Losing Weight, the Hard Way

There is no easy way to lose weight. I mean, sure, you can get a stomach virus and be miserable, but the weight will come right back when you feel better.

Or you can do it the hard way, and train.

October 9 2016

This was me, Day 1 of the Diet Bet. I was fat and unhappy, and I had just learned my weight put me in the “obese” BMI category.

In October, I participated in a Diet Bet. In order to win, you had to lose 7% of your body fat in  a month. On the second-to-the-last day, I didn’t eat anything. I was 2-1/2 lbs. shy of winning, so I figured I would go for it and fast.

It worked. I was starving, my body hated me, but it worked.

Then I gained back half the weight within a week. How did I lose most of the 7%? I walked at least a mile a day. That was all.

But it wasn’t enough.

When my friend M suggested we start a Couch to 5K program together, I agreed. We both wanted to lose weight and get healthier. And “look like women who run and eat salads.”

Well, the C25K program is now over, and I still do not look like a person who runs and eats salads. Because that program wasn’t enough.

Jan. 14, 2017. The hair is an out-of-control lion's mane, but there's real progress here. Somewhere.

Jan. 14, 2017. The hair is an out-of-control lion’s mane, but there’s real progress here. Somewhere.

But here’s the thing. I feel better. I feel healthier and happier, and my clothes are bigger, even though I’ve not even lost 10 lbs. from where I started. My body is changing, even though the numbers on the scale aren’t.

I have goals for this year. Big ones. I want to run 312 miles (which is really only 6 miles a week). I want to lose at least 20 lbs. And I want to buy a farmhouse. Two of those three will likely come true.

I’m using the family of Runtastic apps to get me in line. Runtastic for logging runs and creating running programs (I bought the Premium edition when it was on sale, so I can create intervals). Runtastic Results for strength training. And Runtastic Me to keep everything organized.

I’m only two workouts in on the Runtastic Results program, so I can’t judge its efficacy yet. And next week, I start the Weight Loss running program on the Runtastic app. It’s a 22-week program that should lead to some results. As much as I would have loved to start this week, interval training left me with shin splints. Sigh. One week off for me (and modified weight-bearing exercises)!

Here’s what I know: My butt is smaller, and so is my waist. Not a lot, but I’ll take what I can get. I’m still eating most of what I want, which includes the potato chips, Buffalo wings and whatever else on occasion. Because if I take away all the things I love, I will quit.

I’m on a roll now. There’s no quitting. It’s time to take back my body.

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Fabletics Review or How I Get Workout Clothes for Less

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Fabletics Lionel outfit, with Lisette High-Waist Leggings and Malina Midi Sports Bra

I have been a member of Fabletics for a couple years now. But I don’t buy outfits at full price. I don’t buy monthly. In fact, I buy outfits very rarely. I make sure to skip that month’s outfit by the fifth every single month.

So why stay a member and not just cancel? Because they have AMAZING sales. We’re talking up to 80% off about twice a year. That means I can get fantastic workout pants (because, really, I buy those more than anything else) for less than $13. You can barely get poor quality workout pants for that price at your local TJ Rossalls.

Here’s the deal. You sign up for Fabletics, and they usually have a first-time subscriber deal going on for, say, your first outfit for $10-$20. Awesome! You usually get a top and pants for that price, or you pay a little more and get a three-piece outfit. Then, you’re on the hook for $49.95 every month UNLESS you skip by the fifth. If you skip, you are free to skip again for as long as you want. I’ve been skipping for literally a year. Then they offered a coupon, so I got an outfit. Then they had a sale, and I went a bit crazy. I’m currently at VIP Gold status, and I’m not sure how I got there (except that I’ve given them more than $100 in the past two years).

