April 2017 Wish List

Air Fryer | Benefit Boxed Blush | Ole Henriksen Kit | Village Candle Coffee Bean | Beauty and the Beast Journal | Iconic Protein Drink

Here are a few of the awesome products that have caught my eye and made it onto my wish list for the new month.  We’ve got a little bit of everything this month.  Check it out!

Air Fryer ($150)- My biggest wishlist item of the month is an air fryer.  After seeing all of the awesome creations people are coming up with in their fryers, I’m having some severe envy about not having one of my own.  Air Fryers help you achieve the crisp cook of fried food while using little to no oil in the preparation.  This sounds like a dream come true.  I’m longing to get my hands on one of these so I can try out different veggies in there to make my own sweet potato fries, butternut squash bites, and I’m really dying to try the Green Giant cauliflower tots in there.  I was obsessed with them when I had them at my parent’s house, and I imagine tossing them in an air fryer rather than the oven will make them even more amazing. This appliance actually surpassed a new coffee maker on my wishlist. That’s just crazy talk!

Benefit Galifornia($29)- I’ve always enjoyed Benefit’s cult classic boxed blushes. Coralista has always been one of my favorites, and GALifornia looks like it might be a slightly brighter, but still completely wearable version of my all time favorite.   Read more

6 Tips To Help You Conquer Your Cravings

For me, one of the most difficult parts of this entire weight loss journey is knowing how to make the right choices when a craving strikes. Whether it be for the jar of peanut butter, a delicious piece of pizza, or the Hersey’s kisses in the candy jar, I get cravings regularly, and they’re often the reason my day doesn’t go as planned.  Let’s face it, if we didn’t have to fight off cravings, odds are we wouldn’t be in the situation where we need to lose weight anyway, right?  What’s a gal to do?

What we need are ways to conquer our cravings so we can take back control and eat the things we want when we decide to rather than allow a craving to decide for us. Here are 6 tips to help you (and me) beat those cravings next time we’re wanting something that doesn’t fit into our day.

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The Diva Diaries First Post

Well hello there. Welcome to a brand new section of my blog that I’ve decided to call “The Diva Diaries.” I was inspired by the book I’m currently reading, The Adventures of Dietgirl, to start a journaling section of the site that I can basically treat like a much less formal (I know my blog isn’t “formal” anyway,) place where I basically write as if I was writing in my notebook journal.  The book is the story of one woman’s weight loss journey all written in journal entry format, and the more I read, the more I was feeling compelled to do something similar.

I’m not sure what you can expect from my Diva Diaries posts because it’s a journal, so it’s going to be whatever is on my mind. My goal is to center it around my ongoing weight loss journey, but you never know where my mind might go.  What I can promise is plenty of struggles, discoveries, victories, failures, and everything else that goes into this crazy little thing called life 

On Tuesday’s vlog, I decided to ask if you would like to see some more journal type entries from me, like what I was reading in the book, and there were enough people who said yes that I decided it was a go!  So last night I created an image, and the Diva Diaries was born.  

I weigh in tomorrow, so things will officially start then! 

Weight Loss Tool Kit

Weight Loss Tool Kit

Your repairman has his truck full of tools, a teacher has supplies, and even Batman has his utility belt.  Everyone has some sort of toolkit so they can do their job to the best of their ability.  Losing weight is no different. In order to successfully lose weight, it really helps to have a toolkit (or a utility belt, if you want to go the superhero route) to help you get the most out of your weight loss efforts.  While everyone’s toolkit will look a little bit different based on personal preferences, I thought I’d share my tools with you to give you a basic guideline to help you create a toolkit of your very own.  Some of my tools are actual physical items while others are more mental or non-tangible, but I find both categories to be equally important as I go along my journey to the healthiest me I can be.

Water Bottle

I am never without a water bottle, and if for some reason I am, I promise I’m not happy about it.  At any given time I have 2 “active” water bottles; one with a straw for while I’m at home, as I find I drink more water when it’s through a straw and one that is more secure for when I’m on the go.  Hydration is so important, both for health and for weight loss, so I always have a water bottle nearby to encourage me to get my daily requirement of H2O.

A Food Scale

No matter which plan you use to lose weight, odds are it involves portioning your food in some way. I find this easiest when I’m using an electronic food scale.  When meal time comes around, I just put the plate on the scale and can measure each meal component separately (hit the “zero” button to start fresh) and easily so I know exactly how many Smart Points (or calories) I put on my plate. I find there is a lot less room for error measuring the weight og your food rather than cups or tablespoons. 

