Time for another check in! I've been doing really well with my meal prepping so far. Most days I have tilapia, broccoli, and either low sodium black beans or mashed sweet potatoes. I did go out for lunch one day, but I tried to make smart decisions and ordered a stir fry with lots of good veggies, brown rice, and tofu. I haven't been very good about sticking to my meal times, and there have been a few days where I missed a snack or had an extra snack after dinner. However, I'm making smarter choices about what I eat, I try not to eat if I'm not hungry, and I pay attention to portion sizes. For example, I'll have a serving of pretzels with no added salt instead of mindlessly snacking on a bag of potato chips.
Since my last post, I've lost 2.5 inches from my waist, and an inch from my hips! I am beyond thrilled that my hard work is paying off especially since I haven't been perfect with my goals. If you have an "all or nothing" attitude when it comes to eating healthy, odds are you'll end up on the nothing end of that scale. Remember that it's ok to slip up once in a while! There are a lot of very restrictive diet plans circulating right now, and honestly, they scare me. Although one of these fad diets might help you lose weight, it probably isn't sustainable, and it probably isn't healthy. Losing weight in a safe and healthy way happens when you make lifelong changes not only to what you eat, but to your attitude about food.
Lastly, I want to talk a little about my exercise lately. Every week I have an appointment with my personal trainer at Motifaith Fitness, and I also try to go to two group classes each week. Sometimes my week is so busy that I'll do two workouts in one day. Exercise alone or diet alone will give you results, but when you combine them both you will be amazed at your progress! You don't have to get crazy with exercising either; just getting out and going for a walk is a step in the right direction (pun intended). I recently discovered a company called Yes.Fit that hosts virtual races. Right now there are so many fun 5ks that reward you with cute medals and t-shirts when you finish the race, but they can often be inconvenient. They might be far away, or conflict with your schedule, or maybe you just don't feel confident enough yet to participate in a race with a bunch of other people. Yes.Fit gives you the option of participating in fun themed races on your own time at your own pace. Once you've signed up for a race, there is no time limit, you just log your miles manually or with a tracker or app as you complete them. My first race was Cinderella themed, and now I'm participating in an Oktoberfest race and one through Yosemite National Park. If you're interested in giving Yes.Fit a try, use my promo code izPvhA3q during check-out to get a discount. If you use my code, I will also get credit I can use on a future race. This one-time discount can be applied to any race, as long as it's your first. To see a list of their current races, follow this link: Yes.Fit.
I have mixed emotions about my progress lately. I felt like I really wasn't doing very well, but recently, I had my measurements taken again, and most of them decreased! It's so easy to be too hard on yourself, and when I feel like I'm going nowhere, I start slacking. This is why it's so important to track your progress!
Current Eating Habits:
I feel like my eating has been all over the place lately. I usually start strong with breakfast. I've been having either a half cup of oatmeal made with milk, cinnamon, and Truvia, or two pieces of dry toast. On occasion I add some fruit; usually raspberries or blueberries, but sometimes I mix it up. Lunch, however, is a totally different story. I haven't been meal prepping, and for whatever reason, I hate packing a lunch ahead of time, so in the morning, I just kind of grab random things. For example, yesterday for lunch I ate a can of tuna and some salt-less pretzels. There are some days I don't really eat lunch at all, which is completely unintentional. My boss also ordered a pizza for us not that long ago, so I had pizza that day, and then leftover pizza later that week. Dinner is normally one of two things; burgers or taco bowls. For the burgers, my fiance uses 95% lean ground beef, mixes in some dill relish and seasonings, and serves them with lettuce instead of a bun. The taco bowls are made with 99% lean ground turkey, salsa, spices (not a premixed taco seasoning packet), and spinach. Sometimes there's avocado and/or black beans added. I'm also supposed to have a snack in between my meals, but I haven't been very consistent with that. On the weekends, I've been eating out more than I'd like. Eating out doesn't have to be scary if you're trying to eat healthier. For example, one of the best meals I ever had at Texas Roadhouse was baked chicken with butter-less steamed veggies and applesauce. Recently however, I'm not always making the best choices. I try to have a turkey or veggie burger instead of a regular burger, and I'll sub sweet potato for regular french fries, but when it comes down to it, I'm still eating a burger and fries. I'm also not paying attention to my portions as much when I eat out.