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Fabletics Polaris pants

Now, quality. Is it worth it? Absolutely. I was just in a running store and checked out a pair of Brooks capri running pants, and the material felt identical to the Salar pants I bought from Fabletics. Now, not all Fabletics clothing is created equal. Some of the pants are white on the inside with a print painted onto the outside, and I feel like I’m stretching them a bit and making the white color show. Blech. But those are my camouflage pants and a zebra print. No big deal. Other pants are freakin’ magnificent. We’re talking serious compression AND comfort. Who knew that was possible.  The pants at right are Polaris, and they are fleece-lined and holy crap comfortable. I could wear them forever and ever. Plus, they keep my butt warm on cold runs.

Look, I’m not thin. I have cellulite. The last thing I want is for my thigh dimples to show. And I have not had that problem with a single pair of Fabletics pants / capris / crops. They compress all that cellulite together and make your legs look flawless. Awesome!

I also don’t love most of Fabletics’ shirts. They like to assume that you won’t need to wear a bra, what with their cutout designs and often sheer fabrics. But, sorry, I am NEVER running without a bra on. Ouch. They make a couple tanks that have built-in bras, but those are hard to find. They need to work on that.

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Fabletics Emmy Sports Bra II

As for their sports bras, you just have to read the description. Some are little more than bralettes. Others are full-on hold-you-in-without-giving-you-uniboob awesome. The one at right is zip-front and absolutely wonderful. It’s comfortable and doesn’t chafe, which is key in a sports bra, if you ask me. Now, I also mistakenly ordered a sports bra without looking at the back, and now I have a bra with a hoodie. Seriously?

Overall, I’m really impressed with Fabletics. How impressed? Don’t tell the fiance, but I own 13 pairs of Fabletics workout pants. THIRTEEN! Sure, maybe that’s excessive. But I do hate doing laundry, so there’s that.

I recommend getting in on Fabletics, then immediately setting a reminder for the first of every month to skip the full-price outfits. Wait for the sales. You won’t regret it.

**I am not a Fabletics affiliate, but the link above is my personal share link, and will give me Fabletics credits. Feel free to just go to Fabletics.com if you would prefer.**

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Degustabox January 2017 Review

Degustabox contents

Degustabox contents

20170104_112251I am a subscription box addict. I freely admit it. Who doesn’t love getting surprises in the mail? You know, non-bill-type surprises.

One of my newest subscriptions is Degustabox. It costs $19.99 a month (first box is $10 off). I was super excited to get the first box for half price, and it was so worth it! The boxes before this one have been worth more than double the cost. This one wasn’t quite so high, but I’m still happy with the contents.

My No. 1 favorite item from this month’s Degustabox is the Cello Whisps. Guys. These aren’t cheese crackers. These are 100% CHEESE! You know how the best part of a lasagna or baked ziti is the crispy cheese bits? These are the crispy cheese bits! The flavor I received is Parmesan, but they also make cheddar Whisps. I have already ordered more Whisps (through Walmart).

Other great finds – cashews and cashew trail mix. My fiance stole those immediately and they are gone. Also gone: The Little Bites – they were delicious, moist birthday cake mini muffins.

I have to be honest here. I am not a pumpkin spice everything kind of person. I like pumpkin pie. And that’s where I draw the line. So the Hungry Jack Pumpkin Spice pancake mix is a miss for me.

I’ll also be giving away the Ginger Honey Crystals. I’m just not a fan of ginger unless it’s Vernors Ginger Ale.

The Healthy Pop Butter popcorn is definitely going to be used. Last month’s box had a bag of popcorn, so I’m thinking popcorn is a common theme in Degustaboxes. Also common: curry! Last month’s box had a jar of curry sauce, and this month’s box has a pouch of curry sauce. I’m looking forward to trying this one.

Also included was a cucumber cantaloupe water/juice. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m hoping it’s good.

Degustabox is pretty much a box full of new-ish food products. It’s a great idea for trying new flavors, and it’s great for the companies involved because you just might find something you love and need to order a lot more (hello, Whisps!).

And because I loved it so much, I also bought three-months subscription for my sister and her family. December’s box had so much snack food that I just couldn’t finish, I shared it with co-workers and still haven’t decided when to bake the Pillsbury Purely Simple Chocolate Cake and Buttercream Frosting they sent.

