Treating Winter Skincare Woes

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned about pregnancy so far it’s that there are a lot of constants — fluctuating hormones, escalating excitement, random discomforts and exponential expansion, just to name a few. Oh, and the fact that just when you think you’ve got things figured out, your body will throw you for a loop.

Case in point: Schizophrenic skin.

I’m pretty good about trying to meet my daily quota of water to keep the inside of my body (and Baby H) hydrated. But despite Portland’s nonstop-soggy climate, the humidity in the air wasn’t enough; our cold winter weather was still managing to wreak havoc on my now-sensitive skin (read: dry patches and red blotches on my face, along with chapped hands from frequent hand-washing during cold & flu season).

Since so many skincare ingredients are no-nos for preggos, I went in search of a few new products that would not only be safe, but also ultra-nourishing. I ended up revamping my regimen with the following, which I wanted to share in case you’re experiencing similar skin maladies this season:

Remove Makeup: Wipe face gently with Burt’s Bees Sensitive Facial Cleansing Towelettes with Cotton Extract to remove dirt, oil and makeup.

Cleanse: Massage Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser into damp skin fro 20 seconds, then rinse with warm water to hydrate and help balance skin.

Moisturize: Apply Farmaesthetics Nourishing Lavender Milk to clean, slightly-damp face (morning and night) to mend freaked-out skin.

Treat: Slather on good ole Mentholatum Ointment for chapped lips and Farmaesthetics Hand to Heel Softening Salve on cracked hands, heels and ashy elbows.

Prevent: Alternate Farmaesthetics Nourishing Herbal Cream with The Spoiled Mama Tummy Butter and Booda Butter to keep belly itchiness at bay and help prevent stretch marks.

Pamper: Spritz pillow with Earth Mama Angel Baby Morning Wellness Spray for aromatherapy effects, soak swollen feet with Farmaesthetics Field Lavender Solar Salt Mineral Bath, soothe tense muscles with Farmaesthetics Deep Lavender Rub and ease anxiety with Farmaesthetics Lemon Balm Remedy Oil.

Note: As it turns out, Farmaesthetics has a special New & Nursing Mothers Gift Set, which effectively kills many birds with one stone (i.e. ALL the Farmaesthetics products mentioned about are included), so I’d suggest checking it out.

Not only because you can sample a smorgasbord of products at once, but also because all six formulations come in convenient travel-sized containers — perfect for babymooning or in your hospital bag!

What are your best tips for treating winter skincare woes? 

Fave Fix: Energems Chocolate Energy

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Normally I’m not a huge proponent of energy supplements. No judgment; I just prefer to go about things the old fashioned way to try to keep my energy levels steady throughout the day — e.g. healthy eating, ample sleep and regular exercise.

But…

I’m not so rigid that I’m opposed to an afternoon pick-me-up (usually in the form of caffeine) on those rare days where I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open around 3 pm. I’m also not opposed to the occasional treat, which is usually in the form of chocolate.

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So when I caught wind of Energems, which combines dark chocolate with Vitamins B and D, plus a “clean” energy boost from caffeine, my ears perked up. I’ve used caffeine-enhanced gels and chews with success during races, so why not see if something similar can help me handle a sweet craving and manage the dreaded afternoon slump?

But first things first: I draw the line at putting random chemicals in my body, so I was interested to see if the nutritional information stacked up against the product’s claims. And in case you’re wondering (like I was), L-Theanine is a chemical derived from tea leaves and mushrooms; it’s meant to promote a relaxing effect, which keeps any caffeine-related jitters at bay.

Note: There’s not much information regarding its safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation, plus I’m trying to limit my caffeine and sugar intake right now, so I only tested one Energem at a time. Luckily, Ben was happy to help play guinea pig for the full dose!

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The amount of caffeine in one serving is equivalent to a large cup of coffee. But I like that you can customize the amount with one, two or three Energems to get only the boost you want, nothing more.

Why the vitamins, though? Well, B vitamins help support physical energy, and vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” because it’s supposed to help support a healthy mental state. That’s especially helpful during the dreary winters here in the Pacific Northwest!

