Posts in Lifestyle
How to Detox Your Beauty Routine

[Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no cost to you I will receive a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.]

When’s the last time you thought about what’s in the foundation on your face? Heck, when’s the last time you replaced your eyeshadow palette? Often it’s the products we use the most that we tend to overlook and forget to question because we love these products and the way they make us feel.

We live in a toxic world, from our industrialized food system to mold overgrowth to chemicals in household products. It’s easy to feel like we have no control over what we’re exposed to and in some cases that’s true. However, we do have control over the products we buy and what we choose to put in and on our body by making safer choices.

There haven’t been any updates to regulations on skincare and makeup since 1938 - take a second and think about what that means. There are little to no laws companies need to abide by when distributing personal care items to the public and there is no approval needed by the FDA. These are products that are applied to your largest organ, your skin. Conventional products can contain chemicals such as phthalates and formaldehyde, which can have serious implications on our health such as disrupting hormones and infertility (Source). The European Union currently bans over 1,400 ingredients in personal care products for these very reasons. Want to know how many the US bans? 30. 

Do you ever read the labels on the personal care products you buy? It’s something we easily can overlook just like a food label. To make things more complicated, ingredients aren’t even required to be on the product bottle requiring more work on your end to discern what is a “good” brand versus a potentially hazardous products. Some brands now use ‘ greenwashing' as the public has demanded better products. Greenwashing is when brands use words like “organic” or “natural” to market their product as safer. The problem with this marketing is that these words are essentially meaningless in the beauty industry. The word organic on a label could just mean that ONE ingredient in the product is organic, never mind the other 30. 


OK YIKES… where do i begin?

It can be extremely overwhelming to overhaul all of your personal care products and even if you want to make the switch throwing out all your current products and replacing them with better options isn’t realistic, not to mention very expensive. Focus on one product at a time, making the best choice you can for your values and budget.  

How do I know what is good vs. greenwashed?

First, take your phone and go to the app store and download the free Environmental Working Group Healthy living app. I love this app because you can type in or scan the barcode of any product and they will give you all the information on what is in that product. It gives you the list of ingredients in the product and breaks down the ratings by allergy, cancer, and developmental concerns. I suggest deciding your level of comfortability with the rating scale of 1-10. For example I like to stay below a ‘3’ with my products. You might pick a 5 and from now on try to make purchases that have ingredients below that 5 rating. 

How do I know what to start with?

Start small by replacing each product as you reach the end of the bottle. It’s wasteful to toss a full bottle of product, so when it comes time to purchase a new one take the time to research a better alternative. This also helps to space out these investments so you can gradually makeover your beauty bag. This is the process I took for overhauling my products and it took me about two years. 

If you are looking to buy products ASAP I have two suggestions. Start with products you use the most or start with products that cover the most surface area. Things like deodorant, cleanser, or hand soap you probably use every day. Since you’ll be using these products more often it’s worth it to invest in quality options. Another way to tackle it is to look at the products that serve as your base layers – moisturizers, body lotion, facial oils, and foundation all cover more of your body than say a dab of concealer. 


but like, i’m on a budget

Girl, I feel you. It can be disheartening to want to make a change but feeling that the options are out of your financial means. Luckily, things in the beautyscape are really changing as consumers demand changes. You can now find cleaner brands in more accessible locations such as Target or health food stores. Just bring your handing Healthy Living app along and scan as you browse.

My favorite strategy is to look for loyalty programs or gift with purchase to get more with your dollar. I love strategizing my purchases to get the most bang for my buck. One program I really loved was Beautycounter’s Band of Beauty membership where you got 15% back in product credit for every purchase you made along with a free gift when you joined. This quickly added up to free full-size products! Credo Beauty often offers free samples and gifts with purchase so you can try before you buy a full-sized bottle. Even Thrive Market has stepped up its game and offers natural beauty brands like Acure and RMS Beauty at affordable prices. 

Truly, these products are an investment. I get it, I’m living on a grad student budget y’all. Think of it this way, when you invest in something of quality you are more likely to take care of and get use out of that purchase. When you purchase a cheap eye shadow or lipstick from the drug store, how often are you back wandering the aisles the next week and tossing another color in your cart because it’s only $3.99? By investing in products that cost more you are less likely to spend money on smaller purchases that add up really quickly and you will likely squeeze out every last drop before purchasing another bottle. You and your health are worth the investment. 


Whew, that was a lot but I hope it helps you to navigate the world of personal care products. Do you have any favorite cleaner beauty brands? 

xo, Mel.png
You've Been Diagnosed with an Autoimmune Disease... now what?

Go ahead, babe. Take a deep breath.

I know you’ve been living in pain and shame, trying to find answers and relief. Maybe you’re still looking for a diagnosis or maybe you just heard those fateful words from your doctor “autoimmune disease.” You’re likely feeling overwhelmed with how you’re going to move on and what the worst case scenario involves. Or anger that you have to shoulder this burden and wondering why it had to happen to you. Or an intense wave of sadness that none of your hopes, dreams, and goals will ever come true and you’re doomed to spend the rest of you life like this. You’re wondering if chronic illness really means like, forever. And maybe a smidge satisfied that you’re finally validated with a diagnosis after years of trying to explain your symptoms.

