Big Fat Loser (Hopefully)

My husband & I entered a weight loss challenge recently and I feel like I need to just publicly put it out there.  I am missing that whole accountability part so maybe this will help?  Ultimately I am looking to lose 20-25 lbs and cut my body fat percentage in half.

The initial weigh-in was around 3 weeks ago and the final weigh-in is March 22nd.  Weekly weigh-ins are encouraged for us to do on our own.

This whole biggest loser challenge is tied in with a bootcamp program I have been involved in recently (one that I did a few years ago and really enjoyed).  In order to lose the weight I am trying to get 3 bootcamp sessions in a week along with at least one other workout.  I also took on a challenge this week of doing 150 push-ups.  NOT on my knees.  The real deal push-ups…the ones I couldn’t do even one of a month ago.  I started on Monday and need to finish by Sunday (I was lazy and didn’t start on Saturday like I should have).  Only 110 to go!  I really hope we have to do like 40 or so in bootcamp today so I can (possibly) reach my goal.  It’s much easier to push myself when someone is telling me to.

The other huge change I am working on is my eating & drinking habits.  I have no problem being healthy for breakfast, lunch & dinner but when it’s time to veg on the couch, the sweet/salt tooth kicks in.  It helps to not keep anything snackable in the house but then I just get maaaaad.  I know this phase will pass.  It just takes time.  I am also logging everything in my weight watchers app – another weight loss plan that has worked for me in the past when done correctly.  My daily glass or 3 of wine has to end too.  I’ve been able to cut back to either a super small glass with dinner or none at all…during the week, that is.  Weekends are my weakness.

If you are looking to make a change, I encourage a weekly challenge of some sort.  I hope to finish my 150 push-ups by Sunday and do it again next week.  I also plan on adding a second challenge.  I like the idea of getting an app to track it too.  Maybe this squat challenge will be my next one?

Thanks for listening!  Feel free to share any of your super secret weight-loss tricks!

-ML

 

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CHI (2x)

Super bitter feelings about this post right now.  I already wrote more than half of it before I hit “save draft” and BOOM – gone!  There was some error with wordpress and I’m still not over it.  Last attempt at this one:

Chicago.  I’ve been 3 times in my life and every time was in the winter.  Stupid, I know.  But I still loved it.  A LOT.  I am almost scared to go back in the summer when it’s supposedly perrrrfect for fear of making a scene through the airport as I get pulled against my will to get on a plane and come home.

My husband and I went to CHI this past November as I had gifted him some Bears tickets for his birthday back in August.  He’s a big fan.  We stayed at the Park Hyatt right off Michigan Ave.  It was an amazing hotel and a great location for shopping ;)  The first night we went to RPM Italian.  Just down right tasty Italian.  I even witnessed my husband get a little starstruck as Robert Smigel was sitting a few tables away.  Apparently this restaurant is a big celeb sighting hot spot…and the food was great too.  Those two reasons had me sold.

After dinner we headed to Mindy’s Hot Chocolate as recommended by a few people.  The cocoa is rich, the marshmallows are homemade, and the wait for a table is long.  We got it to-go and headed back to our room to call it a night.

The next day we did some shopping and met up with some of my husband’s family that lives in the area.  They took us to R.J. Grunts in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.  It’s a staple in the city and known for being one of the first places to have a salad bar.  Shocking that my husband did not bite…  He loves a good salad bar.  After lunch, we walked over to the (free) Lincoln Park Zoo.  I loved that you just stumble upon a zoo in the middle of a park.  The highlight of the zoo trip?

Oh… just this baby rhino having the time of his life.  Go ahead and bookmark this video so you can refer back to it any time you are having a bad day. 

