Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Fashionable Fit Girl: Styling Tips and Inspiration

Have leggings and gym shoes taken over your closet?? Join me on my fashion journey! As a personal trainer and fitness enthusiast, I admit I am guilty of wearing lululemon to holiday parties, gym shoes to church and leggings to bed (and the store, to dinner, and every other place where most people are decked out in fashionable boots, blouses, jeans and accessories). 

It's not that I haven't tried to "build" my wardrobe (though I know more about building core strength).  Yes, I have a Pinterest fashion board. And, yes, I've been to the mall at least once (but no more than twice) in the past year.  Truthfully, it overwhelms me.  I see something I like, and then panic sets in.  What bottoms would I wear with this top?  Does it match my purple Nikes?

Enter Stitch Fix. I had never heard of Stitch Fix until last month, when a friend (who is also tall like me), told me about it. Neither of us enjoy going to the store and shopping.  And we both have a difficult time finding clothes that fit because of our height, arm length and build.  She suggested I try Stitch Fix and, within a week, I was anticipating my first delivery!

You begin by filling out your Style Profile here. This helps Stitch Fix understand your size, style, shape, budget and lifestyle.  It takes less than ten minutes.  Pick the date you'd like to receive your shipment.  You'll receive five clothing items and accessories handpicked.  There is a $20 styling fee, but this is applied as a credit toward anything you keep from your shipment.  Buy what you like and return the rest! There are no shipping fees. Provide feedback! The more feedback you provide, the more customized your future Fixes will be.  You can even create your own Stitch Fix Style Pinterest Board for your personal stylist to reference!

Much like a personal trainer, your own personal stylist knows where your interest lies and provides you with the resources to bring your vision to life.  Want to do a pull-up? Let's start with lat pulldowns.  Want to have a functional, fashionable wardrobe? Let's start with dark skinny jeans and a new blouse!  Yes please.  Stay tuned for more fashion inspiration and wardrobe ideas.

Fix #3 - Styled by Amy
My favorite thing about this Stitchfix delivery was that I received one of exact tops I had pinned to my Stichfix Style Pinterest Board!  And while I didn't receive the shoes I had requested, Amy let me know she's working on finding a pair to send next month.  I've become a huge fan of skinny jeans, and was eager to have them in a lighter wash.  Similar to the dark pair I received in Fix #1, they are extremely stretchy and I love the fit.

Reggie Skinny Jean by Henry & Belle
Stylist Suggestion:  I know you were wanting some distressed skinnies, but I found this amazing lighter wash pair from Henry & Belle in a longer length for you, perfect for Spring. Pair them with ankle boots or flats for easy weekend looks.
My Reaction: The fit! I love the stretchy feel of these skinny jeans and wore them within a day of receiving my Fix.  They're a great, more casual, option along with the dark skinnies I received in Fix #1.
Outcome: KEEP!

Colibri Solid Tab Sleeve Blouse by 41Hawthorn

Stylist Suggestion:  The 41Hawthorn blouse reminded me of your Pinterest board and I know you're needing to add some green to your wardrobe.
My Reaction: While the fabric of this shirt tends to "cling," I absolutely love the color and wore it the day after receiving my Fix.  I also love that the sleeves are 3/4 and have tabs so I don't have to worry about a full length blouse that's "too short" on my long arms.
Outcome: KEEP!

Carlottia Cut Out Back Top by Papermoon

Stylist Suggestion:  The Papermoon blouse I picked reminded me of your Pinterest.  Pair it with the jeans for date night or girls' night out!
My Reaction: I was eager to see another top that resembled one I had pinned to my Stichfix Style Pinterest Board. The first time I tried it on, I really liked the color and the detail on the back side.  However, the arm holes felt snug and that was enough reason for me to send it back.
Outcome: RETURN!
Celso Mesh Detail Knit Top

Stylist Suggestion:  Pair with the Henry & Belle jeans for easy weekend looks. 
My Reaction: The floral print reminded me of some tops I have pinned, however this one, with the longer sleeves, seemed a bit "too floral."  I liked the stretch fit and the sleeve length, but not enough to keep it.
Outcome: RETURN!
Seaside Mix Material Top

Stylist Suggestion:  Pair with the Henry & Belle jeans for easy weekend looks. 
My Reaction: I've definitely indicated that I like contrasting prints that give something "character," however I wasn't a huge fan of these mixed fabrics.  From the front, the top looked "ordinary" to me, and the flowy, slightly sheer, backside was too much contrast.  I wasn't a fan of the boxy shape either.
Outcome: RETURN!

