Friday Five

Spring in Birmingham!

Spring in Birmingham!

1. It’s spring! Granted, we just had a few days of 30-degree mornings (WTF?!), but this Easter weekend it will be in the 70s and I plan to fully enjoy it. I want to find a big pot of flowers to put next to our front door, and I’m dying for a walk at either Railroad Park or Oak Mountain … I need me some nature!

2. A couple weeks ago I attended my friend Brent’s wedding, and we had such a blast! I love that two of my high school friends and I are getting married all within a three month period. It just makes this spring feel like it’s full of big celebrations!

Dominika and me with the groom, Brent. (I'm wearing the red ASOS Curve dress I told you about in this post!)

Dominika and me with the groom, Brent. (I’m wearing the red ASOS Curve dress I told you about in this post! It was so comfortable; I highly recommend it.)

3. I have to pat myself on the back a little because I brought my lunch with me to work … four times this week! That is a freakin’ miracle for me. I generally love going out to eat, either with friends or even on my own, during which I read a book or catch up on some Netflix. But this week I really stuck to my guns and not only did I save money, I know it was better for my waistline. (I’m still hovering around that 251 mark and praying I can get down under that before the wedding … not for any real reason because I’m feeling really good right now, if just for the ability to say I finally broke my plateau!)

4. Last weekend my good friend and bridesmaid Sarah Louise held a bridal tea for me at her home in Tuscaloosa. I had a great time with friends from my current job and my former job, and the food and beautiful flowers that Sarah Louise and her mom put together was just perfect! I have a hard time admitting that I’m kinda of shy about all of this stuff because, let’s face it, while I do like being the center of attention when cracking jokes or telling stories, when someone throws a party for me … I get a little flustered! Hopefully I didn’t sound like a babbling idiot the whole time, because really I’m just so grateful for everyone’s best wishes!

Helen, me, Emily and Laurie (I'm wearing another ASOS Curve dress with a mint green belt from Target and nude wedge flats from Macy's. The necklace came from Charming Charlie's.)

Helen, me, Emily and Laurie (I’m wearing another ASOS Curve dress with a mint green belt from Target and nude wedge flats from Macy’s. The necklace came from Charming Charlie’s.)

Libby, Marilyn, me, Leah, Katie and Sarah Louise!

Libby, Marilyn, me, Leah, Katie and Sarah Louise!

5. Next weekend I go home to NJ again for Jon and Ken’s wedding (Woot! Can’t wait!), a bridal shower hosted by my sister and mom, and my bachelorette party in Atlantic City. To say I’m excited about next weekend is an understatement! I’m expecting to be on my feet a lot so, while I am intending to wear heels at the wedding and out dancing Sat. night, I am searching for sparkly black flats as a back-up plan. Which ones get your vote?

VanEli at DSW

VanEli at DSW

Madden Girl at DSW

Madden Girl at DSW

Zigi Soho from DSW

Zigi Soho from DSW

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Stagnant Water

That’s exactly what I feel like I am right now: stagnant water. Between travel, work, wedding planning and other commitments, I haven’t made enough time for exercise the past couple of weeks. And, while I haven’t really gained weight, I haven’t lost any, either.

I say “really” because I did gain a couple pounds a week ago, but it came right off again.

The thing is, I know I’m not eating that great — I’m not getting enough fruits and vegetables, and I’m eating too many carbs. I went to spinning last Tuesday … and I haven’t exercised since then. Not a great track record.

The thing is, I feel like I’m juggling a lot lately. There’s a lot going on in all areas of my life, and I’m just not sure I have the energy for more. Still, as I type that, I can hear the voice in my head saying, “You could get up an hour earlier and work out.” “You could run to the grocery store and buy healthier snacks rather than buying what’s easy all the time.” “You could spare 15 minutes every evening to prepare good-for-you snacks and lunch for the next day.”

So while I may feel like stagnant water right now, I know what will fix that, and I know it doesn’t take as much effort as it sometimes feels it will. I know that I can find the time, I can make the time, and I just have to work on my priorities so that my health moves higher up on the list.

I’m writing this post tonight because, for me, these posts are cathartic. When I’m feeling lost, or like I need a boost to keep me on track, writing out my feelings and focusing myself on the direction I need to go is a tremendous help.

As is giving myself small timetables in which to meet the goals I want to meet. So, I have a little more than a month until my wedding and from here on out, my focus is on getting some form of exercise daily — even if it’s just 15 minutes. I will also do better at getting more fruits and vegetables in my daily diet and eating less carbs.

Let’s get out of the stagnant water and move this train forward again!

