don’t get it everywhere once it’s on my face, including the collar of my shirts/coats or on my pillow when I lay down after work or for a cat-nap on the weekends. I also really like to feel of the bronzer itself. It does not feel “cakey” or heavy at all. You can’t even feel it on your face. Harmless beauty is the best beauty. The price is typically $38 which I don’t think is horrible for designer make-up and you can buy it mostly wherever more high-end make-up is sold. My sister-in-law suggested buying it at Nordstrom’s because it’s free shipping. Who doesn’t like their make-up to arrive free right at their front door? But when I was looking I didn’t feel like they had the right color for me so I decided that I would get mine from Bloomingdale’s. It’s the same price and you get free shipping if you are a Loyalist card member which everyone should sign up to be one right now. It’s free and is just a bonus points card, not a credit card. I think I’m going to stick with this one for a while.

Two great products- one happy girl.

Can someone remind me again why it can’t be my birthday every month?

Book Review: How To Disappear Completly by Kelsey Osgood

Last night I finished reading an anorexia memoir titled How To Disappear Completely by Kelsey Osgood. Although I wouldn’t classify this book as one of the best books I ever read, I really did appreciate the subject matter. If you are looking for a really entertaining read with spotless writing then this probably isn’t the book for you. But, it definitely provides a lot of food for thought.

Before reading this memoir, I had read other anorexia/addiction memoirs. The stories are brutal and heartbreaking. The things they put their bodies through, the extent they go to to lie, to hide things, to become sicker is unbelievable. But usually in the end they persevere. They overcome their downfall and get on a road back to health. For me, these memoirs were never more than stories. If anything they made me want to eat more, be happier, and just love who I am. I couldn’t imagine going through what they put themselves through. For me, these stories were deterrents. It never occurred to me to look at the other side of the story. To think about the readers who aren’t as happy with who they are, who are struggling to stand out or fit in, to feel loved, or admired. Osgood makes a very good point- these very memoirs are enabling these readers to be anorexic, to get the attention they are striving for, to accomplish something that is worth noting.

I’m still not sure if I completely agree with what Osgood is saying but I do agree she has something there. She refrains from giving any specific details about her own disease, claiming that from experience this only encourages bad habits and behaviors. If she reveals her lowest weight, that gives another person something to strive to be. If she discloses the amount of food she used to consume, that only gives someone a plan. Osgood claims she became a “good anorexic” by studying other people’s memoirs, case studies, magazine articles, documentaries, and television shows. As a young girl she graved attention she didn’t think she was getting, she wanted to accomplish something people would talk about, she wanted to be known for something, to succeed in something. She wanted to be “perfect” and loved. With all this information readily available at her fingertips- in the libraries, the bookstores, on the internet, or on television, Osgood felt like becoming thin would help her reach those goals and desires. She was going to get thin the easiest way she knew how, the way she had seen many other girls get thin. And boy, was she going to get really thin- she would show them. She found a new purpose, a new goal, a new way to feel better about herself and she had a lot of helping in doing so.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Our society values being thin, pretty, and popular. We thrive to be successful, to accomplish something with our lives. We are bombarded with examples of “perfect” people and to reach their image seems nearly impossible. We can’t imagine a healthy way to look like that model in a bikini ad because we aren’t given the tools. Their aren’t many diet and exercise ads that say, “I ate this, this, and this today and I am still thin. I am still healthy.” But, there are many ads out there for unhealthy diets, their are many resources out there (chat rooms, internet forums, etc.) in which people encourage each other to get thin, to be the thinnest, and do it in the worse possible way. To be the worst is to be better, it’s means you are the “best.” I’m not saying that there aren’t any people, companies, or diet plans out there promoting the right things. But I do think they are harder to come by and aren’t as easily accessible. It’s easier to find stories about people who have suffered. It seems easier to starve yourself than to educate yourself on healthy eating and exercise.

