Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Insecurities

All right, so I've been putting off this blog for a while.. Not because I've been too busy, but because I've been thinking about how I want to word this blog. I've also been exhausted from work (this flu season has been CRAZY at the hospital). So, I apologize for the lapse of time between my last blog and this one.

Graham and I were talking about our insecurities recently, and that many of our lives' problems stem from these. Graham's main one is that he wants people to think he's a good guy, and that he wants people to think only good things about him.

My insecurities are that I'm not enough.

I'm not thin enough
I'm not pretty enough
I'm not smart enough

Part of this comes from my parents' obsession with weight growing up (sorry mom). My mom and dad often focused on losing weight, being healthy, and eating healthy food when I was young, and even now. I can't blame this on my parents though, although this obsession with weight and health did contribute partly to my insecurity about myself. I was always self-conscious about the way I am or the way I look, even when I was young. If you read my journal from early on, I was always focused on which boys liked me, didn't like me, or how few friends I had. I was one of the smart kids in class, and one of my journal entries when I was only 12 years old focused on the fact that nobody called me unless it was a question about homework. I was overly concerned about my appearance, whether or not it was regarding my social status or my looks.

I was obsessed about boys even from an early age, and I even had a few "boyfriends" in elementary school. However, in junior high, the awkward social times and awkward looks hit. I had braces, a long face, and lots of freckles. I liken my junior high face to Butthead (as in Beavis and Butthead). I had a huge crush on a boy in junior high, who didn't even know I was alive until someone told him that I had a crush on him. When a girl from church asked him if he liked me, he replied, "hell no!". And, that's when my complete and utter insecurity about my attractiveness to the opposite sex began. When I got my braces off in 8th grade, I immediately felt more pretty, but some boys in my classes (including one I had a crush on) started calling me "Mrs. Ed" (as in Mr. Ed, the HORSE), and saying "it's all in the teeth" (meaning I had big teeth and a long horse-face). Man, this is all sounding extremely terrible when explained all at once. The "Mrs. Ed" and "it's all in the teeth" comments continued periodically throughout high school. In fact, one of the boys actually wrote it in my senior year high school yearbook. Even though I was a cheerleader, I wasn't popular, but I had my own group of friends. I was in all of the honors and AP classes, and I participated in weekly church activities, but I never really felt like I fit in anywhere. I had a boyfriend my junior year of high school, but that was the only year where I actually got asked to a dance.

So, from all of these years (very formative years, mind you) of insecurity, I still have issues about being attractive to the opposite sex. Even though I'm married, it's still a struggle for me. When I was younger, if some boy even showed a minor interest in me, I would definitely take note and they were more attractive to me.. just because I thought they might like me. Kind of ridiculous. Eventually, I grew into my long face and it filled out a little, and I think I've definitely gotten more pretty as I've gotten older. But, these insecurities remain, even after all these years. It's especially evident when I go back home. When I go back to Folsom, I feel like I return to my old, insecure, high school self. Now that I'm up here in Washington, I feel like I've made a name and home for myself, no matter my history. Obviously, with my recent foray into fitness and beauty, I've become a bit more obsessed with my appearance, which may or may not help with my insecurities. I can only hope that one day I will be less concerned about my outward appearance and more concerned about who I am on the inside, no matter how cheesy that sounds..

And now, for your viewing pleasure.. some awkward pictures of myself growing up. I had a lot of fun picking some of these out.. previously unpublished on Facebook or anywhere else!
Look what my school district gave me when I graduated high school. Adorable, right? I mean, a big gap between your two front teeth and freckles are cute only when you're 10 years old.

 Oh, the braces..

Me and my best friend, Heather, in 8th grade after I got the braces off. Can I go back in time and remove the white eyeliner and copper lip gloss? Oh, and in case you were wondering, we were wearing tank tops, but they're hard to see. You would not believe the rumors that went around our school..

 Freshman year homecoming dance. Not fun.

Junior year of high school, when I used to rock lighter hair.


My first day in my college dorm.


My last day at BYU!

Me now.. flirty, 30, and thriving..?

FYI, this post is not a "pity me" or "compliment me" post. It's just a big part of who I am and why I am the way I am.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Happy Anniversary!

This post is not meant to be self-congratulatory in any way, but I am celebrating my two-year anniversary of fitness as of March 5th. Woohoo!

