A Lovely Autumn Day

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Ben and I decided to take a walk and look at all the lovely fall leaves today. Isn’t it gorgeous? 🙂 I recently went through surgery, and I’m recovering well. It’s nice to be up and about, even if I can’t walk very far at the moment. There’s something restorative about the autumn season to me. It’s a reminder to slow down, to shed what I no longer need, and that change can be a very beautiful process.

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Ben took some pictures of the fall leaves for me. He’s such a sweetheart. 🙂 This vine was growing over the side of this fence, and it looked so beautiful. I love how they are slowly changing from green to red. Sometimes slow change is the best kind, even if it’s a bit hard to be patient.

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Here’s me posing against a tree. I’m not wearing any makeup, and I look tired, but that’s okay. The trees are pretty, and life is good. 🙂

In case you were wondering…

My Outfit Deconstructed: 

  • T-Shirt: $3, from my Down East Haul
  • Jean Shorts: $5 (Old Navy)
  • Sneakers: $40 (Columbia)
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Eating In Moderation, Not Extremes

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(I love Panera Bread! So delicious, and so many healthy options! It’s a fun place to eat out. This isn’t an example of extremism -just a yummy picture.)

 

Day’s 7 post is all about taking a stand on a controversial issue or hot topic. I feel like I’ve covered a lot of topics during this challenge, two chief among them being weight loss and novel-writing. Although my novel is my passion, my blog is mainly for helping other women. So, I’ve decided to cover a controversial topic in the diet and fitness industries –extremism.

In our society, we have so many pressures as women to be perfect –perfectly beautiful, perfectly healthy, perfectly successful and so on. And when we’re not, there are a thousand products just waiting to “change our lives.” Most promise quick results in a short amount of time, dangling a golden carrot over our heads. While I know that intensive workouts and super restrictive –but healthy –eating plans can work for some people, it doesn’t work for others. In fact, most dieters end up failing. I personally believe that this is because we choose to run before we’re ready to walk.

I guess I am advocating for smaller changes over a longer period of time. Yes, eat better, exercise, get enough sleep. But in my experience, a 180 degree change all at once just isn’t effective. Make small goals and reach them. Then make slightly bigger goals and reach them. 🙂 There’s great wisdom to the rolling stone that slowly builds momentum. To me, we were designed to adapt slowly to the challenges of life.

How To: Spinach Ice Cubes

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Sigh. It’s hard to make spinach look pretty. But that’s okay -these taste great in smoothies!

Today’s Feel Good Blogging Topic: Tutorials, or How-To (Day 3)

I looked high and low to find today’s blog challenge, and almost gave up –but I found it! (Here’s the link, by the way: Feel Good Blogging Day 3). Today’s challenge is all about bringing value to the reader. As I thought about what I could share for a tutorial, I decided to go with a recipe that I created yesterday. I had a whole bunch of raw spinach that I really needed to use, and decided to make spinach icecubes out of it. This is perfect for smoothies, as it adds a shot of veggies, and simplifies the actual smoothie process. After all, you won’t needs as much icecubes! I really hope that this simple idea will be good for my readers –who doesn’t want an easy way to bring some added health to your day? I know one of my biggest deterrents to living healthy is the added effort. Why not make life easier? On to the recipe:

Things You’ll Need:

  • 2 bags of spinach
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice (or, if you want, you can simply use water)
  • Ice Cube Tray
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Blender or Food Processor

Directions:

  1. Place raw spinach leaves with the 2 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice into the blender. Blend thoroughly, until it starts to resemble the paste. If the mixture does not blend properly, add more lemon or lime juice.
  2. Spoon the spinach mixture into an ice cube tray. Try to make sure they are all even, and pour any remaining liquid in the blender/food processor into to the tray. Then, leave for at least 8 hours.
  3. Remember to take the spinach ice cubes out and place them in a Ziploc bag! I find that if I leave them in the ice cube tray, I’ll forget all about them when it comes time to make a smoothie.
  4. And come morning time, pop an ice cube or two into your smoothie to add some extra green. Or, if you’re in a green smoothie mood, put in lots more!

You can also try this with kale, collard greens, or other leafy vegetables that you might want to add to your smoothies!

