Friday, May 29, 2015

The (Re-)Start of my Fitness Journey

Remember back in the day when I used to go to the gym 5-6 days a week, lift weights for 45 minutes to an hour, run on the treadmill for half an hour, meet with a trainer 1-2 times a month who designed custom programs for me, and then possibly do a little bonus yoga in the evenings?  I was stronger and more fit than I had ever been in my life.  And then we decided to have kids.  Six years later I have gained two adorable amazing kids, but I have also lost all that fabulous muscle, that cardio capacity, and during the process I gained a decent amount of weight.  I went from 115 lbs, 19% body fat (as measured by my trainer), to over 160 lbs at my peak, and who knows what % body fat!

I slowly lost my baby weight in the year and a half after baby #2 was born, but I still hadn't started working out again, and just didn't have the energy and strength I want to have. 

So one day, as I do a few times a month, I checked out the "Kids Corner" facebook page for our area, and I happened upon an ad for a free 21-day get-fit challenge group by fithousewives (Tracy Sandifer).  It sounded like just the thing to get me working out again - a group with daily check-ins and encouragement, and a bunch of moms like me all trying to start getting fit again, and it was free - so nothing to lose.  (And I double-checked, being a housewife was not required.) 

Sure enough, it totally worked!  I worked out four days a week the entire challenge.  I ate healthier.  And I lost a few pounds and gained a little muscle tone.  In just three weeks I was back to giving older toddler piggy back rides through the zoo and tossing younger toddler into the air.  I had more energy and was stronger.  And I just felt good!

I mostly did youtube workout videos at home, but also tried out a few beachbody workout videos, using their 1-month free trial.  The beachbody videos were so good, that I decided to purchase one of the DVD sets for myself, and join Tracy's next challenge group too.  Tracy is a beachbody coach, so she lets anyone try 1 challenge group for free, but for subsequent ones, she asks that you purchase something from beachbody - not a problem for me given how good the workouts were.

And that's how my beachbody adventure began.  I'll do a separate post on that second challenge - I did the 21 Day Fix Extreme program, and it was truly amazing.  I had loved the one workout I checked out in the free streaming trial, but the program was even better than I had expected from that.  Challenge 2 wraps up in a few days, and I'm already planning for my third challenge!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Cocktail attire

This Sunday we attended an amazing 40th birthday party.  The invitation called for cocktail attire.  Almost all of the women wore knee-length black fitted dresses.  Two or three wore black and white fitted knee-length dresses.  And a couple wore slightly shorter black dresses.  One wore navy (fitted and knee-length) with silver embellishments!

And then there was me.

I had a feeling that might happen, but I'm pretty comfortable with stuff like that.  The dress is certainly dressy enough.  And I love the short flippy hemline.  It moved so well when I was dancing!  I loved the color and neckline on this dress too.  And hubby liked it!  So it is a success.  I can't wait for the photos from the party.

(Dress: Herve Leger, from Lollipuff.  Shoes (SO SO SO comfortable for hours of dancing!) Sergio Rossi from DSW.  Earrings, Vince Camuto from Nordstrom Rack.  Purse: Jimmy Choo sunglass case from ebay that I custom covered with crystals!!  (Custom "strassed").  Watch: Gucci.) 

Heels or flats

I would say that overall my sister-in-law is just great at looking sexy on a daily basis.  And, well, I'd kind of like to look sexy too.  So I experimented with another one of her style themes - wearing crazy-high heels for daytime.  Above is the outfit I put together.  It worked.  The light colors, cropped distressed jeans, and flowy top kept it day-time enough, and the heels would totally work for daytime in Orange County or LA.  But at the same time, I just felt silly.  I can do a medium chunky heel or wedge for daytime, but skinny super-high heels?  I just couldn't do it.  Maybe I'll work my way up to it.  Below is what I ended up wearing.  :)   

(Top: White house black market - yes, I've been buying a *lot* of stuff there! Free shipping plus easy returns...  Jeans: old navy with additional distressing by me, Silver heels: White house black market, Silver flats: Walmart (I've been wearing these *so* much!  I even looked for a higher-end version and couldn't find anything that looked as good!  I stuck 10$ arch supports in so that they provide *some* support, and now I think I need to look for a couple more pairs to buy because I'm sure they will wear out fast.  But hey, if the most stylish silver flats I can find are from Walmart, I'll go with it!), Purse: Franco Sarto from Amazon)

Downtown Disney dinner date

Yup, you read that right.  Downtown Disney.  There's a whole shopping center type thing outside of disneyland that has restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops.  This was our first time venturing there, but we'll probably go back.  We had a great dinner at a nice restaurant, seated at the window and watching disney-goers heading home and downtown-disney-ers heading in.  It was fabulous people watching.  After dinner we got me an ice-cream cone, and stopped into a couple of stores.  It was a really nice evening.