A Plan

Whether you join Weight Watchers, Beach Body, you use My Fitness Pal, or you decide to just count calories on your own, you need to have some sort of plan when it comes to losing weight. You can’t just say “I’m going to lose weight” and have it magically happen (I wish!). You know there are going to be lifestyle changes and maybe even a sacrifice or two in order to see changes in your body, and to achieve that successfully, odds are you have some desired method to get there.  That’s also known as a plan. Get one.

Sleep

Sleep is another one of those life essentials, but it’s something that many of us take for granted or forget to place importance on.  Have you ever noticed what happens to your food intake on a day that you don’t get enough sleep? It’s very likely that your day is played out in one of two scenarios. 1: You stick to your diet plan all day (good for you!), but you spend the day drowsy, grumpy, and likely overcaffeinated but still unable to perform to the best of your ability.  Scenario 2: You are likely making poor food choices because you’re using food to not only satiate hunger but to gain extra energy to make up for the lack of sleep.  Guess what type of foods we usually reach for.. sugary and fatty quick jolts of energy that last until the next time we can put something in our mouths to refuel.  This is not helping your diet at all.  Getting a quality night’s sleep as often as possible will help you stay away from impulse eating due to hunger.  Get those Zzzzs to lose the lbs.  

A Food Journal

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again.  Studies have shown that people who write down what they eat will consume 30% fewer calories than people who don’t.  Whether you use an app like Weight Watchers or My Fitness Pal or you decide to use the tried and true notebook and pen, use something to keep track of your food intake.  This helps me to see what I’ve eaten, or more importantly, what I can still eat and remain on track.  

A Goal (or several small goals)

Goals help keep me motivated.  I typically set large goals (to get back to my goal weight) supported and broken up by smaller goals (to drink 100oz of water daily or to reach 12,500 steps) to help me stay on track. When we reach a goal we get to enjoy the positive feeling of accomplishing something, so smaller goals are great for giving us little things to accomplish while we work toward the bigger goal.  

A “Why”

What is your “why?” In other words, why do you want to lose weight? Is it so you can run around and play with your children, so you look better and feel more confident naked? Maybe you just want to fit back into your favorite pair of jeans.  Having a “why” is not the same as having a goal.  Your “why” is the motivation behind your goals. It’s the big picture and the reason you got inspired to set your goal to lose weight in the first place.  Once you’ve established your “why” take the time to embrace it.  Leave yourself little motivational reminders that constantly inspire you to make the better food choice or to go for an extra walk.  The “why” is the root of everything. If you haven’t figured out what it is yet, take the time to do that now.  

A stash of go-to snacks

Once you’ve figured out your plan of action, it’s incredibly important to find your favorite foods in that plan.  I have a stash of go to Weight Watchers friendly foods and snacks that are easily available should hunger strike in between meals. Having diet friendly snack options around is an easy way to save you from yourself at a time when willpower won’t necessarily be at its strongest. 

An Activity Tracker

I love my Fitbit.  It turns every single day into a goal and a game.  Every day I compete with myself to make it to my daily step goal, but if I want to take the game to the next level, FitBit allows me to compete with friends. There have definitely been days where I’ve been pushed harder simply because I was in a race to get more steps than a friend of mine. All competitive games aside, an activity tracker is a great way for you to get more accurate insight on how much activity you’re actually getting on a daily basis. I’m willing to bet a pretty high percentage of people greatly overestimate how much activity they’re getting on a daily basis. Whether FitBit is your tracker of choice or you prefer another brand, I highly suggest investing in an activity tracker to help you take your weight loss efforts to the next level. 

A selection of easy to make recipes

Just like being prepared for a snack attack is important, it’s also important to have a few easy, diet-friendly recipes that you enjoy enough to make regularly.  When you have simple recipes to pick from it’s less of a hassle to make dinner at the end of a long day when your desire might be to run to the nearest fast food restaurant to grab dinner because the thought of making it is exhausting.  In my house, we often eat basic chicken with quinoa and veggies on the weekend and I will often spend a few hours in the kitchen chopping all sorts of veggies and meat to meal prep for the entire week.  Then, when dinner time for one comes around, all I have to do is turn on the oven and pull out one of my pre-made meals out of the fridge.  Easy and healthy. 