As far as taste goes, while Energems aren’t candy, they reminded me a bit of your typical coated chocolate treats. And the flavors are great — Dark Chocolate is for purists, Mint Dark Chocolate is refreshing without overpowering, and Berry-Flavored Dark Chocolate tasted nice and natural.

Since I only took one of each flavor at a time, I didn’t experience as much of an energy boost, although I did enjoy the fact that I could get a sweet treat with the addition of some helpful antioxidants and vitamins. Ben, on the other hand, took a full dose each time and reported good results — he wasn’t bouncing off the walls by any means, but liked the flavors and the feeling of alertness.

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I don’t intend to use Energems regularly because I usually get my daily dose of caffeine with my morning coffee and I happen to think that the best way to combat fatigue in the long-run is to move more, eat well and rest properly. But I’ll be putting a bottle in my purse for when I’m on-the-go and want a quick pick-me-up that’s both convenient and will hopefully prevent me from making poor choices out of fatigue (like swinging through the drive-through for a milkshake!).

It’s also something I may try later at full dose post-pregnancy for shorter events, like 5ks and 10ks, when I want a smooth burst of energy without a crash. I’m not sure how practical they are for during the event (stuffing a baggie of them down my sports bra is a likely a no-no due to the melt factor), but they’re a lot more convenient than a cup of coffee at the start line!

How do you handle those occasional afternoon energy slumps? Would you try a healthier alternative to energy drinks for a mid-day pick-me-up?

Disclaimer: I received complementary product to try. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Kinetic Fix!

10 Second Trimester Life-Savers

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On Monday, I shared a few favorite first trimester essentials, and today we’re doubling down with my must-haves from over the past few months.

While the initial few weeks of pregnancy might be more about survival, the second trimester is typically the light at the end of the tunnel. This is when things start to get real. It’s the “sweet spot,” so to speak, where energy has returned, appetite is up and girth is, well, growing.

Again, each experience is different, but there are just a few of the things that have helped get me by while Baby H is hard at work building him/herself!

1. Maternity Undies

I’ll never forget the first time I ventured into a maternity store and saw the ‘Mommy’ panties (I’ll refrain from calling them Granny). Slightly horrified, I backed away and vowed not to go there.

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But then I got curious and tried them on. After months of my body slowly expanding, this new frontier is women’s underwear is, quite simply, a revelation. I happened to find a few pair that were made of silky-smooth technical material — on clearance, no less — and they’ve been on heavy rotation ever since.

2. Protein Shakes

Getting enough protein when all you want to do is crash on the couch and eat carbs is always a struggle. I was bemoaning this fact when my friend Corey introduced me to the Arbonne Daily Essentials line, which has a lot of good stuff (20 grams of vegan protein, plus more than 20 essential vitamins and minerals per serving) with none of the crap (i.e. chemicals) found in some protein products.

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Since it’s also got a low glycemic index, which has little effect on blood sugar levels and does not cause a spike in blood sugar, I feel way less guilty about using a quick shake as a grab-n-go meal on busy days. Or, more often than not, a snack between meals. Because, who am I kidding?

3. Belly Butter

Ah, yes, there’s nothing quite like slathering some Booda Butter on that itchy, stretched-out belly post-shower. Sharlene, my Team LUNA Chix Portland Run teammate and a fellow mama-to-be, shared a tin with me and I’ve been raving about it ever since. Mostly because it works, but also because it smells like chocolate. 

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Another favorite? The Spoiled Mama’s Tummy Butter for Stretch Marks, which came in the mail as another prenatal gift from my wise sister. Between the cocoa butter base and the 11 nourishing oils, it feels heavenly on…and — surprise, surprise — the rich orange-chocolate scent isn’t too bad, either.

4. Nursing Sleep Bra

Trust me on this, even before you’re nursing it’s nice to have a little help wrangling the ‘ladies’ at night when you’re tossing and (laboriously) turning. Especially when the number of comfortable positions available in bed are rapidly dwindling.

