Random Topic Tuesday

Wild. Friday. Night. (But after this loooong, crazy week I am SO PUMPED about this stack of essentials.)

Did you hear that?

That is the sound of life returning back to normal. No more solo-sushi Friday nights and eating chocolate while reading magazines in the bathtub like I did last week.

I think. We’ll have to see about that.

Anyway, you see last week Garrett was out of town all last week hanging his parents out in New Mexico. He actually left the day after Valentine’s (when my posting here sort of abruptly stopped) and came back late Saturday night. I was going to mention it but then I thought about privacy and axe murderers and stuff and decided not too.

Work also ended up being insane last week, schedule wise, and between doing all the house stuff that Garrett normally does, and making up for all of Buster’s lost walks/pets with Garrett out of town, I just didn’t get around to posting. Don’t worry, I tempered all that insanity by catching up on Scandal and JIMINY CHRISTMAS I love that show to the moon and back. (CAN’T. WAIT. UNTIL. THURSDAY.)

It's like The Universe was listening! #Season3 #Marathon #OnlyLeavingTheHouseForBrunch

So in an effort to play catch up, let’s talk about some random topics!

1. I am not at all an introvert.

You really can’t go anywhere these days without hearing about the power of introverts and honestly, this is cool. Introverts needed some good PR but I think this whole new clarification about what introverts are and are not had a lot of people re-examining their perceptions about themselves. For a long time it was like “Oh, people who are introverts are shy.” (Not always true.) And now the switch has been flipped and everyone is all “Oh no, introverts are just people who like to digest information internally and not be around so many people and blah blah blah.” You get that I am completely oversimplifying, yes?

Anyway, a lifelong labeled extrovert, I will admit that when I read stuff like this I can relate. I mean, look, if we’re being real I do not like “people” that much so I’m hard pressed to say being around “people” recharges me. (This makes me sound crotchety, but trust me, I just worked retail for a REALLY LONG time and every time I think about being recharged by “people” I think about working the morning rush at Peet’s Coffee & Tea and seriously I get exhausted just thinking about it.) Another thing — I really like doing my own thing. I’m an only child, I learned long ago to entertain myself with only my imagination. Also, I need time alone — preferably in a bubble bath with a book, ya know? So I was having this sort of deep and profound “WHO AM I? AN INTROVERT OR AN EXTROVERT?” crisis.

(Actually, I totally wasn’t, I’m just being silly.)

But here is the truth that I saw clear as day while Garrett was gone: I am 100% extrovert. I spent A LOT of time alone last week and man it was not re-energizing AT ALL. In fact, it felt exhausting just having my basic needs met. My mom heard from me twice as much as usual, I was texting Garrett inane things all week full well knowing that his cell service was spotty, and I think toward the end of the week I was actually extending conversations with grocery checkers because I just wanted some interaction, where usually I am like STAY AWAY FROM ME WITH YOUR SMALL TALK I AM GOING TO THE SELF CHECKOUT LINE!

And Buster. Oh poor Buster, MY GOD, I had actual legit conversations with my dog. And while he is super adorable, the pooch needs to brush up on his conversational skills.
It's 9pm on a Saturday night and I'm googling "how to make your dog go to the bathroom when it is raining" MY HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED.
He’s had enough of talking about our feeeeeeeeeeeeeelings.

I think in my mind, I was actually counting all the time I spend hanging out with Garrett as “being alone.” I mean, we’re not always engaged in some sort of extended conversation, so it kind of felt like “alone time.” But I think I am actually comforted by that fact that we COULD be engaged in an extended conversation at any given time. Clearly something about that brings me peace and relaxation.

2. My Clarisonic is Possessed

I don’t know why I can’t just be a normal internet person with a normal Clarisonic raving about how awesome it is. I mean, look I am a normal internet person I think. And I do rave about how awesome the Clarisonic is. But my first Clarisonic was a fake and my second one (while totally legit) decided that it would just start vibrating out of nowhere last Thursday night at 1 AM.

Let me just say it is inopportune for that to happen on a night when your other half is out of town because waking up to a vibrating Clarisonic in your shower (which has mighty fine acoustics, unfortunately) because it sounds eerily similar to a chainsaw wielding ax murder trying to slide in through your bathroom. HEART ATTACK CITY.

3. I JUST WANT TO UNSUBSCRIBE!!!

I am being plagued by emails from a retailer whose list I have unsubscribed from NINE TIMES now. Finally, yesterday when yet another email showed up in my inbox I clicked AGAIN on unsubscribe and got to their website where I was told I can’t unsubscribe because I am no longer actually subscribed.