Rewards

I am a very reward driven person. If I’m told I can earn something awesome for finishing a task, I’m much more likely to do it.  I love applying this principle to losing weight.  If I’ve had a good week where I stay on track and hit the gym regularly, I might treat myself to an at-home spa night. If I’ve lost 5 lbs, it’s probably time for a pedicure.  10 lbs = a new pair of cute pants.  See what I’m getting at? It’s a little bit easier for me to think twice about the late night snack attack or skipping the gym when I know that new lipstick I’ve been dying to try is on the line.  While the rewards themselves can look different for everyone, a rewards system is a nice way to treat yourself for a job well done.

Those are some of my favorite items in my weight loss tool kit.  Becuase everyone’s journey is unique, everyone will have a slightly different tool kit.  What is important is you find the set of tools that work best for you.  A good tool kit is like an awesome sidekick.  You might succeed without it, but it will be a heck of a lot easier to get the job done with the extra help.

What kind of items are in your weight loss tool kit?  

 

*Some links may be affiliate or refferal links*

Dr Formula’s Nexabiotic Probiotic Supplement

ProbioticProbiotics is is a word we hear quite often when discussing health and wellness.  While I have had an on again/off again relationship with probiotics over the last few years, generally buying a bottle, finishing it, and after not noticing any big advantages, failing to repurchase.  When I was given the chance to try a supplement by Nexabiotic, I decided to give my relationship with probiotics the “on again” status and give it a try.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are essentially strains of good bacteria that live in our gut to help absorb nutrients, keep the bad bacteria at bay, and generally keep digestion running smoothly.  Things like stress (something we all experience) and age (something no one can avoid) can cause those good bacteria to die off.  Have you ever noticed that when you’re particularly stressed, maybe because of work or travel, your digestion seems to be a tad uncooperative? Apparently those good bacteria don’t respond well to stress either..

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20 Tips to Help You Get A Better Night’s Sleep

Good Night

Sleep and I have a love hate relationship.  I love sleeping, but almost nightly I either struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get quality sleep.  This results in a very tired and unproductive person once morning comes around.  I recently started implementing different tips and ideas to help sleep and I get along a bit better, and while our relationship isn’t perfect, we are on much better terms.  Here are 20 tips to help get you ready for a good night’s rest. 

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August 2016 Goals

August Goals

Hello, Happy Monday, and Happy August!  I can’t believe that 2016 is already in a rapid downward spiral into pumpkin spice everything season.  While I’m kind of ready for fall (I love pumpkin flavors and sweaters), I’m also not ready for summer to end at all. 

I know I haven’t done a goals post in a few months, but I wanted to start them up again to keep myself accountable for all of the things I want to get done.  With all of the chaos and disorder that’s been in my life the past few months, I am calling August the “All About Me” month.  With no major events on my calendar and nothing too crazy on the to do list, it is time for me to focus exclusively on myself and the things I want to get done. Don’t worry, my Mister will get my focus too, but he’s gone half of the time anyway.  That being said, here are my goals for August. Read more

Fitbloggin 2016 Recap

Photo thanks to David’s Twitter account

Those of you that follow me on Twitter or Instagram know that this past weekend I attended Fitbloggin in Indianapolis. Fitbloggin’ is essentially the gathering of those who blog about their fitness journeys, or people who are interested in starting to blog. This was my second time attending Fitbloggin. My first experience was in Savannah, GA in 2014.

Because this year’s Fitbloggin was in Indianapolis, I was lucky enough to only be a few hours drive away, which definitely helped me determine if I would go or not. I arrived on Thursday night, and the only thing on the agenda was registration and appetizers at Scotty’s Brewhouse about half a mile from the hotel. I ended up arriving an hour late, but I happened to walk in at the same time as two girls in attendance on behalf of Sworkit, so they were kind enough to eat with me. Registration was nothing more than picking up or name tags. Not too exciting.

Breakfast both days was provided by Siggi’s yogurt in the form of a parfait bar. While this was quite tasty, the breakfast was not enough to keep me satisfied for long. Thankfully, I brought a strong supply of Quest bars with me.

