Lifestyle, Health and Beauty Tips for Happy Living

Completely You is your daily resource for fitness, oral care, skin, diet and lifestyle tips and ideas. Your path to happiness and health begins with a daily care routine for your teeth, skin, body and mind.

Survive Wedding Season on a Budget

June -- the season of love, flora and lots of weddings. Many of us spend our summer traveling from wedding to wedding, and this celebration of love and life can get very expensive.

Here’s a few tips on how to survive the wedding season and emerge with your budget intact:

  1. Never feel like you need to wear a new dress to each wedding, especially if they involve different groups of friends. Invest in a great little black dress. Change up your look with different accessories, and each occasion will feel fresh.
  2. There are many alternatives to buying a new dress. Scour the racks at thrift shops for fun finds. Also, renting is super popular these days! Rent the Runway is affordable and has fabulous deals. Or keep it in the family! If your best friend or sister is your size, do a quick swap. But, if buying a new dress is unavoidable, set a strict budget and stick to it! Keep in mind additional costs such as hair, makeup and nails.
  3. Consider gel manicures. If you are going to be headed to engagement parties, rehearsal dinners and weddings every weekend, you might as well have a manicure that will last you for several weeks’ worth of occasions!
  4. Wear sexy but "just sensible enough" shoes. A new pair of stilettos may be tempting, but not only will they cost a pretty penny, they also won’t be broken in, making a night of dancing and chatting around cocktail tables, more painful than it has to be. Opt for your favorite pair of heels, in this case, the more times you’ve worn them, the better! 

  

At-home Spa Secrets

With all that seasonal spreading of cheer and giving of joy, who has the time -- or the bucks -- for a much-needed spa visit? Instead of crafting a missive to Santa, we’ve got three letters for you: DIY. “At-home beauty treatments are fun, frugal, and relaxing,” says Janice Cox, author of Natural Beauty at Home. “You probably have some great ingredients in your kitchen ready to go. All it takes is a little planning,” she says. Now get glowing.

Step No. 1: Set the Spa Stage

  • Reserve your home’s bathroom for a couple of off-peak hours when you can laze uninterrupted.
  • Plan your home spa treatments, select your ingredients and shop for anything you don’t already have. (See below for our favorite recipes.)
  • Invite a beauty buddy or two. “DIY spa treatments create real quality time between you and a friend or family member,” says Cox.

Step No. 2: Balms Away

  • Before your spa buddy arrives, light scented candles and make sure your spa area is warm.
  • Get into the spa mood with herbal tea and relaxing music. Don fluffy robes and slippers or comfy clothes like yoga wear.
  • Go slow with your treatments and enjoy the moment.

Step No. 3: Spa-la-la-la

  • These home spa treatments are easy, effective and all-natural. “Just be sure to do a patch-test first by dabbing on the inside of your elbow,” says Greta Breedlove, author of The Herbal Home Spa.

Janice Cox’s Divine DIY Facial

  1. Remove all makeup and wash your face.
  2. Exfoliate by gently rubbing your face with a paste of ground oatmeal mixed with milk.
  3. Apply a moisturizing, healing mask of good-quality honey -- local is best. Keep on for no more than 10 minutes, before rinsing thoroughly.
  4. With a towel over your head, steam your face over a bowl filled with hot, but not scalding, botanical tea. Chamomile is calming, green tea is healing, rose hips and hibiscus are balancing.
  5. Close pores with a rinse of cool water.
  6. Massage sweet almond oil or your favorite creamy facial moisturizer across your face and neck.

Janice Cox’s Sweet Silkening Body Scrub

  1. Mix 1/4 cup of olive or vegetable oil with 1 cup of granulated sugar. Optional add-ins: aromatherapy or essential oil; vitamin A, C or E oil; dried, pulverized rose petals.
  2. Cover your floor or sit on the edge of your tub.
  3. With your hands, a loofah or a washcloth, massage mixture onto skin. Use circular motions and light pressure to stimulate circulation.
  4. Rinse off in shower.
  5. Apply a generous amount of rich body lotion all over, starting at your toes.