Fix #2 - Styled by Amy
I was EXTREMELY happy with my second fix!  After sharing my blog review of Fix #1, I heard from others about Stitchfix not listening to feedback and requests.  I was a bit concerned.  When I completed my checkout for Fix #1, I was as specific as possible when listing the likes and dislikes toward each item.  There is also a comment box that allows you to make specific requests. For example, I asked for distressed jeans, more blouses and tops with mixed prints/patterns.  I also referenced my Stichfix Style Pinterest Board, where I had pinned several tops and bottoms. Stitchfix encourages you to caption the pins with what you like about the item (color, length, style, combination of tops and bottoms, etc).

When each Fix arrives, you also receive a personalized note from your stylist.  I had the same stylist for Fix #2 that I did for Fix #1 (I had to confirm that just not, as I'm assuming they keep the same stylist with each customer?).  Amy referenced my previous Fix and the positive feedback I had provided. "I'm so glad those skinnies worked out for you."  And, to my surprise, she even referenced my Pinterest board!  She told  me she had found the Papermoon and 41Hawthorn blouses because they "remind me of your Pinterest board."  Woo-hoo! Five stars for customer service.  She won me over with those comments.  Overall, I was very please with the items I received and have summarized my Fix below.

Norah Distressed Flare Jean by DRD
Stylist Suggestion:  I'm so glad those skinnies worked out for you, but this time I wanted to try something on the opposite side of the spectrum, so I picked out the DRD distressed bootcut jeans in a 35" inseam you can dress up or down.  Wear them for a night out with either pair of boots you mentioned (I had referenced a black bootie boot and brown lace up that I would like to wear more often) and the Papermoon or 41Hawthorn blouses.
My Reaction: While I appreciated the effort, especially considering the inseam was 35," these didn't fit as well as I had hoped.  I have become accustomed to the stretchy fit of leggings and skinny jeans, so they felt a bit baggy.  Had they been an inch longer though, I probably would have kept them.
Outcome: RETURN!

Lisbon Stud Detail Blouse by 41Hawthorn
Stylist Suggestion:  Pair with the distressed jean.
My Reaction: This was the item I was immediately drawn to.  I love the print, the color and the fact that it was a blouse! However, it was difficult to put on because it was snug.  Wanting to keep the top, I inquired about doing a return.  After emailing Stitchfix, they advised me to send the item back and complete checkout, indicating I was keeping it, and they would ship it to me in a size large.  Sounds like a plan! Hoping to receive it shortly in the correct size.
Outcome: KEEP!

Antigo Button Down Front Pocket Knit Top by Colette
Stylist Suggestion:  Pair with the distressed jean.   It's great for errand day as a casual piece you can throw on and still look chic!
My Reaction: I love the detail along the sleeves and on the front.  It's a color that I could use as well.  However, after trying it on, the sleeves were just a bit too short.
Outcome: RETURN!

Griselda Mixed Material Top by Liverpool
Stylist Suggestion:  Pair with the distressed jean.
My Reaction: I was so excited to receive this top! It was the perfect combination of prints, with a red plaid on the sleeves and back side, and stripes on the inside.  I was somewhat discouraged when I realized the sleeves were fairly short, but within minutes I discovered the button and button hole to fold the sleeves and hold them in place! I literally said "ahhhh!" when I made that realization.  I feel like it may appear a bit short on my torso, so I will likely pair it with a longer tank...wear it open as well?
Outcome: KEEP!

Violeta 3/4 Sleeve Blouse by Papermoon
Stylist Suggestion:  Pair with the distressed jean and wear for a night out.
My Reaction: Overall, this might be my favorite item.  Because of the 3/4 sleeve length, I don't have to worry about it NOT coming down to my wrists! It's a great piece that really could be dressed up or down and I was SUPER impressed with the detail on the backside.  The opening is
Outcome: KEEP!

Fix #1 - Styled by Amy

Split Neck Tunic by 19 Cooper
Stylist Suggestion:  Dress up the skinny jeans with this 19 Cooper tunic blouse and heels.
My Reaction:  "This is so not me."  But I stayed open minded and welcomed the idea of adding a blouse to my wardrobe (something I now have indicated I would like more of).  Eager to deviate from my comfort zone, I thought I might keep this.  Then, I tried it on and it was rather snug (the mediums in the others shirts fit, but I imagine the brands' sizes vary).  I was also turned off by the fact that it was so long. This piece felt like a night shirt.  But, hey, it would go well with leggings...
Outcome: RETURN!