Hooray!

Except I got an email that afternoon.

Also, I woke up this morning, and THERE WAS ANOTHER EMAIL.

Who is in charge of tempering this Internet Rage? WHAT DOES ONE DO??????????????????

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That’s probably enough randomness for one day, eh?

What’s new with you?

Fun Things To Read On A Friday

Buster - putting boudoir photos on the Internet is creepy, dude.
Buster is making bedroom eyes at you during his boudoir photo shoot because it is Valentine’s Day.

Well hello, friends and Happy Friday!

It’s been a nice, calm week around here and I’m right to wrap it right up with a love filled little holiday. I am a valentine lover! I’m not into cheesy romance AT ALL, but hot damn if I don’t love a holiday that is all about spreading the love. I’m ridiculously happy and obnoxious today and SORRY I AM NOT SORRY.

*I love to see what other people’s grocery hauls look like. Maybe I will do one of my own sometime soon.

*A happy life vs. an interesting life — it’s a fascinating distinction.

*You guys, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post about calories. I know, I’m obsessed with hating on calorie counting but seriously, it MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. The relationship between calorie counting and obesity needs a serious PR overhaul.

*Random website alert: Have you ever wondered how many times a particular blog post has been pinned? Find out here. Kinda cool, right?

*I am in love with Beth’s new office. It’s making me want to finally put all of my pinboards to good use and redecorate mine!

*I know this was all over the internet this week, but if you did not see this post called Let’s Keep It Real About Our Bodies then you MUST read it.

*This piece on creative deadlines really rang true to me!

*Doesn’t this salad sound delightful?

*I love long Vanity Fair stories about Hollywood.

*It’s February. How are we doing on our New Year’s Resolutions? Before you abandon them, read this.

*I read this shocking statistic this morning and it reminded me of my friend Tamara’s awesome fist bumping post from earlier this week.

*Dog lovers, get out the tissue because you’re going to need it. (In a good way!)

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I hope you have a love-ly day (SEE WHAT I DID THERE? HUH? DID YA?) and a fantastic weekend overall!

xo, friends!

So Hey, We Haven’t Talked Weight Loss In A While

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I’ve been thinking about weight loss a lot lately.

I mean, I’ve been thinking about lots of other fun things too (namely: how bad ass figure skating jumps are, whether Tory Burch’s makeup is worth buying for the packaging alone, and every once in a while I just randomly think about Adam Levine because, why not?)  But the truth is,  weight loss has occupied a lot of that thought space as well.

My main thought:  I’m ready to recommit to dropping some lbs again.

A Brief History

I don’t know how long you have been around this website, but in case you are new here (or have forgotten) I’ll give you the play by play:

*In July of 2010 I was noticing some declining health trends, so I saw a naturopath who turned me on to Paleo eating. I really need to move all of these posts that I wrote for Bodies in Motivation over here (since that website is now defunct) but if you want to know my backstory to finding Paleo, that is where you’ll find it.

*In October of 2010, I finally just got over my fear and joined a CrossFit gym. Most people find CrossFit and then explore Paleo, I was sort of the other way around. My progress was instant, measurable, enjoyable, and empowering. Definitely one of the best decisions of my adult life.

*Over the next two years I lost 110 lbs like a bad habit. After I had dropped about 70lbs I wrote a series on my experience with weight loss. The Paleo/Primal framework was just about the most natural path to improved health for me, and to learn so much about my body and get my food relationship into a healthy place felt great! (My food relationship? That sounds lame. But you know what I’m saying right? That place where eating well isn’t hard, and things just feel sort of intuitive and natural. THAT’S WHAT I MEAN.) Of course I did this all in the shadows of people calling Paleo a dumb, unhealthy fad diet (which was HELLA frustrating) but I learned to get over that, thank god.

I mean our faces JUST LOOK healthier.

*In April of 2012, I decided to hide my scale. The most important contributor to successful weight loss in my opinion, is the ability to be consistent. It’s not about eating right and exercising. It’s about eating right and exercising OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. It’s the consistency that will make or break you.

*I was at the lowest weight of my adult life in April of 2012 — I was 33 years old and buying clothes two sizes smaller than the dress I wore to my 8th grade graduation. EIGHTH GRADE, you guys. The smallest I had been in TWENTY YEARS. I mean wrap your brain around that. YEESH. I was a little scared to be chucking this scale — a tool that I relied on — but I felt like I maybe had a handle on things and wanted to get away from this obsession with measuring arbitrary progress.

