Friday, November 16, 2018

Snowbird, Part Two

 It's been almost 2 years now since I picked up this "snowbird" print at The Loft. The dress is in this post. All of the pieces were so deeply discounted that I had no problem buying a blouse with the same print but in a different color way. I love the pinks and purples of the dress, and all the variations of teal in the blouse. The blouse also has some cute pleats in the back and a high-low hem.
 Hey Heather, is that another chenille sweater? Yep! How could I resist this gorgeous peacock color! And being chenille, it really shimmers like their infamous feathers. This one has some cute bomber jacket style pockets. I usually like to wear sleeveless tops under sweaters because I don't like the feel of bulky arms. But in this cold weather, these thin blouses can be chilly so I made an exception.
 Favorite jeans...... favorite booties........
 I decided to throw in some rhinestones with the upcoming holidays. This statement necklace from Target (old) is one of my favs!
Snowbird Blouse : Loft (old)
Mossimo High Rise Jeans : Target
Sunglasses : Target
Necklace : Target

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Finally! The right program for me...

I am so excited to tell you about some changes I've made in my life this past month or two! After trying (and failing) other programs, I have finally found what works for my best health. Here's a little background first. For the past few years I have struggled with putting on some weight and feeling like crap. I have basically been in "survival mode", not taking the time to take care of myself. I was constantly tired, constantly bloated, irritable, depressed, anxiety ridden and started having joint pain and skin issues I'd never had before. Of course when you feel like that, the last thing you want to do is workout. So the vicious cycle starts of beating yourself up because you are sitting on the couch eating cupcakes. But the cupcakes make you feel good for a few minutes. I no longer wanted to chalk it up to being a busy working mom of 2, or being in my 40's. I knew I should not be feeling like this. Yes, I joked around about it on a daily basis but I never let anyone know what a truly bad place I was in. Sure, I'd had down days here and there but the depression and anxiety I was having was scaring me. And, I did not just want to throw pills at the problem. I knew I wanted to start at the root of the problem which was what I was already putting into my body. Sugar addiction should be treated as any other serious addiction!

A typical day for me would start out with swigging some kind of juice to down a few pills in the morning. I wouldn't eat or drink anything else until I got to work almost 2 hours later. I would either get a mocha from Biggby, have some sort of bottled mocha, or make tea with sweetener in it. If I did eat anything it was usually carby - a bagel, muffin, etc..... I might have a mid-morning snack (I did try to eat some kind of fruit every day). For lunch, it would either be drive thru or a frozen meal. If it was drive thru it would usually be a burger, cheese curds or fries, and malt for instance - I was always trying to get something sweet to get me through the afternoon. If it was a frozen meal, then I would be cruising the break room for dessert (I work at a bakery manufacturing company) or raiding a co-workers candy bowl. When I got home, I was usually starving so I'd wolf down the easiest thing I could find - crackers or something. I will say that my hubby and I had already implemented pretty healthy dinners so that was good. But then I'd always need some sort of snack or sweet when we finally settled down on the couch. I would also have a small glass of wine to unwind. The amount of sugar I was eating (or drinking) every day was insane! But, my body was so used to it that I craved it and I also rationalized that I was treating myself because I was always so stressed and busy. So let me tell you about the programs I have tried and why they didn't work for me.

I bought and read The Fast Metabolism book in 2014 (this was after some weight gain from a miscarriage and before my second full term pregnancy). The premise of the program is that you eat different things during a week cycle (and then repeat). For instance there are 2 days of low carb, 2 days of high carb, and then 3 days of a mixture (all healthy carbs of course). There are different physical activities for each section as well. It makes sense - you keep your metabolism guessing so it is always "working". Like the program I am doing now, it promoted eating every 2-3 hours. Even though meal plans and recipes were provided, it was just too much to keep up with. I was always worried about not having the right foods on the right days.

