I already know. Between the fact that most of us don't make it a habit to pamper ourselves nearly as much as we should and using pampering in the context of our souls, some of you are probably wondering what the heck I'm talking about. How in the world does one "pamper their soul"? I'm so glad that you asked, sis. Grab a glass of sparkling water or red wine, turn on some 90s R&B (because does music get any better than that?) and I'll try and break it all down as best as I possibly can.
Ever since I entered my 40s, something that I've been more intentional about doing is pampering myself. Using essential oils. Applying cheba powder to my hair (Chile, your hair hasn't lived until it's had some cheba powder in it!). Getting regular mani/pedis with perks like paraffin wax. Setting some money aside to do whatever, whenever because, as the word "pamper" reminds me, I should do things for myself that are extremely kind and excessively indulgent. Simply because.
And since a wise person (this quote is usually attributed to C.S. Lewis) once said, "We don't have a soul. We are a soul. We happen to have a body," then yes, I think it's extremely important that my soul gets some much-needed attention too.
But just how does one pull that off? Well, that's where it gets interesting. I adore the Hebrew language and the Hebrew word for soul is "nephesh". It means, well, a lot of things; many that I'm going to share with you here. Between the Hebrew definition and the dictionary's definition and synonyms for soul, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by just how vast, relevant and layered your soul really and truly is—and why it deserves all of the pampering that it really and truly does.
If I've said it once, I've said it a billion times before. A saying that I can't stand is "Follow your heart", mostly because a definition of heart is "center of emotions". Considering that we have about 27 of those that can shift at any moment based on our moods or circumstances, I don't think that following it is a sound or stable way to go.
At the same time, I do think that so we can trust our emotions more, it is important to guard our heart as much as possible. Even the Bible advises us to do that (Proverbs 4:23). To me, guarding my heart doesn't mean that I have so many walls up that no one can get close to me. What it does mean is when I feel, whatever it is that I'm feeling, I give myself some time and space to do just that; it's about being kind with myself whether I'm feeling anxious, confused, sad, envious, awkward or any of the other of the 22 emotions that exist.
The thing about the heart is, when we pamper it by listening to our emotions, validating them and then nurturing them as needed, we are better equipped to make smarter decisions. Not because our "heart" told us to but because our logic, our gut and our discernment did.
The mind is the part of our body that thinks, reasons, perceives and even judges (not all judgment is bad by the way; discernment literally means "acute judgment" and it's important to use plenty of that). It's one of the main things that makes us stand out from all other mammals. One way that I believe a lot of us "abuse" our mind is by constantly overthinking—creating movies in our minds, worrying about stuff that hasn't even happened, not being able to move forward in life due to entertaining completely paralyzing thoughts. When this happens, things like stress, insomnia, purpose fatigue and the inability to make decisions can creep in.
One of the best ways to combat all of this and pamper your mind in the process is by taking a rest day, each and every week. I'm not talking about taking a couple of hours to go to church or catch up on Queen Sugar. I mean devoting at least 6-8 hours a day (preferable a full 24), once a week, to do nothing but rest and relax.
For me, that day is the traditional Sabbath (Saturday). When I tell you that I have no problem doing absolutely nothing from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, I wholeheartedly mean that. And since rest is all that is on the itinerary, my mind is able to take a break from phone calls from clients, paying bills, work assignments and whatever craziness that is happening out in cyberspace. I can return to the world on Sunday, with my mind totally refreshed and at ease. (Try it. It's a total game-changer!)
A conversation (that is sometimes more like a debate) that I have with some of the women in my world is there's a difference between maintenance and pampering. Taking a bath isn't really pampering so much as scheduling an appointment at a salon to do a mud soak is. I say that because pampering is about being over-the-top extravagant and not feeling the least bit guilty about it. If it's a facial, why not a chocolate facial? If it's a massage, why not go to a spa or pay for someone to come to your home to do it? If it's a vacation, how about going to a dream resort or taking a cruise?
Many of us struggle with the pearl of wisdom that I'm about to share, but a part of the reason why a lot of us don't require that men treat us like a priceless gem is because we don't do it for ourselves.
Listen, just like you need to budget money to cover your monthly expenses, you also need to save up some cash so that your body can be pampered (more than just a couple of times a year too!). The more you value yourself, the less push back you'll give me—and you—when it comes to this.
Not all of us are religious. But it's rare that I encounter someone who isn't spiritual; "spiritual" in the sense that there is more to us than just flesh and blood, and there is a higher power that helps us to navigate through this thing called life. It took a long time—too long if you ask me—to get to the point and place of what I am about to share but, to me, pampering one's spirit is a lot about learning to surrender. It's about trying to do the best that I can and then accepting that that is all that I can do.