When I started out two years ago (a better before and after picture is available on that blog post), my goal was to make it through 12 weeks. I can't believe I've made it through two YEARS of working out steadily, even with all of the craziness in my life. It's been tough at times to continue being active, especially when all I wanted to do was lay around and be sad or lay on the couch and just space out. But, it's been so worth it. For me, fitness isn't just about trying to make myself look or feel good. It's testing my life skills of perseverance, determination, and dedication. It has especially tested my quality of self-discipline, which I really lacked before. I was always super jealous of people who lost weight. I felt like I could never really have the self-control to do it. I just hoped that it would happen naturally after having a child and breastfeeding--yeah right. Now, I feel like I'm a success story!

Here's an updated picture of me last week, with some older ones to show the difference. It is a terrible quality photo, with shadows, but that's ok. And yes, if you must ask, I do have stretch marks. That's what happens when you're 15+ pounds overweight when you get pregnant and you carry a child very low in the abdomen. I'm not proud of them, nor am I ashamed, but I will never wear a bikini again (not like I ever did anyways).
 Remember, this picture below is after I'd already lost 8-10 pounds. Just imagine if I had a picture from when I first started working out.

Here's a picture from today with a comparison from 7/2013 (again, after I'd already lost 10 pounds):


One of the biggest differences, however, is my face. I never thought I was unattractive by any means, but man, my face looks so much better now! I guess I was just used to it.. Like, when I was pregnant, my face got really puffy according to several other people, but I never noticed because it was such a gradual change.

This is definitely before I lost weight. See why I deleted so many pictures of myself? Yikes. Fat face.

This is a particularly unflattering picture of me. This is from Carter's 12-month photo shoot, of which we did not print any family photos, for obvious reasons.

Not so fat face.

I am holding steady at my current weight and measurements, but I'm definitely getting stronger. I'd been trying to up my cardio with more TurboFire during the week, with the goal of losing 5-6 more pounds, but I decided to try something different this time. I am now doing a training combo of RIPPED workouts at the YMCA for 3 times per week, as well as the Bar Method advanced DVD's 3 times per week.

I'm going to test out the Bar Method's claims:
1) sculpted arms,
2) flat abs,
3) lifted seat, and
4) long firm thighs.

I took before pictures, and I plan on doing this for at least 3 months to see if I get the results they promise. I can already feel the difference in my upper back and triceps. The 5-pound weights feel as heavy as bricks by the end of the arm routine. My legs are already super fit (no bragging here--they just are), but I'm hoping they'll lean out a little, with a nice lifted bum (which is what I'm hoping for most of all). My RIPPED workouts leave me feeling exhausted and fatigued, but there is no other burn in this world like the workout Bar Method gives you. The lactic acid builds up so much in your legs and arms, it is unreal. And then when you stretch, it helps to release it and you feel much better. My legs burn so much that they shake like leaves near the end of the leg section. The workout is much different than anything else I do because my mind needs to be in it 100% to get the positions right. I can't even talk through it. So, I hope this change in routine will work out for the best!

Yeah, so I work out 5-6 days per week, and I keep going. It's a lifestyle and a priority. Some of you may wonder how I KEEP going with being active. These are my top fitness tips (I apologize for the mild swearing, but if you've ever done a million push-ups and/or squats, those are usually the only words that come to mind):

1) Find a workout you love, whether it's running, cycling, Zumba, boot camp, pilates, CrossFit, etc, and commit to a certain number of days per week. When I started out, I could only commit for 4 days, then 5, and then 6. I found that I loved TurboFire, and now RIPPED, so working out is way more fun with these workouts than something I hate, like running or cycling.
2) Reward yourself for steps along the way, whether it's how many pounds you've lost, or just the number of weeks you've stayed committed to your workout routine. I didn't reward myself with food--kind of counterproductive.
3) Don't "DIET". Sure, you might see faster results if you limit your calories to 1200 per day, but it's not sustainable, especially if you're making huge changes to diet compared to your daily intake. Moderate your portion sizes, choose healthier options more often, plan your meals, and adjust your calorie intake depending on what you've eaten or what you're planning to eat. Set a measurable, concrete goal (a SMART goal if you've heard of those). I set a goal for myself to eat a salad for lunch at least twice a week. I would probably have better results if I ate better, but again, not sustainable for me.
4) Work HARD. I remember in my college days, going on the elliptical machine at the gym, barely breaking a sweat, and considering myself to have worked out. Dumb. What a waste. Commit your body to your workout and work your hardest. I was able to lose weight by gradually increasing my intensity in my workouts, to where I was jumping higher and squatting lower, and getting great results from this. If you're lazy like me, this was definitely the most difficult concept, because I kept thinking, "but I don't want to work hard...".
5) Set a time for your workouts; whatever time works for you. I cannot do high-intensity cardio in the morning. It's not in my genes. So, I set my workout schedule in my Google Calendar with a reminder to work out every evening at 7 PM.
6) One workout at a time, folks. That's my motto. Don't think about your next workout right after your workout. I don't know about you, but if I think about what I have to do the next night when my legs are jelly, my arms are noodles, and I'm totally exhausted, I'll tell myself that there is no way in hell that I'm doing one more gosh dang push up ever again. So, I have to actively tell myself to not think about my next workout.
7) Give it 5 minutes. If getting up off the couch is the hardest thing for you, something that works for me is telling myself that I'll just half-ass the workout. The first 5 minutes are always the worst, trust me. If it's a workout you love, I promise that 10 minutes into it, you'll be enjoying yourself and pushing yourself hard even though you told yourself you didn't have to.
8) Find accountability with someone else, whether it's your spouse, friend, trainer, or online communities. For a while there, I was logging onto BeachBody's website daily to track my workouts, monitor my progress, and chat with other TurboFire addicts. I also printed out a workout calendar for my wall, where I could cross off the workout I completed every day. It was a good visual reminder of what I've done.

