6 Tips for Finding Balance in Life

balance__1457100855_162.206.228.38Ah, balance!  It sounds so easy breezy but yet it is so hard to achieve.  For something so simple, finding balance in life actually takes a lot of work.  Whether you work outside the home or your current life’s work is taking care of your family – whether you have none, one or many children – whether you are super involved in many things or focus on just a few – most of us could improve our life balance.  Today we’re offering 6 tips for finding balance in life.

Tip #1:  Identify the elements in your life that you want to prioritize.

Each of our lives is fulfilled in different ways and usually that includes many aspects.  Family, relationships, work, home, social, spiritual, health, personal development and leisure among others are all important parts of modern lives.  Not all of these can be achieved every day but pinpointing what is essential to your life on a regular basis will help you align your lifestyle, thoughts, actions and beliefs in harmony.

Tip #2:  Balance requires choices and sacrifices so be prepared to make tough decisions.

When your days become overwhelmed with too many “balls in the air,” step back to consider your priorities and align yourself with your values. Make choices that directly reflect what you identified as the most important aspects of your life.  This will mean making regular sacrifices and putting some things on hold while you focus on other priorities.  While it may feel incongruent in the moment, these in-the-moment decisions are a very normal part of finding balance in life.

Tip #3:  Learn to say “No.”

We can do it all and have it all, but not necessarily at the same time.  Learning to say “no” when your plate is full is essential to finding balance in life.  We get out of whack when we take on too much, are pulled in a million directions and aren’t successful in anything we are doing.  Balance is not just about equilibrium of all priority aspects of our lives, it’s also about feeling satisfied and accomplished in these areas.  If you can’t participate to the best of your ability, you won’t feel balanced.

Tip #4:  Make space for your own health.

Poor health can throw everything off balance and derail all of your hard work.  As caregivers and diligent workers, occasionally the needs of others must come before our own, but not to the detriment of your own health.  Maintain physical health through a wholesome diet, exercise and sleep, cognitive health through stimulation and challenges, and emotional health with relaxation, fun and time alone.

Tip #5:  Develop and maintain healthy relationships.

Human beings are hard-wired for meaningful social interactions.  Relationships aren’t just an indulgence; they are an important part of finding balance in life.  Friends, family, significant others, co-workers and sometimes even exchanges with strangers can greatly improve our lives by making us feel helpful, desired and part of a team.  This inherent need is crucial to finding balance in life.  If you struggle in this area, map out a plan to get together with friends or join a group to meet new people.

Tip #6:  Have a routine but know how and when to abandon it sometimes.

Balanced people usually operate within a general routine that accounts for important priorities on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.  That’s important for stability.  However, sometimes you need to exit your routine to explore the world, gain perspective and let things go.  This may mean taking a vacation now and again, or simply taking a different route to work.  Also, unplug to focus on other priorities at least once a day and more often on the weekend.  Just like your body needs sleep every night, your brain needs space away from the constant barrage of information, problems and being available.

We’re wishing you much balance in life!

Homemade Face Masks

If your skin is feeling a bit lackluster from the cold, dry weather, whip up a homemade face mask to help restore and rejuvenate your best skin.  Yup, it’s that easy!  Rather than heading to a beauty supply store or a spa, you can use ingredients from your own home to make terrific homemade face masks.  Here are some of our favorite ideas for homemade face masks:

Berry Face Mask:  Antioxidants are nature’s cell-rejuvenating nutrients, and berries are a leading source of them.  Berries contain special antioxidants called polyphenols that purify skin, reduce fine lines and wrinkles and help minimize discoloration.  Mash up whatever berries you have on hand with a few sprinkles of sugar.  Let the sweet mixture sit on your face for 5-10 minutes.  You can also purchase acai powder from a health food store to add to your berry face mask.