My sister in law does a great job wearing white house black market bustiers, completely strapless, when she goes out at night.  She goes out a lot more than I do, given that she and her husband have tons of friends in the area and her kids are a few years older than ours.  I decided to give it a try, but with my own spin.  Fully strapless looked odd on me - and the bustier was sortof falling off - I bought it post-baby and I've lost at least 15 lbs and a couple bra sizes since then - but it worked great with the straps.  I adjusted the straps so they made an x in the back which pulled it up even higher - great for my short torso.  I also had fun with the accessories.

I ended up wearing almost this exact same outfit, but with my black cross-body bag and silver ballet flats, to my sister-in-law's place the following weekend with the whole family.  It worked perfectly for that too!  What a difference accessories make.  (And I have another post along those lines, with pictures, coming up. :))

(Top: White house black market, Cardigan: J-crew factory (super vanity sized, mine is an xxs), jeans: Frame Forever Karlie's, Shoes: BCBG from DSW, purse: Versace Couture purchased in Italy)

Mother's Day dress

I've fallen a bit behind...  This is what I wore on Mother's Day, for brunch with my family at a local diner (brunch was *so* yummy!!).  I wanted to wear a dress, and I felt like I could dress up just a bit, but I also wanted to be day-time appropriate, and kid friendly.  

(Dress: White house black market, shoes: franco sarto from ages ago)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Peplum dress

This is the second time I am wearing this dress, but last time was boots-and-tights weather.  This dress is much more fun with pumps.  I also like how the new red blazer works with it - the stand up collar on the dress combined with the collarless jacket is a nice little detail.

I still wish this dress was an inch longer, and had regular cap sleeves instead of puff sleeves, but I think I'm going to enjoy wearing it this spring and summer.  It really does fit me incredibly well, and is still comfortable and forgiving.

(Dress and shoes: White House black market, blazer: Ann Taylor)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Birthday dress!

I actually went out for lunch with friends for my birthday!!  Three of my work friends (we don't really do anything outside of work except for lunch a couple times a year) took me out today.  Since I was coming from home, and not the office, I decided to wear a fun dress that I've been wanting to wear for a while.  But it is a tank-style dress, it is still a little cooler here, and this was still a bunch of people who see me at the office, so I put a simple cardigan over it.  Here's the outfit:
I'm so glad I finally wore this dress!  The detailing on this dress is amazing.  That geometric pattern is created by sewing together individual pieces of fabric - it's not a print!  Hopefully now that I've worn it once, I'll wear it more.  But I've found the main disadvantage of more expensive dresses is that I worry about getting them messed up if I wear them with the kids around.  I probably shouldn't - they're not exactly in the spitting-up stage anymore! - but I do.  Anyway, I'll have to get over that mental block, but one step at a time.  :)

I wanted to keep the dress on forever, but since my afternoon will mostly be running errands (a birthday treat over doing actual work :) ), it didn't seem quite right.  So I changed into a more casual dress with ballet flats instead.

(Dress: Herve Leger, from, cardigan: Gap, Shoes: Bandolino from DSW)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Yellow raincoat

I got a new yellow raincoat recently.  I've wanted a yellow single-breasted trench-like but shorter coat for so long.  And I happened upon one on sale on the Nordstrom website.  The reviews complained of too-slim too-long sleeves, so I snapped it up.  And sure enough, it fit me perfectly.  But this is Southern California, so I assumed I'd have to wait 6 months or so before wearing it.  And then it rained today!  So this is what I actually wore to Muffins with Mom.  (There's a cute simple black sweater underneath.)

I really need to find replacements for these boots.  They are a synthetic material, and the coating on them is starting to peel off.  But I haven't found a comfortable replacement yet, so I keep wearing them.  They look okay as long as no one looks closely. 

