Sunday, August 17, 2014

Working on my Fitness

I figured it's time for an update regarding my new found desire to work out and be more healthy.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm working with a trainer to get myself back on track and hopefully on a path to a healthier lifestyle. My trainer, Tim, has an eclectic approach to training sessions. Some days we do circuits, some days we do mostly weights, and some days are primarily cardio. 

Over the last couple weeks of training, Tim's been able to capture some photos of me working out so that I could share some of the exercises on my blog. Though I used to be an athlete when I was still in school, my body today is nowhere even close to being in the shape it was then. The exercises Tim has me do at the gym are not only accessible for anyone to do (at their own pace), but also they are all exercises that can be done at any strength level (and as you get stronger, you can add on weights, etc.).

Here are some of my favorites:

Walking squats. Any one can do this, and it's a great workout for your legs and tush!

Want to step up your squats? Hold a medicine ball or weights. Don't have weights?
Get creative... bags of groceries, your pet... 

Step Ups. Up with the right, then left. Down with the right, then left. Next, reverse it
by going up first with your left. Do this for a minute and trust me, you'll feel it! Weights
can also be added to this exercise.

If you have a resistance band, loop it around a pole/bench and wa-la! Many exercises in one!
Loop it down and pull up for biceps. Loop it high and pull down for triceps. 

These next videos are exercises that require you to be at the gym, or a facility that has a sled and heavy ropes.

This first video is me pushing a sled with 135 Lbs. on top. Pushing it from the longer/taller end gives me more leverage to push a little faster. In the next video, I am pushing the weight from the lower end which is much more difficult. This exercise works out everything: Arms, core, legs. And the best part is, although it sucks while you're doing it, it's actually kind of fun (I feel like a badass when I'm done).


video


video

This last video is of me using the battle ropes. Tim has me whip the ropes in an alternating fashion, producing waves in the ropes. Other exercises including moving the ropes up and down at the same time producing one large wave, doing lunges while moving the ropes, and moving side to side. The battle ropes are great for gaining arm strength, and also for stabilizing the core and strengthening legs. I have a hard time remembering to look up and keep my butt down, but overall, I can definitely see an improvement in how long I can keep the ropes going without giving up.


video

What exercises do you like to do at home or at the gym? I'd love some suggestions for things to do at home one the days I don't make it in to see Tim!

Until then, keep working it out.
-Jess


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Frame of Mind

If you've followed my blog over the last couple of years, you know I love my Warby Parkers. I got my first pair back in September 2011, and since then, I've become a huge fan of the brand. (Miss my previous posts? Check 'em out here!)

Aside from the frame designs, there are two more things I love about Warby Parker.

1) Buy a Pair, Give A Pair: For every pair of frames purchased, Warby Parker gives a pair to people in need. So far, they've distributed one million pairs of glasses with the help of their nonprofit partners. Click on the link to watch their video. It's pretty awesome. You can look good, and feel good about it.

2) 5 Pairs. 5 Days. At Home Try-On: Looking at glasses online and trying to figure out if they will complement the shape of your face, eyes, etc. is a daunting task. Fortunately for me for all of us, Warby Parker has a solution. You can pick five frames (that will be shipped to you for free), wear them around for five days to figure out which you like best, buy your faves online, and ship back the samples. (Return shipping: also free. Winner, winner.)


I have the Huxley frames in Whiskey Tortoise

It's been a couple of years since I've picked up a new pair of frames, but I think it's about time. Warby Parker's new Beacon Collection (which launches today!) is the perfect reason to step up my frame game. 

The Beacon Collection is inspired by those days that start out with no plans, but end up being all-nighters full of memories. Those days that seem to pass us by too quickly, and turn into those nights that you wish could bottle up and re-live again and again. 

It's basically a collection that describes my ideal summer: too many good memories to count, and not enough days to fit it all in. They're a lifestyle... a frame of mind that's open to anything, up for adventure, and never ready to call it a night.








Images provided by Warby Parker

Warby Parker describes the collection as frames that "make a similarly fine companion to late night dates, rooftop sunrises, and everything in between." The collection is unexpected, unsupervised, and easy.

GJU Gets the Inside Scoop

I was lucky enough to get the inside scoop on WP's new frames in the Beacon Collection before the launch. Love eyeglasses but don't need them? Not to worry. Several of the styles are available in sunglasses.

I did my homework, and here's my summary of the Beacon Collection. Get in-the-know, get on their website, and find your Beacon frame of mind.

Garrett
Distinctive. Smart. Refined.
These frames are perfect for the work day/happy hour/night out on the town transition. The Oak Barrel pair reminds me of my Huxley's.