Mayonnaise Face Mask:  You’ve probably heard that this condiment is good for skin, but do you know why?  Mayonnaise contains vinegar, eggs and oil, three skin-loving beautiful young woman doing cosmetic mask on her faceingredients.  Vinegar is a natural exfoliant that helps encourage younger, fresher cells to the surface of your face.  Using mayo can be a one-stop ingredient or you can add additional natural oils or essences to further stimulate and moisturize your pores.

Wine and Olive Oil Face Mask:  These ingredients you probably have on hand from last weekend’s dinner party make a fabulous homemade face mask.  Red wine is particularly high in the antioxidant reservatrol, which helps reverse and slow the signs of aging.  Combine equal parts wine and olive oil with crushed oatmeal until it forms a paste that you can apply to your face.

Banana Face Mask:  This is one of our simplest suggestions because it can be done with just one ingredient:  bananas!  Bananas help moisturize and soften skin and are naturally thick and easy to mush.  Squish one up and apply it to your face or mix it with a bit of yogurt and honey for added nutrients.

Oatmeal Face Mask:  Many people know that oatmeal is delicious for your skin.  It pretty much does it all, from reducing inflammation to deeply moisturize.  Oatmeal even cleanses pores and adds protein protection to skin cells.  To make this face mask, prepare oatmeal the typical way with boiling water.  Combine with plain yogurt, a drop of honey and an egg white to make a luscious homemade face mask.

Fruit or Veggie Slice Face Mask:  Almost every fruit or vegetable is great for your face because produce is chock full of valuable nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.  Just as lotions, serums and creams with a combination of nutrients seeps into your skin, so can the pure nutrients of fruits and veggies when they sit on your face.  Whenever you’re cooking, save a few slices of whatever is in your meal to use on your face.  Ideas include citrus fruits, kiwis, apples, eggplant, gourds and potatoes.

Next time you feel your skin needs a pick-me-up, look no further than your own kitchen for homemade face masks.  With the simplicity of a few natural ingredients that you probably have on hand, you can create a skintastic face mask with great results.

Healthy Rice: Which Types of Rice are Healthiest?

Rice has been a dietary staple of the human diet for ages.  It is natural, easily digestible, relatively inexpensive and simple to cultivate.  But not all rice offers the same nutritional value.  If you’re going to eat rice, you may as well eat healthy rice varieties.  With many rice options lining the grocery store shelves, you may be wondering, what types of rice are healthiest?  We’re breaking down healthy rice for your right here, right now.

Glass bowls with different types of raw rice, close-upWhen you think of rice, you mind may go directly to white rice.  White rice is not the healthiest type of rice because it has been processed to remove bran and germ as well as other essential nutrients.  It therefore does not contain as much fiber.  Per cup, white rice has about 1 gram of fiber whereas the same amount of brown rice has 4 grams of fiber.  Fiber is valuable for many reasons, one of which is its role on the digestion of carbohydrates and impact on the body’s glycemic index.  Fiber helps slow the breakdown of food and sustain steady blood sugar levels.  Additionally, long grain varieties of rice have more fiber than short grain rice and are therefore better for blood glucose as well.

Of the most common types of rice available, there are four top healthy rice varieties:  brown rice, black rice, red rice and wild rice.

Brown Rice:  Whole grain brown rice has grown in popularity and accessibility in recent years and is a healthy rice choice.  As we already established, brown rice contains 4x the fiber of white rice and the germ and bran are in tact.  Brown rice is chock full of the B complex vitamins, phosphorous, magnesium and the antioxidant Vitamin E.  This means it is great for muscles and bones, as well as immune strength and anti-aging properties.  Brown jasmine rice and brown basmati rice are two long grain varieties of brown rice that are excellent healthy rice options.

Black Rice:  This majestic healthy rice comes from China and is rich in many nutrients.  It is believed to have supercharged antioxidants called anthocyanins that help protect and defend cells from free radicals.  In fact, a study showed that black rice has around 6x the antioxidants of white rice and has at least twice the protein of white rice.  Plus, black rice looks very elegant and adds depth and diversity to your plate.