Overall, if you’re looking for new foods to sample, Degustabox is a good choice. Even if you just want to try one box for $10, it’s well worth it! Honestly, I bought the first box then canceled it immediately … and regretted it so I signed back up.

I do get points if you use my link to subscribe, but no pressure – feel free to go to the site without using my link.

 

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Julep Mystery Box – Diamonds Forever

HOT OFFER! Diamonds Forever Mystery Box $150+ Value only $24.99

Diamonds Forever Mystery Box

Inspired by the finer things, the Diamonds Forever Mystery Box mystery box includes two NEW dazzling shades for nails and buzzed-about beauty products that we can’t get enough of – all for just $24.99 ($150+ value) BIGGEST VALUE OF THE YEAR!

Plus, BONUS! Find diamonds in your box. We placed 1 carat diamond stud earrings in ONE lucky mystery box – and it could be yours.

Offer expires on 11/15/2016 at 11:59PM PT, or while supplies last. Every Diamonds Forever Mystery Box will include Lonnie (Bombshell) and Delia (Boho Glam). Other products vary. Purchase of multiple Diamonds Forever Mystery Boxes may result in polish or product overlap. Offer may not be combined with any other promotional offer or discount (e.g Maven 20% discount). No exchanges or returns are possible on Mystery Box or individual items. Estimated full retail value is at least $150. Taxes vary by location.

The prize winner will be randomly selected from Diamonds Forever Mystery Box orders placed 11/8/2016 through 11/15/2016. Prize (1 cttw diamond earrings) will ship separately from Mystery Box order. Winner will be notified via email from the address in the account.

Gift Set Valued at $168 with New Julep Beauty Subscriptions

Fall Gift - New Subscribers

Beauty at your doorstep. Experiment fearlessly with Julep’s monthly beauty box. Get on trend, full-size beauty or skincare products each month, curated just for you! SPECIAL OFFER! Get a FREE 12-piece full-size polish set when you join our beauty box subscription today. That’s $168 value! 100% satisfaction guaranteed, cancel your account at any time.

To get this $168 beauty gift for FREE, join Julep Beauty Box and use code FREEFALL at checkout.

After you join Julep, you’ll get a box of gorgeous and good-for-you beauty, nail, or skincare products delivered to your door every month. Julep offers the only full-size and fully customizable beauty box out there, so you get what you want every month!

This post contains affiliate links.

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Bare Minerals Mystery Box

I ordered the Bare Minerals Mystery Box ($18), which they said would contain $110 worth of products. Did it? Let’s find out!

Bare Minerals Mystery Box UnboxingThe box was nicely packaged. Underneath is lots of bubble wrap, and who doesn’t love bubble wrap? This box is typically only available for a day, so I recommend keeping an eye on the site or subscribing to the My Subscription Addiction mailing list.

The products.

The productsThe package contained:

  • Buxom Lip Gloss (Sweet Thing) $19
  • Buxom Lip Gloss (Hello Lover) $19
  • Bare Minerals Eye Shadow Duo (Promise) $21
  • Bare Minerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick (Speak Your Mind) $15
  • Bare Minerals Powder Eye Shadow (Breathless) $21
  • Bare Minerals Full Tapered Shadow Brush $14 (currently on sale for $9.50)
    (All prices from Bare Minerals’ website.)

First, six products for $18 is pretty spectacular. For all products, the value is $109 (full price). Even if this box only included two products, you’re still getting your money out of it, but to include six, it’s a great deal. On to the colors!

20161006_175514_resizedI couldn’t find this Bare Minerals Ready shadow combination on the site, but the pigment is pretty decent. The colors are pretty basic, which means they are great for everyday makeup looks. All colors are swatched below.

20161006_175430_resizedI think this Buxom Lip Gloss is Hello Lover, but the colors end up looking so similar, I’m not sure if the actual color name matters.

20161006_175443_resizedThe other Buxom gloss. Again, these colors have slightly different tint in the tube, but when swatched (below) and on lips, they are almost identical.