Whatever you’re feeling, feel it. Don’t try to push it down or muscle through, because these emotions tend to bottle up and can get in the way with your healing process. There’s probably a lot of advice and two-cents being thrown in your direction. There’s a lot to unpack and you should take the time you need to

It’s still extremely painful for me to think back to the time when I was given my autoimmunity diagnoses, Psoriatic Arthritis and Sjogren’s Syndrome. I was in so much pain and deeply unhappy. While it was validating to be given a diagnosis it wasn’t followed up with solutions that sounded like they were going to do much good. The only option the doctor played out for me was a pharmaceutical drug that I would have to take for the rest of the life - that might work in reducing my pain. The scary list of side effects was so overwhelming to me and I knew in my gut there had to be another way.

So I took some time and that’s how I found the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), the healing diet that helped me live a life without pain. From my initial diagnosis to when I changed my diet and adopted a healing lifestyle, I took six months to research and grieve and while my condition did deteriorate I felt that taking that time to get clear on what I wanted from my life was key in me being able to start AIP and never look back. 

I still have my bad days and I tend to flare after periods of high stress (hi finals) or travel, but my life is radically better since focusing my energy on my health. I hope you find some comfort in these lessons I learned through my diagnosis and share your own below so we can all support each other on this journey.

Graduation Day May 2016. I was in so much pain and inflamed. My feet were swollen in my shoes and I felt so uncomfortable in my body. I would be diagnosed two months later.

Graduation Day May 2016. I was in so much pain and inflamed. My feet were swollen in my shoes and I felt so uncomfortable in my body. I would be diagnosed two months later.

Feeling healthy and happy two years later. Inflammation has decreased, pain is minimal, and most days my autoimmune disease is an afterthought.

Feeling healthy and happy two years later. Inflammation has decreased, pain is minimal, and most days my autoimmune disease is an afterthought.



The pain and symptoms you are feeling are real, no question about that. But our minds also play an important role in the way our symptoms manifest. If we believe that we are sick and there’s no chance we are going to get better, even with all the healing magic progress will still be delayed. You know I’m all about feeling your feels and allowing yourself the time to grieve and be angry. In the midst of that, allow yourself to feel hope. Start each day with a positive affirmation “I am healing” or “I trust my body to tell me what it needs.” It’s amazing how shifting your perspective from one of discouragement to optimism can reap physical benefits in the body. 

2017 was the year I started AIP and I called it my “year of healing.” That whole year any time I was making a decision I asked myself “will this bring me closer to health?” and if the answer was no, I put myself first. I said no to social plans, I quit my job, I applied for a masters program to learn more about holistic nutrition - all things that helped restore my health by adopting the mindset of healing.

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I found it really helpful to fully understand my disease and what it meant to have an autoimmune disease in general. I highly recommend consulting books or scholarly articles instead of Dr. Google. Without fully understanding what is happening, it can be really scary and anxiety inducing. Find a doctor that you 100% feel is in your corner and supportive of the path you choose to take to heal. I feel so supported by my doctor so much so that I’ve continued to see her via Skype from Portland after I moved from  North Carolina. Find a doctor that is patient and answers all your questions, who educates you on all the treatment options and allows you to make an informed decision, and who empowers you to take charge of your health. I definitely give credit to the diet recommendations, supplements, and protocols she has had me on to improve my health, but the encouragement my doctor gives me helps me to keep going on this path. You can find a functional medicine practitioner in your area by searching

If your budget allows supportive therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, or counseling this can be a comforting way to receive care in between visits with your doctor or for more immediate pain relief while you’re trying out new protocols. Build yourself a team and remember to always go with your gut.

Some of my best friends who helped me get through the first year of my diagnosis. They kept my spirits up, tried all my AIP baking attempts, let me pick the restaurants we went to, let me cry, put up with my crankiness, and were simply there for me through it all.

Some of my best friends who helped me get through the first year of my diagnosis. They kept my spirits up, tried all my AIP baking attempts, let me pick the restaurants we went to, let me cry, put up with my crankiness, and were simply there for me through it all.


Find your people and lean into them. I felt a lot of shame and embarrassment as a 22 year old being diagnosed with arthritis and the last thing I wanted to do was tell my friends who were all living seemingly normal, fun social lives that I was struggling. But that’s exactly what I needed to do. I found my tribe, the people who were really there for me and understood the best they could what I was going through. Friendships shift and it’s important to include the people in your circle who support healing and want the best for you.

If you feel totally isolated and that no one understands you, look to social media. We live in an age where we are no longer limited by our geographic location to the friends in our lives. I’ve loved being able to connect with people all over the world who are on a healing path with autoimmunity. Some of my favorite hashtags for finding fellow are #autoimmunewarrior, #autoimmunepaleo, and #autoimmunedisease. 