My Eating Goals:
I really want to buckle down and start eating better for a number of reasons. I want to lose weight, and there's only so much you can do in the gym. I also want to feel better, have more energy, and just be healthier overall. To get back on track with nutrition, I'm going to do some goal setting, and I'm going to make these SMART goals so I can actually keep track of how I'm doing. If you haven't heard about this type of goal setting, check out this article on how to set SMART nutrition and exercise goals!
In the long run, I don't want to have to track my food everyday. Tracking is a great tool for the beginning of your lifestyle change. You might find out you tend to snack at certain times of the day, or you tend to overeat on the weekends, etc. However, once you're aware of your eating habits, it can be kind of a pain to track everything. In order to keep myself on track without having to track, I have a list of "approved" foods given to me by the gym I currently go to (Motifaith Fitness). I have a hard time sticking to meal plans for a number of reasons, so I find this approach much easier. For example, for lunch I pick a protein and carb from the list of approved foods, and I'm good to go! I don't have to eat chicken and brown rice every single day, I can mix it up by having tilapia with black beans, or salmon with sweet potatoes. I also don't have to track anything because I know I'm getting the nutrition I'm supposed to. It really just takes the guess work out of everything. Now accountability is where my goal setting comes into play. Tracking my food used to keep me accountable because I didn't want to have to input that I ate an entire bag of potato chips. Since I don't want to track my food, I need to find another way to keep myself diligent. Since lunch and after dinner snacking have been the two biggest issues thus far, I'm going to make two goals to target these issues.
Nutrition Goal #1:
I want to prepare my lunches ahead of time so I can grab them and go in the morning. I plan to cook all my lunches for the week at once, and portion them out into containers to take each day. This is something I hope to make a lifelong habit, but for now I'd like to meal prep once a week through the end of October. This is easy to measure, because either I do it, or I don't, there is no in between. I will take a picture of my meal prep each week to keep myself accountable and post it in my gym Facebook group. I believe this is a realistic goal for myself, because I have been able to meal prep in the past, I just fell out of the habit of it.
Nutrition Goal #2:
To help with my post dinner snacking, I want to stick to a schedule when it comes to food. I want to eat three meals a day with one snack in between each meal. Listed below are the windows of time I aim to eat each meal/snack:
Morning Snack 10-11am
Afternoon Snack 3-4pm
Starting now, I want to do this every day until the end of September. At that point, I'll check in and see if this still makes sense for me. I think this goal is realistic for me, because I already eat my meals roughly at these times during the week. I haven't been consistent with my snacks, and I need to work on sticking to this schedule on the weekends, but I know I can do this. To keep track of how I'm doing, I will keep a small journal of the times I eat each day. If I successfully eat during these time frames, I will consider that day a success, and I aim to be successful 5/7 days per week.
When I was in high school, I ran cross country every year, and distance track for one season. At 5'3", I weighed 120-125 pounds and was fairly comfortable in my own skin.
When I went off to college, I didn't participate in any sports, but I didn't gain the stereotypical "freshman 15" either. Freshman and sophomore year I dated a "fitness buff" and had my first real introduction to weight-lifting. Psychologically it was very hard for me to feel like I had gotten in a really good workout unless I practically ran myself to death, so I wasn't a big fan of lifting right away.
Moving into my junior year, I weighed about 130-135 pounds and was trying to go for runs once a week. I could run three miles with a nine minute mile, and I was satisfied with that even though it wasn't as fast as my high school pace. The number on the scale didn't bother me, but I was starting to be unhappy with certain aspects of my body.
Fast forward a few years, and I started getting Depo-Provera injections to cope with my migraines. In a pretty short amount of time I gained 10 pounds, and then continued to put on more weight at a slower rate. This is when I really started to be unhappy with my body, but I was no longer suffering from migraines, so it was something I was willing to deal with. I talked with my doctor about the weight gain and she seemed to think the two were unrelated, and my lifestyle was solely to blame. I will admit I was a little less active, but not completely sedentary. My eating habits were basically the same as they had always been, and one of the most common side effects of Depo IS weight gain. (Side note: I have since switched to a new doctor.) In January of 2017 I weighed in at 152 pounds and I decided I really needed to actively do something differently.