Later that night we met up with some friends that live in the city for dinner and some improv comedy at Second City.  The next day was the Bears game.  Not the best experience.  We realized I wasn’t allowed to bring my purse in when we were almost there.  Had to turn around and go drop it off at the hotel.  Then we get there and realize it’s cash only.  We had no cash.  Then several ATMs were down and the ones that were working were extreeeemely slow.  I think we finally got to our seats in the middle of the 2nd quarter.  Oh and our seats?  Last row possible.  Oops.  OH – and they lost :-/

After the game, we got some take-out deep dish from Pizzeria Due and hung out in our hotel room for the night before flying out the next morning.  If only we could have brought the leftover pizza home as a souvenir.

After our trip in November, we decided we needed to go back and soon.  And this time bring friends.  We invited several people and ended up getting a group of 8 total together which encouraged us to rent a home through VRBO.  The house was awesome and located in the Bucktown neighborhood…unknowingly a 5 minute walk to our friend’s place.  Convenient.  The first night we went to RPM Italian (again for my husband & I).  It wasn’t quite as impressive the second time mainly based on the location of our table.  We were in this corner of the restaurant snuggled up to a server station of some sort.  Nothing like the first time when we had a view of the whole place from our raised 2 top table.  Sorry friends!

After dinner several people went to bed.  Pasta and wine will do that…to some people at least.  The rest of us went to what our friend that lives in the ‘hood described as his favorite “dive” bar, Danny’s Tavern.  Well, let’s get this kid to Atlanta, OK?  This place was NO dive.  I mean it wasn’t glamorous but it was just a normal bar with dimmed lighting.  At least that’s what I remember seeing.  I also thought there was a chair somewhere there wasn’t and I woke up with an extremely bruised tailbone.  So maybe it really was a dive bar?  Either way, it was great because it was right across the street from our house.  We also met up with some other ATL friends that were in CHI for a wedding there and all in all – a great night.

The next day everyone sort of did their own thing.  My personal mission?  Eat amazing sushi for lunch.  A place called Coast was walking distance so 3 of us headed there only to be extremely disappointed to the “closed” sign on the door.  I think they were renovating or something…or maybe I read the hours wrong on the website?  I don’t remember.  Minor details.  We headed to the next sushi restaurant with a decent yelp review.  We were the only ones in there but hey – it was like 2pm on a Friday.  Whatever makes me feel better.  The sushi was okaaay, the ramen was pretty good, and the saki was going down.  After lunch it was time for some of us to go shopping.  Because it’s so much easier to shop after a drinking lunch of course.  We also stopped at a arcade bar for a beer.  Because why not?

For dinner that night, the Mr. & I had dinner with our friends that live in the city at Gilt Bar.  One of our friends has had basically everything on the menu and therefore we requested that she just go ahead and order for the table.  She did the best job.  Perfect amount of food and it was ALL really really good.  After dinner we met up with most of the others for more drinks and fun, and had a late night at the house…the usual.

The next day, my husband and I met up with some of his family members in the area at Big Star.  Two of their margaritas and I was feeling pretty good again.  Buh-bye hangover!  After we ate, we ventured to another bar for some extra afternoon cocktails.  We eventually departed and headed back to our house to get ready for dinner that night at The Publican.  We had almost the whole group at dinner and from what I remember – the food and drinks were great ;)  We went out after dinner and made the most of our last crazy night in Chicago.

All in all, it was a great trip.  Looking forward to that Chicago summer trip one day too..

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These are a few of my favorite things

I had already been thinking about doing some sort of “favorite product” post and then a blogger I follow did one yesterday and her post really motivated me to get going on it.  Check out her February Finds here!  So without further ado…

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Let’s break this assortment down…

Face: Clarisonic Mia, Dermalogica Pre-Cleanse, Dermalogica Multivitamin Thermafoliant

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If you don’t know about the Clarisonic, let me introduce you.  I really don’t know how I felt good about washing my face B.C. (before Clarisonic).  It really has changed my life.  I have the Mia but several people I know have the Mia 2.  I think the main difference is that the Mia 2 beeps when you should change the section of the face that you are cleansing.  I bought Oil of Olay’s version a long time ago and it’s just not the same so don’t take the cheap route in effort to save money.  Disclaimer: I do in fact love the Oil of Olay brand for many other things.  It’s my go-to for moisturizer.  But when it comes to this, save that money and keep on saving until you are ready to buy the Clarisonic.  You won’t be disappointed.  Your skin will see and feel the results pretty quickly and the products you apply after cleansing will absorb better than hand washing your face.  I hope to acquire their new Pedi Sonic in the near future too.  It’s basically a “need” at this point.

