My Experience in Cupping

I don't know about you all but I am really feeling this year as one of the best yet! (And for reference, I never say that!)

To start off the new year, I tried a new health treatment and I wanted to share with you all. Thai Massage and cupping. Thai Massage is a form of bodywork that incorporates Hatha Yoga, acupressure, and reflexology with origins dating back about 2,500 years.

Unlike kneading and continuous strokes in Western massage, the Thai method uses point pressure, muscle stretching, and compression, done in a rhythmic movement of gentle rocking.

Cupping dates back to 281-341 A.D. The origins are pretty amazing, used for restoring spinal alignment, and in very early days, diverting blood flow in surgery away from the surgery site. Cupping is used in over 60 countries to treat a broad spectrum of conditions such as headaches, musculoskeletal pain, infections, insect bites, hypertension, respiratory conditions, skin disorders, digestive problems, and infertility.  Dr. William Osler, considered the Father of Modern Medicine and one of the founders of Johns Hopkins Hospital, recommended cupping for bronchopneumonia and acute myelitis in the early 1900’s.

So, does it work? There are several theories on the mechanisms of cupping.  Skin is well vascularized – meaning it has a rich blood supply, and the applied suction has been found to increase circulation through dilating capillaries causing them to rupture – which causes the tell-tale circular bruises – and to promote lymphatic circulation. Cupping also exerts a positive effect on regulating the immune system and controlling inflammatory processes.

But, there really haven't been enough studies to determine it's benefit in particular treatments outside of neck, shoulder and back pain management. Lucky for me, I'm not dealing with any insect bites, snake bites, infections, respiratory conditions or herpes (yes, there is a study that says it's a good herpes healer.) So, pain management sounded great!

My experience:

I visited Harmony Studios in Willoughby to see Jessica Guerrieri.

I visited Harmony Studios in Willoughby to see Jessica Guerrieri.

The Thai massage was great. I would recommend this for athletes of any kind. Being right in the middle of my Yoga Teacher Training, I was sore and I knew my legs weren't in shape for a deep tissue massage but I needed something to just stretch out my body and give it some room, ya know? You lay on a mat on the ground with loose, yoga clothes on. The masseuse will be all over the place, so really you just close your eyes and become a wet noodle. The slow stretching and point pressure done right where it was needed felt wonderful.

Overall, it was very gentle but the stretches (especially the hips) were often more intense because you are held in them for a longer period of time. So, I came back to the breath and before I knew it, it was released and I felt relaxed and loose.

I then took part in a short add-on massage cupping. (I mean, Michael Phelps did it, right?) In modern day, many cups have their own suction systems versus the traditional glass cups heated with fire. My practitioner used both. So, what's it feel like?

It feels like a tiny little pull on your skin when they suction the cup down. You can feel the tightness dermally, but that's about it.

Then, the massaging commences. Holy sh*t. It hurts. A good hurt. Imagine the deepest, deep tissue massage you could ever have. They move the cup into specific positions on the back as needed and what it's doing is breaking up all the gross stuff, lactic acid etc. that your muscles keep within them. I took many, many deep breaths. And for reference, I have 12 tattoos including a large one on my ribs. I promise I'm not a whimp. It's really intense.

After, I learned I was at a pretty beginners level of suction. The more suction, the more painful the massage can be. I did bruise. But honestly, it wasn't a big deal to me and it clearly looked like exactly what it was...cupping. 

A mix of the traditional glass cups and new suction versions used on me.

A mix of the traditional glass cups and new suction versions used on me.

My back, day three.

My back, day three.

My back felt amazing. My shoulders and neck are the worst. They hold all of my stress and are often the focus spot for any acupuncture, massage etc. I have never felt such a deep massage (even though it wasn't exactly a massage) as I felt during the cupping. My shoulders were so loose. It was amazing.

My lower back was less of an ah-ha moment for me, but it still felt look to get the juices flowing through the massaging.