I tracked my food using MyFitnessPal and I made simple changes to my diet. I looked up recipes that had easy substitutions such as honey instead of sugar, or nonfat Greek yogurt instead of butter or oil. I also paid attention to my macros (fat, protein, carbs) although I didn't know what portions I should be eating. I didn't restrict what I was eating, I just paid attention and tried to make smarter choices. I also made sure I was wearing my Fitbit most days, and I tried to walk more, even if it meant pacing back and forth in my apartment. From these small lifestyle changes, I lost 12 pounds over the course of two months, and I kept the weight off for another few. My clothes fit better, and I was much happier, but still not where I wanted to be. I had never set a specific goal, so I really had no direction. Although I had lost weight, it felt like I wasn't making progress. The number on the scale changed and I could feel my clothes fitting better, but when I looked in the mirror, nothing seemed different. So I stopped tracking my food.
In May, I graduated from college and got a full time office job. THIS is where my lifestyle was majorly to blame for my physique. I was very sedentary all day, and I really wasn't exercising outside of work either. My food habits were basically the same, but I wasn't tracking and I was drinking a lot more beer. My clothes started getting tighter again, but I didn't pay attention to my weight. Eventually I realized I weighed 175 pounds, and I was miserable.
This is when I decided I needed to do something drastic. My fiance and I joined a gym that offers a six week challenge. We were given a very specific meal plan and needed to attend at least three workouts per week. We made it four weeks following everything we were told to a T. Due to some management issues that I won't go into, we left the gym and received a full refund for the four weeks we were there. Over the course of those four weeks, I lost 5 pounds, and my fiance lost 20. Most of the weight he lost was actually muscle which is part of the reason we left. This was not a healthy way to lose weight, and this gym was focused on getting people to lose weight quickly rather than doing it the right way. We found a new gym with a personal trainer, but everything was less strict, and I reverted to my old eating habits. This gym unfortunately is farther away, so we only go once a week.
As of August 21, 2018 I weigh 163 pounds. I get married May of 2019, and I want to make real physical progress for that special day. More importantly, I want to be healthier, and make long term lifestyle changes to STAY healthy. I hope by blogging my journey, I can stay more accountable, and on days when I feel like I'm going nowhere, I can look back and see how far I've come.
Activated charcoal has become a very trendy ingredient in the beauty world. From teeth whitening to pore cleansing, many companies are using activated charcoal in their products. Some people are even taking it upon themselves to create DIY beauty treatments using activated charcoal. So why all the fuss? Charcoal which goes through a special heating process becomes "activated" meaning it's more porous and can therefore absorb up to twice its weight. So why is this good for our skin? Activated charcoal can absorb excess oil and sebum that can clog pores and cause blemishes. This results in a clear and healthy complexion with smaller looking pores!
Now that you know why activated charcoal is all the rage right now, let's do a beauty breakdown of two masks currently on the market: Mary Kay's Clear Proof Deep-Cleansing Charcoal Mask, and Clinique's Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask.
When it comes to skincare, most companies market their products in sets. For example, a simple set may contain a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer, while more elaborate sets may also include specialized products designed to treat acne or signs of aging. When it comes to skincare, many women struggle with choosing a regimen which is right for them. In this post, I will address the 5 most common concerns regarding skincare systems.
If you keep up with my Facebook page, you know I've recently become a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant. I was hesitant to post about becoming a consultant, because I didn't want to lose the small online following I have. To combat this, I decided to continue posting my regular content in addition to Mary Kay related posts. As a way of meshing the two, I thought it would be interesting to do comparisons of similar products from three different brands: Mary Kay, a drugstore version, and a "high-end" brand. As the title suggests, this post is about translucent setting powder, so if you're interested in my beauty breakdown, please keep reading!
I've been dealing with some hormone related acne lately on both my face and my back. Although I know many people struggle with worse acne than me, I'm still battling with it. This month, I picked up a few products from two different eBay sellers to hopefully help balance my skin out, so I thought I'd share them with you all.
