Losing The Ham With Scale Back Alabama

Have you heard of Scale Back Alabama?

2015/01/img_6080.png It’s a statewide effort to address the obesity problem in Alabama by providing incentives to lose weight — healthfully. The program involves finding a partner, weighing in and trying to lose at least 10 pounds in 10 weeks. Then there are different levels of prizes for all participants!

And I’m one of them!

Last week I signed up with my friend Sherri by weighing in at St. Vincent’s hospital downtown. We weighed in at the fitness center there, which is also offering memberships for participants for just $5 per week during the 10-week contest. Sherri signed up right away! Since I’m already a member at Gold’s Gym, I plan to meet her for very reasonably priced classes now and then (and to use the pool!).

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I’m really excited to embark on this challenge with Sherri. She’s a true cheerleader and already her support has lit a fire within me. We’ve talked about our plans for meals and workouts this week, and reminded each other to drink lots of water. I just know having her to help keep me accountable is going to mean a lot. Losing 10 pounds in 10 weeks is totally doable — even if I am going out of town three times (for a total of 16 days) during that time. I will need Sherri’s text messages during those times, for sure!

And while winning one of the cash prizes would be awesome, working on my health with a friend will be worth it no matter what.

So we weigh in again the week of April 6. Check in for progress reports along the way, and wish us luck!

Posted in Accountability, Fitness, Health, Healthy Eating, Weight-loss | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

What I Want Now: Accessories!

One of the easiest, and most economical, ways to add a punch to your current wardrobe is to invest in new accessories. A new bag or pair of shoes can liven up a little black dress or a basic jeans-and-sweater combo for date night.

Here’s a few items I’ve had my eye on — and everything’s under $65!

I love this style of earrings! These could easily dress up any outfit.

These shoes are killer — and the metallic can go with anything, from a dress or sexy pencil skirt to dark jeans.

I love the colorblocking on this clutch and the different colors are fun. You could easily wear this with complimentary colors, such as purple, pink, peach and even red.

I have loved the plaid scarves that everyone is wearing this winter, and this one can take you from season to season with its lighter weight.

Do you have any accessories that you’re coveting right now?

Posted in Accessories, Fashion, Shoes, Shopping, Style | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Right On Target: The New AVA & VIV Line At Target

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via Target

When I heard the news today about AVA & VIV, the new plus-size line coming to Target, I was so excited I may have thrust my fist victoriously into the air, a la Judd Nelson in “The Breakfast Club.”

A few months ago, I wrote about the #boycotttarget movement after another designer collaboration at Target failed to include plus-sizes. Not long ago, we learned the upcoming Lilly Pulitzer collaboration at the store will include plus-sizes … but they would only be available online.

Just when hope seemed lost for us curvier gals, today Target announced that AVA & VIV is being designed in-house, will be available in stores (and online) and will include input from three plus fashion bloggers who I greatly admire: Nicolette, Gabi and Chastity.

In fact, these ladies got to model for the line’s spring lookbook! Target also listened to their ideas on the initial offering, and the fall collection. Check out their video here:

According to the release from Target, the line will arrive mid-February (start saving now!) and will run from $10 up to $79.99. According to Nicolette’s post, there will be as many as 90 different pieces in the first few deliveries! Sizes will run up to 26, or a 4X. You can see the full lookbook on A Bullseye View on. Jan. 22.

I am extremely excited about this new line. The patterns and colors look amazing, and many of the pieces look fashion-forward. I caught a glimpse in the video of some great-looking palazzo pants, and I love the striped skirt on Chastity in the photo above. I can’t wait to see the whole line!

It’s wonderful that Target not only listened to its buyers and chose to offer stylish clothes in plus-sizes, but they also brought in people that many plus-size women look up to and seemed to really listen to their constructive criticism. It’s nice to feel that our voices were heard, especially since so much of the fashion industry doesn’t seem to value our input.

What do you think of Target’s new line? Do you feel they’re really listening to their customers?

Posted in Clothes, Fashion, plus-size, Shopping, Style | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Trying To Outdo Your To-do List

Do you ever feel like you just can’t stop fighting?

Some days it feels like I fight to get out of bed, to style my hair, to dress well, to get through the work day. I fight to get in a workout, cook dinner, eat healthfully throughout the day, to write everything or edit everything or answer all the emails and phone calls that I need to.

or-mom-to-do-list

It’s exhausting!

This past weekend, I had 10 items or so on my to-do list. It was a little daunting, some of the things I needed to accomplish. But Friday afternoon I decided I wasn’t going to attempt to get it all done. And it was OK! I chose the things I felt were most important — laundry was included in that list! — and then I fought the guilt.