On a product level, I’ve been real into Dermalogica lately.  Not only am I currently using their cleansing gel (not pictured.  It’s good and all but I don’t go gaga for it or anything) but the pre-cleanse & heated exfoliant are really some of my favorites right now.  A good friend told me about the pre-cleanse and I really feel it’s another vital step in my face cleansing process.  I really only use it if I have make-up on before washing my face.  Sometimes I don’t feel like I truly get every bit of make-up/dirt off from a face wash so this extra step makes me feel better about that.  A little goes a long way too so don’t let the price scare you too much.

The multivitamin thermafoliant was much more of a splurge for me.  After my esthetician kept encouraging me to exfoliate more, I decided it was time to invest in an exfoliant I could really get into.  My esthetician recommended this product and I have trusted her for awhile now so I took her advice and bit the bullet.   I wanted a less intense exfoliant and this one is perfect.  It’s not super harsh when used on a wet face but you also have the option to apply directly to dry skin for a more intense exfoliation.  The slight warming is supposedly giving you even more benefits too.  Hey, I fell for it!  I try to use twice a week but need to get more consistent.  I haven’t had it for a long time so not sure exactly how long this $52 product lasts and that could determine whether or not I still love it in a couple weeks.

Hair: Regency Tangle-Free Magic Brush, Goody Quik Style Hairbrush, Kendi Bamboo Oil, BB Straight Blow Dry, BB Styling Lotion, Aveda Air Control Hair Spray

I’m a sucker for some new hair products.  Constantly trying new things.  I also have super thick hair and until recently, it was almost all the way down my back.  It’s still somewhat long so taming it still takes an army of tools and products.  As far as hair brushes, I am just now discovering exactly how many different types of brushes there are and realizing how many one thick-haired girl like myself should have on hand.  I actually got the Regency Tangle-Free brush from my mother-in-law for Christmas.  I wasn’t sure what it was all about but it turns out it’s just a great wet/dry brush for eliminating tangle issues.  I feel I use a decent amount of conditioner so my after-shower brushing has never been too terrible anyway but I seem to lose a lot less hair with this brush.  So that right there is enough of a reason to love it.  If you happen to tangle pretty easily, this brush comes highly recommended via my sister-in-law (also got this gift) and online reviews.  In fact, I also found this review from one of my favorite ladies in the celeb world lately when I googled to see where to buy.

Moving along, the other brush really gets me amped.  I actually came in contact with this brush long before it was available to the public.  I got called to do one of those surveys where you test out a product at home for a week or so and then write reviews and end up getting paid a hundred bucks or something.  Much better than the ones where you have to go in and sip crappy arbor mist wine for 2 hours…that’s a story for another day.  Anyway, I fell in LOVE with this brush during my test period.  I almost wanted to forgo the payment and just keep the brush.  But on the other hand, they needed to read my reviews in hopes that it might help make this brush actually exist in the world.  Well, time went on and I slowly forgot about my less than 30 minute hair drying experiences…until one day….like a beam of light from the heavens above there she shined in the hair brush aisle….the Goody Quik Style Hair Brush…*sound the angels “aahhhhhhhh”*.  It was one of my finer drug store moments.  Basically this brush has these little microfiber absorbent bristles mixed in with your typical paddle brush bristles and it makes for a much faster drying experience.  This product might only be so ground-breaking for those with thicker, harder to dry hair…can’t speak for other types.  All I know is I find it in-cred-i-ble!

