My Daily Skincare Routine

When I left for college my mom wrote me a long note with little tips she thought I could use during my first year away from home.

Among the wisdom and sentiment, there were a few simple skincare lessons that we all should live by:

  1.  ALWAYS take your makeup off before bed
  2.  Moisturize every day

Freshman Leigh tried her best, but sometimes failed, falling asleep with a full face of makeup on, on the futon beside a plate of pizza rolls. It happens.

These two tips are no brainers. We should all be thoroughly cleansing and moisturizing consistently. So, I wanted to share my daily skincare routine with you.

Let’s start in the morning.

Like I’ve mentioned before, I have acne-prone skin. I breakout easily and my skin is pretty sensitive. The ONLY product I have ever used and seen results with is the Rodan + Fields Unblemish line. (Thanks, Kelly fam!)

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I wake up and go through the four steps of the Unblemish system.

  1. Wash
  2. Tone
  3. Dual Intensive Treatment
  4. SPF Lotion

I then apply the It’s Potent Benefit eye cream under my eyes and put on my makeup.

Once I’m done, I use the Mario Badescu Rose Water Facial Spray to lock in my makeup with a dewy glow and refresh my skin.

facial spray

To moisturize my bod, I’m always up for trying new products, but I don’t think I will ever find a lotion I love more than the Kiehl’s Creme de Corps. It’s so creamy going on but doesn’t feel oily or sticky. It’s worth every penny, I promise.

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When I come home, my favorite thing in the whole world is taking off my makeup and putting my sweatpants on.

Like I mentioned in my makeup remover post, I am IN LOVE with the Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm. For stubborn or waterproof eye makeup, I use Kiehl’s Supremely Gentle Eye Makeup Remover.

I got a few questions after my makeup remover post about why I don’t use makeup wipes often. There are a few reasons why I am anti-wipes:

  1. I’ve never found any that make my skin actually feel clean
  2. I don’t like pulling at my face (it causes wrinkles)
  3. They never remove ALL of your makeup
  4. They are expensive

Honestly, I just don’t like them. I used them for years, but now that I have tried other products, I won’t go back, unless I’m traveling and can’t check a bag – they are convenient in a pinch. 

Once I use Take The Day Off and remove my eye makeup, I use the first three steps of Unblemish.

Now it’s time for my favorite part: nightly moisturizer.

I use Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer and two drops of Dr. Dennis Gross Peptide Oil. The oil is pretty expensive, but it lasts forever and makes a huge difference for anti-aging and brightening. If you haven’t noticed by now, I love Kiehl’s. If you haven’t purchased Kiehl’s products before, I highly recommend you try them out!

The very last step is to apply overnight under eye cream. I like ones that focus on dark circles and brightening, like this one.

About once a week, usually Sunday or Monday night I use a mask, but we might need a whole separate post for that…

I know this is a lot of steps, but you’ve got to take care of the skin you’re in! As we all know, none of this matters if you aren’t staying hydrated and rested!

I’ve tried a ton of products and these are the ones that I have found truly work for me.I would love to hear what you guys do to keep your skin happy and healthy! Share with me in the comments or send me a message on Instagram.

Wishing you all a very happy Self-Care Sunday!

Thank You, Mom

There’s one person in my life who has always encouraged me to be positive and reflect within before projecting outward.

My mom has spent my entire life encouraging me to go after the things I want. She is supportive, hilarious, genuine and has always set an amazing example.

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. When I started writing this post, I was overwhelmed with ideas of what to write about her. She’s taught me so much that I didn’t want to skim past anything. It didn’t take me long to realize that I wanted to use this post as a thank you note to touch on just a few of the things she’s done for me.

Dear Mom,

Happy birthday. How are you? I’m asking you because sometimes I forget. Sometimes I launch so fast into my busy life or crazy day, that I skim right past yours.

Thank you, by the way, for always picking up the phone. When I’m sad, happy, excited, nervous, mad, my first reaction is to call you. Thanks for answering all my questions, talking through a million hypothetical scenarios, and always playing along when I want you to guess what a good deal I got at Nordstrom Rack.

For the times I’ve called you upset, thanks for listening, but only for a minute. You always taught me that it’s okay to be sad or worry, but that it won’t fix anything. I think I’d still be crying about not making the seventh grade basketball team if it weren’t for that advice.