*But I still wanted to make REALISTIC progress. I was not where I wanted to be, but I was tired of being a slave to the scale. The BEST THING I’VE EVER DONE FOR MYSELF (seriously? Yes, seriously) was to have my body composition tested. I wrote about how cathartic that was (Part One // Part Two) and holy shit, if you have ever signed up for Weight Watchers, or compared your stats to the BMI recommendations, or had a “goal weight” in number form in your head – PLEASE GO READ THAT RIGHT NOW. It was an awakening for me to understand what realistic progress was, and to reconfigure what this body composition journey would look like when it was completed successfully.

*And then somewhere in July of 2012 I hit a bit of a motivation wall. While I was the thinnest/lightest (I don’t know which word has a better connotation. LOL) and I was in a really good place with food and fitness (in fact, probably the best I had ever been) I was also really enjoying a summer filled with celebratory cocktails and some random food truck festivals.  I just sort of let my guard down about this whole weight loss thing. I had ditched the scale, I was enjoying my workouts, I tried a Whole 30 for the first time in August — I just wanted to put this whole “weight loss assignment” on pause. Does that make sense? I’m telling you, THE HARDEST and yet THE MOST EFFECTIVE part of weight loss is the consistency. And my desire to be relentless was just experiencing a little lull. :)

*This was about the time I headed out to Colorado at the end of Sept/beginning of October 2012 and spoke at a super awesome Paleo Conference with my pals Michelle and Melissa. It was so refreshing to talk about Paleo In The Real World, and I left feeling so inspired. I also left completely out of breath because OHMYGOD DOING BURPEES AT ELEVATION. YIKES. :)

*And then one month later I began interviewing for the job that I would ultimately begin in early 2013. As you know, I’ve called 2013 The Lost Year because my fitness and weight loss progress absolutely stopped. And somewhere in the middle of the year it actually ended up regressing.

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A few weeks ago I was ready to really survey the damage. If you can believe it, I have managed to mostly stay off the scale. While I knew I was backsliding last year, I also knew I wasn’t in a place to be able to do much about it so I didn’t want to beat myself up. I was working to MANAGE all my new stress and I didn’t think scale obsession would be particularly helpful.

So are you ready for the damage? Since the end of 2012, I have put on about 35lbs. GRUMBLEGRUMBLEGRUMBLE. It’s not like I didn’t know it — your clothes don’t let 35lbs slide. Your grip strength and the ability to do box jumps, pull ups, and to run with ease won’t let 35lbs slide. But THIRTY FIVE POUNDS. Whew, it was a tough pill to swallow.

What’s Next

But here’s the thing, I did just that. I just swallowed that piece of news and made no judgments about it. 35 lbs. BIG WHOOP. I’ve lost 110 before. That is a drop in the bucket, I thought. And I just continued to marinate on it to get some clarity about what I would do next.

So, am I happy about it. HELL NO I’m not happy about it, obviously. :)  But this is one of the moments where I’m inclined to just consider that awfully vague phrase: It is what it is.  It is what is is — so NOW WHAT?

What’s next is that I think I’m ready to focus on losing weight again. Eep! I’m a little bit scared even saying that, or committing to that out loud, but I think it’s time. My job is in a more manageable place now and my personal life is in a great place! So I think it’s time to recommit to this long term goal again. In all honestly, it’s a big one — I’d like to lose about 60 lbs. I don’t have a time goal, I’m happy to just give my body it’s own time, but I’m also ready to recommit to that consistency and relentlessness that a project like this requires.

It’s scary. But it’s also exciting, kind of? :) And since I’ll probably be writing about it a little more I thought I’d let y’all know. So here’s to new years, new goals, new challenges, and new body compositions, eh?

Let’s do this.

 

 

Suave Professionals Moroccan Oil Body Products Review + Sweepstakes

 

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Things you should know about me: I cannot spell Moroccan correctly without consulting spell check. Ever. Nor can I spell Sweepstakes. Can you imagine the distress writing this post caused me?

But after I just recently gushed about how GREAT the shampoo + conditioner in this line is (without anyone asking me to try/buy/or post about) you know I was over the moon to be offered an opportunity to review two new Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion products: the Dry Body Oil Spray and the Body Lotion. I think I got the email asking if I wanted to review these the day after the other post went up. It was kismet!

Except, of course, that it required I type the words Moroccan and Sweepstakes multiple times. But you know, life isn’t all fun and games. :)

 

Let’s Talk Products

The Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Care line includes Body Lotion, a daily moisturizer that absorbs quickly for up to 24 hours of non-greasy hydration, and a Dry Body Oil Spray, a non-greasy formula that absorbs instantly, locking in long-lasting moisture. What is cool about the Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Care is that it offers women everywhere access to premium products infused with authentic Moroccan argan oil.