Posted in exercise, Fitness, Healthy Eating, Weight-loss, Workouts | Leave a comment

Wedding Season Fashions

If you’ve read my blog for any period of time now, you may already know that I am getting married soon. Now that the big day is only a couple months away, wedding-related events are starting to spring up, and it’s a total understatement that I’m super-excited!

Not only do I have a couple showers and a bachelorette party to look forward to in April, but I also have a friend’s wedding this coming weekend, plus one more at the end of April. I can’t wait to celebrate with them, so, being the wanna-be fashionista that I am, of course I thought a lot about what I want to wear to all of these occasions!

I have a couple items that will probably be recycled since, thankfully, they’re dresses I love, feel comfortable in and at least one item travels well. But I purchased a couple new items as well, and I have a couple on the way that are contenders. So, here are some recommendations for wedding season gear, and why I chose them!

Bridal Showers

Love this dress, but I need to stand up straight!

Love this dress, but I need to stand up straight!

I wore this dress to my sister’s bridal shower and my best friend’s bridal shower! (I actually wore it to a friend’s wedding, too. So it’s made the rounds!) The reason I love it is the floral pattern and light, airy colors scream “girly” and “spring.” So much of what I wear is black, or black based, so I love the lightness of this dress.

Looking Like A Million dress in violet, Modcloth

Looking Like A Million dress in violet, Modcloth

This is the dress I wore in my engagement photos and I intend to wear it again, probably to my shower! I’m searching for a pretty, floral cardigan that includes this purple. Let me know if you have any ideas!

Bachelorette Parties

I bought this dress on sale from Macy's for less than $30!

I bought this dress on sale from Macy’s for less than $30!

I bought this dress with the idea that I might wear it for my bachelorette party, and then I wore it for a work function! It’s still my back-up dress, so you might see some photos of me in this again really soon!

ASOS Curve skater dress with sequin top

ASOS Curve skater dress with sequin top

This dress is currently on its way to me! I think it’s so fun, so I really want it to fit and be comfy. That’s one thing I’ve learned about bachelorette party dresses — go for something young, short, fun (sequins are always good!), but remember that you will be out all night. So make sure you won’t be tugging on it constantly, and for crying out loud, wear good shoes!

The Wedding

Here are my rules for what to wear as a guest to a wedding:

1. Do I really need to say it? Don’t wear white!
2. See if you can find out what the bride’s colors are, and what the bridesmaids will be wearing, and try to avoid that color if at all possible. I once wore an old bridesmaid’s dress to a wedding that was a tad too similar to the current bridesmaids’. Even though I wore a black shrug & shoes, and my dress was short and theirs was long, it was still the same color & the same fabric. Probably too close!
3. Think about what time of day the wedding is. Day? A lighter, airy fabric would be nice. Night? You can get away with satin or a fancier fabric. As for color, I know some still go by the old-school rule of not wearing black to a wedding, but I think that’s, well, old-school. Here are a couple options I’m considering wearing as a wedding guest in the next month.

ASOS New Look Inspire crochet insert dress

ASOS New Look Inspire crochet insert dress in navy

This dress may be perfect for the March wedding I'm attending, since it's up North and I may need to wear tights!

This dress may be perfect for the March wedding I’m attending, since it’s up North and I may need to wear tights!

A selfie of me in my new red dress from ASOS (Can you tell that I'm obsessed with ASOS?!)

A selfie of me in my new red dress from ASOS (Can you tell that I’m obsessed with ASOS?! They have great styles and prices, so check them out!)

Do you have an arsenal of dresses that you keep on-hand for wedding activities? Where do you turn to find cute items for special occasions?

Posted in Clothes, Fashion, Style, Uncategorized, wedding | 1 Comment

Friday Five

1. Grammar Nerds — Unite!
If you happen to be friends with me on Facebook, then you know that I posted a status update yesterday railing against the AP Stylebook’s decision to ease up on the use of “over” rather than replacing it with “more than” as in the past. Whatever your feelings may be on this issue (or you may have no feelings because you’re not a total word nerd like me!), the best thing to come out of this status update are the comments from fellow writers/editors/English geeks like myself. I love when an interest, no matter how dorky it may seem to others, gets everyone to band together, or starts a conversation. It makes me feel like I have others out there in the world that “get” me!

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 7.43.15 PM

 

2. My Thighs Are Killing Me!
Wednesday night I used one of the free personal training sessions I won as part of the Gold’s Gym Instagram challenge. I asked my friend and coworker Helen to join me, as I was working out with the trainer she was paired with for the past six months. Holy. Hell. I was not prepared for the beating my body received!

