Sparkly & Slimming….a Weight Loss Blog

Samantha's journey to slim down, while remaining sparkly!

Thin – at any cost?


Sometimes procrastination pays off! I read this article last week and was so heated I need to blog….only then I got distracted (squirrel!) and never came back to finish the post. Last night was the finale of “The Biggest Loser” and of course there was controversy. Usually the big drama is someone went home, sat on their bum and didn’t look any different. Well this time we had quite the opposite problem…and it ties in to the article!

So, my friend Tiffany always posts thought-provoking things and she shared a true gem with this article…”Woman Can’t Have Kids After Gastric Bypass, Still Happy to Be Thin“.

Of course, the title alone was enough for me to be appalled – but then I read the article….

This woman, Jill was never loved by her father (and he admitted it on the Oprah show! Stay classy buddy) and decided to get gastric bypass so she could finally be thin and he would love her.

Hold up – wait a minute – are you fucking kidding me!?

Nope, she was serious. She never felt like she deserved love until she could be thin – and her own father propagated those thoughts. Then she had surgery and guess what? She ended up worse off. She is now thin…..and weak, nauseous AND she can’t have children. Complications from gastric bypass actually caused her infertility!  Was it worth it to be a size 6? I vote no.  I really wish that during my lifetime we could get to a place as society where your size does not define your worthiness or happiness. Going to the extreme just illustrates that there are other issues (emotional usually) being masked. Yay you’re thin! Oh wait, now you can’t have kids and you’re sick all the time….who cares, your dad loves you finally!

Also – I feel compelled to give my own Dad a shout-out. He supports me in any endeavor I take on and loves me regardless of what size jeans I’m rocking. Thanks Dad, I’m lucky to have you! (When I told him about the article his response was “Wow that dad sounds like an asshole”. LOL!).

Now, how does Jill and her asshole dad tie into the “Biggest Loser”? Last night’s winner, Rachel Frederickson was a contestant I was hot and cold about all season. I could relate to some of what she said….then she would totally lose me. She was a competitive swimmer as a child (and looked healthy and vibrant in photos they showed) then she gave up that dream when her parents got divorced. At this point she stopped talking to her Dad (because she thought he was angry she stopped swimming? It was all sort of confusing) then she got caught up with an idiot boy and gained weight because she never felt loved. All season she pushed hard to get back to being the athlete she used to be – which was inspiring. At the end of the season she finished the “Biggest Loser” triathlon in first place and weighed 150 pounds (down from her starting weight of 260). She looked healthy and amazing. Last night she took the stage and I literally thought it was Karen Carpenter. She was frail, weak and she looked like you could snap her in half with a hug. Given the event is live they panned to Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels for a reaction shot….their faces were pricelessly horrified:

Bob Jillian Tanya

They quickly panned away…only they couldn’t pan to the other contestants because they all looked EQUALLY HORRIFIED!!

Finally, Rachel gets on the scale and weighed in at 105. Yup, you read that right….One hundred and five pounds on her 5’4″ frame. She looked scary. She looked sickly and as my friend Sandy pointed out, she looked like she had developed orthorexia nervosa (an eating disorder categorized by an unhealthy obsession with being healthy). Her cheeks were gaunt, her arms were literally just muscle and bone – she looked as though she might drop dead.

Have a look for yourself:

Rachel

Here’s another shot where I’m fairly certain we can see ribs:

Now, I posted to my Facebook saying she literally scared me – I wouldn’t recognize her if I fell over her and I have watched every episode this season. Of course, someone had to reach out and tell me “my opinion was wrong – she was healthy and beautiful and clearly an athlete“. Nope – my opinion is just that, my opinion. You can agree or disagree but I’m not wrong (and you’re not right). 🙂

Here’s a snapshot of Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin – check out the body composition difference:

Now, let’s say Rachel was healthy (despite all the indicators that she isn’t)….my real anger came in when I took to social media to see what people were saying. On Twitter, Instagram and Facebook I watched random girl after random girl saying “OMG she is so thin, I would kill to look like that!”. Really?! REALLY? Why don’t we have healthy role models for kids? Why don’t we teach them that there is more to life than aiming to be a size 0 if you’re not naturally a size 0? Sometimes society amplified by social media makes me sad. Why do we value weight and size above happiness or healthiness?? Where’s the logic here people!?

