Beat the Bloat 5-day Challenge

Between traveling 2 out of the 4 weeks in November, coming down with the flu and walking pneumonia simultaneously (think human viral/bacterial incubator), plus holiday party food consumption (oh you know, cookies, tamales, and more), my diet has seriously suffered.  In turn, my body has too!  I feel sluggish and swollen.  Ugh.  So, I decided that for the next 5 days, I would kick my healthy habits and physical activity into high gear with the “Beat the Bloat 5-day Challenge”.  This challenge is also partially inspired by the fact that I hate feeling swollen and bloated on days when I want to wear cute holiday outfits, so it will be dual-purposed. 🙂  I hope you’ll join along!  Here’s what I have in mind:

Since about August of this year, I’ve managed to do a relatively decent job of maintaining some form of physical activity on a daily basis and also managing to eat somewhat healthy foods.  It all started off with the Whole30 challenge I participated in the month of August, wherein I followed the Whole30 diet for 30 days; in short, no sugar/legumes/grains/alcohol/dairy.  Surprisingly, I did not lose much weight, but I did pick up some new recipes, healthy habits, and I did see some muscle definition.  For this 5-day challenge, I plan to eat similarly, though not as extremely.  For example, I will allow legumes, limited sugar, and some dairy.  Here are some recipes I plan to use this week:

Grilled Chicken with a side of tomato and avocado, seasoned only with lime juice (not from a bottle, but from a real lime) and salt.  YUMMY and super filling.

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Grilled Chicken/Steak/Fish salad with yummy ad-on’s (remember, the goal is to eat lighter/healthier, but not exactly like on Whole30).  This salad is from a local restaurant – Urban Cookhouse:

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Eating at restaurants can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible to eat healthy while out and about!  Here’s a blackened salmon dish from Ruby Tuesday’s (Photo: duplooyduo.wordpress.com)

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I’m big on eating snacks, so here are a couple of my favorites from my time on Whole30:

1) Green apple with almond butter:

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and, 2) carrot sticks with Wholly Guacamole!  SO delicious!!

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Finally, coffee.  Oh coffee…how I love thee.  After Whole30, I am able to drink coffee black (IF it is good coffee), but otherwise, do love a good soy latte from Starbucks.

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Coffee is particularly essential while traveling…

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Lately, I have a grande soy latte for breakfast (nothing else – that’s right, no pastries, bagels, nuts, etc.) and then eat lunch around 11-11:30am (see examples above).  I may have 100 calorie snack around 3pm, and then a light dinner (see above).

Now, for the exercise.  As a momma of two, time is limited, so this is how I manage to squeeze in some physical activity during the day:

1) I do 40 pushups, 30 or so squats, and two 1-minute planks a day.  I usually do 20 pushups, a 1-minute plank before I shower and then do 30 squats in the shower.  This *maybe* takes me 3 minutes to do.

Push-up (do “real” push-up’s, not modified ones), plank, and squat positions (more on these and other workouts on my “workout” Pinterest board:

2) At least 30 minutes of physical activity.  That can include a walk from building to building for a meeting, taking the stairs, or if you are able, 30 minutes on the treadmill/elliptical.  When I am able to get on the treadmill, I like to run for the first 15 minutes, then I do arm exercises for 10 minutes (e.g. biceps, triceps, etc while walking at a comfortable pace), and then walk at the highest incline for the last 5 minutes.  It’s not a very difficult workout and not super tiring, so a nice one to do if you have to fit it in at 11pm. 🙂

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So what do you think?  Not too difficult or physically demanding, right??  I hope you’ll join me!  It’s only 5 days, and hopefully by Friday, you’ll feel a bit less bloated and a bit more toned. Here’s to de-bloating before the holiday break!!  Follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter using the hashtag #chicsbeatthebloatchallenge.  Feel free to comment below if you have any questions or need further clarification.  Looking forward to your updates!

Until next time!  Stay Chic!

Thirfty Thursday’s – Sleeveless Tuxedo Dress DIY

This week, I got a little creative and crafty!  As you may recall, my friend Natasha from Baby T’s Fashion Diaries and I have joined forces for a two-part thrifting series.  Last week’s post was a huge success and many of you have mentioned that you were inspired to go thrift shopping as well!  I’m so glad that the post was inspiring.  Hopefully today’s will be as well. 🙂

This week, Natasha and I decided to take a thifted item and ‘repurpose’ it.  Make it work, as Tim Gunn from Project Runway would say.  So we did!  Take a look at what we did below:

Part 1:  The Inspiration – I’ve really wanted a sleeveless tuxedo dress for a while now. When I saw this Neil Barrett Tuxedo dress on Intermix.com for $1495 I knew I had to find a more affordable version of this dress.  So, when Natasha and I agreed to write this blog post together, I knew exactly what item I was going to repurpose!