Red Rice:  Similar to black rice, red rice contains fabulous antioxidants that help boost cellular strength to keep the body functioning properly and reduce the effects of aging.  It contains more protein and fiber than white rice and is a good source of manganese, magnesium, potassium, zinc and phosphorous.

Wild Rice:  Although also a grass, wild rice is a very different variety of healthy rice.  It is a cross between rice and vegetable with a chewy texture and acquired veggie taste.  It contains more protein and less carbs than brown rice, along with lots of Vitamin A, folic acid and a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.  If you are not sold on the texture and flavor of wild rice, try mixing it with other more palatable rice varieties to infuse these added nutrients into your diet.

These healthy rice selections can keep your diet fresh and nutritious.  There is no harm in having white rice occasionally, but keep things interesting by mixing up your meals with the healthiest rice varieties.

What is Zapping your Concentration?

Stressed businesswoman in the officeAre you having trouble staying focused?  Do you find your mind wandering when you should be listening to your spouse, kids or boss?  Is your attention span becoming shorter and shorter?   If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, something may be zapping your concentration throughout the day.  Here are some common daily distractions that may be zapping your concentration:

Email:  Although you may feel most of your workday happens via email, the constant barrage of emails may be what is zapping your concentration.  If you find you are continuously stopping a task to look through emails, work offline until you complete your priority projects.  Longer projects may require “email breaks” where you pause work on the project to check emails.  Only respond to urgent requests or anything that takes less than two minutes.  Otherwise save more time-consuming issues for after your priority projects.

Hunger:  When your tummy is rumbling, chances are the rest of your body is suffering too.  Lack of nutrition and sustenance leads to many issues that may be zapping your concentration including fatigue and impaired mental clarity.  Your brain and entire body needs food for energy.  Make sure you eat meals and snacks high in protein and fiber to maintain steady concentration and focus.

Social Media:  Each time you stop work to see what’s happening on social media, you set yourself back when you resume work.  You have to re-enter your thought process, which wastes precious time.  Rather than keeping social media open on your screen constantly, close out the applications and visit them as a break or treat as you complete tasks. If you are too tempted, turn off your phone and go somewhere without internet access so social media is not an option.

Calls and Visitors:  Work time is meant for working so make that your priority.  Turn off your cell phone if necessary or reject calls that are not potential emergencies or business-related.  If work friends tend to stop by your office to gab, be friendly but firm that you need to complete your work and you will catch up with them later.  Find alternative ways to make time for chatting, like calling friends on your way to/from work or meeting up for lunch.

Fatigue:  When you are tired, your concentration suffers.  Do your best to get enough sleep every night and make sure it is solid, restorative sleep by practicing good sleep habits.  Also, do other things to boost your energy, such as stretching, getting fresh air, consuming small doses of caffeine and eating a wholesome diet.

Feeling Overwhelmed:  When you are overwhelmed by your work and feel hopeless, you may find it hard to concentrate.  Tackle stressful situations in smaller pieces by dividing projects into parts and viewing each separately.  If you can compartmentalize areas of a project, you won’t be consumed by too many details at once.  Also, seek help or guidance when you need it.

Other Thoughts, Worries or Tasks:  The constant swirl of other issues can distract you from the task at hand.  Things as simple as your grocery list, to more major worries about your health, can make you lose control of your concentration.  Start by making a list of these thoughts, worries and tasks so you can release them from your brain.  If some of them require action, such as scheduling a doctor’s appointment, do what needs to be done to get it off your mind.

Health Issues:  Sometimes your lack of concentration may be due to a health issue.  Some health issues are defined as the inability to focus, like ADD or ADHD.  Others are side-effects of different problems.  Sometimes medications can send your concentration down the toilet.  Talk to your healthcare provider about these issues so he or she can help you come up with solutions.

If any of these problems are zapping your concentration, identify them and work to resolve the issues.  Then watch your productively levels soar!

