Benefits of Rooibos Tea

Candyce Ross
South Africa, home of rooibos via @agirlsgottaspa Even though I moved from South Africa some time ago, there are a few things that I haven’t been able to shake off. One being my excessive use of the word "shame," my unique pronunciation of words like "years" and "car," my love for biltong and…my obsession with rooibos! I drink rooibos every day and like most South Africans, I tend to think that it can solve many of life’s problems. Have a headache? Drink some rooibos. Have a sore stomach? Drink rooibos. Stressed? Put the kettle on – time for some rooibos. South Africa - home to rooibos. Learn its many benefits via @agirlsgottaspa Pronounced ‘roy-bos’, the herbal tea is only grown in the mountainous Cedarberg region of South Africa and has a dark red, almost copper colour. It has a sweet, earthy taste and is caffeine free. Unlike some dark herbal teas, rooibos does not have a bitter taste and is not too overpowering. Benefits of rooibos tea via @agirlsgottaspa How to drink it: There are many ways to drink rooibos. Some people add a dash of milk and sugar, others have it black with a spoonful of honey. It also makes a delicious refreshing iced tea - just brew the rooibos with some fresh mint or sliced lemon and allow to chill. As the tea has gained popularity beyond the shores of South Africa, more and more variations are emerging such as vanilla rooibos, citrus rooibos and rooibos chamomile to name a few. Benefits: Yes, I’m super proud that this wonder tea is South African, but trust me that’s not the only reason I’m bragging about it. Rooibos has a seriously impressive list of minerals that aid in a variety of ways, from improved sleep to strong bones. Clear skin - Rooibos is acclaimed as one of the best beauty teas due to its anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants and enzymes that fight the aging process. These properties help soothe skin, decrease blemishes and fight free radicals. Healthy skin starts from within and drinking rooibos is a great way to feed your skin with the nutrients it needs for a natural glow. Zinc and alpha-hydroxy acids found in rooibos help clear skin, heal wounds, reduce the signs of aging and reduce inflamed, acne prone skin. Strong bones - Rich in minerals such as manganese, fluoride and calcium, rooibos promotes healthy bones and teeth. Manganese stimulates enzymes in the body used to help repair bone damage and build bone mass and therefore drinking it may help prevent arthritis and joint pain. Digestion - When I was younger I suffered from sharp pains in my stomach and you guessed right – I was always given a warm cup of rooibos to help soothe the pain. The antispasmodic agents in rooibos activate potassium ions in the body which help ease stomach cramps, indigestion and abdominal pains. Benefits of rooibos tea via @agirlsgottaspa Healthy hair - Zinc alongside copper, calcium and potassium strengthens hair fibres and promotes healthy hair growth. Helps regulate blood sugar - The aspalathin antioxidant found in rooibos tea helps regulate blood sugar and improves insulin resistance. This can help prevent the development of type II diabetes as well as stop sugar cravings due to spikes in blood sugar levels. So, next time you find yourself tempted to devour a cheeky Mars bar, turn the kettle on instead and stay on track with your health and weight loss goals. Blood circulation and a stronger immune system - Chrysoeriol in rooibos aids blood circulation and is linked to reducing cholesterol. The polyphenols in rooibos assist in preventing heart related illnesses and boost the immune system to help protect the body against cold and flu. Improved sleep – Being naturally caffeine free and rich in calcium and magnesium, rooibos is the perfect bedtime beverage to help you wind down. Studies have found that when calcium levels are high we sleep a lot deeper. The brain uses calcium to manufacture melatonin (the sleeping hormone) and magnesium has a natural calming effect on the nervous system so together these two minerals help increase the quality of our sleep. Where to buy it: You should definitely book your air ticket to South Africa right now to purchase some of this beautifying brew – that’s a good enough excuse, right? Alternatively, rooibos can be found in most health shops and increasingly in many supermarkets. Some of my favourite variations are: Pukka Rooibos Honeybush – sweet and fragrant, with a hint of honey Tick Tock Rooibos Tea – Tick Tock offers a few different rooibos teas namely vanilla rooibos and rooibos green tea. I usually stick to the original which has a strong, earthy and almost nutty taste. Do you have a unique way of drinking rooibos? What’s your favourite variety? We’d love to hear from you! Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too!