Did you watch “Biggest Loser”? What was your reaction? Given this is a game it has been speculated that she did whatever she had to do to win the $250,000 – including starve herself. How far would you go to lose weight?

 

 

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Classy and Fabulous ~ a New Manifesto


I’ve been really introspective over the last few weeks. Maybe it’s starting a new year, taking inventory of what happened over the last 12 months etc. Or maybe it’s knowing my 32nd birthday is lurking around the corner next week. Isn’t there something so monumental about birthdays? Suddenly you need to categorize what 31 was…How did it feel? What victories did I have? What losses? Am I better off right now? Well I’m pleased to say I am definitely going to enter 32 as a better version of myself. I’m stronger, I’m more sure of who I am and I really care a lot less if others approve of who I am. I spent so much of my twenties wound-up and crazy. I hated not being liked, I compared myself to everyone else – constantly. I worried, I worried some more, I lost sleep and frankly I spent far too much of my precious time on shit that doesn’t matter now. You know the old adage “Will this matter in 5 years?” 99% of the time the answer is “This won’t matter in a year”. Sometimes it won’t matter in a week!

I tried an experiment back in June where I kept a little journal at my bedside and jotted down notes about things upsetting me, worrying me or just generally weighing on my mind. Turns out 93% of the things causing the bags under my eyes didn’t matter enough to even register a few months later! Yes, I actually stopped and did some math to figure out that percentage – that’s the nerd in me! LOL.

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Isn’t that the truth? Stress is HEAVY! It pulls at you, drags you down and makes you feel like there is no use in fighting back. I encourage you to let go – let go of the things you think you need to worry about. Go watch “Up in the Air” – the scene where George Clooney does his “what’s in your backpack?” pitch is my favorite. I don’t want you to let go of the people in your life (because those relationships are super important!) but I do want to think about the “stuff” you carry. I truly feel like a happier, more free version of myself since I stopped focusing on “stuff” and started letting go.

I’d like to think I’ve finally cracked the code on my own personal happiness – it looks something like this:

Smile more and stress less (what’s in YOUR backpack?) 

Don’t say yes unless you really want to (because sometimes those commitments made in the heat of the moment lead to ridiculous stress and pressure!)

Don’t say no to a new opportunity just because it’s scary (scary means there is a chance to grow – take it!)

When it doubt – sweat it out (something about sweating your frustrations out just feels good)

No one needs to give you permission to be happy. Period.

I used to look outside myself for happiness. I needed approval from my peers, from my colleagues, from *strangers* to feel like I was complete. I don’t need that any longer. Something has changed inside of me and I realize I am fabulous – and I don’t need that acceptance from the anyone….it came from within!

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What are you waiting for? Seriously. What is it? Stop waiting and just do it! Plan that trip, try something new, go out on a limb, trust yourself and stop putting limits on who you are and what you can do.

I just watching the makeover episode of “Biggest Loser” (one of my favorites – I love Tim Gunn!). I get so excited to see the transformations but man I get so annoyed when I hear “I couldn’t love myself when I was fat. I look in the mirror and now I finally love myself”. No one is going to give you permission to love yourself as is – that’s up to you. Fat, skinny, in-between – you’re more than just a size. You should love yourself regardless of your size!

My new manifesto will be to stay classy and fabulous – I can be confident in who I am without losing sight of the things that make me strong. I’ve come a long way and I’m sure the next 32 years will be 10 times happier (and less stressful) than the previous 32!

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Fitness Goals for 2014


As I said in my last post I am really trying out an unresolution – BE HAPPIER (because really I’m already a fairly happy person). However, I am setting some pretty specific fitness goals for myself – along with a few other goals. Do you make fitness goals for a new year? I really can’t remember if I did last year – but I know I had different priorities coming into 2013. I really wanted to be a runner – I’ve since decided running stresses me out, causes knee pain and is generally not enjoyable. If something doesn’t feel good – why do it? OK the one exception to that is the dentist – I never like the thoughts of sitting with my mouth opened for an hour while I get my teeth cleaned but I always feel amazing after. 😉

I work in Corporate America and we like to use the acronym “SMART” to describe goals – I figured the same principles apply to fitness goals so I kept those in mind when forming  my to-do list! What is a smart goal?

smart goal setting concept

Keeping that in mind – here are my 5 fitness goals for 2014!

