I am still 100% not going to a gym anytime soon and with the chill starting to really settle in here in the Midwest, I thought I'd share some of my fave at-home workouts. I'm also just looking for that extra *~ accountability ~* with sharing my workout plan for the week here. If you do any of the workouts, give me a follow and shout over on instagram @realstephaniegreene and we can cheer each other on. 


Monday: Pilates with Isa Welly 
I've done this workout before and ooooo my gosh, far harder than I expected. Great burn to kick off the week.


Tuesday: OrangeTheory Fitness Lower Body Focused HIIT
OTF posted an amazing amount of home workouts on their youtube channel while stay at home orders were in place across the country. I feel like I've been slacking on leg workouts, so this one it is.


Wednesday: My Yoga Class
If you did not know, I am a yoga instructor and I have a flow up on my YouTube channel. I will probably just lead myself through a class sans video, but here it is for y'all to follow along.


Thursday: Rachael's Good Eats Upper Body Focused HIIT
Rachael DeVaux is a trainer and registered dietician. She's been posting workouts on her IG for months. They are intense, yet approachable.

Friday: Lottie Murphy Pilates
I've been on a huge pilates kick and this is a nice restorative flow to ease into the weekend and shake off the stress of the work week. This one is more active rest, not a sweaty workout. 



I love watching what I eat in a day videos on youtube from time to time to get meal ideas, so I thought I'd share my own. Check it out for some simple, healthy and realistic meal ideas. 



It’s become evident that we are, once again, in the midst of a groundswell. Or maybe we’ve been in the midst of a groundswell for months, caught in its ebbs and flows. Seemingly every moment of every day, there is something significant happening, and our digital devices are right there to keep us clued in.

 

I’ve been contemplating writing this post for so long (I noted the idea in July), but wanted to give myself time to really gather my thoughts. More than one of my Black friends shared with me that they felt they were being “bad” Black people if they chose to look away from the media pertaining to police violence against Black people even though it was giving them anxiety or making them feel intensely hopeless. That bothered me so much because I want every Black person (and person, generally) to feel empowered and proud to take control of their mental health. Alas, here we are about two months later, and I’m sharing some of my favorite strategies for managing digital overwhelm.

 

My hope is that these tips help you better manage your relationship with your digital devices and the digital media you consume, or, at the very least, that they give you something to mull over.

 

As you read through the tips, maybe have your phone, laptop, pen, and paper nearby so you can work through them as you read.

 

1. Understand that you deserve happiness and joy. This is fundamental to all of the tips I share below. I believe that everyone deserves happiness and joy, in ways small and large, therefore I believe you deserve happiness and joy. Both are cornerstones of mental health and feeling like we have reason to wake and continue fighting the good fight for the causes we believe in. If you do not understand this, then you will forever be caught in the cycle of consuming media that makes you unhappy. I encourage you to remind yourself of this everyday; maybe write it on a post-it and stick it on your fridge, write it in your journal, speak it aloud, whatever works for you.

Activity: Write your own mantra to cultivate a sense a happiness and joy. (You can also feel free to borrow this one: I deserve happiness and joy.)

 

2. Let go of feeling like you need to know everything. The world is moving even though we don’t feel it. Release the notion that you must know every detail of every harrowing story (there are lots these days). Sometimes protecting your mental peace is most important.

Activity: Turn off all notifications on your phone and laptop for 24-hours. Consider doing this once a week, or 7 days a week.

 

3. Incorporate breathing exercises into your day. This is a little woo-woo, but I’m a little woo-woo. Breathing is one of our best coping mechanisms when it comes to managing stress. There are lots of free exercises out there; I even have one up on my YouTube channel here. Sometimes reveling in the beauty of a breath is the grounding we need.

Activity: Close your eyes and take 10 conscious breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.  

 

4. Time box your engagement with media and respect those limits. Utilize the built-in tools within your technology to set limits on how much time you can spend consuming media, news media and social media. When you get the notification that you’ve reached your limit, adhere to it and turn your mind towards something else. Stick to these time limits even when you’re not feeling overwhelmed. Further, consider using the downtime function on your devices that locks all of your apps between certain hours of the day.

