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Sheila's Posts

Check out all the posts by Sheila ~ (Owner/Author)

About Sheila Thomas

Hi, My name is Sheila and I am the Living Smart Girl. My goal is to bring everyone the latest and greatest tips and advice on fitness, healthy choices, recipes, shopping, beauty, home and garden, family and parenting, daily deals, travel, and so much more. I love fitness, but life is more than just exercise and when you visit Living Smart Girl you can connect the dots and live a well rounded life ~ the Living Smart way :)

I love working online and spend most of my day blogging, and researching new topics and tips to bring my readers.

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Sheila Thomas

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This is a sponsored post. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.


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In addition to the opportunity to impact the brand, members will receive Amazon gift codes for as a token for participating.


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Fabletics Now Open at the MOA

MOA_Fabletics Image

Disclosure ~ This is a sponsored post on behalf of Fabletics.  All opinions expresses are that of Living Smart Girl.

If you’ve heard of Kate Hudson, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of her sportswear clothing line, Fabletics, which was started in 2013 to provide women with stylish sports and leisure wear at an affordable price. It started exclusively as an online subscription service with VIP pricing for members who agree to sign up with their email address and receive a notification on the 1st of each month to make a purchase selection. Fabletics has since branched out into a line of sportswear for men called FL2 and, most recently, has started opening stores throughout the US.


The style and quality is comparable to Lululemon and Athleta but at a fraction of the price. I have many pieces from Fabletics – everything from capris and leggings to tanks and sweatshirts and I wear them all the time while teaching group fitness classes or running errands on the weekend.


Fabletics Outfit


I was lucky enough to be asked to attend the Fabletics Grand Opening store at the Mall of America on May 21 and along with that, received a free outfit but more importantly, was able to snag a few minutes to interview Nicole Stuart, who just happens to be Kate Hudson’s personal trainer!  Not only was Nicole Stuart the most welcoming and warm person to sit down with and chat about health & fitness, but I also learned that she lived in Minnesota for a few years when she was a child. I got the impression that she was happy to be back visiting a place that has a special place in her heart and has a little familiarity to it☺


I was able to sit down with Nicole and ask her a few questions between her sending fun Snapchats and talking with shoppers about their selections – she was loving it!


How do you motivate yourself to stay in shape?

“I’ve created a habit within myself, you have to do it over the course of time. And I’ve just had a baby and I haven’t felt like myself lately. The point I’m trying to make is I always never want to workout; there’s that one little piece of my brain that says, “No I don’t want to work out, I want to eat pizza!” And I do this for a living!!! But I’ve trained the other part of my brain to say “no!” you’re going to do it. It’s not going to be easy.


How do you motivate your celebrity clients when they’re so busy with work, traveling, etc.?

“When I show up they’re like “Ugh” but I don’t take it personally. They’re always happy when I come and they’re always happy when I leave; when it’s over. That’s the biggest reward. If you’re even a little ounce of active you’re going to feel better. It’s like a free prescription!”


What is the most effective workout for a busy person who only has 30 minutes?

“The quickest thing is to go for a run, walk around your block a few times – maybe walk the first one, run the next one, walk the last time around. Try to do things that will trick it up for you. Since having my baby the thought of running up a hill has been hard for me so what I’ve been doing is tricking myself –running 5 steps, walking 5 steps, 5 lunges, 5 leg lifts. By the time I’m thinking about what’s next I’m at the top of the hill. I think that’s the best way to motivate yourself.  And change it up too, there’s so much more access in the world than there has ever been – YouTube, apps, classes and my app that I created for my clients called QE2.”


What’s your favorite move? The one you dread but you know is going to be effective?

“Pilates. The Hundred and the Series of 5. The Pilates Series of 5 that believes that if you did these 5 moves you’d maintain your flexibility and core strength.”


What are the biggest trends you’re seeing in the health and fitness industry right now?

“There’s a class that I took with Kate, and she mentions it in her Shape Magazine article called The Class. It’s a super aggressive way of working out but I’m more into yoga and Pilates because I feel more at peace. But that’s just me – there are people out there who want a crazy intense workout.”