It's about embracing one of my all-time favorite quotes—"God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them" (a pastor by the name of John Piper said that). It's about having good intentions, checking my motives, allowing others the space and time that they need to care for their own spirit and then literally walking by faith and not by sight.
There's a Message version of Scripture that, I think, is the perfect way to pamper the soul—"Relax, everything's going to be all right; rest, everything's coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!" (Jude 1:2—Message) A truly pampered spirit lives just like this. It's relaxed, knowing that Love ultimately has its best interest at heart.
Is it weird to pamper your desires? I don't think so. The key is to make sure that you're pampering, not coddling. Anyway, I think a lot of us could avoid a lot of unnecessary foolishness if we pampered our desires more than we actually do. I mean, just think if we really took what we wished for or wanted seriously. Would we stay at our dead-end job? Would we keep waiting for the man we're with (or is it tolerating?) to get a clue? Would we keep violating our own selves by taking the toxicity and abuse from our so-called family members and friends?
The healthy way to pamper our desires is not about being out here catering to every willy-nilly whim; it's not about being random or reckless. Pampering our desires is about really focusing on what we want in life, factoring in how it will benefit us and, if it does, going after it without delay or compromise. Are you doing that?
It might seem like I already touched on this when I talked about emotions as it directly relates to the heart. But actually, what I'm referring to here, are our feelings as it relates to our five senses—sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. C'mon, be honest…do you put forth a conscious and concerted effort to actually pamper your senses?
- Do you take breaks from staring at monitors so that your eyes can rest? (Then do you put some cucumber slices on them?)
- Are you mindful about the kind of things you listen to whether it's media-related or certain conversations?
- When's the last time you had a meal that brought you nothing but pure delight and pleasure?
- Do you exfoliate and then moisturize your skin? Is your underwear and bedding luxuriant?
- Do you have a diffuser that's filled with soothing essential oils or soy candles that smell like delightful scents (and if you do, do you light them)?
Indulging our senses are important because, the more in sync with them we are, the less stressed we'll feel. And a calm soul is a thriving one.
Indulge your passion. Shoot, I feel like that needs to be a tagline for an ad or something (if I see it somewhere, I'm coming for my check!). Anyway, the reason why I find this phrase—which is really more like a mantra or motto—to be so fitting is because, believe it or not, one definition of indulge is "allow oneself to follow one's will". And you know what? I see absolutely no reason why you wouldn't do that when it comes to the things that you are passionate about!
When you read stories on our site like "Passion over Paycheck: Why I Quit My Job at 30 to Start Living" and "This Is How the Founders of CurlFest Turned Passion into Profit", how can they not inspire you to want to ponder over the things that drive you and then do what you can to make them manifest? A woman who pampers her soul is definitely a woman who feeds her passions in life. You betta believe it!
Let me just say off top that having an ego is not always or automatically a bad thing. Our ego is about singling ourselves out from others. In fact, having a healthy sense of self-worth is directly connected to our ego. Things only start to get weird when our ego gets out of balance and we start to lack empathy or compassion for others. You know, when what we think and want is all that matters to us (our current president and his ridiculousness immediately comes to mind).
So, just how is it that we can pamper our ego without becoming a roaring narcissist in the process? It might sound overly simplistic, but self-love is a great way to do it. Starting your day off by jotting down five things that you like about yourself; feeding your body with things that are good for you; excusing yourself from negativity; releasing toxic individuals and forgiving yourself for little mistakes and bad decisions that you've made—these are all ways to care for your self-esteem so that your ego doesn't feel the need to get out of hand and overcompensate by doing the absolute most, whether it's online or off.
A quote that I really dig is by a Spanish philosopher by the name of José Ortega y Gasset. He once said, "Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are." That speaks a mouthful, all on its own. Whenever I hear it, something that immediately comes to mind is my value system. And yes, our principles are very much a part of our soul.
Something that's pretty disturbing about the world right now is how so many people are being bullied and berated due to their principles; their "accepted or professed rule of action or conduct". And the reality is that we should love our soul and respect the souls of others enough to stand for our values without thinking that means that we have to railroad over others'.
Your basic and fundamental beliefs? Pamper them by spending some time studying and researching why you believe, feel and stand for what you do. Determine how to connect your values to your purpose and passion. Surround yourself with those who will not make you feel bad for having the principles that you do. I can personally attest to the fact that the more that I honor my own personal values, the more I am able to respect others—whether they are like mine or not.