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                    Neil Barrett Tuxedo Dress, $1495 (Intermix.com)

Part 2: The Thrifted Item – A men’s tuxedo style blazer/jacket.  I went straight to the men’s section of the thrift store (after all, I really only had a few minutes to shop with 2 kids in tow), and picked one that would be long enough to wear as a dress and didn’t have any holes or stains, etc.  Ten minutes and $6 later, I was the proud owner of this jacket:

$6 men's jacket from the Salvation Army

Part 3: The Sleeveless Tuxedo Dress:  Remove sleeves and sew extra material into inside of jacket and voila!  A sleeveless tuxedo dress!  I paired it with a Zara ruched sleeved top for work and added a Victoria’s Secret lace slip (which I scored for $4 at their recent Semi-Annual Sale) underneath to add length, but otherwise, also great to wear alone with a pair of shooties, like the ones I’m wearing here from Ann Taylor!

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Intermix vs Thrifted DIY

So, what do you think??  Let me know if you would like me provide specific details about the repurposing process and I’ll post a tutorial!

Otherwise, take a look at what Natasha found and did with her thifted item this week!  I love how she repurposed her skirt to make it into a more youthful-looking skirt!

Midi skirt to above the knee full skirt!Doesn’t she just look darling?!  A full-lenth midi skirt hemmed to show off her fabulous gams.  Love!  Read more about her process on Baby T’s Fashion Diaries!

Finally, let me know if you’re enjoying these thrifting posts in the comments section below.  Maybe this thrifting thing can be a weekly thing from now on. 🙂

Until next time!  Stay Chic!!

Two Bloggers, One Thrifting Challenge

About a month ago, my dear friend (also super sweet and so gorgeous) Amy from My Soapbox Moment, and I decided to take on a thifting challenge.  We agreed to spend $20 on a thrifted outfit, including shoes.

At first, I thought, oh sure, $20 dollars, no problem.  Then I got to the store and realized, this challenge was going to be more difficult than I thought!  That is, until I really started to actively look through the racks of clothing at the store.  Then, I had more clothes than I knew what to do with, haha!

I’ll tell you what prompted me to even consider this challenge.  A while back I heard a story on NPR (I wish I could remember the name of the segment…), where they mentioned that the average person in Alabama only has about $7 a month to spend on clothing.  $7 a month!  That’s nothing!!  So it made me think about the young woman going in for her first job interview, or perhaps the one that landed her first job out of college and needs an office-appropriate look for her first day of work. Or maybe the graduate student going to her very first scientific conference.  What can she afford to buy?

So off to Salvation Army I went.  With this young woman in mind.  And I was faced with racks and racks of clothing.  SO many clothes!  It can be a little overwhelming for the novice shopper, but not me!  I’m a pro. 😉

black rackHere’s how I approach racks.  Usually, they are categorized either by color (as in picture above) or type of garment.  So, I actively search the racks for colors or fabrics that stand out and catch my eye.  Take a look at this rack, for example:

Clothing selectionOf course it depends on what colors and prints you tend to wear, but in my case, I was immediately drawn to the cobalt blue top.  The color is very on trend and the fabric doesn’t look wrinkled, which likely means that it won’t wrinkle at home either.  By the way, this top came home with me. I’ll be styling this top on Instagram in the coming week!

After looking through multiple racks – okay ALL of the racks – I found two outfits, which I envisioned this girl wearing to work/conference during the day, then to happy hour with her girlfriends to celebrate her first day on the job or a successful poster presentation!  Take a look at what I put together for the ‘day look’:

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0722141808aAn orange and black number for my day look.  I thought the top was feminine, conservative, and office appropriate.  I went with a basic, black pencil skirt that she could wear over and over with different types of tops. Finally, because it is summer, a pair of peep-toe heels. In retrospect, I could have done without the belt…but, the young woman I have in mind is a ‘chic’ academic, a ‘chic’ professional, so a chic belt it is!  The bag (a Phillip Lim for Target) was also not included in the budget, but it’s currently my go-to work bag.  Why?  Basically, my MacBook Pro fits in it, so it’s the perfect bag for work!

