Monday, April 4, 2016

Spring Capsule Wardrobe / Bandwagon Jumping


While I am not a trendy person in general, I love jumping on internet trend bandwagons just to see what they are all about.  If 9000 twitter friends are talking about it, it can't be all bad, right?  Internet ladies know what's up.  Even if I don't stick to the trend (*cough*KONMARI*cough*) or if I am buying something just to wear it ironically (*cough*LULAROE*cough*)(which totally backfired, the leggings are actually awesome so far) I like to at least see what the big dealio is with whatever is all the rage. 

 

For some reason, even though capsule wardrobes have been allllll over the place for several years, I just haven't been motivated to try it out.  I will look at the pictures and read the blogs for outfit inspiration (un-fancy is my favorite because we have very similar taste), but it usually only resulted in me buying the linked items I liked and doing nothing to reduce my clothes hoarding tendencies.  Every once in a while I'll start to make a capsule wardrobe list, but I never followed through. 

 

In a weird twist of fate, a few weeks ago I started binge-reading un-fancy again because I saw that Caroline was back from her hiatus, which resulted in my loosely planning yet another capsule I wasn't really going to actually follow through with.  Then the other day my SIL mentioned she was interested in doing a capsule, asked if I have ever used the Stylebook app (I haven't...have you??), and mentioned un-fancy.  Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm wondering if she maybe mentioned being interested in capsules and that is why I started reading un-fancy again?  Seems weird that we were reading the same blog at the same time.  Hmm...At any rate, we decided to be Capsule Wardrobe Accountability Partners. 



Here are all of the things that have been roadblocks for me in the past:



1) I am a total clothes hoarder...once I have already bought an item, it seems weird to get rid of it or store it instead of just letting it be part of my wardrobe until it falls apart. 



2) While I can go for months without shopping, I also am really good at binge-shopping when there are store-wide 50% off sales at limited or loft. I hate the idea of only shopping at the beginning of the season and missing the end of season sales.

 

3) I just can't get behind only having 33 or 37 things for 90 days.  I have to wear business casual (and occasionally full on suits) for work, and IMMEDIATELY bust out comfy clothes at home. 

 

4) Work is air conditioned and Justin keeps our house cold, so I need 7000 layers all of the time.

 

5) My laundry schedule is erratic.

 

Here are all of the reasons I need to ignore all of the above:



1) I am a total clothes hoarder...I am hoping that proving to myself that living with less is completely doable.  Just thinking about having a set number of clothes in my closet and either donating or storing the rest already makes me feel lighter.

 

2) Less shopping = less crap all over my house to deal with.

 

3) Less shopping = more money for super fun things like paying off my endless student loans.



4) I don't need to follow anyone else's rules, I can make my own and flex if I need to. 



5) I suspect it will result in less laundry, and a more predictable laundry schedule would probably be better for the whole fam.

 

I have no idea if I'll ever get around to taking pretty pictures of my clothes and linking to the stuff that is still available, but I might do it since that's my favorite part of other people's capsule wardrobe posts.  Here are the "rules" I am going to loosely follow, with the giant caveat that I will be flexible if I need to.  I'm not going to keep hate-wearing a top just for the sake of having a capsule; I'll switch it out. 

 

This is for April-May Ohio weather, which is all over the freaking place.  It snowed like 3 inches yesterday before getting back up to 60 degrees.  Seemed to make sense to switch to summer for Jun-Aug, mainly because Sept will always be fall to me.

 

I ended up with 33 work pieces, 22 casual, and no big deal if I wear casual stuff to work and vice versa. 

 

I'm not including coats, shoes, jammies, or workout clothes in this number, BUT I am going to have mini capsules and store the rest in the spirit of living lighter.



I'm not including bags, scarves, and jewelry, and I will have "core pieces" that I will wear more than others, but I will let myself go outside of the core set if I am getting bored and need a change. 

 

Here's my list, just in case I never photograph or link anything.  My friend Tara asked if it's a requirement that you wear all black in a capsule wardrobe, which made me laugh.  I just like black.  My wardrobes have been 99% black since like 7th grade.  Early capsule adopter!  I mix in some purples and cranberries at work; I tend to hate anything I own that is a spring-y color. 




So, how did I do?  Is this an appropriate amount of clothing to look professional / not repeat too much in a corporate setting?  Have you ever tried a capsule wardrobe?  I'd love to read about it if you posted it!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Social Media is Really Fucking Weird

Okay, so I realize that nothing I say here will be all that shocking to many of you, but it was really interesting/surprising to me...

I downloaded one of those fancy apps to make a little picture collage showing my most popular instagram posts for 2015 (2 out of 5 were my beauty trash, which kind of makes me sad for my kids).  The app doesn't just make nifty collages, it tracks a bunch of stuff too.  I have never used one of these apps before, because my instagram account isn't about making money or having a zillion followers, it's just for fun.  But I found myself getting sucked in (and spending $$ on expansions) because everything it was telling me was just so bizarre.

The first thing that sucked me in was the part that told me which users I was following who aren't following me back.  That was nice because in the 4 years I have been on instagram, I have never cleaned up my feed and there are a ton of SUPER RANDOM accounts I followed in a breastfeeding haze or a manic insomnia episode.  I was following nearly 500 people, many of whom I couldn't remember what attracted me to the account in the first place, and it was taking too much effort to stay caught up with my feed.

So I did a mass unfollowing, only from the list of people who don't follow me back. I kept people whose feed I love for fashion/makeup/art/whatever inspiration and a couple of Blathering ladies who I can only assume didn't realize they aren't following me or don't like pictures of empty makeup samples or awkward selfies, and ditched the rest.  (Edited to add because I am an overthinker: if you read this and maybe you unfollowed me by mistake or whatever, I will happily re-follow you...and I might re-follow anyway if I miss your pics...I really didn't put a ton of thought into this unfollowing, it was a quick way to unclutter my feed!)