So, all in all. Thai massage? Recommend. If you need intensity, skip it and go with deep tissue but if you've just trained for a 10k, marathon, Warrior Dash—this is PERFECT. If you only get one, two, three massages a year, a deeper tissue might be more for you so that you can really get into the months that you're muscles have endured in between. But again, crossfitters, DO IT. You need it.

Cupping? Recommend. Seriously. Recommend. My shoulders felt so good. While it only lasted about 3-4 days (back to the real world, stress again commences) it was so worth it to feel the looseness that I'd been missing out on. The pain is a little real, but with breath you can get through anything. Right?

If you're interested? Jessica Guerrieri is your girl. A massage therapist for the last ten years, but well versed in many forms such as: deep tissue, trigger point, myofacial release, passive, Chinese cupping and more! She will work with you to determine what's best for your specific needs. 

Jessica's numerous accolades. 

Jessica's numerous accolades. 

Good luck and happy cupping!

Blogger Note: I did not receive any discounts, gifts or other compensation for this post. I simply wanted to share something that I am adding to my health regimen because it did so much for me, I want you all to try too!

The 2017 Golden Globe

Oh my gosh you guys, it’s awards season!

I love a good red carpet and I am thrilled to begin this 2017 season with food, jammies, fuzzy socks, red wine and my pups. It’s really the best way to judge women who’ve just spent hours on hair and makeup—not to mention prior workouts and starving themselves, ya know?

Before we begin, a quick round up of the men who just get it.

Ryan Gosling channeling La La Land (and typically I hate a theme on the carpet but it's Ryan Gosling and he gave an adorable ode to his wifey when he won—he's untouchtable,) Donald Glover bringing my favorite fabric in men’s formalwear (velvet) to the red carpet, Justin Timberlake, Rami Malek and Matt Bomer. 

Also, are you kidding me with this cuteness?

Now, let’s jump right in with the best of the best.

Drew Barrymore. Listen, I know her makeup is kind of a train wreck. But I absolutely die for her Monique Lhuillier gown. I loved the dark manicure and jewels and while yes, I could have encouraged an improved smoky eye—this ensemble is hippie perfection and couldn’t scream “Drew” more. Gorgeous. I’ll take it for my wedding dress someday. But really…hit me up Drew.

Kristin Bell in Jenny Packham is perfection. Yes, I love the color black but this dress structure is honestly ev-ery-th-an-g. Long skirt, long sleeves and that in-sane plunging neckline make the perfect combo of sweet and spice. She is gorgeous. Dax you lucky dog, you.

Mandy Moore in Naeem Khan. This bitch is back! This dress gives me life you guys. If you actually looked at the Khan gown closely you know it’s actually a gorgeous blue-tone. And it has a cape. A cape! Die. The hair is perfection, earrings are perfection—she looks regal, stunning. That's how you do a comeback (take notes SJP.)

Kerry Washington. I loved this. The entire ensemb is great. The plum lip, perfect blush and the slicked straight hair are all the perfect play off of her elaborate Dolce gown. It’s great and if you don’t see it, then you’re blind. And if this is truly something your Grandmother wore (ahem Twitter population) than damn—she’s one foxy lady.

My best dressed, after careful consideration and a night of sleep, and you guys I did not think this was the route I was going is…Ruth Negga.

Her custom Louis Vuitton made by Nicholas Ghesquiere himself is stun-ning. At first thought, I wished it had been on someone with a more flowing mane. Coming back to it this morning and with a better idea of it's beauty from photographs, I was left gasping for air. The structure, the zipper, the gorgeous futuristic silver paillette…I’m here for it. HERE. Shown up. It’s happening.

A few of my other favorites: Louise Roe, Blake Lively (Versace got her showing off those baby curves!), Reese Witherspoon, Goldie Hawn (Bow to the Queen) and Jessica Biel.

Worst.