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Small Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle

Candyce Ross
Small steps to a healthier lifestyle - keeping a health and wellness journal via @agirlsgottaspa Eat your greens, avoid gluten and dairy. Eat less red meat, drink more water. Floss, moisturise, stretch, meditate. Stress less, sleep more. Add green tea to your diet, cut out refined sugar. Exercise every day, take your multi-vitamins, don’t slouch… Woah, woah, woah – slow down. How on earth can I do all of that? We are constantly reading and hearing about what we should and shouldn’t do and going into the new year places even more pressure on us to reassess our lives, our habits, our diet and our routines. It’s easy to get overwhelmed though and think, "if I can’t do it all, then there’s no point doing any of it." Before you know it, you find yourself on the couch chowing through a whole packet of Kettle crisps. Small steps to a healthier lifestyle via @agirlsgottaspa It’s important to remember though, that Rome wasn’t built in a day the same way that the abs on that girl on Instagram didn’t just happen overnight. We must work for what we want. We need to set goals and practice self-affirmation along the way. Baby steps, weekly changes. I’m no fan of fad diets and believe that health is a lifestyle choice and a journey. Setting a goal for yourself at the beginning of the week is a great way of making small, realistic and attainable changes in your life. It may be as simple as going for one run a week. This may be a big step for you, but once you’ve overcome that challenge, you could say to yourself that the following week you will go for one run and get to bed 20 minutes earlier than usual each night. Week three could see you cutting out red meat for one day, and week four you may set the goal of drinking 2L of water a day. Eventually, by the end of one month you could look back and see that you have been on 4 runs, slept 10 hours more, reduced your intake of red meat and have clearer skin and fewer headaches due to increasing your intake of H2O – wouldn’t that be nice? Small steps to a healthier lifestyle via @agirlsgottaspa Keeping a daily journal is an important step in attaining your goals by being more mindful and organised. It keeps you accountable to yourself, helps you to track your progress and when you have those days when your mood is lower than usual, you can flick through the pages and see all the little wins you’ve had along the way. Remember – a person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. In fact, the biggest mistake of all would be to decide to do nothing – you can only benefit from trying to live a healthier, more active lifestyle. Here are some simple ideas of small changes you can incorporate into your weekly routine. Make sure to plan it all out in your wellness journal:
  • Start your day with a warm glass of lemon water. This aids digestion, boosts immunity and helps flush out toxins. You'll even see clearer skin.
  • ‘Meatless Mondays’ – have one day a week where you opt for the vegetarian option. Eating less meat will help you consume less fat and lower your risk of heart disease.
  • Pack your lunch (even if it’s only once a week) - you’ve been sitting at your desk all morning, have a to-do list as long as the Great Wall of China and the fastest lunch option is ducking down to Pret and grabbing a baguette. Why not prepare your lunch the night before or on the weekend before your work week even starts? Steam some vegetables, pack some tuna and quinoa and prepare your lunches way before hunger sets in when you’re more likely to make unhealthy food choices.
Small steps to a healthier lifestyle - keeping a health and wellness journal via @agirlsgottaspa
  • Add chia seeds– This is a superfood of note! They are loaded with anitoxidants and minerals such as manganese, iron, magnesium and calcium. They are proven to reduce insulin resistance and improve blood sugar control. Add chia seeds to your porridge, smoothies, salads, just about everything! And the best thing is that 2-3 tablespoons is all you need to fulfill your daily requirement of omega-3s.
Do you keep a health and wellness journal? If you have easy, healthy daily habits that you’ve incorporated into your routine please leave a comment!

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Hygge - The Secret to Happiness?