1. Log 300 hours of Zumba (yes I realize this one is LOFTY). This means doing Zumba 6 days a week most weeks. Here’s the thing – if I was going to be a runner I would need 4-5 running days a week. I’m replacing those with Zumba and of course I made myself a cute calendar to track! Now of course I travel for work (and for fun). How am I going to accomplish this? Two ways – Zumba DVDs I bought ages ago and “THE ULTIMATE ZUMBA PLAYLIST” I just made in my iPod. It’s a collection of all my favorite Zumba songs from all 5 teachers I take from!

I love color-coding and I like organization. I know I'll be away next week so I'm already accounting for it and planning. Also, Thursday and Friday classes may switch depending on my work busyness!

I love color-coding and I like organization. I know I’ll be away next week so I’m already accounting for it and planning. Also, Thursday and Friday classes may switch depending on my work busyness!

Dying to see this kill mix of mine? Feast your eyes and ears on this! This is a combo of Stef, Kerri, Danielle and Ogechi songs! I don’t quite know Laura enough to know her music yet. 🙂

Zumba Mix

2. Try one new fitness DVD a month. Originally I said one per week but with my Zumba obsession that just won’t work. Haha. I have a ton DVDs I’ve stockpiled that I need to work through – I’m really looking forward to these two:

DVDs

3. Complete 10 real push-ups by the fall! I can do the kind on bent knees but I want to do legit, straight out push-ups! Since you know I love a funny:

4. Hold a plank for 3 mins by December! I’ve done several plank a month challenges and I always fall apart at the 2 min mark. I want to hold a plank for 3 mins this year. 🙂

5. Jump rope by the summer. I used to LOVE doing this when i was little and I really want to get a jump rope now as an adult. Along the same lines I want to do legit jumping jacks – instead of the ghetto side step side things I do now. LOL. Of course, this cracked me up so I had to share:

jump rope

There you have my fitness goals for 2014! What are yours?

Have you ever considered making a fitness bucketlist? I saw this while searching for funny graphics and loved it!

Definitely a project for a rainy day. 🙂

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The Best of 2013!


I always love reading end of year lists – best songs, movies, moments etc. I decided to put together my very own Sparkly and Slimming – Best of 2013 list. 🙂

best of 2013

Best workout song – Oooh so many to choose from! I have to say Lil Jon “Work” – we do this at Studio Poise in Danielle’s class and at the YMCA with Stef and I just LOVE it.

Best workout – this has to be the Sunday/Monday Zumba classes this week – we did all the favorite songs from the year and a ton of friends were in attendance (including my BFF Jewels taking her first Stef Sweeney class! Woo!). Zumba has to be one of the best things to happen to me this year – I’ve shaken my ass off (and lost 47 pounds from this time last year!!). made new friends and truly found cardio I LOVE doing.

Best trip – In May I took a whirlwind trip with my sales manager to Atlanta/Chicago/Detroit. The trip was excellent from a work relationship/meeting perspective but also from a food/fun perspective (we ate at some great places!). Sadly it was also the last time I got to see my aunt before she passed. However, I’m happy for this memory because as always she reminded me of the important things in life (appreciating sunsets, getting lost and found again and spending time with my Mom!).

Sunset from my aunt's hospital room - there was something very powerful about capturing this moment and sharing it with her.

Sunset from my aunt’s hospital room – there was something very powerful about capturing this moment and sharing it with her.

Best song for aimless driving (a favorite pastime of mine!) – Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey is always the right answer – but given that’s not new I’ll have to vote for “Take Care” Drake and Rihanna – I’m not a huge fan of either artist but this song is just my JAM in the car especially. My favorite line is “You hate being alone and you ain’t the only one – you hate the fact that you bought the dream and they sold you one“. Truth.

Best treat – I found a company called Sugarfina on Instagram and their cute candies looked almost too good to eat – I bought some for Christmas for stockings and mine were gone by the 30th. Haha. Highly recommend the Champagne Bubbles or the Peach Bellinis. Mmmm.

