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“I’m now preparing the majority of my meals myself, eating healthier, saving money, and feeling energized.”

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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Fit & Fabulous 2017: Fitness, Nutrition & Lifestyle Tips For A New You!

Let me be clear and upfront with you: this is not one of those “Lose 10 pounds in a week!” type of blogposts. Oh, and it’s also not about dieting, cleansing, juicing, or any of the latest weight-loss fads. This is about making a few, long-term lifestyle changes so you can slowly but steadily lose 1-3 pounds per week without killing yourself.

Personally, I believe that short-term thinking and the pursuit of quick fixes will only lead to disappointment, and in the end, discouragement. My approach to losing weight and keeping it off is to do it slowly and consistently. These 7 strategies I’m about to share with you, enabled me to lose 40+ pounds of pregnancy weight in less than six months, which is equivalent to about 2 lbs. a week.

I’m wearing Fierce Capris pants & Balance Sports bra from Senita

Are you ready to slim down, get stronger and gain unstoppable energy in the new year? Well, let’s do it then!

MOVE YOUR BODY

1) Walk Yourself Thin – believe it or not, I lost almost all my pregnancy weight simply by walking consistently. The operative word though is CONSISTENTLY. Soon after my baby was born, I started walking with the stroller around a lake in my city between 3-4 times per week. The lake is approximately 3 miles and it usually took me about 45 minutes to complete the loop.

If walking is not your thing, not to worry! Simply replace walking with your favorite form of exercise – light jogging, boot camp, Pilates, or even salsa dancing. The key is to do something that you truly enjoy so it becomes part of your lifestyle. For most of us, it’s already a challenge to fit exercise into our daily schedule, so make it easy on yourself by doing something that your body loves. I think that the “best exercise” is the one you’ll enjoy and keep doing. 

In addition to being an effective workout, consider this about walking:

Walking is safer. It doesn’t require athletic skills and it’s easier on your joints. And you can do it at your time and pace.

Walking is free! A good pair of shoes is all you really need = no special equipment or gym memberships necessary. You can do it in nature or outside around your neighborhood.

Walking is therapeutic. Research also shows that walking just 30 minutes a day boosts mood faster than antidepressants!!

2) Upgrade Your Fitness Gear – When you look good, you feel good, right? And when you own clothes that you love to wear, you’re more likely to find excuses to wear them, right? Well, it’s no different with fitness! Personally, having stylish workout clothes reinforces my identity as an exerciser. Wearing flattering and fun clothes increases your confidence, motivating you step get out and move more. 

And Senita Fitness Apparel is one of my favorite brands for looking good on the move. Senita is not only a small business that’s run by two moms, which I love. But it’s also the only brand that has figured out how to make athletic wear both stylish and comfortable at a price I can afford. Their clothes are made for movement but I pretty much live in them these days – even wear mine when meeting friends for brunch! My favorite combo right now are the Criss Cross Tights and the Balance Sports Bra

FEED YOUR BODY

3) Kick The Sugar Fixsugar is the biggest hindrance to weight loss. I repeat, the most important thing you can do if you want to lose weight is to significantly reduce your sugar intake. If you do just one thing, cut out sugar from your life!! You won’t be missing much because sugar is nothing but an empty calorie with zero nutritional value.

The trouble with sugar is that it’s literally hidden in everything (cakes, cookies, bagels, cereal, soda, energy drinks and fruit juices). It’s even in foods you would not expect to find it (salad dressings, spaghetti sauce, “health” bars, soups, sports drinks like Gatorade, yogurt, you name it). So you must always read labels – you can’t let your guard down at the supermarket! Just keep in mind that sugar goes by 50+ names so educate yourself on this. Oh, and organic sugar is still sugar.

Since completely eliminating all sugar is unimaginable for most us, the key is to cut out the man-made sugars and instead, get your sweetness from naturally occurring sources such as whole fruits and organic raw honey, in moderation. Reducing sugar cravings and eliminating it from your diet might be challenging but not impossible. You can in fact give up refined sugar and still enjoy a sweet life 🙂

4) Ditch The Junkyou can’t out-exercise a crappy diet. You can’t just eat what you want and then exercise like crazy. Trust me, it doesn’t work.

