November 2017 Goals

Well, it’s November.  NOVEMBER!  I can’t even handle it.  The start of the holiday season, my birthday month, and this year, the start of a whole lot of travel for Erik and I.  Life is going to get a little crazy, so in order to reach a few of this month’s goals, I’m going to have to work myself pretty hard, but since I have lofty goals, that’s totally okay!  Here are my goals for this month. 

Health and Fitness

Get into a new weight “decade”: I don’t actually know what you call it when you enter the next 10 lbs on the scale, but we on Instagram have been calling it a decade, so we’re going to go with that.  In a perfect world, I would be in the 150s by the time Erik and I leave for our holiday travels, which is in the middle of the month.  That’s a 1.5lb loss each of my next 3 weigh-ins. Since we don’t live in a perfect world, my hope is that I can wrangle enough self-control while I’m in Florida (which is always difficult for me) to stay mostly on track and hopefully end the month in a new weight decade. Bonus points to me if I can pull it off before we go, but I’m not holding my breath.

400,000 Steps:  It sounds like a crazy number, but this past month I ended up with 406k without even aiming for a large step goal.  This goal is just to ensure that I stay moving and active, even with all of the challenges the second half of the month with bring.  Read more

Current Book Wishlist | Fall 2017 |Brianna’s Bookshelf

I would love to say that I’m a reader and love books just as much as one of my favorite Disney princesses, the lovely and intelligent Belle, but alas, it’s still not so.  I’m a work in progress, and while I’m going to have to do quite a bit of reading to reach my goal of 25 books read by the end of 2017, I’m up for the challenge. 

One of the ways to get me to read is to put a book in front of me that I simply can’t put down.  I’ve never been a regular reader, but I also grew up in the generation that had to wait for the next Harry Potter book to be released, and you had better believe that I pretty much blocked off my calendar the moment I got my hands on the latest J. K. Rowling masterpiece and plowed through that sucker as quickly as I could. In hindsight, I probably should have paced myself a bit better so I had a longer timeframe to enjoy the magic that comes from reading Harry Potter for the first time, but I couldn’t help it.  The same thing happened to me as I was reading the Hunger Games series. I couldn’t put them down.

Becuase I have this desire to fall so deeply into a book that I would much rather read than turn on the TV, I always keep a wishlist of books that I think will do just that.  Lately, there have been a handful of books that have popped up on my radar that I’m dying to get my hands on, and I’m pretty positive they’ll be books I can’t wait to sit down and enjoy.  Here’s what’s on my current wishlist.

Voice Lessons: A Sisters Story by Cara Mentzel

Don’t let the spelling of the last name fool you. Cara Mentzel is indeed Idina Menzel’s younger sister.  Everyone who knows me personally is fully aware of the Idina Menzel obsession I had when I became crazy obsessed with Wicked.  You all know her as the voice of Elsa from Frozen. While I adored her talent and voice, I couldn’t decide if I ever wanted to meet her because I felt like she comes across as a bit of a witch, if you know what I mean.  I had no idea this book was coming until I saw an amazing interview on the Broadway.com Youtube channel with both of the sisters on it.  Watching Idina and Cara talk about this book together actually made me feel a lot better about who Idina is as a person.  Call me crazy, but that kind of stuff is super important to me when I look at what celebrities to admire and look up to.  Anyway, the book!  This book is Cara’s story about essentially growing up in Idina’s shadow.  I am dying for a look into the home of the Men(t)zel sisters, and the book is supposedly full of great insight and amazing photos.  I can’t wait to get my hands on this and devour it cover to cover. 

Eat, Lift, Thrive by Sohee Lee

This book is written by a trainer I follow on Instagram.  She’s this crazy fit woman who is stronger than I will ever be. Her Instagram feed is full of amazing information for people looking to get leaner, healthier, and improve their overall fitness.  While I am a Weight Watcher through and through, this doesn’t mean that I am closed minded to other ideas of how to achieve weight loss and optimal fitness. I have seen so many amazing comments and reviews on Eat, Lift, Thrive, that I know it will be worth a read, even if there is not a single mention of Weight Watchers or a Smart Point in sight. Sohee discusses her Living Lean guidelines to help your diet work around you live (and not vice versa), how to overcome challenges, and her favorite strength training moves to help you reach your goals. I feel like this guide will be a perfect addition to my collection.

