I love hacks! Any little tweak that can improve my results, I'm all for it!  Today I've learned something that I have to share with you.  Recently, I've started working out again and I want to see the fruits of my labor as soon as possible.  I wondered if there was a way to maximize each workout for enhanced results, and I think I've stumbled on the answer.

What I discovered today could change everything.  It doesn't require extra time in the gym. In fact, adding one simple beverage to your daily routine could help you lose more weight than working out alone.
Here's the deal.  You may have heard that drinking green tea has a slew of benefits.  But did you know that it's scientifically proven to help you lose more weight when paired with a workout plan?

Here's what happened.

They enlisted women to partake in the study who were broken up into four subgroups:

GROUP 1/ Drank a powdered green tea drink 2X a day.
GROUP 2// Given a placebo to drink 2X a day (not green tea).
GROUP 3// Drank powdered green tea 2X a day & weight trained at the gym.
GROUP 4// Weight trained at the gym and drank placebo (not green tea).

The researchers wanted to see if combining green tea with a workout regimen made a difference and.....it did!
The ladies who strength trained and enjoyed green tea during the day were rewarded with a higher resting metabolic rate (RMR) than their counterparts who performed the exact same workout routine.  I don't know if you're aware but your resting metabolic rate holds the key to life! Ok, maybe I'm being a bit over dramatic.....but I'm not. 

You know how some people are able to eat burgers and down milkshakes and without gaining a pound. Those lucky individuals enjoy what we refer to as a "super high metabolism." All that means is that their bodies naturally burn up a lot of calories even when they're at rest (resting metabolic rate).  Someone with a high RMR can spend a day lounging around and still burn a bunch of calories doing so.

I was researching how to raise my resting metabolism and this study came up.  Obviously, our resting metabolic rate will rise whenever we incorporate a workout routine, but adding green tea will give you a slight edge.  In fact, the "green tea" group burned an average of an extra 60 calories a day more than their placebo counterparts.  This may not sound like much but, every calorie counts and it all adds up.  Burning an extra 1800 calories a month without put in the extra effort sounds like the ultimate hack.  Another thing we should note is that the green tea workout group experienced an increase in strength which helped them to lift more, which leads to even more calories burned while resting.

I've already talked about how green tea helps suppress appetite.  Add this to the list of reasons why green tea is so beneficial to your health/fitness journey.

If you want to give this a try, I recommend that you drink the green on an empty stomach.  That's because of another study which discovered that the active compound in green tea (EGCG) is better absorbed when taken without food.  Those who consumed green tea on an empty stomach experienced much greater levels of EGCG (3x or 4x higher) in the bloodstream hours after the tea was consumed.  Maybe this might convince you to swap out coffee for green tea, even if just for a few days a week.

Y'all need to jump on this green tea wagon.  If green tea good enough for Meagan Good, it's good enough for us.

How was your weekend?  The highlight of my Saturday night was doing some light housework while jumping on random Instagram lives.  When the notification came in that Megan Milan was live, I decided to join.

It was pretty casual with no real agenda. She did the IG live to give a quick update to her fans and answer questions in the comments.  I sat patiently and waited for the person to ask the question that has been on my mind since I first seen a pic of her.  Megan's skin is amazing.  I couldn't believe that no one asked her to divulge her secrets.
I waited long enough, I finally jumped in her comments and asked her to reveal her favorite skin products. As soon as she read my question, her whole demeanor changed. Suddenly, her voice was full of excitement and energy like she was waiting for someone to ask.
She responded by saying, "my skin favorite product is witch hazel. Witch hazel! Witch hazel!" Megan continued on with a story.  "Once I had these stress-induced breakouts that were so bad that I thought I might need to see a professional."   Mind you, Megan is an aspiring model so having clear skin is an absolute must.  She tried all these natural products and nothing worked until she tried witch hazel.  Soon her skin cleared all the way up and she's been singing the praises of witch hazel ever since. The other product Megan gave props to was coconut oil.  She uses all natural coconut oil as a moisturizer.  Let's add her to the list of beauties who attribute their glowing skin to coconut oil.

So what's so special about witch hazel?  One website proclaimed that witch hazel as one of the most powerful natural acne treatments known to man.  It's a powerful astringent with the ability to kill acne-causing bacteria.  Witch hazel is an amazing toner that can remove excess oil deposits and clear out pores.  Did I mention that witch hazel is also an antioxidant?  Not only is your skin getting the anti-inflammatory, acne-fighting benefits, but you there's also the anti-aging factor due to the antioxidant component.  That's what makes witch hazel so amazing. After Megan revealed her favorite product, a bunch of other people in the chat co-signed on how witch hazel helped them.

I had a few pesky little breakouts so I decided to give witch hazel a try.  I pulled out a bottle buried deep in my product closet. For the last couple of days, witch hazel was my main astringent and, I'm happy to say, that I'm completely acne free this morning.  Let's not forget that witch hazel also has the power to help create this type of transformation.  Yay for witch hazel!   Thanks Megan!!!
The other pressing question that several people asked Megan was regarding her signature lip color you often see her wearing in most of her pics (NSFW).  It's a deep wine color that looks amazing on her skin.  Megan confirmed that she has one lip color that she pretty much wears all the time -- Stilla's all day liquid lipstick in Chianti.  Stilla boasts of 6 hours of budge-free longlasting wear.  It's also infused with vitamin E and avocado oil to help keep lips moisturized.  Even after eating and drinking Chianti still looked great on her in the video.  But instead of the rich plum color, it had faded into more of a muted mauve shade.

Lastly, Megan was asked to share her favorite workout for toned abs. Without skipping a beat, she blurted out "Russian twists.... that's all you have to do and it gets your stomach together." I had no idea what Russian twists were so I headed over to Youtube for a visual.  Anyone who's done Russian twists before know that this is a total ab workout.  It strengthens your all parts of your core. It's obviously an awesome oblique exercise, but this movement also targets your main abdominal muscles as well.  And, if you make sure to pull your stomach in during the workout, you'll also engage your transverse abdominal muscles (your inner corset).   Russian twists also involve a lot of back and spine movement so if you have any back issues, you may want to skip this one.

Check out 4 ways to do the Russian Twist from beginner to advanced level. 

Happy Monday.  I hope your weekend was amazing.  I spent most of Sunday organizing and decluttering.  Whenever I spend a little time organizing, I'm always rewarded. Sometimes it's in the form of a few dollars found in the pocket of a pair of jeans.  Other times, I'm reunited with a long lost item I thought I'd never see again.

Yesterday was no exception.  But instead of finding cold hard cash, I stumbled on a brand new journal that I purchased years earlier.  Apparently, I planned on taking journaling seriously again but somehow fell short.  Since then, I've sat through various seminars where people shared amazing stories about how journaling has changed their life.  They've used the journaling process to manifest wonderful results.  That's the journey that I would like to embark on.  And here's how I'm going to do it.
Unfortunately for me, I've never purchased a journal manifesting course so I don't know the exact process that others used to obtain their results. So I'm going to create my own ritual and tweak it along the way.

I've journaled before, but I used it more as a diary.  This time will be a bit different.

One of the essential components of my new and improved journal is a "monthly log."  Basically, it's the place where I capture the main highlights of the month.  Sometimes, things are going really well, my weight is in check, my hair is thriving and my skin is flawless. Then I ask myself, "what have I been doing to create these results?"  I think long and hard and can't pin down the exact actions I took to get there.  There have been times when I look back at a pic and wonder what my routine was back then.  With this monthly, log, I can quickly go back and review a record of my past activity at a glance.

The next component that must be incorporated in the journaling for manifestation process is expressing gratitude.  This is crucial.  Without gratitude, the manifestation process is stifled. Gratitude keeps us in a state of expectation because we're conscious of all the wonderful things transpiring in our life.  Expressing gratitude also makes us feel good. This is absolutely necessary if you're participating in the act of manifestation. It also helps us get through the mental barriers that we sometimes have when we're in the process of manifesting a "bigger" intention.  As we express gratitude, it's important to remember that the things we're now grateful were once desired intentions.