It doesn’t take much to convince me to try a new hair product.  In fact, I am typically the one convincing myself to buy said new products.  I am such a believer in hair getting bored with the same old products and therefore need to switch things up regularly.  I think I might have found the Kendi Oil on Pinterest or maybe a google search of “best hair oil ever”.  I’m really not too sure.  I’ve had it for awhile and I’m just now about to run out.  I don’t use it daily but maybe about 3 days a week on average.  It’s the best oil I have ever used and I have tried quite a few.  It’s not greasy at all but I also am careful to only use a few drops.  Again, with my thick hair it takes a lot to get greasy anyway.  It’s also great to use on dry hair as a mask before getting in the shower.  Highly recommend!

Next on the list is the BB Straight Blow Dry.   Just apply to wet hair and it helps hair lose natural wave making straight hair more feasible.  Again, only applicable if you suffer from not-so-attractive naturally wavy hair like myself.  I can honestly put less effort into styling as I blow dry when I use this stuff.  And I don’t even need to use the straightener after the dry.  Not bad!

The next BB product I’ve digging is the styling lotion.  It’s actually a spray that is great to use on wet hair before drying or dry hair before styling….or both.  Honestly, I’m not sure how much of an effect it has but it’s one of those things I just feel good about using.

Lastly is my go-to hairspray.  I really only use hairspray when I’ve curled my hair but I find the Aveda Air Control has the perfect mixture of hold and flexibility.  Plus, I’ve always been a fan of the Aveda scent, so there’s that.

Body (and a million other things): Coconut Oil

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If you don’t know about Coconut Oil at this point – wake up!  It’s like the new apple cider vinegar.  One of those things that does just about everything.  Lately I’ve mainly been using it as a body scrub.  I mix it with sugar until it has a good consistency for exfoliating and keep it in a plastic container in my shower.  I have those annoying bumps on my arms and this helps reduce that wretched issue.  It’s also great to just use all over to shed dead cells and all that jazz.  Here are a million (actually 101) other reasons you need to keep coconut oil on hand.

In my bag: Stella & Dot Pouf

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This little guy is more handy than I thought when I originally purchased under the influence at a stella & dot trunk show.  It’s super roomy and just great to keep all things confined to one spot in my purse as opposed to thrown all over in different compartments.  I love my elephant print but they seem to keep making cuter prints for it.  If I had to purchase another one, I would be super into this print.  Although I’ve been aware of Stella & Dot for a few years now, it wasn’t until recently that I really got into the brand.  It probably has something to do with my best friend being a stylist for them.  Just be prepared to see a lot more where this pouf came from!

Around the house: Capri Blue Jar Candle

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I love Anthropologie.  Who doesn’t really?  But I never knew how amazing these candles were until a friend told me about them.  She told me how they make great gifts and I ran with it.  I ended up getting a couple for friends for the holidays but was regretting the decision to not treat myself in the process.  Well luckily another friend of mine happened to get me this exact candle!  I think I actually got the Volcano scent for my gifts but my friend gave me this Aloha Orchid scent and I’M IN LOVE.  She said thought of me when she saw it because we actually were in Hawaii together for a trip a few years ago.  So it’s even got a little sentimental meaning for me (awww).  It’s one of those candles that you can smell when the lid is off and it’s not even lit.  It has lasted me quite awhile too.  Nothing to say but good things so go ahead and treat yourself!

Keeping me sane: Refreshing Lip Balm with Pink Grapefruit, Fun Flavored Gum

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I typically just buy whatever chap stick because I can no longer find mine and I’m on the verge of dying from chapped lips (because that’s a possibility and all).  Well I just randomly grabbed this pink grapefruit flavor on one of my drug store runs and probably didn’t even realize it was flavored.  What a lovely surprise!  It’s not only pleasing for me but I’ve even had people notice the smell who are standing at least 2 feet or more away.  It unchaps the lips and tastes/smells divine.  Sold.

