Where I’m At: Weigh-in, Eats & Exercise

I’m happy to report good news! After months, actually more like a year, of being stuck at basically the same number on the scale, stuck eating the same thing and doing the same exercises, something finally clicked. I’ve made some changes and finally, finally, I’m seeing some success again.

In the last few weeks I’ve lost about 4.4 pounds! Every time I find myself saying to myself, “Oh, it’s only 4.4 pounds. I still have a long way to go.” I remind myself what just 5 pounds feels like. When was the last time you picked up a bag of flour? Pretty heavy, right? Well, that’s 5 pounds.

5513c7a3ec4356d569816fba485c1e1fSo I’m feeling pretty good, and feeling like what I’ve been eating and doing for exercise lately is sustainable, which means hopefully success will continue as weeks go by.

What I’m Eating: I’ve written about this recently, and my diet really hasn’t changed. I’m still eating a Special K breakfast sandwich for breakfast, followed by Greek yogurt with flaxseed as a snack. Lunches vary. I try to eat mostly veggies and protein, such as my favorite Chipotle salad bowl. But on occasion I have had a Mexican meal or two that has been more carb heavy. I’m working on that! My afternoon snack is almost always an apple with a Nutella mini cup (or two).

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If I’m a little extra hungry, I have one of my Graze snacks. Dinners are usually protein (lately a pork chop, chicken breast or small steak) plus a vegetable and sometimes a small serving of rice or a sweet potato. And I usually do have dessert — either grapes or a Skinny Cow treat.

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My Exercise Routine: I’ve been trying to vary my workouts, but I’m still walking and/or running a lot. I’ve been adding in circuit-type workouts that include a lot of jump roping in between exercises such as planks, crunches, push-ups, squats and other moves. My friend found these workouts at Way of Gray and her workout plan is just $10. I think it’s definitely worth the money! And, as I wrote about before, I’m also doing a weightlifting class at Inspire Fitness that I’m really enjoying it and learning a lot at.

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During the next couple weeks I want to add in something like kickboxing and Zumba for extra cardio, and maybe a Body Pump class or two.

So that’s what I’ve been doing, and I’m pleased to be losing a pound or so each week so far!

It’s important for me to state that I’m not a nutritionist or personal trainer, so what works for me may not work for everyone. Please don’t follow what I’m doing exactly without considering your own abilities and needs with your own doctor or experts.

But I do welcome any questions and advice!

I want to know: What combination of cardio/strength training works for you? Do you do each form of exercise a certain number of days each week? And what are your go-to snacks during the day?

Posted in exercise, Fitness, Health, Healthy Eating, Running, strength training, Walking, Weight lifting, Weight-loss, Workouts | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

5 Things That Are On My Mind

1. I made a big blogger faux pas last week when I mistakenly forgot to tell y’all about the remaining days of a great way to give to the Greater Birmingham Humane Society by purchasing shiny baubles from Stella & Dot. My apologies to Tracy James who organized the event in memory of her lovable dog, Rufus. Go to her site now to check out her review of her favorite Stella & Dot pieces, which you can purchase through Jerry Lasuer, who participated in the trunk show for this great cause. And do consider giving to the Humane Society! They do so much for our furry loved ones.

Here are a few of the Stella & Dot pieces that I have my eye on right now:

I would love this necklace with my new initials!

via Stella & Dot, $69

via Stella & Dot, $69

And the Rebel necklace is the perfect basic silver necklace.

via Stella & Dot, $79

via Stella & Dot, $79

2. I’m having a love affair with ’90s music after writing the post on ’90s Girl Grunge fashion. I tuned into the Bush station on Pandora and rocked out to “Everything Zen,” “Nevermind” by Nirvana and, my favorite, “Champagne Supernova” by Oasis.

3. I got a Torrid $10 coupon for my birthday (which is next week!), and I can’t stop dreaming of the fun clothes I could buy! I really want this garnet-colored top:

via Torrid, $44.50

via Torrid, $44.50

And these straight-leg pants for work:

Torrid, $58.50

via Torrid, $58.50

4. My eating habits have been pretty steady for the last three weeks or so, and that makes me so happy! I had a couple treats this past weekend, and one the weekend before, but overall, my daily diet has been on point. My favorite snack right now? Still a crispy golden delicious apple with a Nutella mini cup or two! And red grapes. We’ve been eating them for dessert some nights!