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Best epiphany – Sometimes letting go really does make you stronger than holding on. In personal relationships and with organizations you were once devoted to. Patronizing a place that mocks and belittles their clients isn’t good for soul – and finally accepting that I was better than the behavior I encountered was a powerful moment (see: A Lesson Betrayal).

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Best quote – Ooooh so many to choose from! I think I will go with “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” – Buddha. Thanks to my friend Stephanie for posting this on Facebook!

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Best accomplishment – I have two—- conquering my fear of actually going to Zumba and then falling in LOVE with classes (and being able to keep up!!) AND fitting in to a tank top from Lululemon that my friend Stasia bought me in January for my birthday. When I first tried it on I couldn’t get it past my shoulders! Woo!

Best new food obsession – ARUGULA! So delicious and so versatile! It goes with every salad, you can wilt it and it tastes amazing without any dressing. Roasted beets (with goat cheese) might a close second.

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Magic in a bowl!

Best new habitCutting out the salt! Who knew salt made SUCH an impact?! I am less bloated, less sore and overall much happier!

Best book read – “The Good Cop”  by Brad Parks (I love a crime novel!) for pleasure and “The In-Between” Jeff Goins for blog research – this was one of the best books I’ve ever read – so good I’m actually rereading it!

Best new TV show – Oh god I can’t choose! “The Americans” is tied with “House of Cards” – you need to see both!

TV shows

Best new accessory – I am shocking myself right now but I am going to say a naked face! I love being comfortable enough with myself to leave the house without makeup. 🙂

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This is me as I write this blog post! No makeup – hair in a messy bun and ya know what? I think I’m pretty!

Of course this wouldn’t be a Best Of post without a few funny ones…..

Best phrase I cannot wait to retire: TOTES. I freaking hate it when people say “Totes” instead of totally! Drives me batty.

Best band I can’t wait to stop hearing: ONE DIRECTION! I hope they fall off the earth in 2014!

Best meme I saw all year: Thanks to my brother for sending this gem along! LOL.

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Thank you all for reading – messaging me – commenting and being my support system. I am a lucky girl to know so many fabulous people!!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

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The Unresolution


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2014 is the year of the horse, the year of the Winter Olympics in Sochi and I propose we make it the year of the unresolution. What is an “unresolution”? It’s the notion that rather than make a lengthy, unattainable resolution list you should focus instead on improving one area of your life through little changes. I coined the term (at least as far as I’m concerned) and I’m really excited about it! Every December I make a ridiculous list of things I need to do in order to be a better person. Guess what? They just cause more stress and I end up a miserable person! For instance every year I vow to complete a 5k. This year I finally figured out I actually hate running. I hate it. I’m terrible at it and it brings me 0 joy. So, this year I will not push myself to complete couch to 5k, I will not read running blogs and curse myself for not being as passionate as the authors. Nope, this year I will accept my chosen cardio (Zumba!) and plan to attend 5 classes a week. Zumba makes me happy and thinner – it’s a win win!

This year’s unresolution will be simple: be happier. Happy for me means coffee dates with friends, quality time with my Mom (especially in our favorite vacation slot ~ Los Angeles!), more Zumba, more strength training, more healthy foods,  more sleep and more smiles. Less comparing and more acceptance. Less complaints, more compassion.

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Last year I wrote a novella about what I would accomplish – let’s just see how I did for giggles.

* Complete Couch to 5K (using the fancy new heart rate monitor I bought – in pink of course!) – FAIL – turns out I hate running and this goal lasted all of 4 days.  LOL!

* Hike to the Hollywood sign! (I have ALWAYS wanted to do this – and I finally conned someone into doing it with me. So come February I will be hiking my cute butt up to see the sign and the lovely city of Los Angeles!) – Semi-pass. I went to the Hollywood sign…and I hiked but they weren’t mutually exclusive.

* Go gluten-free (like legit. I want to go hardcore for a month and see how I feel – then adjust as need be). PASS! I actually liked this and while I am not totally gluten-free I do avoid most bread/flour in my daily life.

* Get more fruits/veggies into my day (roasted, chopped, pureed – any form…just do it!) PASS! I rocked this.

