Friday, August 15, 2014

A Few of my Favorite Things.... August 2014

I decided I wanted to start a new series talking about things I have found that make life just a little bit easier for this eating real food, health and fitness wannabe, trying to limit unnecessary chemicals in my home,  momma.

So here are a few things that are making me happy. Right now.

Wool Dryer Balls

I have been contemplating the idea of dryer balls as opposed to dryer sheets for a while. Dryer sheets in my house had become the fodder for, well, my husband getting super annoyed with me. Laundry is one of those things I just despise doing and I tended to not be the best at cleaning up my laundry space. I would let dryer sheets float around everywhere (which made him crazy.) So in an effort to help the situation, I switched to the dryer bar. It made me crazy. It always fell off the side of the dryer and clunked around the entire time. Or I would forget to check it and it would be gone and I would have static-y clothes. And I was always worried about the bar getting gooey or getting whatever its bar-ness is made from all over my clothes. It just stressed me out.

So on a whim I ordered some dryer balls and have been so happy (and wonder why I waited so long to do it.) I am really pleased with them. They claim to shorten dryer time, I am not sure about this but am working with an old dryer. (Plus I am one to leave my dried clothes in the dryer forever hand have to re-fluff them to get the wrinkles out. Worst laundry doer ever.) So while I have noticed it reducing drying time a little bit it doesn't make a huge difference in my life either way.

I do love that there is no scent whatsoever. I have always been the girl that hates having my sheets and clothes smell like summer breezes or ocean winds and all those weird laundry scents. They make me itchy and give me a headache. So the fact that these come unscented makes me super happy. (If you are in the opposite camp as me and love opening your closet to yummy scented clothes, you can actually scent the dryer balls with essential oils. Custom smelly laundry which could be kind of awesome.)

The brand I picked up was Smart Sheep 100% Premium Wool Dryer Balls . It is a smaller company and they have actually emailed me a few times to make sure I was happy with my purchase. (Yay for awesome customer service!) So that makes me have warm and fuzzy feelings about them too.

Simple Sugars Facial Scrub

I saw this product on Shark Tank and as I have super sensitive skin and I LOVED the idea of supporting a local business run by a young lady (Yay Pittsburgh!) I was eager to run out and grab one of these. I will tell you that it has become a staple in my daily beauty routine. 

Thanks to all the amazing oils in them I have been able to ditch my super expensive moisturizers. Now I only use a little bit of coconut oil in the winter. In the summertime I don't even need it. 

Check out Lani's story and all of her awesome products here. Or if you are in the Pittsburgh area you can pick up Simple Sugars in Giant Eagle's beauty department. (I have also seen her featured on Zulilly a few times too.) The coffee face scrub is the best! 

Disney Wonderland Tea

I am not a HUGE tea drinker and those that are will probably mock me or chastise me for talking about Disney tea. But this is something I tried on one of our trips to the parks and I became an addict. I LOVE it. (I also love their Coffee  too. So there's that.) It's kind of fruity and yummy and on rainy days a book and a cup of tea is kind of magical. 

My absolute favorite? The Mad Tea Party Blend (Loose Leaf). It totally saves me when I have the afternoon munchies hit or I am not in a coffee drinking mood.

Curly Hair

It's summer. It's humid (in theory) and hot and the last thing I want to do is spend tons of time in a hot bathroom with a blowdryer and flat iron trying to tame my hair. (Only to have it turn frizzy the moment I walk outside.) I have temperamental curly hair. Not truly curly. Pretty wavy bordering on curly but the front kind of stays pretty straight. And it frizzes. Even without humidity.

I love the idea of being able to let my hair just air dry. Wash and go. And still look super cute. So I have tried every curly hair product that lines the shelves of my Target. And of course none of them worked. I figured I was destined to have to straighten my hair every day until my stylist convinced me to try Unite "BOING" Curling Cream. This stuff, albeit a little pricy, is the best. It leaves my hair almost totally frizz free, wavy to borderline curly and soft. No crunchy 80's waves happening. And it lasts forever. I don't use it daily so I have had the same bottle for like a year. For me, it is totally worth the investment on those days where I don't have 40 minutes to dry and straighten my hair.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Skinny Jeans Are Coming....whether I am ready or not

No matter how hard I try, I can't run away from my retail roots. As soon as August hits, my thoughts are filled with denim, denim walls and wondering what denim will be on sale. Because if we are being honest here.....Fall means honey crisp apples, pumpkin flavored everything, boots and denim. LOTS of denim.