Natural Remedies for PMS

Girl suffering menstrual pains on the bedBloating, cramping, heavy bleeding, headaches, moodiness, depression, fatigue, food cravings and sensitive breasts are among the uncomfortable symptoms many women experience before their periods begin.  The monthly symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are quite irritating, painful and debilitating for some women, while others only feel mild side-effects.  If you are among the most affected, you’ll want to keep reading for some great natural remedies for PMS.

PMS begins during the second half of the menstrual cycle when hormones, mostly estrogen and progesterone, begin shifting to induce menses.  When hormones become extremely off-balance, which they tend to do during this time, they react with brain chemicals leading to the negative symptoms of PMS that women often experience.  Genetics, nutrition, lifestyle and other factors may also contribute to PMS.  In order to tame hormones and premenstrual symptoms, women can use a variety of natural remedies for PMS to try to rebalance hormones and reduce the inflammatory side-effects they cause.


A PMS-reducing diet can go a long way in curbing your symptoms.  The first step is working to eliminate environmental pesticides that contain estrogen.  Try to eat organic animal products, fruits and vegetables when possible.  The estrogens found in food can alter the balance of your natural hormones and lead to stronger PMS symptoms.  Keep your salt consumption under control too, as salt leads to bloating.  High fiber foods including produce and whole grains can help bind to toxins and eliminate them from your system naturally and aid in blood sugar stabilization, which is controlled by another hormone, insulin.  Also, flush your body by drinking plenty of water throughout the month.

Additionally, keep the fat content in your diet in check by eating lots of healthy omega-3s and avoiding too many polyunsaturated fats from common vegetable oils.  Polyunsaturated fats interfere with hormone production while healthier fats that are found naturally in our bodies in more abundance can actually help balance hormones.  Lastly, avoid inflammatory foods that will contribute to bloating and cramping, and focus on anti-inflammatory nutrients like the B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and omega-3s.


As much as your symptoms may drag you down during PMS, try to keep moving to stimulate equilibrium among your hormones.  Exercise helps reduce estrogen around the body as blood flow increases.  If your symptoms prevent high impact workouts, try something more relaxing like walking, swimming, dancing or yoga.  Exercise will also help flush toxins through sweat and can aid in decreasing inflammation in the body.

Rest and Relaxation

Yes, you have permission to relax a little during PMS because it can actually help your symptoms.  Getting plenty of sleep, taking a warm bath, getting a massage and other forms of relaxation can help ease many side-effects of PMS.  They are also stress relievers, which impact hormones as well.

Natural Supplements

If you hope to avoid pharmaceuticals, look for natural supplements that can help with symptoms of PMS.  These include nutrients like calcium, magnesium and B vitamins (mentioned above), as well as primrose oil (with lots of essential fatty acids), chasteberry extract (to rebalance hormones), dandelion root (a dieuretic), maca (addresses many PMS symptoms) and red raspberry leaf (reduces cramping).  Also try taking probiotics to help settle bacteria in the gut and keep digestion running smoothly.

Other Helpful Natural Remedies for PMS

  • Apply medium heat to your lower abdomen to reduce cramping using a heating pad or electric blanket.  Warmth helps soothe inflammation.
  • Eliminate household toxins such as harsh chemical cleaning supplies, synthetic fabrics and plastics.  Select natural alternatives and store food in glass containers.
  • Wear supportive, comfortable bras to reduce painful breast sensitivity.  Avoid additional irritation with soft fabrics and an ideal fit.
  • Try natural therapies like acupuncture or homeopathy to relieve symptoms.

5 Ways to Inspire Those around You

Woman proud of herself

Being an inspiration to others is an aspiration for most of us.  While not every aspect of your life is inspiring, there are certainly powerful ways to inspire those around you, from small gestures, to major life changes.  Inspiration comes in many forms and today we’re sharing how you can be an inspiration to others with our 5 ways to inspire those around you.