This book made me stop and think- how about if we lived in a world where we didn’t talk about things like this? If no one ever shared their stories of eating disorders, drug addiction, or alcohol abuse. If no one ever revealed their greatest weight loss tip or the easiest/quickest way to get high. If we didn’t know the truth of people’s struggles, if we weren’t given that information to ease our own problems- would these diseases still exist? Would they be as prevalent? It’s a weird thought but something worth thinking about whether you agree or not. I personally think they would still exist. I don’t think these diseases or substance abuse would just magically disappear. And I certainly wouldn’t want to cut off an open dialogue about people seeking help and treatment. But I can’t help but think that maybe a little more privacy wouldn’t hurt.

After reading this book, I don’t know if I see the point in writing about your darkest, gruesomest days anymore. Publishing or filming the details of your life for the rest of the world’s entertainment. Why do we have the right to pry into your personal life? That’s your story, your personal intimacies, and no one should feel the need to publicize that information or even read it. I do believe that writing and coming to terms with where you have been, what you have done, and what you see your future to be are all huge parts of therapy and recovery but this can all be done, and should be done, privately. Your support should come from your family, friends, and loved ones. Not from people who don’t know you, who may encourage you to back track at any moment. In this age of social media frenzy, we all need to appreciate our privacy just a little bit more.

I always enjoy a book that forces me to think in a different way, to open my mind to new alternatives and ways of thinking. I like hearing different takes on the same subject, hearing all different sides before forming my own opinion. I will often stumble upon something I have never thought of before. How To Completely Disappear goes beyond anorexia. It brings to light a subject that everyone can relate to. It encourages you re-think what your version of “perfect” is, to re-evaluate what makes you happy, and to value your own personal life more. I think we can all learn something, whether we agree with Osgood or not, from this book. We should all stop to think about what we want to share before we share it- the effect it will have on yourself, on your loved ones, and those you don’t even know. Next time you go to write a status, post a picture, create a tweet, or even write a blog post just stop to think for a moment before hitting ‘enter.’ And maybe even put that smartphone down for a day. It won’t hurt, I promise. Censorship is a practice we should all partake in a little bit more.

Cheers, to celebrating love!

During my normal daily internet browsing I came across this absolutely adorable story/video about a 70-year-old woman who never got to wear the dress of her dreams on her wedding day so she decided to that she was going to make that happen now. This story struck me for many reasons. First let’s get to the obvious- this woman is kick-ass. It takes a lot of guts at the age of 70 to walk into a bridal store and say you are here to shop for a wedding dress… for yourself. Yes, you have every right to shop for whatever and wherever you want but that won’t stop other people’s eyes from staring and making assumptions about you. I can just imagine some of the things that ran through some people’s minds, “Why is she getting married NOW?!”, “Who do you think she is marrying?”, “How old is she?!”, or “She thinks she looks good in that?” I wish I could say that everyone’s reaction to seeing an older woman shop for a wedding dress would be positive (because it is a very awesome thing) but unfortunately, it will not. There will always be nay-sayers and debbie-downers everywhere you go and to put yourself in the spotlight like that is one of the coolest things I ever seen. I also think that it is amazing that after all these years this woman is still following her dream. I think there comes an age in many women’s lives that they give up on what they haven’t accomplished yet. They think their life is over so there’s no use in trying. Let this one single woman be an inspiration to all. She just shoved it in everyone’s face proving that it’s never too late. If your still breathing then your dreams are still worth achieving. Don’t put a limit on what you can or can’t do, you have no idea what you could be missing out on. Seeing the pure joy and happiness written all over this woman’s face says it all. If she hadn’t taken charge of her own dreams she never would have gotten to experience that happiness and that once in a lifetime feeling. That pure joy and happiness is the second reason that I love this story so much that I just had to come here and blab about it to you all.

Having just had a wedding of my own this story also reminded me what a special and memorable experience I had the honor of having. Yes, I agree that the idea of a “typical” modern wedding has gotten way out of hand. The extravagant venue, the music, the flowers, the decor, the food, the favors, the dresses, the tuxes, the makeup, the hair, the shoes, the cake, the first dance, the honeymoon all seem to consume your mind. Why do we need all these things to get married? Why isn’t love enough? Well, I will tell you why. In fact, love is more than enough. Like this woman, if you are with the right person, you don’t need all these things to be happy. All you need is that other person by your side. It doesn’t matter what you are wearing, where you are, or what’s for dinner. All that matters is that you are now bonded in a deeper love, a love that will only make you love your partner more and more everyday. BUT, until you experience a “typical” wedding day for yourself you won’t understand why you need those other things. It’s actually not really a need, it’s more of a want. All humans need love. We all have a natural instinct to find love. But, we also have wants as well. We want to share this moment with all our friends and family. We want to feel our absolute best. We want to have the time of our life. We want to feel like a princess. We need our partner to feel whole but we want our celebration.