Oak Barrel


Blue Slate Fade


McKee
Easygoing. Sprightly. 
I am obsessed with the McKee in Moonstone. The round frames and grey matte color are a cool combo that I think would accent any gal on the go.

Whiskey Tortoise

Moonstone

Ingram
Shades of leisure and revelry.
Something about these frames reminds me of Ferris Bueller. And I think that's perfectly fitting. 

Revolver Black

Tiger Tortoise

Nancy
Cosmopolitan, world traveler. Oversized frames to match and oversized personality.
The Lemon pair? Be still my beating heart. 

Tourmaline

Lemon


So, which pair speaks to you and your lifestyle? If you couldn't tell from my editorial comments, I am swooning over the McKee in Moonstone and the Nancy in Lemon. 

Let me know which one's get you in the right frame of mind. Once we have our Beacons, let's go out. See you there.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

YOU WIN, July.

Let it be known that the first two weeks of July kicked my ass (and not in a good way).

Here's the break down of the bad luck cloud that hovered over me:

1) I nearly chopped off my thumb. In a feeble attempt to be Top Chef cook myself a healthy dinner, whilst separating frozen salmon, the knife slipped and my left thumb was in its path. Point of impact: top part of the thumb at the first knuckle, right where it bends. That knife got me good. Bleeding like faucet, I rushed to Patient First, and quite frankly I'm unsure how I even made it there without getting a speeding ticket and without hyperventilating/losing control of my moving vehicle. After X-rays to make sure the knife didn't hit bone, needles to numb my finger, and six stitches, I was sent home, but not without consolation prizes! I left with half a roll of gauze wrapped around my thumb, a splint, and a sling so I could keep the stitches elevated. WINNER, WINNER! I documented this adventure along the way, for your entertainment. (Warning: photo of stitches. Not the prettiest of things to see.) Also, if this is what I get for trying to eat healthy, I'm going to the drive-thru next time. Much safer.

After being stitched up, on the table at Patient First.  Note: gym attire.
I hadn't even been home three minutes from the gym when the chaos ensued.

The following day at work rocking the sling like a champ.
I was super ineffective that day, but IMHO, I made that sling WORK.

My hardware. #BrassKnuckles

Stitches after 5 days.

2) As if almost removing my thumb wasn't enough fun for one week, my credit card number was hijacked. Some ignoramus charged $416 at CVS, $592 and The Home Depot, and then tapped off his gas tank with a modest $20 fill up. First of all, what the hell do you buy at CVS for $416? Second of all, if you're spending hundreds elsewhere, why not just fill up your whole tank while you're at it? Why be frugal now? Luckily, it didn't take long for Bank of America to contact me and turn off the card. They were on top of it pretty quickly, but it's not like it was difficult fraudulent activity to notice. I don't do Home Depot.

Shitty Timing

The thumb incident of 2014 couldn't have come at a worse time in regard to my personal training venture. I've been trying to make it to the gym/work out on a regular basis, but not being able to use my hand fully has compromised that undertaking.

However, I will give myself a solid pat on the back because despite the injury, I have remained committed to working out as best I can. It wouldn't have happened without the help, expertise, and patience of my trainer Tim. You don't realize how much you use and need your thumb until you can't use it. Over the past couple weeks, Tim has been super creative in building different strength training, cardio, and circuit training workouts that don't involve much use of my thumb. I mean... he's a seriously talented trainer. No matter the fact that one hand was essentially out of order, he put together various workouts that still maximized our time together. (That said, if you have any workout, diet, or fitness related questions, you can reach Tim at TRider@macwellness.com)

Update on the healing: I no longer have to wear the splint or the sling. On Saturday, I got the stitches removed, and today was the first day I didn't have the wound covered at all. The doctor said it's going to take a while for the wound to heal because it's so deep, but that I should try to start bending my thumb and treating it like a regular cut (it can get wet, doesn't need to be covered 24/7). It definitely is still sensitive to the touch, and hurts if pressed on too hard. Right now during workouts I just try to be as careful as possible.

Update on fitness and lifestyle improvements: I definitely feel stronger. After not having been to the gym in 2.5 years to going 3-4 times a week with structured workouts, I can feel my muscles waking up. That feeling energizes me to keep going. I know I am on the right path to a healthier lifestyle. However, my downfall remains: I snack. And when I'm not at the gym or work, I am on my couch. Probably with a snack. I need to snack less, and add in a little more activity during my day, like taking Bruiser on longer walks, or doing some crunches before bed. I am proud of the fact that I've kept up with the gym, but until I make changes in other areas like diet, I won't see the results I want to see.