There is a scent that I wear that I always get complimented on. It also never fails that people ask me what it is. I never tell them. Why? Well, it also took me a long time to get to the point and place of relishing in the fact that it's OK to have some things that are exclusively your own. It speaks to your individuality. Your nature. Sometimes your personality and/or your character too…you know, your core self.
There's no way that I could write a piece about the importance of pampering our souls without encouraging every individual reading this to honor themselves in exclusive ways. It's OK to have a unique style, a signature scent or to purchase something that is a rare find…and then to keep it totally to yourself.
There is only one you and you deserve to have things in your life that represent your true awareness of that very fact. Making that kind of distinction will be something that will make you feel so good about yourself—from the top of your head to the very depths of your soul.
Featured image by Unsplash
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Originally published July 18, 2019
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
When Megan Thee Stallion dropped “Hiss,” a shift happened. From the audacious lyrics to the striking visuals, there was no doubt that the song and video would go viral. The opening of the video shows the H-town hottie rocking a barely there Shibari red dress, showing off her voluptuous frame. It was a sexy moment created by Timeekah Murphy of Alani Taylor. The designer exclusively tells us how the opportunity came about and what it was like seeing her design on Megan for the first time.
xoNecole: How did the opportunity to create such an iconic look for Megan Thee Stallion's "Hiss" video come about?
Timeekah Murphy: The opportunity came from a DM from celebrity stylist Zerina Akers. She asked for a unique Shibari piece for Megan, and I needed to get it done in two days. So, of course, I did everything in my power to make it happen. I've always wanted to design for Megan, so this was an awesome opportunity for me.
xoN: What was that initial feeling of seeing the dress on her for the first time?
TM: I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
xoN: Did you meet her? If so, how was that moment?
TM: I didn't meet Megan during the shoot, but during my time in LA, I got the opportunity to meet her at LA Pride with Tiffany Haddish, Common, and EJ King (stylist). Megan is such an amazing person, so it made it even better to know that my designs were going to be worn by her. I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
"I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her."
xoN: Walk us through the creation of the dress. How did you come up with the look, and how long did it take to make it?
TM: I was the co-designer for a brand called Deviant in 2018-2020, and we used to make custom Shibari pieces. That's how Zerina knew me. So I'm very familiar with making these types of pieces. We made plenty for Beyoncé, Cardi B, Tiffany Haddish, Tyra Banks, and so many others. So Zerina knew exactly what she wanted.
To get it done, it took me a day and a half. It's very intricate and time-consuming, so I spent about six hours making it then I sent an image of it to Zerina, and she didn't approve the first one, so I had to start from scratch again after getting my guidance and understanding of what was needed. The next day, I went to The Lab and created another version, and she approved it. I had to get it shipped overnight so that she would get it in time and fast forward to seeing it on the big screen.
xoN: What's next for you?
TM: Everything. The sky is not my limit, so the Alani Taylor brand is expanding into so many different avenues. We are getting involved in the community more, offering sewing classes to the youth. I've opened up a store for my brand in Atlanta and now preparing for fall/winter Fashion Week.
Megan Thee Stallion "Hiss" video/ YouTube
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A few days ago, while talking to a male friend of mine who has been dating someone for a few months now, I asked him if he was excited about Valentine’s Day. What he said is what I’m used to most men saying some variation of — unfortunately: “For what? Even when I was married, I can’t think of one time when a woman did something special or actually bought me something. And no, sex doesn’t count.” And before any of you get triggered by that last part of what he said, there are many people who agree with him, 1000 percent, including myself. Oh, and this married couple. LOL.
Sex is not a Valentine gift, please #love #valentinesday #valentine #ghanatiktok🇬🇭 #kokuitv
When it comes to commemorating special occasions, I will forever support the fact that sex is not a present. Not because the act isn’t special or intimate; it’s because it’s a mutual thing that two people actually benefit from (if that’s not the case for you, you and your partner have some serious discussing to do) — and so, if women can expect birthday, anniversary, Christmas and Valentine’s Day gifts outside of copulation…men should definitely be able to do the same.
So, what if, when it comes to Valentine’s Day this year, what you had in mind was coitus and not much else? The good news is I have 12 to put a smile on your man’s face this year so that he can know that a day that’s supposed to celebrate love is one that has him in mind, too. Ready?