To give my skin some extra love and conditioning, I bought a few different facial products from f2plus1, and one acne product from soleil-worldwide. The prices listed are what I paid on eBay followed by the list price on the companies' respective websites.
innisfree Green Tea Pure Sleeping Pack: ($14.98, $15.00)
This product is designed as a heavy duty moisturizing mask that you apply before going to sleep and wash off with warm water in the morning. I've never used a product like this before, and am anxious to try it! This mask is made from green tea leaves and green tea seed oil from Jeju Island. This combination is supposed to not only moisturize the skin, but help keep it clear as well.
TONYMOLY Panda's Dream White Sleeping Pack: ($8.12, $18.00)
This sleeping mask is designed to moisturize and brighten/even out skin tone. With ingredients such as lavender and rosemary to soothe irritated skin, and bamboo for hydration, this sounds perfect to apply before bedtime. Lavender is known to be a soothing/relaxing scent, so I was excited to see it included in this product. Of course you can't ignore the adorable packaging either.
SKINFOOD Fresh Apple Sparkling Pore Emulsion: ($4.68, ?)
I purchased this product in 20 sample packets, although it normally comes in a 160 ml bottle. However, I could not seem to find a price from the SKINFOOD website. This emulsion is supposed to be applied after using toner, and is designed to control sebum production as well as tighten pores. It contains some carbonated water which I imagine would tingle a bit. Out of the three products I purchased from this seller, I'd have to say I'm most excited to try this one.
Dream Dots Overnight Acne Patches 24 count: ($14.99, €15.00)
These little patches are designed to heal blemishes while you sleep over the course of a few days. (Their website suggests leaving them on for 8-10 hours for 3-4 days.) After adhering to your skin, the spot absorbs all the gunk from your blemish while sealing out bacteria and other contaminants. It also is supposed to reduce any pain associated with your blemish. This is an added bonus since hormonal acne tends to be more painful for me than regular acne. When buying this product directly from the website, keep in mind it does ship from Europe although the shipping costs remain the same regardless of location.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my mini skin care haul! Please let me know if you would like full reviews of any of these products after I try them.
I have had long hair for years, and by long, I mean extremely long. My hair went down to my hips, and I trimmed it myself on a semi-regular basis. Recently, I decided I needed a bit of a change, which is something I usually do every 2-3 years. I settled on an inverted long bob and ended up cutting off around 11 inches of hair. Luckily, my hair was long enough to donate to Locks of Love which is something I've always wanted to do but never thought I could bring myself to cut off enough hair to donate. This is the shortest my hair has been in years, and it was a pretty nerve-wracking change for me. For those of you on the fence about making a big change with your hairstyle, consult your hairstylist. With photoshop, hair extensions, and other tricks available now, your inspiration pictures may or may not be attainable. If you have an idea in mind, talk to your stylist about it, and see what they think. Your hair texture may not work to achieve the look you have in mind, and by talking about it before making the change, you won't be disappointed when the style looks different than what you were expecting. Don't forget to keep an open mind too! Your stylist might suggest something they think will work better with your hair texture. Hair grows back too, so if you end up with something you're not in love with, be patient.
For those of you interested in where I got my hair cut, check out this link to their Facebook page!
Tonight I picked up a few things from Target, including a leave-in conditioning cream from Garnier Fructis' Sleek & Shine line. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, my hair has been especially dry this winter. That being said, I have been getting a fair amount of split ends because of it. As soon as I got home from Target, I took a nickel sized amount of the cream and ran it through my dry hair starting about halfway down and moving towards my ends. Just from the one use, my hair feels softer, smoother, and healthier. The cream was very moisturizing without weighing my hair down, and it left no residue. Overall I'm excited to see how my hair health and texture improves while using this product!
I also picked up a new makeup remover by a company from the UK because the one I'm currently using is starting to get pretty low. It's called Botanics All Bright Soothing Eye Makeup Remover and it's designed to remove makeup while also gently chemically exfoliating to brighten skin. It has two components, one which is oilier to remove the makeup, and one which is water based to wash away any residue. Because of the two components, it needs to be shaken before use.
The last item I bought from Target was a body scrub by another UK brand. (Boots Extracts Mango Sugar Scrub) It's a sugar based scrub which is different from the scrubs I've tried before. Previously I've used two salt based scrubs; one from Lush and one from Tree Hut. I'm extremely excited to try this scrub out, and can't wait to do a review on it!