The next day, the stupid app tells me that it will track my deleted comments/likes for a mere $1.99.  Thinking it might amuse me to see what people are saying and then unsaying, I bought it.  Then I realized that a bunch (okay, fine, like 6) of the people I unfollowed had retaliated by STEALING BACK MY LIKES.  Seriously, who does this?  I guess I shouldn't be surprised because a lot of times when someone likes a few of my pics, I check out their account and follow it if I like it or if they are a mom type who maybe found me via my neglected blog or twitter accounts.  So it makes sense that if someone baited me into following them by liking my stuff, they will play takesies backsies when I unfollow them. 

The thing that really surprised me was that a couple of the like stealers were people that I followed back when instagram would suggest people I followed on twitter...so even if they aren't really twitter friends I interact(ed) with, they are at least people who are friends of twitter friends.  And my twitter friends are almost exclusively real people who aren't just a bunch of fame whores / professional bloggers.  So basically it blew my mind that REAL PEOPLE will pay that much attention to who is unfollowing them, and then go back to pictures from 3 years ago of an adorable infant and unlike it.  WHO IS SERIOUSLY THAT BUTTHURT ABOUT BEING UNFOLLOWED THAT THEY UNLIKE A BABY???

So then the app tells me that for another $1.99 it will tell me who blocked me.  Since downloading the app a couple of days before I had apparently offended someone to the point of being blocked.  I haven't posted any pictures lately (slash ever) of my manicure while I was driving 70 mph or my kids releasing balloons in the wind, so I ponied up and clicked to see who this blocker was.  Sure enough, another person retaliating for me unfollowing them after a good 6 months of me liking their posts and getting no love back.  The funny thing is, I think this person got me to follow them by doing the good old mass follow then unfollow everyone a few days later trick.  So she unfollowed me first, dammit. 

I don't know why this is all so bizarre to me, maybe because it's my first foray into tracking my social media.  Are you guys trackers?  Any other bizarre behavior I should be forewarned about?  Do the like stealers have an app that will show them every pic of mine they liked so they can steal the likes?  Or is there an app that magically unlikes and unfollows and blocks everyone who slights you in some way?  Actually, I have a real app question now...is there an app that will match up twitter names to instagram names to real life facebook names because that would be actually useful.

Anyway.  The internet is weird, yo.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Updates

Here are some updates for you, in bullet form, covering the things I get emails about most frequently from people who stumble upon ye olde blogge plus some general life updates for those of you lovely folks who are still reading.  Hope you all had a delicious/relaxing thanksgiving!
  • Kids: Things are improving on the school front, but more slowly than I would like.  I think they probably both have ADHD, or at least Adriana does.  Justin had it as a kid, so I don't know why this was so surprising to me.  I knew deep down that something was not right when they were getting kicked out of dance class ALL THE TIME last year, but I was always making excuses like "they're tired" or "they would be fine if they were separated" or "they just want an excuse to see me" or "they are free-spirited and this class is too organized" or "they are genetically predisposed to be pains in the butt" instead of "oh, maybe they have an actual diagnosable issue."  I'm still trying to figure out the best way to parent them and set them up for success, especially in Catholic school where the school isn't really required to deal with the kids who aren't easy.  If anyone has experience with this and has words of advice or must-reads, please let me know. 

  • Arbonne: I still buy it, but I don't really do the full detox that often.  I mostly like it for when my weight gets higher than I like and I want to drop 5-10 pounds so my clothes fit again, or when I have blown my budget and don't want to buy breakfast, lunch, and coffee at work (which also results in me losing 5-10 pounds).  I spent so much on Black Friday that I'll probably be detoxing by default for the entire month of December.  Oops.

  • Rosacea: Still got it...the older I get, the more it kind of creeps to the other areas of my face so now it's on my chin and forehead in addition to my cheeks.  I can now say for certainty that avoiding the trigger foods definitely helps, but I'm a wine / chocolate / spicy food girl and am just not willing to compromise those things to have less red skin.  I don't use any prescription for it, I just follow a good skincare routine. I mostly use Murad products but I'm a skincare junkie and love trying all of the new things I get in subscription boxes so I do test samples (more than I should) as well. Sometimes if my skin is getting irritated I back off of all of the products I'm using and go down to the bare bones.  My holy grail most basic of all skin care routines is to wash my face with the Murad Refreshing Cleanser (2x/day) and to exfoliate with Murad's Skin Smoothing Polish (3x/week).  I have repurchased both products many times since Murad first sent them to me and they are definitely my favorites.  During the day I just use the IT Cosmetics CC Cream to cover all skincare and makeup needs, and at night I use whatever nice night moisturizer and eye cream I'm working through.  Currently I'm using Lancer cream which is $$$ but I got it in a Popsugar box last year and was tired of "saving it" because it's fancy.  My go to gentle eye cream is the Kiehl's creamy avocado eye cream.  This very simple routine is calming to my skin and usually gets it back in shape pretty quickly.  Then I can go back to playing with masks and adding in all of the fancy serums and collagen boosters and stuff. 

  • Makeup:  I still love makeup, but I am most definitely slowing down and moving my interests elsewhere.  I didn't even buy the Naked Smoky palette because I was like "ehhh...I have enough eyeshadow."  That might be a slight lie though because I did put the Bobbi Brown Greige palette and burberry shadows on my Christmas list.  I guess I am still interested, I'm just narrowing my focus to a few things.  My current obsessions are bite lipsticks and Smith and Cult nail polishes, if you are looking for fun new stuff to buy.

  • Travel: I have been taking a ton of trips recently, whether for work (D.C., New York, Philadelphia) or fun (Napa/Sonoma).  This is finally the year where I stopped packing with plastic bags and invested in some nice travel gear.  I am probably the only weirdo who has completely run out of packing videos on youtube / has seen all of them multiple times.  If I ever start blogging in non-bullet form again, I want to show you all of my precious travel things and review the wineries from my CA trip.   And one about subscription boxes because that is still my other weird obsession.

  • Speaking of subscription boxes, I just found a new one.  Well, not new, I had seen it around and was intrigued, but this was back when I was still into subscriptions that gave me zillions of samples to hoard, not ones that were actually useful.  Rocksbox is a jewelry rental service which is both intriguing and maybe slightly kind of gross.  But I'm choosing to completely ignore the fact that the earrings have been in other people's ears and focus on the fact that they carry REALLY cute jewelry and I can wear fun things without adding to my clutter.  I'll review it and post my referral link if I actually like / would recommend it to you guys. 

  • Work: I have been in my current role for almost a year and a half and I feel like I am finally in the groove.  It's not my favorite job with this company ever, but things are good.  I'm pretty darn busy though, hence the lack of updates here and complete absence from twitter.  Just trying to make the most of "individual contributer" life. 

  • Hubs: We are good!  Even though the kids are challenging this year, they are also easier in a million other ways so I feel like we are getting more quality time, both together and separately since we don't feel as guilty leaving the other at home.  We are currently spending a lot of time enjoying my Napa wine, doing puzzles, finishing up the fall hiking spree, and watching every season of big brother on the CBS all access app + iZombie on Neflix.  All of the above activities are recommended for all of my fellow boring married people. 

  • Home: Ugh, it's a disaster.  I started getting into the KonMari thing but it turns out that I really just like to watch youtube videos of OTHER PEOPLE KonMari-ing as opposed to doing it myself.  Finally purging shit is my major goal for 2016. 

  • Christmas: Nope, not ready yet. Not even close. 
That about covers it on my end.  What have you guys been up to?  I really miss my bloggy friends, so if you are reading this I would love, love, love to hear from you in the comments section down there.  Leave a sentence or a paragraph, I just want to know how you have been, even if we have never met! 

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Lover and A Fighter

My girls started pre-k and kindergarten this year, respectively.  I was SO VERY EXCITED before school started because I am still a giant nerd and stuff like uniforms and school supply lists and phonics make me happy.  Look how cute they are!



I can't believe how much they have changed from last year!  I had to check the picture's date 7 times to make sure this wasn't from the year before. 



Look at Lucy's legs, they went from baby legs to big kid legs this year!  Same for Adriana's face. 

So, I'd love nothing more to report that school is going as well as the first day of school photo session, but it really hasn't been.  I got notes home from both girls' teachers the first week of school.  Basically, Adriana was hitting and Lucia was inappropriately kissing. 

The hitting...ugh.  We went through this before, a couple of years ago, and it took Adriana losing all of her friends before she shaped up at school. But as far as I know, that was just a phase and wasn't something that was still regularly happening at daycare over the past year.  HOWEVER, a lot of the other parents I'm friends with have told me they are having similar issues now that they have moved schools, which really makes me question what exactly was going on at daycare.  I am basically picturing a Lord of the Flies type situation while the teacher is sitting there filing her nails.  Anyway, now that I'm getting regular communication about what is happening with my kid, I am able to actually do stuff on my end to help the situation, so even though it really sucks to get that kind of feedback from the school (and it basically makes me feel like a parenting failure), it has put me in full problem solving mode and I feel like I we can fix things.

The kissing...I don't even know where to begin, you guys.  Since Lucy has been 3 1/2, she has definitely started noticing boys.  Everything from telling me that the (high school) kid at the smoothie shop is cuuuuuute to openly batting her eyelashes and flipping her hair whenever she is around a 12-14 year old with a One Direction type look.  Girl has a TYPE.  Which I think can definitely be a problem in the wrong situation, but is for the most part harmless and a normal part of child development.  I actually was noticing boys at the exact same age; and can still remember Tommy Carson, my pre-k crush, giving me a kiss the day before he moved to California.  It's so interesting to me that Lucia is so vocal about liking allll the boys, whereas Adriana gets REALLY shy about it and her one huge crush would never in a million years know she secretly wants to marry him (exactly how I was as a kid, but she was a little older before her first crush). 

Anyway, there was this kid who Lucia was kissing to the point that the teacher had to say something about it to both parents to nip it in the bud.  I apologized to the boy's mom at morning drop off, but apparently it was a two way street...she told me she tried to ask him who his little friend was, and he was just like "I don't know her name, I just call her my princess" in a dreamy voice.  Lol.  And then I heard at a birthday party that another little boy was upset that the first boy kissed her before he did, because "she's beaaaautiful".  And she had a third little boy following her around all day at the party.  I am so screwed with this kid...if pre-k is this crazy, I can only imagine what the preteen / teen years will be like. 

Fortunately, all the kissing thing took was one long conversation with me and Lucia cut it out.  Easy peasy.  Unfortunately, I also found out that she has been crying a ton in school, has been mean (but not violent) to her classmates, and has been super defiant with the teacher.  For some reason the teacher waited FOUR FREAKING WEEKS to tell me this, thinking that the kids just needed time to adjust.  Which is pretty upsetting to me.  So all in one fell swoop I went from full time worrying from Adriana to full time worrying about Lucia.  Adriana's problems feel fixable to me, maybe because we have done this before, but also because she really WANTS to do the right thing, she just doesn't always know how to control herself.  Lucia...she is one strong-willed little girl.  Having experienced her defiance at home (which, until now, has never spilled over into school - her teachers always loved her before), I know how hard she is to deal with when she doesn't want to cooperate.  I still don't really know what is going to get through to her.  She keeps telling us she misses her old school, and TECHNICALLY sending her back there is an option, but I feel like I'd rather just address this now than have to go through the exact same thing when she starts kindergarten next year. 

I think it would be easy to blame daycare or to blame genetics...both Justin and I have hot tempers, and his lack of impulse control actually got him kicked out of kindergarten.  It's so hard not to feel like this is all my fault though.  Like I didn't take the times I did get a bad report at daycare seriously enough, or that I was always in so much of a rush to get the kids out of there that I didn't ask the teachers the right questions.  I know I resorted to yelling way more than I should have, because, well, I came from a yelling family so it is what feels normal to me.  I also know that I have spent way too much time just trying to get through the day juggling all of the things I have to juggle and not enough time making sure my kids have the skills to turn into productive members of society.  You know, parenting instead of just surviving.  And that doesn't feel good. 

Since I'm a problem solver and since we have 5 free sessions through work benefits, my plan is to go to family counseling.  I have also bought a stack of parenting books and children books about getting along, being kind, cooling down, etc. off amazon.  I'll probably be reviewing these here and on goodreads if anyone else is going through the same thing. 

I'd love to hear any insights from any of you who had problem children.  What got through to them?  What helped you out? Any books you would recommend?  Is it ever going to get any easier?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living vs. Arbonne 28 Day Detox

28 Day Detox overview here and results here.

Sometime in the year since I first discovered Arbonne, they switched their program from the "28 Day Detox" to "30 Days to Healthy Living".  This is not at all surprising to me, because when I was first researching Arbonne I found a ton of variations on the plan.  Arbonne tweaks the diet every year or two based on whatever the lastest buzzword is - I found plans where carbs, gluten, and toxins all took their turn being the bad guy. 

The newest approach focuses more on the good guys than targeting any specific bad guy (at least on the surface), and is no longer marketed as a "detox" (which you know makes me happy if you read my original critique of the program).  The first post in the August 3 Healthy Living Bootcamp facebook group is a Clean Eating Challenge Guide, where Five Key Areas of Fitness are listed as follows:

1.  Eat Clean
2.  Increase Nutritional Intake
3.  Eliminate Allergenic, Addictive, and Acidic Foods
4.  Balance Blood Sugar
5.  Support Elimination Organs

The Eat Clean goal is where Arbonne promotes the same "Organic = good, Toxins/GMOs = bad".  Honestly, I am still not really sold on this.  I recently read a really amazing Slate article that nicely summed up my opinions of GMOs without me having to do any research beyond what I did back when I was getting a Master's degree in Biology (which I realize is all outdated now).  The merits of organic foods are a little trickier...I feel like if I were to really dig into this, it would probably provide evidence that my gut reaction is right - that organic foods are kind of a scam / waste of money.  I know I have heard stuff like a lot of organic farms being right next to traditional farms and being exposed to the same type of pesticides, etc., but I haven't done any research myself to substantiate claims on either side of the issue.  I think if all of the claims about the benefits of an all organic diet were found to be actually true then obviously that would be the way to go, but I just don't know enough about it and tend to lean towards skepticism.  I won't go so far as to say eating clean is bullshit (like I did with the word "detox") but I do think your weight loss results will be exactly the same whether you buy organic/non-GMO or not. 

As far as the other goals go, I'm glad Arbonne is finally providing better explanations about the avoid list (Allergenic / Addictive / Acidic foods) because that was definitely something I thought was confusing the first time I did the 28 Day Detox.  The rest just seem to be ploys to make people buy more Arbonne products.

The new kit includes
- Protein Shake (2 bags, 1-2 shakes a day)
- Daily Fiber Boost (1 bag, 1-2 scoops a day)
- Energy Fizz Sticks (2 boxes, 2x per day before 4pm)
- Herbal Detox Tea (2 boxes, at least 2x per day)
- 7 Day Cleanse (1 box, start day 14)
- Digestion Plus (1 box, 1 pack a day)

This is the exact same kit at the 28 Day Detox kit except it includes Digestion Plus and the 7-Day Cleanse instead of 2 bags of the fit chews.  Oh, and it's $402 instead of $307.  The diet is basically exactly the same as the 28 Day Detox, just with those extra products added. 
The guide to the program also suggests incorporating the following products:
- Arbonne Essentials Power Packs for Men and Women (1 pack a day)
- Arbonne Greens Balance (1 scoop a day)
- Arbonne SeaSource Detox Spa Purifying Sea Soak (1 packet twice a week)

So, to recap...the new program focuses on "eating clean" instead of "detoxing", adds $95 worth of product and suggests another $200+, but is otherwise exactly the same as the last program.

As I mentioned above, I'm in the August 3 group, and I really do plan to give it my all this month.  I own the Greens Balance (it is DISGUSTING no matter how you try to drink it) and the Digestion Plus so I will go ahead and use those up this round, plus do the 7 day Cleanse (my mom had an extra box).  I really don't think they are necessary for this program to be successful though, and I have no intention of purchasing any of them after this round.

Since this is the first time I have done the program all month since last June, I may do a typical week on the program or post recipes or do product reviews.  At a minimum, I will post my results again if I stick with it all month.  Good luck to anyone starting the program!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Enabler Alert: Summer 2015 Allure Beauty Thrills Box on sale TODAY


This is just a quick note letting you guys know that that Summer 2015 Allure Beauty Thrills box will go on sale at noon eastern time.  There is a countdown on the Allure Beauty Thrills page if, like me, you find time zones harder than they should be.  There is also a products list and descriptions of the items at the link.  Personally I think this one is a great box; tons of household basics plus brands I love like IT Cosmetics, Laniege, Redken.  This is the first box in a LONG time where I know I will use almost every item so I'm planning on snagging one.

Don't forget that these boxes sell out FAST; you will need to start refreshing the page a few minutes before noon and type in your credit card number at lightning speed to get one.  Good luck!!!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Arbonne 28 Day Detox Results / Review / Tips

28 Day Detox Overview here.
Comparison to 30 Days to Healthy Living here

Full disclosure: I am technically an Arbonne consultant, but only in the sense that I paid to be a consultant so I can use the 35% discount for myself and my family.  It's not a business opportunity for me, and I don't care if you buy it or not.  This is my results post from doing the detox in June 2014, written in July 2015 because I had NO IDEA so many people were googling Arbonne Detox results and finding my blog until now and I feel bad that I never posted these results.  Welcome, Google friends!

I should also disclose (before it's too late for your retinas) that for me, a results post involves posting unflattering pictures of myself with far too few clothes for my comfort.  However, I know when I was researching the detox that was what I wanted to see when determining if this was worth the investment / hassle. So I'm taking one for the team.  I'm also posting shirtless pics of my hubby, who is a sexy, albeit hairy, manbeast.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Before getting to the results, I did want to share something I learned from the Facebook group when I asked why corn and vinegar are on the avoid list.  Turns out the Arbonne diet avoids all things Acidic, Addictive, or Allergenic.  I found NOTHING explaining this when I first researched the diet, so that was super interesting to find out.  This video actually explains the perils of acidic diets really well, and is totally consistent with what I learned in medical school (we had a whole day devoted to "is diet coke bad", and all they came up with was that it leeches phosphates).  So I still think the detoxing concept and aspartame hate are bullshit, but I now totally understand more about what this diet is ACTUALLY doing for my body. 

On to the results.

The first time I did the Detox was back in June 2014, and my hubby did it along with me.  Since this was the only time I followed the rules pretty closely, these are the only pics I'll subject you to.  In 28 days, I lost 13 pounds and my husband lost 22.  I think we both had moments of weakness, so I think we could have lost a bit more if we tried harder...maybe 15 and 25 pounds? 

These pictures are not photoshopped and we are not purposely trying to look chubbier than real life in the before shot. 

My results:



Justin's results:



My thoughts on the Detox:

Well, obviously it works.  I lost 6 of the 13 pounds during the first week in June 2014, and have lost 5-6 pounds in a week several times since then.  I LOVE that I know that any time my pants don't fit or I feel bloaty and crappy, I have a super easy fix.  And it really is easy if you are the sort of person who does the best when you have really specific rules.  I don't feel like I am overly hungry on this, since you get 2 shakes, 2 snacks, and a decent sized meal every day, plus fizz sticks, lots of water, and detox tea in between.  If anything, I actually feel more full during some parts of my day because I'm consuming so many beverages.  That was unexpected...it's weird to think about how much less food your body REALLY needs. 

That being said...the Detox makes me tired and crabby when I strictly follow the rules.  Almost pregnant-tired, if you know what that's like.  They tell you in the Facebook group to make sure you are getting 1200 calories so you don't plateau, and I think that just might not be enough for me to feel like a functional human being.  Justin and several of my friends who have tried the Detox all reported that they felt AMAZING and their energy levels were through the roof.  Justin was actually downright CHEERY on this thing.  But that's just not how it affected me.  However, I have learned that if I do a cheaty version of the detox (eating some greek yogurt or a non-gluten free tortilla here and there, or just plain enjoying a food I like in moderation 1-2 times a week or so, rules be damned) I can lose 9-10 pounds over 28 days and feel just fine. 

Is it sustainable?

I stayed within a pound or two of my final weight for 3 months after the first round, which tells me that I didn't just lose water weight.  It also took time for my body to go back to wanting bigger portions, so it's not like I quit cold turkey.  But to be honest, I never really went into the 80/20 maintenance mode you are supposed to do for after your 28 days are up.  I have gone through phases where I gain weight, then do the detox for a week, then gain it back a couple of months later.  But that clearly had nothing to do with Arbonne and everything to do with the choices I was making.  I have no regrets, I love food, and I am far far far from one of those "nothing tastes better than skinny feels" people.  That expression makes me genuinely sad for the people who feel that way.  But I like that I know I can enjoy myself on vacations or holidays and know exactly what to do to get myself back to a more comfortable weight whenever I am ready to commit again. So yes, it's sustainable, but you will gain your weight back if you go back to old habits.  If you tend to yoyo your habits, you will likely yoyo your weight.  Duh. 

Did it fix my rosacea?

Yes and no.  I was actually kind of annoyed that my skin cleared up so nicely on the Detox, since it proves that avoiding all of the good things in life does, in fact, help.  But it's not a magical solution...I still flared up when I used a sunscreen that was too harsh for my skin, or when I got overheated.  So it's not like all of the non-food triggers disappear just because I'm avoiding the food triggers.  And if I can't control everything, I may as well enjoy the occasional glass of red wine or spicy food or sweet, sweet chocolate...that's what makeup is for!

Here is a pic of me with little to no makeup after a couple of weeks on the detox in June 2014...not too bad, if you know what my skin normally looks like:



Hot tips:

The thing that works best for me is keeping it simple.  Sure, it's fun to experiment with all of the different shake varieties, but a) they add calories, and b) ain't nobody got time for that.  As a working mom, it's easier for me to just keep the powder and a shaker in my cube than to go home at lunch or to pack a fancy shake with a ton of ingredients.  The chocolate is actually rather delicious on its own.  On the weekends, I throw in a spoonful of almond butter and replace the water with almond milk, and it's a fancy treat. 

Same goes for meals.  It's fun to follow the Facebook group and try out all of the new recipes, but that takes a lot more planning than I have brain space and time for.  I am totally okay with just having plain chicken and broccoli for dinner.  Or a chicken burger and a salad.  Or a sweet potato and browned / lightly seasoned ground turkey.  Or eggs scrambled with spinach with some avocado and salsa on the side.  If that is too boring, the other thing that works for me is pairing the Arbonne shakes with Wildtree freezer meals (I would like to do a post about that some day too - basically I love taking advantage of consultant discounts in pyramid schemes, haha).  Most of the meals are reasonably Arbonne compliant as they are, but honestly when I am doing the cheaty version I don't worry about it if it's not.  Even the meals that aren't technically Arbonne 28 Day Detox compliant are pretty healthy and that's good enough for me.

This one doesn't apply to everyone, but I also have to be really careful to only pack the snacks I'm allowed to have that day, or I will binge eat like a crazy person.  I learned this the hard way when I thought I'd be slick and bring in the whole bag of almonds instead of the allotted 10-15.  I mindlessly ate half the bag when on a conference call; something I would never do if it wasn't sitting here, asking me to eat it. This applies to home as well...if you don't typically have a lot of willpower, don't keep any junk in the house.  You can't eat what you don't have.     

Final verdict:

It's been a year since I first started using Arbonne products, and I can honestly say I recommend the company and their products, despite having a healthy degree of skepticism about some of their claims.  As much as some of the "you just feel bad because years worth of those pesky toxins are leaving your body!!" type sentiments annoy me, ultimately I don't care if Arbonne's claims are based on junk science as long as the rules set me up for success.  We can argue all day about what is actually happening at the cellular level; the point is that it works. 

What I really like about the Detox is that it's so customizable.  I highly recommend doing what I did...follow it to a T or as close as you can one time, then take the pieces you like and discard what you don't like the next time...use the buffet approach.  Everyone's body and tastes are different, so adjust the Detox to your own preferences.  I think that is the best way to make it a legitimate lifestyle.  But like I said before - you DO have to make it a lifestyle for the results to stick.  I'll speak more to the products that worked for me and the products that didn't in a future product review post.  Until then, I hope this helps!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Books!

As usual, I'm having a hard time narrowing down what books to pitch at book club (we pick 4 months of books at a time, everyone brings suggestions).  Here is my list...are there any that you would DEFINITELY stay away from?  Anything amazing you have read that I should consider?  Any books that are not really book club type books but that I should read anyway in my "spare" time?

The ones I'm considering are:
- The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
- Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
- The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
- Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

No spoilers please!!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pusher

My new Man BFF is shaping up to be a real pain in the ass.  Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy his company, but he is a pusher.  Not of the drug variety like Ms. Norbury, but of the Be All That You Can Be variety (minus the army context). 



Friending a pusher has it's pros and cons.  On the pro side, I am inherently lazy, and could certainly use a push from time to time.  God knows Justin won't do it, since it would inevitably result in the death stare and possibly a fatal stabbing.  Plus I haven't had a friend get all up in my business like that in years, so it's kind of refreshing to have someone give enough of a shit to ask the hard questions.  The cons are stressing me out though.  I had been sitting there all content with my life, and now my pusher Man BFF has me really questioning things.  Ugh.

The first area that we delved into was my career path.  As a reminder, I do regulatory work for a utility company.  It's not glamorous work, but I'm good at it, and I get to do a lot of reading, writing, and powerpointing, which are all things I enjoy.  In the 8+ years I've been here, I've worked my way to the equivalent of a staff business analyst, which is as high as you can get without being a manager or consultant (and consulting jobs are few and far between).  Justin and I make enough that we are financially comfortable - we have a smallish but nice house, we can go on a cheap family vacation every year plus plenty of fun weekend trips, everyone has enough food and clothes and money for hobbies/activities, I'm saving for retirement and two college funds (maybe not as much as I need to for the latter, but I'm not worried about it yet). 

As of right now, the girls are 3 and 5.  To me, balance is everything.  I am a high performer, but I do not have infinite time or energy.  To be amazing at work, I have to give up some home stuff.  To be amazing at home, my work suffers.  In order to "have it all" (2 Tina Fey references in 1 post!) some shit has to slide.  Maybe my house is too cluttered, maybe I have to do my makeup at my desk, maybe my kids eat ramen on the living room floor instead of real dinner some nights, maybe I can't come in early and stay late and work after the kids go to bed to get everything done and perfect.  I just can't be awesome at everything all of the time.  Which is hard, because I like being 100% awesome. 

My talent profile currently says that while the kids are little, I'm not interested in management.  This BLOWS MAN BFF'S MIND.  He is one of those people who is constantly climbing the ladder, always trying to make more money, have more power, be more influential.  Not necessarily in a bad way, he also plans to change the world and feels like constantly improving his situation is how he can best make that happen.  I just don't have that same drive right now.   I love that for the most part, I can kick butt at work from 8-5 and spend the rest of my time with my family without having anything hanging over my head.  There are times when I genuinely can't imagine taking on one more thing in my life.  I know I am a far better parent when I am not stressed out - there is basically a directly proportional relationship between my workload getting too heavy and how often I snap at my kids. If my current situation feels more or less balanced, why fuck with it?

That being said, this is likely a temporary situation.  The girls won't be little forever, and I feel like it's basically inevitable that I will eventually go into management, whether I have a large desire to or not.  I have zillions of dollars of student loans, and I'd like to retire at a reasonable age.  It's the next logical step in the game of life. 

I have been spending a considerable amount time defending this particular life choice to Man BFF and reiterating that I AM HAPPY and THIS IS TEMPORARY.  But that didn't really stop my stomach from dropping when I got an email from my boss saying it's time to update my talent profile.  My gut reaction was that maybe it's time, since the girls are going to school next year.  Pushers are the worst, uggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh.  Can't I just keep things exactly how they are for a while longer?

The second area which Man BFF has opinions about is Justin's career.  This is a bit of a touchy subject, since it's not really about me.  Basically, hubs didn't go to college and is therefore limited in how far he can progress up his respective ladder.  I tried to get him to go to school back when we first started dating, but then he found his current job (which is a great place for people without degrees to work) and then we got married and pregnant (not in that order) and all that jazz.  I know this is probably weird since we are married and all, but basically I don't feel like it's my business what Justin does with his career, as long as he pays his half of the bills.  As I said, we are comfortable.  This BLOWS MAN BFF'S MIND.  He thinks I am "frustratingly accepting" of both Justin's and my own situations.  As far as I'm concerned, as long as Justin is happy, I'm happy.  If he decides that he wants to advance in his career and realizes that the best way to do that is by getting his degree, I will support him.  But I'm not going to be his own personal Pusher.  I didn't marry a pet project, I married a grown ass man who is capable of making his own decisions. 

The only aspect of this particular topic that gives me pause is that maybe I'm being a bad wife by not at least raising the question from time to time.  Maybe if it was more clear that J going to college is something I'd support would make it more of a viable option in his mind.  It also makes me think that perhaps I have been selfish.  As I said, there are times when I can't imagine taking on one more thing.  Justin going to school would certainly mean tradeoffs on the home front, which would further upset the life balance I so desperately seek.  I feel like I'm the 50's husband oppressing my spouse.  But then again, I think Justin would read this and laugh and remind me that he, too, is perfectly happy with our situation.

The last topic of discussion is the hardest.  Man BFF is always trying to get me to identify areas of my life that aren't making me happy (despite my repeated assertions that I AM HAPPY) and then make a plan to bridge the gap between the actual and desired scenarios.  At one point I made a comment about how I fail to see what I get out of moving up in my career, as I am not particularly motivated by money or power...I work at an electric company, I'm not going to change the world by moving up the chain.  This then led to a discussion about how I did originally want to have a job where I could help people, but certain life choices led me here instead.  

This is as close as I get to admitting that I do have some regrets.  As you may know, electric utility regulatory work was not my original career path - I was in medical school and dropped out.  My reasons for this were very complex, but I have 10 years of hindsight now so I think I can boil it down.  If I'm being 100% real and honest, I was not the most mature or driven 25 year old.  I had an opportunity that isn't offered to most people, and I blew it.  I could have been a doctor, and I truly believe I would have been a great one, but ultimately I didn't want it enough to put in the work to become one.  Quitting was taking the easy route.  I think that if 35 year old me was in the same situation, I would have made different choices, because ultimately I do regret selling out and working for the man instead of sticking with my principles and trying to help people.  At the time though, sitting in a library all day felt oppressive when I could instead be out living my life.  I hated studying because it was the first time in my life I ever had to do it.  And I thought that because I wasn't trying harder, it must not be what I really wanted.  

What has always saved me from having too many regrets was the fact that quitting freed me up to be a mom.  Not that I couldn't have been both a mom and a doctor, but I certainly would have been an older mom, and with a different guy, and therefore I'd have different kids.  And you know what?  My two specific kids are awesome.  I can't imagine having any other kids.  Having children is the most freeing thing in the world because it instantly justifies any questionable past decisions...any other road taken, and they disappear from the family photo, Marty McFly style.  

I also find some comfort in the fact that while a lot of my friends didn't go the parenting route and are contributing to society in a meaningful way, SOMEONE has to pass the good DNA on.  May as well be me.  I'm not a doctor, but at least I'm contributing to the gene pool in a positive manner.  And maybe (hopefully) the girls will go on to do great things. 

I keep getting really frustrated during these discussion because ultimately, I really do think that everything has worked out.  Maybe not for the best, because I have NO FREAKING CLUE what my life would be like if I made different choices.  But I don't see the point of playing the woulda, coulda, shoulda game when I obviously didn't and it all turned out okay.  But that doesn't stop me from having a tiny little voice that says "wait, AM I happy?" every time I assert that I am.  I think I keep coming back to yes, but the fact that I even question it a little kind of pisses me off.  I guess that's what it's all about though...I may not be pushed into a different life path, but it's good to be pushed out of my comfort zone from time to time.       

Friday, April 10, 2015

Adult Friendships, Ugh

So, I know "adult friendships are the worst" isn't the most unique topic of all time, but it's something that has been on my mind lately.

Lady BFFs

I am always so insanely jealous of the people who have had their PERSON since they met at the arts and crafts table in camp in third grade.  I don't have that person.  In fact, the summer after 3rd grade my best friend of three years ditched me for a new best friend (she was new and a twin and therefore infinitely fascinating), and I pretty much either didn't have a best friend or had a different one every school year after that.  At the end of eighth grade, there was no one I was particularly close to, so I was quite happy to move on to high school.  (I went to Catholic school, so I was with the same 45 people from 1st - 8th grade). 

If you had asked me at the time, I would have said that I didn't click with my grade school female peers because I was just different.  I was the smartest girl in my class, and I always had my nose in a book.  They were almost all cheerleaders, I was the only one who didn't make the team (and preferred soccer, anyway).  They liked rap, I wouldn't figure out that I was a 90's grunge girl at heart for another few years.  They had big hair and wore makeup, I couldn't be bothered.  Most of them were pretty and popular, I stopped caring about popularity around 5-6th grade. 

But if you ask me now, I was also a smartass with a bit of a mean streak.  I was always one of those people who would rather attack than be attacked, which I suppose protected me from being bullied for being the giant nerd that I was, but also made me kind of a bully myself.  There is one girl in particular who my 7th grade best friend and I made fun of constantly, and adult me is horrified when I look back on it.  HORRIFIED.  Ugh.  Kids are the worst. 

