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SUMMER VIBES WITH OLD NAVY

My Dress: V-Neck Cutout-Back Shift Dress

Bella’s Dress: Drop-Waist Cami Dress

My shoes: Lace-Up Sandals

Bella’s shoes: Sueded Fringe T-Strap Sandals

Happy summer everyone! Summer is my daughter’s favorite season, and her birthday is only few days after the first day of summer so we always mark the beginning of summer in a special way. Last year, we bought matching swim suits and spent all day at the beach – picnicking and swimming till the sun went down. And this year, we continued the tradition of matching our outfits and kicking off the first day of summer in a memorable way.

To find our matching summer outfits, I turned to Old Navy as I’ve done for few summers now. Why? Because they honestly have the biggest, brightest and most affordable summer styles of any brand I know. Each month they come up with a new, themed collection for everyone in the family, including maternity line I might add! For instance, their May collection was Havana inspired and I ended up getting a beautiful orange maternity dress for myself. And June is Ivory Coast inspired as you can see in these pictures. I can’t wait to find out what the inspiration is for July and August. 

The fun part was that our dresses arrived on the very first day of summer! So put them on and immediately took a stroll to our neighborhood fruit stand. We bought cherries and strawberries and had us a little impromptu picnic at the park near our house. After we had our fill of fresh berries, we wanted to keep the summer vibes going so drove to our local outdoor swimming pool and enrolled Bella for summer swimming classes. And of course she was beyond excited because swimming is her favorite activity. She’s already taking swim lessons once week but now she’ll be swimming four more extra days per week until summer is over 🙂 

To end the first day of summer on a yummy note, we went to our city’s water front and bought ourselves the biggest coned ice cream. We strolled around the marina enjoying our delicious treats until our dinner appetite was thoroughly ruined. And everywhere we went, we kept getting so many compliments on our matching dresses. Now, that’s how you welcome summer! 🙂

What’s your favorite summer tradition? We would love for you to share!

Xo,

Tigisti

This post is sponsored by Old Navy. Thank you for supporting the brands that enable Bella Diva Lifestyle to stay in business. 

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24 weeks: Bump Update with Old Navy

Old Navy, Maternity Twist-Front Bodycon 

I can’t believe I made it to 24 weeks without any bump updates! But you guys, it’s honestly been rough few months. The first trimester was extra rough with nonstop nausea, insomnia, and basically throwing up day and night. I tried couple different “safe” nausea meds but none helped 🙁 During those days I was barely functional so I ended up cutting back on work and just tried to getting thorough my days. I barely left the house, and never mind putting myself together and worrying about how looked.

When second trimester rolled around, I could finally take doctor approved, over the counter sleeping meds so at least I could sleep for few hours each night. But surprisingly, the nausea didn’t go away like everyone told me it would. Which is a bummer because nausea is seriously the worst thing ever. The only thing that helped a little was my daily long walks around the lake, so at least I’d that to look forward to. That, and getting bi-weekly prenatal messages made the nausea somewhat bearable.

But about a month ago, I started to feel a little more better. I still sleep no more than 4 hours each night, but I’ve had a bit more energy to get work done and take care of myself again. And the first thing I did was shop for maternity clothing! For a while I could still fit into my regular cloths, but one week everything changed. Suddenly, the tummy was out and everything I own felt three sizes smaller. I’d kept couple dresses from my first pregnancy, but I wanted new things too, so this Old Navy, Maternity Twist-Front Bodycon dress was my first investment. Isn’t so bright and cheery!? It’s it so soft, stylish and I’ve been wearing it everywhere lately. And it honestly doesn’t take much to dress it up so it’s been easy way for me to look put together.

Beyond shopping for cute cloths for myself, I haven’t done much else. Putting the nursery together is still on my to-do list, but I least I’ve picked the baby’s room in our new house! Since we’re not gonna find out the baby’s gender, I’ve also donated most of the girlie baby items I received from Bella’s baby shower and only kept the gender neutral colors for the 2nd baby. Old Navy has amazing selection of baby clothes, so hopefully I’lll have some to share with you on the next bump update! 

Other than that, we’re just beyond excited and anxious about what we’re having. Sometimes I just want to find out if it’s a boy or girl, but I think the surprise will be worth the wait 🙂  Even more excited is Bella, who’s going to make the best big sister. Every single day she kisses my belly and asks to go to the hospital to bring the baby home and it’s the most adorable thing.

Xo,

Tigisti

This post is sponsored by Old Navy. Thank you for supporting the brands that enable Bella Diva Lifestyle to stay in business. 