Here’s the price breakdown:

  1. Chico’s Black Label top, $3
  2. New York and Company pencil skirt, $2.50
  3. Anne Michele Peep Toe Heels, $4

Total cost for this outfit: $9.50 (sans accessories)

Okay, so a little more than $7, but maybe she can borrow $2.50 from her girlfriend, right?!

For the ‘happy-hour-after-work look’, I wanted to be able to stay within the $20 proposed spending limit, which meant, I only had another $10.50 left to spend.  So, I purchased the Bisou Bisou top you see below, which is super versatile.  It is another very on trend piece, reminiscent of Mara Hoffman or Clover Canyon, in my opinion.  Take a look and tell me what you think:

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0722141820Here’s the price breakdown:

  1. Bisou Bisou top, $5
  2. Same New York & Co skirt from previous outfit, $2.50
  3. Same Anne Michele shoes from previous outfit, $4

Total cost for this outfit: $11.50 (but only $5 additional dollars from the $9.50 spent for the previous outfit and also not including accessories)

In all, I spent $14.50 and had two outfits to wear! With the $5.50 left, I could certainly have searched for some accessories, but unfortunately the ones available that day did not strike my fancy. 😀

The most difficult part was finding shoes that fit in my budget.  These shoes were actually tagged new, so I went with these shoes as opposed to a black-goes-with-everything pair of used shoes.  The orange tone was somewhat limiting, but I wanted to buy something that was going to last, that I would actually wear again, and that would work beyond the scope of this blog post.  So, orange it was and I chose clothing items accordingly. 😉

The shoes were originally $8, but on Thursdays at the Salvation Army, certain colored tags get discounted a certain percentage.  I didn’t know this when I arrived, but happened to chat with the security guard standing by the door, who spilled the beans!  Here’s what he had to say:

  • At least at the Hoover, AL store, Thursdays are the BEE-NEEZ.  That’s the day to shop because some of the items in the store receive an additional discount.  The discount varies from week to week
  • There’s no sales tax on items purchased at the Salvation Army.  I DID NOT KNOW THAT!  Did you?!  And some items are new!  Totally worth revisiting your opinion of thrift stores, if you had a bad one to begin with.  Don’t you think?
  • If at first you don’t succeed in finding what you’re looking for, try asking the sales associates.  They know the stores like the back of their hand and can almost always help you find what you had in mind.

The day I went, it so happened that the purple tags had an additional 50% discount.  So, the shoes, the skirt and the orange button down top were all 1/2 off!  The multi-colored Bisou Bisou top was originally priced $5, and didn’t have any additional discounts.  Do be very careful and inspect all garments and or shoes before purchasing.  Remember, these items are all donated…often because they have a defect of some sort.  Keep these tips in mind when considering thrifted clothing:

  • Inspect for holes, tears, snags, etc.
  • Smell the garment.  If it smells moldy, reeks of perfume/cologne, etc…you should prob stay away from it.
  • Take a look at where the tag has been placed.  At the Salvation Army, all price tags are stapled on to the clothes.  If the item is silk, or some other delicate fabric and the staples are placed somewhere other than the tag, chances are, you will have holes in your new thrifted item when you get home and remove the tag. No bueno!
  • Finally, go for fit versus brand when selecting items.  Sometimes, you’ll find gems in garments with no tags, unknown brands, or simply items that might be considered vintage.  No one is going to pay attention to the tag that sits INSIDE the clothes you are wearing.  They will, however, see if the fit is amazing, or if it makes you look like a frumpy grump. 😉

So, last night, Amy and I compared notes!  And guess what, she found some fab outfits as well!!  Visit her blog for details on what she paid for each item, but generally, I’ll tell you that she spent about $15 for her day look (vintage, thrifted necklace included), which is so FAB by the way:

photo 4and about $14 for her evening look (accessories not included, but were purchased at a significant discounted price!):

photo 1Didn’t she do an amazing job?  I LOVE the color of the evening dress…perfect for a dinner with the hubs, al fresco!  And the polka dot shoes, with the striped dress…LOVE!  Great pattern mixing.  I’m also in love with the day look…every girl needs a little black dress.  Amy is the sweetest woman I know on Instagram!  So full of energy, love, and happiness.  It shows through in every picture she posts. Make sure to follow her on Instagram to keep up with more of her fabulousness!

So, how do you think we did??! Comment below or feel free to head over to my Instagram or Twitter and leave comments there!

Until next time, friends, stay chic!

PS – A special thank you to my hubby hubs for taking my pictures for this post! Love ya, hubby!