Activity: Take 10 minutes to set limits on your most-used apps and set downtime for your devices.

 

5. Decide on news sources you want to follow and the medium. There is a lot of noise on the internet, in print, and on television. Decide on your trusted sources and stick to those. Also, decide on the best way for you to consume the media, whether through print, podcast, newsletter, etc.

Activity: Take 15 minutes to survey and unsubscribe from any newsletters, podcasts, blogs, forums, etc. that are cluttering your inbox, subscription feed, etc.

 

6. Make Twitter lists. I *love* Twitter. Love it. One of the most underrated functionalities of the app, in my opinion, is the ability to make lists. Lists allow you to curate a feed from users you select. Consider making a list of your friends, one of your favorite journalists, activists, comedians, etc. This will allow you to have some control over what is popping up in your feed.

Activity: Take 5 minutes to make a Twitter list of people you know in real life who regularly make you smile.

 

7. Edit your Instagram (and other social media) feeds. Unfollow, mute, or unfriend those who post content that you don’t like. There are plenty of people who I enjoy in real life and do not enjoy online and that is fine. Simply make adjustments, as needed.

Activity: Take 5 minutes to unfollow, mute, or unfriend 5 people on your most-used social media site.

 

8. Implement a one-screen rule. This is pretty self-explanatory – use only one device at a time. So, if you’re watching television, then you’re not also on your phone or laptop. Give your attention to one thing to make it easy for your brain to process information.


Activity: Take 2 minutes to designate an area where each of your digital devices can rest when not in use.

Take care, y'all <3 

 

Over on my Instagram, I have talked about how I am getting more into ~ cooking ~ while at home. Obviously, I am an adult and have been cooking for myself for years now, but I am spending more time learning about food and cooking techniques. With that, I’ve also been trying lots of new recipes. I’m sharing some of what I’ve been making, including notes on anything I did differently than the recipe called for. Everything is linked below via the recipe title -- let’s get into it. 

Pad See Ew
I have been making this pad see ew for years now and I feel like I’ve got it down. It’s really in my arsenal of recipes. This was a hit over on the gram. When I first started making this recipe, I used the oyster sauce, but I don’t super like oyster sauce, so I have phased that out of my sauce. I also use agave syrup instead of sugar as I feel like the liquid sweetener just mixes better in the sauce. I love garlic, so I use a ton, probably 3 to 4 cloves. It’s also easy to swap tofu for the chicken, just make sure you drain it properly, and do a quick pan fry before assembling everything.

Toasted Coconut French Toast with Blueberry Compote
This is like your classic french toast, but upgraded! I recommend canned coconut milk because it has a stronger coconut flavor than the coconut drink that comes in a carton. Blend a can of coconut milk with water, cinnamon and a bit of sea salt to thin it. Really let your bread soak in the mixture and make sure you’ve got some coconut flakes on the bread. Then cook on the stovetop as usual. Cook down your fave berries and add more coconut flakes for serving. Aaaaaand you’ve got yourself the yummy brunch you’ve been missing.

Greens on Fried Bread
This was a super quick and yummy lunch. I did not have celery or fennel, but decided to still rock and roll with it. I also used collard greens because that is what I had. Funny enough, this time around, I used less garlic than called for and went with 5 cloves because I did not want to use all of my garlic on this one dish. 

Potato and Soy Chorizo Frittata 
The link takes you to a great post on how to just generally make a frittata. I love mixing the Trader Joe’s soy chorizo with potatoes and spinach. This time, I decided to sprinkle some cheese on half of it last minute. This is one of my favorite breakfast/lunch things to prep. 

Roasted Beet and Garlic Hummus 
Growing up, I totally thought that beets tasted like dirt, but now I’m like, “Mmmm so earthy.” Roasted beets have a gentle sweetness to them and pair well with the neutralness of chickpeas. I roasted the garlic as well for this hummus and did not add any olive oil. Instead of adding olive oil, I added wayyyyy more tahini and some water from the can of chickpeas to texture. I did not add any lemon zest, but did squeeze lemon for serving. 

Tortilla Chips
I love, love, love tortillas and tortilla chips. One day, I really wanted a snack, saw I had tortillas, and decided to make some chips. Really easy snack to make. 