How A Body Should Be? by Bethany Maloche

This book is one I have to have for a completely different reason than the others.  Bethany has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, just like I do, and this book is her coming of age story about living with CMT.  As a young woman who has done the same thing as Bethany (grown up with CMT and managed to navigate life with it), I would love to hear someone else’s perspective on life with CMT.  I can’t tell you anything more about the story since I haven’t read it yet, but I’m willing to bet it is worth every penny and so much more.  If you want to know more about life with CMT, you should pick it up too. 

That’s it for my book wishlist this fall.  Would you be interested in an ongoing series involving books I’m wanting to read or reviews on books I have read?  Let me know!  Do you have any suggestions for books I should be reading?

 

*Links are affiliate links*

5 Weight Watchers Smart Points Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oats

Pumpkin Spice!  Pumpkin Spice is EVERYWHERE!

Pumpkin spice season is here, and with it comes a ton of grocery store finds and pumpkin recipes popping up everywhere.  This year I have been so intrigued by the overnight oats train that everyone seems to be a part of, I wanted to combine the two and come up with some pumpkin oats that are Weight Watchers friendly.  

After exploring some basic overnight oats recipes to understand things like the oats to liquid ratio and the general idea of how to build an overnight oats recipe, I finally came up with one that I love, and have made many times this year already.  It has several ingredients for flavor: cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, stevia, and even sugar-free maple syrup (game changer). While it seems a tad elaborate, the flavor this mixture brings promises to start your brisk fall morning with a filling breakfast that screams “it’s fall! Hooray!!”

A few things to note:

  • I tend to make this in batches, so I’ll fill 4 or 5 Mason Jars at a time.  Even if they are sitting in the refrigerator for a few days, they still taste great.  It just lets the flavors blend even more
  • There’s no rule that says you have to eat them heated up. It’s just how I prefer to consume my oats.
  • I use cinnamon crunch Quest protein powder, but you can use other flavors like vanilla or salted caramel.
  • You can also use other brands of protein powder if you wish, but changing the brand might change the Smart Points value of your oats.  Adjust your tracking accordingly.   

That’s it!  I hope you enjoy my recipe 🙂 

5 SP Pumpkin Spice Protein Overnight Oats
Serves 1
Overnight oats are a great way to get your mornings started off on the right track by making your breakfast ahead of time. These Pumpkin Spice oats are filled with protein to keep you full, and are only 5 Weight Watchers Smart Points.
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 C Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (0 sp)
  2. 1/2 C Old Fashioned Oats (4 sp)
  3. 1/2 C Canned Pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling) (0 sp)
  4. 1 Scoop Quest Protein Powder (I use Cinnamon Crunch, but I imagine vanilla or salted caramel would work well too)(1 sp)
  5. 1 Tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice (0 sp)
  6. 1 Tsp Cinnamon (0 sp)
  7. 1 0 Calorie Sweetener Packet (I use Stevia)(0 sp)
  8. 1 Tbsp Sugar Free Maple Syrup (0 sp) *This makes it a bit creamier and oh so good*
  9. Vanilla to taste (0 sp)
  10. A Mason Jar (or some other container to store it in)
Instructions
  1. Mix everything together and put in container (It's really that easy)
  2. Let container sit in refrigerator overnight (Note: I actually make several jars at once, so some sit for a few days. It's totally fine.
  3. Remove lid and microwave oats until they reach your desired temperature, stirring occasionally (I typically microwave for a minute a time, stirring after each one. 3 minutes usually does the trick)
  4. Sit down with your cup of coffee or tea and enjoy a protein packed breakfast that brings fall to your table.
Notes
  1. Tip: While it really is as simple as mixing everything together, I have found it easiest to mix things outside the jar (in a bowl), starting with the almond milk and pumpkin first and adding the oats last. This makes sure the protein powder and spices are mixed thoroughly and evenly throughout.
Diva and the Divine http://divaandthedivine.com/

September 2017 Favorites

It’s hard to believe that September has come and gone already!  I actually sent an email out to my family telling them they need to start thinking about (and sending me) their Christmas lists.  Christmas!!  It’s crazy how fast this year is flying by.  