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HOW I GOT STARTED AS AN INFLUENCER & BLOGGER

The Accidental Blogger 

I actually never set out to become a blogger or influencer. I’m first and foremost a Confidence & Wellness Coach and Speaker. I started Bella Diva Lifestyle in the fall of 2014 with the intention of supporting busy working women build their confidence, pursue their life dreams and take care of their health. As my coaching business started expanding and growing however, I didn’t have the capacity to coach everyone or respond to everyone’s request for advice. So I decided to launch a blog to address the various topics my audience were interested in. For two years I incorporated occasional blogging into my coaching. Although I was busy and didn’t always have time to write blogs, I enjoyed writing and the feedback I received from my followers.

My Intro to Collectively 

This past fall, a blogger friend asked why I wasn’t monetizing my blogposts. It was an eye opening question because honestly, I hadn’t thought about it and I didn’t know I could. She explained that there are agencies dedicated to helping bloggers and influencers earn income from their content. And since I was already a great and engaging blogger, I might as well work with some of my favorite brands and make some money from time to time. She told me that a great agency that helps you connect with top notch brands was Collectively, and that I should reach out to them. With that single conversation, a new world was opened up to me. 

In November 2016 I contacted  Collectively, which is a San Francisco based influencer marketing agency that connects brands with the most creative voices on social media. And two weeks later, I had my first sponsored collaboration with a fitness apparel brand whose products I loved. Although I consider myself an accidental blogger and relatively new to the game, I’ve learned so much about building a quality brand and what it takes to attract and work with quality influencer agencies like Collectively.

My Collectively Journey 

Since starting with Collectively six months ago, I’ve had incredible opportunities to collaborate with some amazing brands, including Mint, AmazeFit and soon Old Navy. To be quite honest, it’s been a huge learning curve for me given that I didn’t even know this space existed until I stumbled on it. But it’s also been rewarding both financially and professionally. And Collectively has made it so much more easier than it would’ve been, offering amazing human support through their dedicated reps, straightforward guidelines and amazing ability to match influencers with the right brands. 

Working with Collectively has enabled me to establish myself as a credible content creator and influencer, not merely another “blogger”. Through Collectively, I’ve partnered with established and highly respected brands, been sought for my ability to authentically tell a brand’s story and influence my audience to take a particular action. And most importantly, Collectively has empowered me to run my blog like a business  and generate income from it, which in turn has provided me the means to incorporate other professionals in my content creation, from photographers to web designers. Even though I’m only six month onto my influencer gig, I already feel like i’ve come a long way in my growth. And I can’t wait to see what the next six months has in store for Bella Diva Lifestyle!

Connect with Collectively

If you’re a blogger or influencer looking to take your game to the next level, getting plugged with Collectively is a must! And it doesn’t hurt you’ll elevate your brand and earn income along the way 🙂 

One of the many reasons I love the Collectively community is that the agency is driven by creativity and authenticity of it’s influencers. Their unique approach to branded partnerships empowers you to really stay true to yourself and partner you with brands that reflect your unique style and taste. Personally, I’m grateful for the many doors they’ve opened for me and I’m honored to be part of such an incredible team. Partnering with Collectively has not only challenged me to establish myself as an influencer but I’ve also had lots of fun working on some fun projects. 

This post was sponsored by Collectively  Thank you for supporting the brands that enable Bella Diva Lifestyle to stay in business!

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5 Pledges I’m Making to Build My Daughter’s Self-esteem

I read a recent survey of mom and daughters in which over 50% of girls worry about their weight and 55% of moms complain about the way they look, often in front of their daughters. This made me realize how powerful the media and social environment is to our girls’ development. But it also made me realize how much more influence I’ve over my daughter as her mother, especially during her formative years. 

For right now, I’m still the most influential woman in her life. And I hope to continue being that for as long as possible. I’m also the one she imitates the most – from the words I use to the makeup I wear to the way I react to things. But I know she’ll one day be exposed to many other influencers in her life, so I’m making conscious effort to build her self-confidence as much I as I can now. Because if I don’t, I know someone else always will. My daughter is only three years old but I honestly believe that you can never start early enough. 

So here we go, I’ve come up with five things I’m focusing on in building my baby girl’s self-esteem early. Things I hope will help her develop a healthy and strong sense of self for the rest of her life.

1. I Will Maintain Strong Boundaries

One thing realize about people (regardless of who they are or how old), they cross our boundaries because we allow me them. While I try to pick my battles and I’m careful my response isn’t “NO” to everything, I think that affirming a healthy boundary is my job. I’ve no intention of being the “good guy” because I recognize that loving her doesn’t mean that I have to let her have her way all the time. Watching me set strong boundaries will teach her to do the same with others and stand up for herself as she gets older.

2. I’ll Treat Myself with Kindness & Respect 

What does this have to do with my daughter? EVERYTHING. As her primary caretaker and role model, my daughter gets her idea of self-love and self-respect from me. Scary but true. So how can I aspire to build her up if i’m not building myself up as well? It’s impossible to love and care for another human being when your own well is dry. When I take care of myself and get my needs need met, I’m more likely to feel worthy and confident. I’m also more likely to feel less mom-guilt, exhausted, and short-tempered.

 I’m also making conscious effort to treat myself as I would my daughter. This means paying attention to that critical voice inside, acknowledging and validating my own feelings, and asking for what I want and deserve. I try to make time for for self-care through daily exercise, eating right, and taking pride in my appearance without being vain.

3. I’ll Focus On Her Capabilities Rather than her Appearance

Of course I plan to remind my daughter that she’s beautiful. But as a girl, she already gets way too much “she’s so cute!” comments from society. I think it’s more important for her self-esteem that I frequently compliment her on her talent, strength and intelligence because these are qualities that will take her far in life. Building my daughter’s self-confidence is deeper than her physical appearance. 

I also want to encourage her to start playing team sport as early as possible. When she turned three years old I enrolled her in soccer but she didn’t like it. And when she turns four this summer we’ll try rhythmic gymnastics or ballet. Because research shows that girls who play team sport develop higher self-esteem since they’re too focused on developing their skills to seek validation from boys.

4. I’ll Encourage her to Love and Honor her Body

If and when I get tempted to criticize my body, I’ll imagine my daughter doing the same about her own body. And that’s all the motivation I need to watch what I say. Not only in front of her, but in the privacy of my own thoughts too. Because what I let dwell in my thoughts about my body will eventually find words. Instead I’ll continuously build myself and love the body I’m in. And when I don’t like something about my body, I’ll find healthy ways to make changes – like exercising, making healthy food choices and stepping up my self-care rituals. 

I’ll not utter words like “dieting” and “fat” in front or behind my daughter. I’ll refrain from complaining about my weight and or how I look. And I’ll not let her complain about hers either. And I’ll try to keep her away from magazines and media outlets that focuses only on women’s looks and bodies. Although my daughter is beautifully made, she’s still more than her looks.

5. I’ll Spend Quality Time with Her 

Girls, and children in general often act out because they need and want attention. One way I’m committing to give my daughter healthy attention is to spend quality one-on-time time with her. When she turn four years old this summer, I want to start a weekly mother-daughter ritual – going on weekly dates without daddy or her new baby brother/sister. Just the two of us. It might be dinner, tea time or simply going on long walks. I haven’t figured it out yet, and it honestly doesn’t matter, as long as she knows it’s a special time focused just on her. 

These are by no means the only ways to build my daughter’s self-esteem. In fact I can think of 10 more ways right now. But these are my starting point. What else would you add to this list? I would love to hear yours!!

Xo, Tigisti

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Guest Blog – Renew Your Body’s Vitality with a Spring Detox

Spring cleaning is simply the best – you pack away clothing items that you no longer need and you clean your apartment top to bottom to welcome this shiny new season properly. With the transition from winter to spring, it is time to do a little spring cleaning and detox your body, and get it in spick and span condition for the upcoming season of sun and fun. So, let jump in and get your health and vitality in order, shall we?

Superfoods for a Super Body

The top foods that should be on your menu this spring are greens, berries and matcha. When it comes to greens, anything from spinach to algae will do. These foods are filled with antioxidants, whose job is to fight free-radicals and detoxify the body, and they have amazing effects on our skin as well. While on the subject of greens, no detox can go without the latest health craze – matcha. Matcha is a finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea, that in terms of its antioxidant and nutritional content holds the equivalent of ten cups of regular green tea, and we all know how well green tea treats our body.

Next on the list are seeds, particularly chia and flax seeds that do wonders for your digestive system; apart from improving your metabolism, these little things are loaded with omega-3 – healthy fatty acids that guarantee full hydration and incredible silkiness of your skin. So, in case you were wondering, no, they are not just a great part of your nutrition, but are also amazing for skincare. With a few helpful tips and recipes, you can start discovering all the superfoods, get in super-shape and feel great in your own body starting today. 

