Part I: Fitness Background


A couple weeks ago I started a fitness program. I plan to write a series of blogs about my fitness background and how I have felt going through the process. This is just the first blog of the series; stay tuned for more!

Part I: Background

Fitness has always been intimidating to me. I was your normal kid, involved in all of the co-ed sports teams you can imagine:  from soccer and t-ball, to swimming and ice skating, you name it, I probably tried it. I also took tap/ballet classes starting when I was three, and finally really committed to dance when I was about 8. Basically, I was a pretty active kid.

I danced until I graduated high school. I was a member of a semi-professional ballet company and also attended additional classes such as lyrical and jazz, so I was dancing 5-6 times a week for hours. With all the time I spent dancing at the studio, I never had to worry about “working out” to stay in shape. When I finally hung up my pointe shoes after high school, I still wasn’t faced with much of a challenge. The university I attended is located on the rolling hills of the Palouse in eastern Washington state where you would get a work out just walking to class up all of the hills. Many students joked that they developed “cougar calves” just by walking around campus, so the “freshman 15” did not really phase me. It was not until I moved to South Dakota that I really started noticing a problem with my weight and lack of fitness.

Moving to the Midwest was a big change. First of all, I was starting nursing school. Most people who attend nursing school have a 2-year practicum split up by a summer break. Since I already had a bachelor’s degree, I opted to attend an accelerated program that compressed the 2-year practicum into 11 months with no breaks. Now, standard 2-year nursing programs are very stressful, so imagine doing it all in less than a year! On top of the intensity of the accelerated program, I was in a new place and I did not know a soul. I also moved to South Dakota in the dead of winter and if you are familiar with the Dakota’s you know that means it is cold. Not just cold, but below zero, freezing, frigid, Arctic cold!  All of these factors mixed with the fact that I had never needed to or really knew how to work out added up. Due to stress, not eating right, and virtually having a sedentary lifestyle for a year (because you really can’t go outside for fear of hypothermia) did not help my physical fitness!  Although I successfully graduated with my Bachelor of Nursing, I also ended up gaining about 20 pounds during my short stint in South Dakota.

I was so discouraged and disappointed in myself, having put my physical fitness on hold while in school, but I felt like I did not know what to do. Like I said, I didn’t know how to go to the gym, and I was so intimidated to go and try to figure out the machines, only to embarrass myself or injure myself. Jake tried to help me–he would try to give me work outs routines to follow but he didn’t really understand that I was a beginner and was so out of shape.  Exercises that he thought were “easy” were so difficult for me, which made me even more ashamed. I recoiled. I hid behind oversized clothes and cried my eyes out sitting on my closet floor so upset that I couldn’t wear the same shorts from last summer. I was beating myself up, feeling helpless.

I tried several different diets: Weight Watchers was great…for about two months. I lost some weight but immediately gained it all back when there was stress at work or if we took a long-weekend away. I felt stuck in a vicious cycle of eating right, just to have one bad day and then instead of getting back on track, throwing all my efforts away and saying “screw it” as I reached for another cookie.

This went on for about a year.  I wasn’t gaining weight, but I also wasn’t losing it. Just one long, demoralizing plateau. Looking back, I think I had just given up and was trying to accept that my physical condition and poor body image were my new reality.  I had such low self-esteem despite the facade that everyone else saw.  I was so, SO depressed.  I decided in December 2018 to turn to blogging because not only do I love to write, but also because blogging/Instagram forces you to take pictures. I was forcing myself to see what I really looked like on a daily basis which was hard and WAAAYYY out of my comfort zone, but it was part of accepting this “new” larger version of myself.  But a funny thing happened…