* Stop stressing out about shit I can’t control (As the story goes: “Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.”  Eh, Semi-Pass. I did better but I still let my mind wander and dwell often.

* Cook an actual meal – like 3 courses that go together for someone I love. PASS! I cooked this year! I am excited for new cooking tools for Christmas and new cookooks.

* Buy cute workout clothes at Lululemon (Stasia this means once they fit we’re going on a shopping spree!) – FAIL – mostly because I boycott the terrible things Lululemon execs did this year. Their tops fit – but their bottoms are still a ways off and I’m fine never fitting into their stuff.

* Have more adventures – who doesn’t love an adventure?! Semi-Pass – I took some chances and tried some new things but I also became a bit of a homebody this year.

* Spend more time with the people who make me smile – and less with the ones who make me self-doubt PASS! This means I flat out don’t see some people anymore – and that’s okay. Not everyone was meant to stay in your life forever.

* Write more (not necessarily here – just in general. I have these moments of brilliance…and I lose them on scraps of paper and random note pads in between life) – PASS! I write a lot more, even if I don’t always share it.

* Stop trying to make everyone like me. I’m sure I’ve confessed this before but in case you missed it – I HATE when people don’t like me. Hate it. At work. At the gym. Anywhere. I need to be liked. In 2013 I will build a bridge and get the fuck over it. Not everyone is going to like me – and that’s OK! Semi-pass ~ I did better about this at work and at my activities but I still struggle with it. I think the great betrayal of 2013 made me realize sometimes it’s NOT about me. 🙂

* Complain less. I am a habitual whiner, I know I am. Sometimes my inner monologue becomes my OUTER monologue and that just isn’t sexy. Time to kibosh the bitching! PASS –  I think I have done a lot better with this one – though I still have my moments!

* Be more awesome (I know, this sounds so arrogant right? But I figure it this way – if I am more awesome I will attract more awesome into my life and frankly – that’s what I need!  PASS!

Not bad!!! I think some of these will be things I will continuously work on for life. 🙂

This year I will put myself out into the dating pool and pray to God I remember those swim lessons I took that summer at the Tech. 🙂 I’ve come a long way in the last year and grown through several challenges. I’m renewed, restored and ready to tackle this amazing new year. Bring it on 2014!

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Elf4Health Challenge Wrap-up!


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While I LOVE Christmas and it’s my favorite time of year I’m super sad to see the Elf 4 Health challenge come to a end! It’s been an interesting 4 weeks for sure and it’s made me want to continue focusing on daily challenges for my mind, body and soul. Here’s a recap of my highlights (and lowlights) of the event! 🙂

Top 5 Highlights:
Unsubscribe! I wrote a whole blog post about the power of this challenge! Also a fellow elf turned me on to unroll.me – it quickly compiled a list of everything I receive currently and helped me seriously slim down my subscription list!

Share your expertise! I wrote a guest blog post about fabulous ways to start 2014 (as an expert in self-improvement):  http://cucinakristina.com/elf-health-share-expertise-challenge/

And

I offered free gift wrapping to the guys at work. It was such a success (and so much fun) I’ll do it on Friday’s next year for sure! I am a fabulous wrapper! Pun intended.

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Makeup free – I could never do this at work until last year. I was in L.A. for work during the challenge and had to bite the bullet and go au natural during a day with big client meetings. It was scary but a success ~ and I’ve carried this on once a week ever since! I appreciate my good genes a lot more now than I ever did (thanks Mom!).

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Setting a new fitness goal was fun – especially since it’s end of year and it’s easy to fall pray to laziness. 🙂 Next year I will take a hip hop class, focus on 4 days of Zumba and 2 days of strength training and bust out my DVDs: yoga, Tone It Up, POUND (coming soon!) to continue mixing things up and confusing my body into weightloss.

Wall-sit – this was the most fun challenge! I lasted 3 mins and now I’m inspired to keep these going! I can feel my quads getting stronger already!

Top 3 Lowlights: (I only had 3 fails and they’re worth sharing)

100 burpees – sweet Jesus these kill me! I think I did 10 total. My goal in 2014 is to try conquering these wretched little exercises.

