I’m alive!

Oh, hi.

I saw this BuzzFeed article that really hit home, and sort of inspired me to post, and I’ve clearly sucked at it since before my gallbladder surgery (I had it out in February), so today is as good a day as any, yes?

I was reading through the list of tips those 12 people had, and I was like, YES! Such good advice! Some of the things I’ve learned while I’ve been losing as well, and it felt worthy of sharing. Especially the part about starting slow. I have tried so many times to jump head-first into weight loss programs, and failed every single time. I know it is because I never actually changed my lifestyle, just my plans temporarily.
When I started this time, I knew I needed to introduce one thing at a time. I started with exercise. I got into that routine, got comfortable going to the gym, comfortable with the moves and with moving — then I added changes to my diet. It was frustrating because I didn’t see much difference on the scale for a long time, because I hadn’t changed my eating habits. I saw my body changing from the workouts, but the scale stayed about the same. Once I changed my diet though, I saw the weight come off.

I’m obviously still working, and there are still more changes to my diet I need to make (particularly when it comes to carbs). When my gallbladder went bad in November, I had to completely change my diet, involuntarily. I couldn’t eat much of anything, and didn’t, but what I did eat was pretty much strictly carbs. Prior to that I had done a pretty good job of cutting my carbs down, so now I’m re-addicted and am trying to teach myself how to eat correctly again. Definitely a big setback, but manageable.

The good news is, I lost about 20 pounds while on the “my stomach hurts so bad I think I’m dying” diet, and it has stayed off, even now that I am able to eat again, so, silver linings and all that!

Now that I’m completely healed, I need to get back into the full swing of things. I’ve been back in the gym, but only off and on (between crazy work deadlines and recovery, I have been slacking), I’m okay with things moving slowly, because I know I’ll get there eventually, and when I do, I’ll stay there.

Side note: I bought a plus size 0 swim suit yesterday. That is usually about a size 12. A 12!!!! That’s madness.

Writing Effectively

Something my friend Ashley put together for The Blogger Collective. I helped a bit too. A lot of it is good advice for most things you write, not only blog posts.

blggrcollective

writingeffectively

You’ve got a blog, a theme, and a general idea of what you’d like to do with your little corner of the web. But how are your writing skills? Just because the Internet is a wide open playground (and no one is grading your work), doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow some writing guidelines + continually look for ways to improve.

You work on your photography + SEO skills, why not work on your writing?

I partnered up with my best pal and fellow English major, Sabrina of giggleCHAMP, to bring you a few tips necessary for writing effectively on the web (first hint: it’s not the same as writing for print).

Think about flow + structure.

When browsing the web, people tend to skim more than actually read. Those are the hard facts, folks. So that huge block of single-spaced text you just wrote, pouring your heart out about…

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Top problems.

So, when you’re a plus size girl who wants to exercise without looking frumpy, you run into quite a problem — or at least I have. I’ve been able to find plenty of workout pants, but workout tops have presented me with some difficulty. Everything is either super tight or really loose and stretches out the second you sweat in it.

I also have a hard time with sports bras. I’m pretty busty (that’s an understatement), so finding a sports bra that fits and supports, and without needing a second job to buy more than one, is a lot like winning the lottery. Most affordable sports bras I’ve found are only for cup sizes up to DD.

I’ve scoured the internet to find a few recommendations, unfortunately I’ve not tried them all. I have, however added several of them to my various online carts to buy and try. I’m hopeful.

Tops:

I have a grey version of this shirt (I think it says, “I can, I will”), and I bought it a little big — an XXL in-store. I have only worn it once, and I hope it shrinks when I wash it, because I was way too big. If you’re sometimes between sizes at Old Navy, this is a loose-fitting tank, and I wouldn’t suggest sizing up.

Just My Size tank by Hanes

Just My Size tank by Hanes

I wasn’t expecting to find such a cute top from Just My Size, but I am really excited about it. So fun.

I don’t have this one yet, but I purchased it last night. I hope I love it. (Plus, it’s on sale, AND if you use your Kohl’s charge and the code HUGS30 you can get an additional 30% off your order.)

 

Sports Bras:

Lane Bryant convertible sports bra

Lane Bryant convertible sports bra

I own this Lane Bryant bra, and even though it is expensive, it is worth the money.

I ordered this last night from Kohl’s as well. The price tag is a little less offensive ($34 still seems steep for a sports bra, but if it is high-impact and works, I’ll pay it) so I’m going to try it out. Hopefully it’s a good one.

This one I haven’t tried, and didn’t purchase, but it comes in sizes up to 46 DDD, so that offers a few more options than most, plus is currently only listed at $39.99. Again, a little steep, but if it does the job, it’s much better than paying $62 for something similar (or $12 for something made of a flimsy cotton that does nothing more than a tight tank would).