As I started posting more pictures I did become more confident and accepted that this was “as good” as it was going to get. I have also connected with other women my size, but also with women who had been my size, who have similar lifestyles and were able to make positive changes. I was fascinated with their success:  How were they able to find the time to fit in fitness?  How were they able to stay committed?  What was their diet, and were they miserable just eating lettuce all the time?  There must have been a beacon on my head, as I started getting contacted by all of these “coaches” asking me to join their fitness groups. It was a little overwhelming, and slightly insulting- sometimes it felt like, “okay cool, I really do look as bad as I feel.”  One day I received a casual message from a follower and we just started talking. It was natural and I felt like she actually understood how hard my journey was. She made it less about joining her team and more about investing in myself and my health, which I honestly had never really done. The program she suggested was only 20 minutes in length (6 days a week), which was the first workout EVER that I felt I could actually fit into my very busy lifestyle and I didn’t have to leave the comfort of my living room to accomplish it.  I would have access to an “on-demand” program so I could just follow along and not have to figure out how to ‘gym.’  This all sounded great, but I hesitated when it came to the price. $160 seemed like so much to spend on myself, but she made some good points: First, the $160 was for a year-long membership. It breaks down to about $4 a week or about 44 cents per day. That is far less than a normal gym membership. Two, was I saying that I was not worth $160? Was my health and well-being not worth $160? That struck a chord with me. In the long run $160 is not very much, and I would probably spend that much (or more) on clothes! It was eye-opening. Next thing I knew I was signing up and buying my step-deck at Walmart. I had finally invested in myself.

So. Here we are. I finished the first session of Beach Body Transform:20 program…keep any eye out for my next blog in this series that dives into the workout and how I got through the program!


Part II coming soon! Anyone else starting or in the midst of your fitness journey? What is your motivation?

XOXO, Cait B.

‘Resolution’- Choosing Myself in 2019


I have never been much for New Year’s resolutions. The resolutions I have made in the past usually involve losing weight which great until March rolls around and I find myself back on the couch with a box of Cheez-It crackers at my side. I found I would fail at my resolutions more than I would succeed, which was discouraging. Therefore, this year instead of making a “resolution,” I decided to focus on what I need to do to increase my happiness and well-being.

2018 was a rough one for me: I started a new job with a steep learning curve, we had to move with only a 30-day notice (thanks Army), and we had to deal with some fairly serious health issues with my husband. It was one thing after another, constantly moving, never really relaxing or having time to vent or really assess all the stress I was under. It eventually all caught up to me. The week before Christmas I suddenly felt like my heart was racing as though I drank a liter of Mountain Dew and was completely wired. I was short of breath and my blood pressure was through the roof. I ended up having to leave work and go to urgent care. Despite being a nurse I really didn’t know what was going on. I felt okay: no chest pain, no numbness or tingling–I did a head-to-toe assessment of myself as I sat shaking in the waiting room trying to diagnose what was going on. After running a couple tests and an EKG (which was normal) the doctor discovered I was having a massive panic attack.

Now, I have always been high-strung and have dealt with anxiety most of my life, but I have never experienced these kind of symptoms before. After finally calming down, I really started to think about 2018 and thought to myself ‘Something has to change. I am 25. I should not be feeling this way.’ I have always been the kind of person to put everyone before myself and my own needs. After reevaluating the year I had, it made me realize I hadn’t taken much time for myself. I was so focused on the people and things going on around me that I forgot to care for myself and listen to my own needs. I was not a priority. I decided that this year has to be different and that I am going to invest more time and energy into my well-being. This may sound a little selfish, but here is my rationale: If I invest more time and energy into taking care of myself, I will end up being happier and healthier and in a better mood which in turn will make things around me happier too.