John-Legend-Chrissy-Teigen-2017-Golden-Globes.jpg

The first rule about Chrissy Teigen is that you don’t talk shit about Chrissy Teigen because she’ is just so damn cool. So, I’ll just leave you with that.

Natalie Portman in Prada. You know I hate to kick a pregnant lady when she’s down (hypothetically, you know standing on a red carpet next to 90 pound women when you’re feeling a bit more full if you will…) but Natalie Portman’s mustard yellow Prada gown is just too theme-y for me. I get it. You’re Jackie. But like, are you really?

Zoe Saldana almost always does it for me. But this pink Gucci is just too much. The amount of ruffles on the gown totally overwhelms her tiny figure and the bow too? It’s all just overkill.

Jessica Chastain looks like a 90’s prom nightmare in this powder blue floral mess. I literally can-not.

Emma Stone in Valentino. Again, I really dislike a “red carpet theme” and I feel like she may have taken this La La Land thing just a bit too far with the silver stars…everywhere. We get it. While she still looks ah-mazing, I hate the detail—hate.

Nicole Kidman…is beginning to scare me. I’m confused about her face. Does it move?

Felicity Jones in Gucci. She looks like the Pink Nightmare. I’m confused as to how this even happened? She’s a tiny girl and it makes her look twice her size and like she might be going to bed, or starring as Wendy from Peter Pan in her next role.

gallery-1483922114-golden-globes-2017-sarah-jessica-parker.jpg

SJP. If this is an homage to Carrie Fisher than I’ll be the first to admit I’m the asshole. If not, then it’s just tragic styling. I guess we’ll never know…But really, she hasn't walked the carpet since 2007—this is your decided comeback? Girl.

A few others that I literally just can not talk about because, 1. Who are they and 2. I don’t believe they were serious for once second showing up in these ensembs. Anna Chulumsky, Kerri Russell,  Judith Light, Kristin Wig, Amanda Peet, Claire Foy, Winona ‘Steal yo’ Clothes’ Ryder (don't think I forgot,) John Travolta (plus, have you watch Leah Remini’s show?) and Michelle Williams.

Here are the outliers that from Twitter, I clearly learned I was in the minority on.

You guys…I did not hate Carrie Underwood and for real, I don’t even like her! But I thought it was very girly and very her and I actually loved the detail.

Lilly Collins in Zuhair Murad (and I love Zuhair Murad.) I’m just not that into it. I just feel like YAWN, we’ve seen it before ya know?

Amy Adams. Samesies. I’m bored.

I loved Sophie Turner, in fact, I’d say she’s top five best dressed at the event! And of course, she’s wearing Louis Vuitton so basically, bury me in this dress. Considering she’s on every worst dressed list this week I guess my opinion is not well received, but I was obsessed with this look. I honestly would have made her best dressed if I didn’t think you guys might think I’d lost my mind and never read this blog again. 

Thadie Newton. I thought she looked killer! The entire thing was perfect and anything but plain. If I didn't look like such a dirt ball in white, I'd ask to be buried in this too. 

 

So, what did you think? Who did you love, who did you hate? But really...who did you hate is so much more fun.

2016 in Photos

Well, 2016 was a zinger wasn't it? 

I can't tell you enough how ready I am for 2017. But I am trying desperately to remember that time is a gift, and rushing the last days of 2016...well, basically those 2016 things we hated, they still happened. No matter how fast 2017 comes. 

This year I've learned a lot about myself and most of those learnings came from experiences when I might as well have thrown myself in front of a moving train. (Poetic, I know.) But really, in those moments, that's exactly what it felt. I call it the self-inflicted struggle, friends.

But 2016 is almost over, and there were so many great moments in between that I'd be remiss to discount. I am grateful for every day spent with friends in my midst and love around me and within me. So, 2016 in photos, here goes nothing...

Trips and Tennessee. (and Tennessee, and Tennessee...)