3 Things I’m Loving Right Now

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I  figured that today, I’d show you some of my new blessings, and tell you why I like them.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, Ph.D. –I’ve read several self-help books, and this is by far one of the best I have picked up. This book pretty much pinpoints every issue I have with stress and self-esteem, teaches to new paradigms to adapt, and gives actual ways to apply them. For me, this is huge. So often, books are filled with uplifting principles and stories, but don’t actual give a way to incorporate them into my daily life. Or, there will be a super complicated plan that I don’t have the time or the patience for. But this gives you small, quick exercises to try out, which is awesome! It covers topics from perfectionism and letting go of what others think, to relaxation and creativity. This book is worth its weight in gold. 🙂

Cliff Mojo Trail Mix Bars –I love protein bars. They’re quick and easy to eat on the go. Many times, though, the bar will have a weird consistency or taste chalky, or have way too much sugar (and still manage to taste bad!) But I love the Cliff Mojo bars. They taste pretty much like a granola bar, but have the protein requirements that I desire. Plus, they are low glycemic, and 70% organic! What’s not to love?

Anti-Anxiety Synergy Blend by Plant Therapy -I love essential oils. I have since high school, in fact, when I stumbled across a delightful metaphysical store in Richmond, Virginia. They are soothing, all natural, and make my house smell great. But, one of my biggest problems is finding them. Either I feel like I have to deal with a pushy MLM consultant, or I have a very limited selection at the grocery store. So, I decided to branch out, and order one from Amazon! Plant Therapy is a company that sells essential oils on Amazon, and has really high reviews. I was really excited when I stumbled across this anti-anxiety oil blend, as I’ve really been struggling with managing my stress levels. This blend has lavender, marjoram, ylang ylang, sandalwood, vanilla, and Roman chamomile. It’s a roll-on blend, so it’s diluted in coconut oil. I love this stuff! It smells so good, and I think it’s helping me to feel a little less stressed. At the very least, it makes my room smell soothing.

I hope your day goes amazing!

(Disclaimer: I do have the 3 things that I love attached to my Amazon affiliate links. If you want to try the items out, your purchase will help finance my blog!)

Weight Loss Update!

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Life has been a little crazy lately, what with my move to Texas, and starting a new job. That being said, I’ve been making time for one of my rediscovered passions –biking. When I was a kid, I remember loving to ride on my bike all over the neighborhood. But, as I got older, I stopped riding it for whatever reason. There’s an ad by Huffy that I love. It says, “Adulthood is the bully that stole your bike. Take it back!”

Thanks to a free bike, I have now taken up the habit again. There’s something about the wind on your face as it rushes past you (or rather you rush past it), the feeling of your legs moving, and watching as the road disappears much faster than if you were on your own two feet. Of course, riding a bike isn’t always as fun as it was in my youth. Ben and I went on a 25 mile bike ride last week –a ride that took two hours, and almost every ounce of my energy. By the time we were done, my thighs were throbbing, and I was in the throes of hatred for my bike. And yet, today, I can’t wait for my next bike ride.

It definitely helps that I’ve upgraded my bike. My brand new, awesome bike is comfortable, and makes for much smoother riding. The back shocks make my ride much less bumpy, and I love that it’s a 21 speed. It’s definitely nice that the gears aren’t rusty, and can transition with greater ease.

If you’ve been reading my blog regularly, you may have noticed that I am in the process of trying to lose weight. It’s been slow going –that is, until I started bicycling. I’m now down 18 pounds, which is fantastic!

It may seem strange that biking can increase my love for fashion, but it has. While I’ve always loved fashion, I’ve been more of a window shopper than an active participant. Cute clothes just aren’t that appealing when I feel overweight. I’m much more likely to reach for a tube of lipstick or a bottle of lotion than a new pair of jeans when I feel fat. But, as I’m seeing the weight come off, I feel more and more confident in myself, and comfortable with my body. Suddenly, I’m eyeing that new dress, that new shirt with excitement, rather than wistful longing.

I think the actual act of riding has made a huge difference as well. As I speed down bike trails surrounded by woods, I feel more connected to the world around me –and to my own body. I feel less at odds with myself, and happier with myself as a person.