When it comes to nail maintenance, there are many different products on the market. Pictured above, are the items I use most often on my own nails. I don't necessarily use all of them every time I give myself a manicure; sometimes I need one or two of them for a quick fix. If you're interested in a particular product, just find the number below and it will list a description / how I use it.
1. Cuticle Remover
This product comes in several forms including gel and liquid. Its purpose is to remove excess skin around the nail bed and nail walls, which is basically anywhere the nail meets the skin. It works by chemically breaking down dead skin for easy removal. There are many different brands of cuticle remover at various price points. I myself have only tried two different brands, Sally Hansen and Pro FX (pictured above). The Sally Hansen cuticle remover runs from $5-$6 for 0.9 fl oz, whereas the Pro FX version is roughly the same price for 5.6 fl oz. That being said, the Sally Hansen formula was more powerful and seemed to be more effective at removing the excess cuticle. However, I personally prefer the Pro FX cuticle remover, because it still works well and lasts me about 6x as long.
2. Almond Oil / Cuticle Oil
Cuticle oil is a mixture of oils used to keep cuticles healthy and moisturized, and it can also be applied to the nail itself. It can be purchased from most drugstores, but it is also relatively easy to make if you're feeling a DIY project. If you're looking for an alternative to purchasing cuticle oil without concocting your own, you could use just one oil such as almond oil. I like to clean out an old nail polish bottle and refill it with almond oil, so I can easily brush it on.
3. Cuticle Trimmer
This tool can be used to trim excessive skin around the cuticles that cannot be removed with cuticle remover alone. This tool is also great for trimming painful hangnails instead of ripping them off. If you maintain your cuticles regularly, you may never need to use this tool, and even if you do, you shouldn't need to use it very often. I would recommend using cuticle remover and pushing your cuticles back before cutting them.
4. Cuticle Cream
This product serves essentially the same purpose as cuticle oil, however, the consistency is very different. Because this product is more of a cream, I prefer to first apply cuticle oil which I let soak in, and then I wash it off and apply cuticle cream which I leave on. It seems to absorb better, and doesn't leave the skin feeling as greasy as oil does. Because this is just my personal preference, you could just as easily use one product or the other rather than both.
5. Nail File
Nail files typically serve two purposes; to shape and shorten nails. If you only need to take a small amount off your nails, it may make more sense just to file them rather than break out the nail clipper. There are many different types of nail files; mylar, metal, padded cushion, ceramic, and glass. and they vary in coarseness. From my experience, mylar and metal nail files are very harsh on nails, and I would not recommend using them. However, glass and ceramic files are very popular. I personally prefer cushion-files, like the one I have pictured above, because I don't like the way glass files feel on my nails*. Once you've chosen a material you like, you need to pick the level of grit. When it comes to choosing the proper coarseness, the higher the grit number, the finer the file. Higher grit files are used for shaping artificial nails such as acrylic or gel whereas, lower grit files are used shaping natural nails, or buffing / shining nails.
*Update: I personally recommend using the Bliss Kiss crystal file which can be purchased here.
6. Orange Wood Stick / Cuticle Pusher
This tool is used to gently push the cuticles away from the nail plate. This process not only defines the natural curve of the cuticle, but also helps remove any dead skin that builds up around the nail bed. If done regularly, it can reduce the need to trim cuticles. Cuticle pushers are made of several materials including orange wood, metal, and plastic. For nail art purposes, orange wood sticks can be filed into a point to be used as a dotting tool, although some are already come this way.
7. Nail Buffer Block
Lastly, the four sided buffer block is another tool that is often used for filing. Some buffer blocks have the same coarseness on all four sides whereas others have varying grit levels. Along with filing, this tool can be used for buffing and shining nails, or sealing your nails' free edges after filing. Coarser blocks are typically used for buffing false nails, and blocks with varying grit levels often instruct you to use all four sides to buff your natural nails to a shine.
I hope this post was helpful and informative, and as always, please feel free to leave feedback or questions in the comment section!
I've never been good at keeping a journal, but I've always wanted to. I hope you enjoy my sporadic posts about beauty, fitness/health, and various other topics.