A wedding is a celebration, it’s a once in a lifetime celebration. A celebration indicating that you found the love of your life, your soul mate, and your best friend. It’s a celebration that is worth the world. The day you get married is full of bliss, love, laughter, and joy from the moment you wake up till the moment you go to bed. The moment you slip into that dress it’s pure happiness. Your first step down that aisle is pure happiness. Your first kiss is pure happiness. Your first dance is pure happiness. The biggest moment of your life is immensely surrounded by happiness. There is so much love, so much excitement, so much good surrounding the both of you that it completely reaffirms why you are there, doing what you are doing. It’s true, the moment you say “I do” is really all you need but all that happiness that surrounds you makes for an unforgettable, completely self-centered, incredible moment that everyone deserves. We don’t need it but we want it.

This woman demonstrates that all you really do need is love. She was married happily for many, many years never having had a lavish wedding but she also demonstrates that sometimes it’s alright to want more than you need. If you want it- go get it. That pure joy on her face can’t be faked. That love for her husband can’t be faked. That want had to be clenched. And their love will only grow stronger.

You can see a few pictures on David’s Bridal Facebook page. Follow me on twitter @LConfidence and/or at my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lipstick-Confidence/411787572256608.

Miss Smarty Pants

While browsing the internet on a desperate search for inspiration for this week’s post I came across this article from California Watch. In short, it talks about how women in male dominated majors in college (specifically engineering) struggle with constant confidence issues- many of which end up dropping the major because they feel like they aren’t smart enough or feel like an outcast. One mechanical engineering and material sciences major at UC Berkeley reported that her male classmates didn’t take her seriously and often made comments about her blonde hair. She also always felt extra pressure not a make a mistake because when she did it was often attributed to her gender.

As awful and unfair as this is, it’s a reality that women in college and the workplace are going to have to deal with at some point in their lives. Society is continually making small steps forward, but we aren’t going to see a massive change in gender equality overnight. Therefore, we, as female students and professionals, need to know how to handle ourselves appropriately and with confidence so our male counterparts don’t have anything to complain about.

Success and confidence building all starts in the classroom. Your college or university is a safe place to practice the skills in which you will need once you enter into the workplace. In college, you have a massive support system around you that wants you to succeed. Nevertheless, as demonstrated above, the classroom is also an easy and common setting for sexism.

With August quickly approaching (yikes!) and fall following closely behind, I have outlined some basic classroom etiquette guidelines below. Hopefully, this will help ease some nerves, build a little extra confidence, and make all you smart women out there be taken a little more seriously.

*Just like everything else- be on time. If you are constantly arriving late it gives us the impression that you don’t care about the class or your success. If you happen to be late, take the closest seat to the door that you can find and don’t walk across the front of the classroom.

*Dress comfortably and appropriately- especially for women. You want to be taken seriously so dress to impress. No man (or professor) is going to take you seriously if you show up to class in high heels, a mini-skirt, and tight tube top. All you are asking for is inappropriate attention- save that outfit for the weekends.

*Try to use the restroom before class. Getting up in the middle of a lecture is disturbing to both the professor and other students in the class.

*Once the professor summons the class to begin, cease all conversations. You probably don’t like it when you see other people talking while you are so don’t do it to someone else.

*Turn off your cell phone so you aren’t tempted to constantly look at it or so that phone call from mom doesn’t accidently disturb the whole class- embarrassing.

*Try to take your notes the old-fashioned way- with a pen and paper. Laptops are great but they are also a distraction. If you absolutely need to use your laptop because you are a slow writer or your professor talks really fast it might be a good idea to block your access to the internet and other games you may have on your computer so you aren’t tempted.