Inspire Those around You with Care, Belief and Respect

People are most inspired when the feel cared about, believed in and respected.  These sentiments are not hard for you as an individual to express, and they have exponential benefits in inspiring others.  Something clicks when people feel that someone else is on their side and rooting for them.  Instead of feeling isolated and underappreciated, they feel part of a bigger picture that wants them to succeed.  A great way to begin this practice is by becoming a good listener who builds trust among others and treats them fairly.  These qualities will make others feel they matter and inspire them to be better.

Inspire Those around You by Admitting Mistakes and Being Vulnerable

Perfection is unattainable and usually makes others turn a cheek because it is so unrealistic.  But we all understand flaws.  Those who are courageous enough to admit their own short-comings can be downright inspirational.  This humanizing quality can open others’ eyes to the fact that even when we are weak and vulnerable, we can rise above, learn from mistakes and still be successful.

Inspire Those around You with Enthusiasm

It’s not hard to understand why enthusiasm is inspiring.  Look at cheerleaders, motivational speakers and peppy salespeople – they all serve to inspire others with a positive, cheery attitude.  Witnessing excitement in someone’s face, voice and actions is inherently inspirational.  You probably remember and learned most from your most enthusiastic teachers and coaches, and your spirited friends and family are usually the ones who rally the most support for their ideas.  Not everyone is the perfect example of Prince Charming or Ms. Charisma, but a little enthusiasm can go a long way when inspiring others.

Inspire Those around You with Open-Mindedness

People who are full of hope and possibility are much more pleasant than criticizers and nay-sayers.  Have you ever played the game where you cannot say “no” all day long?  You have to be a “yes” person for a day and find ways to turn what you would otherwise negate into something you accept.  In our world of barriers, boundaries, institutional structure and stereotypes, it is often hard to free our minds enough to discover new possibilities.  But when you can, it is liberating and inspiring.  This includes a free exchange of ideas, having creative space and making decisions through conversation rather than dictatorship.  Having an open mind and reaching beyond the “normal” is a quality of many inventors and successful business people because they had the courage and audacity to be “yes” people.

Inspire Those around You with Integrity

Being a leader for good is another terrific way to inspire others.  Honesty and holding true to your own beliefs, even in the face of adversity, helps others make the same good choices in their lives.  It’s why George Washington, for all of his many accomplishments, is still well-known for not lying about the Cherry Tree.  Another part of integrity is giving others credit where it is due and always acknowledging that accomplishments are shared among a team.  Integrity often comes from someone’s code of ethics or personal morals, but it can also be taught and is highly inspirational to others.

Remember, inspiring others doesn’t always have to be a big chore.  It’s mostly about living your life being the best you can be, and helping others follow a similar path. Inspire on, Leading Ladies!

How to Make a Romantic Chocolate Dinner for Valentine’s Day

loving couple enjoying a glass of wineChocolate is the favorite flavor of Valentine’s Day.  Its decadence and sensuality puts everyone in a romantic mood.  So get your sweetie geared up for a night of passion with an entire chocolate dinner for Valentine’s Day.

While it may not seem like a natural ingredient for every course of your nighttime meal, it absolutely can be with the right combination of flavors.  Here are some of our best ideas for a romantic chocolate dinner for Valentine’s Day:

Appetizers and Soups

Chocolate Berry Brie Toast-lette:  What could be more elegant than combining smooth dark chocolate, sweet berries and brie cheese?  If it is making your mouth water and heart melt already, that’s a good sign.  Melt dark chocolate cubes and mix in brie cheese.  Slightly mash your favorite berries into the mixture and pour over half of a sweet toasted honey wheat roll.  This app will get your dinner started on the perfect flavor.