I have broken down my 2019 goals into a couple categories:

Instead of making weight loss a goal, I think the idea of ‘getting healthy’ is much more realistic. It has less to do with a number, and more to do with the amount of energy you have and how you feel.
-Eat more color: This is not referring to artificially orange Cheetos! By eating more color I mean more fruits and veggies. I was told once that your plate should look like a rainbow!
-Hydrate: I am so bad at drinking water! I get distracted at work and at home and put drinking H2O off to the side. My goal is to increase my intake in 2019. Water helps with your skin and digestion, and staying hydrated can help you lose weight and feel more awake!
-Walk more: This activity is for both mind and body. Walking is, of course, great exercise, but I also believe that getting out of the house into fresh air is one of the best ways to relax your mind, plus getting a little Vitamin D makes you feel better and puts you in a better mood. I am hoping to take Tilly for a walk 3 times a week (she gets a walk with our dog walker daily). I love spending time with my little fur ball so this time with her will also elevate my good mood.

Wellness is more focused on taking care of my mind and focusing more on my own needs.
-Journal: Writing has always been my best and favorite way to express myself. My goal this year is to take the time to sit down and collect my thoughts in a journal when I am feeling stressed, and not to just push it to the side. I also plan to blog more (a new post at least once weekly.) I love to write and connect with my followers. It is such a great outlet!
-Skincare: I have never had a true skincare routine. I have always bounced around from product to product never really committing to anything. Your skin is your largest organ and does SO much for you, and now that I am in my mid-20s, I think it is time to commit! My goal is to develop a skincare routine that works, is easy to stick to and does not break the bank. I will be searching for new products and recommendations and will take you all along on the journey with me!
-Allow for Small Luxuries: I am not afraid to say that Jake and I basically live paycheck to paycheck. As most young adults, money is always on our minds. We do put a large portion of our earnings into saving in the hopes of kids down the line (or more dogs ha) or possibly a dream vacation. Due to having tight purse strings, I have let some of my own personal care go by the way-side. For example, I no longer get my nails done unless it is for a special occasion, and I had not gotten my hair cut for over 6 months (embarrassing, I know.) I was so focused on saving a few extra dollars that I kind of forgot why we had that money in the first place. I’m not planning on blowing though our savings, but maybe developing a small fund where I put away 10-20 dollars at a time so I can feel like I can indulge a little bit. Getting pampered, even if it means buying a peel off mask and a bath-bomb can be such a great stress relief and can make you feel refreshed! (Don’t worry, Jake has said he is totally okay with this! Make sure to talk with your significant other if you share a bank-account before you start funneling money away!)
-Declutter: Clutter drives me a little crazy. We are usually pretty good at keeping our house clean, but we are awful at folding clothes and putting them away! One final goal I have is to put our clothes away in a timely fashion! This is such a small thing but getting organized can be so satisfying and can make you feel like your life is more in order. If I can tackle our laundry room, I will be one happy girl!

Setting goals and making resolutions can be hard and frustrating. My advice is to be easy on yourself and be realistic! Think of it more as a lifestyle change instead of a resolution. You might have set backs and bad days but do your best to not give up and throw in the towel! I know I will have my ups and downs and will have to remind myself that I am only human. All we can do is try. Remember, if you do not succeed, there is always next year! 😉

What are your resolutions and goals for 2019? How do you plan to stick to them?

XOXO, Cait B.

Lash Extension Love


I originally started getting eyelash extensions right before my wedding. I was used to wearing false eyelash strips for both dance and theatre growing up, but I didn’t want to have to deal with them peeling off on my big day, or have to worry about my mascara running with all the happy tears and snow (yes, it snowed on my wedding day!) My sister had gotten lash extensions before and I loved the way they looked, so I thought I would give them a go! I have continued to get them done ever since.

I love my eyelash extensions because they make my life so much easier. Because my lashes are so blonde, I always felt like I had to wear mascara or I would look 12 and boyish. I would need to coat my lashes multiple times, plus add in eyeliner, which would take up some time each morning. Getting lash extensions has made my morning routine on work days much faster, as I wear very minimal makeup on the job. I have been getting lash extensions for about 1-1/2 years now, and I am very happy with the results. Lashes are my one beauty splurge and I think they are totally worth it. That said, there are a few things you need to know before you get lash extensions applied.