As a former pusher of denim, I was super curious about what exactly the trends were going to be this year and one of the big ones....high rise denim. I grabbed a pair of these to check them out and oh my word is the waist TINY. Maybe I am used to looking at jeans cut to fit around the hips but I immediately sucked in and tried to figure out if I would even be able to button them.  It was at that moment that I knew I NEEDED to do another fall denim challenge group.

So what I am dishing up for August....A 30 day Skinny Jeans Challenge

How would it work?

For 30 days I would put you in a closed Facebook group with others trying to achieve the same goal (including me! yay!) We will break our goals down into weekly goals. We will talk about clean eating, meal preparation, meal planning and everything you need to get set up for success. We will measure progress by not just using the scale but by measurements and photos (I know. Super scary but when you think you aren't making any progress it is amazing to see what you actually done in the photos. Believe me. I've been there!) We will do this on Day 1, Day 14 and Day 30.

We will post daily in the group and rate our day on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the best and 1 being the worst. We will rate our diet and our exercise (basically how hard you brought it!) and whether or not we had our Shakeology.

We will commit to trying out Shakeology for 30 days. I know once I did it, I fell in love with the energy I had and how great I felt from getting all the nutrients I need. (*Side note* my nails look awesome. Better than when I was on prenatal vitamins. It is my current obsession since I have struggled with weak and peeling nails forever! One of the perks I didn't know I was going to get.) So Shakeology is going to fuel your body (keyword fuel) with the vitamins and nutrients you need throughout the day. And there is a 30 day guarantee on Shakeology so if it isn't working for you, we'll talk (and you get your money back.) --For more on my experience Shakeology read this.

We will eat clean. (For more info on what that means read this.) But basically just strive to eat real, whole food. No chemicals and no processed food. I will provide you with recipe ideas, meal planning and all the tools that have worked so far for me on this journey.

We will also commit to working out 5-6 days a week. I don't care if you run, walk or lift. Just get that body moving! If you already workout regularly think about stepping up your game. Adding some weight training to your cardio. If you don't have an exercise regimen we can talk about options. If you are interested in trying a Beachbody program, we can talk about that too and get you set up with something that totally works for you. There are so many options outside of P90x and Insanity (which I feel gets all the love) so if hard core intensity isn't for you, we can totally find something that is. I am currently doing a PiYO and Les Mills Pump hybrid. I have found success with the at home programs from BeachBody because they are a killer workout and they all come with a schedule. So I can wake up, get my kiddo some breakfast and toss in a movie, look at the schedule, pop in a DVD and press play. I don't have to worry about getting her ready to go to the gym with me or what series of exercises I am going to do that day. I know me and I need that schedule. I get really freaked out if I am going to miss a day and "mess up" the schedule or the order. But whatever works for you, we will make it happen.

Plus I will give you daily motivation, tips and tricks and share all the research I have accrued over the last few months.

Need even more incentive? 

For the FIRST time I am SO EXCITED to offer a challenge group grand prize! I am partnering with a few coaches to make this happen. The goal here is to get you into a new, smaller pair of jeans. So what better prize than a gift card to your favorite store to make that happen?*  

Our official start date is August 25.

Want to join us? Fill out the application below

*amount will vary based on the number of participants signed up for the challenge. To be eligible for the grand prize participants must have purchased a challenge pack during the month of  August  2014. 

Fill out my online form.
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Friday, August 1, 2014

Four BIG things I learned from doing the 3 Day Refresh

I have been putting off talking about this. But the time has come where I HAVE to talk about it. I have put it off long enough and need to share what I think are the whys of why it didn't work for me.

I am talking about the 3 Day Refresh.

I am a HUGE fan of the shakeology cleanse. I loved it. I had great results and talked about it openly all the time. (For more info on the shakeology cleanse click here. To read about my experience with it click here.) So I was kind of dismayed when Isabelle Daikeler (co-creator of shakeology) talked about how it wasn't designed for a cleanse. There wasn't the right balance of protein and fiber or calories for optimal results. But since the cleanse was so popular she set out to design one that would incorporate those things, and the 3 Day Refresh was born.

So I eagerly ordered mine as soon as I could. I had a cross-country move coming up, followed by a holiday week at home that would be filled with friends, family, food and booze. I know how I feel after those weeks. And being on vacation at home with my husband means eating at all our favorite restaurants before he heads West again. (Because out there they are desperately lacking in all things pizza and Italian food. So when back home in Pittsburgh, he eats his fill.)