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A quick Amazon search landed me on the VEAMI Nursing Sleep Bra, and it’s been love at first wear ever since. Silky-smooth and breathable, with just the right amount of support, this will quickly become your new ‘breast’ friend for the next few months…and beyond.

5. Full-Panel Pants

Take the advice of pretty much every pregnant woman ever, and start wearing these before you think you need ’em. Sure, you need a little bit of a bump to hold up the elastic panel, but once you make the switch, you’ll wonder why you waited so long.

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Test the waters with a reasonably-priced pair from Old Navy, or take the plunge with my favorite full-panel workout pants from Ingrid & Isabel (recommended by my friend Anabel). Not only are they great for hitting the town and breaking a sweat, respectively, but I’m also considering tossing all of my other pants, even after Baby H is born. Just kidding…kind of. 

6. Body Pillow

Ok, so I might have been a bit overzealous when I bought my Leachco Snoogle pillow about a month into pregnancy (and I thought I was uncomfortable then – HA!), but ever since I started using it regularly this trimester, it’s treated me well.

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The c-shape design is helpful because you can contort yourself into multiple positions without using a gazillion pillows. Because, let’s face it, it’s all about supporting  hips, back and tummy for a good barely adequate night’s sleep at this point in the game.

7. Stability Ball

Even if you’ve never played around with one at the gym, it’s well worth investing in a stability ball for use during pregnancy and labor. Not only does using it help ease back pain and open the hips, but you’ll also (fingers crossed!) start working the baby into the proper position come delivery day.

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The great news is that they’re relatively inexpensive, considering all the potential uses (I found this one on Amazon for about $25); I use it during evening TV watching, for example. And I dare you to keep a smile off your face as you bounce up and down on this thing!

8. Portable Snacks

Hell hath no fury like a hangry preggo. Whether you get stuck in traffic, an appointment runs late or you just need a pick-me-up between meals, it’s smart to carry around a few snacks to keep satiated.

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I bought my first Grab & Go packet of Sahale Snacks while hunting around at the grocery store for different options, and they’ve been a staple in my purse, gym bag and glove compartment ever since!

9. Supportwear

When I first started having round ligament pain, my doctor suggested I try some options for helping to support my growing belly. After taking to the internet for some research, I ran across Blanqi’s BODYSTYLER® Maternity Underbust Belly Support Tank and was instantly intrigued.

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Designed for maximum support, Blanqi’s tank offers varying degrees of compression for a great combo of lift, stability and comfort. I layer it under pretty much everything and plan on using it post-baby, as well. Wanna check it out? Use my referral link to get a code for 20% off!

10. Prenatal Classes

If there’s one thing that’s proved invaluable — not just for learning about all things pregnancy, but also for creating an unofficial support group of women who are going through the same thing — it’s weekly prenatal classes.

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Anabel introduced me to MYMA Mama (which has slowly grown in size as more of our friends get knocked up!), but I’ve also taken a local Mod-Mama class that was terrific. These types of classes are designed to rejuvenate the body during pregnancy while preparing for birth with an “open mind,” which has become a mission as I approach the third and final trimester!

What are your must-haves for the second trimester of pregnancy? Any other tips to share?

10 First Trimester Life-Savers

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With the third trimester now looming, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite must-haves from the earlier stages of pregnancy. Of course, what worked for me may not work for you, so take this advice with a grain of salt and embrace the need to experiment until you find something that does the trick.

Whether you have morning, evening (or all-day) sickness or if your body immediately starts changing or takes its time getting the message, remember that every pregnancy is different. Despite what I initially anticipated, I didn’t really need a whole lot at this point in the process…however, there are a few things that I found helpful for coping with the usual suspects during those first few weeks with baby on board.

1. Sound Probiotics

In addition to prenatal vitamins, I’ve been taking Sound Probiotics since day one of my pregnancy (actually, long before – use code KINETICFIX for 10% off your order) and I truly believe that these magic little capsules are responsible for keeping me happy, healthy and regular throughout.

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Why, you ask? Well, studies show that probiotics help reduce upper respiratory tract infections and gut complaints, are vital in nutrient production and absorption, aid in the production of B-vitamins plus enhance amino acid uptake in the gut — all conducive to keeping me active and healthy for baby, which is a win-win.