Candyce Ross2 comments
creating hygge via @agirlsgottaspa Believe me when I say that, at times, I am the biggest culprit of trying to do a million things at once. Whether it be applying my mascara on the bus whilst scrolling through Instagram and talking to my mom in Australia on the phone. Or watching the latest episode of Homeland (okay, I'm about 4 seasons behind...bear with me!) whilst reading the latest issue of Women's Health mag and touching up my nail polish... I've developed a terrible habit of feeling 'lazy' if I am not trying to cross at least 3 things off my to do list simultaneously. Society has glorified the ability to multi-task and living in the city has only fuelled this habit. It seems as though everyone is doing it all around us - we all know those stressed out business people on the tube in the morning balancing a Pret coffee and bacon roll in one hand and the morning's copy of City A.M in the other, trying to catch up on the news....whilst on a conference call. It feels like there's a stressful vibe all around us wherever we go. I recently visited Copenhagen where I was absolutely amazed at the happy, relaxed and blissful nature of the Danes. I spent a short weekend in the capital city with a girlfriend, but unlike the usual ‘hurry scurry’ of a weekend city break-away (think minimal sleep, rushing onto the Gatwick Express after work on a Friday and back at your desk Monday morning before you know it, not knowing your head from your tail, wondering where your weekend went), we returned relaxed...quietened.... refreshed! creating hygge via @agirlsgottaspa We both noticed that the pace of life was a lot more relaxed. People walked slower, they took time to talk to each other in the street, the shop windows were lined with candles and the cafes actually wanted you to stay, to linger, to savour the moment. Our favourite was Laundromat Café where we spent what felt like hours; precious hours of quality time, playing board games and chatting over herbal tea. And unlike what can sometimes be the case in cafes, we didn't have the waiter popping over asking the almost rhetorical question of, "Would you like anything else...?" which we all know is code for, '"Seriously, you've been here for ages, can you please either order something else or leave." These cafes encourage guests to stay - even if you only order one cup of tea each and lose track of time as you immerse yourself in a game of chess like we did. The Danes must be doing something right. They’ve been voted one of the happiest nations on Earth, they have one of the longest life expectancies and they’ve mastered work-life balance. One of the main reasons behind this happiness is the concept of Hygge – pronounced HUE-gah. Hygge is uni-tasking, it’s the art of enjoying the simple things in life, living in the moment and replacing the feeling of guilt with enjoyment and pleasure. It’s the company of family and friends, the scent of your favourite soy candle burning whilst indulging in a bubble bath, a warm cup of tea in front of the fire, having a warm shower and hopping back into bed on the weekend and the sound of the pouring rain outside. Hygge is taking time out from the ‘go, go, go’ of everyday life. It’s cosiness, being relaxed and balanced, the feeling of togetherness, the absence of anything annoying or stressful…it’s a bit like that, but it’s more. Hygge can’t really be described – it has to be felt. So how can we incorporate hyge into our lives? Make Time – set time aside to hygge. Start by setting aside just ten minutes a day to switch off and do something you love. Sink into a warm bath, savour the taste of your warm tea, sit down and have your breakfast without any distractions instead of eating at your desk scrolling through your inbox. creating hygge via @agirlsgottaspa Atmosphere – a major part of the stylish Scandi minimalist look is lighting. Create a space that you feel relaxed in – it’s all about lamps, fairy lights, and warm bulbs. Transform your space into a hygge haven with cushions, rugs, throwovers, candle light…now that’s super hygge! I spray Neom De-Stress Home Mist on my pillow each night before I go to bed to help create a tranquil atmosphere. Hygge - the secret to happiness via @agirlsgottaspa Be Cosy – snuggle up on the couch with that soft fleece blanket that you love and those woollen socks that you’ve had for way too long, but can’t face getting rid of. These cashmere socks look blissful…Christmas wish list anyone? Be Grateful – keep a gratitude journal, take time to think about all the things you are thankful for, write to your loved ones and tell them how much you appreciate them. Hygge the secret to happiness via @agirlsgottaspa Bake – I have such fond memories of going on road trips in South Africa with my family as a child, stopping at bakeries along the way for ‘provisions’ as we liked to call it! Who doesn’t love the smell (and taste!) of a freshly baked chocolate cake or homemade bread? Going to your local bakery is very hygge or why not create a masterpiece in the kitchen and invite a friend over for some ‘taste testing’ and chats. Be Still – switch off from the rest of the world from time to time, have technology-free hours. No Instagram, emails, Twitter….I know, I feel you! Get in Touch with Nature- being in nature helps clear your mind, helps us to put things in perspective and reduces stress levels which helps boost self-esteem and energy. Being in nature reminds us to enjoy the simple things in life – the fresh air, sound of the birds, the lack of congestion. Organise a day trip to the countryside or a walk in a forest. Be Mindful – eat together at the dinner table with your loved one, family or housemates each evening, take your time to eat, be mindful of what you are eating and the conversation you are engaging in. Be present. Spoil Yourself – buy that beautiful bouquet of flowers from the corner shop you pass on your way home from work every day. Quite literally taking the time to smell the roses can bring such joy to your home. Go for a massage or have a home spa day with your favourite products. Togetherness – start a new tradition, invite friends over for tea once a month, a board game evening, or movie night. Create memories or why not reminisce of past adventures whilst looking over old photos together (although on second thought, cringing over that fringe you were rocking in 2008 may defeat the hyggely state you’ve just tried to create!) For more tips, and for a hyggely afternoon of reading, try The Little Book of Hygge. How do you hygge? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Yoga For Beginners - What You Need to Know

