Periscope Session Tonight!

Please join me tonight on Periscope for my Top 5 tips on walking or running a 5k!

Periscope handle: @StellarJennifer

See you at 7 p.m. CT!

Please join me @StellarJennifer on Periscope tonight! Tips on walking/running a 5k! #walk #run #fitness #health #fitnessblog #fitnessblogger

Please join me @StellarJennifer on Periscope tonight! Tips on walking/running a 5k! #walk #run #fitness #health #fitnessblog #fitnessblogger

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Sunday Style: Bridesmaid Redux

I have had the honor to serve as a bridesmaid in several of my friends’ weddings — and thankfully all of my friends have excellent taste! I’ve been lucky to wear some beautiful dresses, and I have a few that I really wish I had the chance to wear again.

One dress I wore for my best friend Dominika’s wedding is the spitting image of this flowy pink dress from Dessy via Weddington Way.

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I wish I had known about Weddington Way when I was choosing bridesmaid dresses for my wedding! You can narrow your searches based on color, length of dress, style of your wedding, size and more, and then choose from dozens of well-known names in the business: Alfred Angelo, Dessy, After Six, Jim Hjelm, Lela Rose, etc. Check out more of Weddington Way’s chiffon dresses here.

Weddington Way inspired me to explore how I would style a bridesmaid dress to wear again, and I came up with two different looks for this Dessy 2832 dress — since it’s similar to mine!

At Dominika and Cory's beautiful wedding!

At Dominika and Cory’s beautiful wedding!

A Little Edge
The first thing I would do is shorten this dress to just above the knee. Then I would start out by adding black and leather to the sweet color and flowy fabric of this dress. I can see wearing this look out to dinner with girlfriends or to a concert.

Sweet & Shimmery
The next look I put together would involve a little more of a drastic tailoring to the original dress — possibly. I think turning it into a midi-skirt would be adorable — calf-length and take the top off altogether. A cheaper fix is to just wear something over the top and shorten it to the midi length. I picked a cropped sweater with lacy detail on the sleeves, strappy shoes, a metallic crossbody bag and a contrasting rose gold necklace with pink detail — you could dress this look up or wear it to brunch with girlfriends.

How would you  style an old bridesmaid dress? Have you ever shortened or redesigned a dress and worn it in a different way?

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for working with Weddington Way on this post; all opinions are my own.

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One Month Until The Makeshift 5k!

Today is Aug. 26, which means it’s officially one month until the next Makeshift 5k!

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If you don’t already know, I’m hosting a casual get-together the morning of Saturday, Sept. 26 for walkers and runners to complete a 5k. There’s no fee, and you can even participate virtually if you don’t live near Birmingham, Ala. Simply walk or run 3.1 miles that morning and post a photo on Instagram to be entered in a drawing for a prize!

Speaking of prizes, I forgot to announce the winner of the drawing from the July Makeshift 5k — my cousin Matt! Matt and his wife, Lisa, participated virtually that day — they live in California with their three beautiful daughters. He’s a big inspiration to me as he has participated in 100-mile bike races — so amazing! Matt, I’ll be sending your prize soon!

For the past couple of weeks I have been sending my newsletter out with extra tips for training to walk or run a 5k. I will continue this for the next month, so be sure to sign up for the newsletter now!

I will also host a Periscope session on Monday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. to give you my Top 5 Tips For Walking/Running A 5k.

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Feel free to leave questions for the session in the comments for this post, or ask me that night. I’m looking forward to getting everyone ready for the 5k!

How is your training going? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

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What I’m Eating On Weight Watchers Lately

Does anyone else ever get worn out from thinking about food? I don’t necessarily mean tracking and measuring and all that jazz, though that can get tiresome at times! But I mean, what are you having for dinner tonight? What are you buying at the grocery store? What will you eat for breakfast and lunch and snacks?

These are all things I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, especially since I started back on Weight Watchers. It’s hard to be successful on this program without planning. Actually, that’s probably true for anyone who is trying to eat more healthfully!