Thanks for always telling me the truth. Even when it may not make sense to me at first. Even when nobody else will tell me. Thank you for being honest with me and encouraging me to be honest to myself and others.

I hope you get to laugh a lot this weekend. Our Abba karaoke sessions and road trips to the cape still make me giggle just thinking back on them. Thanks for brining so many smiles to those around you. You’ve always been the cool mom.

This letter could go on forever, so I will pick just one more thing to thank you for on this birthday.

Thank you for encouraging me to go after the things I want. You are always the voice saying “yes you can”. Your support and care have taken me so far. When I called you to tell you I wanted to move to a new city, or start a blog, or learn a new skill, or take on a second job, you never told me I couldn’t. You said, “sounds fun, tell me more.” Your belief in me has created a belief in myself. Thank you, mom.

You have and will always be my best friend biggest mentor. I love you to the moon and back again.

Happy birthday!

Love, Leigh

2018 Real Resolutions

2017 was the year of so many “firsts” and “lasts” for me.

I finished my last semester of college, competed in my last pom competition, slept my last sleep in the college house I lived in with my best friends for three years, the list goes on…

I also had my first day at a new job, moved into my first big girl apartment with Scooter, posted my first blog post and taught my first class as an instructor.

2017 was no doubt the craziest, most fun, scary, amazing year yet. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t change a single second of this year. Every struggle forced me to learn and grow, and every success allowed me to appreciate this wonderful, LoveLeigh (I had to) life I live.

As we enter the final hours of 2017, I have reflected on my wins and loses for the year and set some realistic goals for myself moving forward.

I won’t lie, I don’t like the idea of “waiting for the new year” to set goals, because we should all be setting new goals every morning. But I do think the new year is a good time to check in on yourself and reflect on what’s important. So instead of trying to set giant, looming goals, let’s set some attainable ones that lead to progress and growth.

I want to make 2018 the year of listening. This one encompasses a lot. Listening to your friends, family and colleagues and hearing what they are saying, not just listening to respond. Having meaningful conversation and showing you care is becoming more and more rare. Let’s all try to listen more.

This also applies to yourself. Listen to your mind and body, and respond accordingly. On occasion I’ve been known to ignore everything my body tells me and go, go, go until I am so sick and tired I can’t get out of bed. I am going to consciously try to slow down when necessary. If you’re a 24/7 mover, you know this is so hard. Let’s hold each other accountable.

My next intention is to live presently. This goes hand in hand with being a crazy busy person. There were so many days this year where I would go through the motions of a 16 hour day and have no idea how that much time had passed. I hate the foggy feeling of not knowing how you got from A to B. I want to pull the focus I have throughout parts of my life into my entire day. No more going through the motions and more present intention. Let’s be aware and actionable in 2018.

My boring and practical resolution for the year is to set and abide by a budget. I am mentioning it here so that I actually do it. I can’t wait for the conversations where this specific paragraph is held against me by my parents and personal financial advisor (Scott). Good. I deserve it. If I don’t surpass my monthly spending for the whole year, come December 2018 I will treat myself at Lululemon. Does that defeat the point of a budget? Probably. Give me a break, I’m new to this.

Lastly, I resolve to spread joy. I love all the #feels of the holidays. Everybody is happy and full of cookies and excited to see each other. This feeling seems to fade by the middle of January when we are all windburned and packed into public transit like sardines.

Let’s try our best to revive that joy. This starts by waking up every day and making the decision to be kind to yourself and those around you. Smile at a stranger, take some time for yourself, and go out of the way to make a loved one feel special. The feeling of joy in our lives shouldn’t be limited to one month of the year. Oh, and the cookies probably don’t hurt, so let’s continue to bake and eat those, too.

None of my resolutions involve specific numbers or deadlines. I just want to spend this year having as much fun and learning as much as I did last year (and saving some money). I want to continue to create and spread kindness, tackle my goals head-on, and release negativity from my life.

Please share your favorite memories from 2017 and your goals for the new year in the comments. I want to hear what you guys are looking forward to and reflecting on. Here’s to making 2018 the best year yet. Who’s with me?