1. Speak His Love Language(s)
If the news is your thing, you may have seen some relatively new articles stating that the oh-so-very famous five love languages aren’t scientifically based. Gasp! Say it isn’t so. LOL. Being that Dr. Gary Chapman (the creator of the concept) is a counselor and a Christian, I’d venture to say that he wrote it more from a spiritual angle than anything else. And since it’s simply about how people like love to be expressed to them most (words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, quality time, or gifts) — I really don’t see why science is so bent out of shape over it…all these years later.
And that’s why I still support the notion that you look into what your man’s top two love languages are and then that you do something special for him this year in those ways. By the way, if you have no clue what his love languages are, please don’t guess…ask him. That way, you don’t go through all of the effort to do one thing when he would’ve preferred something different.
2. Cash App Him Money for Lunch
I don’t have social media accounts, so I don’t see how apps shift from day to day — oh, but I’m hoping that people are taking their Cash App out of their bios, even as we speak. It really does come off as hella entitled, and that’s…off-putting. However, when it comes to the person you’re seeing, I’m thinking that you probably have their Cash App account details. So, why not treat him to lunch (or a haircut) on Valentine’s Day by sending him a few bucks along with a heart in the memo? I talk to enough men to know that simple gestures like this totally make their day because rarely does it happen to them (if ever).
3. Have Flowers Delivered to His Job
I don’t know who came up with the idea that floral bouquets are a “woman’s thing” because there are studies to support that men like to receive them just about as much as we do. Not only that, but when flowers come their way, research says that it makes them happier, more appreciative, and more communicative as well. So, why not make your man’s entire day by having some flowers delivered to his job? Although the signature flower of Valentine’s Day is the red rose (which means “I love you”), if you want to be more creative or convey a different type of message, you can check out what different flowers mean here.
4. Make Him a Gift Basket
The main thing that I like about homemade gift baskets is that you can customize them any way you’d like (including theme). Plus, no matter how big or small they are, the person on the receiving end is always going to find them to be super thoughtful. As far as your man goes, you can make him a gift basket that’s centered around his favorite sport or hobby. You can make him a gift basket that focuses on his favorite foods. You can make him a gift basket that is filled with some of your favorite memories of the relationship. You can make him a basket that is full of sex-themed treats that will get his imagination going. The options really are endless, and that’s what makes gift baskets an awesome idea.
5. Give Him Something with Your Handwriting on It
Along the lines of what I just said, another special gift that you can give him is something that is personalized. The kind of personalization that I dig these days is the one that features a person’s actual handwriting. One example is a whiskey glass (that I found on Etsy), where you can put a message at the bottom of it. You can check it out here.
6. Write Him a RESPECT Letter
Sometimes, I’ll watch a series of IG or TikTok posts on men (from women), and I get why the Bible says that husbands should love their wives and wives should RESPECT their husbands (Ephesians 5:33). Sometimes, we need a reminder that, not only is respect important in a relationship, many men don’t feel loved well if they aren’t respected. And by respect, I mean how the Classic Amplified Version of I Peter 3:2 breaks it down: “…you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him—to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and, in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband].”
That said, even if your bae is not yet your husband, if that’s where things are headed, think about how floored he would be to receive a letter that talks about all of the things that you appreciate, adore, and admire about him. Out of all of the suggestions in this piece, I can’t think of one man who wouldn’t be moved, beyond measure, to receive something so thoughtful (and probably totally unexpected) than a letter that articulates how much he is respected by the woman he cares about.
7. Brag About Him Online
There are PLENTY of posts out in cyberspace where people are constantly complaining about their partner (le sigh). This Valentine’s Day, go the road less traveled and brag about your man instead. Talk about the reasons why you enjoy him, the things he’s done for you over the past year, and the reason why you think he’s one of the most wonderful people on the entire planet. Even if his primary love language isn’t words of affirmation, it will make him feel great about himself and the relationship. Don’t take my word for it; science says that compliments elevate moods and contribute to our overall health and well-being. Bragging is free. Give it a shot.
8. Send a Hotel Reservation to His Inbox
Several years back, HuffPost published an article entitled, “You're Right, Hotel Sex IS Better Than Regular Sex. Here's Why.” It mentioned that a part of the reason why hotel sex is so bomb to so many of us is because it’s sensual, the lighting is good, and it feels indulgent (plus, we don’t have to clean up before we leave like we do at home). If sex is on the menu for Valentine’s Day, your man is gonna revel in it wherever you choose to have it.