My goal each week is to shop for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week ahead. This past week I looked up a couple new recipes to try, which made shopping for dinners less of a guessing game. As for breakfast, I pretty much eat the same thing every day. And when I do prepare lunches (I’ve been eating out a lot in the past two weeks!), I go for simple and easy.

Here’s what I’ve been eating lately:

Breakfast
I tend to split my breakfast into two parts, and lately it’s consisted of a small bowl of Cheerios first thing in the morning, then a breakfast sandwich around 9-9:30 a.m. 

Lunch

As I said, I’ve been out to lunch a lot and estimating (guesstimating) points as accurately as I can. This week, however, I plan to take turkey wraps! Here are the main ingredients, and I plan to add fresh spinach and red onion, which are all 0 points. I’ll have an apple on the side, too!

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Dinner
This weekend I tried my first Weight Watchers-friendly recipe in a while — and it was delicious! I got the basics of this shepherd’s pie recipe from Drizzle Me Skinny’s Meat and Mashed Potato Pie. However, instead of cooking the meat with the beef broth after browning it, I simply added some garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper and 1 cup of mixed frozen veggies. Then I layered that on top of the pre-cooked crust, layered on the mashed potatoes, then sprinkled on the cheese. It was great comfort food!

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Snacks

I always try to have a variety of snacks on-hand for after lunch. I tend to get a little hangry around 3:30. This is what I keep in stock: 

I also keep frozen treats at home for after dinner, and I usually eat one of the following at night: 

I’ll be looking at more recipes for dinners this week and I’ll be sure to share those recipes and sources with you!

What have you been eating lately?

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My 5 Truths Of Self-confidence

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In two months I will turn 36. I used to be kinda nervous about 36 because it felt like I was no longer “in my 30s” but “in my LATE 30s.” Ouch.

Now that I’ll be 36 soon, however, I feel ready for it — like being in my late 30s somehow makes me wiser, more experienced and distinguished.

One thing I know for sure is, I’ve learned a lot about what self-confidence means to me by now. Finding that source of strength within myself is still a daily battle, but here are My 5 Truths Of Self-confidence.

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1. As you get older, you won’t care as much about what other people think. Women in their 40s have been telling me this for a long time, but it only recently started becoming true for me. I’m a people-pleaser — I hate the idea that someone won’t like something I’ve done or an opinion I’ve voiced or me, in general. But I’ve learned that the friends and family you can count on won’t write you off just because you disagree with them. And once you understand that it’s those people who really matter, you won’t be afraid to express yourself.

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2. People will respect you for being you. Sometimes it’s hard not to follow the crowd. But as you grow more comfortable with yourself, you’ll start to hear others voice how they admire your uniqueness. You may be the girl who wears flowy dresses in a group of friends who love preppier clothes — but finding your own style, your own feelings about social issues and your own interests is what makes you you. People will be drawn to that, and it may even help them find their own special qualities, too.

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3. Success is more a feeling inside than a certain status or bank account. I have student loan debt up the whazoo. But I pay my bills every month. I have yet to have one of my articles published in my dream magazine. But I work every day at writing and editing, and I get paid to do so. I’m not a perfect friend, or wife, or sister, or daughter. But I value these relationships and try to work hard on them. How we define success may not match another’s vision of success, but striving to better ourselves, completing small steps that make “adulting” feel possible, those are all achievements we can feel good about, no matter how small.

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4. Your outside appearance is just a tiny part of what contributes to your self-esteem. I’ve been overweight my whole life. Some might look at that, and off the bat, they’d deem me a failure because it’s a “problem” I haven’t been able to “overcome.” But I have learned that how you feel about yourself, and what condition your overall health is in, is way more valuable than fitting inside society’s box of what is beautiful or attractive. I love to workout, I feel better when I eat healthfully, I enjoy the art of fashion and fixing my hair and makeup — but I do all of these things now more for how I feel about me, than how I want others to perceive me.