Love, Leigh

Go for Your Goals

It feels like forever since my last post. So much has happened in the last few weeks and I am so excited to tell you all about it!

I also want to apologize for going MIA for a few weeks there, I was very busy and the last thing I want to do is treat this blog like a chore. I started it as a way to share my thoughts and finds with my friends. To have so many of you ask me when my next blog post was coming made me realize how many awesome people I’m surrounded by in my daily life and online. Thank you for reading and for bringing so much happiness into my life!

So without further ado, after weeks of training, practicing and prepping, I can finally say that I am an instructor at The Barre Code!

It’s no secret that I have loved TBC since I moved to Chicago, but going through this process has taught me so much about myself and The Barre Code community, that I felt inspired to share some learnings from my journey with you.

The first thing I have learned from all of this is that all of us can do anything we put our minds to. If you would have asked me a year ago if I would be working two jobs, one as a fitness instructor, I would have laughed. In early October, one of my favorite instructors asked me if I had ever thought about becoming an instructor and I laughed then, too. I am so thankful that I finally started believing in myself the way the people around me did. This leads me to my next point…

You are whatever you want to be. By that I mean, your mentality truly is your reality. The attitude I had towards myself and my goals was the determining factor of my success every single day of this training process.

If I had confidence, I did what I was supposed to, showed improvement and felt great about my work. If I went in as a Debby downer, you bet your booty I choked and felt awful about what I did that day. I cannot stress enough how much your mindset impacts your daily life. If you think you can, you’re halfway there. That’s probably written on a teabag somewhere, but it’s true and I love tea, so that’s fine.

Throughout training I have met countless strong, fabulous, fierce women that have shown me what being welcomed into a community feels like, and let me tell you, it feels pretty awesome.

The ladies I trained with, the absolute rock stars who trained us, the entire staff of The Barre Code and all of the amazing TBC clients have made me feel so loved. After months of living in a new city and trying to find “my thing” I couldn’t be happier to know that I have not only found it, but turned it into something I get to share with some of the coolest women I have ever met, every single day.

If you are feeling like you’re in a transitional period of your life, the advice I want to give you is to actively seek out something that makes you happy and commit to it. It doesn’t matter what other people think, because the people who care about you will think it’s just as awesome as you do. Shout out to my roomie boyfriend, Scott, for listening to me practice, trying his best to “tuck and squeeze”, and for having the ice cream and wine ready to go after a long day.

Real talk, things that might feel silly at first (like writing a blog), sometimes end up bringing you the most joy.

If you love to cook, take a class and see where it leads you. If you’re a runner, join a running club. All of these things sound simple, unless you let self-doubt kick in. You might think to yourself, “oh, I don’t know anyone here” or “I’m not that good” or “I’m too busy”. If you think that, then guess what? You’re right.

The moment you start believing in yourself is the moment you unleash your full potential. Start doing the things that make you feel uncomfortable, because growth happens outside of your comfort zone. Another teabag line – I don’t care. Still true.

I got dragged into a Barre Code class in the beginning of the summer by my (very talented) friend, Madalyn. I left with a hamstring cramp and a reality check. I found something I wasn’t great at, but knew I liked.

I felt silly in that studio, but I found something that gave me attainable goals to work towards. I took an hour a day for myself – an hour a day to challenge my mind and body. I entered a community of women that lift each other up, make each other laugh, and hold each other accountable. I gained new friends, discovered new confidence and even found some new muscles I don’t think I’d used before. I turned something I liked to do into something I love to help others excel at. I am so thankful for the people that led me to become an instructor. I can’t wait to continue learning and growing as a person as I begin my journey at The Barre Code.

If you’re in Chicago, I would love to have you in class! Send me a message for more info.

I hope you are all having an amazing holiday season and finding your own happiness, wherever that may be.

Love, Leigh

LoveLeigh Gift Guide for Her

It’s the most wonderful time of year, not only because we are so close to Christmas that I can almost taste my mom’s chocolate chip pie, but because I now have a reason to justify my outrageous shopping problem! Joy to the world. It’s gifting season.

My next few blog posts will be a series of gift guides to help you find the perfect present for everyone in your life from your little bro to you grandma.

First up are the LoveLeigh ladies in your life!

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Click on any of the titles to shop!