Bachelorettes and Birthdays.

Babies and Browns games.

Beer buses and Beyonce.

Country concerts and CAVS.

Party at Napolis and Namaste.

Houses and Hillary.

Dogs and Dude(s)? Kidding.

Weddings and...Weddings.

Cheers to 2016! Wishing a blessed 2017 to all of my family and friends. 

XX

Holiday Gift Guide

‘Tis the season!

While I am all about being thankful for our blessings and spending time with family and friends, I’m also all about receiving some awesome gifts.

And giving them…I think

Kidding.

I could put together an endless gift guide with all of the ah-mazing goodies I’ve seen this year from many of my favorite brands. Instead, I thought it would be fun to do a guide based on those I actually gift in my life. (And no, to any of you on this list, these are not your gifts. Nice try!)

The Mom.

My mom is truly a saint. I’m pretty sure I’ve nearly killed her many times in my life from things like, being arrested; throwing parties in high school…you know the list goes on. She deserves a f*cking parade. I could create an entire guide just for her. But, here are a few things I think are perfect for mom.

A fab outfit. White House Black Market is the chic go-to for a professional woman over 40. I’ll admit, at first I was hesitant but now, I love their clothes. So well made, and nothing is too over the top. Pretty much everything you buy can be worn a million different ways. I love this this military jacket, these vegan leggings, and this long line vest.

 

The Dad.

If you know Jimmy, than you know he’s 1. A lunatic and 2. Hates everything everyone gets him. Every year, I play it safe and go with a tie. But if I were to stray, I love this rechargeable battery iPhone case and recharging dock. He’s always on the go and pretty much always on low battery since he discovered the world of Facebook.

He also loves vino. This Savino Enthusiast is amazing. It’s the best wine preservation system out there. No reason to toss a bottle you drank one glass of (I wouldn’t know because one glass is not in my vocabulary.) Recorking isn’t preserving. This puppy will keep your wine in tip top shape for the next glass.

 

The Man.

I think it is super important for a hot guy to have a few key items. Luckily, my man checks these off the list with grace (don’t get a big head.) They are: great shoes, great jacket (hello bombers), great denim, great watch, great sunnies and great wallet. OK maybe that’s more than a few.

So let’s focus on one or two. Wallet. By “great” I don’t mean full…but that too. I mean classy and sophisticated. If a man comes out on a date and whips out a velcro wallet? Bye. If a man comes out and whips out one of those card-only cases? Bye. I don't trust a man who doesn't carry cash. It's a personal rule. Canvas? Bye. This wallet from Louis Vuitton is gorgeous and perfect for the man in your life. Now, let’s talk jackets. A peacoat? Pass. I am all about a sexy bomber jacket this season. I love this version from Alpha Industries. Black goes with everything and this color in particular has the gold fastenings, which I think takes the jacket to the next level. Love.

 

Your sister.

My sister literally has everything so it’s hard to buy for her. But we have very different styles so I like to take the holidays as a time to buy her a few things that might be more me than her and spice it up a bit. Because what I might buy aren’t her day to day, I try to stick to more occasion wear, creating a “moment,” ya know?

I love this emerald ear crawler set from Baublebar. I can see a little black dress and these babies killin-the-game. Love. This nude lace top, and lace skinnys from J. Crew are perfection. Together it’s like jumpsuit meets pantsuit meets giving-me-life. With a red lip? A statement shoe? Just stop it.

She also was recently married so the girl is diggin’ a monogram currently. I love this adorable leather keychain in blush.

 

The future younger sister.

Maybe. Someday. But she’s younger and cooler than I am by far. So, I stick to what I know is cool—makeup. There are so many amazing discounted makeup gift sets available at the holidays. I love this Stila Bright and Bold All Day Liquid Lipstick set because it has the perfect holiday red and pink, plus a fun summer pink as well. I also know the flower crown of 2016 is the choker. And I know a choker. I love the basic black, but I also like an occasion choker like this option.

 

The kitten, lover, life best friend. Yes, that’s a thing.

Nicole loves to shop my closet. So I love to buy her outfits and accessories!

I love backless everything. But my boobs are way too big to ever make that work. Yes, I’ve tried everything. Nicole has the perfect body for anything! So, I love this easy t-shirt option from Lush. Wear it solo in the summer; with a leather jacket and moto-leggings in the winter. It’s versatile and stylish.

I love these fab destroyed jeans, too. The ankle detail takes them to another level. She would never buy them for herself but they would be ah-mazing in the winter with the shirt and a suede moto. I love the contrast of harsh winter wear with light denim for women. Ladies, winter whites are a thing! Don’t forget it!

Final touch? I love a cut out bootie. Love. I know we are moving past the season of wearing them but, it’s supposed to be 52 degrees this weekend so, hey! I’m also super in to a grey boot and over-the-knee is where it’s at. She would also never buy these for herself (she’s more of a clothing lover, less shoe lover) but they go with everything, which is important to my lady friend.

She is also a Pure Barre aficionado. While I would normally steer far away from giving workout classes to a lady, I know they are pricey and something she loves so, it’s different. Girls can give girls workout classes. Boys cannot. Got it? (Blogger Tip: Boys, if you know she loves PB, stick with an awesome PB outfit instead.)

 

The yoga loving best friend.

This is a toss up. I love the idea of a water bottle for Morgan as she is always teaching or taking a class. I am pretty obsessed with gifting Swells. They come in so many different sizes and patterns. It’s sentimental to pick out one that you feel best reflects a person you love.

And for this all-natural lover (or if you have an avid traveler,) I am obsessed with this This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray. It’s an amazing natural sleep-aid that clams nerves and helps you drift off. Pack it in every suitcase and store one bedside. Finally, she loves a good time. A great time. And I love this hysterical Sonix phone case.

 

The teacher, feminine-flower friend.

Kara loves a bun. She is the queen of buns. They always look fierce and she has a gorgeous face and bone structure so it’s a no brainer go-to. I love this bun cuff from Jen Atkin’s to easily dress up any type of bun (messy, structured, sock etc.)

A massage/blowout/facial/etc. Kara is such a giver, she’s always doing for other so I would absolutely gift her a service at her favorite salon. (Blogger Tip: If you gift a specific service versus a bulk monetary card to the salon, it feels a bit more personal! Also, many salons with have BOGO services and gift cards for the holiday. Maybe you two can go together and make a day of it!)

Plus, she deals with annoying, smart-mouthed teenagers all day so, the girl needs some knots worked out. I’m sure of it.

A few general gifts that I keep in my back pocket always:

  • Mugs. I love mugs. I love to collect mugs and I love to give them. I think they are homey, thoughtful and fun. If you’re like me you drink coffee daily, so it’s a nice reminder you’re loved first thing in the morning.
  • Coffee table books. Again, so personal to pick out a book you feel is just perfect for that person.
  • Subscription services. I love this, as it’s a nice reminder that you love and care for someone all year long and there are so many to chose from you are bound to find something perfect for that someone.
  • Booze. Never visit a house for an occasion empty-handed. Bring a bottle of wine or a fun mix and match six-pack with you.

Happy gifting!

Lash me.

You guys.

I recently discovered the madness that is eyelash extensions. I’m not sure if you all are familiar but basically the Kardashians started it (like everything good in this world...contouring, highlighting, lip injections, you know...) with their real mink lashes reaching sky high heights. Katy Perry, JLo, and Kylie are also fans of the eye fur. 

I am all about trying new beauty techniques and trends so, I hooked up with my girl Maggie from Lash Loft to get a full set of beautiful lashes. However, I am not about spending $300 on my lashes when I need some cash-o-la for the botox maintenance people! Those gorgeous real mink lashes the celebs rock will cost you upwards of $300 for a full set. So, synthetic mink is the way to go. That's what I chose for my lashes.