Any other suggestions for places I should look? I’m so cheap when it comes to workout gear, though I know I shouldn’t be, and need to expand my selection (read:not need to laundry as often, lol).

Delicious rice swap

I think I’ve mentioned how I pretty much live on rice or quinoa and chicken. This is approximately 85% of my diet when I’m eating normally (well, normal for me). Problem is, I really like the rice/quinoa portion of the meal, and would prefer more of it and less chicken.

I read something (I wish I could remember what it was) that mentioned cauliflower rice. I thought it was going to be a type of rice I could buy at a store, and started searching for more information. I don’t like most vegetables, and don’t like cauliflower unless it is in a stir-fry with plenty of sauce and sauteed to the point it no longer looks like cauliflower. So, I don’t know why I was so interested in cauliflower rice (once I realized I couldn’t just pick it up at the store), but I’m sure glad I was.

During my search, I stumbled across this recipe by EverydayMaven. I followed her recipe pretty much to the letter, including her baking suggestion, but I added a little flavor to the cauliflower with some Wyler’s Chicken Granules. (I also add a sprinkle of the granules when cooking brown rice or quinoa in my rice cooker, just to keep it from being bland.)

What you need

What you need for prep

What you need:
Head of cauliflower
Large knife
Cutting board
Food processor
Large bowl
Quart-size freezer bags
Wyler’s Chicken Granules

Step one:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Remove all leaves from around the base of the head. Break as close to the stem as possible.

Remove all leaves from around the base of the head. Break as close to the stem as possible.

Step two:

Cut cauliflower into large pieces, leaving the core in tact.

Cut cauliflower into large pieces, leaving the core in tact.

Step three:

Throw core out (bottom right corner) and cut or break cauliflower into medium-size florets.

Throw core out (bottom right corner) and cut or break cauliflower into medium-size florets.

Step four:

Put florets into food processor in small batches. Make sure not to add too many, or it will not chop everything.

Put florets into food processor in small batches. Make sure not to add too many, or it will not chop everything.

Step five:

Once cauliflower is finely chopped, move from food processor bowl to a larger bowl until entire head is processed.

Once cauliflower is finely chopped, move from food processor bowl to a larger bowl until entire head is processed.

Step six:

Spray a baking sheet  with cooking oil (one with edges will be beneficial). Measure a 2-cup serving spread a into a thin layer on the baking sheet.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil (one with edges will be beneficial). Measure a 2-cup serving spread a into a thin layer on the baking sheet.

After you’ve measured your serving onto the baking sheet, you can measure the remaining rice into the quart-size freezer bags, also in 2-cup servings. Put these in the freezer and you have some ready-to-go for next time.

Step seven:

Sprinkle with chicken granules (or whatever spices you like), and bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. I bake it for 7 minutes, pull it out and stir it around, then spread back out into a thin layer and bake it for another 8 minutes.

Sprinkle with chicken granules (or whatever spices you like), and bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees.
I bake it for 7 minutes, pull it out and stir it around, then spread back out into a thin layer and bake it for another 8 minutes.

I’ve been eating my cauliflower rice with grilled chicken and I’m loving it. I’ve made three batches now, and I’ve got several bags in my freezer ready to use! It’s a perfect single-serving side to go along with my dinner, and so few calories. I’m a big fan of that combination.

Have any of you tried cauliflower rice before?

Back at it.

Confession time: I’ve been out of the gym pretty consistently since early November.

2014 was a bad year for me health-wise, but also a year I made major strides toward a healthier body. It was a very confusing time. A previous boss put it best in my Christmas card when she said, “I hear you’re sick. It always happens when you’re attempting to get healthy.”
I’ve had some stomach/bile duct/gallbladder problems which have made it difficult to eat, therefor difficult to fuel my body, and in turn impossible to go to the gym. The doctors have run multiple tests and thrown a handful of new meds at me, but still no answers. I’ve been able to work some protein back into my diet though, so I’m working my way back into the gym.

I work out at 24 Hour Fitness, and take advantage of the Group X classes they offer (free with membership), as having an instructor-led class keeps me from taking breaks when I want one (rather than when I NEED one), and helps push me harder than I would push myself.

I work out with Ashley at Le Stylo Rouge, and we alternate between two workout schedules, an early week and a late week (all one-hour workouts).

Early week:
Monday — Les Mills BodyCombat (video)
Tuesday — Les Mills BodyPump (video)
Wednesday — Les Mills BodyCombat or BodyAttack (video)
Thursday — Les Mills BodyPump
Saturday — Treadmill or elliptical, depending on my mood.

Late week:
Monday — Les Mills BodyPump/CXWorx (video)
Tuesday — Les Mills BodyCombat
Wednesday — Les Mills BodyPump/CXWorx (split into 30 minutes Pump, 30 minutes CXWorx)
Thursday — Les Mills BodyPump

BodyCombat is probably my favorite class to take. It’s really intense (especially right now, since my cardio stamina is completely gone) but it is really worth it, and the instructors offer plenty of modifications throughout the class, if you need a lower-impact option.