It sat on top of my fridge as I anxiously waited for the right time to start it (like the day after my hubby left.) I tore into it with wild abandon and read all the details. I made a plan. I shopped. I tried to incorporate all the leftover veggie tray veggies from the Fourth of July party into my meals (hello moroccan carrot salad.) I was excited and prepared. I was going to rock this.

Except I didn't.

The first day was okay. I was hungry but nothing I wasn't expecting. I drank a lot of water. Forced down the Fiber Sweep shake. (It's not bad but the chia and flax in it get clumpy if it sits and the texture gets really gross. Seriously, shake and chug. It's better for everyone that way.) I made it through the Vanilla Fresh shakes with no major issues. They were okay. Not terrible but not amazing either. I used my allotment of frozen fruit in my shakes so they had a thicker texture. I drank my water. I went to bed. I didn't feel headachy or anything like that which was a plus.

Imagine my dismay when I woke up on Day Two and gained 3 pounds. Crazy. So I googled. This was what I found:

"Improved regularity is a possible benefit of the program. However many users may not be accustomed to the higher levels of fiber in their diet, and this can lead to temporary gas, bloating or constipation. If users get a little gas or bloating, this is a sign that they need to up their fiber levels in general." (Source) 

But I eat vegetables. ALL the time. I get TONS of fiber. I knew that was not my issue. But maybe it was water weight or something like that. It would just go away. No big deal. So I pressed on. 

Day Two continued on much like Day One, except I learned these little tricks. Choose lettuce for lunch. Seriously, 3 cups is a serving. That's a major win compared to 12 green beans. 
And on Day Three I woke up having gained another 2 pounds. (So a total of five pounds.) For someone who was hoping to lose the five happy good times travel pounds she put on the previous week this was not an ideal situation. Also by this point in the cleanse the Vanilla Fresh shakes were starting to really hurt my stomach. I didn't even use the last one. 

So I was done. And crabby about the whole thing. 

The final verdict. I gained 5 pounds. From a cleanse. And I felt terrible. That was a really hard thing to wrap my head around. 

But I am a glass half full kind of girl so I refused to see this as a major setback. I knew there were takeaways from this I could use to move forward in my journey. So what did I learn from this situation.... a few things. 

1. I most definitely have some type of food intolerance happening. 

Doing an elimination diet and figuring that out to get my health to the next level has been moved WAY up on the priority list. 

2. Starting the day drinking 8-12 oz of water is awesome. 

This is something that is recommended on the Refresh and I am going to implement daily. No coffee until that water is down the hatch. 

3. Beachbody has a pretty awesome return policy.

 I was able to return the completely EMPTY box the refresh came in for a full refund. No questions asked. (Just remember to keep your tracking number!) *

4. Not everything works for everyone. 

This is true for workouts, foods, diets and apparently cleanses. Our bodies are all different. Our lifestyles are all different. There is not a one size fits all solution. Luckily when it comes to workouts and nutrition there are TONS of different options to find the one that works. A year and a half later I am still trying to nail down the nutrition side of it but I am getting closer every day. 

Despite all of this...was I disappointed? Yes. Was I frustrated? Extremely. But there was nothing I could do to go back and fix it at that point besides get right back on track with my workouts and my meal plan. 

What was even more see all of my friends and teammates having killer results with the 3 Day Refresh. 

Michelle lost 6 lbs. SIX POUNDS in three days. That is crazy. (You can read more about her experience here.)

AND Amber lost 8 lbs. EIGHT pounds and TWO inches. (Are you starting to feel my frustration now?) (You can read about her story here.)

There are tons of stories I could share with you to illustrate awesome successes in three days. (Or you can just google 3 Day Refresh Results.) But I wanted to mention these two ladies because they are on my team. I know them. I work with them. For me that seems WAY more credible that an image straight from google. 

So what does this mean? 

I will not be jumping on the Refresh bandwagon anytime soon. There is something in there that just does not agree with me. But I am in the minority by far. (Still angry.) 
And if you too happen to fall in that minority, you have the 30 day guarantee to fall back on. Money back. Empty Box. No questions asked. 

Should you try it?

I would take a look at your health, your history, the ingredients and determine if it is something that can work for you. If you have questions take them to your doctor. But I am a firm believer in giving everything a if you are on the fence I say go for it. What do you have to lose?

For more information on the Refresh click here. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me

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