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Go meatless – I spaced and had chicken pot pie soup for lunch! LOL. There are ton of awesome recipes I could have made and I totally effed up.

Meditate – this is my brain when I try to sleep or mediate or be quiet for more than 10 minutes….

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All in all I’m really glad I participated! I’m going to bring back the goal jar in 2014 and fill it with goals like “100 oz. of water” or “ten minutes of stretching” then do those every day for a week. Little changes make big differences right? 🙂

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Guest Post: Weight Training for Women!


Hello!

I am Kristina and I blog about food, crafts, and life over at Cucina Kristina. About 6 months ago, I got super into the Paleo Lifestyle and weight training. I love lifting heavy weights and swimming when I go to the gym and am thrilled with the progress I have made in a year. When I started, I could deadlift about 50 pounds, and now I am able to deadlift 130 pounds, which is pretty close to my bodyweight. It’s amazing at how strong I have gotten over the last year! elf4health I am so happy to be guest blogging here on Sparkly & Slimming! Samantha and I were paired up via the Elf for Health challenge that Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean and Elle over at Nutritionella are running for the holiday season. Today’s challenge is “Share Your Expertise.” After sending a few emails back and forth and discussing things we were good at, Samantha asked me to write a “Women’s Guide to Weight Training” post. Because I am not a certified personal trainer, I am hesitant to give actual fitness advice, but I can tell you all about how I got into weight training and provide you with some fabulous resources if you are interested in getting lean and strong.

How I Got into Weight Training

I started weight training about a year ago because one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to be able to do a pull-up. One pull-up. It didn’t sound that hard at the time, but it definitely is not easy to pull your own bodyweight! I am very close to being able to do a pull-up so I am confident that I will be able to tackle this before my birthday in May. 🙂

Dispelling a myth!

Before I go any further, I want you to know that you will not get “bulky” from lifting heavy weights! There is a common fear amongst women that they will come out of the gym looking like a bodybuilder if they pick up anything over 10 pounds. Lifting weights will help you burn body fat faster than doing cardio alone and it is FUN! Weight lifting also helps boost your metabolism and helps you burn fat long after you have finished your workout.

Form is KEY.

The most important thing to keep in mind when you are weight training is form. You are setting yourself up for injury if you let your form lapse. If you have never weight trained before, I would suggest watching some videos on YouTube and practicing the moves using NO weights before you start adding weights to your workouts. You can do this in the privacy of your own home if you have a full-length mirror. If you do not have a full-length mirror, do this at your gym. You will not look silly, I promise! Many experienced weight lifters check their form this way before doing an exercise. NerdFitness

One website I LOVE that has a ton of videos, articles, and all around general fitness advice is called Nerd Fitness. Block out a weekend and devour all of the wonderful information Steve has to offer.

Also, take some time to check out Staci’s success story. Staci is super awesome, currently deadlifts 385 pounds, and is nothing remotely close to looking bulky!

So, you want to start weight training.

In addition to Nerd Fitness, I would highly recommend that you buy and read the book, The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Alwyn Cosgrove and Lou Schuler. This book is nothing short of amazing. It includes a comprehensive 6-month weight training program that anyone can do. They explain how to modify exercises to fit your strength level (for example, you may have to start doing exercises using your bodyweight before you add on any additional weight) and include a nutrition plan to go along with it. If you are interested in weight training, this is the #1 book I would recommend to you!

Some Sample Workouts

Here are some sample workouts for the total beginner using bodyweight. All are from Nerd Fitness. I wasn’t joking when I said this was one of my favorite websites!

Beginner Body Weight Workout

Clean Eating.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you can weight train your buns off and you will not see results if you are not eating for fat loss. This means avoiding overly processed foods and focusing on eating whole foods and lean proteins. In short, eat healthy!

I hope this helped motivate some of you to pick up some weights the next time you are in the gym. If you have any questions about lifting, feel free to tweet me @cucina_kristina. I will do my best to answer your questions or point you in the right direction!

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Thanks Kristina!!  I know two of my loyal friends (and readers) Lauren and Jewels will especially love this!

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Coping, that’s all…..


I should have saved that “Long December”post just a few more days….