Shannon Smyth

Yoga for beginners from yogi, Emily Burton via @agirlsgottaspa

You would love to try yoga, but it seems intimidating and you're not sure where to start. Here are some easy steps to ensure your first yoga experience is a good one.

Research: Find the class that's right for you

1. Is the studio heated? If it is heated- is this something you're comfortable with and are you healthy enough to participate?

2. Does the studio offer "beginner" or "basic" classes? These are the types of classes you'll want to start with to make sure you don't get overwhelmed or injured on your first visit.

3. What type of yoga does the studio teach? Depending on style- you'll have a wide variety of experience. Kundalini, for example, will be mostly seated and repetitive breathing exercises focused on energetic releases in the body. Vinyasa will be more active movements and Restorative yoga is on the ground with props to support you while you hold poses for 5-7 minutes (think deep healing meditation meets a wonderful nap).

aromatherapy for meditation

Arriving: Show up prepared

1.Once you have decided which class is appropriate for you- you'll want to show up early. (arriving 15 minutes prior to class will give you time to fill out their waiver, get to know where everything is located in the studio, and find a comfortable spot in the room).

2. Yoga is practiced barefoot and in stretchy, comfortable clothing.

3. Bring a yoga mat (you can purchase mats very cheaply at most big name stores like Target). A thinner mat is better for yoga class (unless its a restorative class you're taking, in which case you can have a thick, padded mat). Some studios will rent you a mat for class- but not all, so find out ahead of time.

4. Bring a water bottle as staying hydrated is extremely important during the practice.

5. Introduce yourself to the teacher and tell them that you are a "first time student". This way, the teacher will look out for you and give you some extra support if needed.

6. Placing your mat at the back of the room can be helpful the first few times so that it's easy to peek around at other students to see what they're doing if you're confused. Yoga for beginners - tips from yogi, Emily Burton via @agirlsgottaspa Class: Know what to expect

1. Most yoga classes will start with an "OM." According to the yogis, this is the universal sound for all things and can attune us with everything in the universe. It's also a useful tool to get people to start breathing more deeply. You don't have to "om" but it's a nice way to start the ancient practice of yoga.

2. Go at your own pace and rest when you need to rest. If anything ever feels painful or stressful in yoga, stop what you're doing immediately. Child's pose is a great pose to take in class to signal to the teacher that you're resting safely (toes together, knees apart, forehead resting on the ground)

3. Breathe! This is the most important aspect of the yoga class. Breathing with awareness takes practice- so don't expect it to be easy. The results of deep breath on your nervous system and whole body will be felt for hours, if not days, after you leave the studio.