1. OPI Infinite Shine Starter Kit

Read my post about all the reasons I love it. This is perfect for your friend that likes having nice nails, but doesn’t have time to make it to the salon every two weeks.

2. Baublebar Pinata Tassel Earrings 

These are everywhere this season and come in lots of different colors. I love the red ones for the holidays!

3. Barefoot Dreams Blanket 

This is the softest blanket on planet Earth. It’s a little pricey, but you can get it at Nordstrom Rack for half off.

4. A Groupon

Sometimes the best gift is an experience! I love giving Groupons for restaurants, fitness classes or spas I have heard my friends or family mention. It gives your loved ones an excuse to treat themselves to something new.

5. It Cosmetics Brush Set

These are my favorite brushes. The set includes a brush for powder, foundation, concealer, shadow and crease. They are soft, wash well and are high quality.

6. Kiehl’s Creme De Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter

The. Best. Lotion. Ever. It’s light, smells amazing, and is super hydrating. Grab one for your mom and one for yourself.

7. Fuzzy Slippers

Everybody needs a cozy pair of slippers. I got a super comfy pair last year (thanks, Heather) and wear them around the house 24/7. I love these ones with the pom pom accents.

8. Loopy Phone Case

I’ve had my loopy for just over two months now and haven’t dropped my phone once since putting it on. The loop on the back allows you to hold your phone even while your hands are full. It’s perfect for the clumsy gal in your life.

9. Rewined Candle

These candles come in re-purposed wine bottles and – you guessed it – smell like your favorite wine. My favorite is the Sauvignon Blanc.

10. Clinique Chubbettes Set

This set is every color of chubby stick you could ever need. 20 perfectly mini, moisturizing shades for your your bff’s collection.

I hope this gave you some gifting inspiration, or just a few new items for your own wishlist. Stay tuned for more gift guides coming soon.

Love, Leigh

Favorite Four: Colored Hair Products

My mom taught me that there are a few things in life worth spending good money on. Those things, in no particular order, are skincare items, quality toilet paper, hair products, and occasionally, a kick ass pair of shoes.

I have been getting my hair dyed, bleached, darkened and otherwise chemically treated for about nine years now. In that time I have tried out a million different products and stuck with the ones I truly love.

In honor of me being TRULY thankful for at-home brightening treatments after a tragic dye job last week, I wanted to share my favorite four color treated hair products.

Cleanse

First up is my favorite shampoo. Fekkai Color Care Technician prevents fading and makes your hair super shiny. It’s one of the only color specific shampoos I’ve tried that keeps my hair soft, but not greasy. It also smells really good. fekkai

Tone

The biggest problem I run into with highlighting my hair is that my roots always get really brassy after a few weeks. When I start to see the orange coming out and I want to lighten it up, I reach for my Kenra brightening treatment. I leave this purple lifesaver on my freshly shampooed wet hair for about five minutes and wash it out to an instantly brighter, blonder mane.

kenra

Detangle

The Beauty Protector protect & detangle spray is another product I discovered through Birchbox and absolutely love. If you have tangly hair like I do, you need this in your life. Besides being a great conditioning spray, it also protects your hair from heat. Spray this on your wet hair and brush with ease. 

beauty protector

Volumize

Amika Bombshell Blowout spray adds volume and doubles as a heat protectant. I blow dry my hair until it’s about 75% dry and then spray it by section and use a round brush to dry the rest. It smells so good and adds volume to even the thinnest hair. 

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What products do you use on your colored hair? I love testing out new ones so leave a comment or shoot me an email with any recommendations you have. 

Have a happy Thanksgiving, LoveLeighs!

Love, Leigh

Four Favorites: Makeup Remover Edition

Heavy Duty Makeup Removal

On any given day I wear makeup for an average of about 12 hours. When it’s finally time to clean my face, I don’t want to have to wash four separate times or scrub forever just to get it all off. This product removes all traces of makeup quickly and effectively. The Clinique Take the Day Off cleansing balm transforms into a silky oil as you massage it into your skin. All you do is rub a dime sized amount all over your face, rinse with warm water and towel dry.

cttdo

In my opinion, this is the BEST makeup remover. Here’s why:

  • It’s fragrance free
  • It doesn’t leave you feeling greasy
  • All the product comes off when you rinse your face and it leaves your skin silky smooth
  • Great for contact lens wearers (like me!)
  • It’s allergy tested and great for sensitive skin

I used to be a makeup wipe only kind of gal, but I will never go back after finding this balm. It has reduced my breakouts and completely removes stubborn mascara and lipstick. It also works as a cleanser so I don’t have to double wash my face. I can’t say enough good things about this product. Everyone needs it.