Relax and Unwind 

When it comes to body rejuvenation, it is highly important to make time – steal the time if you must – and pamper yourself. Turn your home into a spa center for one day, surround yourself with scented candles, put on some soothing music and draw a bath. Once you are done relaxing with a great book or just listening to music in your bubbly tub, groom some more. In the spirit of returning to nature, turn to organic cosmetics, natural face masks, natural hand care and body lotions that will do wonders for rejuvenating your tired skin, but without the potentially harmful chemicals.

Matters of the Mind

No detox and revitalization is complete and effective without soothing your mind first. In today’s fast-paced world of deadlines and meetings, stress is something we have become accustomed to and we forget that this is not the natural state of things. Turn to meditation and yoga; if you are a yoga neophyte, Adriene is here with her 30 day yoga challenge. This program is amazing because it teaches you the basics of yoga, positions, the proper way of breathing, and bringing harmony into your body and mind. 

Easy Does It

To reach a full circle of your spring detox, use simple and effective tools like lemon, cucumber, mint and ginger. Make a daily batch of this beverage using a simple recipe, and not only will your body feel refreshed, but you might also lose those pesky extra winter pounds that have been bothering you. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Angela Berry is editor at https://ripped.me/ and  final-year student at the department of Nutrition and dietetics at School of life and Environmental Science in Sydney. Cooking and creating recipes, yoga and traveling are among her passions. In her spare time, she writes blogs and share her knowledge and experience with others.

 

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OUR SPRING BREAK STAYCATION AT CLAREMONT HOTEL & SPA!

41 Tunnel Rd, Berkeley, CA 94705

I’m so excited that I can finally give you a recap of our epic spring break staycation at Claremont Club & Spa! We were initially really bummed that we couldn’t go to a destination resort like Hawaii or Florida for Bella’s spring break because I’ve been struggling with severe morning sickness (Yup, I’m 16 weeks pregnant!). But last minute I came up with the idea of doing a staycation and playing tourists in our own city. And what a fun fun decision it turned out! 

Our staycation was honestly one of the most memorable experiences and it was all because of beautiful Claremont and the amazing hospitality throughout our stay. I called up the hotel and told them what I’d in mind and sure enough, they had a staycation package for families looking for a fun and relaxing way to spend spring break. More about it here, you’ll have to check it out because I know you’ll LOVE it. And below is details of how we spent our four days in paradise!

DAY 1: We arrived in the evening and were greeted with chilled champagne for hubby and I and a tray full of fruits, deserts and assortment of cheeses for the family. Our suite was huge and beautiful, with a breathtaking view of San Francisco Bay. That night, we wined and dined at Claremont’s famed Limewood Bar & Restaurant. We started off with the perfectly grilled and cane sugar-glazed skewered Gulf shrimp, cornmeal churros with jalapeno sauce and lamb tartare with mint and toasted shallots. For entrees, hubby had the roasted red snapper with sweet potato puree, braised leeks, oyster mushrooms and apple-balsamic, which he loved! And I had the warm asparagus salad, with toasted sesame seeds, house cured wild salmon and tahini vinaigrette. And they even had a separate kids menu for Bella!

At this point, we were stuffed but we still made room for dessert. The winner was the Lemon mousse Bombe with winter citrus and grapefruit-Camparisorbet. Oooh la la! Overall, we loved the approachable, seasonal, casual dishes they offered so we would definitely return here for a date night. After dinner, we descended to our suite because we’d a long day planned for the next day. 

DAY 2: we kicked off day two with a huge and yummy breakfast on site at Meritage then went on a beautiful hike with a splendid views across Berkeley and Oakland, and beyond to San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Stonewall Panoramic Trail began right behind our hotel and was only about a mile an half long so we took Bella with us! After our hike, we spent our entire afternoon lounging by the pool. We didn’t even have to leave the pool area for lunch because Bayview Café was right there to serve us light bites and refreshing drinks all day. I spent my time unwinding and reading my magazines then fell asleep for a while. However, hubby and Bella spent the entire afternoon in and out of the three outdoor swimming pools. Bella especially enjoyed running through the sprinklers and making friends with the other kids in the kids’ pools.

Day 3: we decided to sleep in and have a relaxing breakfast in bed! And you guys! Can I just say that Claremont has the art of in-room dinning 110% down!? The service was world class and we were able to choose from a full menu of California-inspired cuisine, all prepared freshly for us. After breakfast, we spent few hours lounging at the pool again because Bella couldn’t wait to get back and play at the sprinklers with her new friends. Then we came back to our room to watch a movie and take a long nap.