2. Hydro Flask

Just a few days after I broke the pregnancy news to my sister, a box arrived in the mail with one of her very favorite staples for staying extra hydrated: a HydroFlask.

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Made of 18/8 pro-grade stainless steel that’s both BPA-free and phalate-free, these bottles are designed to keep cold beverages for 24 hours or hot beverages for six hours. It really works, too — during the late summer months, my morning’s ice water would still be cold in the evening!

3. What to Expect When You’re Expecting

After falling down the internet rabbit hole several times during a few well-intentioned Google searches early on, I opted for a safer resource for all of my subsequent pregnancy-related questions: the tried-and-true manual, What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

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Dubbed the “pregnancy bible,” this iconic New York Times bestseller has all the information you need without any of the scary stories or wacky opinions you’ll find lurking on all those online pregnancy message boards (trust me; avoid them at all costs).

4. Oyster Crackers

They may not be especially fancy, but Premium Soup & Oyster Crackers sure do the trick when you wake up starving in the middle of the night or in the morning with a sour stomach.

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I kept a bag of these by my bedside for a good four months; not only are they nice and bland, but they’re also conveniently bite-sized so you don’t get too many crumbs between your sheets!

5. Gap Inset Panel Pants

There aren’t many left in stock, but if you can get your hands on a pair of Gap’s inset panel jeans, I’d highly recommend ’em because they’re perfect for that bloaty, in-between stage of the first trimester.

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I tried belly bands over my pre-pregnancy jeans, but preferred the inset panel for the barely-there-bump stage; it has just the right about of “give” to allow for a swelling midsection, but still feels like you’re rocking your regular pants.

6. Coobie Bra

Consider yourself warned: There Will Be Boobs. Even if your cup never runneth over before, be prepared to watch your girls grow…and grow…during the first few months.

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My solution? A Coobie bra — not only for practical reasons (one size fits all!), but also because it comes in cute colors, is supportive and really does live up to its claim of being the “most comfortable bra.” Ahhh. 

7. Zensah Sports Bra

Sensing a theme here? Well, in addition to a new everyday bra, I quickly learned that first trimester’s growing, ahem, “assets” necessitated a revamp of my workout wardrobe, as well.

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Enter the Zensah Gazelle Sports Bra, which offers seamless high-impact support for larger cup sizes and a design that utilizes both encapsulation and compression to keep the ladies happy — and bounce-free — while you’re breaking a sweat.

8. Acure Bath Products

Typically, when it comes to natural beauty products, I’ve learned not to expect much because I’ve found they’re rarely as effective as the chemical-laden ones we’re all used to. That is, until I found Acure Organics.

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The night cream was my gateway product…followed by the body wash. In two different scents. By the time I was buying the shampoo and conditioner, I knew I was hooked — and doing something better for my body, my baby and the environment.

9. La Croix Sparkling Water

Don’t get me started on one of the major bummers of pregnancy: “Mocktails.” Sickeningly sweet or nauseatingly sour, they simply lack subtlety — so, more often than not, I’ll turn to La Croix, my new go-to beverage.

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Between all the fun flavors and the fact that there’s no bad stuff on the ingredient list, a can of every now and then feels like a healthy indulgence. I know I’m not the first to jump on this bandwagon, but I certainly won’t be the last.

10. Monthly Massage

Finally, if there’s one “nice-to-have” bordering on a “need-to-have” during the first few months, it’s regular prenatal massages — as often as your budget and/or schedule will allow — with a properly-trained licensed massage therapist.

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Trust me, there’s nothing better than giving your weary body a little TLC as it’s spiraling from all the physical, emotional, hormonal and mental changes happening at once.

Any time on the table is well spent, in my book!

What are your must-haves for the first trimester of pregnancy? Any other tips to share?

Fave Fix: Mumberry’s Fashionable Maternity Activewear

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So right off the bat, you’re probably thinking: Isn’t that headline an oxymoron?! Do “fashionable” and “maternity” actually fit in the same sentence?