I mean listen, I am totally interested in high-end, miracle beauty products as much as the next person, but there is something really nice about being able to try out new things JUST by running over to Target and throwing down a few bucks, AMIRIGHT?

Real Life Style + Beauty FOR THE WIN.

 

Let’s Talk Promises

So as with most products, Suave makes a few claims with these products:

*NEW Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Lotion is a daily moisturizer that absorbs quickly for up to 24 hours of radiant, non-greasy hydration.

*NEW Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Dry Body Oil Spray has a non-greasy formula that absorbs instantly and seals in long-lasting moisture.

*NEW Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Care products, clinically proven to moisturize as well as Moroccanoil®1, feature a light, luxurious fragrance and are infused with authentic Moroccan argan oil, a lightweight miracle oil known to be rich in nutrients and antioxidants.

My Thoughts

So hey — did you get that they’re NEW? :) In all seriousness though, let’s talk about what they *actually* do.

So let’s talk absorption/hydration. I found that both the oil and the lotion absolutely did absorb quickly. I am a big fan of dry oil sprays and I think they are a great way to hydrate your skin without feeling greasy. The lotion is also hydrating as well, and doesn’t require you wait 10 minutes for everything to sink in.

So for me, the hydration was more than adequate, but consider that I live in California, and we aren’t having an extremely cold winter. Quick Tip:  We did have one super cold and dry day when I was sampling the two and I actually mixed them together in my hands before applying. It felt very emollient, and worked just perfect for my needs.

Now let’s talk fragrance. Both products are infused with a fragrance that you smell in most argan oil based products—I mentioned this in my last post about the shampoo and conditioner, but the products definitely have a distinct smell you will either like or dislike. Honestly I think it smells perfumey, but in a really clean way, so it doesn’t bother me at all.

Funny Sidebar Story: On Super Bowl Sunday — a day that I was bound and determined not to shower and/or even get out of my pajamas (What? Sorry!), I ended up needing to run to the grocery store. I quickly changed clothes, and then because my skin was feeling a bit dry, I put on some lotion. As I was getting ready to leave (looking just BARELY appropriate enough to leave the house, trust me), Garrett was like “Uhhhhh, did you just put on perfume?”

PUH-LEEZ. Like I would be super mangy and then just put on perfume to cover all that up! Anyway, it took me a minute to realize that he was smelling the lotion. So yes, it totally has a smell. But it’s a pleasant one, and after a while the intensity fades to a more muted scent.

 For More Information

Find more information about the Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Care products at www.Facebook.com/SuaveBeauty. Visit the Suave Beauty Facebook page to get tips for radiant skin, style advice from celebrity stylist Brad Goreski and enter the “Radiant Wishes” sweepstakes for a chance to win Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion products, a spa day or a trip to Los Angeles

 

Sweepestakes

For a chance to win a $1,000 gift card (just think how many awesome Suave Products THAT would buy), let me know which of the Suave Moroccan Infusion Body Care products you would most like to try!

 

Sweepstakes Rules: No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods: Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 2/7/2014-2/28/2014. Be sure to visit the Suave Professionals® brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

 

 

“1 When clinically tested vs comparable Moroccanoil® products. Moroccanoil® is a registered trademark of Moroccanoil®”

Winter Blues

winter blues 1

We’ve been improvising winter a little bit out here in Northern California because so far it has been a long, dry season. The last few days of cold and rain though have me in a very blustery state of mind. These are a few favorites that have kept me embracing Winter Blues but with one eye on Spring. (Come on sunshine! Get Here!)

1. Bath & Body Works Rio Glow Candle

A yummy mix of tropical mango, papaya and guava this candle looks seasonally appropriate, but is a nice reminder that warmer weather isn’t too far off.

2. Paula’s Choise RESIST Ultra Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum

I added this to my routine shortly after I told you what was new with my skincare stuff and it’s been such a light, but moisturizing step I can’t imagine going without it! I’m hoping, as the weather warms up, to be rocking a more natural makeup look. It’s never too early to start prepping my face for less makeup (EEP!)

3. Julep – Octavia

I am 100% OBSESSED with navy blue nails. They just feel so simple and pretty! Appropriate for winter, but I feel like even as the weather changes these will still look cute.