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5. Your cheerleaders will be those who boost your confidence in unexpected ways. When I was single, I wanted a boyfriend so I would feel beautiful all of the time. I thought seeing myself in his eyes would make me feel more worthy. What I have learned, though, is when I do something completely unrelated to my looks — when I complete a 5k and my husband is there to cheer me on, when he brings me flowers to celebrate getting a promotion at work — that is when I feel my confidence soar through the roof. Whether it’s from a significant other or from family or friends, the support you get when you achieve something you work hard at, that is more tangible and more long-lasting than any compliment on your outfit or smile or figure. Sure, everyone wants to hear those compliments from time to time, but the glow I feel when I’ve made my husband or friends or family proud — that’s real.

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A Palm Print & End Of Summer Sales

While most kids here in Alabama have already headed back to school, it still feels like summer outside! That’s why it’s the perfect time to snatch up some end-of-summer deals at the stores. Either store a few pieces away for next season, if the weather is already turning colder where you live, or down South, you’ll most likely get another month or so to rock some new gear!
palm1I recently picked up this new skirt and top at Macy’s — for only $10 each! I have purchased a few palm-printed items this summer (a bathing suit top and a romper), and I know they will wear well next year, too.

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This pink color is different for me — not a shade I wear often. But I love it! And I’m glad I broke outside my usual box.

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Here are a few stores that are having great sales right now!

Macy’s
You can find many summer dresses marked down, plus an extra 15-20% off select styles. This dress has a great pattern and is available in straight and plus size:

These Dr. Scholl flats would be a simple ballet flat for fall and are $39 plus 15% off with the code BTS. They are supposedly friendly to your feet!

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via Macy’s

Lane Bryant
Lane Bryant has a lot of items on clearance — as much as half off — and you can get $25 off $75, $50 off $150 and $75 off $225 with the code AUGUSTGIFTLB.

I have my eye on this knit-trim kimono, $35 with an additional 20% off with the code LOVEITLB:

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Torrid
Torrid’s tees, tanks and crops are all marked down and there’s an extra 20% off online purchases with the code SHOPPINGTIME. I may have to get these printed harem crop pants:

New York & Co.
Many of the summer dresses at New York & Co. are already marked 30% off, and if you buy three or more items, the percentage off jumps to 40% or 50%.

I am in love with this bold chevron striped dress that’s marked down to $49 and comes up to size 18:

Old Navy
Some Pixie pants are marked down as low as $25 and come in straight sizes up to 20, and also in plus sizes up to 30. I really want patterned pants like these for the fall:

Active gear is also 40% off, and tees and tanks are mostly under $20. This plaid T would be great for a casual weekend look, or paired under a jacket for work:

Happy end-of-summer sale shopping!

Posted in Accessories, Clothes, Fashion, plus-size, Shopping, Style | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

How To Get Ready In A Flash For A Night Out

Do you have a go-to dress in your closet? An easy makeup and hair routine? Jewelry and a bag you can grab-and-go?

You should!

A few weeks ago my friend Sherri asked me to attend a Hand In Paw fundraising event that would involve cocktails, dinner and super-cute dogs. Um, yes please!

One of the Hand In Paws therapy dogs

One of the Hand In Paw therapy dogs

I was really happy to attend and Sherri and I had a great time! I had never seen a live auction in-person before, and it was exciting!

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Luckily the night was also made enjoyable in that I knew exactly what I was going to wear.

THE DRESS
I had a couple conversations with Sherri about what to wear, but I knew I had at least two cocktail dresses in my closet I could pull out and wear without needing to buy anything new, worry about undergarments or fear I would be uncomfortable all night.

Here’s what I wore:

ASOS Curve dress {similar here, here and here}

ASOS Curve dress

This ASOS Curve dress was purchased for my bachelorette party last year, but I have two other dresses that I can always grab when needed. One is also black with silver thread detail, and another is red:

Both ASOS Curve dresses, at a friend's wedding (left) and Valentine's Day dinner (right)

ASOS Curve dresses, at a friend’s wedding (left) and Valentine’s Day dinner (right)

I recommend when you look for a dress, while black is an easy choice, any color can work as long as you think seasonally. Also think about the fabric. I could easily wear any of these dresses with a shrug, wrap or cardi and tights in the winter, too.