What workout would you recommend for someone who is new to exercise and what would you recommend from someone who is experienced and ready to step it up a notch?

“That’s kind of tricky! If it’s Pilates you have to do it over and over to get to the more advanced level. Anyone who is a novice with their body of course should do the beginning moves and then build on that. For someone who is more advanced you could to the Series of 5 and then do a whole mat class with them after. But then you can always do something like lunges – that could be a beginning or an advanced move. It’s a layering process kind of like when you start a new job, you don’t know what to do but the more you do it the better you get.”


Was there a single moment or deciding factor when you knew this was what you wanted to do?

(Chuckles) “I’ve never been asked that question before. It’s funny because I never set out to be a trainer, let alone a celebrity trainer. There are those times in your life with people you meet and all of a sudden your life changes. I moved to LA to act and then I started training and all of a sudden I met Mari Winsor and that was definitely a turning point for me because I was waitressing. I was waitressing until 3 or 4 in the morning and then I’d go to the Pilates studio at 6am and started learning there and then I was a dancer. I felt like I understood it. And then I started working with Courtney Love first; through Courtney I met Kate and it just sort of happened. I would say another defining moment was meeting Kate. She came to me as she was shooting Almost Famous and needed Pilates. I think you can count the number of people on your hand that you meet and your life changes from that interaction. I never really knew I wanted to be a trainer, it just sort of happened. I feel so lucky that I’m a part of this movement with Fabletics and Kate has been generous enough to include me in all of this”


Annie & Nicole Stuart


If you would like to learn more about Nicole Stuart, check out her website, and her app available for iPhone and Android called QE2 and QE2 Second Edition.


And of course if you’re in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, I highly recommend you swing by the new Fabletics store at the Mall of America. Otherwise make sure to go to the Fabletics website ( and check out the active wear and accessories at affordable prices!


New About Me Pic_MadDashAnnie

Annie Sperides blogs on where she regularly shares a variety of exercises and healthy recipes. A Minnesota native, Annie resides in Minneapolis with her husband and is expecting their first baby in August 2016. In addition to blogging, Annie is also a group fitness instructor and enjoys running, DIY projects and spending time with family & friends.



Deadly Artificial Sweeteners


Image Courtesy of

Now that summer is drawing near people become concerned about their health and wellness and do whatever it takes to get them a great body to lay out on those Jersey beaches. On the other hand, we all have been used to eating and drinking everything. Our taste buds have become accustomed to a certain level of sweetness that makes us crave more. We have become dependent on sugar!

Most of us have learned through nutrition that too much sugar has harmful effects upon our health. Sugar has empty calories, which lead to obesity. Therefore, many companies introduced artificial sweeteners as they are said to have zero calories. The problem with these artificial sweeteners is they look good and are sweet, but have been proven to be worse than sugar. Today, we will take a look into artificial sweeteners, their negative effects upon the body, and healthy alternatives.


Types of artificial sweeteners

  • Aspartame
  • Saccharin
  • Sucralose


The Risks of Using Artificial Sweeteners

Studies show that artificial sweeteners help cause cancer, constipation, vision problems, seizures, and type-2 diabetes. In a recent article released by the National Institute of Health regarding the effects of artificial sweeteners, stated that people who regularly consume artificial sweetened beverages were at increased risk.

Moreover, UF Diabetes Institute published an article about the possibility of artificial sweeteners promoting diabetes. In the article, it was said that research suggested that sugar substitutes do more harm than good.


Other Concerns About Artificial Sweeteners

Besides what we’ve seen above, artificial sweeteners are said to slow our metabolism. Because they have zero calories, they stimulate our taste buds leading us to eat more. The effect of having a slow metabolism and a large caloric helps lead to obesity. Furthermore, artificial sweeteners stimulate more production of insulin, which is problematic with diabetes and is a distress on your health.