Since this is a manifesting journal, the overall theme is that we are ALWAYS in the creation process (Always Be Creating).  As such, it's important to jot down the all of the manifestations that happen on a regular basis.  That's what this journal is for.

I don't just want to be a passive observer in the process, I want to be actively engaged in the act of creation. So, I'll partake in what I call "deliberate acts of creation."  Let's say, you're inspired by an image of a beautiful interior. You could think to yourself, "I'd love to live in a place like that one day." Or, you can ask, "what can I do right now (or this week) to bring my current reality one step closer to where I want to be?"  Active creation is about taking the necessary steps that activate the creation process.  The last thing you want to do is sit around an visualize all day without doing anything about it.  I plan on adding action items on my daily to-do list from the active creation brainstorming process.  This way, I'm doing something on a regular basis that contributes towards making my visions a reality.

Last, but not least, I'll need to add a component that helps me manifest my big dreams and goals.  The reason why I haven't  reached my big goals is because I've taken very little action to allow them to manifest.  As I update my journal, one the tasks will be to give an account of what I'm doing (or what I will do) to make sure that my long-term goals become real.

The point is to keep our long-term (and semi-long term) goals at top of mind.  I'm convinced that the #1 reason why we don't accomplish our big goals is 'cause we rarely bring them into our current reality.  We keep them segmented away from our daily lives and we don't do anything to ensure they actually happen.  When I journal, one objective is to jot down ways to incorporate my big dreams into deliberate acts of creation.

Let's see if this actually works.  I've done this process before with voice recordings but haven't actually been disciplined in the act of writing it down.  We've all heard that writing things down is a powerful process.  I hope that in 2018, I can proudly say that I'm one of those people who journal every day and that it's changed my life!

One of my favorite past times is driving to the other part of town and check out the rare finds at my favorite thrift store.  Thrifting became a tradition for me back in middle school when my mom first introduced me a huge thrift store that was always packed on the weekends. 

For her, it was a way of saving a few extra dollars on purchases that would normally cost much more. But I fell in love with thrifting because of the unique items that I wouldn't come across in your typical retail store.  I had an eclectic taste in clothing so the thrift store became my favorite place. A couple years ago, I purchased several amazing outerwear pieces from the thrift shop that I absolutely love. 

I'm way overdue for another trip, but this time, I've got a laundry list of exactly what I want.  Let's discuss.

I have this weird hangup about cutting up items that I pay full price for.  But, if it only costs a few bucks, I don't mind experimenting.  I'm on the lookout for an oversized sweatshirt to alter.  I'd like to give it a cropped look similar to what Kerrueche's wearing.  It may not be as revealing in the mid-drift, but I'd love something similar.  I dig how both the waist and sleeves are tailored to give the top and added element of style.  She paired it with a simple skinny jean and statement heels. The entire look appears understated yet very well put together. 
Next on my purchase list is plain stripped men's button-up shirt.  We've seen effortlessly Rihanna pull off this look. I'd like to try and replicate it. I'll experiment using a man's shirt to see if it gives me enough wiggle room to tie at the waist or leave a few of the top buttons undone without being too revealing.  If that doesn't work out, I could always have it tailored as a cropped button-up shirt.

Jean trends are now leaning more towards high waisted, looser fitting cuts.  And whenever there's a new trend, they always want to charge you an arm and a leg. Especially when we're talking about jeans.  Chances are the "newest trend" is has probably been done before and it's sitting on a thrift store rack for a few dollars.  Notice how she removed the hem of the jeans to give it a more modern take.  That's an easy DIY project that can be done in minutes and will save you lots of money. 

I'm on a mission to acquire a small collection of interesting skirts.  Thrifting will be an integral component of ensuring the success of the plan. Now that I've linked up with a tailor that I absolutely love, I plan on broadening my horizon.  I want a multitude of skirts in various lengths, patterns, and fabrics.  They'll all be paired with graphic tees to keep the look simple.  If you still enjoy mild weather during the fall months, consider adding stylish skirts to your fall style looks.