Well, there’s an upside and a downside to being pregnant at the moment.

The upside? Gone are the tented MuMus of days past; whether you want to camouflage the bump or shrink-wrap it and put it on display, there are a bunch of great brands out there with beautiful street clothing in flattering silhouettes.

The downside? For whatever reason, most of the big-name sportswear companies have yet to step up to the plate when it comes to their baby-on-board consumers. Sure, they may have dabbled in maternity lines here and there, but the fact remains that maternity activewear — and I mean the stuff that’s meant to really perform during hard workouts — is seriously lacking.

The good news, though, is that there are a number of smaller companies springing up to take advantage of this gap in the market. Like, Mumberry, for example, who reached out to ask me to try out their signature Mumband™, which is built into all of their apparel and provides crucial belly and back support.

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Having stretched most of my usual workout wardrobe to its limits, I quickly agreed. Even though I’m not fully bumped-out yet, but the need for back and belly support is becoming much more apparent as the weeks go on.

So they sent the Boost Tank ($72) and Move Active Capri ($72) for me to test out. I’ve since worn them through a variety of workouts, from walking, “ellipticaling” and strength training to Pilates, yoga and even my prenatal movement class.

Right out of the box I could tell they were high-quality products, both from the weight of the fabric and the solid construction. And even though I’ve got a few more weeks until I can fully fill them out, they’re perfectly comfortable for those weird pre-bump and post-baby stages when you want to wear something a little body-skimming without feeling too self-conscious about every lump and soft spot.

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The top’s not only a gorgeous, vibrant shade of emerald, but it’s also made of super-stretchy fabric that allows both freedom of movement and belly growth. Between the built-in bra and the Mumband (I’ve flipped it inside out in the photos below so you can see), there’s a gentle compression and upward lift, which I’m developing a real appreciation for as Baby H keeps getting bigger…and bigger.

Here are some of the other features:

  • Patent-pending Mumband
  • High-support bra with removable cups
  • Moisture-wicking fabric and breathable mesh
  • 4-way stretch fabric
  • Chafe resistant seams
  • Machine-washable
  • Made in the USA of imported components

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As for the capris, they’ve got somewhat of a double waistband — both the traditional under-belly one, as well as the Mumband, which comes up over the bump and stays secure thanks to an elastic band at the top. And bonus points for a nice, high rise in the back on these puppies!

Other features include:

  • Patent-pending Mumband belly support band
  • Pocket large enough for large smart phones
  • Moisture-wicking fabric to keep you feeling cool
  • 4-way stretch fabric with chafe resistant seams for ultimate comfort and freedom of movement
  • Made in the USA of imported components

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Overall, I was really impressed with Mumberry’s products. The materials and design have been done with care, and the fact that you can double up on the Mumband (one in the top, one in the bottom), makes it a versatile option for workouts since you can wear it at all stages of pregnancy — and beyond! — as well as customize the level of support.

All Mumberry products are machine-washable, too, so whether you’re covered in sweat now or — dare I say — baby food/pee/poop/puke (or some combination of them) later, you can just toss ’em in the wash and you’re good to go for your next workout. I’m excited to see what styles and colors they come out with next because you all know I’m a sucker when it comes to cute, colorful fitness gear that works as hard as I do!

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For more information and to shop the line, visit Mumberry.com. Save 20% on your next order, too, when you sign up for emails.

Have you found any maternity workout wear that rocks your world? 

I received an outfit from Mumberry to try. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands who support KineticFix!

Fave Fix: My Latest Compression Obsession

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned about pregnancy and running, it’s to expect the unexpected. Especially at this stage in the game (about 23 weeks) where some days I barely feel like I know my own body anymore…let alone know how to maneuver it through mileage that used to be a breeze but now has pausing every now and then to catch my breath, constantly re-adjusting my ever-shrinking workout wardrobe and stopping for (inevitable…and consistent) pee breaks.

With my mid-run annoyance meter set to super-sensitive, it’s more important now than ever before to limit additional distractions while working out. After all, the point is to get out, stretch my legs and clear my head — and that’s a lot easier said than done unless I make sure to get a few variables under control, such as fueling, hydration and gear.

