July Birchbox and an OOTD

This month’s Birchbox was a good one! Let’s check it out:

Super cute box from Birchbox and Women’s Health. They also included a pamphlet with challenges and tips on how to do them.

The push-up challenge was my favorite, because I really need to work on my upper body strength! Here’s the list of items and their descriptions:

I already really like the black eyeliner from Cynthia Rowley that we got a few months ago. This lip stain is gorgeous! I love the formula, too. It’s a stain, but it doesn’t dry out my lips. I may end up getting a full size of this one.


This is a three minute peel mask that I haven’t tried yet, but it sounds interesting! It’s exfoliating, which I can definitely use, so I can’t wait to try it!

Every time I get another lotion, I kind of roll my eyes. I have SO much lotion!! The past couple from BB have really smelled good, though! This one did not disappoint.

This is a hair treatment mask that you leave on for 20 minutes. I used it the other night, and it smelled really good! It seemed to work well, too, because my hair untangled really easily. If I don’t condition really well, my hair turns into a rat’s nest. I’ve spent over 10 minutes just trying to comb it out after a shower, and in the process, pulled out enough hair to look like a small animal. This mask gets my seal of approval!

I think I’ve gotten a similar item from this company before, but it was too light for my skin. I updated my skin color in my BB profile for the summer since I’m pretty tan now. They base the shades on this so you get properly matched face products. This matched great, went on smoothly, and had a nice light, matte coverage. I only used it once, so I need to try it a few more times before I can really say if I’d buy the regular size.

One more thing I have for you guys is an outfit of the day from last weekend. I went to a pool party with my friend Rachel:

Here was my OOTD:

 

That’s it for this month! I also got my first Ipsy Bag last week, so I’ll be doing a post on that very soon. I hope you guys have a great rest of your week!!

Happy Trails!

Stacey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Motivation Monday: Sister Steph’s Story

I am blessed enough to have two sisters in my life. One is my sister from another mister, but we don’t bother explaining that to people anymore. Melissa is Stephanie’s and my half sister. Mel and I share our Mom, and she and Steph share their Dad. Steph’s Dad and my Mom used to be married. This sounds like one of those standardized test problems where you have to figure out who is married to the aunt’s neighbor’s sister’s nail lady, doesn’t it? My sisters are awesome, and I’m going to share the story of one of them. (With Steph’s permission and support of course!)

Are you ready to be inspired?? These are Steph’s words about her amazing transformation and lifestyle overhaul (this post is long, so hang with me!)

Steph:

For a few years I have struggled to lose weight, and have tried just about every diet and program known to man. I’ve seen many doctors, and finally started my most recent journey of trial and error. I won’t say that my previous failed attempts haven’t been good, though, because the knowledge I gained from each one of them in part got me to where I am today.

In my experience, I have done Atkins, Weight Watchers, South Beach, Lindora, raw food diet, cleanses, and taken numerous “magic pills” and drinks. I have seen doctors, including specialists such as endocrinologists. I do have to point out that I have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome,) so that makes the weight harder to lose due to the hormone imbalance. I am rigid and totally OCD, so when I tried these, I went full throttle, but each one failed. Sure, I’d lose 20 or so pounds, sometimes more, but then I’d yo-yo back. Lindora and South Beach were the two up until now that yielded the most results. However, when you are going everyday to get a B-12 shot in your ass, keeping a journal, counting carbs, exercising an hour a day and hit a plateau that lasts over 1 month, it doesn’t make for a very happy person. This was the case for me with Lindora. Not only was I working my ass off trying to literally work my ass off, but I was also getting needles poked into me every day, and had the nutritionist telling me that I wasn’t doing something right. To add insult to injury, they stuck me on their “plateau diet” which is supposed to snap you out of your plateau in 3 days. The “diet” is literally water, tuna, spinach, eggs, and lemon. I’m sorry, but I’d rather stick my finger in a light socket than do 3 days of that. Being the stubborn person I am, though, I tried it. I continued on it for 3 weeks, but when it didn’t work, I said “F this,” and fired Lindora.

My gaining weight was more than out of control. I had gained 80 lbs in 7 years, and that wasn’t from my smallest. I found myself miserable, tired, depressed, and my health started failing because the obesity caused type 2 diabetes. The doctor, who for the record was a complete moron, told me I wasn’t trying to lose weight and prescribed me metformin for the diabetes, South Beach diet, and exercise. Infuriated that he wouldn’t listen and that he accused me of lying (I had witnesses that I was working hard with Lindora and exercising) I promptly dropped roughly 175 lbs, because I fired his ass too. (Stacey interjection: Don’t you just love her!?! She cracks me up!)