I seriously cannot believe that I have not written more about what I'm reading on this blog. That changes today! If you know me, like reallyyyy know me, then you know that I love reading. I read for fun every day, pretty much no matter what. Reading before bed has been a part of my night time routine since I was a wee little babe and has continued to be a highlight of my evening as I grow older. Now, let's get into what I've been reading. Oh! And support your local library!


From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein: 5/5 Stars
I love, love, love this book. I did not expect it to be as good as it is. I hope to be able to address my own life and mistakes with such honesty as Beck, and be brave enough to share them with the world. Beck was a stenographer during Obama’s second term and goes from being super green in the DC scene to being a pro in navigating spaces, both personal and professional. If you’re a young woman who has ever had questions about your career path, or general life path, I encourage you to read this book. It’s so dang good and teaches us how important it is to stay true to our values. Further, it’s so steamy, laugh out loud funny, and well written. If you’re going to read any of these books, this is the one. (Not pictured because I lent it to some friends and they’re loving it, too!)

The Last Girl by Nadia Murad: 5/5 Stars
OOOOOOHHHHH MY GOSH! This was a freaking page turner! This is a memoir detailing life before, during, and after enslavement by ISIS forces in Iraq. Of course I had read the news coming out of the region, but reading a first person account was just overwhelming at times, in a good/eye-opening way. So often, news stories distance us from the horrifying realities playing out abroad, and here at home in the US, and this memoir brings everything into focus. Amazing read if you have an eye towards human rights. 

We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han: 4/5 Stars
This is a total summer novel, in fact it is actually branded “a summer novel” on the title page. Jenny Han is one of the GOATs of young adult fiction and for good reason. This is a fun read about a 19-year old woman in love with two brothers who are both also in love with her. Yes, sounds kinda weird, but open your minds, people! Un-traditional relations aside, it’s a good story about a young woman working through internal conflict. I love some good character development. If you like drama with a feel good ending, you'll like this read.

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares: 2/5 Stars 
Ann Brashares is one of my favorite authors and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series will forever be one of my favorite series. I've read a couple of her other books and had high hopes for this one, but it fell flat. I think Brashares has a real talent for giving voice to young women characters, but the voice of the male character in this was so stifled. The man's voice seemed like it was written by someone who had never actually had an intimate relationship with a man in real life...it was like how you imagine boys talk when you're a young girl before ever actually getting to know a boy. Further, the story was mad convoluted and complicated for no reason. I relished the chapters written from the perspective of the young woman character, but it was rough getting through the chapters written from the perspective of the man (which felt like a majority of the chapters).


It is always a good time to support Black owned businesses. Economic downturn, the coronavirus pandemic, and Black Lives Matter movement all present us with great reason to be intentional about how and where we spend our money. But, let's be clear, buying from black owned businesses does not solve for Black death, nor does it dismantle the systems that are harming and killing Black people. We've still got work to do and buying from a Black-owned businesses is pretty much the least of it. 

As I've mentioned over on my Instagram and Youtube channel, I have gotten super into skincare while staying at home, so I thought it would be fitting for me to curate some skincare routines using only products from Black-owned businesses. This post will focus specifically on products to build a morning skincare routine. I've also tried my best to explain why the ingredients in the products are oh so good for the skin. I have featured two different items in each category simply to showcase more brands and give you options.

A quick note before we jump in: I do not think it is necessary to cleanse your face in the morning if you cleanse your face at night (simply rinsing with water and patting dry will do the trick for the morning), so we will jump right into this with toners. 

Toners

I don't know if I've ever come across a skincare product with so few ingredients! I'm amazed! This toner features honeysuckle and rose to create a balancing, cleansing, and soothing tincture for the skin. This brand seems awesome and crafts small-batches of vegan skincare products in-house. You can check out this page for more information on the ingredients commonly used in their products. 

Founder: Jamika Martin
This is another toner with an incredibly small ingredient list, except this one includes two active ingredients, hyaluronic acid and kojic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, which means it draws moisture to your skin, so it is an ingredient that makes products incredibly hydrating. Kojic acid is actually a by-product of the process used to make sake (Japanese rice wine) and is good for lightening dark spots, sun damage, and healing acne scars.