Since artificial sweeteners confuse your metabolism, they also affect our brain chemistry. Our brain consumes a certain amount of calories which artificial sweeteners do not provide. Consequently, this process affects our senses too as your sight and hearing may experience bizarre symptoms associating with the artificial sweetener. Nevertheless, it’s best you consult your local ENT doctor in NJ if you start having problems related to these.


Alternatives to Artificial Sweeteners


Image Courtesy of


There are several alternatives to artificial sweeteners, and they are natural sweeteners, which include:

  • Raw Honey: We’re not talking about the stuff you buy on your grocery store shelf; we’re talking about raw honey that hasn’t been processed. Raw honey is loaded full of enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that help both your metabolism and have been proven to help with heart disease.
  • Coconut Sugar: Made from coconuts is a mineral jackpot. Coconut sugar has been known to be high in zinc, iron, potassium and magnesium. If buy this product make sure it’s not refined so it doesn’t lose its mineral content.
  • Stevia: This low-calorie sweetener is extracted from the stevia plant which is naturally sweet and calorie free. There are many benefits to this alternative sweetener as it’s 100 times sweeter than sugar and doesn’t affect blood pressure levels. Stevia has been proven to be great for your health.

Although artificial sweeteners are used in countless items throughout the grocery store, it has been shown to be a problematic sweetener. If you are an avid fan of a popular drink or product that uses artificial sweetener, and you have been experiencing problems mentioned above, you may want to stop using the product to see if your health improves.

I Keep My Lips Kissable With ChapStick

Disclosure ~  The ChapStick® product, information and gift have been provided by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare.


When I get spare time, I love catching up on my favorite tv shows and I’ll even get to watch a movie now and then. Regardless of how engrossed I get in either, there’s something that will pull me out of the story line in a hot minute…dry lips! Every time I see them I shake my head and wonder who let them be in the scene without moisturizing their puckers? I can understand if it’s part of the character, but otherwise I’m usually yelling at the screen “Put on some ChapStick!”. I love keeping my lips soft and kissable and I’m generally addicted to all lip glosses, sticks, balms, and creams. That being said, ChapStick® has always been my go-to to keep my lips smooth.


I love that ChapStick has a variety of products to choose from. Midwest winters can be pretty harsh, the dry air can deplete your skin and lips of much needed moisture. For those harsh days, I like to reach for ChapStick Medicated. It feels cool on my lips and heals them even when they are severely dry. It also keeps them from drying out again during the cold season by adding a light, protective barrier. This kind is also my pick when I’m feeling under the weather. Of course, the ChapStick Classic range is a great choice for everyday wear. It comes in flavors such as original, cherry, strawberry, and mint each of which defends your lips against wind, cold weather, and other drying effects.


It’s always important to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, but people often overlook their lips. ChapStick Sun Defense packs a moisturizing punch as well as SPF protection, keeping your lips soft and pouty! Speaking of the sun, what better way to get a taste of the islands than to choose from ChapStick’s Tropical Paradise Collection? Sweet and refreshing flavors such as Key Lime, Mango Sunrise, and Aloha Coconut bring a hint of the exotic to your lips. When your lips require an extra boost of hydration, Chapstick’s Moisturizer has you covered in flavors such as original, green apple, vanilla mint, and raspberry creme. Each contains aloe and vitamin E to soften your lips and SPF 12 for UV protection.


For those of us needing a good moisturizing lip balm that can help improve the look of our lips, giving them a healthier appearance, ChapStick Total Hydration is to the rescue. It comes in flavors such as coconut, wild acai berry, soothing oasis, sweet peach, and lemon delight. They all contain a botanical complex that keeps lips moisturized for up to eight hours while oils rich in Omegas help renew the lips’ natural barrier. The Total Hydration line also includes two options that are 100% natural. Those come in fresh citrus and soothing vanilla flavors and they instantly soothe and moisturize lips with an age defying formula.


With such an amazing product line, I know ChapStick has all my lip moisture needs taken care of. What flavor or variety would you keep handy?