You MUST do your research.

Know your Technician: As with any beauty treatment, you need to make sure you are going to a reputable lash technician since they will be working on a sensitive area of your body and using different chemicals. You must make sure that your lash tech is certified. Many states also require lash technicians to hold cosmetologist or esthetician licenses. Bottom line: Be aware of the laws in your state. Before scheduling your appointment, be sure to ask if your tech is certified, and at your appointment you can also ask to see their certification if it is not already displayed. This is not insulting to your tech; if they do seem hesitant to show you their credentials or become defensive that could be a big red flag.

Make sure the area is clean. My salon puts paper down on the table, just like a doctor’s office to ensure cleanliness between patients/clients. My tech always washes her hands in front of me, and wears a mask so she is not breathing on my face during my session.

Know Your Lash Options: Once you have established trust with a technician, you will need to know your options for your lashes. First, lashes are made from three different materials: Synthetic fibers, silk, and mink. I would recommend sticking with either silk or mink, as synthetic lashes are exactly that. Made of synthetic (processed) materials that could more easily irritate your eyes. Mink lashes are the highest quality and the most natural looking, however they are also the most expensive. I get silk lashes. They are still great quality but are more cost effective.

Lashes come in different lengths as well, ranging from 6mm to 17mm (this could vary depending on where you get your lashes done.) They also come in different curls, like C or J. C shaped lashes curl into a shape like a C, just as J curls are less curved and look more like a J. You will also get to choose the overall shape of your lashes. Salons may have different names for each style, and they should go over all of your options with you as well as recommending the length and curl that they think will be best to achieve the look you desire. I tend to get a “cat-eye” where the lashes gradually get longer as you move to the outer edge of the eye. I tend to get a mix of 10mm, 11mm and 12mm, C shape extensions as I like my lashes to look a little more natural. For my wedding I opted for longer, volumizing lashes for more drama. You can talk to your technician to see if they offer this option. Some lash salons also offer different colored lashes as well. Prior to your first appointment, your lash tech should consult with you to discuss what you are looking for. Prior to every follow-up, your tech should ask how you like your lashes and if you want to ‘tweak’ anything.


Know The Types of Glue: Eyelash extensions are adhered to lashes using lash glue. You need to verify the type of glue that your technician will be using. This glue needs to be medical grade glue and safe to use on the body and near the eyes. You might have heard in the news about severe reactions to eyelash glue– this glue IS NOT medical grade, and often contains formaldehyde, which releases fumes and causes burning and redness. If your tech is using medical grade glue, this is much less likely to happen. Although irritation is less likely with the correct glue, reactions still do happen. If you have very sensitive skin, or have had reactions to adhesive in the past, you should first ask to put a sample of the glue on the inside of your wrist to see if you develop any kind of reaction. During your session, if you develop any kind of burning, irritation, or start tearing, you need to inform your lash tech. They might need to switch to a “sensitive” version of the glue. This type of glue generally does not hold as well, but is an option if you have sensitive skin/eyes. Be aware that you can also develop a sensitivity. This happened to my sister. The first few times she got extensions she was fine, but after a couple more sessions, she had a reaction to the glue and could no longer have her lashes done at her original salon. Do not lose hope; not all salons use the same glue, so you might be able to go elsewhere. Pro tip: if you are unable to brush through your lashes easily, your tech used too much glue, or glued one lash extension to multiple natural lashes, instead of an individual one. This can cause clumping and discomfort as your lashes grow out. If this happens to you, talk with your tech or see someone else with more experience!

*IMPORTANT: Know the difference between an infection and an allergic reaction. A licensed and experienced lash technician will not let an infection occur, but some symptoms could include swelling, redness, warmth around the eye, discoloration of the whites of the eye and a thick discharge. If this occurs seek medical attention. Unfortunately, if you’re allergic to the glue, you’re still going to be allergic, hygiene will not change this fact.