Vitamin C Serums

Founder: Desiree Verdejo
For a 15% vitamin C serum, this is at a great price point. 3-0-ethyl ascorbic acid is the active ingredient in this product and it is a derivative of vitamin C. As a derivative, it is more stable than L-ascorbic acid, the pure form of vitamin C, so this product won't turn bad as quickly while sitting in your skincare cabinet. Even though it is a derivative, 3-0-ethyl ascorbic acid provides all of the same amazing brightening benefits of it's more pure parent compound. Vitamin C is great for lightening dark spots and protecting the skin from free radical damage caused by UV exposure. (What's a free radical? In short: An unstable, highly reactive molecule that can cause damage to your cells; antioxidants, like vitamin c, help neutralize free radicals.) This serum also has turmeric root extract which has anti-inflammatory properties and salicylic acid which helps fight acne. 

Founder: Ron Robinson
This vitamin C serum is coming in at a higher price point and for seemingly good reason. This product has gone through independent clinical tests and the results showed its efficacy. The active ingredient is L-ascorbic acid, but this product is made using technology to stabilize the ingredient. The ability to stabilize L-ascorbic acid is huge freaking breakthrough which explains why this serum won spots of several top magazine's best-of lists. Also, the founder of the brand is a comestics chemist, so you can trust that this formulation is top notch. 


Moisturizers

The founder of this brand is an actual, factual medical doctor -- a dermatologist, in fact! So, she brings her knowledge to the formulation of each product. This moisturizer is packed with all of the ingredients you'd want to see in a top tier products -- vitamin C, niacinamide, peptides, and ceramides. We've already covered vitamin C, so let's move onto why niacinamide, aka a form of vitamin B3, is so great. Niacinamide is one of the do-it-all skincare ingredients out there; it helps with inflammation, hyperpigmentation, reducing pore size, regulating oil production, and building up the skin barrier which will help your skin retain moisture. Peptides aid in the production of collagen and collagen is what gives our skin that youthful, plump appearance. Ceramides are lipids (fats) that help to maintain and repair the skin barrier. Bonus ingredients: hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, vitamin E. Whew! That was a lot and it all says that this a moisturizer you need! 

Founder: Nubian Flunder
This moisturizer is waterless, so it does not need a strong preservative to maintain its shelf life. This is a simple formulation with vitamin E, which helps boost collagen production, and organic green tea extract and matcha, which both contain strong antioxidant properties that help soothe your skin and improve the appearance of sun damage (and fight free radicals!). It also has avocado butter in it which is full of vitamin A, C, and E, and is hydrating. 


Sunscreens

Founder: Katonya Breaux
Okay, so you need to be wearing sunscreen. Every. Single. Day. If you are not already on the sunscreen train, take this blog post as your wake-up call. Unsun's tinted face sunscreen is SPF 30 and can be used as a make-up primer or worn alone. Though putting products on top of mineral sunscreens could dilute them, so use your best judgement. This product is also reef-safe, so you can know you're doing right by the reefs on your next vacation (whenever that will be...). Win-win! 

Founder: Shontay Lundy
I *had* to put Black Girl Sunscreen in the sunscreen category. Arguably the darling of the suncare made for Black women and women of color world. Like Unsun, Black Girl Sunscreen leaves no annoying whitecast (the thin layer of white residue that you just can't seem to rub in, so you're left looking shiny and ashy at the same time, smh). This is also SPF 30 and full of ingredients meant to combat common sun-related skin concerns like aging and lack of hydration. This product is vegan, cruelty free, and reef safe. It also comes in an SPF 50 formulation for kids. 

I'll be putting together a night routine featuring products from black owned businesses next, then a few more on fun things like lip products, body products, and serums, so bookmark my blog and follow me on Instagram and be among the first to know when it's posted. 







A post shared by Stephanie Greene (@realstephaniegreene) on

Skincare has become a big hobby of mine while staying safe at home. I have also decided it’s the perfect time to try new skincare products because I do not have to see anyone if things go a little sideways. 