Still, imagine the look that will be on his face if he sees a hotel reservation pop up either in his email inbox or in a text. Even if the two of you have to wait until the weekend to make it happen (since Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday this year), it’ll give him something special to look forward to — and since anticipation is one helluva aphrodisiac…well. #wink
9. Get Some Lingerie in His Favorite Color
Speaking of surprises, another nice touch is to pick up some lingerie. This year, though, make sure that it’s in his favorite color. If you’ve ever wondered where color preferences actually come from, I once read that it’s based on the objects that we associate with the color along with how a particular color makes us feel. Yeah, I don’t know many men who would frown at seeing their woman in a sexy lace teddy or a seductive sheer baby doll get-up. And if it’s in his favorite color? It will be hard to not associate you with the color in the future. A pretty smart move, if you ask me, chile.
10. Offer a Head Massage, Facial and Beard Pampering
Next time you want some inspiration for how to cater to your man, go to TikTok and put “pamper your man, Black man” in the subject heading. Not only are you gonna see some fine bearded wonders over there, but you’ll also get some tips on how to give a proper head massage, or facial and how to pamper a man’s beard. Head massages are dope because they relieve stress. Facials benefit men just like they benefit us when it comes to improving the texture and quality of their skin.
And as far as beards go, there’s research out there that says we women actually prefer men with some (well-manicured) hair on their faces. So, if your man happens to fall into that demo, get him some beard oil from a Black-owned company. Three are Rucker Roots, golden, and Sons of Hollis. Then get to grooming, sis.
11. Prepare Him His Favorite Meal
Not too long ago, I was talking to someone who said that men don’t care about restaurants like women do; they go because they know that their lady likes the experience. What guys enjoy is the love that is felt through a home-cooked meal. Listen, there are countless social media posts that like to debate this topic, yet honestly, at the end of the day, if what men like is meals that are made from scratch, that is their preference, and everyone has a right to what they prefer. That said, I can’t think of one man who is gonna not thoroughly appreciate a woman who makes the time to prepare his favorite meal from scratch. So, whether this Valentine’s Day is going to be your first or 50th time, consider making him something delicious to eat.
12. Be His Dessert
Sex is not a proper gift. I stand on that. Still, that doesn’t mean that I don’t cosign on it being a part of Valentine’s Day. Since dessert literally means “the sweet, usually last course of a meal” — present sex in an outside-of-the-box sort of way. Bring in some sex condiments (check out “12 'Sex Condiments' That Can Make Coitus Even More...Delicious”). Try some new sex positions. Intentionally fulfill some of his sexual fantasies. Play some sex-themed games. Have sex in an atypical location.
Bottom line, at the end of whatever else you have planned, offer him up something sweet (you) in an unexpected way. It’ll be the perfect ending to a day of reciprocated romance.
As for Long-Distance Relationships…
Plan a virtual date. If the two of you can’t be together this year, do the next best thing and plan a virtual date. Although virtual dating is something that was big during the pandemic lockdown, long-distance couples have been partaking in virtual dates for years. Thanks to the power of technology, you and your man can prop up your phones and cook together, watch a movie together, or slow drag (kinda-sorta) to 90s R&B together. Is it as good as being together “for real”? No. Yet is it better than just talking on the phone? Definitely.
Send him a Southwest gift card. Several years back, Glamour published an article entitled, “My Two Long-Distance Relationships Made Me Broke.” Listen, anyone in a long-distance relationship knows that it’s not a cheap situation to be in. So, if the two of you are a plane flight away, take some of the burden off of him buying a ticket by getting him a Valentine’s Day card and putting a Southwest gift card in it. Even fifty bucks will remove some of the stress.
Mail him your favorite perfume. There is a lot of data out here to support that scent is tied to memory. So, if you want to cultivate certain super fond memories of you while you’re away from your guy, send him his favorite scent that you wear. He can spray it on his bedding or a comfy blanket and feel closer to you until the next time the two of you lock eyes (while in the same room).
Sign him up for a lingerie subscription. Wanna build some serious anticipation until the next time the two of you are together? Sign him up for a lingerie subscription. That way, he can pick up pieces that he would like to see you in, free of charge, and hold onto them until the two of you are able to enjoy them — together. Cratejoy has a list of some lingerie subscription services that are worth looking into here.
Have dessert delivered to him. Did you know that there is something called “dessert stomach” that is scientifically based? Long story short, the pleasure that sweets provide can make us desire them even if a meal has already made us full. This is definitely a heads-up to practice moderation in the sweets department, yet who wants to do that on Valentine’s Day? On the holiday, whether it’s at work or his house, hit up a food delivery service, and have his favorite dessert delivered to him. It’s a sweet way (pun intended) to honor the day and a wonderful way to let him know that he’s on your mind.
Happy (Almost) Valentine’s Day — to you and your man, y’all!
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Featured image by FG Trade/Getty Images