After our nap, it was all about mommy and daddy, haha! We dropped off Bella at the Kids Club and we were off Claremont’s world class Spa for couples’ massage. At the desk, were were greeted with deliciously cool refreshments and keys to our lock rooms, where plush robes and slippers awaited. For the next 90 minutes, we let the pressures of life melt away while we drifted off, enjoying a custom massage side by side. I had the Therapeutic Relaxation massage and hubby had the Muscle Recovery Deep Tissue. After our massage, we went our separate ways to enjoy the Hydrotherapy Wellness Experiences, including eucalyptus steam rooms, saline whirlpools, saline deluge waterfall showers and and Swiss Therapy showers. After about another 90 minutes we reconnected at the Relaxation lounge where we enjoyed complimentary teas and juices. This was by far my favorite part of the trip because it gave us the perfect gift of time together. 

Meanwhile at the Kids Club, the kids got their face painted and baked delicious vegan cookies they could take back to their room. When we went to pick Bella up three hours later,  she was having so much fun that she didn’t want to leave! Finally, we got all dressed up and off we went to dinner at nearby Soi Four, one of the best Thai restaurants in Oakland.

Day 4: we slept in again then strolled downstairs around 10am to Meritage, where an epic brunch was waiting for us. And boy was it epic!! I’ve never seen that much choice of food and deserts in one place ever. We were seated by the window where we enjoyed beautiful view of San Francisco Bay, so we took our time and brunched like kings and queens. Bella is normally a picky eater but even she ate until she popped. Around 12pm we checked and headed home!

I would honestly recommend this place to everyone and anyone! Whether you’re mama needing a solo getaway, a family with your littles, or couples romantic trip, this resort accommodates it all. And you don’t need to go far to enjoy a fun-filled spring break! At least not when you’ve a place like Claremont that has everything you need in one place, from heated pools, spa, world class dining to entertaining kids club of all ages. 

Xo, Tigisti

 

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Spring Break in Style

          OshKosh Lace Trim Top & Stripe Sun Shorts 

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of OshKosh B’gosh; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own

One of my favorite seasonal tradition is spring cleaning. And this year I was especially looking forward to the annual purging because we’ve had a long and dreary winter, which meant lots of layering and bundling. So two weeks before spring break, my baby girl and I went through her closet and literally got rid 90% of her winter wardrobe – either donating them to charity or packing them up for her younger cousins. The spring break weather outlook said lots of sunshine so I admit we went a little crazy purging everything that wasn’t light and bright (and maybe a little excuse to go shopping 🙂

Next step was to stock up on spring and summer outfits, which meant lots of stylish and colorful dresses, shorts and tees! And since we we’d planned lots of door activities for spring break, I want her outfits to be light and comfortable too. So once again I turned to one of my favorite kids brands, OshKosh B’gosh because I can always count on OshKosh for stylish and affordable seasonal options. 

                         Tiered Ruffle Strawberry Print Dress 

Since Easter is around the corner, I figured we’d get few dresses and sandals too. The resort where we were going for our spring break staycation had an outdoor Easter egg hunt planned for the kids, so I wanted her to have a cute dress she could wear for the activity. I went on OshKosh’s website and sure enough the first thing I found was the pretties strawberry print ruffle dress. I showed it to Bella and she said “I want that one!”. 

Next, I looked through the activities we’d planned for spring break – mini hikes, lots of time at the pool and fun activities at the resort Kids Club. That meant light shorts and t-shirts, and one or two swimsuits. Swimming is Bella’s favorite activity so I let her pick her swimsuit and she chose the brightest tropical print tankini. Forty five minutes later we’d a complete mini spring wardrobe assembled and we were ready to kick off spring break in style! And might I add that we did it without breaking the bank!? (There’s a coupon code you can use in-store or online at the bottom of this post!).

Once Bella’s stylish wardrobe arrived and we’d her spring break activities lined up, we anxiously waited few days then it was time for our staycation! (look out for a recap of our spring break staycation later this week). 

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If you’re looking for some stylish and fun spring outfits, I highly recommend that you head over to your local OshKosh store or checkout their online store. And be sure to use the code OKBG3270 online or 036602 in-store for 25% off a $40+ purchase.

Happy Spring Break everyone!

Xo, Tigisti

 

 

 

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Prepping Your Body: Getting Pregnant At 35 and Later

The first time I got pregnant it was almost too easy. We came back from our honeymoon, and we casually said to each other, “let’s start trying and see what happens”. I’d completed my MBA right before our wedding and I was in the middle of job interviews. So we weren’t quite ready, but everyone had told us that it takes at least a year to get pregnant. To our surprise, I got pregnant two months post honeymoon. 