Oh and the gum that a typical five year old would be into?  Well this all stemmed from a friend of mine that I tend to bum gum from often.  She never has your typical mint flavors but instead an assortment of fun food flavors…you know like mint chocolate chip and sour patch kids?  I thought it was rather amusing at first but would still graciously chew said crazy flavor.  It wasn’t until the other day in the target line that I went for that pack of watermelon gum…and even a pack of sour patch kid flavor (because I’ve already bummed a piece from my friend and got pretty into it).  I’ve realized that these flavors are more than just fun for me.  They are life savers.  As I am currently involved in a “biggest loser weight loss challenge”, I find these delicious gums cure my sweet tooth when I can no longer go for a piece of chocolate or really anything sinful.  So funky flavored gum has been doing the trick…for now.

Would love to hear from anyone else who has a loving relationship with any of the above mentioned products.  Or if you have had a bad experience, feel free to share too!  Watermelon gum caught in your hair doesn’t count.

Hope to have more of these posts in the future as I’m constantly trying new things.  #productaddict

Cheers!

ML

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This post made me huuuuungry

As promised…

I really just want to touch on the crucial places (NYC, Boston, and Chicago) from my 2013 trips…meaning I ate at a restaurant (or 5) that left an impression…and probably responsible for one (or 5) of the 30 lbs I need to lose.  They were all totally worth it.

NYC

I’ve only been twice (first time was when my boyfriend/now-husband at the time took me there by surprise and proposed…beyond amaze) but both times I was blown away by my dining experiences.  This past visit was for a girl’s trip.  Not just a girl’s trip but an almost completely paid for trip.  One of the girl’s boyfriend gave her a “girl’s trip to NYC” for Christmas.  That’s right – he paid for our flights and our stay at the Waldorf Astoria.  He even got us tickets to see the Book of Mormon on Broadway…and the seats were in-cred-i-ble.  Quite a gift, huh?  Any males that might have stumbled upon this post – take note!

Shopping, dining, drinking, and even late night girl talk (complete with late night fatty room service).  I need one of these trips at least once a year.

We ate at several places throughout the trip but two of them really left me wanting more.  Following them on IG and twitter doesn’t help the situation either.

Empellón Cocina – If you know me at all, you know my love of all things Mexican.  Some people even think I am Mexican by my appearance (I’m not though..) but I think it directly related to my constant appetite for Mexican cuisine.  I’m really not even that picky about it.  I will say I appreciate both sides of the spectrum pretty equally.  Meaning my favorite mexi is either the super authentic, not-trying-hard-at-all, hole in the wall places and my other favorite is fancy mexi.  Empellon is definitely fancy mex.  The restaurant was trendy, and packed, and pricey.  But it’s Lower East Side/Manhattan so what do you expect?

Highlights were the scotch egg, pistachio guacamole, and the salsa tasting.  Oh and my margarita was one of the best I have ever had.  Couldn’t tell you what it was called but I believe jalapeno was involved.

We also ate at Locanda Verde one evening and Ssam Bar  for lunch one day.  Both were also amazing but for the sake of not writing a novel, let’s skip to the end-all be-all of dinners.  Literally the most amazing dinner I have experienced to date.  Del Posto.  We all did the 8 course captain’s dinner & wine pairing.  A bit over the top?  Perhaps.  Regrets?  NONE.  I don’t remember a lot of it for two reasons – it was a LOT to remember AND it is sort of like a distant dream to me.  Did we really eat there?

I do know my favorite course was the Spaghetti with Dungeness Crab, Sliced Jalapeno & Minced Scallion.  And that’s all I’m giving you along with a quick slideshow below because really – everyone needs to just go experience this place on their own (at least once).

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Oh and one more NY staple that helped cure a horrid hangover one morning (along with a million different types of drinks) – a slice of NY pizza pie!  If anyone knows of authentic NY pizza in the Atlanta area, please let me know about it immediately.