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5. I am dying to see “Gone Girl,” and I can’t wait for my movie date with friends this Saturday! I read the book a while ago, and I while I loved the intrigue and the mystery, I had a really hard time because I hated the characters. Like, really, really loathed them both, which is unusual because usually there’s a character you root for. Not with this book. But I do highly recommend it! Just be prepared to feel … differently … than with most books. And I’ve heard that Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike give amazing performances in the movie, so I can’t wait to see them bring Nick and Amy to life.

GoneGirlFincerSpecialShoot

What’s on your mind lately? Any fun fashions or jewelry you have your eye on? What movies are you waiting to see this year?

Posted in Accessories, Books, Clothes, Fashion, Food, Healthy Eating, movies, Music, plus-size, pop culture, Shopping, Style | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fashion Flashback : ’90s Girl Grunge

I recently came across an article on Elle.com about the story behind Corey Mason’s outfit in one of my favorite movies, “Empire Records.” It got me thinking about my fashion influences when I was younger, and I realized two women were definite icons for me back then: Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler.

26bc3dff41a689967ffe526f0c916870 It all started with those Aerosmith videos. “Cryin'” and “Crazy.” I listened to those two tracks over and over and over. And I watched the videos again and again, too.

Soon, every girl I knew wore those floral dresses with the spaghetti straps with a baby T underneath. And the corset-style shirts that I saw at school were, luckily, a bit longer than this one!39a88a470c7e43938f11c5d906b8a89c

Flannel shirts over — what else — a baby T was all the rage, and everyone tried to copy this outfit that Alicia wore when getting her belly button pierced:

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Alicia and Liv’s influence continued from 1993 when these videos came out, to 1995 when two iconic movies were released: “Empire Records” and “Clueless.” I’ve seen each movie dozens of time, and I love them both.

The most iconic look from both movies? The plaid skirt, of course.

cf79c5d2fc5f0ba92ea3183ebee8275c

clueless-whatever-edition-20050909053729908-000In Liv’s case, the combat boots took her outfit to a wanna-be tough-girl level. For Alicia, it was Mary Janes with the knee-high socks.

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And of course, we all wish we had Cher’s automated closet!

Clueless-Cher-Closet

What other ’90s movies influenced your fashion style back then? Do any other actresses come to mind as icons of that time?

Posted in Accessories, Clothes, Fashion, movies, Music, pop culture, Style | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Healthy Reads & Inspiration

I missed this week’s Reads post because, well, I slept in! And yesterday I decided to write about the frustrating experience I had with a certain chevron-printed shirt. But now you can read these interesting articles when you need a distraction at work, instead! You’re welcome.

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First, an inspiring video that really made me think about how what we say influences the next generation. We are the ones who can help them have confidence and not attack their bodies in negative ways.

EatThis.com: 20 Habits Skinny People Live By
I found some of these to be enlightening, and some of these to be very “duh.”

HuffingtonPost.com: What A Healthy Snack Looks Like Around The World
Fascinating! I want to take a cue from Italy; that snack looks delish!

Sweet! Reasons why you should walk it out:
MayoClinic.org: Can I Lose Weight If Walking Is My Only Exercise?
Love that this article points out the importance of diet when losing weight, but in general says that walking is a great way to help weight loss and help maintain it.
Health.com: 10 Ways To Walk Off Fat Faster
Great ideas to help increase the intensity of your walks!

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HuffingtonPost.com: 5 Training Tips For First-Time 10K Runners
I am running my third 10K — known as “The Vulcan” around these parts — and I can’t wait! It’s a good distance for me because it’s challenging, but it’s easier on my feet and knees than a half marathon. At least for now!

Women’s Health: Can Strong Arms Make You A Better Runner?
I’ve often wondered this myself, but thankfully I like to work on my arms! My core … that’s another issue!

MyLifeWellLoved.com: 10 Tips For Your First Pure Barre Class
This article actually comes from fellow local blogger, Heather. I took Pure Barre with her quite a while ago, and I’d like to do it again soon. So when I came across this article on her blog, I read it thoroughly. Great tips!

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What good health-related articles have you come across this week?