That's steep!

That’s steep!

Our first round included five burpees, then climbing those stairs, followed by a run to the basketball court, where we did suicides, then back and start all over again. I did three rounds and I. Was. BEAT! I had to walk the stairs the last time and I could barely run.

Then we went inside for arms — kettle bell swings, push-ups, bicep curls, tricep dips, plus three different core exercises. Three rounds. Needless to say I am still sore, and probably will be all weekend! But I had a great time and feel like I can accomplish even more next time (I hope!).

3. See Us Blog
Last night I attended a class for members of See Jane Write, the awesome group that Javacia started here in Birmingham. Her insight is always so helpful and I learned a lot about the importance of consistency when blogging, why we shouldn’t steal photos off the Internet (You might get sued!) and how social media can add to your brand. If you live in the Birmingham area and you want to learn more about writing, or just meet fellow writers/bloggers like yourself, definitely check out See Jane Write! (Here’s a link to Javacia’s fabulous online magazine: See Jane Write Magazine.)

4. Mod shoes.
I am ob-sessed with these shoes!

Discover Your Pastel Flat in mint by Modcloth, $59.99

Discover Your Pastel Flat in mint by Modcloth, $59.99

I think they will go nicely with some wedding-event related outfits and I should snatch them up immediately! Do you agree?

4. Even Little Changes Are A Big Deal
As I wrote recently, the weight-loss journey that I seem to be on perpetually can have its ups and downs, its times of refocusing on what really matters. I was looking back at this photo that I have on my “About Me” page and I realized that since this picture was taken, I may be down just 30 pounds, but instead of focusing on that “just” I need to take in the small changes that add up to a lot: the slimmer face, the leaner arms, simply the confidence to take a side-view shot of my torso! I have work to do — I’m not blind to that. But I’m also proud of how far I’ve come!

August 2009 v. March 2014

August 2009 v. March 2014

 

Posted in Blogging, Body Image, Confidence, Fashion, Fitness, Shoes, Style, Uncategorized, wedding, Weight-loss, Workouts, Writing | 2 Comments

Rethinking My Focus On Weight Loss

A conversation I had with my coworkers this morning keeps running through my head. I told them that I didn’t believe in “diets” or weight-loss medication or crazy strict methods using pseudo-food to lose weight. And this is absolutely true. I think plans like Weight Watchers are smart. I think eating less carbs, if that’s what works for you, is fine. But giving up whole food groups, or expecting yourself to never drink a beer or enjoy a slice of cake on someone’s birthday, is just setting yourself up to fail. At least, in my case it is.

This is my opinion, and everyone else may not share this opinion. And I’m certainly not criticizing anyone else’s methods if that’s what works for you. But I reached this opinion through a lot of trial and error. I’m still trying and still failing, at times. But I think my outlook on the whole weight-loss thing has changed, thus leading me to the conclusion that trying to eat healthfully 90 percent of the time, while still allowing myself to enjoy a slice of cake (albeit, a small one) on someone’s birthday, is a perfectly healthy approach to weight loss. (Of course, maybe don’t celebrate every birthday in your office – reserve this for close family and friends!)

While this feels like a practical approach, it’s also one that can produce results, especially when combined with exercise. I have been losing weight for the past five weeks at about a rate of 1 pound a week. And I am so, so thrilled with this. I have allowed myself to enjoy certain foods that, to some, should probably be left off my food list when trying to lose weight.

But there it is again – the new feeling I have about my own weight-loss journey. And here it is: While I am trying to lose weight, I only want to do it sensibly and realistically. I am more concerned about being healthy, being fit, being strong – and living life – than I am with the number on the scale.

That being said, I will honestly say that I do believe I’d be happier with my body if I weighed, well, probably anywhere between 25 to 50 pounds less. This may seem like a broad range, but I remember being exceptionally more confident and feeling healthier when I weighed 25 pounds less than I do now, but I think medically, my overall health would benefit from losing a bit more than that.

All this to say that, rushing to the finish line by cutting out food groups or using some kind of diet pill is not where it’s at for me. I am OK with making small steps toward my goal. As long as I consistently work to get there, I am OK with not getting there in a hurry. I am OK with not having a rapid, transformative weight loss. I’m OK if I’m the turtle and not the hare.

And I truly believe that more people would be happier with themselves, and more confident about their bodies, if they could realize that the number on the scale isn’t the end all, be all. It’s not a reason to go about weight loss in an unhealthy manner. It’s not a reason to restrict yourself so heavily, that you fall into periods of binging.