Chocolate Chili:  Not your typical chili ingredient, chocolate really adds pizzazz to this traditional Mexican dish.  Simply prepare chili the way you would normally with your favorite veggies, beans, spices and meat.  Towards the end of your cooking time, toss in chocolate chips and let them melt and stew amongst the other ingredients.  This secret ingredient may be a powerful love potion for your romantic chocolate dinner for Valentine’s Day.

Chocolate Tomato Soup:  Warm and spicy, this soup will definitely perk up your love juices.  You can start with your favorite tomato soup base but be sure to add in the ingredients that will tingle the taste buds.  Those are paprika, harissa and cumin.  Plus add in 3 to 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey to balance the flavor.  Serve steaming hot, just like your love.

Main Dishes

Chicken Mole:  Although this recipe requires a lot of ingredients, it is fairly quick to make and well worth it in the end.  You’ll want to combine an oil of your choice with the following spices:  salt, pepper, cinnamon, chili powder and cumin.  Mix with canned or fresh tomatoes and stew in a chicken broth.  Thicken the mixture with Mexican chocolate (Mole) and either peanut butter or almond butter.  Stir until smooth and pour over baked or sautéed chicken.

Chocolate Pasta:  This one takes a little more effort but the results are unique and delicious.  Mix cocoa powder with flour and eggs to create your pasta dough.  After refrigerating dough for 30 minutes, create pasta strands using a pasta machine.  Boil strands and wha-la, you have chocolate pasta.  Pair with sweeter ingredients like pork, chicken or turkey in a sweet sauce, along with dried fruit bits and nuts.

Side Dishes

Chocolate drizzle Quinoa:  A double dose of healthy superfoods, this chocolate quinoa side dish is dreamy and delightful.  After preparing your quinoa, toss with a ¼ teaspoon olive oil, almond slivers and dried cranberries.  Drizzle melted dark chocolate over the top as a sensual and sensible dressing.

Chocolate covered Sweet Potatoes:  Sweet potatoes can only get sweeter when topped with chocolate shavings.  Bake sweet potatoes and then scoop out the orange meat and mix with light butter and brown sugar.  Replace the sweet mixture into the potato skin and sprinkle chocolate shavings on top for a yum-yum sweet potato side.


Chocolate Fondue:  While there are thousands of options for chocolate desserts, our number one pick for a romantic chocolate dinner for Valentine’s Day is fondue.  Simply melt your favorite type of chocolate in a double boiler.  Using skewers, dip fruits, pastries, pretzels and breads into the chocolate sauce.  You can experiment by adding different flavors into your chocolate including salted caramel, strawberry jam or vanilla Greek yogurt.  This romantic dessert will surely inspire passion for the rest of the evening.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day Full Figure Fashion

Happy beautiful plus size woman in red dress with hands upWe’ve all been there.  Standing in front of a closet full of clothes yet still you feel you have nothing to wear.  And worse, it’s a special occasion and you want to look smokin’ hot.  What’s a gal to do?

This Valentine’s Day, don’t get caught in a fashion catastrophe.  You’ll want to look your best whether you have a hot date or are dining with your besties.  We’ve got full figure fashion ideas for Valentine’s Day that are no-brainer winners for any of your special plans.

Little Red or Pink Dress:  Get inspired by the colors of the season – shades of red and pink – with your full figure fashion selection this Valentine’s Day.  Choose a style that is most flattering on you and shows off your best curves.  Got amazing cleavage?  Take the plunge with a low v-cut neckline.  Luscious legs?  Short and sweet is the style for you.  Classic hourglass figures look amazing in A-line dresses or those that dramatically cinch in the waist to show those upper and lower curves.  With a bold red or pink hue, you can keep the rest of the dress pretty simple with minor embellishments like jewels or lace.  Styles with cut-away designs, a peplum accent or delicate straps are all very trendy and sexy for Valentine’s Day.

full figure fashion for v-daymolded_padded_seamless_underwire_full_figure_bra_5028_You’ll want to pair your sexy red or pink dress with the perfect full figure bra that matches the style and color of your ensemble.  Leading Lady has a selection of gorgeous bras in just the right shades for your Valentine’s Day look.  Our Molded Padded Seamless Full Figure Bra in both underwire and wirefree comes in six Valentines-inspired shades of red and pink.  It will also become one of the dreamiest bras in your wardrobe due to its comfort features including molded cups, lightly padded straps, soft breathable fabric and 4 hook-and-eye closures.  You’ll fall in love with this bra as it melts to your body.  And best of all, you may even forget you’re wearing it, it’s just that comfortable.