Posted in Body Image, Health, Healthy Eating, Running, Weight-loss | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Newsflash! I Have Hips

Did you know that? I have hips. And most women do. Very few of us have waistlines that are straight up and down from our armpits to our thighs. It’s just not how most women are built.

But apparently the New Directions brand at Belk department store thinks so.

OK, that’s a very generalized statement, and I don’t mean to dis one brand at one particular store. But I am calling them out, and all brands, that don’t take into account a real woman’s shape when they design clothes.

And I’m not even talking about something I found in the straight-size department. I’m talking about the plus-size department, where, in theory, clothes should be designed with curves in mind. Where most women who shop there would have fuller hips, and booties, and breasts.

On Friday, I decided to flip through the clearance rack at the Belk department store at the Brookwood Mall. I was on the hunt for something on sale — really on sale. So you can imagine how excited I was when I found this cute, chevron print top for $6.99. Yup. Just $7.

Belk

I immediately went to the dressing room (which, by the way, was a disaster. It looked like a sales associate hadn’t cleaned out the dressing room for an entire day. But I digress.) and put the shirt on.

Or, I tried to.

The shirt fit perfectly until it got to my hips. And then, it wouldn’t budge. It barely pulled down over my hips. And of course, once I did get it pulled down, my lower half looked like it was stuffed in a chevron-striped sausage casing.

Really flattering.

I yanked the shirt off and inspected it. No give. No flare. No A-line shape or slits up the side to make room for my hips. I looked at the tag. 1X. OK, I thought, let’s try a 2X and see if there’s a difference.

So I went back out to the clearance racks, which were in complete disarray, but miraculously found one more top in a 2X. As I pulled it over my head in the dressing room again, I thought, this is like deja vu. Once again, it fit great in the bust, the arms, the waist (even a little roomy), but straight down, engulfing my hips like plastic wrap.

Now, look, I know all garments are designed differently. I know not all shirts have the same shape or allowance for every individual’s body shape. I get that.

But in the plus-size department, some things should be considered. And two of those things are my hips. The right one and the left one.

I’ve had this experience at plenty of stores. Most of the time it tends to be department stores with a variety of brands. Some of the brands are offshoots of the straight-size brand, with clothes similar to those in the straight-size department but made for plus-sizes. And these are the brands that I think tend to go wrong. They tend to just make their shirts wider. Their dresses wider. Their pants wider. No other shaping or contouring is considered. I wonder if they even try the clothes on a real plus-size woman before they’re thrown onto the racks at the store.

Now this isn’t to say that some department store brands aren’t great. I’ve had good luck with brands like INC and NY Collection at Macy’s. Those brands also tend to be a little pricier and you can rarely find items marked down so low.

But what I’m asking for here is a little bit of thought. A little effort put into the design of clothes for plus-size departments. Consult with real women. Try them on real women. Use measurements from real women.

Don’t just cut the shirts or dresses or whatever out of a cookie-cutter pattern and say, “There, it’s bigger. It will fit.”

Sadly, I had to put those chevron-printed blouses back on the rack and walk away. Too bad. I would’ve happily spent my $6.99 in that store … and more … if my hips were accepted.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Let’s Cover Some Miles

Here it is, your formal invitation to join me as I walk or run #30stellarmiles. So don’t say I never asked you to come along!

I am proud of myself for finishing 40 miles in September because, let me tell you, it came down to the wire again. I don’t know what it is about the beginning of the month, but I’m always under the illusion that I have plenty of time to get my miles in. And then, of course, I cram ‘em in during the last couple of weeks.

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But I made it! And every little bit counted. Miles I walked or ran with friends, miles I walked during my lunch hour, miles at beautiful Railroad Park with my hubby. Each and every mile counted. And I learned a few things along the way:

1. It’s more fun with friends! If you want to try to increase the number of miles that you walk or run each month, ask a friend to join! He or she doesn’t have to do the challenge with you, necessarily, but coming along on a walk or two will help switch things up. An added bonus: You get to see how your endurance is progressing because keeping up the chit-chat while you run/walk takes it to another level!

2. New scenery keeps it fresh. This month I went to a few new walking spots for me, and it really helped to pique my interest in going for a walk/run. If you want to pick a new spot and see what your mileage could be before you actually try it, you can use www.mapmyrun.com to track your miles ahead of time.