Here are some great Little Black Dress options from ASOS Curve that range from $27 to $63:

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Clockwise from top left: Swing dress, $35; Peplum dress, $27; Pencil dress, $45;  Obi wrap dress, $63

As for the fit, I like anything A-line for my shape, and I think it looks flattering on most shapes and sizes. The straighter styles above are also great because the clean lines that nip in at the waist work on most body types. I also like to choose dresses that aren’t strapless, as much as possible, so I can wear a regular bra and a pair of Spanx. Easy!

THE SHOES
The great thing about the LBD is you can add a pop of color with your shoes. On Saturday night, my shoes were simple Easy Spirit sandals because I wanted to take care of my back and not wear high, high heels. I would even venture to say that flats are OK! As long as they go well with your dress.

Check out Alexa Chung with these funny kitten flats — totally works with her personality!

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THE MAKEUP
As for makeup, I went simple: Stila brown eyeliner ($18), Mac’s bronze shimmery eyeshadow ($16), Maybelline Great Lash black mascara ($7), Mac Studio Fix powder ($27), Mac powder blush ($22) and the perfect shade of lipstick for nighttime for me, raspberry — Clinique’s A Different Grape ($19).

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You could definitely take this up a notch with a smokier eye, more eyeliner or even fake eyelashes. And red lipstick is always a classic!

THE HAIR
As for hair, I went simple with a blown-dry style, but I did wear a little more product than I would on a normal work day. I used my favorite Bumble & Bumble Dryspun for more volume and hairspray for staying power.

If you like a little more effort with your hair, try finding a style you can create quickly. Practice a week or a couple days ahead of time, that way you can recreate it easily. I love throwing up both sides of my hair with two or three bobby pins. Boom, it’s out of my face and looks polished.

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THE ACCESSORIES
As for jewelry, have a necklace or earrings that will work well with any of your go-to dresses — then add on smaller pieces around that necklace or earrings. The necklace I wore Saturday night was a gift — here’s a similar one from Swarovski:

And don’t forget a simple clutch that can carry lipstick, your phone, credit cards & ID.

That’s it! You’re ready to go!

Do you have a go-to dress? What is your routine to get ready for a night out?

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Back Pain & Feeling Derailed

After visiting the doctor yesterday, I learned I have a bulging disc in my back. I had been in pain for about three days — pain that felt centered in my left butt cheek (sorry, no getting around that!), and radiating in my lower back and down my left leg. It was hard to sleep comfortably, and especially hard to sit upright at work all day.

 

The doc prescribed pain meds to help me feel more comfortable and steroids to lessen the inflammation. Here’s a little info graphic showing what happens when this occurs:

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My doctor instructed me to refrain from running, walking, dancing — any kind of “pounding” activity and more strenuous workouts — for a week or so. In a few days, swimming will thankfully be OK, and I’m so grateful for that.

I’m grateful because the moment my back started hurting, I started feeling defeated. I have had a few strong weeks of losing weight, eating well and exercising regularly. The last thing I want right now is to derail any of that progress.

In short, I’m scared.

That fear is a little over-dramatic — I know this. I know that my steady weight loss, even if it has been a little at a time, is mostly thanks to restricting what I’m eating. Since I started Weight Watchers, I’ve been much more cognizant of what I’m eating and how much I’m eating. There’s no need for that to change — in fact, I have no doubt that I can continue to lose weight even if I have to refrain from harder workouts for a couple of weeks. I may need to be a little stricter with my diet, but I can work on that.

I plan to take it easy over the weekend and if I am feeling better, I will try to swim again next week. I always feel stronger and better about my body when I’m able to work out. Plus, I hate the feeling that I am not doing all the things I can do to continue some success. In my head, if I’m doing all I can, even if I don’t lose weight, then at least I have given it my best.