The guilt that comes when you see there’s still six items left to do, and it’s Sunday night (or Monday, in this case), and you’ve run out of time. The guilt that makes me wonder, Will I have enough time to get these things done throughout the week? Or next weekend?

Here’s the thing, though: It’s OK if it doesn’t get done right away. Yes, certain things have to be done. I mean, you need clean underwear.

But this weekend I chose to spend quality time with my husband and friends. I chose to see movies, go out to lunch, and I even went for a walk in the beautiful sunshine, rather than vacuum upstairs.

And as much as that to-do list was nagging me, I’m learning to breathe deeper and let that stuff go sometimes. Don’t get me wrong — I’m goal oriented, I get my work done on time, and I’m ambitious. But I also need to give myself permission to relax.

We all do.

This week, take a look at your to-do list. Prioritize the items that will make you feel best. Can you cook an easier dinner so you can spend more time with your child playing or helping with her/his homework? Can you put off washing the sheets so you can take advantage of a nice day and go for a walk? Can that blog post get written while you watch TV with your hubby, so you have time to sit with him after work and talk about your day?

Multitasking and to-do lists are all great things that, let’s face it, help women get all that we get done each and every day.

But focused attention on our loved ones, and things that are good for ourselves — like time to work out, cook a meal, read or meditate — are even more important than crossing that next thing off the list.

Let me know in the comments what you plan to cut out this week, and what you will do instead! Do you ever give yourself permission to toss your to-do list, guilt-free?

Posted in Happiness, Health, Home, Organization, Workouts | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s Not Us vs. Them: Why Skinny & Heavy Women Should Get Along

I’m the first to admit it: I’ve been envious of skinny girls.

Growing up, they seemed to always have it easy. They had plenty of boyfriends, no trouble finding and looking good in fashionable clothes. They got picked easily for sports teams and just seemed to walk around feeling, literally, lighter on their feet.

What I could never understand is why my skinny friends would say things like, “I’m not pretty.” Or “I feel fat today.” Or “This outfit looks terrible on me.”

To me, they looked great! Better than great. They had the type of body I thought I was supposed to have. And I was jealous.

What I realize now is we really do have the same struggles. No matter what you weigh or what you look like, it seems we are taught to obsess over something different. We as a society are never OK with how we look or who we are. We’re always wanting to change, to be thinner, to be curvier, to be brunette or blonde or tanner or lighter skinned.

Sadly, we are not supposed to just be who we were born to be.

And this is as true for skinny women as it is for heavier women … and I’m not going to put parameters on what is “skinny” and what is “heavy.” That’s for you to decide for yourself.

Because really, I was just fine growing up. There was nothing wrong with me. In fact, though I do work on my fitness and weight-loss is a goal of mine, there is nothing wrong with me. There never has been.

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And there’s never been anything wrong with girls who are naturally skinny. It’s so easy sometimes for us to judge others. I know I’ve said things like, “She needs to eat a cheeseburger.” Just like I’m sure others have said about me that “She needs to eat a salad.”

The fact that we say these things, or think these things, about other women who we consider “too thin” or “too fat” just goes to show how alike we are. And not in our body types or hair type or skin color or eye color — because how boring would that be?

But in the way we think. The way society has trained us to think. We have the same insecurities, the same lack of confidence, the same doubts and fears. And we all judge each other’s weaknesses.

What we need to do, especially as women, is celebrate each other’s strengths. Is hold up each other’s differences. We need to accept one another, as we are, for who we are.

photo 2 (10) If we can start to do that as individuals, my hope is that society will begin to change, too. It will be wrong to judge someone as too heavy or too skinny. We will just accept the bodies we have, and others have, even if that person is striving to be healthier or stronger. Because then it won’t be about fitting someone else’s idea of what’s “right.” It will just be about what’s right for ourselves.

Posted in Acceptance, Body Image, Confidence | Tagged , | 2 Comments

My Lukewarm Relationship With Macy’s

As a woman who was mainly raised in the Northeast, or by parents who grew up in the Northeast, Macy’s has always been and will probably always be one of my favorite department stores. And the fact that I can state that while having endured working at the store at the Ocean County Mall in Toms River, N.J., with its crazy One Day Sales and the madness of Black Friday sales, well that’s saying something.

For a long time I have perused the plus-size section of the store, usually regulated to the upper-floor’s back corner, or in the sake of the Galleria in Hoover, Ala., a crowded section near the teen girls’ area, complete with blasting music (yes, I’m getting old).

I used to be able to ignore a large portion of the “Women’s” section because I knew what I’d find: old-fashioned cuts and styles, out-of-date prints and baggy tops that hung down to my knees.