On Thursday December 12th my fur companion and sweetheart of 20 years went to heaven. Ebony was my first pet ever ~ we got him when I was 11. A boy named Ebony? Funny story…we thought he was a she because he was SO furry we didn’t see any boy bits. Then we got a female kitty (Autumn) and quickly realized our mistake….LOL. The name had stuck and morphed into a million nicknames (including my favorite, Charlie Tango). He was a complete character (and more like a dog than any cat I’ve met to date) – he came to the dinner table ready to get his plate filled with whatever we were eating, gave high fives, liked to talk back,  loved to snuggle and would force you to simultaneously scratch his chin because let’s face it – it was all about him. 🙂  My life is empty without him – there’s a tangible void that I just don’t know how to fix or fill.

Ebony 1

You don’t realize the impact a pet has on you and your daily life until you’re at the grocery store on a busy Saturday before a storm surrounded by strangers and have a breakdown, aisle 12. For the first time since I can recall, there is no picking out special cat food. There is no cute face waiting at the door to see what was bought (and to watch you put his food away) –  told you he was more like a dog! Haha.

He had been sick for a bit and on medicine for arthritis. In the last few weeks he’d gotten too weak to get up easily and no one in the family could bear to see him suffer so we had to make a painstaking decision. Ebony was a beloved member of the family (especially after two wonderful decades) and I feel like a piece of my family is MIA. I want to send out a search party. Missing: Wonderful, sweet, sassy black cat. Answers to many names and is irreplaceable.

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I am usually not one to focus on the negative but 2013 has had more suck than any previous year I can think of in my 31 years. Illness, loss, suffering… my favorite aunt, my beloved Charlie Tango… my heart is broken. I’ve cried so much in the last few months that I keep expecting to run out of tears. Alas, the human body is amazing and here I sit with big, fat tears streaming down my face.

I want to usher in a new year with promise and positivity but I know my life will always be a little sadder without him and that deserves acknowledgement and reflection. Rest in peace my sweet friend, I will miss our time together more than you know. ❤

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“Grief is like an ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can is learn to swim.” – Vickie Harrison

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It’s been a long December…


One of my favorite songs is “Long December” by Counting Crows – it always feels very final, very matter-of-fact and a little melancholy. Granted, it’s only December 9th but the song perfectly sums up my feelings towards this year already!

I’m about 90% recovered from pneumonia that struck right before Thanksgiving and I’m getting back into the swing of things. This time of year it’s SO easy to fall off track and just say “eff it, I’ll start fresh in January” – but think how much better you’ll feel if you stay on track through the most challenging month and continue that great streak right through January! As my friend Stef says – stay accountable!

How am I doing this?

*planning workouts with friends – lots of Zumba dates, circuit dates and checking in with my brother and my fit friends. Workouts are a great excuse to meet up with someone and burn calories at the same time!

*avoiding the “but it’s the holidays!” food pitfall. I avoided Halloween candy completely, I barely ate at Thanksgiving (because I was sick) so I was far from overstuffed…now I need to keep that momentum straight through the season of gingerbread lattes, salted caramel hot chocolates and Santa sugar cookies!

*making the most of my time on and off! I have vacation from December 20th – 31st. While I’m super excited for time with family and friends I need to ensure I wrap up all my projects and meet my work deadlines without going nuts. Balance + prioritize!

*reminding myself that I’m striving for good, not perfect. I will never exercise 7 days a week and stick perfectly to my calories – but I can compensate for splurges and  ensure to up my water intake etc.

*last but not least- remember that the year is coming to an end and that means an exciting new beginning is on the horizon. I mentioned that I love sunsets and sunrises because they symbolize that everything (good or bad) will come to an end. I fully believe in that concept. 🙂

This past weekend my family put up our Christmas tree with old and new wonderful ornaments. I’m the family gift wrapper so those gorgeous presents were created by yours truly (and I’m modest too!).

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As we approach 2014 one of my favorite bloggers and writers, Kate Northrop suggested something I can’t wait to do with my family: “Release it. Mike and I are having a Winter Solstice party this year. We’ll have little cards by the fireplace on which people can write down what they’d like to release and leave in the darkness of the shortest day of the year. Then we’ll have other cards where they can write down what they’d like to welcome in with the light as the days grow longer starting on Dec. 22nd. The end of the year is a beautiful time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not, and let go of what’s not. Spend some time letting go instead of accumulating and you’ll fee more free.”