This is where my 90%-rule comes in: the idea is that you stick to “clean” foods – ingredients that are free of preservatives, chemicals and additives 90% of the time. These include fresh organic veggies, lean protein like wild Alaska salmon, whole grains and seeds like quinoa and high-quality fats like extra virgin olive oil. And the other 10% of the time, you give yourself permission to indulge without feeling guilty! For instance, my guilty pleasure is eating out so I generally eat clean 6 days a week and reserve one day a week to splurge, which usually means meeting friends out for a drink or brunch on the weekend. 

To help you minimize processed foods (anything that has a label) from your diet, follow my top clean-eating tips: 

  • Prepare your own meals as much as possible. This is the only way to really know what goes into your food. This is because restaurant food is often loaded with sugar, salt and unhealthy fats. To make cooking more fun, experiment with easy new recipes every week and invite friends over. An added bonus? You save lots of money!!
  • Some general rules about packaged food: If it claims to be fat-free or low-fat run the other way. These foods usually contain high quantities of sugar to compensate for lack of flavor and fat. Also, if an item has more than five ingredients, you can’t pronounce any of the ingredients, or the first item on the ingredient list is either some form of sugar or white flour, don’t put that food in your shopping basket.

5) Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!want a glowing complexion, less cellulite, better digestion, and unstoppable energy? Well, drinking water throughout the day is your answer! I could literally write an entire book about the endless reasons you should drink water. But I’ll instead highlight a few of the benefits:

  • Water is the perfect slim-down beverage because it is a natural appetite suppressant. Often times, dehydration is the reason you feel hungry, moody, and why you crave sugar. Before you grab that sweet snack, have a glass of water and wait a few minutes to see what happens. Plus, it has zero calories, it’s sugar-free, carb-free, and sodium-free. Need I say more?
  • Water is the ultimate body detox. I repeat, NOTHING supports the body’s cleansing and elimination ability like Water! Your kidneys and liver will thank you for it. You don’t need some trendy juice cleanse to flush toxins and chemicals out of your system; most of those packaged juices are loaded with sugar and waaay overpriced anyway. 
  • Water has a natural anti-aging & youthful effect. Dry, itchy skin, acne, and wrinkles are often the result of dehydration. But you don’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars on fancy creams and facials; drinking water is the best anti- aging skin care solution money can’t buy. 

NOURISH YOUR SOUL – Lifestyle tips

6) Sleep Yourself Skinny –  lack of sleep tends to slow down your metabolism and raise your level of cortisol, the stress hormone that increases cravings for high-carb and sugary foods. People who lack adequate sleep also produce more of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates your appetite, and less of the hormone leptin, which sends a signal to your brain when you’re feeling full. Basically, more ghrelin plus less leptin results in weight gain. Here are some tips to help you get quality sleep each night:

  • Unplug electronics. An hour before bed, avoid watching TV or surfing the internet. Turn your Smartphone off, or leave it in another room, so it’s not accessible when you get the late-night urge. Instead, invest in an actual alarm clock (remember those things?). And resist the temptation to bring your laptop into bed with you.
  • Avoid afternoon caffeine. This includes coffee, black tea, soda, and energy drinks. The stimulating effects of caffeine takes hours to wear off. Stick to herbal tea or decaf coffee after lunch. 
  • Keep dinner light. Don’t go to sleep hungry, but don’t stuff yourself either. And avoid heavy sugary foods 2-3 hours before bedtime.

7) Un-clutter Your Lifebelieve it or not, there’s a connection between ridding your life of clutter – both physical and emotional – and shedding unwanted pounds. Put simply, releasing unnecessary stuff frees you to release unnecessary weight.

In the same way that people shop and collect stuff to self-medicate negative feelings, loneliness, and boredom, some people also hold on to layers of weight as a protection against emotional pain and trauma. If you’re trying to lose weight, the obvious thing to do would be to eat clean and exercise regularly. But de-cluttering your home and donating unwanted stuff and organizing your life make huge difference too. 