So while I have focused primarily on beauty products on this blog, you are about to see a major shift. There will be more outfit posts as I continue to lose weight. Also, there will be a much bigger emphasis on wellness. I think beauty and fashion were meant to be offshoots of a much bigger issue –self-esteem.

And when it comes down to it, in this blog, I guess you would say my main goal (or even my mission) –is to share my journey in improving my self-esteem, and to help other women to do the same!

Trying A Healthy Challenge

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So, for the past 2 weeks, I have been preparing for a healthy challenge that’s going on in my mom’s area. I had the spreadsheet to start, and the challenge officially starts on Monday. So far, it’s been a great experience, and I can see myself living healthier and feeling happier. I’ve already lost a couple of pounds the first week, and I haven’t even checked for this week. I like this challenge, because it focuses more on just diet and exercise -it also focuses on spirituality and personal development. The challenge only costs $10, but you have the support of others working towards the same goal, and it really doesn’t cost that much to start.

I think taking care of myself, and loving myself is one of the best ways to feel glamorous. To me, wellness is inseparable from beauty and fashion. Now, I’m not just talking about how you look on the outside here. When I eat healthier, sleep enough, and take time for myself, I feel more connected to myself, more willing to reach out, and well, more beautiful overall. There’s something about treating myself and my body with self-respect that just can’t be duplicated.

I’ve also really enjoyed working towards my personal goal. So far, I’ve tried cleaning my house as my personal goal. It’s nice reminding myself to clean. But, I think I’m going to work on my journal compilation project that I started years ago. I think it would be great to have my entire personal history in one volume. Part of this project will be to turn this blog into a book, as it’s definitely an important part of my life. That being said, just writing in my journal daily has helped me to manage my emotions better, and to feel happier about who I am as a person.

I intend to keep you updated on my progress in this healthy challenge, along with my other regular beauty and fashion posts. And who knows? Maybe this will help me to lose those extra pounds, and find myself. 🙂

What are your New Year’s Resolutions this year, and what are you doing to work towards your goals? I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

How To Get Free Fashion Magazines!

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So, I’m finally writing about how I got all of these awesome fashion magazines for free. There is this site called RecycleBank (I can refer you here!), which allows you to do small actions to learn more about the environment, and make “greener choices”. You can also pay to earn points, although I’m not a big fan of that. Over the past year, I have logged in, taken little quizzes and watched presentations. This added up to over 1400 points, with which I chose 12 one-year subscriptions to various magazines. (Here are the subscriptions I ordered: Town & Country, Marie Claire, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Ladies’ Home Journal, Woman’s Day, Redbook, Seventeen, Essence, Instyle, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Good House Keeping.) Since the typical magazine subscription costs $20 annually, I managed to snag $240 worth of magazines for a total of zero dollars. How cool is that?

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I love the quizzes and different pledges. Every time I get on, I learn about something new I can do to help better manage my resources and be a more eco-conscious consumer.

 

While there are other prizes available, including coupons to places like Bed, Bath and Beyond and gift cards, I prefer the magazines. Personally, I think it’s the better deal anyway –it takes about 150-400 points per magazine, and you can easily get 150 points every week. There are 36 magazine options to choose from (and there are some electronic subscriptions available as well.) In case you’re interested, I decided to list them all:

Redbook
Seventeen
Cosmopolitan
Family Fun magazine
Parents Magazine
Fast Company
Inc. Magazine
Forbes Magazine
Outside Magazine
Sports Illustrated Kids
Dwell Magazine
Afar Magazine
Ladies’ Home Journal
Cooking Light
Health
People
Real Simple
This Old House
Entertainment Weekly
Essence
InStyle
People En Espanol
People Style Watch
Country Living
Car and Driver
Elle
Good Housekeeping
Harper’s Bazaar
Marie Clair
Oprah
Road & Track
Town & Country
Veranda
Woman’s Day
Martha Stewart Weddings
Martha Stewart Living

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Well, I hope this helps! I personally love getting magazines in the mail, and so it works perfectly for me. Has anyone else used Recyclebank? What do you think?