BodyPump is one I have a love/hate relationship with — I love the way it has toned some muscles I’ve never been able to see on my body before, but hate doing the class. That’s not true, I don’t mind the class as a whole, I HATE squats and lunges. My body hates them too, they make me dizzy and it’s weird. Someday I’ll be able to make it through a squat track without a break and it’ll be amazing.

BodyAttack will surprise you. Just reading the description it sounds like it is going to be a pretty tame workout, but you get into the class and HOLY COW! It is not a tame workout. I should’ve guessed something with Attack in the name wasn’t going to be as easy as it sounded. Full-on assault on the whole body. Harder for me than any of the other classes I’ve taken.

CXWorx is fun, but difficult. It is a core training workout, and as someone who spent ages 14-30 as a couch potato, that isn’t something I have much experience with. It has definitely helped improve my strength, but it is still a struggle for me.


 

TBC Challenge:

The Blogger Collective is challenging its members to talk about their goals in January. And mine are probably a little silly and obvious, but they’re things I need to work on and toward nonetheless, so here goes:

  1. Post more often and on a set schedule. I currently just post haphazardly — whenever I feel like it. I need to set up a schedule and actually follow it in order to keep myself accountable and this blog active.
  2. Use more pictures. This blog is not visually stimulating at all. You visit and are simply hit with a wall of words, boring. There are some posts I am planning where I know adding photos will work well, but some I’m clueless on how to do so, but I know I want to include more.
  3. Expand my connection. I’m learning as I go, but I want to expand my connections to include bloggers who I don’t know personally. I love seeing comments and interaction from those I know, but I would love to also meet some new people.
  4. Keep up my hard work. I’ve come a LONG way since I started this blog, and the journey started long before I began keeping track of it here. I have had a few setbacks, but with the support of my friends I’ve pushed through and kept at it. This is a constant, long-term goal.
  5. Try new workouts. While I’m happy with my current workout routine, it can never hurt to try new things and expand my knowledge. Last year I worked with a personal trainer and found out that wasn’t for me. I also attended a class at The Bar Method with Jess from 26 and Not Counting. It was so much fun and really challenged me. I want to try more new things like that.

Extra long post for me today! Hope you all have a great Thursday!

Party time!

A bit of a different post for me, but I thought it was fitting for the time of the year. While the things I wear have never been a focus, the size of the things I wear has been. Hopefully there are some stores you haven’t heard of or tried if you, like me, have trouble shopping some “normal” stores.

I love holiday parties and getting dressed up for them, but as a bigger girl it has always been hard for me to find party clothes I felt comfortable in and weren’t so expensive I needed to take out a small loan to afford them. Luckily there are several retailers that have popped up recently (or at least onto my radar) that have a plus/extended size section (that isn’t marketed to 50+ women)! Some (Torrid, Lane Bryant) are stores that only sell plus size clothes.

I make no claim to being a fashion expert, but I DO know how to dress a bigger body-type. These stores have clothes that are fun to wear, and up with current trends while being cut for my body — such a lovely concept.

Here are some of my favorite holiday looks from some these stores.


Sequin & Mesh Bodycon Dress
, Forever 21+, $29.90

Torrid Holiday look

This look is from Torrid. A little pricier when added together, but that Sequin Mesh Jacket ($64.50) on top of just about anything would make you party-ready in no time. (Fun fact: Did you know Torrid sizes start with US 12? So, even if you aren’t a traditional “plus” size, you can still shop Torrid.)

Leopard Fit & Flare Dress, from Wet Seal Plus is on the list of things I need! And it’s only $27.99.

Plunge Neck Lace Skater Dress, Chi Chi Plus, ASOS, $94.75

 

Where are some of your favorite places to shop for holiday looks (no matter the size)?

Proud

You know when something happens and it just really hits you — how far you’ve come, and how much work you’ve put in? That happened to me at the gym a few weeks back. A woman who I see at the gym a lot had been out for a while, but came back and was chatting before class. I took off my jacket and she said, “look at you showing off your arms! You look so good. I’m going to have to work harder!”

It was just one of those moments that made me realize how proud I am of myself. I don’t think about it very often, but I really am. I went from NEVER working out, ever, to working out at least four times a week. I’ve changed my diet and exercise routine and lost a solid 35 pounds without pills, or starving myself, or doing anything really drastic. That’s huge.

When someone else mentions how much progress you’ve made it forces you to actually step back and look at what you’ve done, and good grief I’m impressed with me.

As the end of the year nears and everyone starts making resolutions, I hope you realize that if you want to get healthy, you absolutely have the power to do so. It might take enlisting a friend to keep you accountable (which I have) and come with a lot of whining (CONSTANTLY WHINING about not wanting to go to the gym), but in the end, you can do it. It is so worth it.