Anyways, these are my tips to help keep me active and fit even though I'm a mom, wife, and work full-time as a Dietitian. I'm still a work in progress, obviously, but I'm now somehow down to the same size that I was when I was 21! I recently posted on Facebook about how I now fit into a skirt I bought 10 years ago. I can't believe I was this big back then.. Unfortunately, I still have body image issues. I remember reading Single Dad Laughing's blog about weight loss once, where he said, "the skinnier and more toned I got, the fatter I felt".. which is how I feel sometimes. It's hard to find a balance with trying to be more fit without obsessing about my body's trouble spots (stomach, upper back, love handles, etc). Sometimes I have to force myself to remember the good things about my body (good skin, straight hair) and not focus on the bad, but that's a whole different blog post in itself..

Let's focus on the positive: I have lost twenty-five pounds (and have kept it off for over a year!), I am fit, and my self-esteem has significantly improved.

Monday, March 3, 2014

My Anti-Aging Skincare Routine (Part 2)

This is part two of a two-part series about my skincare routine. My daytime routine was described a few days ago. My night-time skincare routine has recently evolved into the following steps. Carter even has my routine down and hands me a cotton ball every night while he brushes his teeth so I can remove my eye makeup. I received some makeup removing towlettes in my stocking for Christmas, which makes my night-time routine much quicker. Anyways, let's get straight to it.

Makeup Removal:

Sephora Collection Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover

I was using Neutogena's eye makeup remover before this, and I received a sample from Sephora. This stuff is hardcore and works really well. If I'm wearing more than one coat of mascara, it won't get all of it, but it's still way better than most of the ones I've tried.

Kirkland Brand Facial Cleansing Towlettes

Great value, does its job, and easily removes my makeup with any leftover eye makeup.. Can't complain. I will repurchase these again (but not anytime soon, because I now have a million).

Eye Cream:

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Eye

This is also a recent change in my skincare regimen. I was previously just putting on my bareMinerals eye cream at night, but I recently got this as it claims to help with dark under eye circles. We'll see if it works.. It's pretty moisturizing, though, so I like it.

Facial Moisturizer:

I have received so many samples of beauty oils through Sephora that I started making this a nightly thing after cleaning my face. I think this step, in combination with a great exfoliator, has been what's made my dry patches go away. These are the samples I've been using that I've liked the best. I don't know which one I'll buy when I'm all done (the Tarte sample lasts FOREVER and I just started using my second bottle).

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate



Tarte's Maracuja Oil


Weekly Mask:

REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask

This is something else that I've received as a sample, and I love it! It smells citrusy, and I feel like it helps with my skin's overall tone and texture. I use it once a week. I might buy this when I'm done with the sample.

Lip Balm/Moisturizer:

Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips

I received this through Birchbox, and I didn't really like it that much with the first few uses. It's super thick and kind of goopy. However, my lips were kind of patchy and dry with the cold weather, so I started using this at night as a super moisturizer, and the dry patches are gone! I would not recommend this as a daytime lip balm, as it's way too thick and difficult to apply, especially if you're applying any lip gloss or lipstick. But, if you put it on at night, or perhaps in the morning after a shower to give it time to soak in before applying any lip products, it works great to moisturize dry lips!