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4 Simple Tips in Choosing the Right Course for Your Children



College life is a challenging yet exciting phase for most people. This is the time when students get to choose a course that will lead them to fulfill their dreams. Thus, they have to decide thoroughly on which course to take when they reach this point in their life.


As a parent, it is one of your responsibilities to help your children in choosing the best course that fits them. Make sure you help them in searching for a course they truly want. Remember, your assistance could mean a lot to your kids, but let them make their own choices when it comes to this matter. It is very important that you show your support and help them along the way.


Here are some tips that parents need to consider when your children finally enter college:


Talk to them

It is important to talk to your children about the possible careers they might be interested to pursue. Listen to why these careers appeal to them and ensure that you bring out some ideas as well. As someone who has more life experience, you also have to suggest courses that would benefit them in the future. If they are into health sciences, they can pursue health-related courses. On the other hand, they can get diploma of counselling or take liberal or fine arts courses if they are more interested in these fields.


Encourage them

One of the most important things your children need is encouragement from you. The support they need should come from their parents and family. Hence, encouraging them to do their best and go for what they really want is such a great confidence booster. With this, they can be more positive and have an assurance that you got their back at all times.


Support them

Financially speaking, your children still need your support when they reach college. As parents, you still have to provide for them and ensure that they will make the most out of their college lives. Moreover, you have to prepare for all the expenses they would need, from the university they will enroll at, course they are to take, to all other miscellaneous fees.


Explore with them

In case your children haven’t decided what course to take in college yet, you might want to explore things with them. You may research courses online. Take note of your kid’s advantages and weaknesses and compare them to the courses your child wants. This is also applicable when you are looking for the perfect university. All the possible choices should be listed down and from there you can select your options.
On the whole, your children’s future always matter. College is a crucial stage in their lives, so make it a point that you are always there to guide them. Furthermore, you have to give them the freedom to select the course they want to take, so they won’t feel pressured. If you dictate what they are going to take in college and it’s not what they want, then a big problem might happen in the long run. Therefore, let them decide on this matter. After all, it’s their life and future and you are simply there to support them.

Join Me at the Valleyfair Food Truck Festival


Disclosure ~ This post is sponsored by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand,
and I have been compensated for my participation.  All opinion are my own.  #VFFirstTimer #VF40


Have you heard of Valleyfair?  Well if you live in Minnesota I am sure you, like me, have been there a time or 10.  I have visited many places and I have to say Valleyfair is one of my fav’s, and they have the BEST rides one can find!

I am so excited because I get to head there next weekend.  I was asked to be one of the lucky peeps to cover the Valleyfair Food Truck Festival being held May 21st.   Wanna join me ?   If you are going to be at Valleyfair that day, and wanna say  hi, get a selfie with me (Living Smart Girl), and chat food and fun.. reach out to me.

Keep an eye here sometime next week for my post sharing how much fun I had and all the food I ate.  Make sure to check out and get your park passes for the day, or season.  Check out their things to do and their special events.

Did you know it’s Valleyfair’s 40th Anniversary.  That blows me away!!   Just another reason to visit the park, right!?

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Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass AND P!nk – WOW!

Alice Through the Looking Glass

I am jumping around this morning dancing to the new song by P!nk and getting excited to see the new Disney movie Alice Though the Looking Glass.  I am a lover of P!nk and Disney so the two together excite me.   And with a cast like this ~ Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, Rhys Ifans with Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen ~ well it will for sure be a hit at the box office.

In Disney’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” an all-new spectacular adventure featuring the unforgettable characters from Lewis Carroll’s beloved stories, Alice returns to the whimsical world of Underland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter.

In Disney’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” an all-new spectacular adventure featuring the unforgettable characters from Lewis Carroll’s beloved stories, Alice returns to the whimsical world of Underland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter.

Have you seen the trailer for the new movie? Well check it out.



And P!nk’s new song “Just Like Fire” is awesome!!   Have a look/listen.  If you like it you can even download it on Amazon right now!



 Follow Walt Disney Studios on Twitter

 Visit the official ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS site here

 ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS opens in theaters everywhere on May 27th!


Things to consider before taking Dietary Supplements



Le-Vel Thrive Reviews reveal interesting information regarding one of the leading healthcare organizations of the world. If you are a health and diet conscious person then you will find all their supplements, shakes and multivitamins are much popular not only among US citizens but also among people worldwide. From 2013 till date, they have advocated nutritional supplements separately for men and women. They have a general health mix that can be taken with normal food. The highlighting product of Le-Vel is their weight loss product Thrive DFT. It acts on the basis of  Derma Fusion Technology.

Thrive, premium brand of Le-Vel

Thrive M and W meant for men and women are available in the form of capsules. Basically they are multivitamin capsules. However, Thrive Lifestyle Mix is available in the form of powder. It is a protein powder. The last product Thrive DFT is not to be consumed but to stick on the skin. Yes. It is just a sticker with adhesive. When you put it on your skin, it will stick on and the ingredients seep into your body through blood system.  Apply the sticker to the clean area of the skin, most probably the fore arm, shoulder or biceps. These areas are ideal for getting maximum benefits. It must be in its place for at least 24 hours so that all the ingredients will slowly get into the blood stream. The aim of this product is to keep you energetic and make you shed some weight by controlling your appetite. At the same time you will maintain high mental clarity.

Aware of healthcare products that may harm

Apart from some well known healthcare companies, people must be aware of fraudulent companies that lack social responsibility altogether. Hence, only after making thorough study and research one must take any dietary supplements to maintain his health. It is still better if one takes them after physician’s advice.

Consider the following before selecting health supplements

  • In case you are suffering with a problematic health condition, do not try to make up with these health supplements. Consulting a health care provider is a must to do thing.
  • Moreover, the healthcare supplements never are equivalents of your medications. Hence, do not think of taking supplements in place of medications.
  • Be careful when you are about to have a surgery. Tell your physician that you are taking dietary supplements. Of course, he will advise you to stop them because they will be harmful and disturb the surgery procedures.
  • Many people think that products labelled as natural are safe. It is not like that. Even some herbals can harm liver and hence check the ingredients and find out what they are and also how much they will be suitable to you.
  • Before ordering those health supplements, be clear on its health benefits especially for you. In addition, you must check about its correct dosage and take the amount strictly. Most importantly, you must know for many days it must be taken. Discuss with your physician freely about these health supplements and get their opinion.


Getting Green with Darlene and Living Smart Girl

spring clean dream team

SPRING CLEANING SEASON IS HERE!  A time to refresh your home, inside and out, it’s an annual chore that can make some cringe at the thought of the effort… but, can be made easy by just adding water!

That’s right, ONLY WATER…and it’s not ‘special’ water, either… just the water out of your home faucet. With Norwex microfiber and water you do not need any additional toxic chemical cleaner to achieve a REAL CLEAN!

ALL ‘microfiber’ products are NOT created equal!

Different makes of microfiber cloths have different characteristics, and the name ‘microfiber’ should not imply superior cleaning efficacy.  Two very important factors to consider are HOW the microfiber is made and WHAT it’s made of…. Norwex is the World Leader in Microfiber Technology and has developed a fiber so small and absorbent it cleans “mechanically”, without the added need of those toxic chemical agents that are costly to your pocketbook and health!

Color me a skeptic!

Like most people, the concept of “just add water” was difficult for me in the beginning, too.  I have a complete understanding for the response I receive when I share Norwex with people for the first time. That is why I am so passionate about sharing what I have learned, and how I have applied this new way of achieving a real clean to my own household.

Norwex has changed the way I clean and live!

Personally, I have not purchased one single cleaning product off the store shelf since I started using Norwex in 2013. I don’t even go near that section of the store if I can help it… the overwhelming chemical stench just about gags me!  Sadly, that chemical smell was once such a familiar (albeit false) indicator of “clean”… I now realize this; clean has no smell!

Clean virtually every home surface, floor to ceiling, inside and out… and the body, too!