I could go on and on about why each path of en”light”enment failed for me, but you get the point. So fast forward to 2012. At this point I have learned the art of layering clothing, dodging cameras, and completely avoiding mirrors. It sounds crazy, but I actually mastered the art of tunneling my vision so in the rare occurrence that I actually did have to glance in the mirror or see my reflection, I could literally focus on one part of my body, usually my eyes, and see nothing else. My pant size ballooned out to a women’s size 24. I started wearing stretchy clothing like yoga pants and flowy shirts to hide my increasing waistline. By March of 2012, I hit my all-time highest weight of a cow-tipping 266 lbs, and an all time low in my depression. I honestly wished I was dead. I cried myself to sleep all the time, and became a recluse, only leaving the house and safety of my couch when necessary. I started sleeping all day on weekends. The pain of the depression was literally physically painful. It was a very dark time for myself and my loved ones. My brother got married, and my new sister asked me to be a bridesmaid. I couldn’t say no, but knew that meant there was no way to avoid the paparazzi. This took what should have been a fun time and made me stressed beyond belief.

Roughly a month later I got the devastating news that my grandpa was dying, and flew out to say goodbye. While at his beside in hospice suctioning out his mouth (he couldn’t swallow at the end,) I sat there holding his hand, and thought long and hard about my life. I realized he had done everything he wanted in his life, and was fulfilled. Even if we weren’t ready for him to go, I knew he had no regrets, which is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, that made me realize fast that the things I wanted to do weren’t being done, and the quality of my life was shit. He passed on Easter Sunday, and my sadness turned to rage, which was a good thing. I can actually pin point the moment that would forever change my view on being fat and unhealthy. In order to preserve a relationship in case this person ever reads this, all I can say is it all started with a box of cupcakes. The days following my papa’s death were stressful. I threw my energy into helping my cousin make repairs to the house, and started weaning myself off the drug of food.

My cousin had lost a ridiculous amount of weight like 70 or 80 lbs, so I gained support and advice from him. He watched what he ate, and was active. He also introduced me to Redline, which is a crack-like energy drink. Now just to be clear, I am NOT recommending anyone take this. I am simply trying to be honest. So when I came home I started eating cleanly, meaning I stopped eating junk food and most processed foods. I also cut out sugar and white flour. I started getting out and walking or doing something physical a few days a week, and I used the Redline to give me energy as well as help curb my appetite.

I decided to book a trip for September to Puerto Rico to give me incentive. I lost about 15 lbs from April to July, then hit a plateau. I had made myself a solemn oath that in order to trick my body I would switch up whatever I was doing and try a new method when I hit that wall. So I tried liposene which lasted about a week because I hated that it made me feel jittery. Then, I went to Boresha and that helped for about three weeks until I ran out, and it was out of my budget. Next I tried a raw food diet and went back to Redline. The diet was crazy strict, and to be honest I hated every minute of it. I did manage to drop another 10 lbs by September, though, and then came Puerto Rico! I went through a lot for many reasons on my trip. I did a lot of self discovery, and being alone in a different country was definitely humbling the first time. It’s a really long story, and would take too long to tell in detail. Let’s just say every fear I had about travelling came true for me on that trip (alone, medical, and mechanical issues with plane.) I was still able to salvage it, though, and get what I needed from the experience. By the time I got home, I had dropped another 5 lbs.

The holidays were approaching fast, and I knew I’d be meeting my new niece in December. I increased my efforts, went to smaller portions, increased my workout, and added Applefit (a weight loss drug from Saudi my dad picked up for me) at night. By the time I went to Portland for Christmas, I had dropped another 10 lbs. My total weight loss for the year was 40lbs.

While in Portland, I got crazy sick along with the other members of the family, so I could barely eat. I was so sick that it lasted several weeks, and I went through several rounds of antibiotics. After falling back into severe depression for about a week upon my return, I decided that I wasn’t trying hard enough, and needed to step up my efforts because there was no way I was going to go on my next big adventure (Ireland/Scotland in July 2013) being fat and hiding from cameras. I got a lot of support from many friends, but it was my half-sister’s half-sister, who is an awe-inspiring marathon runner, who told me an important piece of advice. She told me if you do anything for 21 days straight it builds a routine.