Fast forward few years, our experience was completely different. As our daughter’s third birthday was approaching this past spring, we decided to try again. We figured we’d try for couple months and I’d be pregnant. Why not, that’s how it happened the first time. Except it didn’t. For the past several months, we’ve been actively and diligently trying to conceive, but without success. And the only way I can describe it is that it’s been a roller coaster of an experience – humbling, spiritual and at time, emotional

When the new year began few weeks ago, I became more determined than ever. Giving my daughter a sibling became my first priority of 2017. I was ready to do my homework and prepare my body for conception. I realized that I was in my early 30s the first time I got pregnant. Sure I’d always maintained a healthy lifestyle and that might have helped, but I suspect being younger played a role. But I was now almost four years older and so was my husband. As my mom likes to say, I’m not a spring chicken anymore. 

So here are four steps I’m taking to prepare my body for a healthy pregnancy this year. If you’re in the same boat as we are, I advice you to first set up an appointment with you doctor. You’ll need to discuss with her/him your health history, any existing medical condition, medications that you currently are taking and things you may need to do to prevent certain birth defects. You’ll much more comfortable and prepared once your doctor gives you the green light! 

1) CLEAN UP YOUR DIET

 What would you be eating and drinking if you knew you were pregnant now? And what would you be avoiding? My guess is that you’d avoid and minimize the usual suspects: alcohol, smoking, drugs, too much caffein, raw meat, etc. I’d also encourage you to eat organic food whenever you can, especially when it comes to meat and dairy. And of course it goes without saying that your diet should consist of mostly fresh veggies and fruits. You’ll soon be eating healthier than you’re now so might as well let your body have a head start. 

2) TAKE YOUR PRENATAL VEES

In an ideal world, I’d get all my nutrients from whole foods. And I do try to eat mostly plant based, organic foods. But I also know that our food system is compromised. Unless you’re growing your own food (which I’m not), chances are much of the food we eat is devoid of nutrients due herbicides, pesticides and poor soil quality. Which is why this time around I decided to take prenatal vitamins to supplement the food I eat. 

My doctor suggested I starting taking prenatal vitamins once I get pregnant. However, upon doing my own research, I found a line of prenatal vees that I can take at every stage of my pregnancy journey – pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy and post-pregnancy. The family owned company that produce the line is Prenatal Ease. As of earlier this month, I started taking Preconception, a comprehensive multivitamin specially formulated for women trying to conceive. It has the full suite of vitamin B complexes and other essential components to help support and enhance optimal fertility. In addition to Preconception, I’m also taking Omega-3 DHA, which provides all the recommended Omega 3 fatty acids but without the risk of contaminants. DHA is essential to fetal growth and development and are particularly important to visual and cognitive development. To learn more about Prenatal Ease vitamins and their other products, check them out here

3) GET & STAY ACTIVE

Prior to my first pregnancy, I was very active and it really helped me maintain my fitness during pregnancy. Once I found out I was pregnancy, I switched from hardcore cardio and weight training to daily walks. I walked outside for about 45 minutes almost daily and did prenatal yoga occasionally. And I plan to do the same this time around. Staying active throughout your pregnancy reduces your risk of complications during pregnancy, getting gestational diabetes, and it makes it so much easier to lose the pregnancy weight after delivery.

4) SCALE BACK ON WORK 

I spent the last three years launching and building a business from scratch (since my daughter was only four months old). It’s been exciting but also a highly stressful journey. And I sometimes question the timing of the launch. I wonder if the stress had something to do with my struggle to conceive these past few months. Chances are yes, and if I had to do it over, I would have waited until after my second baby to start my business. 

If you’re trying to conceive, think carefully before launching big and potentially stressful projects. And if you’re in a position to scale back on work for little while, I recommend it. Granted not everyone is able to do this, you might even be the primary provider for your household. If cutting back on working long and hard is not an option, find other ways to relax your body and mind. Get frequent massages, listening to uplifting music, surround yourself with supportive people, and get plenty of sleep. 

This post is sponsored by Prenatal Ease. Thank you for supporting the brands that enable Bella Diva Lifestyle to stay in business. 