Know The Time Frame: Your first set of eyelash extensions could take anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how many lashes you have and the condition of your lashes, as they are gluing on the individual lashes one at a time. After your initial visit you will need to return to have your lashes filled. Our natural lashes are always growing and eventually fall out, so your extensions will also grow out, or soon fall out. I have my lashes retouched about every three weeks. This takes about 60 to 90 minutes depending on how well my lashes held up over the prior couple of weeks.

Know what you can and cannot do:
Water: After each session you cannot get your lashes wet for 48 hours. This includes steam, so no showering, unless it is cold or quick! This is to allow the glue to dry and adhere properly. After this 48 hour period, you are free to shower, just do not scrub your lashes or submerge them in water for too long, as it will eventually loosen the lashes or make them fall out.
Makeup: Do not use any oil-based makeup or lotion around your lashes as this will degrade the glue prematurely. I would also recommend NOT using mascara on your lashes (not that you will need it); especially water proof mascara as it will cause the lashes to clump in unnatural ways, and you will not be able to wash it off.
Caring for your lashes: Your lash tech should provide you with a clean spoolie brush to groom your new lashes with. Most techs instruct you to brush your lashes when you wake up, after you shower, and before you go to bed. You can do this if your lashes become out of line too. Make sure you never pull on your lashes to ‘rearrange them.’ This is what causes damage and breakage to your natural lashes. If you do get tired of having lash extensions, I recommend having a professional remove them for you, as removing them yourself can result in painfully ripping out your lashes, or damaging them.
Common questions I get about extensions:
Q: Aren’t you worried about getting glue in your eyes?
A: No! Your eyes are closed during your entire session, so no glue will ever get into your eye.

Q: Does it hurt?
A: Not at all! I find having my eyelashes done to be very relaxing and have even fallen asleep during sessions. The only discomfort you may have is from the glue (which you need to speak up about!) or when they remove the tape from your face (many techs use medical tape to hold your skin as they work so they can better see your lashes.) My eyes do tend to water when they first turn on their bright light, as my eyes are inherently sensitive to light, but they soon adjust and I am quite comfortable.

Q: Could it cause blindness?
A: No. Again, if you are working with a credible lash tech, you will be in good hands. Your lash professional should be trained and competent in applying glue and lashes in a way that is harmless to you and your anatomy. Your eyes are closed for the procedure. No matter how bad an allergic reaction may get, you will not go blind- you just may need some medicated eye drops.

Q: Will they ruin your natural lashes
A: This is easily the most asked question I get and the biggest myth regarding lash extensions. Extensions will not destroy your natural lashes if they are applied correctly and taken care of properly. Again, be sure not to rub your eyes or tug or pull on the extensions because this WILL cause lash damage and loss.

I love my lash extensions, but they do require maintenance. There is also a cost associated with getting your lashes done and keeping them filled which has to be factored into the “splurge” budget. I have been able to find a very reputable, yet more affordable location near me, but many lash salons charge a hefty price. For me, this is one splurge that I find completely worth it for my lifestyle, but if the price is a problem, you can always try high-quality false eyelash strips. Let me know if you are interested in a tutorial on how to apply these falsies by commenting on this post!

XOXO, Cait B.


**Disclaimer- this information is from my personal experience. I do not consider myself an expert on this topic. If you have specific questions regarding your lashes and if extensions are safe for you, talk with your optometrist or with a professional lash technician.**

Skincare Products I’m Loving!



As the holidays roll around I’m sure your shopping list is growing. If you are like me, this time of year I focus more on my loved ones and less on myself. Although, I am all about giving, it is important to take care of yourself and your skin as winter rolls around. I have made a list of a couple of beauty product I am currently loving that will not cut into the holiday budget! All of these can be found at Ulta or Target!