Asymmetrical Zip Cardigan by Market & Spruce
Stylist Suggestion:  For a sporty chic look, add the asymmetrical zip cardigan to the 19 Cooper tunic blouse and skinny jeans.
My Reaction: This is the shirt my friend (who referred me to Stitch Fix) had worn over Christmas.  Except hers was in black. I was drawn to the atypical placement of the zipper and the cranberry color.  Once on, it has a very flattering neckline.
Outcome: KEEP!

Pullover Sweater by RD Style
Stylist Suggestion:  Pair the RD Style sweater with the jeans and tall boots for a cozy, put-together, casual look.
My Reaction:  I loved the neutral color and the fit.  With a tank top underneath, the details of the "holey" front really pop.  The sleeve length confused me. I wasn't sure if they were meant to be bunched up or not.  Because my arms are so long, the short length kept me from keeping this item.
Outcome: RETURN!

Dolman Top by Market & Spruce
Stylist Suggestion: Pair the Dolman Top with the jeans, along with ankle boots or flats for errand day or weekend brunch.
My Reaction:  Before I tried anything on, this was the piece I was drawn to the most.  It's still casual, but doesn't include a hood like most of my longer sleeved tops do.  The fitted detail at the end of each sleeve is a touch nice, making it somewhat fitted without clinging too tightly.
Outcome: KEEP!

Liza Skinny Jean by Lila Ryan
Stylist Suggestion: These skinnies, in a dark wash, are super versatile.  Dress them up for a girls' night out with heels and the 19 Cooper tunic blouse.  Add the Market & Spruce asymmetrical zip cardigan to add a little sporty chic to the look!
My Reaction:  Prior to receiving this shipment, I owned only one pair of dark skinny jeans.  I wasn't planning to purchase another, but the fit was perfect and they were long enough (something which is rare since I'm almost six feet tall).  They were very stretchy and will look great with boots or flats.
Outcome: KEEP!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

8 Healthy Holiday Habits to Practice Year Round

It's the time of year when we raise our glasses along with our holiday spirit. We spread cheese on our crackers and cheer among friends.  Shortly after, when the parties have ended and the presents have been opened, we realize our waistlines have also spread.  The numbers on the scale have risen.  Rather than panic later, it's best to prepare and prevent this from happening.  By making healthy choices and staying accountable to your goals, you can enjoy the holidays without hindering your progress.  Here are 8 healthy habits to embrace, not just during the holidays, but year round.

1.  Bring a healthy recipe.  If you're unsure of the food that will be served, it's always a good idea to bring a dish of your own.  Others will appreciate the healthy option and you'll be able to fill your plate with moderate portions of everything else along with your contribution.  Perhaps you can experiment and find a new recipe that you haven't made before!

2.  Snack beforehand.  Avoid going to dinner with an empty stomach.  Hunger can result in cravings for cookies, candies and other "less healthy" choices.  You may also have a more difficult time controlling portions.  Try having a snack high in protein about 60-90 minutes before you know you will be eating.  I suggest greek yogurt with fruit or an apple with peanut butter.

3.  Prioritize protein.  Fill your plate with protein!  Veggies are also a great choice and should come before breads and pastas.  Protein actually has a thermogenic effect, meaning it takes more calories just to digest it (compared to fats and carbs). While this may not amount to a significant calorie burn, it does have an impact over time.  Plus, protein provides satiety, meaning you will feel full.

4.  Be the last to have the first drink.  If you choose to indulge in alcohol, make it a goal to be the last one to have the first drink.  It will save you calories, and perhaps save you from that nasty hangover the next day as well.

5.  Embrace the variety of a new workout.  Just because you're unable to go to the gym, that doesn't mean you can't complete an indoor circuit.  If weather permits, set up an outdoor bootcamp including laps around the block, alternating with pushups, body weight squats, wall sits and lunges!  Struggling with accountability? Recruit a buddy.  Even if your buddy is miles away, set aside a time when you will both agree to workout "together." My article Staying Fit While Traveling features additional tips along with an equipment-free travel workout.  I'm also a huge fan of using the XBAR while I travel.  Keep in mind, if you deviate from your usual routine (or don't workout at all), you will not lose all of your fitness progress overnight.

6.  Resign from the clean plate club. Let go of the idea that you need to finish everything on your plate. While it's a good practice to avoid wasting food, sometimes it's better to wrap it up and save it for later.  Incorporate leftovers into a new recipe.  And if you occasionally have to throw something away, think of the money we're willing to spend on fitness gadgets, gym memberships, protein bars, books and vitamins to prevent weight gain.  In comparison, having to waste a couple dollars of food that you really didn't want to eat seems insignificant.  Daily tip: If you have greens or fruit that is about to go bad, and you know you won't finish it in time, freeze them! You can later add the berries or spinach to a smoothie for added "frothiness" and nutrients.