4. Village Naturals Therapy Liquid Mineral Bath – Stress & Tension Relief

This bubble bath is heavy on the menthol and soothing on the muscles. It’s been a wonderful addition to my mid week + weekend baths when I really need a piping hot soak, a deep breath and a moment of relaxation.

5. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Pencil in Abyss

I’ve been toying with my eye makeup lately and switching up my eyeliner to make it a little more fun. I’ve been doing a lot of dark, smokey black and then sometimes just for fun I’ll add a hint of blue. This Urban Decay pencil is just playful enough, but not full on 80s crazy.

6. Le Creuset 5.5 Qt Round Dutch Oven

It’s soup season, for sure, and I have never made better purchases than my collection of Le Creuset cookware. WORTH EVERY PENNY. Chilis, Stews, Soups — OH MY! Your stovetop (and your belly!) will thank you. But it also helps get great color on chicken and makes spectacular carnitas when I’m looking to cook up something to top my fresh spring/summer salads.

7. Old Navy Pointed D’Orsay Flats

These shoes, while not appropriate right this moment, remind me to keep me one eye on spring. (IT’S COMING, BABY!) I want a pair in every color, but I am DEFINITELY going to come home with navy. Classic and cute, I think they’ll be just the nautical ticket when things warm up.

*****

Hoping the winter isn’t getting you too down in your neck of the woods!

5 Simple Goals

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Last week I made a short list of 5 Simple Goals. Here’s a quick little recap of what they were and how I did:

1. Workout 4 Times
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. No.
I have more to say about this, and I am gathering my thoughts. This week I will definitely have an update on my fitness/headspace/weight loss goals.

2. Complete my FitBit #Operation50
I came close, but I don’t think I made it. It’s been rainy since Thursday and that’s sort of hindered my daily strolls/dog walking. #excuses #butstilltrue

3. Wash Car
When I saw it was going to rain, I scratched this goal.

4. Skip Dessert During the Week
I totally broke down on Thursday and had some epic dessert. But the rest of the week (even this weekend) I’ve stayed away. Knowing I was aiming for this goal really kept me in check all week.

5. Post 5 Times on the Blog

Done! And I’m so glad I got caught up on so many of the posts I wanted to publish.

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This week I’m sticking with some similar goals and adding in a couple new ones (that I totally stole for YOUR goal lists in the comments. HEY THANKS! haha)

1. Skip Dessert During the Week
2. Post 5 Times on the Blog
3. Read One Night Instead of Watching TV
4. Give Yourself Manicure
5. Workout 4 Times (Let’s try this again.)

Doable, right? I mean if I can’t count on myself to paint my nails, THEN WHO CAN I COUNT ON? :)

Any goals you want to share? I bet you have some good ones…

Fun Things To Read On A Friday

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Yo!

It’s Friday!

Is it just me or has this been a whacky week? Not busy, just kind of — I don’t know, weird? I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’ll figure it out this weekend — WHILE I’M RELAXING DOING NOTHING. I mentioned yesterday that it’s supposed to rain all weekend and I’m going to do my best to be a complete homebody. Nothing like reading with a hot cup of coffee and watching the rain fall. I CAN’T WAIT!

If you need some reading material this weekend, check out these links:

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*This week was a great week of exposes on the internet. First there was a contestant from The Bachelor exposing the show’s weird sex issues over on Slate. JUICY! (And so true)

*Then there was a crazy three part series (Part One // Part Two // Part Three) with an ex Biggest Loser Contestant detailing what the show was really like. Honestly, I didn’t think The Biggest Loser was a show that promoted “health” but I still found the interview and information shocking.

*Ooooooooon a lighter note: Grace Bonney of Design Sponge posted about 10 Instagram Accounts to Follow this week and they were all fun to look at!

*I have Winter Olympics Fever — this may be the only cure. Drink that while watching this and you’ll be all caught up and ready for Opening Ceremonies!

*Good Kitchen Inspiration here: 23 Salads to Get You Through Winter

*I am obsessed with Every. Single. One. of these awesome leopard outfits!

*List nerds, check it: The Surprising History of the To Do List

*Mom, I feel like you will love this – 25 Life Hacks You Didn’t Know You Needed

*This is absolutely always on my mind.

*This side by side is amazing and hilarious.

*Did you need a daily dose of cute? I’ve got you covered. (Now I want a pig and a polar bear. Maybe not at the same time.)

*Oooooh, I could have written this. (But I didn’t. WOMP WOMP.) Totally good read though!

*****

What’s on your agenda, folks? Have a good weekend!