I have really really dry skin. It’s bad and it only gets worse as the weather gets cooler. Along with dry skin, I have sensitive skin that breaks out easily. It is a vicious cycle of using a toner to help with acne, only to have is suck out the remaining moisture, then using a moisturizer that causes me to break out. MEH. SO frustrating! I have been searching for products that will help not only with the flakiness but also be sensitive enough to not break me out. Let me tell you- it has been rough, but I have found some options!

The first product I’m digging can be found at Target. It is Up&Up brand Exfoliating Wet Cleansing Towelette. So many sugar scrubs and exfoliates I have tried have been very harsh on my skin, or have a very strong fragrance which irritates it. I like these towelettes because they have a very mild cucumber scent and they are not too rough. I will say, I am not the biggest fan of the packaging, it is sealed with an adhesive sticker, which after a few uses loses its ‘stickiness’ making the wipes quite dry. You can combat this by sticking the package in a Ziploc or, be lazy like me, and flip the package over so the sticker is on the bottom and is forced closed. This comes in at $1.99 for 30 towelettes!

The next product I am loving is bareMinerals Good Hydrations Silky Face Primer. I just started using this product and have been very satisfied! I have used other bareMinerals primers (Prime Time) in the past and found the products to be very greasy. This primer goes on like a very thin lotion. My skin is instantly re-hydrated when I use this and has definitely help my foundation go on more smoothly. It really does make your face silky! This product can be found at Ulta for $26, but is sold by many retailers. Bonus! bareMinerals is a cruelty-free brand!

When I do have breakouts, I turn to Thayer’s Witch Hazel Alcohol Free Toner in Rose Petal. I love this stuff because as a toner, it is so gentle on the skin but effective. As someone who used to put rubbing alcohol directly on my face, this is a much more effective (and safer!) alternative for adult acne. I also really enjoy the use of rose petal which is a natural anti-inflammatory, plus it smells like you have been frolicking in a rose garden. This stuff is great as a daily facial cleanser as well and can be found at Target for $8.99 for a 12oz. bottle. Thayer’s is also all natural and cruelty-free!

The final product I want to share with you is a 3-in-1 steal! While Black Friday shopping I picked up the b.Right! Start Skin Kit by Benefit and I am in love with these products! It comes with 3 ‘fun size’ products including the Moisture Facial Cream Hydra-Concentrated Facial Cream (0.3 oz), It’s Potent! Eye Cream Brightening Eye Cream to fade dark circles (0.3 oz) and the Triple Performing Facial Emulsion Sheer Oil-Free Broad Spectrum SPF 15 Facial Lotion (0.3 oz.) My absolute favorite product has to be the moisture facial cream. It works miricales! After just one night of applying it before bed my skin was visibly transformed from dry and flaky to smooth and moisturized. It is a very rich and creamy product but it does not leave my skin oily and it has not caused any break-outs! Hallelujah! I will say the portion size is quite small, but a little of this stuff goes a long way, and it’s a great size to start off with if you are trying to figure out if this product is right for you. I also like the eye cream, it is great to use if you work early in the morning like me. I like to put mine in the fridge so it is cool when I put it on! To be honest I have yet to try the facial emulsion, but if it works like the other two products I will not be disappointed. I know what you are thinking- three products in one, how much is this going to cost me? This is the best part! It is only $15 at Ulta! This product is not only affordable but great quality! It would make for an adorable “friend-gift” or stocking stuffer, or might just need to end up under the tree with your name on it (;

GUEST_3bd99bdb-99aa-4cfb-b080-b0b6f486607e        8737551_fpx.tif  GUEST_779f7248-1034-48da-8e71-75f8133e24dd     b.right_-start-skincare-set-box_1

Thank you for reading, I hope this gives you some ideas for your own skincare! The best skincare tip I can give is to stay hydrated and use products with SPF, even as the days become more cloudy!

If you go out and try these products let me know what you think! What are your favorite skincare products for dry winter skin?

XOXO, Cait B.