After having my second baby, I found MuTu (short for Mummy Tummy). Since this plan focuses on Moms, I bought in. With lots of online support and workouts, this plan helps you learn the right exercises to repair your stretched out stomach muscles along with the right nutrition. Where this program lost me was lots of emphasis on posture to the point of wearing only completely flat shoes (I don't wear stiletto heels, but I sure as hell was not giving up what I wanted to wear on my feet) and bone broth soup to rebuilt collagen (ummm, I have no effing time to make bone broth soup - you can get collagen with supplements). So when a program gets a little too far out there, I am turned off and again on this one I worried about not having the "right" foods all of the time. Plus no time or motivation to do the exercises.

The last program I tried was The 21 Day Fix. This was the one I stuck with the longest. I did a challenge month with my friend in her online group. The plan comes with little color coded containers, so it is easy to see how many of each you can eat each day. I liked this very much. However, again, I felt like I was always struggling to fill the little suckers! I would either buy too much produce and it would go bad, or I wouldn't have enough and I would stress about failing the plan. Also, I will admit I never once used the workout DVDs.

So here I was armed with all of this information - good information - on how to eat correctly but I just couldn't implement it! Honestly, by the time I keep up with my family's grocery list, family meal planning and packing lunches the last thing I want to do is meal plan for myself for the meals/snacks I am not eating with them. If you've been reading a while, you know that I try to make things as easy as possible for our busy lives by using grocery delivery service (Shipt) and meal delivery service (Blue Apron). Even with these helpers, it is hard to stay on top of it all! At the end of Summer my hubby started seeing our local chiropractor and I met his wife through our kiddos. She told me about a program they were trying at the practice with the hopes of rolling it out to the community. So in September I went to an informational meeting about Optavia. After meeting and talking to several people who were doing the program I made the decision to try it. Many Moms who were going through exactly what I was going through! The program you start out with is called the 5&1 which means you eat 5 Optavia "fuelings" and 1 lean & green meal a day. Drink the recommended amount of water and eat every 2-3 hours. Limited caffeine with nothing added. Since I was already basically making a lean & green meal for dinner every night, the "fuelings" took care of the rest of my day when I was eating so poorly!

These pictures show what I need for a day. With all of them fitting into one hand, there is no excuse for me NOT to have these in my bag daily. So easy to grab and go! Some require water and a microwave, but if you know you won't have access to that you can plan accordingly. Typical day example: I start drinking my water as soon as I get up and I eat the bar while I am getting the kids ready. Later that morning at work I make the oatmeal. For lunch at work I make the pasta. Afternoon snack at work is the crunchers. Home to make our lean & green. Night time snack is pudding. Besides water all day I may drink hot or iced tea (unsweetened). Your lean & green does NOT have to be dinner either. If I go out to lunch I eat accordingly and then eat a "fueling" for dinner. If I know we are going to have a late dinner due to kid activities, I'll eat all 5 of my "fuelings" during the day and have the late lean & green. It is so flexible and so easy!!!
Of course I had reservations about the plan. Here are my 3 and the answers:

1. What if I hate the taste of the "fuelings"? Honestly, 6 weeks in now and there are only 3 that I don't really care for. They are not inedible to me, I just don't look forward to eating them. There are some solutions though..... we have an online support group where we can swap "fuelings". AND, there are Optavia approved recipes you can make with the "fuelings" that won't mess with their nutritional content. For instance I don't care for the peanut butter shake, but I can add a few things to it to make cookies (which I am going to try this week as our group is having a meeting where everyone is bringing a holiday recipe to try)! ALSO, your taste buds will change!!! There was a bar that I didn't really like during my first week, but by my fourth week I loved it!

2. What if I am hungry and miserable all the time? My first 2 days were a mix of excitement of getting on a routine/trying the "fuelings" as well as being a bit hungry. My 3rd day was the worst, which from what I am hearing is normal. I was tired and depressed, but I pushed on. If you think about it, your body is detoxing just like it would with anything else. After that hump, OMG! I can not believe how awesome I feel!