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The Bare Minerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick in Speak Your Mind is a pinkish-brown color. Similar to the glosses but less … glossy.

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Colors swatched on my arm, from top, Ready eye shadow duo (the white is more of a highlighting color, while the brown is pretty pigmented), Hello Lover gloss, Sweet Thing Gloss, Speak Your Mind Lipstick, and the powder eye shadow in Breathless (which is SUPER pigmented and shimmery and absolutely beautiful).

Overall, the box is definitely worth the cost. But will I use all of the products? That’s the key, isn’t it? The short answer: No. I’ll definitely get some use out of all of the shadows, but the three lip products were a miss for me. While I might use one of those colors, all three are so similar in color that they cancel each other out. I’ll also use the shadow brush, especially since my favorite shadow brush is about 10 years old. Even so, using just three of the six products sent, it’s well worth the cost. Definitely recommend.

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Current Subscription Boxes

You all know I love subscription boxes. Who doesn’t love getting surprises in the mail? My current list, plus one I’ve canceled (for now).

tees1

Photo from Loot Crate

Loot Wear Bundle (For Her + Tees) ($19.99): I signed up for 3 months at a time (so I get a slight discount for that), but I won’t be getting it anymore after December. The “For Her” items are hit or miss. The Harley Quinn skirt was a huge miss for me. I will never, ever wear that. But the Kaylee (Firefly) messenger bag was super cute. But I will switch over to the Loot Wear Tees subscription. I love almost all of the T-shirts I’ve received, especially the Voltron one!

Loot Crate Firefly ($34.99, every other month): They’ve let everyone know the September crate is a little late and will ship in mid October, so I haven’t received a box yet. I only bought it because this month’s box features Wash, and I love that guy.

tatchaAllure Beauty Box ($15): This is a brand new subscription for me, and I haven’t received the first box yet. I bought it when I learned a featured product will be from Tatcha. I have Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powder (from another box), and I love it, so it was an easy decision for me.

 

 

bagipsy ($10): So far, this box is my favorite. It’s always worth the (already low) cost.  It always comes with a makeup bag (that’s the October bag at right). And I’ve been happy with almost every product I’ve received. The September bag included BeFine Food Skin Care Exfoliating Cleanser, and that stuff makes my skin feel so soft. I love it and use it several times a week (it’d be more, but I’m trying to hold on to the sample size as long as possible).

smashbox-photo-finish-pore-minimizing-foundation-primerPlay! by Sephora ($10): This one is also worth the cost. If you only get two boxes, ipsy and Play! are the two to get. Now if only Ulta got into the beauty box trend. Last month’s box included Kat Von D Tattoo Eyeliner in Trooper, and that stuff has mega staying power. The August box included the Too Faced bronzer I’m in love with (only partly because it smells like chocolate) AND the Smashbox Photo Finish Pore-Minimizing Primer (which blurs the huge pores on my nose into nothingness).

Walmart Beauty Box ($5!): This box ships once a season, and you’re billed automatically every time it ships. It’s full of stuff you can buy at Walmart, and it’s, without a doubt, worth more than the $5 it costs.

Canceled: Bonjour Jolie ($22.50). Why? While I loved getting snacks and pampering products, I currently have more feminine products than I know what to do with! Give me a couple more months without it, and I’ll likely be back. I love that the box always includes sample packs of Advil. And I love that there’s always a treat or two thrown in that’s not on the included card.

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Makeup – Just a Pop of Color on the Lips

So, I don’t wear makeup every day, but I’m working on at least the basics for a simple (read: less red-faced) look.