Xo, Tigisti 

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Your 2017 Financial Makeover In 3 Steps

Confession: in 2016, I paid bills late about 50% of the time. I’d always found the responsibility of managing finances tedious and at times overwhelming. For years, I kept a monthly budget on an excel spreadsheet, with the intention of updating it once a week. I even had the bill due dates make on the sheet for reminder. But what usually happened is that I waited until the last possible minute to pay bills and update the budget. Often times after I’d gotten a late fee and sometimes after I’d gotten my “last notice”. I’m embarrassed to admit but it’s true. Can you relate?

The thing is, I knew my system of managing our finances wasn’t working. But I was too stubborn and not motivated enough to abandon my old ways. But that all changed last month when my husband and I decided we wanted to start saving for our dream home in 2017. And it was all the motivation I needed to hit the reset button and get serious about our finances. 

Below are the three action steps I took this month to kick our financial makeover into gear. It’s only been three weeks since I started the challenge but but I’m already seeing results. 

1. I GOT SERIOUS ABOUT TRACKING OUR SPENDING 

There’s no way to be in control of your finances unless you know where your hard-earned money is going. To track your spending, you need a working budget. I had a budget but I rarely looked at it. And when I finally did, I’d already gone over budget, ending with spending deficit. 

So the first thing I did on January 1st was sign up with Mint, the free money management tool that makes it easy to effortlessly stay on top of your money. Mint’s bill tracking and payment tools not only helps me avoid late fees but also enables me to pay my bills in one place. Now, instead of logging into different websites to pay bills (electricity, phone, rent, etc), Mint sends me email reminder when my bills are due and I quickly login into my Mint account to make multiple payments. Three weeks into January, I’m current on my bills and I’ve incurred zero late fees. 

Another favorite Mint feature is how easy it makes it to create and maintain a budget. First, I sinked my Mint account to my bank, credit cards, and various bill websites. Then I created a budget for each spending category. Now Mint does all the work – it tracks my spending by category, shows me where I’m going over budget and where I’m saving money. I never thought I’d say this, but I’ve actually started enjoying managing a budget 🙂

2) I COMMITTED TO CUTTING SPENDING BY 20% 

There are really only two ways to have more money – to earn more of it or spend less of it. Earning more money, whether it’s asking for promotion, growing your business or starting a side gig takes time and patience. But how much you spend is something you’ve control over immediately. So I set a challenge to cut our expenses by 20% and put those savings toward our “Dream Home Fund” 

First, I divided our expenses into fixed costs and variable costs. Obviously, fixed costs are expenses that I can’t avoid, such as rent, utility bills, and loan payments. But variable costs, like groceries, eating out and personal care are expenses that are within my control. So I took on the challenge of reducing our variable costs by 20%. Before January 2017, my total variable costs was $2500, so the goal now is to bring it down to $2,000 a month. 

The variable expenses I found easiest to trim were eating out, groceries and nanny. Did you know that eating out is the biggest expense for Americans besides rent/mortgage and car note? If you eat out more than twice a week, make it a priority this year to cut back and watch your money magically grow. Seriously! 

We decided to limit eating out to once a week and I stepped up my meal planning for the rest the week. Grocery wise, few changes I made include doing a Costco run once a month for bulk items, eating more vegetarian dishes throughout the week and opting out of bottled water in favor of filtered water. And in terms of nanny expenses, I now only use our nanny twice a week instead of three. And on date nights, my in-laws have agreed to watch our daughter, which is huge help. With all these strategies, I’m well positioned to cut our variable expenses by 20%. And once I’ve achieved that, my goal is to increase that challenge to 25%. 

3) I Automated Our Savings 

 In my experience, unless savings are scheduled automatically, they don’t happen. So decided to take the principle of “paying yourself first” seriously. 

On my Mint account, I created a sayings goal of $6,000 by the end of the year. That’s the $500 I’m saving from reducing our variable expenses each month. This is of course in addition to the 20% down payment we’re saving for our future home. 

Each month, $500 is automatically transferred from my checking to my savings account. And since my bank account is tied to my Mint account, each time I login to pay bills or check my budget, I can see how much my savings are growing. Because saving $500 is a huge priority right now, I don’t wait until I’ve money left over from the budget to transfer funds into sayings. I do it first each month then I work with the remaining funds to meet my budget. Trust me, it sounds like a big sacrifice but watching your savings grow is a lot of fun!

What is one finance related goal for 2017? Please leave me a comment below, I would love to hear from you.

Xo, Tigisti

 

Photos by: Laydee Kaye Photography 

* Post sponsored by Intuit Payments Inc. Thank you for supporting the brands that enable Bella Diva Lifestyle to stay in business. 