September was a busy month, as most months for the rest of 2017 promise to be.  While I was spending a lot of time running around like a mad woman, I did have enough time to discover and fall in love with some new products.  This month we’ve got some beauty stuff right alongside a few food and health related items.  Every single product is something I’ve been using and loving constantly throughout the month, and I feel the need to share so you can enjoy them too!

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A Mammogram Changed Sam’s Life

As you probably already know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  The entire month is seen with an extra dose of pink as companies release special Breast Cancer Awareness products to help raise money and awareness for this disease.  

While I don’t have any personal experience with breast cancer (although both of my grandmothers died of other cancers), I do know people whose lives have been affected by those scary words.  Cancer is a word that can strike fear into anybody.  No one is exempt.  While there are things you can do to help your chances, at the end of the day, there’s no guarantee that you won’t be cancer’s next victim. A little dark for my blog? Yeah, but I’m real with you guys, you know that. 

My brand is all about lifestyle and health, and I want to stress the importance of doing all you can to be your best and healthiest self.  Part of that is going to all of your regular medical check-ups to make sure everything is okay. No one likes getting blood drawn or the all too personal exam you get every time you go see your gyno, but they are essential steps in ensuring your optimum health. What if something is wrong that you don’t see?  Catching it early is the best way to ensure you will be able to recover and continue living your best life. 

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Be The Change

Guys, I can’t handle the news anymore.  I mean, I haven’t been able to handle it well anyway, since it’s always filled with bad news.  Why can’t the news report be full of fun, exciting things that are happening in this world?  Instead, it’s filled with drama, murders, trials, and terrorism.  It doesn’t exactly make me want to turn my TV on to tune in with my morning cup of coffee.

Of course, with social media always at our sides, it’s all too easy to get the bad news report right from your phone before you even get out of bed in the morning.  That’s what happened to me yesterday, Monday.  I hopped on Facebook to do a little bit of scrolling before getting out of bed to start my day and that’s when I found out about Las Vegas.  

My heart sank.  It sinks lower and lower with every instance of terrorism that happens in our country and around the world.  Why is it that the idea of living in a world where there is peace, kindness, and acceptance seems like this dream.  A world where we can feel safe going out at night, walking alone after dark, or attending a joyful and fun country music concert.  Am I crazy for thinking such a place should exist??

Friends, this world needs a lot more love and a lot more kindness, and it is up to us to see to it that the world gets what it needs.  I beg you, do something nice for someone; today and each and every day.  It doesn’t have to be anything huge. It doesn’t even have to be all that noticeable. Read more

This Week’s Struggle Bus | The Diva Diaries

You know, before I went the “professional” blogger route and started curating totally informational content and worrying about how much reach and engagement my posts had, Diva and the Divine was a place for me to journal about life. It started as a place to do some professional stuff, sure, but it also acted as a place for me to talk about life updates and experiences so my friends and family could read it during my season away while my husband and I lived in North Carolina.  Today, I’d like to get back to those roots, because the struggle has been oh so real this week, and I feel the need to talk about it. 

All week long (it’s currently Thursday morning) I have been feeling terrible.  Terrible about myself, terrible about how little I’ve been getting done, moody, crave-y, and completely unmotivated to do anything other than sit on my butt and binge watch Will & Grace (I mean, the reboot starts tonight, so at least there is a legit reason behind that desire). Meanwhile, everything that I want to be in this ideal dream life I have for myself is the complete opposite of everything I’m currently being, feeling, and doing, and it’s really taking its toll. 