What are you ready to release?

What would you like to welcome?

I’ll share mine: I’d like to release self-doubt (because this year I have really questioned my place in the working world, in friendships, in life etc.). I’m ready to release that worry and negativity about past mistakes that I harbor.

I’m ready to welcome in a romantic partner who pairs with me in a fabulous way. I feel like 31 was my year of trying new things and opening myself up to new ideas. I found Zumba, I got healthier and learned to focus on whole foods,  I grew through some challenges professionally, I lost someone I loved dearly and learned to appreciate the family (and friends) here. I tried my hand at cooking (and had a few successes!), I spent time alone and appreciated my quirks (and tamed some of annoying traits). I’m ready to move on to the next chapter of my life with someone I love by my side. ❤

As for resolutions, I had a giant list I started to build (42 things and counting) and I decided to go in a different direction – next year I will focus on being happy. Period. I will spend more time with my mom and less time on menial tasks. I’ll remember to pack my stuff for work/Zumba the night before so my mornings are less stressful. I’ll smile at strangers and try to be less sarcastic. I’m email friends I don’t see enough and take impromptu road trips to try new things. Little tweaks will add up to big happiness in the end. I’m sure if it!

Are you making resolutions? If so will you focus on one out two things or try to tackle a laundry list? I’d recommend trying to conquer one or two meaningful items. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Power of the Unsubscribe


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Do you ever think about the stress in your daily life and wonder where it comes from? Do you ever feel anxious or annoyed without good reason? We all have busy jobs, crazy lives etc. but what is the *one* thing we all do far more than any generation before us? Engage in social media.

Stay with me for a second – how many times a day do you pop onto Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or LinkedIn only to read or see something that rubs you the wrong way or makes you sad or angry (sometimes completely without your knowledge!). It changes your mood. It stress you out.  It affects your life and it steals your joy. It’s time to reclaim that happiness and get rid of the noise.

If you can’t buy silence you have to eliminate the source of the noise” (a quote from one of my new favorite shows, “The Hostages”).

So, here’s what I propose we do to fix this noise and stress –

Unsubscribe from mass emails (especially those that sell your information – Yuck). You know the ones I mean – companies you like, bands you listen to, political affiliations you may still support but don’t need 4,000 emails from on a daily basis. I was a big fan of this writer whose book I bought a while back….until I joined his mailing list and got 5 emails A DAY. It was overwhelming and frankly felt harrasive. Once a week? Not bad. Thirty five a week? Unacceptable.

Opt out of text messages (I might be alone here but I HATE receiving texts from anyone but friends). I don’t want texts from the library about overdue books or from my eye doctor saying I need to make an appointment and I certainly don’t want them from my cell phone carrier who already gets paid way too much each month promoting their latest deal. No thank you!

Unfollow people/companies on Twitter that don’t contribute anything positive to your day – or just retweet everything a celebrity says. Consider the “post the exact same status on 6 social media avenues under multiple names” offenders in this category as well. It’s just spam to send the same message to multiple audiences. Not everyone in your life needs to know that you just Shazam’d “Wrecking Ball”.

Most important – unsubscribe from people on Facebook who do nothing but complain, post horrible news or constantly start drama – no one needs that (and we ALL know these people!). If you don’t want to unfriend them then do yourself a favor and hide their statuses. Trust me, you’ll feel a million times better not being subjected to their nonsense!

While we’re at it – take this opportunity to think before you post. It’s way too easy to be negative. I’ve been coughing for 8 days straight and haven’t slept more than hour uninterrupted since the cough started – but I made a conscious effort not to bitch about those things on Facebook (I realize the irony in posting it to my blog but it was for the sake of explanation, LOL). Now I’m not saying you need to be Pollyanna but if your last ten statuses or tweets have more complaints than positivity – it’s time for a change. Unsubscribe from only sharing the junk and find something nice to put into the world. If you can’t find something nice…..yup, I’ll say it – don’t bother posting.

The days are long but the years are short – don’t spend them being brought down by garbage (your own or  someone else’s).  🙂

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