*Don’t whip out a book, magazine, or newspaper during class and start reading. It’s just rude. Despite how good you are at hiding it, your professor can easily tell when someone’s eyes aren’t looking at him/her. Also, don’t constantly turn your head to glance at the clock. Unfortunately, the end of class isn’t going to arrive any faster.

*If you are chewing gum, do so softly. Don’t blow or pop bubbles. It’s probably best to just save the gum chewing until after class.

*If you are so tired to the point that you are going to fall asleep in class you probably just shouldn’t go. There is no point in being there if you are just going to sleep through the whole thing.

*Hand everything in when you are supposed to. If your professor usually collects papers at the beginning of class don’t arrive twenty minutes late. Show that you care about your work.

*If you need to leave a class early let the professor know either before the class starts or a few days before. Also, try to get a seat right next to the door so you don’t have to walk across the whole classroom.

*Don’t hurry the end of class by packing up your books and zipping your backpack up a few minutes before class is over. Again, it’s rude and distracting. Plus, you may miss the opportunity to write down some essential information about next class, the homework, or an upcoming exam. Class isn’t over until it’s over.

If you handle yourself with confidence, show that you care, and have a genuine interest in learning and furthering your education you will be taken seriously. Showing your weaknesses gives people an opportunity to beat you down. Do what you love and don’t let anyone (man or woman) scare you away from it.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!

Make New Friends, but Keep the Old

No woman is complete without her friends. No matter how successful, intelligent, or wealthy- a girl needs her girlfriends. A friend provides many important essentials: a much needed afternoon break from your hectic life, a dependable second opinion, a shoulder to cry on, or a person to share and celebrate your joys with. When you have a fight or disagreement with a good friend it seems as if your world is going to end. You aren’t quite sure how you would ever survive without them.

Friendship isn’t easy. People, especially women, expect a lot from their friends. Despite our own busy lives we are expected to frequently keep in touch, know the happenings of each other’s lives, and organize a get together every few weeks. Sounds exhausting but we all do it (and it’s totally worth it). Making new friends is just as hard as keeping the old but I have gathered some great tips on how to maintain those priceless friendships. Just follow the golden rule: treat others how you want to be treated.

*If you are meeting a friend somewhere- be on time. If you are constantly late, don’t have an excuse, or don’t apologize for your tardiness then it seems like your life/whatever you were doing before is more important than meeting your friend.

*Don’t gossip about friends with other friends (unless you are bragging about all their accomplishments). There’s a very good chance that anything bad you say WILL get back to the other person- especially if you are all in the same group of friends. If you do slip-up and the gossip gets back to your other friend- be honest about it. Don’t dig yourself deeper in a hole. Fess up and explain why you said what you did. Your honesty will be appreciated.

*Listen more than you talk. Show an interest in their lives by asking questions about what they have been up to.

*If you are at a party or large gathering make sure to introduce new and old friends to each other, giving them a chance to form their own friendship. Don’t keep groups of friends separate.

*If you get a phone call while you are with a friend and need to answer it make sure to excuse yourself.  Better yet, if you don’t need to answer it then don’t. It will make your friend feel super important in that moment.

*No matter how boring or pointless, don’t interrupt your friend’s conversation. Let them talk until they are finished then you can politely change the subject. Do not then point the conversation towards you- they are probably just as uninterested as you were. Pick a neutral topic.

*If a friend asks for your opinion or advice- be honest. No matter what you think your friend wants to hear, tell them what you truly think is right. They value your opinion more than you know. You might save them from making the biggest mistake of their life.

*Celebrate their accomplishments and joys by taking them out for lunch or buying them a little gift. Also take part in their sorrows. If they are upset about something or going through a hard time- reach out to them. A friend is someone who isn’t just there for the good times but for the bad as well.

*Every girl has to have someone they tell all their secrets to- we can’t keep everything to ourselves, it’s just in our nature. If you are that person for someone else, live up to the expectations. Keep their secrets safe no matter how tempted you are to run and tell another friend.