4. At the end of class the teacher will most likely conclude with the sanskrit word, "namaste". This loosely translates to "the light in me recognizes and bows to the light in you". It's custom for the class to bow and say "namaste" in response to the teacher.

Remember, if you believe you're "too stiff" or "inflexible" to do yoga- then yoga is probably exactly what you need! EVERYONE starts off this way. Flexibility and strength take time, practice, and consistency but you will see yourself transforming if you stick with yoga long enough.

Above all, enjoy your time on the mat- it's a beautiful opportunity to slow down, appreciate your life, and heal whatever ails you.

yogi, Emily Burton, gives tips for beginning yoga via @agirlsgottaspa

Learn more about yogi, Emily Burton at and find her on Facebook, 

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Ratatouille with Herbs de Provence Recipe

Shannon Smyth
Recipe: Ratatouille with Herbs de Provence from @lodgeatwoodloch via @agirlsgottaspa If you ever have the chance to visit The Lodge at Woodloch either for a Pocono getaway, or locally for a spa day, you won't want to miss the chance to eat at TREE. Woodloch's TREE is literally a delight to your tastebuds. Everything comes fresh from their garden and/or locally sourced farmers. It's always healthy and absolutely delicious. Below is the recipe for their mouth-watering Ratatouille with Herbs de Provence. I think you'll love it! Ingredients 2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1- inch cubes 2 ½ pounds tomatoes, seeded, and cut into 1/4- inch cubes 1 ½ pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced 1 ½ pounds bell pepper, assorted colors, cut into 1- inch pieces 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 1 cup (approximately) extra virgin olive oil 1 ½ tablespoons herbs de Provence, dried, if using fresh herbs triple the amount 1 pound zucchini, cut into ¾ - inch half moons (remove seeds from larger zucchinis) 1 pound yellow squash, seeded, cut into ¾ - inch pieces 1 teaspoon black pepper 2 teaspoons kosher salt Directions Toss eggplant in 1/2 teaspoon salt and place in a colander. Let stand in the sink for 30 minutes. Pour eggplant onto several paper towels and blot to remove excess moisture. In a heavy-bottomed, 5-quart pot over medium heat, add onions and approximately 4 tablespoons of oil. Season with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for about 4 minutes until onions are soft, stirring occasionally. Add peppers and cook for another 4-8 minutes, adding enough oil to keep mixture quite moist. Add garlic, cook for another 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, herbs de Provence* and about a 1/3 cup oil. Cover partially to allow steam to escape. Cook for 30 minutes until tomato starts to break down, stirring occasionally. Put eggplant into simmering mixture along with enough remaining oil so vegetables are quite moist, but not swimming. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place zucchini and yellow squash in mixture and cook until they are just soft, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Add pepper. Check seasoning. May be served hot, warm, or at room temperature. Improves when refrigerated overnight and reheated. Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too!

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Must Have Aloe Vera Beauty Products