While all week has been a mess of these emotions, yesterday is when a light bulb sort of went off.  My vice amid all stressors is food.  Always has been.  After a solid 4 weeks of awesome weigh-ins (which I’ve been talking about over on Youtube), this week I went off the handle.  It wasn’t even a “just make a bunch of bad decisions every meal” type of situation, but it was almost worse than that.  I would eat really well planned and thought out meals, low in Smart Points and packed full of protein and nutrition.  If I would have stopped where I know I should have, I’d be on point for another week and likely seeing a loss on the scale.  Instead, I have been making horrible choices, typically right after one of my gloriously healthy meals.  For example, I have a bunch of awesome Trader Joe’s pumpkin goodies that I bought for a TJ’s Haul video, and I have a lot of the higher Smart Point items pre-portioned out so it’s easy to grab one portion, track it, and enjoy it…but have I been using my system the way it was intended?  Of course not! Instead, I have been taking several of those pre-portioned treats and indulging in them in one sitting,

The worst part of it all is that it’s a very conscious choice.  The few times I’ve done it I’ve actually stopped, acknowledged the fact that I was about to make a very deliberate choice to self-sabotage myself (which is something I do a lot…) and that I have the option to put the stuff down and walk away.  Instead of doing that, I found myself saying ” oh that’s nice… but F@!% it” and making the choice anyway. I think the fact that I completely made the mindful choice to self-sabotage myself is the part that I’ve been spending my time beating myself up over.  I’ve been doing so well for an entire month, praising the Weight Watchers plan’s flexibility and how I can make it work, and then completely going off the handle.   Of course, beating myself up over the one thing creates this downward spiral into a week that has just made me feel terrible. 

Last night, at my wit’s end over the fact I haven’t been motivated to do anything and then topping it off with that whole self-sabotage situation, I did something I hadn’t really done before. I decided to take the time and think about the why behind all of this misery I’m subjecting myself to.  Why was I doing this? What was the real reason behind these feelings?  

Then something totally unrelated and yet seemingly 100% related happened.  As I was sitting there watching WIll & Grace and trying to figure out what was going on with me mentally, I got a horrible, double over in pain cramp in my lady parts.  I call these “lighting cramps” because they show up full force, out of nowhere, and feel like painful electricity racing through my lower abdomen.  Since my IUD insertion, I’ve been using an app to track my time of the month, since I no longer had the pills to tell me exactly when my period was coming, so I immediately opened the app to see just how wrong the timing of this cramp was (I frequently end up with random cramps nowhere around the time of my period… my IUD experience has not been a positive one).  It said “next period in 5 days.” With a few exceptions in the 2 years I’ve had the IUD, the tracker has been pretty spot on with my timing.  How is this relevant to my rant?  

I know that since getting the IUD my PMS has gotten much worse than it has in the past. I like to believe that I experience most of my PMS symptoms a day or two before my period.  For some reason, since I was analyzing my emotions anyway, I decided to do a little research about women’s favorite thing (said with the most sarcasm ever): PMS. 

After a bit of Googling, I learned several things.  First of all, the onset of PMS symptoms isn’t just 2 days before but can start as early as 1-2 weeks before your period.  This puts me right in PMS prime time.  Lovely..

The second thing I discovered is PMS apparently gets worse with age.  I’m 30 now, so maybe I’m falling into that category of people. Perfect!

The last (and perhaps most relevant) thing I learned is that there is not only PMS, but a more extreme version of PMS called Premenstrual Dysporphic Disorder (PMDD), that has a larger emotional impact on women, and starts about a week before your period.  Symptoms include:

  • Mood swings
  • Depression or feelings of hopelessness
  • Intense anger and conflict with other people
  • Tension, anxiety, and irritability
  • Decreased interest in usual activities (I don’t want to blog, work, workout, or basically do anything I normally do)
  • Difficulty concentrating (!!!!!)
  • Fatigue
  • Change in appetite
  • Feeling out of control
  • Sleep problems (I often have sleep problems)
  • Cramps and bloating 
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headaches
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Hot flashes

Everything bolded is what I’ve been dealing with emotionally this week…

Now, I’m not one to self-diagnose, but I’m also not one to want to add another medical problem to my plate, but this just seems to fit, right? I might be someone who has PMDD rather than PMS, which would explain all of the emotional battles I’ve been dealing with this week.