Little Black Dress:  On Valentine’s Day don’t underestimate the power of the little black dress.  It’s a classic and you really can’t go wrong wearing your sexiest black dress on this special occasion.  Or, this holiday may be grounds for buying a new little black dress.  Again, consider the most flattering styles for your body that hug all the right curves.  Lace styles are exceptionally sexy for Valentine’s Day.  A lace overlay can full figure fashion for vday_lace_cup_underwire_full_figure_bra_5408_hide problem areas nicely while still offering a beautiful silhouette.  Also, lace offers a subtle and chic peek-a-boo element that is extremely sensual.
Pair your best black dress with your best full figure black bras.  Leading Lady offers many of our hottest bra styles in black.  If you’re wearing lace, go lacey with your bra as well.  Try our Lace Cup Underwire Full Figure Bra.  This beautiful bra features soft lace that won’t irritate your skin and a magnificent scalloped design that will make you look and feel your best on Valentine’s Day.

Leather:  Leather is a wildly irresistible fabric that is an excellent choice for Valentine’s Day.  It’s sleek, form-fitting, and makes a huge fashion statement.  Leather pants are right on trend for the season and can highlight your curves nicely.  They come in varieties including legging styles and trousers.  Pair a shiny leather with a red blouse or sweater for a sweetheart of a Valentine’s ensemble.  If leather pants aren’t your bag, try a leather full figure fashion for vday scalloped_lace_underwire_full_figure_bra_5044_jacket or high heel leather boots.  This trend can extend to any aspect of your wardrobe to look sexy and chic for this most romantic holiday.

To keep the look alive underneath your clothes, look for an edgy bra like our Leading Lady Scalloped Lace Underwire Full Figure Bra.  It is a fabulous way to lift your breasts with a lower-cut scalloped neckline.  The sensual lace fabric shows just the right amount of skin while still offering modesty.  Whether you’re the only one seeing this bra on Valentine’s Day or you’ll be sharing it with a special someone, you’ll feel like a rockstar in your leather and lace this holiday.

With our picks, you can put an end to full figure fashion emergencies this Valentine’s Day!  We wish you a super sexy Valentine’s Day!

Why Hugs are Good for your Heart

Portrait of a happy girlfriend hugging her boyfriend and looking at camera

There is nothing like the warmth of an embrace by someone you love.  Hugs are a wonderful form of medicine and a kind that gives and receives reciprocally.  The energy felt between two people hugging can be electric and, we’re happy to report, it’s good for your heart as well.  Just in time for Heart Health Month and Valentine’s Day, here’s a look at why hugs are good for your heart.

A recent study from the University of North Carolina shows that hugs are extremely beneficial to women.  While there are advantages for men as well, women in particular get the most out of hugging.  The research indicates that women who engage in a hug release oxytocin, a hormone responsible for feelings of social connection.  For human beings, social interaction is an essential part of our wellbeing.  Oxytocin plays a large role in helping us fulfill this inherent need.

If oxytocin sounds familiar to you it’s probably because it is the same hormone that is released during lactation.  That’s why breastfeeding often helps mothers reduce or avoid post-partum depression and bond with their babies faster.  Oxytocin can help regulate blood pressure levels and heart rate as well.

Additionally, women’s cortisol levels drop after hugging.  Cortisol is a stress hormone that can raise blood pressure and affect many areas of health.  Some cortisol is good because it helps with the body’s natural fight or flight stress response.  However, too much cortisol or prolonged exposure can be very damaging to the body, especially the heart.