Gail Lewis16 comments
Must-have aloe vera beauty products via @agirlsgottaspa Aloe vera has long been known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Anyone who has had a sunburn knows that aloe vera is a must-have beauty staple. I've begun to notice that lately aloe vera is in everything from beauty products to juices and supplements - I've even seen it frozen in ice cube trays, which makes complete sense since the benefits of aloe vera seem never-ending. Some of the many advantages to incorporating aloe into your beauty routine are:
  • When taken in a supplement or drink, it helps to support a healthy digestive system, a healthy immune system and normal muscle and joint functions
  • It reduces toxins in the body, aids in digestion and has an alkalizing effect on the body
  • It is high in amino and fatty acids as well as vitamins and minerals
  • It'ss great for applying topically to burns, abrasions, psoriasis, bug bites and sunburnt skin
  • Since aloe is has a high water content, it is a great way to hydrate, moisturize and rejuvenate skin
  • Aloe increases skin elasticity by making it more flexible through collagen and elastin repair
  • Aloe is also an emollient, helping to soften and soothe the skin
  • It helps supply oxygen to the skin cells, increasing the strength and synthesis of skin tissue and induces improved blood flow to the skin
With all of these amazing benefits, it's no wonder we're finding it in more skin care products. Below are some of my favorite aloe vera beauty products: 1. Sustainable Youth Ultra Creamy Cleansing Lotion, Elasticity Cream & Revitalizing Serum: These products are amazing when used together or on their own.  They all contain alasta, which is the most potent immunostimulatory ingredient derived from Aloe.  The Ultra Creamy Cleansing Lotion is extremely luxurious.  It thoroughly cleanses my skin, but leaves it feeling soft and moisturized and not stripped like a lot of facial cleansers.  It also has a beautiful calming, but fresh scent that I absolutely cannot get enough of.  The Firming & Revitalizing Serum is a really lightweight serum that is immediately absorbed into my skin leaving it baby soft, smooth and glowing.  The Elasticity Cream is also fast absorbing and lightweight, but leaves my skin hydrated, refreshed, soothed and feeling firmer. 2. Farmaesthetics Cool Aloe Mist This cooling, hydrating mist offers immediate relief to inflamed skin. It's also a great makeup setting spray, an amazing refreshing facial and body toner and a purifying mist for skin. 3. Alothera Moisturizing Shampoo and Keratin Conditioner In addition to smelling amazing, these products together leave my hair soft, shiny and silky.  The conditioner works like a deep conditioning treatment on my hair.  I left it in my hair for just 2 minutes and I could feel the improvement in my hair immediately. 4. Biorepublic Aloe Rescue Revitalizing Sheet Mask This eco-conscious sheet mask is very soothing, hydrating and easy to use.   I can see and feel the difference in my skin right away.  I would highly recommend using this mask after a day at the beach, after a long flight or anytime your skin fees dry and irritated. 5. 365 Everyday Value Whole Leaf Aloe Vera Juice On its own this juice is a bit tough for me to swallow, but I love adding it to my favorite healthy juices and smoothies, after all beauty does literally begin from the inside out! This juice is available at Whole Foods. 6. A Girl's Gotta Spa! Energizing Citrus Body Wash: I'd be remiss if I left out this amazing natural and organic body wash. With aloe as the main ingredient, this body wash soothes and hydrates skin as it cleanses. The mix of citrus essential oils creates an invigorating shower experience. 7. InviCible Scars: Scars need to be mositurized in order to heal properly. And since skin is inflammed during the healing process, it only makes sense to use a scar treatment that contains aloe. While aloe won't fade your scar (InviCible uses Vitamin C and licorice root extract to handle that part), it helps to strengthen the collagen structure in your scar to minimize its appearance. Do you have a favorite aloe beauty product not on this list? Share it in the comments! Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too!

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An Easy Way to Squeeze in Fitness

Gail Lewis11 comments
Zobi fitness review via @agirlsgottaspa I'm one of those people who truly enjoys working out. I absolutely love how I feel after a workout and actually dread missing my gym time. There are those times though, when life happens and my hectic schedule just does not allow for driving to the gym and putting in an hour plus long workout.  During those times I still try my best to incorporate some form of fitness into my day, which is where the Zobi comes in very handy. Squeeze in fitness anywhere with Zobi via @agirlsgottaspa The Zobi is a total body tool that helps you to condition muscles, burn calories, and work your core.  The ergonomic shape of the Zobi makes it is easy to grip. Due to its versatility, I can use the Zobi for a total body workout, including cardio, or on days when I am targeting specific muscle groups. The Zobi also comes with a workout DVD for those days when you want to mix it up by incorporating new workouts into your routine or if you do not have a routine and need some ideas. Total body workout with Zobi via @agirlsgottaspa Don't be fooled by the look of the Zobi - it is 7lbs and absolutely works those muscles! It's just the right size and weight to be effective while also not being difficult to travel with. When I'm on the road for my modeling shoots, sometimes finding a gym is easier said than done. Taking the Zobi along with me means I can squeeze in a workout from the comfort of my own hotel room. Using the Zobi is an afforable way to incorporate fitness into your daily life. Just set aside 30 minutes a day and you'll be amazed by the results! Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! Disclosure: Press sample