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BOSTON

My husband and I went to Boston for the first time this year.  We flew there from Atlanta and then rented a car to drive to NJ for my Dad’s graduation after our weekend trip in the city.  Lots of history in Boston which I loved, especially because we don’t quite have that down south.  We walked everywhere and saw a lot.  But what stood out the most?  You guessed it – the food!  We stumbled upon this place, The Butcher Shop, for lunch the day we got in and OMG BEST STEAK TARTAR EVER!  The place itself is super cool too.  Wine bar meets butcher shop.  Eat there or stop in and grab something out of the fridge to take home (but at least stay for a glass of wine).

We also ate at B&G Oysters one night.  Same restaurant group as The Butcher Shop and really – same level of impressiveness.  This is the restaurant that turned my husband on to oysters.  Not only did he eat one…he ate several…and liked them a lot!  If you know him, you understand how epic this night was for me.  I, on the other hand, learned that I don’t like lobster rolls and I need to stop trying to like them.  I love the idea of them but I have ordered them enough times to know that they are just not my thing.  No fault to B&G, just a simple personal palette error.

The Liberty Hotel was a cool late night spot for us.  Cool bar and great ambiance…if you are into the whole old jail turned hotel thing.

Fenway Park is obviously a must-see.  There wasn’t a game when we were there but the bar is open and you can see the field from your stool.

Walking around the city is easy and walking to Cambridge isn’t bad either…unless you are completely starved.  Take it from me and eat first.

The North End is officially one of my favorite places in America.  I still haven’t been to the motherland (Italy) but the North End almost filled the gap for a bit.  I loved everything about it.  There are over 100 or so Italian restaurants I think?  I don’t know the exact number…maybe it’s over 50.  Either way, they are supposedly all pretty much awesome…otherwise the place will shut down and fast.  So just make sure a place has been in business for over a year or so and you should be safe.  Oh and don’t even get me started on the pastries.  I’m a sucker for a cannoli and these shops have every type of cannoli you can imagine.  Heav-EN.

That’s going to wrap it up for today but I should have plenty of time to blog this week with the big snow storm coming and all.  One whole inch of snow is expected.  Brace yourself ATL!

Plus, Chicago deserves it’s own post since it’s my most favorite city in all of the states.  Annnnd I went twice this year so I have a lot to share!

Cheers!

ML

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Credit where credit is due!

Shortly after my TOMS post, my good friend in Kansas posted this ultra cute pic (we would be thinking about the same shoes at the same time…).  She is sporting the Cheetah TOMS wedge boots here and looking mighty adorable while doing so!  This same friend is the reason I even discovered these flawless beauties!  Thanks Meems!  It also helps that we live several states apart so we never have to worry about accidentally twinning.

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If only I had a blog a year ago

Looking back on 2013, I traveled quite a bit more than my normal amount.  Nowhere too crazy but just some of the best cities in America.  No big deal.  BUT, I’m mad I wasn’t blogging before I took these trips because they were pretty post-worthy.  That being sad, I will somewhat document my 2013 travels in a short post (or several short posts) as I still think it’s important to share what I did (mainly dining…lots of dining…and wining) in these cities.  It would be evil not to!

Places I wandered to in 2013 (most were not for the first time):

St. Simons Island, GA

Charleston, SC (twice)

New York City, NY

Charlotte, NC (twice)

Cancun, MX

Sylva, NC

Philadelphia, PA

Boston, MA

Mount Airy, MD

Chicago, IL (twice)

So more to come on those little trips of mine soon!

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Wednesday, Wednesday, I love ya, Wednesday, you’re only 3 days awaaaaay!

Currently checking the tracking info daily for my next pair of TOMS wedges!  I have been rocking this pair of TOMS burgundy (even though I think they are more of a magenta but whatever you say, Tom) wedge boots and decided I had to have another pair (or 5!).  Cheetah print should be knocking on my door on Wednesday and I might have to track down the Herringbone print next.  Clearly the word has got out about these comfy cozy cuties because it’s hard to find specific prints.  I had to get my Cheetahs from e-bay.  Fingers crossed they are the real deal.

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