Makeup Removal and Moisturizer

If you have dry skin, Pond’s Cold Cream is a great alternative to take the day off. I know Pond’s makes everyone think of their grandma’s medicine cabinet, but there’s a reason why it’s been around so long; it works and it’s affordable.

PCC

I will admit, I don’t love the smell, but it does a pretty good job removing makeup and hydrating my skin. The main ingredients are mineral oil which removes makeup and debris from the skin, and beeswax to lock moisture in.  Pick this one up on your next Target run and avoid dry skin this winter.

On-the-Go Removal

You don’t always have the time to wash your face and apply a thousand serums. I find that fully washing my face causes less irritation and removes my makeup more quickly, but for the times I’m in a rush, these do the trick.

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Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes are the only drug store brand that don’t make me breakout or feel greasy. I like to keep these in my gym bag to use after class. They’re also great for a quick trip when you can’t haul your entire skincare lineup with you.

For Stubborn Eye Makeup

Last but not least is Kiehl’s Supremely Gentle Eye Makeup Remover. I use a sulfur wash that is amazing for acne-prone skin, but it’s also drying. When I wash my face, the delicate skin on my eyelids gets dry and sensitive. This eye makeup remover has the consistency of moisturizer and is very gentle, so it doesn’t irritate my eyelids or contacts. It removes waterproof mascara and the little bottle lasts forever. This combined with take the day off and you are squeaky clean!

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I hope you find a product or two from this lists that works for you. If you have any other makeup removers I need to know about, please let me know in the comments!

Wake up and makeup!

Love, Leigh

3 Steps to Shiny Nails

Having my nails painted is one of those things that makes me feel like I have my life just a little bit more together. I love getting a manicure at the nail salon, but it’s pricey and time consuming.

On one of my weekly trips to Ulta, I stumbled upon the OPI Infinite Shine series. My manicure doesn’t usually last longer than two days, so I figured I would give this “long wear” polish a try.

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I was pleasantly surprised by the results and am completely obsessed with the new colors in the line.

Here’s how it works:

Buy the primer and finishing gloss together as a set for under $20. Then, pick any color in the Infinite Shine line and follow three simple steps for long lasting nail color.

  1. Apply one coat of the Infinite Shine Primer
  2. Apply two coats of your favorite Infinite Shine Gel Lacquer
  3. Apply one coat of the Infinite Shine Gloss

This manicure doesn’t last quite as long as gel polish or shellac, but it definitely outdoes standard polish. I have gotten about five to six days without any chips and up to 11 days before removing and reapplying.

Currently, my go-to color is “Chicago Champagne Toast” which is not only the best name ever, but also a beautiful shade of metallic pink. Here are some of my favorites:

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Chicago Champagne Toast

nailwe

We The Female

nailblue

Less is Norse

nailsberlin

Berlin There Done That

nailorna

Ornament To Be Together

If you are looking for a no chip polish that makes your nails super shiny, look no further! This set is great for a holiday gift or as a treat for yourself.

I hope you try it out and love it as much as I do! Please tag me in your nail pictures on Instagram, I can’t wait to see which colors you choose.

Love, Leigh

10 Things I Learned From Being a Team Player

In ninth grade I broke my dad’s heart when I decided to quit running track to join the JV pompon team. For those of you who aren’t from the Midwest, Pompon is a combination of cheer and dance with a focus of sharp movements and Rockettes style high kicks. 

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2010- Tenth grade Mid American Pompon summer camp with my staff sister, and now friend, Leah

As high school went on, I loved performing and competing and knew that I wanted to continue my journey with pom beyond high school. When I decided to go to MSU, I tried out for the pompon team and the rest is history.

I spent my summers working for Mid American Pompon summer camps as a counselor and instructor, better known as a “staff sister”. During the school year I practiced and competed with MSU pom.