Today’s makeup:

  • Mary Kay Foundation Primer Sunscreen SPF 15
  • Mary Kay Timewise Matte Wear Foundation – Ivory 5
  • Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer – Light
  • NARS Soft Velvet Loose Powder – Flesh
  • Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain – Adore
  • Too Faced Soleil Bronzer – Chocolate
  • Wet N Wild Max Fanatic Cat Eye Mascara

Applied with: ABOEL Toothbrush Makeup Brush Set. I failed to mention that yesterday. I bought this set, which is a dupe of the Artis brush set, back when Amazon allowed reviews that were provided in exchange for discounted products. I paid $7, I think, then reviewed them on Amazon – which is where my obligation ended. I still use two of these brushes every day. The largest brush is what I use for foundation, and it applies smoothly and so fast! Seriously, I don’t think I’ll ever use anything else. I use the third size down for blending concealer under my eyes. I don’t like any of the other brushes for blending. The skinny brushes are great for applying contour, but then I recommend switching to a regular blush-type brush for blending.

I’m currently obsessed with Glam Life Guru (Tati Westbrook) on YouTube. She got me hooked on the Maybelline concealer. I can’t leave the house without it now. The Wet N Wild mascara was in the Target Beauty Box a couple boxes ago, and I have to say – it’s fantastic! I rarely curl my lashes, but it makes my lashes look longer and curled. It’s not the best brush for lower lashes, but it’s a dream for upper lashes.

There ya go. I even included a photo of my look today. I did have to get confirmation on the lipstick color – I usually wear very light colors, so this is new for me!

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Makeup for a No Makeup Look

Today’s obsession: Lancome Juicy Shaker in Boom-Meringue. It’s supposed to smell like lemon meringue, but it just smells … delicious. Also, the Too Faced bronzer in chocolate, which actually has cocoa powder in it. Yum! Above are photos of the makeup I’m wearing today. All this to make it look like I’m not wearing makeup.

  • Milani Conceal + Perfect Foundation
  • Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer – Light
  • Too Faced Soleil Bronzer – Chocolate
  • tre’StiQue Highlight Stick -Maldives Luminescent
  • NYX Eyebrow Cake Powder
  • NARS Soft Velvet Loose Powder – Flesh
  • Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara
  • Lancome Juicy Shaker – Boom-Meringue

The bronzer and highlighter were both from subscription boxes (ipsy and Play! by Sephora). The rest were intentional purchases. I’m also wearing a blush … but I can’t remember what it is.

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8 Facts About Shingles (1. It’s Not Just for Old Men)

I am a 40-year-old woman, and I have shingles.

Like everyone else my age, I laughed at the shingles commercials on TV, especially the one where the woe-is-me guy couldn’t play golf. “Eh, it’s just a rash,” I’d say. “Get over it. Wah.”

I. Am. An. Idiot.

Shingles is no joke. I’ve tried to figure out how I got it, you know, since it’s an old-man disease. But I had two colds about six weeks apart. And I have been under a bit of stress. Enter shingles.

It started with a cluster of about five pimple-like blisters on the right side of my lower back. No big deal. I asked my fiance to take a look. We both thought it was bug bites. Nothing to worry about. Two days later, there were a lot more bumps, a good 2 inches away from the first set. Then this cluster farther down my hip, but that looked more like an abrasion. They all itched

I called my sister, a nurse, mostly because she’s already had shingles (she’s in her 30s). She suggested just waiting to see. It was just a rash at this point, and it could have been contact dermatitis, though I hadn’t changed laundry soap (and even then, I make my own). But I was also starting to notice very sensitive skin on the front of my leg. It felt like a third-degree burn, and clothing rubbing against it hurt. My sister suggested looking up nerve paths online to see if it followed a specific nerve.

That’s what shingles is, by the way, a virus of a particular nerve path. No one tells you that. It’s why the shingles rash follows a clear path – it’s just going along the nerve.

Later that evening, a Saturday, I was laying on the couch and put my hand just below my hip as I was getting up. I felt something that wasn’t quite right – a very swollen, painful lymph node.

I went to urgent care. Shingles, the doctor said. He prescribed steroids, antiviral medication and a painkiller. I thought that the Vicodin was weird, because I hadn’t really mentioned much pain. Soreness, but no pain.

Later that evening, I was beyond thankful for the doctor’s forethought – the pain started in earnest.