Here are some tips to help you start uncluttering your life:

  • Pamper yourself. Do you turn to food when you’re feeling stressed out or whenever uncomfortable or painful emotional feelings creep in? How about you replace that with a therapeutic massage, fresh flowers, or a mani/pedi?
  • Simplify! Get rid of something that no longer serves you – a bad habit, a toxic relationship, or a job you hate. And don’t keep anything in your home you don’t find to be absolutely beautiful or useful. 
  • Say NO. And get comfortable saying it more often. Don’t over-schedule and clutter your life out of fear and guilt. Life is too short. 

Ultimately, the new you begins with self-love. So you should want to slim down and get fit because you love your body and what it’s capable of doing, not because you loath it. When we love ourselves, we see ourselves as worthy of the very best, and that translates into making food and lifestyle choices that nourish us. 

Happy New Year babes!! 

Xo, Tigisti

Photos by: Laydee Kaye Photography 

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

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WORDS TO LIVE BY: 5 Life Principles I’m Teaching My Daughter

I was raised by the strongest and most wise woman I know. I might be a bit biased but I honestly don’t think so. As long as I can remember, my mother has had a way with words. She naturally weaves in old sayings and quotes in her conversations and knows a thousand metaphors and proverbs for expressing complex thoughts and feelings. She’s also a captivating story teller.

I didn’t quite inherit her poetic language but I’ve inherited her use of wise words as guiding principles. For instance, something I heard my mother say a lot growing up is an educated woman is a free woman”. Having gotten arrange married at 14, she never received formal education so instilling the value of education in her kids became her core principle. She rightfully equated education with freedom. 

Now that I’m a mom myself, I’ve been thinking about what life principles and values I’d like to pass on to my own kids. My daughter is only three years old right now but I don’t think you can ever start too early. I figured if I’m clear on what values I want to instill in my kids, then I can start communicating them creatively through quotes, metaphors and stories. 

So when I came across The Book of Everyone, a company that creates personalized books full of wise words, funny quotes and other ponderings, I knew immediately that I wanted to one for Bella. What makes these books engaging is that the collection of content within each book is thought-provoking, humorous and bursting with useful advice all at the same time. Plus, the illustration and colorful design is full of creativity. 

I ended up getting the “The Book of Wise Words”, which took just a little over a week to create and have it sent. And I even had the option to preview it before ordering which was really cool. When Bella noticed her name on the cover and through out the book, her face lit up and couldn’t stop smiling.  Needless to say, it’s become a favorite bedtime storybook ever since. 

And as for the life principles I’d like to pass on to Bella, here are the five I’ve come up with so far. I’m sure that as time goes by, I’ll add more to this list and maybe even tweak these a bit, but these will always remain the core. Fun fact: #4 and #5 are also in Bella’s “The Book of Wise Words” personalized book! 

1) The best things in life are experiences, not possessions – so spend your time and money on seeing the world and building relationships. Those things will never lose value 

2) There will be people who will dislike you because you do not dislike yourself – and that’s okay, because that says more about them than about you. You are the only person who must be okay with who you are. Never negotiate your self-worth. 

3) Little girls with dreams become women with vision – being cute and sweet is nice but confidence and ambition are nicer. Remember that pretty girls can do hard things. 

4) A flower does not compete, with the flower next to it, it just blooms you’re a beautiful, wild, rare flower. No one is YOU and that is YOUR power.

5) Be more Pineapple: stand tall, wear your crown, and be sweet on the inside well because you’re a queen my darling. 

How about you? What values and life principles do you want to pass on to the next generation? 

 

Photos by: Urban Shutter Bug Photography

* Post sponsored by The Book of Everyone. Thank you for supporting the brands that enable Bella Diva Lifestyle to stay in business. 

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2016

Happy weekend friends! I hope you’re enjoying a warm and drama-free holiday season. This year Bella is old enough to know about holidays (she turns three and half on Christmas Eve) so it’s been wonderful to experience the magic of the season through her eyes. I now see why they say that Christmas is for kids 🙂

Okay, let’s get down to what you’re really here for: shopping!! This year, I’m taking a minimalist, quality-over-quantiy approach to holiday shopping so my gift recommendations also reflect that.  Below are few of my favorite items for HER, HIM and few baby/kid gifts I’ve gotten for our daughter and extended family.