Friday and Saturday had me attending some awesome sessions that had both blogging and weight loss related topics. I started my education on Friday with a blog themed day of “Being a Consistent Blogger Forever” led by the lovely and knowledgable Nellie of Brooklyn Active Mama, followed by learning some SEO basics (that were really helpful) taught by Jessica Woodbury of Don’t Mind the Mess. Saturday was my weight loss focused day with amazing discussions about falling off (and getting back on) the weight loss wagon led by David from Keep it Up David and weight loss highs and lows (led by Angela Gillis from We Beat Fat). The afternoon led me to a session about overcoming setbacks with Kristin Meekhof, and I topped off my education with a discussion on training your brain, habits, and all that jazz from Steve Carmichael from Run Buzz. All great sessions and amazing people.

Friday also had author of Secrets of A Former Fat Girl, Lisa Delaney, as a keynote speaker who told her story and answered our questions. There was also a panel discussion, and one of the panelists was Dawn Jackson Blatner. I thought she looked familiar to me, but it wasn’t until she uttered the words “Superfood Diet” that I realized why I recognized her. She was the trainer that WON the reality show “My Diet is Better Than Yours.” Since I’m a sucker for weight loss shows, I definitely tuned in to that one. Needless to say, I fangirled for a moment over the fact she was there. She went to the sessions and listened, learned, and participated just like the rest of us. It was pretty neat.

Saturday only had one keynote speaker before conference close, and that was Brooke Randolph. She gave a presentation on emotionally healthy living, and let’s be honest..we all could use a few reminders in that area.

In addition to sessions full of learning and discussion, there are also fitness sessions at Fitbloggin (duh!). There were 4 total, but I attended 2 of them. On Friday I attended a booty burning workout thanks to Sworkit. While I’ve never had any experience with that app before, the amount of soreness I was experiencing on Saturday made it very clear to me that the app works! Saturday was the ever popular Zumba class, led by Margo aka ShesNachoMamma, and Nellie from Brooklyn Active Mama. Zumba was an amazing time!! We danced, laughed, bonded, got sweaty, and felt amazing. Anything that closes with a showtune sung by the great Liza, a kick line, and dance party is amazing in my book!

While the content was awesome, and the attendees were fantastic, I will admit that Fitbloggin 2016 left something to be desired compared to when I attended in 2014. For one, there were zero evening activities planned. I was used to evening receptions with provided meals and more opportunities to mingle, and here I was literally on my own Friday night because I didn’t feel like I had necessarily bonded with anyone enough to seek out dinner plans (my closest Fitbloggin friends all couldn’t attend this year for one reason or another), so I walked to find dinner, brought it back to the room, and hung out by myself. Could I have actively sought out some group to tag along with? Sure, but a chance for us all to be together would have been much more my style. On Saturday, the conference closed at 5:30pm, so I just decided to go home since I was only 3.5 hours away.

In addition to the lack of even activities, I’ll admit that I was very disappointed in the lack of food. If there’s one thing I know about Fitbloggin attendees it’s that we all love food, and the only food that was provided to us was yogurt parfait bars for breakfast and a few appetizers Thursday (most of us ordered our own food anyway) and at Friday’s expo. Lunches, dinners, and snacks were all provided by myself. Thank goodness for the Starbucks in the hotel lobby and the awesome cafe a short walk away. Maybe it’s just me (okay, I know it’s not just me..), but I feel like having more food provided would have just made sense. It would have been nice anyway.

My last complaint is about the sponsors and the expo. At my last Fitbloggin I felt like there were sponsors that I actually wanted to connect with, and this time around I felt a lot less so. A lot of food sponsors, but not necessarily the kind that would be considered a valuable connection for my blog personally. While I did come home with a bit of swag (mostly food) and a new love for figs (California Figs was a sponsor and we all had the chance to try them. I’d never had a fresh fig before), I just didn’t feel like the expo and sponsors were up to snuff.

While Fitbloggin 16 left me with something to be desired, I did enjoy meeting new people, making connections, and opening my mind to all of the knowledge and experience that was there for me to absorb. Oh, and since I had never been to Indy before, it was my first time seeing the city, and while I only saw a very small bit of it, I loved it. Indianapolis is a beautiful, clean, and very friendly city. Kudos to you for being awesome, Indy.

Foods & Supplements for Strong Bones | Osteoporosis Awareness Month

Foods and Supplements for

May is National Osteoporosis Month, so I wanted to chat a little bit about this problem that effects (or will in the future) so many of us.  Simply put, osteoporosis is a disease that causes weak bones and makes them more likely to break.  Now, broken bones are a bummer as it is, but I feel like it’s even more of a bummer when the breaking can happen at random rather than trying to do some risky stunt on a skateboard or something.  According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation’s website, 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. 