To Be Read // To Be Made

Books

I asked for book recommendations the other day and you guys totally came through. Thank you! So much good fodder for my library hold list! My To Be Read list is super long right now but my library queue was low. Then the other day I stopped by and there was a jackpot of awesome material available for checking out. I love when that happens! Here are a few that came home with me:

*Paris: The Novel by Edward Rutherford — I was thumbing through an old issue of People Magazine and Tim McGraw said this was the best book he read all year. Random, yes? Did I totally add it to my library hold list? Also yes.

*Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without A Date by Katie Heaney — I keep hearing rumblings about this book and it was on the New Books shelf the other day so it came home with me. I always love a good story about a late bloomer. This could go so many ways.

*Lexicon by Max Barry — This is one of those “If you loved…” books and it’s being compared to Ready Player One which, obviously I did love, so I’m excited!

Pork Recipes

I’ve also been having fun scouring Pinterest for new recipes to try — I always find it exciting when I feel inspired to cook! I’m also have a bit of a Pork Moment (that sounded weird, but I can’t think of another way to describe it. Also, PORK HAS BEEN ON SALE, so there.)

Here are some of the recipes that have piqued my interest

*Pork Chili Verde — Because I love just about anything with Pork and Verde in the title. GUARANTEED.

*Sticky Balsamic Ribs — I’m intrigued by the balsamic addition, and also I LOVE LOVE LOVE cooking ribs low and slow on a cold, rainy day. It’s perfection!

*Southwest Chorizo Burgers — Chorizo is my love language, hands down. And I’m looking for the perfect flavored burger in which to incorporate it. I hope this is it (though I don’t have any venison, so I’ll definitely be using Grass Fed Beef.) Confession: I have a giant bag of sweet potato tots (TOTS!!!!) in my freezer so I’m thinking the two might be a match made in heaven.

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It’s supposed to rain over the next week so I’ll give you one guess as to what I’ll be doing! I anticipate lots of Instagram food photos. You’ve been warned. :) You cooking or reading anything fun?

Why I Love My Fit Bit One

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At the end of last summer I bit the bullet and jumped on the Fitbit Bandwagon. I surprised myself a little bit because I have long been a person who found the whole concept of pedometers and 10,000 steps just random and uninspiring. Plus, I just wasn’t that into tracking how much I…walked, you know?

As a CrossFitter I track my benchmark workouts, my lifts, my CrossFit Total. As a fitness enthusiast, I keep a workout calendar. All are things that show progress! So what was the point of tracking how many steps I take each day, I though — BOOOOOOOORING!

But then last year I kept reading about all of the data the Fitbit provides. And really, if you must know, I find metrics super-de-duper exciting. If something can be measured, I WANT TO DO IT! And I found all of this out at a time in my personal life where I felt like things were out of control and I wanted to get them in check. Obviously, I needed a baseline.

I had gotten a new job, I felt a little chained to my desk, I was exhausted all of the time, and my food intake was unstable and really not super satisfying. (This happens when you feel chained to your desk, don’t eat lunch, and then are too tired to cook a good dinner.) The data that the Fitbit provided sounded like it may help me in most of those areas, so I took the plunge and picked one up.

Fitbit One Basics

The easiest way to describe the Fitbit One is to call it a pedometer, but it actually does so much more — which we’ll get to. Let me tell you about the device itself first. It is about half the size of a chapstick and it easily attaches to your bra (my preferred method), belt or your pocket via a silicone clip. I’ve found the clip to be very durable so far, considering it’s in use all day, e’rrday!

Additionally it comes with a soft velcro band that you slide the device into at night and attach to your non dominant wrist for sleeping. The sleep band has not been quite so durable for me, but (as I found out) I am a pretty restelss sleeper, so that could be why. So far my very advanced sewing skills have helped me keep this band in tact (that was my sarcasm font) and luckily the Fitbit website sells replacement bands for like $10 on their website, so it’s not that big of a deal. This may be my only critique though.

The device comes with a tiny LED display which will advise you of various pieces of data when you press a button, it has a USB dongle for wireless syncing to your computer if you prefer to get your info that way, or it syncs wirelessly via Blutooth with your smartphone. (Yep, there’s an app for that!) I don’t really consult the LED screen for data much because it’s attached to my bra all day and that would be awkward. But I do look at my app all day long to get an idea of what my activity looks like. So hey — let’s talk about that.

So What Does It Actually Measure?