It is more important to be consistent, I think. To focus on health, strength and to find ways to work toward your goal while also living your life fully.

 

What do you think of extremely restrictive diets? How do you feel about weight-loss medication?

Posted in Body Image, Confidence, Fitness, Health, Healthy Eating, Weight-loss | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Variety vs. Uniformity

Things are going really well for me right now on the health and fitness front. Man, just saying that makes me scared I’m jinxing it! But I’m in a good place right now and I think it’s partly because I’ve found a good balance.

I’m trying to spice up my workouts — this week I did crunk fitness, a hip-hop dance class at Railroad Park, followed by a strength-training workout and a spinning class. I think the variety of workouts is really helping me want to work out. I definitely tend to do the same things — running, spinning, Zumba. But lately, thanks to a few weeks of Torque and the better weather bringing classes back to the park, I’m able to add some different choices in. Next week I have one of the personal training sessions I won scheduled, so that should be fun … and torturous!

As for my food choices, I’ve found that actually having less variety is a little better for me. That’s not to say I’ve been eating the same thing every day. I definitely have some variety in there. But generally, I’m trying to stick to snacks that I enjoy and I know will keep me satisfied, low-calorie meals at dinner and the variety usually comes in at lunch. I’m taking my lunch to work more, but on those days I eat out, that’s where the variation comes in. Still, even then I’m trying to go to places where I’m fairly confident that I can count up my calories accurately.

I do allow myself the occasional indulgence — such as Mexican for lunch with my girlfriends this week. Next week I’ll enjoy celebrating my fiancé’s birthday with a yummy burger at Mugshots (maybe sans bun, though!). But like I said, it’s all about balance and even though my meals have become somewhat uniform, because that’s what works better for me, I still get that variety in there now and then.

All that being said, I’m down 1 more pound this week! Most importantly, though, I’m feeling good. Let’s keep that feeling going!

Do you tend to eat the same foods? How do you deal with eating out or special occasions? How do you spice up your workout routine?

Posted in exercise, Fitness, Food, Healthy Eating, Weight-loss, Workouts | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Have I Been?

Good question, huh?

I can’t believe it’s been a month since my last post because, apparently in my head, I’ve written a dozen posts! So what’s been going on with me? Well …

1. The Bassmaster Classic. I spent a week in downtown Birmingham, and taking a bus up to Lake Guntersville, to work at my company’s major tournament of the year. We had a great turnout, and a great time!

photo 2 (6)

Lake Guntersville in Alabama is really beautiful!

photo 3 (3)

An Elite Series angler from Alabama, Randy Howell, won the championship!

2. Wedding planning. The big day, as people always refer to it, is just months away now, so I’m trying to get all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed! I have everything I’m planning to wear, makeup and hair trials are done, my first fitting is scheduled … so I’m getting there! But there’s still odds and ends to buy/make, final meetings with the photographer and DJ to schedule, and a walk-through with the on-site coordinator, florist and caterer. I’ve been excited for this day for a year now, but it being so close makes it feel so real. I can’t wait to marry my best friend!

3. Home decorating. J and I have had a lot of fun picking out furniture and decorating since we moved into our new house. We decided to paint our dining room — our first painting project! — and we’re really happy with the results! It’s a soft grayish blue color, and just an accent wall, so it was an easy DIY one-day project!

Our dining room is almost complete!

Our dining room is almost complete!

4. Working out. I’ve been attending Torque and spinning classes, which have both been really great. Sadly, between the Classic and then coming down with a sinus infection after, I didn’t get to Torque as often as I wanted during Feb. and now my month of classes is up. But I’ve started running again (yay!) and I plan to get to Body Pump and continue doing some of the exercises I learned at Torque. I don’t want the strength-training side of things to completely fall off!

5. Eating well. On the nutrition front, using MyFitnessPal has really been helping me! I love how many items I can find easily with that app, and while I didn’t track during the Classic, I’ve been tracking regularly before and after and I’m happy to announce that I’ve lost a few pounds! I’ve lost 4.2 since the beginning of Feb., to be exact! I also lost an inch in my hips and an inch in my waist since the last time I took my measurements in Nov. So that’s not super-fast, I realize, but progress is progress!

Strawberries are in season!

Strawberries are in season!

So that’s what’s been going on with me lately. I’m looking forward to the next month of staying busy and celebrating with friends (two friends are also getting married in the next two months!) and continuing on this great track of eating well and working out. What are your big plans for March?

Posted in Fitness, Food, Health, Healthy Eating, strength training, wedding, Weight-loss, Workouts | Tagged , , | 1 Comment