Now, I’m willing to bet that there are plenty of my readers that are well under the age of 50 and are therefore about ready to click out of this post because it doesn’t apply to you.  Well, my dear friend, you would be wrong.  The best treatment for osteoporosis (as with many other medical conditions, in my opinion) is to prevent all together.  Keep in mind, I am not a doctor or medical professional in any way.  I’m just a woman trying to survive life in the healthiest (most of the time..) way I can.  Read more

I’m in Weight Watchers Magazine!

Weight Watchers Magazine

If any of you get Weight Watchers magazine, you might have seen a familiar face when you turned to page 67.  I was incredibly fortunate to be given the opportunity to participate in an amazing article that was recently released in the May/ June 2016 issue of Weight Watchers magazine called “I Love What My Body Can Do.”

The article tells the stories of 3 different women (myself being one of them) and how we love what our bodies can do right now, even if we aren’t at our desired goal weight.  While it doesn’t seem like a huge thing, so many of us (myself included) put so much of our self worth and focus on the scale that we forget to stop and appreciate all of the things that already does for us right now, at this current weight.  

One day back in January an email pinged in my inbox and it turned out to be from the author of the article asking if I’d be interested in being a part of the issue.  After I did a little research and figured out she wasn’t a scam, I responded saying that I would love to.  A little while later the author and I set up a call and had an interview where I got to tell her my story.  Since the topic was body confidence I decided to discuss the subject of living with CMT and how despite my difficulties having the disease, I went to college for theater and almost graduated with a dance minor.  This topic seemed to be the type of subject she was looking for, so that’s the direction we went.  Shortly thereafter I got an email from someone working for Weight Watchers wanting to set up a photoshoot.

Knowing nothing about the process of putting a magazine together, I was really excited to learn about everything that went into getting this article from concept to print.  Weight Watchers wanted to do an entire photoshoot for me at my location, so they managed to find local photographers, a venue, wardrobe, and hair/makeup for the shoot.  We set a date and all showed up at the location ready for the experience.  I felt like a superstar! I was the only subject to be shot, so I was the total center of attention.  I was beautified by the makeup artist and then wardrobe (which was not one, but two people) helped me dress in dance attire (since that was one of the angles we were going for).  It was crazy because they even helped me get my tights and stuff on, which sounds ridiculous, but one of the pretty regular problems I have with CMT is getting certain types of clothes on and off on my own.  Tights and leotards are definitely not things I wear, so it was nice to have help.  

Once the shooting started it was 3 hours of constant photo snapping and even more constant moving.  In order to give the photos a true look of movement, I had to move the whole time.  I had put together a playlist of some of my Broadway favorites to sing and dance to so I would be in my natural “habitat,” which worked great, but it was more complex than that. I had to move my arms a lot (they’re the thing I’m most self conscious about), and sometimes I’d do a dance move (I was just goofing off.  None of this was actually choreographed), and one of the photographers would say “Stop!  Do that move you just did like three more times.”  It was exhausting.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved being the center of attention, and I’ll happily sing or be in a show in front of a ton of people, but this was a kind of attention and performance that I wasn’t used to getting or giving, so it was quite the learning experience.  After 5 outfit changes and 3 hours of shooting, we finally wrapped and that was that.  I would have no power over what photo got chosen or anything.  If it wasn’t for the fact I emailed the photographers directly, I probably wouldn’t have seen the shoot at all, but they graciously sent me the gallery to look at since I was dying to see the results of all our hard work.

After the shoot I didn’t hear anything until one day the words of the article showed up in my inbox for fact checking.  There was no layout and no photo.  Just the plain old text for me to read so I could verify everything was accurate.  Once I sent my reply approving the wording of the article that was it.  I didn’t see anything until the magazine was published. 

Anyway, the article turned out great, and I just wanted to say a quick thank you to you, my readers. Without you taking the time to read, comment, and care enough about what I have to say, I wouldn’t have been given this awesome opportunity, so thank you. Whether you’re a reader alone or you also subscribe to my YouTube channel, you played a part in making this happen.  I hope that Diva and the Divine continues to grow as we create a community that can talk about health, weight loss, beauty, and whatever else crosses our minds.