I was completely unprepared. I wore eye makeup and came straight from work so the poor girl had to basically wipe off some serious black liner for an hour. (Not really but,  awhile).

  • Lesson 1- Don’t wear eye makeup to your appointment.
  • Lesson 2- Be ready to sit. You won’t be able to do anything but sleep, meditate, chat, maybe listen to some tunes or a podcast for TWO HOURS.

I know that this sounds like a long time, and it is. But, Maggie has assured me that many people nap and relax during their sessions. I, of course, chatted. But, if you needed a break from the chaos of it all, two hours without a cell phone, with your eyes closed and collagen pads under them making you younger by the second sounds pretty damn good. Am I right?

  • Lesson 3- Oil free errrything. Oil is your lashes worst nightmare. So, make sure you are using a proper liner, bottom mascara, makeup remover and face wash so your set lasts longer.
  • Lesson 4- Love on 'em! The first few days I totally wiped my eyes WAY too hard when removing eyeliner and lost some lashes. But, then I perfected the art of makeup removal gently, and have been fairly good since.

Maggie gives you a take home brush for your lashes. Brush them every day, twice a day to keep them nice and neat. 

The process is so interesting and I swear, this girl must have the patience of a SAINT.

First, a lash cleanser is applied and it removes any oils from the lashes and lash line and then a fan is used to dry the lashes.

Then, the collagen eye pads are placed OVER your bottom lashes to keep them at bay while the lash tech works magic.

After applying a lash primer to the top lashes, they are dried with a fan again, and the process begins.

Before any lashes are applied.

Before any lashes are applied.

Lash by lash, Maggie uses her two hands and two sets of tweezers to apply your extensions. The right hand to isolate a single lash, and the left to pick up the lash extension in the adhesive and place it onto the natural lash. ½mm away from your lash line. Insanity.

She moves from one eye to the next until your lash count is done. I did a full set, so that is every single eyelash. EVERY. SINGLE. LASH. PEOPLE.

The tools.

The tools.

Middle of the appointment, getting fuller and longer.

Middle of the appointment, getting fuller and longer.

When your lashes are done, you again fan to dry, they remove your eye pads and fan to dry again. No wetness (face wash water, sweat, face in shower etc.) for 48 hours to allow the adhesive to fully dry.

Gorgeous, full final lashes.

Gorgeous, full final lashes.

Every 2-3 weeks you should get a “fill” and maintain the fullness and replace any lost or grown out lashes. 

Before and after.

Before and after.

So, it’s a lot. There is maintenance and you do need to be a bit careful with these puppies. But, the benefits are a’ plenty.

  • They are gorgeously long. They can be super long, or medium or a mix. You can customize whatever look you are going for with Maggie and she’ll create it.
  • You look fierce with or without makeup every single day.
  • You never have to put on top mascara.
  • You take better care of your face and skin overall, because you’re maintaining your lashes. I’ve done more masks and exfoliating (being careful to avoid eyes) than I ever have. I want my skin too look as amazing makeup free as my lashes do so I can just run out on the weekend and feel confident no matter what!

The negatives: price can be an issue for some, time, the careful maintenance and the need to fill can also be deterrents, but in my opinion the benefits outweigh any negatives. 

I’m going back next week to get a fill. 

To make an appointment, email Maggie at maggieconlinmua@gmail.com or sign-up here.

To check out an awesome gallery of before and after, check out her Insta.

To get a look in real life, just check out my gor-ge-ous lashes.

PSA: The real issue with lash extensions right now is that you don't technically need to be certified to apply them. BEWARE of cheap Groupons or uncertified stylists. Be sure to ask if they are certified. If not, find someone else. You can have issues with glue ingredients, allergens etc. So, find a certified tech, or, duh! Just give my girl Maggie a call.

Until next time!

XO