Right before everything in the world went sideways, I had gone to see an esthetician at Spa Derma in West Loop (you can give my name for $50 off your first service - woo!). I was nearing the end of doing Drunk Elephant’s “clean break” regimen in which you only use DE products for 45 to 60 days to give your skin a break from harsh ingredients. Having made this big change in my skincare routine, I was looking to just put a cherry on top and get a professional opinion on the state of my skin. She did not tell me anything groundbreaking, but it was good to just talk about ingredients, routines, and skin concerns with her.


Speaking of skin concerns...my top skin concerns are surface dryness, texture, dark marks and hyperpigmentation. I knew the Sephora spring sale was coming up, so I wanted to get some products that would target my chief concerns and also re-up on some of my fave items. Everything I bought, plus a few extras, below.



1. Summer Fridays R+R Mask

Away, the luggage brand, partnered with Summer Fridays to create a little set in which you got the mini Away, full size R+R mask, full size Overtime mask, and travel size Jet Lag mask. All of the net proceeds went to GlobalGivings Coronavirus Relief fund. It was $75 total, which was a steal for all of those products, and I had a $20 store credit for Away, so I was able to get all of those masks for the low, low. I’ve been wanting to try this product for a while. It’s a brightening and smoothing mask thanks to vitamin C and rose flower powder.


2. Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream

This has been on my list for months! It’s a super thick, oil and ceramide rich night cream. This caught my eye because I figured it would help with some of my surface dryness. I’ve been using this for a couple of weeks now and, yes, it totally works. A little goes a long way.


3. Indie Lee Discovery Kit

I honestly haven’t heard that much about Indie Lee, but had heard enough to be curious about their line of products, so I landed on the Discovery Kit. It comes with a cleanser, CoQ-10 toner, and squalene face oil. I was looking for a gentle jelly cleanser to try and figured I might as well do the kit to get a taste for their other products, as well. 


4. The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner

At the time of the Sephora sale, I thought I was going to get glycolic acid toner from The Ordinary, but it was sold out, so I pivoted to The Inkey List. This is my first time purchasing anything from the brand, but it has a similar vibe to The Ordinary, so I hope I like it. My only concern with this glycolic toner is that it is 5% witch hazel and I do not have oily skin, so I am hoping it won’t dry me out too much. 


5. Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask

This is a holy grail product for me. It’s *amazing* and cannot recommend it enough. If I’m ever seeing any irritation from using products with active ingredients in it, I take a break and just use the Jet Lag Mask and maybe hyaluronic acid for a couple of days and the inflammation subsides. I usually get the travel size because it’s cheaper, but decided to get the full size because it’s still technically travel size and I know I love this product. It also came with a tube key which was unexpected and exciting, so I’ll be able to get every last bit of the product out. 


6. The Inkey List Niacinamide 

Once again, I had planned to get The Ordinary’s niacinamide and zinc serum, but it was sold out, so I took a look at The Inkey List. This is the product that I am most excited to try as niacinamide is a do-it-all kind of ingredient and should help with my hyperpigmentation and texture concerns. This is formulation also has hyaluronic acid in it to help with hydration. 


7. Fresh Rose & Hyaluronic Acid Deep Hydration Moisturizer

This was kind of a random addition to my cart, but I was on a big hydration kick while shopping the sale. I’ve only tried a couple other items from Fresh, but I know the rose line is fairly popular so I thought I’d give it a go with the mini size. I like to keep a face moisturizer with me whenever I’m out and about, so I thought this would be a good candidate. 


8. Farmacy Honey Butter Beeswax Lip Balm

I just wanted to try this product. It reminded me of Burt’s Bees which I used obsessively for over a year, but I started having poor reactions to it eventually. So far, so good with this lip balm.


9. Summer Fridays Overtime Mask

This also came in the Away set. I’ve never tried it, but should be good for a gentle exfoliation. It does have almond oil in it just in case any of you have nut allergies like me; almonds happen to be the only nut I can tolerate, but I will still likely spot test this mask before putting it all over my face. 


10. Drunk Elephant F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial Mask

I just started using this and it is bomb. I had about three dry patches that just were not getting better, but after one use, I saw improvement, and after 3 uses, the patches are nearly gone. Big fan of this for an extra boost of hydration. This also has niacinamide in it and Vitamin F, which helps maintain hydration and improve the strength of your acid mantle. 


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