3. It's expensive! True, on average a month worth of "fuelings" is about $350-$400. I decided I would go through a months worth of bank statements to find out what I was spending on Biggby, drive thru, etc...... as I hadn't really kept track of that before. It was $280!!! If I add in what I was buying/eating from the grocery store for meals/snacks for just myself, the amount adds up to the cost of the plan.

So now I will go into why I love Optavia!

1. Just like the ease of Shipt or Blue Apron, I go online to order for the month and it comes right to my door! Now, I have a month worth of meals/snacks at hand for myself! It's actually made me detest grocery shopping for everyone else even more, LOL!

2. We have a great online support system both nation wide and local, and we like to focus not so much on the scale but on "non-scale victories" (NSV). Things like, I haven't been able to wear this ring in years....... I need to buy new pants.........

3. I do not feel deprived because there truly is a "fueling" for every craving. Hot drinks, ice cream, cookies, brownies, pasta, salty/crunchy snacks, shakes, bars, etc...... In the time that I've been on the plan I've been to a wedding, gone out to eat, made it through Halloween - all without going off track. I am gearing up for a weekend in Chicago and the holidays, all with the confidence that I know what to do to not overindulge. And speaking of cravings, as I mentioned before the plan changes you so that you don't have your old cravings. Honestly, I no longer think about Biggby! And this is from someone who would invent errands on the weekend just so I could go out and get a mocha.

4. I cannot believe how good I feel! Losing weight seems like a bonus on this plan because feeling better is so much more overwhelming! I wake up every morning ready to tackle the day. I have energy ALL DAY. I have better focus and clarity. My belly no longer feels like I could pop it like a balloon at the end of the day. Most all of my aches have gone away. I'm actually..... happy. It's a bit emotional to feel like I've come out of this "fog" that I've been in for so long. On weekends I used to take naps both days and I'd be annoyed if I couldn't. Doing one task would tire me out and I NEEDED it. Now on the weekends I am go, go, go! It feels good to get so much done.

5. You don't have to be on the plan forever. I've lost about 15 pounds so far, but I didn't really set out any specific goals. Feeling better and kicking my habits were the most important things. When ready, you can start to transition into more of your own meals/snacks while still incorporating the "fuelings". I'm not sure when I am going to do this, but I know I will probably always purchase some amount of the "fuelings" to have in my routine since they are just so easy and I know they are better choices for me!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Chenille Crush

Last Winter, I was thrilled to see that chenille had made a comeback and I bought the pink (Loft) and red (Target) cardigan (two pink looks shown here). I am happy to report that Loft and Target are carrying similar sweaters again this year. When I find pieces I like, I tend to buy them in multiples - case in point : the silky tanks and long cardi's from this post. I thought I would round up some of the looks I've been creating with these dreamy pieces!
A New Day Chenille Cardigan in gold - Target
LuLaRoe "Christy" Tee in city print
Rock & Republic High Roller Jeans - Kohl's (old)
necklace - Anthropologie (old)
Close up! Loving this city print!
Chenille Cardigan - Target (last year)
Peacock Blouse - Loft (but I found the same one here)
Mossimo High Rise Cargo Pants - Target (old)
Sonoma "Sonya" booties - Kohl's (last year)
Close up! Loving these rich jewel colors together..... olive, navy, burgundy.
Chenille Cardigan - Loft (last year)
High Rise Jeggings - American Eagle (old)
Sonoma Tank - Kohl's (old)
Since I previously wore this pink sweater with blue & black jeans, I wanted to try a monochromatic look with maroon jeans.
Liberty Garden Tank - Anthropologie (old)
Rock & Republic High Roller Jeans - Kohl's (old)
necklace - Anthropologie (last year)
dv booties - Target (last year)
I've been loving several "neutrals" mixed together, so I really liked experimenting with this olive, gray and black combo!

