Saturday, April 18, 2015

2 Years Later Update: Beauty Blender Dupe Review - Bundle Monster

My original review on the Bundle Monster dupes for the Beauty Blender is my most popular blog post. I thought perhaps people might be interested in how they have held up and how I feel about them two (2) years later!

Original video:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Focus T25: End of Week 4

End of week 4! Kind of disappointing, but I can't say I didn't expect it. I moved from PMS into full on period this week, and I was so exhausted that I really could not give my best effort to this program. I caved and had my favorite Easter candy - Cadbury Creme Eggs. Then, a short while after getting all of that Easter candy, I couldn't even finish the scheduled workout. I felt so bad about it that I threw out the rest of the candy in penitence and redoubled my workout efforts.

I seem to be retaining a lot of water this weekend, so my measurements were up a little bit, but at least my weight and body fat percentage (BFP) went down a tad. This week, I suppose, sort of cancelled itself out. At least my weight went down somewhat. And I will say that, when my monthly ended, I got all of my energy back and I went ham on my double workout day and really nailed it. I felt great. I will say, though, that the schedule had Ab Intervals and Speed 1.0 for the double, and I only did Speed 1.0, since I don't feel Ab Intervals does anything for me. I did my own ab workout, mixed with some cardio, and arm weights, for longer than the requisite 25 minutes of "ab" work, and I felt better after that than I do with Ab Intervals.

AND this is the first time in YEARS that I have been under 180 lbs!!!! I finally broke the wall! I'm so frigging excited about this - 180 has been a nightmare for me to get through and it is a big milestone for me to get there. I started my weight loss journey (before T25) at 192 lbs and now I'm down to 179, and it isn't just water weight I have lost - it's fat. So I'm pretty stoked. I still have 44 lbs to go before I hit my body's ideal weight, but I refuse to become discouraged.

End of T25 Week 3, 04/05/15:
Weight: 180.4 lbs
BFP: 39.4%
Arm: 11.5%
Thigh: 21"
Waist: 32"

End of T25 Week 4, 04/12/15:
Weight: 179 lbs (!!)
BFP: 39.1%
Arm: 11.5"
Thigh: 23" 
Waist: 33" 

Now, since this is the first warm and sunny day in a long time, I'm going to slather myself in sunscreen and head outside to work on washing/waxing my car to clean off all of the winter grime. Adieu!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Mascara Round-Up Review!

Mascara round-up review!

Includes E.L.F., Benefit Roller Lash, Maybelline The Falsies, Covergirl Full Lash Bloom, Estee Lauder Sumptuous Extreme, and Max Factor 2000 Calorie Volume!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Focus T25: End of Week 3

Part of me can't believe that I have only completed three weeks of T25, as at this point it kind of feels like I've been doing this forever. I am posting a little later this week because I needed to change my workout schedule again. I had originally begun doing this program Sunday - Thursday, but I was having problems getting the double workout finished on Thursday. I get up at 0500 to workout every day, but I live so far from work that I only have time to get one of the 30 minute workouts finished, so I would have to do the double workout after work Thursday and have time to do nothing else that day. I didn't like that. So I scooted my schedule forward two days, Tuesday - Saturday, so that Saturday was my double workout day and I could take my time.

My back still hurt like crazy this week, but I pushed through it. I also pushed through some monthly pain that I encountered, par for the course. This is the first month in many months that I was actually able to push through that kind of pain and stick with an exercise program, which makes me happy and shows me that I am making progress with my personal fitness.

This was also the week I actually checked off the "Nailed It!" box on my daily workout for the first time. Granted, it was only one day, and the rest of the days I still hit the "Barely Made It" boxes, especially since I put in so much extra effort on the Nailed It! day and exhausted myself for the rest of the week, but - again - progress.

Also showing progress is the scale! I will admit that I gave in to PMS this week and had some donuts, which probably almost definitely kept me from losing more than I did. On two different days. I am shamed, and my boyfriend looked at me accusingly when he saw the Dunkin Donuts bags, but I won't deny that it was like heaven in my mouth eating those Boston Cremes. 

(Weeps quietly)

Last week, ending T25 Week 2, 3/28/15:
Weight: 184.0 lbs 
BFP: 41%
Arm: 11.5"
Thigh: 22"
Waist: 32.5"

This week, ending T25 Week 3, 4/05/15:
Weight: 180.4 lbs
BFP: 39.4%
Arm: 11.5"
Thigh: 21"
Waist: 32"

Three weeks into the program, I think I can safely say what I find lacking overall so far. I think my measurements week to week demonstrate it quite clearly: There is little to no change in my arms, which doesn't surprise me, because T25 does not really have a focus on arm work. I'm thinking about throwing in some weights on one of my days off just for the arms to add some more tone and increase my muscle, which should increase my fat burn.

I also do not think that there is enough ab work. Shaun T always gets on you to lift your knees above your waist, which works your lower abs, and some of the kickboxing moves he throws in do work on twisting your waistline, but it really isn't enough. Even the Ab Intervals workout, while effective, focuses almost entirely on V-sits and leg lifts, and I can tell that my core is incredibly weak right now. 

Usually my core is quite strong (even if it is/was cushioned by a layer of pudge) and I can hammer out ab workouts like no one's business. Doing this program, while I am losing inches off of my waistline, I can tell my core is incredibly sub-par. The rest of me is starting to really tone, and the muscles feel firm when I press on them, but my abs are just not getting there. I know belly fat is the last to work off on the body, but I think part of this is that the program just isn't offering enough muscle development for the core. Therefore, in addition to doing some arm weights, I'm going to do a little ab work on my days off, as well, just to make sure that I'm not seriously neglecting that area.

That's all for me this week. Except that I scored a barely-used ViewSonic 22" LED monitor off of Craigslist for $45! How freaking awesome is that! I'm a Craigslist junkie and I'm always combing it for good deals. I've been meaning to actually get a monitor for a while (I have my PC hooked up to my TV), but I just can't afford one at a "new" price. I found this one posted by some guy who had used it for a Mac Mini for a few months and then put it in his basement when he got an iMac. Score! Pretty stoked about it. It's nice being able to work on my computer without having to squint at the screen.

Anyhoo, have a good week, guys! Moving into week 4 for me. 

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!!!!