I am one of the millions of people worldwide that have embraced cleaning with only Norwex Microfiber and water, and will testify that without the use of toxic chemical laden products, my house and my body are as clean as they’ve ever been, my family and pets are healthy, and I have saved oodles of time and money. It’s true!

Get started now with our Spring Cleaning Dream Team!

Our Top-Selling EnviroCloth, paired up with the Window/Polishing Cloth, is the absolute must-have duo I recommend for anyone beginning a Norwex adventure, and will clean nearly every surface of your home, floor to ceiling, including fabrics & carpeting. Add the Dust Mitt for superb dry dusting of furniture, electronics, window treatments/blinds… and when used wet, your window screens!  The Mop System, also microfiber and can be used dry or wet (only water!), will clean not only your floors, but with the telescopic handle will allow you to reach high wall and ceiling surfaces, beams, fans, vents… and even your outside windows – no ladder needed!

There’s so much more to share!

I invite you to learn more about Norwex microfiber and other home cleaning and personal care products @, and join me on facebook @ Darlene Nagy – Norwex Independent Sales Consultant (

Feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance to your Norwex needs, and be sure to let me know Living Smart Girl sent you… Sheila has something special for when you do!

Happy, Healthy Cleaning!



Get Your Education Online with Concordia University #CUWinspire

Disclosure ~ This is a sponsored post brought to you by Markerly and Concordia University.  #CUWinspire

Do you remember the board game called Life? It was a favorite of mine. You pick your favorite color car and then put a little blue or pink driver in it. Advancing through the game, you add family members, earn money, and even have life “experiences” along the way. Looking back at the game though, one thing sticks out at me. Relatively early on you have to choose either to attend college or enter the work field. I think these days, it would be more up-to-date to allow people to choose college at various times throughout the game.


I know it used to be expected that people attend college right after high school. Those that opted to start a job or family instead were generally expected to forgo furthering their education. I’m happy to say that there are so many ways for people to start or continue their education, even being a non-traditional student. I’ve always maintained there should be no stigma to bettering yourself, whenever you’re able to! I strive to learn things as often as I can and luckily in this day and age there are many ways to accommodate that learning.

One such option is Concordia University Wisconsin Online. It’s designed for busy adults, people that delayed college for any reason or were unable to go the traditional university route, or anybody that wants to continue their education, especially Moms! They know how difficult it can be to juggle family, careers, and personal lives. They have specifically designed online programs relevant to the careers of tomorrow and made them accessible from home. With Concordia University Wisconsin, you can expect a personalized approach on every step of your educational journey. Their world-class Student Support Advisers take a genuine interest in your progress and aiding your education achievements.


Concordia University Wisconsin understands you have priorities and they feel there’s no reason to sacrifice your role as a mother, sister, wife, friend, neighbor, etc. in the pursuit of higher education. Whatever your career of choice, these study offerings have been tailored to help you keep life in balance. There are a variety of options including full degrees from bachelors to doctorate as well as free MOOCs or email courses. There are even low price Academies where you earn digital badges. With over 50 different degree programs, Certificates, and individual courses, you are sure to find the best fit for your goals.


Some people might be concerned that online education is different from other colleges. Concordia University Wisconsin is a member of The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Their instructors are currently working in their area of expertise and are required to hold a minimum of a Master’s degree or higher. They have experience and knowledge in their industry which is then taught to you through cutting edge theory and practice.


What I appreciate is how flexible the courses are. They have several options from self-paced, to those that are organized into groups and work together throughout the course of the program. There is also a collaborative program that turns in assignments weekly. The length of time it takes to complete a degree varies based on a few criteria. The program requirements as well as the transferable credits are taken into consideration when determining how long it takes to finish. Speaking of transferred credits, Concordia University Wisconsin accepts up to undergraduate credits from a 4 year school and up to 70 credits from a 2 year school. They even accepts military and work related credits as well.


Visit their website at Concordia University Wisconsin Online to sign up, explore their offers, or discuss the benefits of continuing your education through them.

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