7.  Get enough sleep.  When are free from our usual commitments and work-related responsibilities, we have the chance to sleep in and take naps.  By making sure you get 7-9 hours of sleep a night, you will stabilize the hormones that control your appetite.  Without enough sleep, the hormones that promote cravings for sugary, fatty foods increase! The hormones that tell you you are full decrease.  This is a dangerous combination, especially when surrounded by holiday treats!  Rest up!

8.  Respect differences and practice patience. If you feel pressured to eat food that someone cooked, or if you feel offended that someone has passed up your triple chocolate, three layer silk pie, just remember that we all celebrate the holidays in different ways.  For some, our inner 3 year old comes out and we get to play, wrestle, go wild and be crazy.  For others, we set records for sleep marathons on the couch, recovering from long work weeks and a shortage of sleep.  If you're like myself, I enjoy the variety of a new workout--running outdoors and completing backyard or living room routines.  For a lot of people, food is synonymous with the holidays.  Understand that everyone has their own definition of what the holidays consist of.  Do your best to be patient with those who wrestle, those who snore and those who return to the kitchen for more!

How do YOU stay healthy during the holidays?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Optimal Snacks for Optimal Health

Do you find yourself continually losing attention and dozing off between the hours of 3pm and 4pm? Not sure you can survive the 11am hour before heading to lunch? You will be happy to hear that snacking two hours after your lunch (or an hour before) can prevent this from happening. A snack that contains fiber, some protein, healthy carbs and healthy fat slows digestion and provides steady energy to calm your cravings. The same principle also applies in the morning, depending on the time frame between breakfast and lunch, if you find yourself ravenous. Otherwise, you may be more likely to choose unhealthy foods and risk overeating at lunch time.

While we focus on healthy eating to prepare our breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is equally important to consider the quality and timing of our snacks as well. Consumed throughout the day, healthy snacks will stabilize your blood sugar, serve as a source of protein for your muscles, and provide carbohydrates to keep you energized and focused on the task at hand. Carbohydrates are your brain's primary source of fuel. The body breaks carbohydrates into glucose, which it uses toward brain activity.

Popcorn and a Low Fat Cheese Stick
Be aware of the microwavable popcorn you find in the chips and dips aisle at the grocery store. Many are loaded with saturated fat and are high in calories. Without these additives, popcorn is a very nutritious source of fiber and many nutrients. Check out my previous blog for a simple and easy way to make a healthy version--using just seeds and a brown paper lunch bag!

Carrots and Hummus
A perfect combination of crunchy and creamy. The carrots provide a solid source of healthy carbs and the hummus is derived from chickpeas, a healthy source of protein.

Peanuts and Raisins favorite! I have this daily. It is a great sweety-salt combination and the fats from the peanuts are very satiating. While dried fruit and nuts tend to be high in calories, I prepare this snack in a plastic baggie so I have a single serving of each.

I like to pair an apple with a protein or fat source. Any of the following are great examples.
-Cottage Cheese
-Protein Shake (Quest Nutrition Salted Caramel is my current fave!)
-Peanut butter
-Greek Yogurt

Quest Nutrition Bar
Quest bars are a great source of whey isolate protein which has been shown to increase muscle mass, aid in the loss of body fat, enhance immune function and much more. They're gluten free and contain 17g of fiber too so they'll keep you full! Almost every ounce of carbohydrate in the bars comes from fiber, which will keep your insulin levels low and your stomach satisfied. Fiber has been shown to do many things such as controlling hunger, improving digestive health and preventing certain diseases. Click here to order your Quest bar (shipping is free on orders over $25).

Oatmeal with Peanut Butter
I have been addicted to this since a friend told me about it in college! Cannot tell you how many others have become addicted as well. Try it, you will love it! Keeps you full for hours.

Sometimes you may not be hungry at all, just restless and/or dehydrated. There are several benefits to drinking tea, including increased alertness without the jitters induced by the caffeine in a coffee. Green tea also improves your body's ability to burn fat!

Yogurt and Peanut Butter
This one may sound strange at first, but again, like the peanuts and raisins it's an amazing treat to satisfy your salty-sweet cravings. Add a piece of fruit for a complete snack!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Quinoa Pizza Bake

Quinoa is a gluten free, vegetarian source of protein that is extremely versatile. Not only does it contain all nine essential amino acids, but it is high in iron and fiber. This "pizza bake" is a dough free, tasty twist on an original favorite!