So I said ok that’s what I’m going to do then…build an exercise routine. I was still sick at the time, but I said “Monday January 13th is the start day” and I did. I started counting calories on myfitnesspal.com, which is one of the greatest apps ever; I know I wouldn’t be half as successful without it. I logged and still log everything, even mints and cold medicine! I set my goal at 1200 calories a day which is the minimum before your body will go into starvation mode. On January 13th I weighed myself, and the scale said 226 lbs, which was still ridiculous, but not discouraging. I knew I was in for a fight, but I was ready. I was on fire working out doing one hour of cardio everyday. The first month it felt like the world was out to get me. I suffered through a sinus infection, cold, plantar fasciitis, sprains, cramps, and a monthly reminder of why it sucks to be the female of the species. There were definitely days I wanted to say forget it, but I still made it through everything. By the time my birthday rolled around (February 12,) I had lost 17 lbs, bringing me to 209. I was fitting into a size 16 from a size 24. I surpassed my 21 days straight, and started working out two times a day at the gym (1 hour of cardio in the am before work, and 30 minutes of cardio and light weights after work.) That was my routine Monday through Friday. I also started hiking on Saturdays with my mom, and Sundays were my light day of only one hour of cardio. I kept the calories to 1200 a day but added in a cheat meal once a week on Saturday nights (since I burned the most calories hiking for 2.5 to 4 hours.)

I made sure to eat five times a day, and consume at least 10 glasses of water each day. I also started using protein powder shakes for breakfast, and conquered my diet soda addiction (I used to drink a few a day, and am now down to one or two a month.) I stopped drinking alcohol for the most part, but if I do go out, I have a few vodka and seltzer water with a lime twist (60 cal each.) Drinking alcohol stops your metabolism for 3 days (helpful Lindora tip.) I do not eat carbs such as bread, pasta, tortillas, potatoes, or any form of grains after lunch time as my golden rule.

The downside is I revved up my metabolism so much that I started dropping weight too quickly. I know, I know , you think “quality fucking problem” as you roll your eyes at me, but honestly it is. Reason being when you drop weight too quickly, your body doesn’t have the opportunity to snap back into shape, and you end up sagging in places like your chest, ass, and stomach. The last thing you want after all the blood sweat and tears of losing a significant amount of weight is to look like a misshapen blob. In order to slow down the weight loss, I have stopped the extra 30 mins of cardio a day, and instead do an hour of weights, crunches, etc, to tone. Also, I recently gave up the Aplefit and Redline, and currently take Oxyelite, which is a thermo pill that is great at boosting my energy, and not so hard on the body like Redline. So at this point I have lost a total of 50 lbs since January 13th, 2013. A grand total of 90 lbs. I went from a women’s size 24 to a junior’s size 13. I still want to lose 21 to 26 more lbs, tone up a lot, and gain more muscle. Next up for me is the Tough Mudder Competition in San Diego in November 2013 (which is a 10 to 12 mile obstacle course set up by the British Armed Forces to benefit the Wounded Soldiers Project…if you don’t know about this look it up it’s intense and I’m signed up, so I need to be in the best shape of my life!!!) Below is what I currently do as an example of my daily Caloric Intake:

Pre workout snack v8 and low fat string cheese (140 calories total)

Breakfast protein powder shake (protein powder is lean supreme 113 cal and milk 1 cup skim 90 cal and 2 cups of water) (total 203 calories)

Snack Newton fruit thins 3 cookies and strawberries 6 large (total 200 cal)

Lunch trader Joes reduced guilt chicken w poblano frozen meal (total 210 cal)

Snack alouette single servings cheese spread (40 cal) and baby carrots (35 cal) (total 75 cal)

Dinner grilled salmon filet 4 oz (250 cal) asparagus steamed 10 spears (50 cal) and 1 cup black beans (70 cal) (total 370 cal)

***Total here slightly less than 1198 calories but since measurements aren’t always exact give or take 1200

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Update as of 3/2014: I weigh 111 lbs less at 155. I changed my goals again to get myself to somewhere between 140 and 145, but my main focus is on toning. I’m currently doing 1.5 to 2 hours of cardio a day with 30 to 45 minutes of weights (cardio paced,) pilates, yoga and hiking on weekends. I am also currently taking Adrenaplex (supplement to help with my adrenal glands not “firing” properly, and causing a plateau, and Black Wall which is a thermo (fat burner/energy.) I am currently eating white meat, dairy, and veggies Monday through Friday (so no carbs fruit, wheat, etc,) and then Friday night through Sunday night, well balanced and calorie conscious meals.

I am looking forward to my next Tough Mudder this August in Portland after completing the November 2013 race in Temecula (12 + miles…26 + military obstacles….mini obstacles….elevation gain of 1200 ft on one climb straight up…. 2 mountain ranges…mud…water…ice…loose dirt…electrocution, you name it, lol!)

The end….no, actually, just the beginning of an amazing new life for Steph!