Ready? Get into your comfy PJs, grab yourself a cup of hot chocolate and let’s get shopping!

FOR THE LADY

1) Personalized Book – Are you really surprised that the first on my list is a book? Except this is not just any book! You customize the book based on the occasion and the person’s name. You can choose from different themes, including Christmas edition, birthday, book of mom, romantic edition, etc. They’re fast to make and you’ve the option to preview it before ordering. I got mine made and sent within a week!

2) Senita Fitness Apparel. This is my favorite fitness brand at the moment because it’s the only brand that has figured out how to make athletic wear both stylish and comfortable at a price I can afford. Their clothing is made for movement but I pretty much live in them these days. My favorite bottom is the Criss Cross Tights and I love the Balance Sports Bra. Order by 12/15 for guaranteed Christmas delivery (US only). Free shipping on orders over $50 in the US! 

3) 2017 Passion Planner The perfect way to get and stay organized on 2017. Included inside is Passion RoadMap – an exercise that helps you define, and create actions for your goals in 3 months, 1 year, 3 years. Plus it’s esthetically beautiful, with soft and durable -faux-leather cover, animal and vegan friendly! It’s currently 15% off.

4) J.Crew Belted Trench Coat all of you who have known me KNOW I love me J.Crew’s colorful coats! I’ve their coats in almost all colors and I still can’t get enough. What can I say, I’ve a weakness for timeless, elegant coats!! Get up to 40% off with code PRESENTS.

5) Hunter Classic Rain Boots these are one of my favorite winter shoes because they’re both perfect for the cold/rainy days and stylish to boot. I’ve had mine (I’m wearing them in the above picture) for 3 years and I still get excited about wearing them this time each year. 

FOR THE KID/TODDLER

1) Personalized Book – You customize the book based on the occasion and the person’s name. You can choose from different themes, including Christmas, collection of wide words, birthday, etc. I got Bella The Book of Wise Words and we’ve been reading it every night at bedtime. They’re fast to make and you’ve the option to preview it before ordering. I got Bella’s book made and sent within a week!

2) Osmo Genius Kit – Award-winning hands-on game system designed to foster creativity & problem solving skills in kids of all ages. We first started with the Osmo Coding set then ended up getting the entire collection. I’m still not 100% comfortable letting Bella have too much screen time but she’s currently playing these games twice a week, for about 20-30 minutes. 

3) Wool Coat with Rosettes I got this Jessica Simpson coat for Bella’s holiday photo shoot few weeks ago and she’s been wearing it everywhere ever since. It’s cozy, very stylish and goes with both dressy and casual outfits. It comes in gray and red, and we’ve both! 

FOR THE GENTLEMAN 

1) AmazFit Fitness & Sleep TrackerI wrote all about why this is a must have on this blogpost. I got my husband the EQUATOR and he loved it. To enjoy 40% off all Amazfit purchases, use promo code MYAMAZFIT  at checkout. 

2) Mini Barset Collection – You need the right tools to make a great cocktail. This Martha Stewart barware collection includes everything your guy will need to create everything from classic old-fashioneds to newfangled martinis.

3) Men’s Long Hooded Overcoat – I love seeing men in stylish and cozy outwear, one of the many reasons I love autumn/winter more than the other seasons! This classic single breast button front coat is elegant and comes in few different colors. 

I hope this has given you some ideas! I’ll be adding more gift ideas here and on Instagram this month so please keep checking! 

Xo, Tigisti

 

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5 GIFTS TO GIVE YOURSELF THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

It’s that time of year again – when the trees shed their golden leaves and the morning air turns frosty, loved ones gather from far and near, and the focus is on giving to others. The holidays are indeed wonderful and the spirit of the season is contagious! But for many of us, it’s also a stressful time of year. With to-do lists extending a mile long – goodies to bake, presents to buy, parties to attend…our own needs and wants are often pushed to the back burner.