Summary:

Anyways, that is basically it. Yes, it's a lot of products. It may seem a little crazy to you non-obsessed people, but my regimen has really improved the texture of my skin and helped my makeup go on smoother. Yay--no more dry and flaky patches on my skin! I also hope that taking care of my skin will help prevent premature signs of aging.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My Anti-Aging Skincare Routine (Part 1)

Loyal readers (oh, maybe 10 of you, hi mom!), again, I'm switching up my blog style a little bit. I have a lot of different topics to cover over this next month, including my two-year anniversary of fitness, an update about our family, and some personal thoughts about life.

But now? I'm talking about beauty. This is part one of a two-part series. Today, I'll talk about my daytime products. Part 2 will be about my night-time skincare routine.

So, I took turning 30 really hard. I still can't even believe that I'm 31--I even forgot the other day that I'm actually 31, and that realization made me sad. I don't feel that old, at all.. unless perhaps I'm anywhere near teenage girls. Then I feel like a grumpy grandma. I don't feel like I look 30, nor do I actually want to look like I'm in my 30's. I want people to think that I'm mid 20's, I guess.. 25 doesn't sound nearly as old as 31! I had a makeup lady tell me that I look like I'm 19, but I talk like I'm much older. It was the best compliment I've had a in a while (although a guy at work asked me if I'd lost weight recently--I haven't). 

Anyways, due to this desire to appear younger than I am, I've had to invest some money in skincare products. I don't expect miracles here, just some good quality products. My skin has changed a little bit since I've gotten older. I used to be able to get away with just some light powder (I used MAC's Studio Fix powder) and some concealer. Now, with my combination skin (my cheeks get SUPER dry in the winter, so a powder would just cling to my dry spots, and my forehead gets oily during the day), I need heavier coverage like a liquid foundation (I use MAC's Matchmaster in 1.5, which is lightweight and a perfect color match for me) and a heavy duty exfoliator and moisturizer. I was a big Kiehl's fan in college, as my motto was, I don't care about products for my body, but my face deserves much better. However, after we got married and budget constraints came into play, I settled for more economical Aveeno products, feeling like it didn't make much of a difference. It didn't use to make a difference what products I used, but now it does.

Let me preface this by saying that a little over a year ago, I did NOT take good care of my skin. I left my makeup on every night (gasp, I know), and I used a gentle cleanser and lotion every morning. That's it, yet still, I never broke out. But, after I had an aesthetician tell me that I had dry skin over a year ago, I decided to invest in a better exfoliator, which has become extremely necessary with my dry winter skin.

So, here are the products I use on a daily basis:

Cleansing:

I find that it's not too drying, but leaves my skin feeling clean. I also throw in First Aid Beauty's Skin Rescue Cleanser with Red Clay in the rotation. I received a sample of this from Sephora, and it's ok too. I should also mention that I use a little silicone cleansing pad from Sephora to scrub my face with cleanser and exfoliator in the shower. Since I started using it, I NEVER get pimples (not that I ever got many anyways).

Exfoliating:

I'd been using Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Skin Brightening Exfoliator every other day, with fairly good results, until I got the following product as a sample from Birchbox. It is now my Holy Grail facial exfoliator!

Vasanti Brighten Up! - Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator
Brighten Up! - Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator
I use this every other day for my dry skin, and it has helped the dry patches disappear.

Toning:

This has been a neglected step in my routine, but I recently started using this product:

I literally just started using this, so I'm undecided on if this will be a necessary step in my skincare routine.

Moisturizing:

I've been trying to find the best heavy duty moisturizer for my dry cheeks.. I've used FRESH's Lotus Youth Face Cream for the past 7-9 months, but haven't found it to be spectacular or anything. I used a sample of Shiseido's Bio-Performance Advanced Super Revitalizing Cream, and I actually liked it, but it's a bit too expensive for me to purchase. I'm now trying this one out:

I actually really like this so far. It moisturizes without being too greasy, and it has helped my dry patches go away.

Eye Cream:

I've been using bareMinerals Renew & Hydrate Eye Cream for the past 7-9 months, and it's just so-so. I don't see much of a difference, but I'm still going to finish it anyways. Now, I'm trying out this one:

Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treament with Avocado

So, I'm just using this one sporadically until I run out of my old one, but I love it so far. Way more moisturizing than my old one.

Summary:

With this treatment so far, the dryness on my cheeks is under much better control, although it may be related to my night-time routine as well. I'm really loving my Kiehl's products again! My skin looks hydrated, I'm trying to prevent wrinkles and other signs of aging, and preventing pimples like a pro. Stay tuned for my next part.

The good, the bad, and the ugly..

One thing Graham and I always ask each other on our conversations.. what do you want to hear first: the good news or the bad news? We almo...