Since food and water are priority numeros uno and dos these days, those are pretty much a given. But gear, that’s something I’m always tinkering with, trying to find the right combination to make my body happy so my brain can turn off for a while during a run.

And, as you know, I’ve been extolling the virtues of compression for years so it was high time that I put it to the test during pregnancy. While the actual claims are always up for debate (more power and endurance, less exertion and vibration), the placebo effect has won me over time and time again…so when Legend Compression Wear sent me a pair of their compression performance socks to check out, I could.not.wait to get out on the roads with ’em.

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“My Vision for LEGEND™ began with the notion of …Be a LEGEND™ which really formed our thinking around our Performance Wear products,” said the company’s president and founder, John Thomas. “We want to provide the necessary support for athletes to reach their goals.”

Geared specifically towards improving performance, Legend’s muscle stabilization and overall graduated compression technology (15-20 mmHg) claims to help improve endurance, decrease injuries and speed recovery times thanks to increased oxygen levels and blood circulation. Now, I’m not sure if that’s true, clinically, but I’ve worn my fair share of compression gear, so I’m always interested to see how the different brands stack up against each other.

Immediately out of the package, I liked how soft and stretchy the fabric was, along with the seamless toe and foot that is cushioned yet made to expand slightly to the shape of your tootsies. These may seem like minor points, but trust me — when you’re a few miles into a run and get blindsided with a blister, you’ll start thinking twice about what you put on your feet!

Legend’s Compression Performance Socks also get bonus points for arch support to keep the socks from slipping and extra support at the heel and Achilles, along with special yarn and stitching that not only wicks moisture, but also allows legs and feet to breathe.

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Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re thinking. That all sounds great. But what’s the verdict post-run?

First off, let’s talk fit and form: I particularly loved how easy these socks were to get on; I’ve never liked breaking a sweat trying to wrestle myself into my compression gear before, but now ain’t nobody got time for that with a growing belly getting in the way. And an added perk is that Legend’s socks are nice and long; one of my pet peeves are knee-high socks that don’t come up to the knee..and these will accommodate even the leggiest of runners.

As for function, I tested them out on several runs ranging from three to six miles, and they passed my tests with flying colors. Not only were they comfortable and supportive without being overly restrictive, but they also were thick enough to feel substantial while remaining breathable. Honestly, I was having so much fun plodding along each time (gotta love fall running!) that I forgot I had ’em on, which is always the mark of great gear.

The only downsides? Well, besides the fact that they’re only available in a few colors (you can tell from the pics that subtlety is not my strong point when it comes to workout wear...but I’ll give the brand a break because they’re new and growing), they’re a bit of an investment ($49.99), yet pretty comparable to what else is out there.

But before you balk at the piece, remember that these socks are for more than just running; I always wear a pair when flying and love to lounge around in them on off days, plus I know they’ll also come in handy when combating pregnancy “cankles.” So when you factor cost-per-use, they’re not as outrageous as you’d think!

For more info on Legend’s compression wear, visit the company’s website here.

To compress or not to compress, that is the question… Do you think it’s a trend or do you use it as a training staple?

Back to Basics: My Favorite All-Natural Skincare Products

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Welcome to your 30’s, where it’s possible to have both pimples and wrinkles at the same time. And don’t even get me started on what pregnancy hormones do when thrown into the mix. 

You know what that means, though? Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t just limited to what you put into your body (nutrition) or how you keep it in shape (exercise); it’s also about developing a strategy for keeping its largest, most protective organ — aka our skin — in tip-top shape.

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So I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m a total junkie when it comes to beauty products. Maybe it was watching my mom do Miracle Whip facials and mayonnaise hair conditioning treatments when I was a kid, but you name it, and I’ll try it on the quest for smoother skin, shinier hair or a dewier glow.

And while I typically don’t discriminate against ingredients (I know, I know…but I have yet to find a natural deodorant or shampoo/conditioner that actually works), I’ve done a 180 with Baby H on board these past few months.