I’m wearing Classic Black Cornwall watch from Daniel Wellington

But being depleted of your energy and spirit serves no one. It may seem like a tall order, but prioritizing your own needs will enable you to manage the chaos that accompany the holiday season with calm, grace and joy—and in turn you’ll spread that happiness with everyone around you. ‘Tis’ the season of giving, how about putting yourself at the top of the list by giving yourself these five gifts?

THE GIFT OF ME TIME”

As a mom and busy entrepreneur, my days are jam-packed from dawn to bed time. The only way I’ve been able to maintain my sanity has been to block “me time” on my calendar just like any other important activity. With the holiday madness, this ritual has become even critical for recharging my batteries.

Sure, the holidays are about spending time together. But what good is it if you’re cranky and unpleasant to be around? I’m not talking about disappearing all weekend or even spending hours pampering yourself, although that would be nice too. I’m talking about taking an hour of your day to do the things that helps you get centered – like going for a long walk, reading a great novel, etc. Don’t have time to soak in the tub for an hour? How about 20 minutes of power nap? Whatever it is, give time to what you enjoy.

The GIFT OF NO-OBLIGATION

Are you saying “yes” to requests and invitations when you really feel like saying “no thanks”? This season, make your holiday activities about quality rather than quantity. How do you decide which things to take on and which things to say no to? It’s really simple – if you find yourself asking “Why am I doing this?” or the thought of doing the activity feels like a chore, it’s a pretty good indication that you’re doing it out of pressure, fear or guilt.

Time is your most precious possession and you should spend it on the things and people that truly matter to you. By saying yes selectively, not only will you save yourself feelings of overwhelm and resentment, but you’ll also enjoy the true meaning of the season. And remember, NO is a complete answer.

THE GIFT OF SIMPLICITY

Did you know that clearing physical and emotional clutter tends to free up energy? Put simply, releasing unnecessary stuff frees you to release unnecessary stress and anxiety.

This holiday season, instead of going shopping and collecting more stuff, I challenge you to get rid of something that no longer serves you – a bad habit or a toxic relationship. And don’t keep anything in your home you don’t find to be absolutely beautiful or useful.

THE GIFT OF FORGIVENESS

Unsurprisingly, forgiveness is linked to better health, reduced anxiety, and increased confidence. This year, if you came short of reaching your goals or something happened that you’re not proud of, forgive yourself utterly and completely. Realize that life doesn’t come with instructions and everything that’s happened, including the “mistakes” have made you who you are today.

By the way, forgiveness is not about being complacent. Nor is it about suppressing or denying the wrongs that were done unto you by others. It’s about giving yourself permission to release destructive emotions so that the offense no longer takes up space in your heart.

The Gift OF CLARITY

Do you know what you want in the next year? What will you accomplish? What do you want to change and in what aspects of your life?  Create a clear vision of what you want in 2017. Then visualize it throughout this holiday season. One of my favorite ways of welcoming a brand new year is by creating a vision board consisting of images and words that represent the things I want. Why don’t you give it a shot?

What else would you add to this list?

To enjoy 15% off all Daniel Wellington purchases, use promo code BELLADIVA  at checkout

Photos by: Laydee Kaye Photography & Urban Shutter Bug Photography 

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

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Spirit of Gratitude

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Happy Thanksgiving lovelies!!! Don’t you just love this time of year? This season is beautiful for so many reasons – from fall fashion, the gathering of loved ones to the spirit of giving that spreads everywhere.

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This year I’m especially grateful for some very personal struggles I’ve had to overcome because the experience both humbled me and forced me to reevaluate my spirituality. It’s also brought out the qualities I love most about myself – resourcefulness, strength and resilience. (Please be patient with me as I’ll be sharing it with you once I’m ready to talk about it).

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On the business front, I’m also thankful for how much Bella Diva Lifestyle has evolved in the last year. This time last year, I had just joined Instagram and had only about 500 followers, most of whom were friends and family. Fast forward to today, our audience has grown to over 11K and growing fast. In hindsight I don’t know why I resisted joining Instagram for so long because it’s become my favorite outlet for expressing creativity and reaching my potential clients. I’ve had so much fun connecting with so many of you, collaborating with brands and like-minded bloggers. Over the last few months alone, Bella Diva Lifestyle has worked with seven established brands and many more in the pipeline for the holiday season and beyond.