The study tested women’s oxytocin and cortisol levels after a 20-second hug with their partners, reflecting on happy times in their relationship and watching a short romantic video.  Oxytocin was highest and cortisol was lowest during the hug as opposed to the other loving moments.  The conclusion was therefore that the physical embrace – the need for touch – outweighs other expressions of love.

Higher oxytocin and lower cortisol that helps the heart, in turn aids many other areas of the body.  Hugging is good for the immune system, central nervous system and relaxes muscles.  Hugs and the sensation of touch can actually be stored at cellular levels that help maintain self-esteem throughout our lives.  Plus, hugs make us feel safe, loved, happy, honest and open, and connected, which are all tremendous for our mental and emotional wellbeing.

As Valentine’s Day approaches and now that you know why hugs are good for your heart, find ways to linger in the embrace of someone you love.  Make an effort to touch your loved ones spontaneously by hugging, holding hands, cuddling or otherwise being close to one another.  Your heart and someone else’s will enjoy the benefits!

Heart Health Tips

Health insurance or love conceptWelcome to February, Heart Health Month!  Practicing healthy heart habits is important year round, but February brings about a great opportunity to reexamine our lifestyles and ensure we are taking the right steps to keep our heart in tip top shape.  Today we are reviewing heart health tips for your health, wellness, vitality and longevity.

It may surprise you to learn that heart disease is the number one cause of death among women in the U.S.  While some of your propensity for heart disease is genetic, there are many risk factors that are within your control.  These lifestyle factors are common healthy living practices that are also good for other areas of our holistic health and wellness.  Plus, your heart is the lifeline that provides a steady, healthy beat for the rest of your body.  So supporting your heart supports your entire body.

The American Heart Association, National Institute for Health and top cardiologists recommend the following heart health tips to keep your cardiovascular system strong and healthy for a lifetime:

Get Moving and Stay Moving:  Exercise is vital for 20-30 minutes at least 5 days per week.  This means any physical activity that gets your heart rate in its ideal range and strengthens your body.  It’s important to find physical activities that stimulate you personally so they are sustainable for your life.  Also, keep moving throughout the day.  Sitting is one of the worst things you can do for your health, especially your heart.  If you have a sedentary job, build in time to get up and move around periodically throughout the day.

Eat Clean:   When it comes to your diet, get back to the basics:  lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, light dairy products and whole grains.  Limit saturated fats, simple carbohydrates, salt, excessive alcohol, sugar and fried foods.  Eating healthy doesn’t mean you should constantly limit your diet and sacrifice the joy of food.  Rather, ensure you’re meeting your nutritional needs while exploring innovative recipes with clean ingredients.

Stress Less and Sleep More:  Our emotional and mental states have a huge impact on our heart health.  Stress releases adrenaline and cortisol that can be damaging to the cardiovascular system, elevate blood pressure and potentially lead to heart disease.  Taking time to de-stress and relax – through breathing patterns, meditation, hobbies and other stress management techniques – is vital to heart health.  Also, allowing your heart time to rest during sleep hours lowers blood pressure and your heart rate.  This critical nightly time-out for your heart is essential for maintaining long term health.

Stop Smoking:  Smoking is one of worst health habits for your heart, and every other aspect of your health for that matter.  In fact, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death.  Tobacco causes plaque to build-up in your arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.  Plus, smoking decreases healthy cholesterol levels and your capacity for physical exercise.

Additional Heart Health Tips:

  • Eat more antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, nuts, dark chocolate and a moderate amount of red wine
  • Always eat breakfast
  • Have more sex
  • Get a pet
  • Enjoy life, find happiness and laugh
  • Workout your brain and keep your hands busy
  • Stretch your body
  • Get regular health screenings, keep track of your health stats and know your risk factors for heart disease

Happy Heart Health Month!  Here’s to your best heart health!!

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