The third-degree burn sensation went around my waist to just below my bellybutton, and down my right thigh. Any sort of friction was unbearable. Then it felt like someone punched me, hard, in my hip, but there was no bruise, no indication that there was any sort of damage there. It was all under the skin, and nowhere near the rash.

That’s been the hardest thing to deal with – most of the effects of this virus are under the skin, hiding in nerve endings. Below the rash, I keep getting a hot stabbing pain, one that occasionally makes me suck in air until it subsides a second later. On my belly, the skin tingles. And while the burnt feeling has subsided a lot, twinges of it keep coming back.

I asked my sister what she wore when she had it. She suggested leggings, because it prevents much friction against your skin. She was so right! Right now, I’m wearing leggings under a pair of jeans … and wishing it were a lot colder in Florida so this would make sense, clothing-wise.

Yesterday, I had a good day. I worked all day with no problem. I felt better. I even went to dinner with a friend. I slept great, because I rarely move when I sleep, so friction is limited.

Today, I’m paying for the active day. Pain is almost constant under the rash. I walk like an old lady so I don’t make it any worse.

Some things I learned about shingles

  • If you’ve had chickenpox, you can get shingles. However, you can’t get shingles from shingles. This virus could give you chickenpox if you haven’t had those, but not shingles. And even then, you’d have to try really hard to get at my rash to get chickenpox.
  • It’s not just for old men. The commercials focus on older people because the vaccine is only given to people over the age of 50 (though I imagine you can request it). Everyone I know who’s had it has been younger than 50.
  • You can get shingles at any time. This virus really does live inside you, dormant. It’s creepy.
  • Your entire nerve path can be affected. The rash might be small, but the pain can be mighty, and can wrap around your body.
  • It only occurs on one side of your body at a time.
  • Shingles is most common around your torso, but you can also get it on your head, and it can damage your eyesight if it gets too close to your eye.
  • It doesn’t necessarily look like it does in the commercials. I’ve included a photo of my rash below, on day 5. It looks like poison ivy, not a scaly rash.
  • 1 in 3 people will get shingles. It’s an unfortunate, scary fact.
The rash doesn't look very severe. But the nerve endings below the rash would like you to know they are very serious about causing you pain.

The rash doesn’t look very severe. But the nerve endings below the rash would like you to know they are very serious about causing you pain.

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Chomps Snack Sticks a Delicious, Quick Snack

I have always loved snack sticks. We’re talkin’ Slim Jims here. But what if I told you there’s a better alternative?

 

a0QbSee5RpKWKzOLH2gb_Half Case Mixed New W30Enter Chomps Snack Sticks. I was recently sent a sample of all three flavors so I could share my opinion on them. I saved them so I could take them on the plane for my trip to Michigan, and they did a great job of easing my hunger on board (you know, when the snack mix – not peanuts because there was a peanut allergy on board – did not do the job on our early-afternoon flight). 

Chomps come in three flavors: Original, Crankin’ Cran and Hoppin’ Jalapeño. Original tastes just like Slim Jims. Crankin’ Cran has a picture of a habanero and cranberries on the front, so that’s what you’re getting there. A bit spicy, a bit sweet, and totally delicious. I’m not gonna lie – I was a bit surprised I liked that one because I’m not a fan of sweet-spicy usually, but it was tasty! And last but not least Hoppin’ Jalapeño is also there for you with the spice, but without the sweetness. All good!

So why Chomps over Slim Jims?

Chomps are “made with 100% Non-GMO Grass-Fed Angus Beef which is sourced from New Zealand. The sticks contain no artificial ingredients (no nitrites, nitrates, MSG, colors, flavors) and are shelf stable for a year with the help of celery juice!”

Celery juice. Seriously.

Look, I’m leery of “health food” because so often it tastes … off. Chomps taste like delicious meaty sticks of goodness. I’ll be keeping these handy for all my future trips – they take up little space and aren’t going to get squished like the potato chip crumbs I ended up with.

I highly recommend Chomps if you’ve ever enjoyed Slim Jims. You won’t regret it.

**Sponsored post**

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