The last thing I want to do is expose him/her to harmful chemicals, regardless of how small the amounts may be, so I’ve been on the hunt for the best all-natural (or as close as possible) alternatives. Here are the current favorites on heavy rotation in my routine:

Step 1: Remove Makeup

At 99.1% natural, Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes ($6) supposedly remove makeup, cleanse and tone in one easy step, leaving skin clean without the need for rinsing. But I prefer to use them as a first line of defense in removing even the most stubborn makeup without irritating skin.

Step 2: Cleanse

Made with 100% Certified Fair Trade ingredients, I first spotted Alaffia EveryDay Coconut Cleansing Face Wash ($13) while shopping at Whole Foods and decided to give it a whirl. Because it’s all-natural, it isn’t quite powerful enough to remove heavy-duty makeup or waterproof mascara on its own, but works well in conjunction with the Burt’s Bees towelettes.

My friend Corey also shared some Arbonne Calm ($123 for the full-sized set) samples with me because the line is not only free from the usual chemical suspects, but it’s also made up of naturally-derived and food-grade ingredients that do not contain fragrance or color. I’ve been using these mostly while traveling a) because they’re travel-sized and b) because dry airplane air can wreak havoc on skin, but the products have lived up to their name.

Step 3: Tone

After years of using harsh toners that would leave my skin feeling stripped and tight, I’ve learned my lesson and now take a gentler approach with Scientific Organics Spirulina Toner ($30), which adjusts pH, removes dead skin cells and prepares skin for better product absorption. Best of all, it’s made of pure, potent botanicals instead of chemicals and has a minimum of 70% organic ingredients.

Step 4: Treat

Because some of the best anti-agers (retinols) are a no-no during pregnancy, I’ve adopted Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum ($34) as my new treatment of choice. It’s got eight “actives” or ingredients with known antioxidant and skin rejuvenating properties and none of the bad stuff, so I can help reduce the effects of photoaging and not feel guilty in the process.

And when I want to have a “spa moment” but don’t have extra time or cash for a facial, I turn to BioRepublic Eco-Friendly Sheet Masks ($5 each) which is are ultra-soothing facial masks infused with natural cucumber extract, plant collagen and vitamin E. I’ll pop one on during an evening TV show, and in 20 minutes stressed out skin feels soothed and rejuvenated.

Step 5: Moisturize

I’m been a big fan of Acure Organics Night Cream ($18), which I found at the local Pharmaca and used for about four months with great results (they don’t call it “nature’s nocturnal miracle” for nothin’). However, the scent became a little too much thanks to the association with the first trimester queasies, so I’ve been looking for something new that would still do the trick for tired skin.

Enter Farmaesthetics Nourishing Lavender Milk ($38), which is my new multitasking best friend at bedtime; not only is it made of 100% natural ingredients that are certified organic (as indicated), but the lavender smell helps me relax as I drift off to sleep. Plus, it’s got one of the all-time best skincare ingredients — Calendula — which is an ancient remedy for healing wounds (as well as a diaper rash treatment that my sister swears by).

Step 6: Remember the Body

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also include some skincare items for the benefit of your body, as well (because hello, pregnancy bacne)…

Case in point: Pura Naturals Peppermint Volcano Soap-Infused Active Slice Sponges ($9 for a 3-pack), which are awesome, patent-pending soap infusion sponges that will cut your shower time in half. They’re infused with ground pumice and a bunch of rich extracts and oils — all great, yes — but what makes them really cool is that they’re created from renewable plant materials and the manufacturing process actually removes carbon from the atmosphere, so every purchase is akin to buying a personal carbon offset.

And, finally, no skincare post that references pregnancy would be complete without mention of something to keep the dreaded itchy belly at bay. My two favorites are Booda Butter ($14) and  The Spoiled Mama Tummy Butter ($34), both of which smell like cocoa and immediately give me a chocolate chip cookie craving each time I apply them. But they’re also smooth without being greasy and mild enough scent-wise to be used all throughout pregnancy.

Which natural beauty items are on your must-have list? I’d love to hear which products you swear by!