On a basic level, it constantly counts the number of steps you take. So is it a really expensive pedometer? No, I promise. Along with steps, it also provides altimeter readings that track when you climb stairs or hills. (And for the record, I do not find that box jumps at CrossFit screw up my Stair reading.) In addition, it measures how long you sleep (assuming you put it in sleep mode when you go to bed, which is super simple — I prefer doing it through the app) which includes a measurement of both the minutes you wake up in the night (which I find startlingly accurate) as well as the minutes you are restless.

My #fitbit has finally given me   visual evidence of what I already had an inkling of: I sleep TERRIBLY when I travel for work. (The top is from Sunday, bottom from last night) YIKES!
This is an example of how terribly I sleep in hotels. Have I mentioned that 2013 was the year of work travel? UGH

This has been one of the most eye opening parts of owning the Fitbit for me. I used to think “Oh I got 8 hours of sleep because I was in bed from 10-6 each night. But it turns out, many nights I’m restless or I am awake, and all of that eats into your actual “sleep time.” Some nights I am in bed for 8 hours, but I only get close to 6 hours of restful sleep. Of course some nights I am very cognizant of all of those variables and actually do get a good amount of sleep. And hot damn is it satisfying to see that in graph form!

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So haven’t all of this info isn’t just fun and pretty to look at. It has helped me experiment and troubleshoot what causes some of that restlessness (confirmed: DEFINITELY caffeine after noon) and just to generally be aware of how much sleep I am working with and tailor my day as such. I once hear working out when you get less than 6 hours of sleep does more harm (to the adrenals, hormones etc) than it does good. Monitoring the restfulness of my sleep has helped me even be more effective with my workouts, I think.

Hey Wait — It Does More???

In addition to all of that, the Fitbit also syncs with My Fitness Pal. If you haven’t used My Fitness Pal, it’s actually kind of an awesome app/website. It’s a general food/activity tracker and while I loathe the idea of counting calories, I do enjoy checking in with my macro nutrient ratios every once in a while, and I like that the two devices sync up. Important Note: the info only sycs from My Fintess Pal to the Fitbit, not the other way around, so I use MFP exclusively for tracking. (Here’s a great tutorial on how to reconfigure the MFP goals, because honestly the carb/fat goals are RIDICULOUS. I don’t think you need to change them to “low carb” in the tutorial, but the standard ones MFP uses are out of control, IMHO.)

How I Use It

So clearly it does many things I have found useful, but let’s get back to the baseline. When I purchased it, I spent a couple weeks just wearing it to determine what sort of patterns of activity I had going on. Surprisingly, being chained to my desk only had me taking about 4000 steps per day and 0 stairs. I wondered how dramatically low that was, and on the first Saturday when I just ran my regular errands, cleaned house and worked out and clocked in almost 20,000 steps — I knew. My inactivity during the work was dramatic. So I set out to get in 6,000 steps a day next. Then I worked my way up to an 8.000 step goal. Slowly but surely I am making progress.

After that I focused on stairs a bit. We don’t have stairs in our house so the only place I can walk those regularly is at work (or as I’ve recently discovered if I run bleachers at our local high school, which is actually super fun! Well, you know “fun.”) But I have the opportunity to go about 6 flights per day just because of where I park/where my desk is, so I became determined to do that. Then I realized I could walk a few extra and hit 10 a day. Now I think about that often.

Most recently I made a goal I call #Operation50 where I try and make sure each week I’m walking 50 flights of stairs and going 50,000 steps. It’s arbitrary, yes — and I’ll continue to tailor it to a goal that is challenging, but it’s really kept me motivated to stay active at work, which is SO SO SO IMPORTANT TO ME. I don’t want to work the next decade only walking 4,000 steps a day 5 days a week, you know? I’d like to actually have some hip flexibility when I’m 80! :)

Finally some #operation50 success! 50k steps. 50 floors. Now I want to see 2 weeks in a row! #fitbit

Helpful Hints

*When I first got my Fitbit, I had a few close calls where I couldn’t find it and had to go digging in my hamper. To keep that from happening to you I’d suggest getting into a routine of when you put it on, take it off. I put a cute little dish on my nightstand and basically if my Fitbit isn’t on my body, it is in this dish. I never put it anywhere else. It may sound militant, but the habit has kept me from throwing a $100 piece of electronics in the washer.

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*Make your own goals. When I first got my Fitbit, knowing that generic “Get 10,000 steps per day” advice had me really wanting to hit that goal. When, day after day, I wasn’t even coming close to hitting it, I got a little unmotivated. But then I realized — hey, you are looking for trend improvement! Not to just hit an arbitrary goal. So I spent a couple weeks doing a baseline. Getting an idea of what was realistic for me. Then challenging THAT number. It’s been so helpful.