*One of the best things about having a friend is that you have a whole other closet to go through. It’s perfectly fine to borrow things from your friends but there are fine rules that come along with it. If something is new, don’t borrow it (even if your friend says you could). Don’t keep anything too long, you never know when your friend is going to need it. Lastly, return everything in the condition in which you got took it in (clean that is).

Friendship is priceless and if you do it right it should last a lifetime. Although a lot goes into maintaining a friendship, if you just follow your heart and do what you feel is right you won’t have any problem making new friends OR keeping the old.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!

Claim Your Prize Here

If you are reading this post right now I owe you a sincere congratulations. One, you made it through my last two awfully depressing posts. And two, you survived six months of reading my blog. Therefore, happy six months to me and a big congratulations to you (really- you have no idea how much I appreciate it).

What’s in it for you? Alright, alright don’t get so pushy- I think you deserve a treat too. How about a candy bar? No. An afternoon nap? Nah. A day at the beach? Nope. Jeez, you guys are so hard to please… wait, I got it! How about a nice warm stone massage and facial? DING, DING, DING- we have a winner!

I think you should treat yourself- I really do. You won’t regret it. Spas are for relaxation, a place to de-stress, but not everyone feels that way. The thought of going into a quiet, dimly light treatment room with a complete stranger deters many people from even stepping one foot inside a spa. Have no fear, I’m here to save the day again (hey, I can toot my horn a little today- I’m celebrating!). These few simple guidelines will surely ease your nerves. Speaking from experience, I promise that you will be going back for a second treatment very soon.

*Arrive 15-20 minutes early for your appointment. If it’s your first time, many spas will have a short questionnaire for you to fill out and you will definitely want a few minutes to unwind in the relaxation room while sipping some cucumber water.

*Make sure to be honest about your medical history/any current medical problems. The last thing you want is a nice relaxing spa trip to cause more problems for you down the road.

*When you make your appointment, ask about their cancellation policy. At many spas, if you cancel with too short of notice there will be a fee.

*If you have a particular therapist that you like to see, make sure to tell them that when booking. Don’t assume you can just walk in and request a certain person- they may already have another customer.

*Leave all your valuables at home (they make you take off jewelry anyway) and shower before the treatment whether you take one at home before you arrive or in the locker room of the spa.

*Before you walk in the door, turn off your cell phone. Better yet, just leave it in your car. There is absolutely no reason to bring your cell phone with you, people don’t go to the spa to talk or to listen to other people talk.

*If you are new to the spa, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a quick tour. It’s much better than wandering the halls yourself looking for the locker room and other amenities.

*The biggest problem people have with spas is the nudity. You don’t need to undress completely. If you are comfortable, go ahead. But it’s ok to leave your underwear on (I know I do). Also they will provide you with a sheet to cover yourself when you roll over onto your back and your bottom is always covered with a sheet-nothing is ever exposed.

*If you have a problem area that you would like your therapist to pay special attention to- speak up! They aren’t mind readers so if you don’t say anything it’s your loss.

*Don’t fall for add-ons, unless you want to pay. Sometimes during your massage they will ask if you would like a certain lotion or an extra treatment and most of the time these extras cost something. If you don’t have the extra money, decline politely or if you feel comfortable ask if there will be an extra cost involved (you don’t want to miss out on anything already included in the price you are paying).

*Don’t feel pressure to talk during your appointment. The therapists are usually very respectful and know that people come to the spa to relax. If your therapist is particularly chatty just say that you have had a rough week and really came here to just be by yourself and not have to talk to anyone for an hour. They will understand, they’re used to it.

*You aren’t expected to jump right off the table after you appointment but you should try to move at a respectable pace. There is a good chance that there is someone else waiting to use your room.

*Don’t forget to leave a 15-20% tip (in cash if you can) at the reception desk after your massage.

*When you get home, drink lots of water throughout the rest of the day to rehydrate your muscles and reduce any soreness that may arise in the next couple of days.

Whoever thought of the idea of a spa is a complete genius in my book. There are very few other places where you can go to be in complete relaxation by yourself. Everyone needs that every once in a while. Try it once, you will be happy you did.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence,’ this one is easy. Enjoy- you deserve it!