Tim did some re-measurements last week. I gained three pounds, but my fat mass reduced by 1.5% and I lost an inch on both thighs, waist, and chest. He assured me that the weight gain is muscle mass building, but I'd be lying if I said the news didn't sting a little. I didn't understand how I was gaining, even though I've been working out more than I had in years.

Admittedly: I also have a little bit of BBQ guilt. It's been a busy summer, and even though I want to lose weight, I also want to enjoy my summer. I don't like the idea of deprivation. I am going to enjoy myself at these summer get-togethers (without going overboard), and will combat the calories with working out. It's a give and take for me at this point. Perhaps right now I'm taking too much, evidenced by my stomach getting bigger, not smaller. But, moving forward, I hope to give a little more and take a little less... ideally resulting in a leaner body composition. We'll see!

Workout Gear Refresh

It wouldn't be a GJU post without a fashion shout-out. I picked up some great workout tops and spandex from Marshall's a couple weeks ago, but I was also curious to try Fabletics. With Fabletics, you can buy individual pieces, or pre-styled outfits based on styles and colors you like. I decided to give it a try, and I chose a pre-styled outfit. Also, because it was my first purchase, I got an amazing discount. I bought a sports bra, top, and a pair of workout pants for $29! Such a steal! I absolutely love the bright colors and designs that Fabletics offers. The outfit I chose is the Santorini-- I love the mint green color (comes in other color combos as well) and I love the style of the tank and sports bra. Both the tank and sports bra have a cut out on the back. The cut outs are a cool feature, but I was a little worried there wouldn't be enough support with the bra. Luckily, it fit perfectly!

Full outfit

Love the matching mint detail in the sports bra

Cut out!

Double cut-out

Kinda crappy photo quality on this but I took a quick back selfie so you could
see what the bra looks like. Please excuse the poor photo quality, but
at 5:30 am before a 6 am workout, it's the best I could get :)

Have you tried Fabletics? What pieces did you get?

Until next time,
GJU

Monday, July 14, 2014

crop tops & high waists

I gave in.

At first, I wasn't feeling this look: crop tops and high waisted skirts/bottoms. I thought it was borderline trashy to show your stomach, and mainly I avoided the look because I don't have the smallest figure ideal for this style. But... one day I was wasting time perusing the aisles of Marshall's and after spotting a super cute colorful crop top with a cut out back (double-duty!), I decided to give it a go.

Turns out: it didn't look so bad! What makes it work is that the part of your stomach that's bare is the smallest part. I paired the top with a high waisted skirt that flows over my hips/tummy, accentuating my waist and flattering my curvier curves. I'm a believer now that this style can be flattering on different body types when styled correctly.

Fast-forward two weeks: I've become a little more comfortable with the look and have managed to wear it out and about without being completely self-conscious. At this point, I'd only wear a crop top with a high waisted skirt. Some people pair crop tops with skater skirts (short, flared skirts) or high waisted shorts, but I don't think those options would be as flattering for my body type and shape.

This is the original outfit from Marshall's:


Since I broke the crop top seal, I've picked up a couple other ones to add to my wardrobe... all from the same place, actually.  I randomly stopped into Abercrombie & Fitch (because I had a sneaking suspicion they'd have them) and BOOM. Crop tops everywhere. I haven't shopped there in a while for a couple reasons: 1) Their clothes are cut way too small for me and 2) I kind of outgrew the California dreamin' graphic tee phase. However, I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. Lots of feminine, pretty lace tops and floral pieces perfect for summer style.

Here are the three tops I snagged that day:

Rylie Crop Top, A&F, Similar Style, $38
Don't have a full body pic, but I wore this top with this floral maxi skirt.

Natasha Crop Top, A&E, $28
Natasha Crop Top, A&F, $28
Wore this one on the 4th of July with the white skirt from Marshall's and a red striped scarf

As the summer days get warmer, I am excited to try out new variations of this look. Here is some of my current inspiration...

Friend In Fashion

Bedazzles After Dark

Vanessa Hudgens, E! Online

Lupita Nyong'o, Handbag.com

Kaley Cuoco, Reveal

Free People

Is this something you'd try? Do you have a favorite crop top and high waist look for summer? Do share, please!

Monday, June 30, 2014

The weight is over...

... and I mean that in a couple of ways.

1) Thanks for waiting for me, and being so patient with me as a I took a moth off from blogging to get my life in order. I have an update! I am now in grad school pursuing a Masters of Education in School Counseling. I've always wanted to work with kids in this kind of setting, and I am so excited to have finally gotten to this point. I am in school full time now, and still working part time, leaving me very little time to sit down on blog. However, now, I have something new to blog about.