If your wardrobe consists mainly of staple items, I invite you to take a step into the unknown by venturing into the world of printed outwear.  Patterened outerwear was made for people like us.  We like to stick to neutral colors and basic items.  The only way to add a bit of flair is by tossing on a coat that was made to draw attention.  Outerwear can get pretty pricey, especially if you are going for one with bold details.  That's why thrifting is your best bet!  It's much more affordable which means that we can step out of our comfort zone by picking up a few different options.  I have enough black and neutral coats. It's time to acquire one that will grab attention the minute I walk into a room. Again, tailoring is important to ensure the fit is perfect. 

This is just the start.  The thrift store is also the perfect place to find one of a kind accessories.  Best of all, it doesn't break the bank which means more money in your pocket to really diversify your wardrobe.

Blac Chyna is known for her bold makeup looks and extensive wig collection.  Her entire brand is all about being ultra glam from head to toe.  Underneath it all, Chyna has impeccably beautiful skin.
Even without a stitch of makeup, her skin is blemish free, even toned and has the most healthy glow. I'm sure some of it is genetics.  But after studying the regimen's of women with pretty skin, I learned that most of them have at least one beauty secret responsible for their perfect skin.

 Chyna is no different.
She's currently featured on the cover of Elle Magazine.  As part of the feature, the interviewer asked Chyna to divulge her private beauty rituals.  Chyna doesn't reveal much regarding her skin reggie on social media so I was all ears.

One part of her interview, in particular,  really stood out to me. One of her non-negotiables with regards to her routine is her obsession with moisturizing.

"It all started when someone said, "You have really nice skin." And I was like, "Oh you know what? I actually do." I never realized it until somebody said it to me. I never used to really moisturize my body. I would take a shower, but I wouldn’t really lotion up. I don’t know it wasn’t a thing, but now I have to oil my whole body. So now I'm OCD with the oil. My sheets are oily, my robes are oily. Skin is really important." 

I have brought up the topic of going to bed greasy so many times.  Ever since I discovered that countless women are oiling up their faces at night, I was hooked.  Going to bed greasy sounded pretty scary at first but once I learned that Beyonce, Gabrielle Union, and random flight attendant supermodels were all advocates, I gave it a shot.

It's a small step that creates a big difference.  After reading Chyna's snippet, I have to admit that I'm not as committed to greasing up all over as I should be.  Sure, I switched to using body oil gel instead of lotion and it made a world of difference.  But I only really oil up when my skin is exposed or when I'm headed out.  I don't really put much attention towards oiling my skin before bed like Chyna.

Perhaps I should.

Imagine waking up with soft, ultra-hydrated skin that retained some of the moisture from last night's shower.   That's how life should be.

Winter's coming and it's bringing the dry, crisp air with it.  Now is the time to develop habits that  protect our skin for months and years to come.  Although Chyna didn't elaborate on which oil she prefers, I think I have an idea.
Months ago, Chyna posted this image on Snapchat with no caption.  I quickly took a screenshot and saved it hoping to one day have some context.  The Elle article basically explains the significance of these two products.  I'm guessing that Chyna applies coconut oil all over her skin post-shower.

And, for her face, she opted to splurge on the infamous LA Mer moisturizing soft creme.  According to Chyna, La Mer is "super expensive and ridiculous but worth it."  I wonder if she was influenced to try La Mer by her former bestie Kim K who's a die-hard fan of the brand.

La Mer's claim to fame is the "miracle broth" which is derived from sea kelp and various nutrients.  As you may have heard, I've started blending a tiny pinch of chlorella powder with my daily moisturizer.  We all know that chlorella is from the algae family and is loaded with nutrition. So perhaps I've created my very own variation of a miracle broth cream.  My skin has been looking pretty good lately and I give some of the props to my new and improved superfood moisturizer.

It's worth giving it a try and you don't have to invest hundreds of dollars to try it.