This one is important. Life will be different, but it will still be beautiful. You might need to give up something you love and trust me, I know how hard that can be. Before I was diagnosed, I was a group fitness instructor and it was an identity that I held close to my heart. I was teaching 4-5 times a week high impact, high energy classes and I loved it. With my arthritis, that type of exercise makes me flare and I’ve had to let that part of me go. I was angry about it for a long time but I was able to find yoga which I now also love. Life changes and our obstacles sometimes end up pushing us to find other ways to find joy in our lives - we just have to let them. I now count my autoimmune disease as one of my biggest blessings. It gave me the chance to reevaluate my life. I changed my life from stress, pain, and anxiety to one filled with balance, energy, and contentment. The struggles truly make us stronger my friends, this is only your beginning




The Paleo Approach - Dr. Sarah Ballantyne

Autoimmune Wellness Handbook - Mickey Trescott & Angie Alt

The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook - Mickey Trescott 

He Won’t Know It’s Paleo - Bre-anna Emmitt

The Healing Kitchen - Alaena Haber & Sarah Ballantyne

Nourished - Racheal Bryant


Autoimmune Wellness

Unbound Wellness

Grazed and Enthused

The Paleo Mom

Grass Fed Salsa

You are never ever alone on this journey, love. Hit the comment button below and let me know how you’re doing - have you recently been diagnosed or have any advice for someone who is just beginning their healing journey?

xo, Mel.png
Six Tips for Easy Breezy Mornings

Oh, mornings. You know those annoying chipper people who enjoys waking up at the crack of dawn, the ones who don’t even need a cup of coffee before they dive into soliloquys of deep thoughts and maybe even… workout? If you had told my college self that I would be waking up at 6 am now not to quickly finish a paper to submit but for pleasure I would have laughed while downing my fourth coffee of the morning.

I’m definitely not Miss Sunshine when I first wakeup but there is something so sweet to me about getting up before the rest of the world and having time just for me. I don’t race into my mornings - I savor them and have developed a morning ritual I look forward to each morning. I love sipping a warm mug of matcha while walking my crazy pup around the neighborhood. I read a few pages of an inspiring book and journal while eating my breakfast. I make sure I always have enough time to enjoy my mornings before getting dressed and ready for the work or school day.

My advice is to start small when you’re changing your routines and set the alarm clock fifteen minutes earlier. You can add one new habit at a time and see how you feel for a week with this change. A simplified morning brings a simplified mind. You have the rest of the day to rush and do work, you deserve to start your day with a little peace so you can bring your best self to everything that you do.



I’m always amazed how much of a difference this makes in freeing up precious time in the morning. It’s always the mornings that you need to be on time to an appointment that your dog throws up or your alarm doesn’t go off. Take fifteen minutes at the end of your night to set yourself up for the next day. Packing your lunch ahead of time means you can just grab and go after your alarm sounds and you’re heading out the door. For ideas of meals that travel well, check out my post Simple Lunches for Life on the Go. Give yourself the simple gift of hustle-free morning. The less things you need to do in the morning the less stressed you’ll feel falling asleep and waking up, knowing you have a blissful morning ahead of you.



After a night of fasting, breakfast helps our body refuel for the day ahead. Protein, fat, and fiber make for a delicious and satiating trio. Try an egg scramble loaded with veggies and topped with avocado or a sweet potato, kale, and ground chicken skillet. Bonus points if you can put the phone down and engage in mindful eating, paying attention to the tastes in each bite. 



Are you one of those people that says “I don’t have time to read” and has a shelf of books you’ve promised you’ll get to? I feel you. With so much screen time reading, studying, or working it feels like we’re reading all day and we just want to turn on Netflix and turn the brain off. Reading is an amazing gift because we are able to learn about new cultures, stories, and ideas without ever leaving our couch. You never know what sentence you’ll read that totally changes your concept of the world and speaks to your soul. If ten pages seem too much or too little, just set a fifteen minute timer. Education doesn’t need to stop when you graduate, invest time in your learning.

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I love starting my day with a pen and paper and writing down something I’m grateful for. When you approach the day with a loving heart, it’s a lot easier to have patience and empathy for the people around you that might normally grate on your last nerve. No matter the hardship you are facing there is always something that makes life beautiful and this simple activity helps shift the brain from seeking out the negatives.  



Coffee, tea, warm lemon water, hot chocolate, whatever your thing is I’m sure you reach for it each morning. There’s nothing better than a warm mug to coax you out of bed. I can always tell the difference in a day I had matcha in the morning from the days I didn’t, it’s just not the same. I love adding MCT oil and medicinal mushroom powders for some added brain fuel for my day. For recipes on how to take your morning mug game to the next level check out my FREE resource Healing Mugs for Every Morning.



I wear the same makeup nearly every day, if I wear it at all. I wear my hair in a top knot or leave it down after air drying it. I wear jeans and a nice shirt to school. I do this so my brain doesn’t need to waste time making decisions, leading to less fatigue in the afternoon. When your brain begins to automate tasks it has more endurance for the tasks it’s really needed for. This is my baseline - less time on the excess, more time for nourishing my mind and body.

Those are some of my easy tips for stress free mornings. I’m a firm believer that the tone of your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. Hit the comment button below and tell me, what would you add to this list?

xo, Mel.png