Classic Leopard

Leopard will always be a classic print. I haven't owned any leopard pieces for quite some time, so I picked up this sweater at the end of last season from Target. Here is a link to this years version. I love that it is soft and comfy - no one wants a sweater that is itchy and too hot.
 I am so sad that my favorite high rise jeans (Rock & Republic from Kohl's) are no longer made, so I searched eBay to find them in black. Trusty boots from Sole Society. Sunglasses from Target. I spiced up this super simple outfit with a couple of brooches!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

October Reads

Popping in with what I read during the month of October. All of these books were given to me by the publishers - reviews and opinions my own.
The Girls at 17 Swann Street (release date: 2/5/19)
This book deals with anorexia, as the main character is admitted to full time care to recover from the disease. I learned a lot about what eating disorders do to the body which was interesting and sad. You can't help but root for these girls while also realizing the reality of our societies unhealthy relationships with food and appearance. 
The Wartime Sisters (release date: 1/22/19)
Set during World War 2, this story follows two sisters who end up living and working at an armory. Many complexities to their relationship unfold due to the way they were treated growing up, their marriages, and the death of their parents. Very good read with several interesting supporting characters.
The Paragon Hotel (release date: 1/8/19)
In the midst of the Prohibition Era, main character Alice is trying to escape her crime ridden past in Harlem and sets off on a train to Portland. Once there, she finds herself staying at The Paragon Hotel and becomes immersed in the lives of the residents there. This book was a hard read at times due to the period language, but interesting nonetheless!
The Clockmaker's Daughter (current release)
I was really excited to read this book, but found it hard to get into at first. There are many stories to follow, all tied together by a few key characters and an important Manor. I am glad I kept with it thought because the end is rewarding.

Monday, October 29, 2018

1 Necklace, 7 Dresses

TJ Maxx has always been one of my favorites places to find statement necklaces for a steal! Like this $6 Anthro. And this $14 Anthro. And this Lenora Dame gem. What about a $10 Kate Spade? I recently fell in love with this agate piece there - it has so many pretty shades of pink, purple and blue. I think a common misconception about statement necklaces is that people feel they will only wear them with one or two things. I am proof that this necklace, and the 4 I linked to above, are some of my most worn accessories! Case in point, I've already matched up this beauty to 7 different dresses!
 First up is this pretty floral Maeve dress from Anthropologie which you can see on me here.
 It goes great with this Zara dress remixed with this painted jean jacket.
 It's going to dress up this solid Maurine dress.
 Love it with this oil painting tunic!
 I think this Loft dress is my favorite match!
 It goes with many swatches on this fun patch dress.
 The colors on the back are much deeper and I like how it looks with this Simply Vera dress from Kohl's (which I haven't blogged yet).

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Bits & Pieces

The gem prints in my closet continue to evolve (you can jump to this post which will link to historical posts). The print alone on this skirt made me swoon, but then I saw that it was velvet, pleated, and a great length. In my teens I had a black velvet one piece swimsuit with a very similar print on it! I wish I still had it or at least had pictures of it...... it's was soooooooo 90's (in a good way)!
This skirt could definitely be holiday wear, and with the red & hearts it could even carry you through Valentine's Day! Everything I've paired it with is old and it got me to thinking that I really am a shopper who buys "bits & pieces". I've never really been one to go out in search of an entire outfit (top, bottom, jewelry, shoes) in one swoop. I love the challenge of mixing and matching new items with what I already have! In this case, I thought I was being rather boring going with traditional black tops and shoes rather than pulling another color out of the skirt. But then I had the idea to add a few vintage brooches that were my Grandma's. I really like how it came together! 
Tank - Motherhood Maternity (so yeah, 4+ years old)
Shrug Sweater - Casual Corner (how long have then been out of business?)
Pins - vintage from Grandma