On the one hand, I can’t decide if the answer is to go to a doctor and get an official diagnosis (and then a legitimate treatment) or if I should try and figure out how to manage it on my own, fully understanding that there might actually be a reason behind my utter lack of motivation, self-control and general feeling of the blahs. Either way, I actually feel better knowing there is the potential to have an actual issue rather than it all being in my head and I’m just a general failure at life. 

All of that being said, today is a new day.  I’m feeling pretty positive about my ability to make good choices and resist the urge to give in to my bad ones.  Granted, 99% of the time mornings are never an issue. It’s lunchtime and beyond that, I need to worry about, but I’ll take that one moment at a time today, and while tomorrow’s weigh-in is likely to be dreadful, it will be time for some real talk over on my channel as well.  

Thanks for listening to my rant.  Do you have any thoughts, suggestions, or experience with anything I talked about today?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

45 Ways To Reward Yourself Without Food

I’m not going to lie to you.  I love earning rewards. I am most definitely motivated to get things done by the fact I know there is a special treat waiting for me at the finish line.  It doesn’t matter if the task is getting a blog post up, getting the house cleaning done, or hitting another 5 lbs lost, I will always do a better and more efficient job with my tasks if I know there is something I’m working toward.  I know, getting the thing done should be reward enough, but I’m a huge sucker for positive reinforcement, and lately, I’ll do anything to help me avoid procrastination and get things done.  
 
If you know me, you know that weight loss is one of my long-term, big deal goals.  For many people (myself included) it isn’t uncommon to have the reward for a job well done be a food related treat.  While this is great in theory (and some days it’s totally worth it), when one of your major goals is weight loss and healthy living, rewarding yourself with food is as counterproductive as it gets.  If you reward yourself with a big old piece of cake and ice cream for seeing a loss on the scale this week… it just doesn’t make sense!  That being said, I want to have plenty of options for how to reward myself without adding to my calorie intake, so I came up with a whole list of ways to treat yourself without food.  
 

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Why I Picked Weight Watchers As My Weight Loss Plan

I’ve been a member of Weight Watchers since 2009.  Almost 9 years!  While I have definitely been on again/off again with actually following the Weight Watchers plan, I’ve been a subscriber the whole time. In this day and age, it seems like there are a million different kinds of fitness and diet plans out there.
Just to name a few:
  • Weight Watchers
  • Good old calorie counting
  • Whole 30
  • Jenny Craig
  • Paleo
  • Vegan
  • Raw
  • Vegetarian
  • Low-Fat
  • Low-Carb
  • Gluten Free
  • Dairy Free
  • The HCG Diet
  • Zone Diet
  • South Beach Diet
  • Grapefruit Diet
  • Blood Type Diet (I’m totally serious)
  • Cabbage Soup Diet
 
Guys, this is me naming a few of the diets that are out there.  Every day we are being told that something is good for us, and the next day that very same thing causes cancer.  It’s never been so difficult to figure out what the “best” diet is because we’re getting fed so much information every single day.   
 
The reason I bring this up is because on my YouTube channel I’ve started doing Weekly Weigh In videos, and I try to get a conversation started in the comments section including what topics I should cover in future videos.  Recently, someone asked me why, out of all the diets out there, did I choose and stick to Weight Watchers?  I think that’s an excellent question. so here’s my answer. 

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Erin Condren Seasonal Surprise Box | Fall2017 Unboxing & Giveaway

I’ll keep this short and sweet.  I just posted an unboxing of the Erin Condren Fall Seasonal Surprise box on my channel. I also bought a second box so I could give one away to one of my subscribers.  Rather than type everything out here, I decided it would be easier to just show you the video.  So, without further ado, here’s my #ECSurpriseBox unboxing.  Head over to my channel to enter the giveaway!

XOXO,

Brianna