Greta Breedlove’s Peppermint Treat
Holiday candy canes inspired this nourishing hand and foot treatment. “It’s more effective without nail polish on, so it makes a great prelude to a home mani/pedi,” says Breedlove. This recipe is for ten fingers and toes:

  1. Make a paste of 2 tablespoons each of ground almonds, ground oatmeal and honey. Add two egg yolks and 6 drops of peppermint oil. Blend with a whisk.
  2. Slather mixture onto hands and feet.
  3. Cover with clean old socks.
  4. Wear at least 20 minutes before rinsing.

Beat Social Awkwardness

Social nervousness is normal. Walking into a party where we know no one can set the most outgoing of us on edge. According to Dr. Martin Antony, professor of psychology at Ryerson University in Toronto, and author of The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook, more than 80 percent of people describe themselves as shy in certain situations. Luckily, there are ways to push past the discomfort. Here, Antony’s surefire strategies to handle any social setting with grace.

Public Speaking: To erase the jitters, know your material, your audience and rehearse your speech ahead of opening night. But more importantly, take a close look at anxiety-provoking thoughts and extinguish them. Remind yourself that the stakes are not as high as they might feel; you are speaking to a group of equally human people, and feeling a little nervous is perfectly normal. Also, pay attention to your body. Take some slow deep breaths, relax clenched shoulders, stand up straight -- and smile. Being stone-faced can actually increase your level of stress. Finally, says Antony, the key to feeling better in front of a group is exposure. The more you do, the easier it gets. Practice makes perfect (and less cringe-worthy).

Dating: Change your perspective. A date is about seeing if you have enough in common with someone; it’s not a measure of your value as a human being. Also, bring down the intensity of the engagement by keeping first dates low-key and short -- a lunch date or a cup of coffee, instead of a five-course dinner and a night at the opera.

Job Interviews: Ease nerves by preparing properly. Make sure to research the company and know the position of interest. Practice mock interviews with friends or family members who will be willing to role-play and ask difficult questions. Next, understand that some level of nervousness is expected. “When I interview someone who seems overly confident, I wonder if they might make for a difficult co-worker or employee,” says Antony. Finally, be yourself -- it dispels nervousness.

Social Gatherings: Small talk is an art, and knowing how to practice it is key to feeling comfortable at parties and get-togethers. Ask open-ended questions to add richness to a conversation and keep it going. So instead of asking, “Do you like your job?” Say, “Tell me about your job.” Next, look for common interests. If you can’t think of any, ask how the other person knows the host, and share your point of connection. Finally, recognize that all conversations have a natural life span. Often people feel like a failure if they can’t keep the chatter going indefinitely, but that’s unrealistic, says Dr. Antony. When a conversation winds down it’s usually because it has run its course. Don’t feel like you have to engineer an excuse to get away. Tell them it was great to meet them and you hope you’ll have a chance to talk later. Then excuse yourself politely.

Cuisine That’s Lusciously Lean

I’ve been busy at work on my next cookbook. It’s all about low-calorie cuisine. My secret is making the recipes taste so luscious that you’ll never believe they’re light. After all, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have absolutely grin-worthy fare when trying to stay fit.

So what are some of my taste-tempting secrets? Lucky for you, I don’t know how to stay mum when it comes to clever tricks that can truly make a difference for your health.

1. Use Un-milk. Plain almond milk averages just 50 calories a cup. Replace regular milk with this nutty-flavored drink in recipes; it provides a good texture and doesn’t separate easily like fat-free milk.

2. Go Grecian. Zero-fat Greek yogurt is super thick, providing lots of nutritious creaminess for few calories. Whip some into eggs to create deceivingly rich scrambled eggs. Or, make a tangy condiment by combining equal parts yogurt and mayo.

3. Add Sass. Splash dark, leafy greens with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. The acidic nature cuts the bitterness and balances taste, as well as satisfaction.

4. Turn up the Heat. When reducing fat or salt, you’re also reducing flavor. Add depth to the taste by bringing on the heat. Add a few drops of hot sauce or a touch of curry paste to your favorite meals.

5. Experiment With Extracts.
For the essence of deliciously rich cuisine without the calories, add extracts. The tiny flavorful punches go way beyond vanilla with options including pure coconut, almond and chocolate.

6. Love Umami.
Umami is the fifth sense of taste. It’s associated with a savory taste due in part to an amino acid, called glutamate, in foods. When you can, embrace the ingredients that boast high amounts -- fully ripened tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, naturally brewed soy sauce and green tea -- to add appeal to healthful meals.