2) My weight has been a struggle for me the last couple of years, but recently it's been stuck on the up train. I'm blaming no one but myself for this. Admittedly, I'm a big snacker, and in the last 2.5 year I've been the gym (maybe) 4 times. I am not saying that I am fat, but I am definitely out of shape, and as I like say: soft. It's time for me to get back on track and start living a healthier lifestyle. It's not about losing weight anymore. It's about being more active in my every day life, and making better choices when it comes to food and snacking.

In an effort to jumpstart my lifestyle change, I've enlisted the help of a trainer. Over the new couple of weeks, I'll be working out with the help and guidance of Tim Rider at the MAC in Harbor East (Pssst.... Baltimore peeps-- check him out! He's a fabulous trainer!). During that time, I'll document any progress and share with you tips and tidbits that I pick up along the way. My hope is that, if nothing else, this blog motivates me to keep going and holds me accountable for choices I make. If I can inspire you to make healthy choices, that's great too!

This is not to say that I won't be enjoying my summer. Let's be honest. I love eating out, going to BBQs, and enjoying all the fruity, umbrella drinks the summer has to offer! It does mean, though, that I'll be combating that with keeping an active, healthier lifestyle, and making better food choices overall as best I can. I'm thinking of it as a lifestyle change rather than a diet. I suck at diets.

My first weigh in and measurement with Tim (last Sunday) left me feeling a little anxious. Here's where we're starting:

Weight:
Weight: 155.2 lbs.
Body fat: 34.0% (Yikes. This should be closer to the mid-20's)
Fat mass: 52.81 lbs. (what this means is that 52 lbs of my body is fat mass)
Lean mass: 102.41 lbs.
TBW (total body water): 75.01 lbs. (what this means is that 75 lbs of my body is water weight)

Admission: I weighed myself two days into meeting with Tim and it had risen to 157 lbs. This was after Tim told me to hide my scale and forget that I even own it. He told me that my body composition is going to be changing, and my weight is going to fluctuate as I build muscle. He also said I'm going to feel hungrier now that I am working out and my body will need different kinds/amounts of nourishment. Though I was discouraged that my weight had gone up even more, I took Tim's advice, and have since removed the scale from my apartment.

Measurements:
Chest: 34.5"
Waist: 31.75"
Hips: 41.74"
Thighs: 25.5"
Arms (Bicep): 11.25"

It's not easy to throw this information out there. I feel exposed a little bit. But I am hoping that feeling of exposure motivates me. My goal isn't just to lose weight. That would definitely be a bonus, but ultimately, I'd like to build lean muscle and tone/firm my stomach, thighs, and arms. If at the end of the day I weight the same but I'm a hell of a lot stronger and leaner, then I have succeeded.

I've had 4 personal training sessions since I started last Sunday, and although I feel like nothing's happened yet (except for the 2 lb. weight gain UGH), I know that I am making positive changes for the better. I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Any work out tips or recipe ideas? Please share them with me!

P.S. I just went shopping and got some cute workout gear! Next post topic? Probably!

P.P.S. Here's a pre-work out selfie... keep in mind, I am sucking it in with all of the internal force that I can. Walking around in 100% spandex is a new adjustment for me. I found work out pants with wider bands at the waist to hold me in a little better...






Monday, May 19, 2014

Poshed Up for Preakness

"Crab cakes and football. That's what Maryland does!"

That's one of my favorite quotes from "Wedding Crashers"... and it happens to be true! (here's a clip. great scene!) But I have to add one little thing that Maryland does: Horse racing.

Preakness, in particular.

When California Chrome won the Kentucky Derby, the stakes were high and the crowds were hopeful for another victory.

Aside from the racing, betting, and outdoor debauchery that ensues from copious amounts of day drinking, Preakness is an event that calls for pomp and circumstance. Women are donned in fancy dresses and big hats. Men are spruced up in suits, bow-ties, and all things seer sucker. It's a bountiful bevy of pastels and boat shoes, which I for one, thoroughly enjoy.

[[ Sound familiar? Perhaps it's because last year I wrote a post on Preakness 2013. You can check it out here :) ]]

Here are some of the pics I took at Preakness this past weekend:

Selfie on the way to the races

Another, because... because.

My hat for the day!

Some friends we made on the infield
Some friends we made inside

We really liked his pants

Blue and yellow

Clydesdales
Mallory was my date for the day :)


Racing right in front of us!

Setting up for the Preakness

Our seats were so close to the starting gates!

Everyone was ready for the final race!

Want to Get Jessed Up?
Dress: Jessica Simpson, Nordstrom, $98
Wedges: Target, Similar $29.99
Sandals: Jack Rogers. $110
Hat: Walmart (Came in a pack of two for $7-- such a steal!) Similar, $8

Beautiful weather and good friends made for a wonderful weekend! How was yours?!