My saving grace in this department has always been the INC brand. Of all the brands at Macy’s, this is one I can turn to to find more stylish offerings, even in plus-sizes. For years they offered gorgeous shirt dresses with full skirts and waist-defining belts. Work separates were modest yet fashionable.

In a favorite INC dress from a few years ago.

In a favorite INC dress on New Year’s Eve a few years ago.

Lately, however, I’m finding it harder to ignore the rest of the Women’s department. Why? Because it’s taking over. The dowdier, less-flattering options seem to be growing, while the chic INC line seems to be diminishing (at least at the two Macy’s in Birmingham, Ala.).

It’s infuriating that the store even buys so much of these other lines, yet fails to stock more INC, or other more fashionable brands. While there are so many plus-size lines out there that are growing in popularity and offering plus-sizes when they used not to, Macy’s can’t quite seem to get it right lately.

Now there are two things that I am beyond thrilled with when it comes to Macy’s. One, you can find good INC offerings online. The convenience of shopping in-store would be better, but I am grateful for their online selection, particularly these thick, well-made ponte leggings that I purchased recently.

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And in the Misses department, I actually came across a great brand — Rachel Roy — that happens to sell some of their garments in an XXL, and they fit! (I’d say my size is typically a 20, for reference.)

Rachel Roy top, Macy's

Rachel Roy top, Macy’s

Rachel Roy top, Macy's

Rachel Roy top, Macy’s

But as for the rest of the selection in the Women’s department, I am pretty disappointed.

So you can see why my relationship with Macy’s has become lukewarm. Sometimes I can walk in there and have luck, and other times I am really upset at the dowdy offerings. A place I used to find dependable has now become hit or miss.

Do you ever have problems with a department store, or other store, offering less-than-desirable clothing for months on end? Do you wait it out, or do you take your shopping dollars elsewhere?

Posted in Birmingham, Clothes, Fashion, plus-size, Shopping, Style | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Know What Doesn’t Work

If you’re trying to work on your health and fitness, whether weight-loss is part of that or not, it’s actually as important to know what doesn’t work for you, as it is knowing how you want to eat and what types of workouts you want to do. Here are a few things that don’t work for me.

1. No snacks between meals. Some people can adhere to this rule, I’m just not one of them. I’ve learned over time that I make better food decisions if I split breakfast into to two, with a little something early and another “mini-meal” or snack around 9:30-10:00. It gets me to lunchtime without wanting to gnaw on my arm. And after lunch, I usually need yogurt or fruit or something around 3:30-4:00 that will help fuel an after-work workout and get me to dinner, which usually isn’t until 7:00 or later.

2. No dairy/carbs/sugar/etc. I definitely try to cut back on certain things, namely sweets and carbs (particularly those made with white flour). But I never do well if I have to completely cut something out. I think this is a mental thing probably stemming from the fact that I’ve been overweight all my life and whenever I’ve cut something out completely, I would go overboard and totally binge. Instead, if I cut back, not cut out, I’m able to keep that binging tendency more under control. Everyone may not agree with it, but it’s what works for me.

3. Focus on food, not on working out. Some people believe that if they focus on one area, then bring in the other, they will have more success. For me, I need to work on both hand in hand. When I am working out consistently, I feel better about myself. I feel stronger and more likely to make better food choices. I do agree that when it comes to weight loss, food is the largest part of the equation. But I know that I will eat more healthfully when I’m also getting my sweat on.

4. Keep your goals to yourself. Well clearly I don’t prescribe to this notion! I know some people don’t want to talk about health or fitness goals so they won’t be embarrassed if they fail. Or maybe they don’t want others to judge them if they choose to have a treat and eat a big juicy cheeseburger. Obviously that’s not my tactic. I believe in accountability and have greatly benefited from having others support me and cheer me on. If I do choose to skip a workout or eat a treat, I believe that 1) that’s my choice and only I know if I’m balancing it out with a workout or lighter meals other times that day, or 2) knowing that other people are keeping an eye on me will hopefully keep me in check so I don’t go too overboard.

5. Hour-long workouts are a must. This is how I used to go about my workouts. I thought I needed to take an hour-long class or run and lift weights, and if I didn’t have time for that, then it wasn’t worth it. Now I know that if I have a busy schedule one day and all I can fit in is a 1-mile walk, then at least I’m moving and I haven’t just given up on working out at all. I think it’s something my FitBit has helped me recognize is that activity of any kind — even walking the mall or cleaning the house — is important. Hardcore sweat sessions will always be awesome, but it is possible to be active, even every day, if you workout whenever and wherever you can.

So those are some things I’ve learned don’t work for me. What doesn’t work for you?

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