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Pre-Natal Massage at The Lodge at Woodloch

Shannon Smyth
Pre-natal massage review of @lodgeatwoodloch via @agirlsgottaspa Your aching back, your swollen cankles, your sore shoulders... if you are in your third trimester of pregnancy, I'm sure you can relate. There's so many things to look forward to with your impending arrival, but feeling like your body is falling apart is not one of them. As someone who absolutely loves her spa massages, pre-natal massage was something I was curious about since massage during pregnancy can have some unwanted side effects (especially if you are considered high risk, like myself.) Before heading to your local spa to indulge in a pre-natal massage, make sure that the therapist is trained in pre-natal. There's pressure points, etc. that are to be avoided during pregnancy because they can trigger contractions (some even say pre-term labor.) And there are certain essential oils you should stay away from. You should also get the all clear with your doctor/mid-wife first, as well. The Lodge at Woodloch, located in the beautiful Pocono Mountains, has staff that are trained in pre-natal massage. Once I had the all clear from my mid-wife team for massage, I ventured up during their Beauty Event Weekend in June.  The Lodge at Woodloch offers 50 and 75 minute Pre-Natal Massage, 50 minute Pre-Natal Shiatsu Massage, a 25 minute Gentle Belli Facial and a 50 minute Nuturing Body Polish. The treatment rooms at The Lodge at Woodloch are always relaxing with low lighting, soothing fragrances and tranquil music. When my therapist told me I would first lay on my back, I was surprised. I was worried that it would be uncomfortable or that I'd have difficulty breathing, however the massage table is manipulated in a way that you don't actually lay flat. It was quite comfortable, in fact. Pre-natal massage at The Lodge at Woodloch includes massaging your shoulders, scalp, arms, legs, ankles and bottom of your feet with Mama Mio Skincare. For the massage I had, they used O.Mega Tender Touch Massage Oil which contains avocado oil, jojoba oil, borage seed oil, rose hip seed oil and combined it with an essential oil blend of citrus, lavender and ylang ylang. Avocado Oil - rich oil that readily penetrates the skin due to the presence of Palmitoleic Acid. Avocado Oil is best suited for dry skin applications. Jojoba Oil - the closest oil to your skin’s own sebum; it is very soothing, helpful in healing and protecting skin from the ageing process. Borage Seed Oil - very high in the essential fatty acid Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA – Omega 6), making it extremely valuable in skincare formulations. Numerous studies have shown the topical application of oils containing GLA will effectively repair severely dry skin. Rose Hip Seed Oil - high in Linoleic and Linolenic essential fatty acids, which are key components of the epidermal lipid bi-layer. This oil is beneficial for the treatment of damaged and distressed skin by providing intense moisture. It smelled amazing. Who knew how much my feet were in need of a massage until the therapist touched them? She then moved to my belly for a brief belly massage. I warned her that my son may kick her in the process. However, he must've have felt how relaxed his mom was and didn't move the entire time. Once the front portion of your body has been tamed into relaxation, you then lie on one side with a pillow between your legs, a pillow under your head and a cloth covering your eyes so that a portion of your back can be massaged. Maybe it was just me, but the pillows were literally the fluffiest most comfortable pillows I have ever experienced and I wanted to drift off to sleep. You then switch sides so that she can give the rest of your back the attention it needs. When the 50 minutes were up, I told the therapist I would be OK if she just left me there to sleep. Unfortunately, others needed to be pampered so I couldn't take a nap. Darn. This pre-natal massage was glorious, my only advice is to go with 75 minutes. Take in as much pampering as you possibly can before your little one arrives. My husband gifted me a gift certificate for The Lodge at Woodloch that I intend to split between a pre-baby pedicure (because I honestly can't each my feet anymore) and a post-baby Tension Tamer massage when my upper back will be in dire need of soothing. If you've had a pre-natal massage at The Lodge at Woodloch, I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments! Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! *Disclosure: This massage was comped. However, all opinions and glorious relaxation are all my own.