3. Fun music will fuel you! I don’t really download many playlists on iTunes these days (stickin’ to my budget!), but I use Internet radio services like Pandora and Spotify a lot. My favorite Pandora station this month was Pitbull, mostly because it plays this song:

4. Stretching is necessary. When walking or running all those miles, you cannot, I repeat, canNOT, forget to stretch after each workout. When I got into the groove of walking/running daily for a couple of weeks there, my legs would get a little stiff if I sat around too long afterwards. Or, my feet would cramp up. There’s tons of great stretching tips on YouTube and Pinterest if you need some guidance.

So there you have it, my tips for walking or running throughout the month — so I hope you’ll join me in trying to hit #30stellarmiles! If you do decide to come along this month, please use the hashtag in any Facebook, Twitter or Instagram posts you do so I can follow along and cheer you on.

Now let’s cover some miles!

Posted in Fitness, Health, Running, Walking, Workouts | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

So You’re Afraid To Go To The Gym

Me at Gold's Gym Colonnade in Birmingham lifting weights near the dudes.

Me at Gold’s Gym Colonnade in Birmingham lifting weights near the dudes.

When you walk into the gym, what do you expect to see? Huge, muscular dudes grunting as they lift weights? Tiny girls in Lycra shorts and tank tops bopping away on the Stairmaster? Buff trainers yelling at their clients to give them 10 more?

And there’s you. Ten pounds, 50 pounds, 100 pounds overweight. Not sure where to start. Not sure where everything’s located. But really, really sure you want to be anywhere but where you are.

I’m here to tell you something: None of those people notice you. Most of the people at the gym are so into their own workout, whatever’s on the TV screen in front of them or, let’s face it, themselves, that they barely notice you. Trust me. You are just another person at the gym to them.

I completely understand how going to the gym can be daunting to someone who isn’t familiar with the layout or who feels out of place because they’re out of shape. You don’t want to embarrass yourself. You don’t want to be a sweaty, red, huffing and puffing mess in front of others.

But let me tell you. You’ll get over it. Fast.

Once you get in there and find things you like to do — run, walk, elliptical, spinning, dance aerobics, swimming — you will find people who give you a little nod, a little smile, and you’ll start to feel more comfortable. Whether you start out simply walking for 30 min., or you try something more strenuous like kickboxing, the point is that you’re there and you’re trying. You’ll be surprised how quickly you start to feel proud of yourself for just making the effort. And that pride? It will give you courage.

Here are some reminders to keep in mind if you’re a gym newbie, or you’re trying to work up the courage to get back to the gym:

1. Come prepared. Bring a towel and a water bottle and appropriate attire and shoes. Most people wear earbuds so they can listen to their own music.
2. Be courteous of others by wiping down the machines. Yeah, not everyone does it. But you should be one of the gym-goers that does.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask the staff to give you a tour on your first visit (they usually will do this automatically) or explain a piece of equipment that you’re unfamiliar with. That’s what they’re there for! Not just to swipe your key card.
4. Start slow. No one expects you to run like Flo Jo or lift like a Stallone right away! On the treadmill, work on your speed or incline or length of time/distance in increments. With weights, check out videos on YouTube or search moves to do on Pinterest and take your phone with you so you can get a reminder of how to do them properly. And with classes, most instructors provide alternatives so you can kick the intensity up a notch, or keep it at a lower level as you get used to the moves.
5. Find a gym buddy. If you’re always at the gym at a certain time, or you always take Zumba at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, say hello to someone. That person will most likely turn into someone you chat with once in a while, and he or she will notice if you’re not there — in other words, hold you accountable if you miss class. This will keep you going back, and you may even meet someone with who you can try a new class with or ask questions.
6. If you’re a woman, take advantage of the female-only area if your gym has one. You may feel more comfortable starting out here at first, where you can lift weights and do cardio without the bros around. But, honestly, venturing into the larger weight room is pretty empowering. Girls can lift, too!

These are just some basic tips if you are trying to get back into the groove at a gym or trying one out for the first time. While I understand the intimidation factor, sometimes you just have to suck it up and say: “I’m doing this for me, for my health, so be damned with everyone else!”

Have you ever felt intimidated at the gym? What other questions do you have about using a gym’s facilities or gym etiquette?

Posted in Acceptance, Accountability, Confidence, exercise, Fitness, Health, Weight lifting, Workouts | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments