Saturday, March 28, 2015

E.L.F. Haul!

I don't usually do hauls, as I don't have the money to buy enough products at once to actually do a haul, but I caught a sale on E.L.F. products and decided to do my first! Hope you enjoy.

Focus T25: End of Week 2

Well, guys, I have finished week 2 of Focus T25. Slightly disappointing results compared with week 1, not gonna lie:

Last week, ending T25 Week 1, 3/21/15:
Weight: 185.2lbs 
BFP: 40%
Arm: 12"
Thigh: 22.5"

Waist: 33"

This week, ending T25 Week 2, 3/28/15:
Weight: 184.0lbs 
BFP: 41%
Arm: 11.5"
Thigh: 22"

Waist: 32.5"

Not as dramatic results as the previous week, but at least I still lost half an inch in general. I can't really vouch for the accuracy of the Body Fat Percentage (BFP), as I weighed myself three times before the scale showed me anything other than "E%" (whatever that means.) I don't think this is the program - in fact, I know exactly why I didn't lose as much this week. There are three reasons:

1) I went ham on the first day this week and severely wrenched the right half of my back. I'm talking about massively wrenching. I did the workout Sunday and woke up Monday feeling like someone took a baseball bat to my back. I had a painful knot so large in my lower right back above my pelvis that when I sat with my back to a chair, I was crooked from the lump pushing out on that side. The muscles along the curve of my right shoulder blade were incredibly tight, as well, and are still a little sore. I could not even twist to the left, because my right muscles were so tight that it wouldn't allow any large range of motion.

I kept up with the workouts, though I had to drastically modify them and take it easy because of my back pain. Finally, in desperation on Wednesday, I took a fist and essentially punched the knot out. Instant relief. But that really hindered my workouts and I know I didn't do as much as I could have, which is a big reason I didn't have better results.

2) It was a bad food week for me. I think I over-ate my allotted 1400 calories per day every single day. I went out to eat on Tuesday with my boyfriend to celebrate some good news I received at work, and then I had a retirement party to attend on Thursday, so I ate even worse than usual. I've been very hungry, which leads in to number 3:

3) I am PMSing. For any guys that this makes uncomfortable, so sorry. It's a fact of life for 50% of the Earth's population, and my PMS symptoms are, unfortunately, fairly severe. I generally bloat up three pant sizes, can't go to the bathroom, and get ravenously hungry. So, in addition to wanting to eat everything and never feeling full, I am also bloating and can't go. Plus I'm extra fatigued from it, so mustering the energy to exercise has become more difficult. None of which are helping with the whole weight-loss thing. Let's not even discuss the food cravings I've been having. Like glazed donuts. And pizza. And burgers. And molten lava cakes. And large, icy mugs of beer.

(Fans self) Is it getting hot in here? Phew. Now I know how I gained so much weight in the first place. Argh. The struggle is real.

Anyway, bring on Week 3! I refuse to let Mother Nature bring me down. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Focus T25: End of Week 1


Wow, guys, I am tired. Week 1 was so hard for me. This is a hard program, no bones about it. The calendar has you scheduled for Monday - Friday, but I decided to do Sunday - Thursday, since ain't nobody wanna be doing anything on Friday after a long work week. Fridays are the days that I just get home and collapse.

I started doing this program in the afternoons/evenings when I got home from work, but the program is so high-intensity that it would get me too amped up to sleep in the evenings. I took a deep breath, thought long and intensely about my life, and switched my workout schedule to 5:00am and moved my bedtime up to 9:30pm. Surprisingly not that hard to do! I just had to retrain my circadian rhythms, but the schedule is fine for me now, and I am already awake/alert by the time I get to work.

The program is hard. I've said this already, but I will say it again. Even when I was at my optimal body weight for my height and I was doing yoga/weight-lifting/running every day, I can say with confidence that I would have had trouble finishing each workout. Knowing this makes me feel a little better about how badly I'm sucking at this so far. That and the fact that the people in the videos who have ostensibly been doing the workouts with Shawn T for quite some time also have an incredibly hard time completing them - and this includes the woman doing the low-impact modifier exercises, which is what I do since my tendons have been blown out since 2011.

So how is the workout? The first day I had to take frequent pauses. Shawn T does not let you take a break or pause whatsoever through the videos, with the exception of Speed 1.0, where you do a 30 second active stretch in-between your high-intensity moves. It is go-go-go, and it ramps up the entire 25 minutes to a progressively harder level through the end. High cardio, of course, but that is what gives you faster results, so I don't mind it. 

Completing some of the workouts is hard, and I'll be frank - I have barely made it sometimes. A few days I finished the workouts by dry heaving into the sink in my kitchen when I went to get more water. I was so tired at the end of the week that I couldn't do the two workouts scheduled for the last day - I only made it through one. Basically my first week went like this:

BUT I PERSEVERED, DAMMIT. And I'll be durned if I didn't immediately notice a difference in myself. I am one of those people who is always tired. Always. I go to bed and wake up feeling as though I never slept. I've been tested for anemia, thyroid problems, etcetera. I take multivitamins every day. No doctor I have been do can figure out why I am always tired. All of my levels are normal and I'm not low on any mineral or vitamin. I'm just perpetually tired and feel as though I'm operating through a fog throughout my days. 

The first morning after I started Focus T25 I woke up and actually felt like I'd slept. I was full of energy - to the point that it felt as though I was dreaming it. I've been happier and I've been smarter - all of that extra oxygen to my brain is really doing a lot of good toward my cognitive processing. AND this continued through the entire week. I'm on my second rest day right now (you get two rest days), and I woke up this morning feeling the way I used to. I'm bagging hard, man. No energy at all because I didn't work out yesterday. It's such a startlingly huge difference internally. I'm not the only one who noticed - I caught a coworker looking at me oddly mid-week and said, "What's going on?" "It's just weird seeing you with energy," she said, sounding perplexed.

It's actually making such a big difference energy-wise and physically that people at work are asking me what I've been doing, and I keep catching my boyfriend surreptitiously checking me out. "You're looking really good," he told me the other day. (Compared to what I had looked like, hahaha.)

Today was the day to weigh and measure myself versus last week, and I'm not going to lie - I was kind of bummed by the weight part of it. I have a very muscular body when I work out - I'm part Viking and I think that's a big part of it. I have a solid frame and my family (myself included) tends to bulk muscle quickly. Then I noticed my body fat percentage and measurements went way down! 

Last week, starting program on 3/15/15:
Weight: 184lbs
Body Fat Percentage (BFP): 44.6%
Arm: 13"
Thigh: 23.5"
Waist: 37"

This week, ending T25 Week 1, 3/21/15:
Weight: 185.2lbs 
BFP: 40%
Arm: 12"
Thigh: 22.5"
Waist: 33"

I lost 4% of my body fat and my waist dropped FOUR inches!! I was discouraged by my weight going up a little over a pound, but I think it's just water weight. As I said, I bulk muscle quickly and I think that's why the actual scale weight has not gone down, but my BFP and waist dropping so quickly is awesome! My clothes are even already loose! 

So, to conclude, I am SUPER FREAKING THRILLED. Week 2 starts tomorrow and I'm PUMPED. Let's do this!!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Starting Focus T25...Holy Moses

Well, guys, in another desperate attempt to get my weight under control, I've started the Focus T25 program. 

I feel as though this is the recurring story of my life - feel disgusted at myself, start a workout program, get tired of it and stop, then the cycle repeats itself all over again. But I am really going to give it an honest effort this time. I think I've finally found my motivation. 

So here we go - I'm starting the Focus T25 program. I watched some reviews of it and read that if you need to lose the fat first, prior to toning, Focus T25 is the best for you. I like how short it is, as well. I live about an hour from work, so it's hard for me to find time in the day to fit in exercise. 

I used to never have a problem with working out - I used to be quite close to my "optimal" body weight. That, of course, was when I had the time to weight lift, do yoga, and go running every day when I lived on Guam. That lifestyle is just not feasible for me, though - not anymore. For one thing, I don't live in an area that supports that sort of lifestyle year-round. New England certainly is not Guam when it comes to weather that is accommodating. For another thing, I really don't have the time.

So T25 it is! I would post a before picture, but I have to be honest - I'm not that brave. I can't bring myself to do that. I can give you guys my measurements, though. Perhaps that will shame me into actually staying true to the program! Weight: 184 lbs (just eating only 1400 calories a day got me down from 192lbs - yikes, I don't even like admitting this). Waist: 37", arm: 13", thigh: 23.5". Let's see how I do!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

How to Cut Your Own Hair

So today I did something I've never done - I cut my hair myself. I've done minor trims of split ends before using the twist-and-snip method, but I've never actually cut my own hair any further than that. I've never trusted myself to do it, but lately my hair stylist hasn't been really fulfilling my needs. My stylist is actually the opposite of most stylists - she takes too little off. I liked this a lot at first, since I have fairly long hair, but after a while my dead ends started getting a little out of control, even though I don't style my hair with heat on a regular basis (maybe once or twice a week.) 

I don't have another appointment scheduled for a while, and then I came across a post from one of my favorite bloggers, the Pintester, about cutting her own hair: (see this post here: "I cut my hair and I liked it"). I thought, "Hmmm....if the Pintester can do it, I can do it!" 

I already had hair-cutting scissors from doing my own split ends, so I didn't have to go buy any, and I looked at several videos on YouTube before determining what was the best way to do my hair. My hair isn't all one length - I have three layers. The shortest goes to my shoulders, the second layer is a little longer - down to my collarbones - and the third layer is my longest hair, which was to my mid-back (before I cut it today.) 

I started by flat-ironing my hair so I didn't have to deal with my natural waves. I cut my hair dry, as well, since I had never done this before and I didn't want to take too much off by cutting it wet and then seeing it dry even shorter than I'd realized. Cutting it dry also meant that I could see exactly where the dead hair began and cut it off there, instead of having it disguised by being wet.

I first started by using this method below for a U-shape cut, which is incredibly simple to follow:

She doesn't explain anything, but essentially this is what you do:

  1. Part your hair the way you like. I always part my hair in the middle, since I feel this lends itself to more style options and I can change the part whenever I feel like it. 
  2. Pull your hair forward on each side of your neck, ensuring that it is smooth, and tie it as close to the roots and as tightly as you can.
  3. Simultaneously pull the hair ties down on each side, making sure they are even with one another, until you are at the section of hair you'd like to cut. Using the hair ties as a guide, cut off the dead hair on each side. Make sure you're checking yourself so that your cuts are even.
  4. After this step, I cut vertically into the hair to soften the blunt edges. The video doesn't show this, but I added it in to make the cut look nicer and more professional.
  5. Pull both sides of your hair back behind you in a ponytail at the nape of the neck. I left my front part in and didn't brush it out. 
  6. Pull the hair tie down until you are 2-3 inches from the bottom; pull it around your neck toward you and cut it evenly to make sure you get the remaining dead parts of your hair. Vertical cut to soften the blunt edges.
  7. Part your hair again and pull forward as you did in step 2. Using your fingers, pull your hair forward and cut so that the ends are all even. Vertically snip as before to soften the edges.
If you're happy, you can stop here. I kept going, since this cut for long hair didn't address my dead ends on my other two layers. I then used this video as inspiration for my upper layers:

I sectioned off each layer one at a time (bottom, middle, then top), and specifically used the twist-and-snip she demonstrates in this video to get rid of my split ends (which I have done before and have experience with). I then lightly cut down the twisted 1-inch sections of hair at the bottom to remove about half an inch  of the dead ends. The end results - amazing! All total I removed 1/2" - 1" of hair and my dead ends are all gone. My boyfriend is stunned - he keeps saying what a big difference it has made and how great my hair looks. 

Here are pictures of the front and back (I'm not wearing makeup, so forgive the appearance) - if parts of my hair look uneven, it's because I flipped my hair to my usual part on the left, so the hair fell differently. I also didn't take the back picture, so I had no idea that it hadn't fallen correctly down my back. BUT - when I measure it out, it's totally even across the board. 

I'm so pleased! It was so easy and it saved me $60+ getting it cut at a salon. No more dead ends and it is so soft and silky and super healthy!


Let me know if you guys try this out and if you like it!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

7 Day Green Thickie Challenge Results

Well, sorry that it took me so long to update, but I completed the 7 Day Green Thickie Challenge! Even though I succumbed once and cheated (I had some intense carb cravings and made macaroni'n'cheese, which is my favorite food of all time), I still lost 10 pounds doing this!

I went through all of the classic detox symptoms, as well. I got hives, my throat got sore and swollen, my nose ran, etcetera. But, at the end of it, I felt amazing and I was ten pounds lighter! I didn't get lightheaded from low blood sugar at all (which I get frequently), I had lots of energy, and I felt healthier than I have felt in a long time. Not to mention it was so easy thinking about dinner - usually I forget to defrost dinner, but this time I had the reassurance that I was just going to make a delicious smoothie for dinner. 

The one downside to all of this intense smoothie-making was that I burned out my blender! I had an older KitchenAid blender that I had been given upon originally moving out of my parents' home years ago that finally gave up the ghost. Since I'm a big smoothie person anyway, and considered it an investment in my health, I talked my boyfriend into getting a Vitamix with me. I compared the Vitamix to Blendtec and the Ninja, and after watching many comparison videos (I highly recommend Blending With Henry - he does the best comparisons!), I decided on the Vitamix.

I got the Vitamix 6300, which I absolutely love. It's so quiet (!) and powerful - I love that I can put it on a preset setting and walk away while my smoothies are blending without having to worry about the blender going crazy and spraying smoothie all over my kitchen. Even though the price is chest-clutching, heartburn-inducingly high, it is definitely worth it. I also look at it as an investment in my health - I don't have a gym membership, since I work out at home (I love pilates and my yoga ball), so I consider this to be sort of a one-time purchase equivalent of years of non-purchased gym memberships. :) 

Making my green smoothie for work the next day

I was already thrilled with it, and then I got a coworker of mine hooked on making green smoothies. She showed me the smoothies she made with her Ninja, and it hadn't even blended her avocado! She showed me all of the chunks in her smoothie and, not gonna lie, I was fairly grossed out. Even my old KitchenAid did a better job blending. C'mon, not even avocado? Seriously? That's like the creamiest stuff ever! I'm so glad I went with the Vitamix. 

At any rate, I highly recommend the 7 Day Green Thickie/Smoothie challenge! It's a great way to detox and feel great while doing so. I never felt hungry and, as I said, I lost 10 pounds! Sure, it may have been water weight, but that's still 10 pounds I didn't need to be carrying on my frame, and I haven't put it back on.

Sorry for the update taking longer than usual - I'm in the process of getting a new vehicle (a 2012 Hyundai Elantra Limited - I'm SO EXCITED!), so I've been pretty preoccupied. Anyway, have a great week! Ciao!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

My Favorite Mascaras, 7 Day Green Thickie Challenge, and PopSugar Must Have Box

Isn't my face AMAZING in that still? ;D 

P.S. Sorry about the audio! I'm using a new camera and I guess it's too sensitive.

L'Oreal Voluminous Original, Blackest Black
NYX Doll Eye Mascara, Extreme Black

7 Day Green Thickie Challenge:

PopSugar Must Have Box:

Get $5 off if you want to try it! Use my code: REFER5
Note: I am not getting paid to talk about this - PopSugar never sent this to me and asked me to review, or anything. I saw it somewhere online and thought it was cool, so thought I'd give it a try. It's super fun! I just extended my subscription for 6 months. :)

Hey guys! Gonna be a bit of a longer post today, since I figured I'd go more in-depth in my blog here rather than ramble on in the video (any more than I already did, at least.) 

My favorite mascaras are both affordable, drug store mascaras. They're nothing new, but they are amazing. I think the last 3-4 times I've had to replace my mascara, I've gotten these two. I like to alternate between them day to day (for no particular reason; I'm just weird, I suppose.) My lashes consistently look awesome with both of them, so I'm hooked.

The 7 Day Green Thickie Challenge! Okay, I know the challenge is from back in 2012, but I'm doing it. And I'm not just doing one a day, I'm doing 3 a day. In order to build up to it, I've been having one a day. I've already started detoxing from it, in addition to already losing 4 pounds (!) and eating clean this week. I'll start next week, on Tuesday, after my boyfriend's birthday....because, let's face it, no birthday is going to be complete without a cheat day with brewskis and unhealthy food, AMIRITE? HIGH FIVE NOTHIN' BETTER!

So anyway, I'll be starting this Tuesday. Feel free to try it or do it with me! They're pretty good, despite the initially terrifying green color. I'm sure you're wondering, "Kim? Why a green smoothie detox? Why not juice, or take pills, or do something else?" 

Here's why. I used to be pretty thin. I was maybe 3 lbs away from the healthy weight that my body type and BMI is supposed to have. I had been overweight pretty much my whole life; I have a massive sweet tooth and very low self control. You do the math. I began working at a health store, and when you get an employee discount on health food, vitamins, and protein powder, and then you get surrounded every day by incredibly fit people, you start picking up some stuff. And I thought, "This is going to change." I began taking some vitamins, working out every day, and I lost 20-30lbs. I looked and felt amazing. Most of how I fueled my body during that point in time was via power smoothies (which is, essentially, what a "green thickie" is - only green thickies are even healthier).

Then I got sick, was prescribed the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin, and my tendons were destroyed. The hospital I went to - because I was hospitalized for one of the most severe infections the hospital had seen - didn't check to see if my current medications would interact with the antibiotic. I remember calling, partway through the course of the antibiotics, and telling them my legs hurt - which was a major sign that something was wrong with that drug, and they are supposed to warn you about it - and the doctor told me to keep taking it.

What happened to me is pretty common - it's known as "getting floxed." Google it - you'll be shocked. At any rate, the Ciprofloxacin basically dissolved the tendons in both of my legs. I could barely stand up, let alone walk or move around. I would stand up from my desk only to fall down to the ground, since my legs wouldn't support me. I had to literally crawl up stairs since my legs gave out.

Fortunately, my body managed to purge most of the Ciprofloxacin toxins and I slowly regained the ability to walk again, though I am not fully better. If I have a long day where I'm on my feet a lot, my tendons start vibrating painfully, and I pull them easily. It has taken over 3 years. I can no longer run or do yoga, to my sorrow - as I discovered when I made an attempt to start running again (I miss it so much) and un-did all of the progress I had made with my tendons. As a result of being physically unable to do anything active enough to keep the weight off, I gained all of my weight back. Like, even more than I had lost originally. I currently need to lose 60 lbs in order to get back to a healthy weight. 

So, what does all of this mean when it came to me picking a detox cleanse?
  1. I wanted a cleanse that would be filling. Green smoothies are incredibly nutritious and will ensure that I get nothing but healthy, clean food, and will kill my cravings.
  2. I lost weight previously using power smoothies and have never tried it again. I figured why fix what ain't broke? I'll give it a try. And, like I said - I've only had one a day so far and I've lost 4 lbs already!
  3. I wanted a full detoxing cleanse. I'm hoping that the rest of the Cipro toxins in my body will be fully purged by shocking my system with this change in food. There won't be any chemicals being introduced to my body, so some major purging is going to take place. I've already started detoxing and can't wait to see how I feel when it's all done.
  4. Green smoothies are delicious. Seriously, they are. You can't even taste the "green" part, and you can make so many different flavors. There are even chocolate and cookie dough "dessert" thickies you can try!

So here we go! Let me know if you decide to do the Green Thickie Detox Challenge and we can cheer each other on!

TIP: If you need to be able to transport your smoothie to work/school for lunch, just make them the night before and freeze them in your container of choice. You can use mason jars or you can use smoothie cups - I have some smoothie cups with lids from a small, individual size blender set I own that I use. Take them out of the freezer in the morning when you get up/leave for work and they'll be fully defrosted and still cold by lunch!

In other news, I'm going to go paddleboarding soon, for the first time, which will be awesome! That means I have to get a rash guard...hmmm....I wonder if they'd have those at TJ Maxx? 

Until next time, guys!