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Detox Smoothie Recipes from Mirbeau Inn & Spa at The Pinehills

Shannon Smyth

March marks National Nutrition Month, and a great time to ramp-up healthy eating (and drinking!) habits. Stephen Coe, executive chef at Mirbeau Inn & Spa at The Pinehills (Plymouth, Mass.) has whipped up five delicious detox smoothie recipes to help sneak in superfoods, even when strapped for time.

Brain Fuel
2 cups spinach
1 cup coconut water
1 ripe pear
½ cup frozen mango
½ avocado
2 tbsp. hemp hearts
1tsp. acai powder
1tsp. camu powder
1 banana, frozen
1 tbsp., chopped cilantro, fresh

Carrot Cleanse
5 carrots, peeled
1 apple, seeded
½ cucumber
1 celery stalk
1 tbsp. ginger
1 cup of ice

1 tbsp. honey
1 banana
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup almond milk
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup ice
1 tbsp. chia seeds
4 ea. dates

Funky Monkey
1 banana, frozen
1 cup almond milk
¼ cup almond butter
1 tbsp. coco powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. agave
1 cup ice

Sunday Morning
2 cups spinach
1 cup frozen pear
1 cup mango frozen
1 banana
1 cup strawberry
1 cup almond milk
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup of ice



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Hum Nutrition 21 Day Cleanse

Gail Lewis

Hum Nutrition Cleanse to the Rescue review via @agirlsgottaspa

Detoxing and cleansing have now become a normal part of healthy lifestyle, and since I now live in Los Angeles it seems almost mandatory! I am all for a good cleanse/detox program, but I personally am not a fan of all juice cleanses or not eating.  I'll save you my laundry list of reasons, but I prefer eating actual solid, clean healthy foods, drinking a lot of water and green tea and taking my necessary vitamins and supplements. This is why I LOVED the Hum Nutrition Cleanse to the Rescue 21 Day Cleanse. Cleanse to the Rescue is a 21 day system designed to optimize digestion through the removal of toxins and assisting in the breakdown of nutrients.  The set contains 21 packets, each containing 4 capsules; 2 detox blend capsules called Daily Cleanse and 2 Flatter Me capsules that contain an enzyme combination for digestion and a flatter tummy.  Daily Cleanse combines botanicals for clear skin, organic chlorella algae, bladderwrack kelp, beetroot and milk thistle work together to detox and protect your skin as well as liver, bowels, kidneys, lungs, and lymphatic system. Flatter Me contains an enzyme blend that supports all major phases of nutrient digestion. Optimized to breakdown protein, carb, fiber, and fats, Flatter Me helps relieve indigestion.

Hum Nutrition Cleanse to the Rescue review via @agirlsgottaspa

The Cleanse To The Rescue 21 Day Cleanse is super easy to use, just take one regular sized capsule before your two main meals. I took mine right before I sat down to eat lunch and dinner, then took the two larger capsules between meals without food. There is no weird aftertaste with these capsules, they actually smelled and tasted a bit like pineapples and I loved how convenient the packets large bottles of juices to lug everywhere.  I never felt tired or fatigued or had headaches or any of the other negative side effects associated with most cleanses and this is one of the least expensive cleanses I have ever done.  Just $42 for the 21 day supply. My skin also cleared up and my belly bloat all but disappeared on this cleanse. One very odd thing that happened during this cleanse is that I could not stand the smell or taste of seafood or meat. I am not sure if this was due to the cleanse or if my body just decided it was tired of meat and seafood. I finished my cleanse yesterday and I still cannot stand the thought of seafood or meat and I've never felt better. Even though I've completed the Cleanse to the Rescue 21 Day Cleanse, I fully intend to purchase and continue taking the Daily Cleanse Capsules, I may also give Ripped Rooster, Pimp My Calcium and Beauty zzZz a try! The Hum Nutrition Cleanse to the Rescue is available online or at Sephora. Have you tried Hum Nutrition yet? Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too!

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