I was less of a bitchface in high school, and I'm still close with my core group of friends from back in the day.  It helps that even though a lot of my friends moved away, their families are still in Akron, so they visit whenever they are in town.  These ladies are awesome because even if we don't talk for 6 months, we can sit down to dinner and gab like no time has passed at all.  I wasn't able to keep this kind of relationship with my college or grad school best friends, mostly because we are all from different places and FB wasn't a thing yet when we were in school.  A few years later and I think we would have kept in better touch.  My friendship strategy in my 20's was basically to make a group of friends at whatever school/job I was in, go to a different school/job, get entirely new group of friends, never speak to the old ones again.  This is so weird to me now, but that's more or less how it went. 

So now, on to adult friendships.  Making friends when a) you work in a place whose core demographic is old white dudes b) you live in a town that everyone leaves (so so true, David Giffels), c) you are married and d) you have small children is SO FREAKING HARD.  I guess I have always had friends as an adult, and usually I'm closer to one of those friends than anyone else, but I haven't had a true "best friend" since high school.  I wish someone had told me to do a better job of hanging on to relationships back when I was in school...that female friendships are far superior than anything I had going with whatever dude I was dating at the time...that it really sucks when you have no sisters and no clear frontrunner for your maid of honor...that if your best friend is the person you married, you have no one to bitch to ABOUT the person you married, especially when marriage is hard and shit gets real...that powerful women make the greatest friends.  This is a lesson I plan on DRILLING into my kids - to hold on to their friendships, and to always be kind.  If you don't shine, I don't shine (seriously, listen to Call Your Girlfriend...shine theory needs to be part of the fifth grade you're about to bleed everywhere class curriculum). 

I was really bumming about the lack of a BFF when the girls were smaller and I felt chained to the house and super isolated, right around the time a friendship I previously treasured turned awkward, but in general things are looking up now that I can actually have some semblance of a social life.  I think the most important thing in making new adult lady friends is to say yes when someone invites you, don't be flaky / back out, to not be afraid to be the initiator, to keep lines of communication going (even it it's just a few emojis letting them know you are thinking of them), and to support them no matter what.  While I still haven't found the magical formula to find a ride or die lady BFF (yet), this strategy has resulted in me getting closer to my book club ladies and lovely coworker lunch buddies (I still don't know how to make friends I don't read or work with, haha).  Annnnd now this is a good segue into the next section...

Man BFFs

...I am also in the process of making a new man BFF (at least that is my plan, anyway).  Which, I am quickly learning, is also just as difficult to navigate as an adult as lady relationships.  Well, at least if you are married.  It's not like I have never had close friendships with a guy before, it's just that my last two serious guy friendships were formed when Justin and I had been dating for maybe a year and therefore he was very aware that if he got weird about it I'd walk out the door. 

Historically, I have had TONS of guy friends.  I think that since I have two brothers and a ball buster smartass personality, it has always been easy for me to be just one of the guys (but I was also enough of a flirt to make it clear that I was NOT just one of the guys).  I wasn't one of those "girls are awful, I refuse to befriend them" people, but guy friendships were definitely easier for me.  And more fun.  Hmm, maybe this is why I consistently fail at lady BFFs, maybe I am just better suited to have a man BFF instead?

Making a man friend now is kind of awkward.  First there is that "What is this guy's deal? Why does he want to hang out?  Is his marriage okay?  Is he the cheating type?" stuff that needs to be sorted out.  Then there is the explaining to the husband that you are now hanging out with some other guy, but not OVER explaining because apparently that means you're cheating and not just overly sensitive to the perceptions created by having a man friend.  Then there is worrying about what the heck HIS wife must be thinking, and trying to figure out how to convey that I'm not a man-stealer.  Maybe I am just overthinking things, I don't know.  Are you the same way when making friends with a member of the opposite sex, or is it just me?  Should I continue to proceed with caution, or just shut up and go with it?  I haven't clicked with someone like this in a long time, it's nice.    

Couple BFFs

As complicated as the man BFF situation can be, I am on the path to finding one of those before Justin and I achieve the holy grail marriage scenario...finding a couple BFF.  I am beginning to think it's simply not possible.  Maybe it's because he and I are two completely different people, maybe it's because SO FREAKING FEW of our friends even bother to get married, and even fewer have kids, maybe we smell funny.  I don't know, but it seems like every time we meet a new couple, one or both of us can't stand one or both of them. 

I will say, however, that we do have some prospects.  There is a couple who sometimes host game nights, and we both REALLY liked them the one time they were both present.  I (shockingly) get along with the guy half and Justin gets along with the girl half, but we both like both of them.  And there are other couples that go to their game nights that also seem like our kind of people.  But the main couple we are trying to befriend is about to have a baby, and we have to find childcare whenever we go there, so it's still a tentative situation.

Justin's best friend also has a lady friend that seems really lovely, and he now has custody of his last lady friend's kids, who are conveniently two girls that are our girls' ages.  So if he hangs onto that relationship that is a strong candidate. 

Basically, I just wish life was like a movie and we had a ton of couple friends with kids and we could all, I don't know, go camping together and drink around the fire while our kids entertain each other and get muddy and go swimming and climb trees and stuff.  But realistically I will settle for ONE other couple with kids (because our girls need kid BFFs too) and a handful of other adult friends who all like us and like each other.    

ANYWAY, that was a lot of words about BFFs, or the lack thereof.  Do you guys find adult friendships to be as challenging as I do?  Why is this so harrrrrrrrrrrrdddddd?

(PS, I'm trying to write more during my lunch hour, when I'm not wining and dining a potential new friend, haha.)