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Ultimately though, I’m most grateful to you dear reader. Because without you, Bella Diva Lifestyle would not exist, and I mean that. This space exists solely for you and because of you. And I’ll never take it for granted.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking time to read every blogpost, for leaving comments, questions and likes here, as well as on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Please know that i read every single one of your notes, even if I don’t always respond immediately. I appreciate you. I value you. I love you. You are part of what makes my everyday beautiful and I’m eternally grateful for your constant presence. Thank you for joining me on this journey of self-confidence, motherhood and healthy living!

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Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my top holiday gift ideas here and on Instagram, so I hope you’ll check back in regularly. But before you get into the spending mode of the holidays season, I hope that you’ll take a moment to give thanks for the blessings in your life. With all the pain and uncertainty our country is experiencing right now, it’s important more than ever, to cherish our loved ones and extend love and compassion to those who are hurting.

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Happy Holidays once again!

xx, Tigisti

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How I Stay Fit & Fabulous As a Working Mom

To say that my life has dramatically changed in the last few years would be an understatement. In just four short years, I went from being Miss highly independent-fitness junkie-graduate student to a more settled and busy life as a wife, mommy and entrepreneur. 

My definition of fitness and how I achieve it has also evolved. There was a time that if I didn’t run 7 miles every morning or spend 2 hours at the gym pushing myself to exhaustion, it didn’t count. I was an all or nothing kinda of girl. I was mostly motivated by the adrenaline rush of hardcore workouts and how my flat ab looked in my cloths. Not anymore. The grown up and busy mompreneur me knows that fitness is more than just exercise – it’s getting quality sleep, t’s eating nutritious food and it’s more than just looking good in your skinny jeans – it’s being holistically healthy, strong and confident. 

 

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fullsizerender_5Use Promo code MYAMAZFIT to get 40% off all AmazFit products

As a working mom of a toddler, I’ve also realized that exercise is movement in all it’s forms. I don’t have time to spend two hours at the gym every day but I incorporate movement in my daily life more than ever before. I schedule my toddler’s play dates outdoors so I can play and run with her instead of watching TV. I go for long walk with friends instead of meeting at the coffee shop. I also try to do as much of my errands on foot, take stairs and go on hikes for dates with my hubby.

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I also realize that exercise is cumulative. Every little effort I make to move my body – even 5-10 minutes at a time counts, because few minutes here and there add up to big result over time. So I no longer say “what’s the point if I’m not gonna sweat and hurt after a workout”. My goal now is to maintain a more balanced and holistic lifestyle.

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Between working full time, blogging, and managing family life, keeping up with my fitness goals hasn’t been easy. So for the past six weeks, I’ve been relying on my Amazfit to hold me accountable by tracking my daily steps, calories burned and how much quality sleep I’m actually getting. And can I just say how much in love I’m with this sleek and stylish device? There’s nothing more exciting than discovering products where form meets function! I’ve had other fitness trackers in the past, but they honestly weren’t smart enough or aesthetically pleasing.

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I love everything about my Amazfit tracker – the minimalist design making it the lightest and most comfortable tracker, the water resistance ceramic core tracker that allows me wear it while showering or washing dishes, the fact that a single charge lasts almost 10 days…I could really go on an on. Who knew that tracking your daily activity can be simple, straightforward and stylish all at the same time? Most of the time I don’t even realize I’ve it on until someone compliments me on it. And i love that I don’t have to sacrifice my personal style to stay fit and healthy. Rather, my beautiful piece of jewelry has elevated my style and fitness game.

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What your biggest challenge when it comes to staying fit? How do you stay on track with your fitness & lifestyle goals? 

 

To enjoy 40% off all Amazfit purchases, use promo code MYAMAZFIT  at checkout

Photos by: Urban Shutter Bug Photography, Amazfit tracker I’m wearing: Moonbeam

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

 

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