I absolutely love Steph’s story! It’s an example of getting to a point in your life where enough is enough, and “dammit I’m going to make a change for the better no matter what it takes!” She is a great example of someone that took matters into her own hands, and through trial and error, figured out what works for her. I vaguely remember telling her that 21 days makes a habit. It’s amazing how just a few words of motivation can make such an impact on someone when you don’t even realize it! I also had no idea my running was motivation for Steph. She told me this after the fact, and it seriously made it all worth it to me. Not only do I love living a healthy lifestyle, but I also love sharing it with the people in my life. It makes me SO happy to know that I have influenced people to make healthier choices and live a more active lifestyle. Steph did this herself, though! She made the decision to change her life for the better, and followed through. She made a true lifestyle change, which is the best way to make your results long-term. I couldn’t be more proud!

If that story wasn’t motivation enough for you, check our Steph’s before and after pics:

Steph is on the left above
Those were the before……and here is the after!
Steph is on the left above. Whaaaaaaat!? I know, right!
Steph and Ian, her brother
 

My other sister Melissa, I’m SO happy to announce, is now cancer free!! She is also heading down her own path to a new, healthier, more fit her. She is making healthier food choices, and posting almost daily about her workouts! She can do it, and she knows it. She owned her cancer, fought it like a boss (and like a girl ;-), ) and has emerged as an even stronger, resilient Melissa. Maybe in the future, I can do a post on her story, as well!

I am so glad to be able to share this with you guys. It’s true that it takes 21 days to make a habit. If you stick with something for 3 weeks, you’ll start to feel like it is a part of your life. Remember that! Also, remember that every person is different, and one program may work for one person and not another. It is a system of trial and error, so be patient and figure out the way that works best for you so you’ll stick to it.

Thanks for hanging in there with me for this long and amazing post! I love y’all and I’ll talk to ya again soon!

Happy Trails!

Stacey

****Neither Steph nor I endorse or recommend any of the products or supplements mentioned above. We are simply telling you guys what worked for her. As always, talk to your healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise regimen, or supplement. ~necessary disclaimer-once a pharmacist, always a pharmacist haha!****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Review

If you're a regular reader, you know that I have a hard time with nail polish chipping within a day or two of application. I've been looking for a miracle topcoat for a long long time, and feel like I've tried just about everything. In order to prolong the wear of my polish for even an extra day or two, I have to buff my nails with a file to roughen them up before I polish them, and make sure my nail beds have been cleaned with either nail polish remover or Formula X by Sephora nail cleaner. Even the Formula X system stays looking good for just a couple of days.

So when I saw a new product by Sally Hansen at my local Walgreens, I thought I'd give it a try since I had nothing to lose. It's called the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel, and claims to be “a breakthrough in gel polish.” “The only true 2-step gel manicure with no light needed.” It sounded too good to be true! So I picked a color, got the package that came with the gel topcoat, and brought it home to give it a try.

The name of the color I got was Birthday Suit. I actually didn't have anything like this in my collection!

It says to use two coats of the polish followed by one coat of the topcoat. This color was so light, though, that to get the opacity I wanted, I had to use three coats. It applied very nicely and smoothly despite the three coats I had to use. I was impressed! I would say after the topcoat was applied that the drying time was pretty average. I took pictures of both hands after my nails were dry, and will show you guys what they look like after one week.

I painted my nails on Tuesday July 8th, and here is what they looked like on Tuesday July 15th:

That's my right hand. I accidentally melted the polish on the tips of my middle and ring finger with my styling wand, so keep that in mind! Haha!

The tips of my left hand didn't start peeling until about day 5 or 6. I wish I'd taken a picture before that happened to show you guys how good they looked.

For me, this formula lasted a LOT longer than the average polish and topcoat. I am really impressed by how well it stayed on my nails, considering the trouble I always have. For someone with normal nails, I bet this would look great even into week 2!

The only thing I wonder about the topcoat is if it can be used with other nail polishes and stay just as long. I have a feeling the formula is designed for the polish and topcoat to work together, but I still want to try it with a color from my collection. I have SO much polish that I just can't go out and buy the same colors in this formula! I need to find a way to use what I have and make it last. There's one more topcoat I saw on a blog or in a haul video that I want to try and review for you guys. I actually forgot what it's called, but if I get it, I'll report back on it for y'all :-).

Have any of you had experience with this formula? How did you like it?

Do you have a holy grail topcoat that you think I should try?

Any secret home remedy methods to make polish stay on longer?

Leave me a comment below, and I'll let you know if I've tried it. Have a great weekend!!

Happy Trails!

Stacey