*Look at your goals from a weekly perspective, rather than a daily perspective. It’s helpful to look at the macro picture as well as the micro picture of each day. It can help keep that feeling of data overwhelm/demotivation from kicking in.

*And the last one may be TMI, but I’m just going to tell you anyway because we’re all friends here: If you are putting it on your bra and you have sensitive skin like me, maybe change sides every once in a while or that stuff’ll leave a mark! :)

My Overall Recommendation

Obviously, I love this little tool. It’s been eye opening for me in so many ways. It tracks data that confirmed for me areas that, if they improved, would contribute to my overall health. The interface is easy to use, there are many ways to access the information (iPhone, Computer, the device itself) and it helps me identify overall trends in my health/fitness/activity level. Plus it’s just convenient and fun. Toooooooooootally better than a plain old pedometer, right?

It is around $100, which to me is expensive for something if you don’t use it. But I think the ease of use, relevance of the information and motivation that tracking all of it yields makes it well worth the price. But the price fluctuates on Amazon — I think when I got mine it was about $87, which I’ve found to be super competitive — so keep your eye out there.

*****

I know lots of you already have Fitbits. Any additional thoughts to give someone who was considering buying one?

The Cover Charge at Target Just Went Down (Plus a $1000 Giveaway)

cartwheel

I like to joke that Target has a cover charge. It doesn’t matter what’s on that list of yours, when you walk in those doors you know you aren’t getting out of there for at least $50, right? There’s just TOO MUCH GOOD STUFF!

When I was approached by BlogHer to try out Target’s Cartwheel program because it promised to help me save money shopping with ease, I was dubious at best. I am usually pretty underwhelmed by coupon programs and websites because I buy a lot of fresh food — and no one really gives away coupons for broccoli, you know?

But I buy all kinds of stuff at Target, not just groceries, so I figured it was worth checking things out. Also, I know a lot of you are not only bargain shoppers but die-hard Target lovers like myself, so if you hadn’t heard of Cartwheel I thought this could be useful. And you know I only like accepting sponsorship opportunities that interest me or might be useful to you! Cartwheel is basically a coupon program to help you save money on stuff you already buy, so I’m going to run down a few basics and then tell you what I thought. And then of course at the bottom is a super awesome GIVEAWAY. Seriously, I’d like to enter myself!

Cartwheel Basics

* There are more than 700 offers (coupons) in Cartwheel (and for the record, they can only be used on in-store purchases, not online)
* Cartwheel can be used on your desktop, tablet, mobile web or iPhone and Droid apps.
* If you use the app, you can scan any barcode in store to see if that item has a Cartwheel offer on it.
* If you use your Facebook login to sign up with Cartwheel (which is what I did, but you can also just sign up with email) you can see what offers your friends have on their Cartwheel lists. (Worth nothing: If you want to use your Facebook login, but do not want your Cartwheel activity posted to Facebook you can manage that by not allowing Facebook to post on your behalf during the authentication process.) Also, you can add any offer to your list as “private.” (Because Facebook doesn’t need to know you saved $1.00 on your tampons, AMIRIGHT?)
* You can stack manufacturers’ coupons on top of Cartwheel savings.

My Thoughts

So first things first, it can be a little overwhelming. The first time I logged in I was in the store on my iPhone and there was A LOT of data and coupon offers to sift through and I just shut it down. But the second time I opened it I was at home, on our office computer and everything just made so much more sense! I would definitely recommend setting aside some time BEFORE you head into the store.

When I finally did that, I was really impressed that there were a lot of offers for things I already buy — which I LOVE. I’m used to coupon sites having a bunch of crap I don’t buy. There were even coupons for Applegate Farms deli meats — so like, actual grocery items that I wouldn’t usually even shop for at Target but when I priced compared, were a GREAT deal.

The entire website is sort of game like in that you add more potential space for offers by “unlocking” badges and to be honest, all of that is a little too much for me to keep up on. But the last time I was there I did use the scan function to see if there were Cartwheel deals on things that I had brought coupons for and I scored on a few! The bottom line though is that the Cartwheel app is FREE and you could save a few bucks! So why not I say? :)

The Giveaway

Today’s giveaway is just about the best giveaway I could imagine: a $1,000 Target GiftCard®.

Yes, you read that correctly: ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

All you need to do to enter is to answer the following: What is one impulse purchase you’d love to see available in Cartwheel?

Tell me in the comments to be entered to win!

******
Sweepstakes Rules:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 1/30 – 2/28.
Be sure to visit the Target Cartwheel brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

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