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New Year, New You: Inspiration & Tips for Healthier & Happier 2017

Happy New Year lovelies! I can’t believe another year is upon us, am I the only one who thinks that time is zipping by at the speed of light? Still, I’m honestly glad 2016 is over and done with because it was a painful year for our country and so many people in my life. Although I stopped doing resolutions years ago (I focus on intentions and concrete plans now), I do love what a new year represents – clean slate, new beginnings and second chances. So I thought I’d dedicate the first blogpost of 2017 to sharing with you few tips and inspirations for making this year healthier, happier and easier. Here we go!

1) CONFIDENCE 

For me, personal and professional growth plays a huge role in my self-confidence. As the saying goes, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. I feel my best when I’m constantly learning, growing and acquiring new skills, no matter how big or small the growth. The quickest way to feel confident about yourself and your life is to adapt an incremental growth mindset – as soon as you learn and master something, don’t stop there. Pause long enough to celebrate your achievement then go to the next level. What is one area you’d like to grow in this year? Here are some ideas: finishing school or going back for your masters. Writing a book. Leaving a dead end job for a new one. Just start, enjoy the process of growing and your confidence will soar.

2) FITNESS

I’ve written about fitness and nutrition here, here and here so check it out. But one thing I’d like to add is that your fitness approach must be holistic. If you’re working out five days a week but continue to eat unclean (food from cans, boxes, drive-thru, restaurants, etc), you’re not going to lose much weight or feel healthy. That’s because most store bought and restaurant foods are loaded with salt, sugar, and bad fats. So yeah, make effort to eat most of your meals at home – you’ll have more control over what you put into your body and you’ll save hundreds of dollars each month. Win-win, right? Here’s a guest blog on meal planning for a busy lifestyle. Not getting decent amount of sleep and dehydration will also make you feel exhausted and irritable, not to mention sabotaging your fitness goals, so drink lots of water and get 6+ hours of sleep.

3) MOTHERHOOD

The last three years into my motherhood journey has taught me so much, and I could write a lot about what I wish I knew before becoming a mother. And one thing I can say is that it’s the most difficult and emotional experience of my life – where I often I feel joy, frustration, love, and exhaustion all at once. I can also say that motherhood is not for everyone and a woman should never be made to feel like it’s what she’s made to do. I chose to be a mother and I will even do it again, but I’ll never impose that on another woman. There are also many other ways to contribute to society and feel fulfilled without procreating 🙂

But should you choose to embark on this journey or you already have, my one solid advice is to get all the help you need, wherever you can get it. And remember that just because you’re a mother doesn’t mean that the person you were prior to motherhood doesn’t still exist. Revive those goals and dreams you had long before you became a mother and nurture them. Maintaining your individuality is good for you and good for you family.

4) FINANCE

Finances are a big part of my family’s focus this year so you’re going to see few blogposts dedicated to this. So stay tuned for detailed tips and strategies for saving money and reducing expenses. But in a nutshell, there are really just two ways to have more money – to earn more of it or spend less of it. And ideally you’d be doing both!

As a starting point, do you maintain a budget? A budget enables you to track your monthly spending so you can see where your hard-earned money is going and where you need to cut costs. A great app and website for tracking your expenses is mint, more on this coming up on subsequent blogposts. You can also utilize plain ol’ excel spreadsheets to track your spending as I’ve for many years. Other things you should do right away is pull your credit report and see what’s in it. And get your FICO score while you’re at it. This is one of the first things I use to make my clients do when I was a business consultant. Once you know what’s in it, you can take the appropriate steps to have mistakes removed, settle debt that went to collection, set goals for raising your FICO score, etc.

Last but not least, did you know that eating out is the biggest expense for Americans besides rent/mortage and car note? If you eat out more than twice a week, make it a priority this year to cut back and watch your money magically grow. Seriously! Here’s a bonus: when you eat more of your meals at home, you’ll also lose weight, feel less fatigued, sleep better and gain so much energy. If cooking isn’t your thing, make it a goal to learn few fun dishes and invite people over for company. That will motivate you to step up your cooking game :)

5) BEAUTY & STYLE 

I’ve summarized my best styling tips here. As for beauty tips, if you’re in your 30s, start taking good care of you skin now – less makeup, lots of water and plenty of sleep is basically all you need for flawless skin. And cut sugar out of life and the list is complete. 

I can’t thank you all enough for taking time to read this and for your continued love and support. It means so much to me!!! Happy and blessed 2017! 

What’s the most important goal or project you’re committed to bring to life this year?

Xo, Tigisti

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