It’s important not to beat myself up — our bodies go through ups and downs and it’s important to take care of my body and let it heal when needed. But I will admit to feeling a little defeated.

I will work on overcoming that feeling, though, taking it easy for a few days, and enjoying swimming when it’s possible. Just because I have an injury right now doesn’t mean my progress will inevitably be derailed. It’s time move forward in the ways that are good for me, and then get back to regularly scheduled programming when I am healed!

How have you dealt with an injury in the past? What steps did you take to continue on your healthy journey despite the injury?

Posted in exercise, Fitness, Health, Weight Watchers, Weight-loss, Workouts | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What I Want Now

Whenever I do a “What I Want Now” post, it’s usually more aspirational — as in, I’m not necessarily running out and buying these items. I’m daydreaming! But a couple of things on this list are so well-priced, I recommend you get thee to the store (or just click away!)!

Eloquii Windowpane Pleated Skirt

Eloquii, $59.99

Eloquii, $59.99

I love a full skirt, I love black-and-white patterns — I mean, this skirt can be worn now with sandals, in the fall with booties, in winter with opaque tights and a jacket. Hello!

Madden Girl Huntzz Ankle Booties in cognac

Macy's, $69

Macy’s, $69

Last fall and winter, I wore my black booties into the ground. This year, I need to show brown a little more love.

Old Navy Women’s Go-Dry Compression Crops in blazing hyacinth

Old Navy, $28

Old Navy, $28

I may already have a pair of crops with similar colors … but come on! Purple running gear fuels my fire! (And I know just the 5k that I can wear them at!)

Old Navy Women’s Patterned Twill Bomber Jacket in black print

Old Navy, $34

Old Navy, $34

The fall jackets I have to just throw on and go are all … khaki. Nothing wrong with khaki! It’s very versatile. And one of my jackets has sort of a “safari” vibe. So, I’m down with that. But I need a little variety. This cute little bomber is the cure.

Charming Charlie Mea Reversible Necklace in purple

Charming Charlie, $18

Charming Charlie, $18

My favorite purple necklace broke, so I need a replacement, right? I love a little costume jewelry and, with my love for purple, you know I need to keep something like this handy!

Coach Turnlock Tote in silver/violet

Coach, $295

Coach, $295

OK, OK. I already have a GORGEOUS black Michael Kors tote. And I have a GORGEOUS purple Coach bag, too. But this is a purple tote. A PURPLE TOTE. As Andy’s friend Lily says in The Devil Wears Prada, “It’s just so pretty!

What are you lusting over right now?

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Prepping For The Makeshift 5k

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If you are new to my blog, let me introduce you to the Makeshift 5k!

This get-together is designed as a casual way for all of us to challenge ourselves to run and walk more often. I needed a way to keep my walking/running up to a certain standard — and my standard is a 5k or better. I wanted to invite my readers to come along with me if you live in Birmingham, or participate virtually if you live elsewhere.

I held my first get-together to run or walk in April, and the second one in July when it was hot — so hopefully our next meet-up will be a little cooler.

In preparation for the Makeshift 5k in six weeks — yup! six weeks! — I am offering a bonus for my newsletter followers and anyone who signs up for the newsletter this week. For the next six weeks, I will send you helpful information to get you ready for the 5k. This may be walking or running tips, ideas on what to wear, and what to eat and drink to fuel yourself. If you want to sign up for the newsletter, please do so here!

I plan to walk or run two to three times per week, in addition to other workouts, from now until the Makeshift 5k on Sept. 26.

If you sign up for the newsletter, I will suggest different training programs to help get you ready!

Mind you, I am not an expert runner or walker or trained as a personal trainer. I will simply provide helpful articles by experts, and tidbits that I have learned over the past five or six years that I have been attending races regularly. Some of the best advice I have received has been from beginning runners, like myself, but I will also seek advice from more experience runners and share that with you, too.

Please sign up for the newsletter today, and let’s get ready for the next Makeshift 5k!

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