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2016- Fourth years at camp

For those four years, pom was a huge part of my life. I learned so much about myself, made more memories than I can count and built friendships that will last me a lifetime.

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2013- Freshman year on MSU

Yesterday the Spartans took home the title of 2017 Collegiate High Kick Champions. I am so proud to be an alum of the MSU Pompon program and it got me thinking about just how much being a team member molded me as a person.

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2016- My senior year on MSU

Here are the top ten things being a team player taught me:

1. Lead by example

Actions speak louder than words. If you want people to follow, start leading.

2. Find your tribe and love them hard

Having a group of people that make you feel like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself can get you through anything. Lean on the ones you trust and always be there when they need you, too.

3. Mind over matter

You are so much stronger than you know – both mentally and physically. Your body will do just about anything your mind tells it to. When I didn’t want to go to practice, I always felt better after it was over. Now the same goes for the gym. Tell yourself you can and get it done.

4. You can learn from everyone

Older, younger or new to the game. Any industry, any gym, any work setting. Listen to those around you and you will learn something new every single day.

5. Stronger together than apart

Embracing the team mentality allows for growth and productivity. Hearing new perspectives makes you smarter. Working together is invaluable.

6. Balance is everything

Spending so many hours juggling class, internships and practice made me pretty good at time management. I’m thankful to know when and how to take time for myself.

7. Accountability

When you are working toward a common goal, you have to be able to depend on your teammates. Following through and taking responsibility for your actions builds trust and respect.

8. Dependability

This goes hand in hand with accountability, but I think it all comes down to knowing how your actions affect others. Say what you mean and mean what you say, and always, always be honest.

9. Raise your hand

Sometimes you have to volunteer to do the thing nobody else wants to. It’s just the way it is and people appreciate it.

10. Attitude is everything

Every practice, and now that I’m adulting, every morning, I make the decision to have a positive attitude. Your attitude is contagious, so if you want others to be happy, you have to start with yourself.

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2017- Collegiate Championships

What other skills did you learn from playing a sport? I would love to hear them in the comments. Let’s focus on being good teammates in all aspects of our lives this week.

Love, Leigh

Smile at Yourself

Like many women, I am often told to smile more by men on the street. Every time this happens, it leaves me with an uncomfortable feeling. I get a pit in my stomach that sticks with me for the whole day.

I think the reason why it feels so intrusive when a stranger demands that you smile is because a genuine smile is one of the most valuable things you can give to someone. The reflection of joy that you present when you smile is special and should never be faked or forced.

A stranger demanding you to smile did nothing to warrant a joyful display of appreciation…but do you know who did? Do you know who deserves recognition for bringing you happiness? You. 

When was the last time that you smiled at yourself? Not to check your teeth for lipstick, but to see the real-time happiness in your own face?

As you know by now, I exercise at The Barre Code. Each studio has mirrored walls that allow you to check your form while you work out. Often times you are right up at the barre staring at your reflection in the mirror.

Sometimes during class I meet my own eyes in the mirror and am surprised by the intensity and fire I see in myself. What is more surprising, however, is how little we smile at ourselves.

It always seemed weird to me when the instructor would say, “look at the beautiful, strong woman staring back at you in the mirror and smile at her, she worked so hard for the last 50 minutes.”

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A smile represents so much more than a happy facial expression. A smile shows gratitude and appreciation. Smiling at yourself is just another way to show self-love and be grateful for giving yourself time to become mentally and physically stronger. Smiling at myself after a hard workout has taught me to recognize the aspects of my life that bring me joy.

If you don’t exercise in front of a mirror, I suggest taking a second to smile at yourself every morning when you are getting ready. It might seem silly, but it gives you a chance to reflect and be thankful. This leads me to my next point…

Smiling makes you feel happy. When I’m not having a great day, I consciously try to be a little nicer to others, in hopes that it may reflect back on me. Like karma, if you give smiles away, they usually come back to you.

Small acts of kindness, even things as small as a smile, can make all the difference in your own mood and others lives.

So, I’ll leave you with this, LoveLeighs – I hope you all know the worth of your smile and power of your happiness. It comes from within and when it’s there, it cannot be contained. Create your own joy and spread it to those around you, even when it seems hard to find.

 

Love, Leigh