(Coat: Via Spiga from Nordstroms, still on sale and available in petite (shorter arms?) and other colors, jeans: Frame Forever Karlies, Boots: Kenneth Cole, Sweater peaking out: Mango, Purse: Rebecca Minkoff Mini 5-zip from Nordstroms (these often appear at a discount at Nordstrom Rack - I really love Rebecca Minkoff purses right now for their nice blend of quality, design, and practicality.  I just ordered another Rebecca Minkoff purse to be my new summer purse))

Distressed denim outfits

This is what I was going to wear to Muffins with Mom at daycare today, but it turned out to be a cold rainy day!  Who would have thunk.  So this outfit is on hold for another day, but I wanted to share early in the season, while you might still be contemplating a pair of distressed denim, or a pair of watercolor or floral pumps, of your very own.  :)

This is an alternate, super casual and beachy, way to style my new torn jeans.  (They feel like "distressed denim" when I'm wearing them with watercolor pumps, but they're really just torn jeans.  :) )

I saw tons of people wearing various distressed denim this weekend and at Tuesday night's baseball game.  It seems like it's become the standard denim around here!!  Most people were wearing distressed skinny blue jeans.  I like my white, but white skinny jeans probably do make legs look a little thicker, or at least don't slim, so you have to be comfortable with your legs to wear them. 

I also noticed that most people were wearing them exactly the way that they'd wear normal jeans, but somehow that didn't work for me.  I feel like I have to either wear them super casual, or just a little dressed up.  Pumps aren't necessary - but at least a pair of chunky-heeled nude sandals or wedges.  We'll see what other outfits I come up with as the spring and summer roll on.

Also, I've been exercising again!  I'll let you know how it goes as I progress, but I can already see and feel a difference.  As I get in better shape, you'll probably see me in more fitted tops, because I really just can't resist.  :)  My weekend wear may also get a little more sporty, because as I have more strength and energy, I end up running and jumping and climbing and throwing the kids around more.

(Jeans: Old Navy Low-rise Rockstar jeans, partly distressed already, with additional distressing by me, yellow top: Intrigue, from Nordstrom Rack's Juniors department, pumps: Vince Camuto from DSW, Pink and white tank: Gap, flip-flops: Earth brand, from World of Earth)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Casual Jumper

There's a wide range of jumpers and rompers available these days. I know that some women wear them as dressy clothing, but I'm a huge fan of jumpers and rompers for casual wear.  I have already worn this jumper three times since buying it less than a month ago.  I wore it to MyGym for a morning toddler-and-me class.  I wore it to a big outdoor train fair type thing (and wore said toddler on my back in a carrier for part of that), and wore it to my Mom's house, where I ran around in the backyard playing catch in this jumper.  Rompers and jumpers are so comfortable!  And this one has pockets!  I even find myself changing into it at home, just to hang out and relax at home in the evenings and on weekends.

I'd say the key is to find ones that fit perfectly.  The torso needs to be the right length.  You don't want the crotch to be riding up, nor do you want the waist to be down at your hips.  I actually tried one adorable romper from Nordstroms that made my hips look gigantic.  I didn't even realize that was possible.  I'm sure there's someone that it would look amazing on, but wow - it was not good on me.  And I've tried many that were just way too baggy in the torso for me.  

Also, since it's a lot of the same fabric, I like sleeveless for jumpers.  Otherwise I think it'd be a little overwhelming.
I know even with a perfect fit, this look isn't for everyone, but I love it.  And I do get actual compliments!  Just not from everyone.  :)

(Jumper: Target kids' section)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Casual Friday

We don't really have casual Friday here, but we have a pretty lax dress code on non-teaching days, so I can do casual Friday whenever I want to.  And since it's Friday, I figured it was an appropriate time.  :)
This is a little bit of an "I'd really rather be at my beach house today, but fine I'll come in to the office," type outfit.  I just had to wear my watercolor pumps and the work equivalent of one of my toss-on-and-go outfits - it felt like that type of a day.  

I'm also so excited that wider-leg pants with a fitted top is a thing again.  The whole skinny/slim pant trend, including cropped and ankle-length pants, with looser more flowy tops, is actually quite flattering for my particular body type.  But there's just something about a floor-grazing pair of wide leg pants with a torso-grazing top that I just love.  And while those slim and cropped pants really highlight shoes, I also love the subtlety of these watercolor pumps just peaking out.  I don't know if you can tell in the pics, but the blue top picks up on one of the main colors on the pumps. 

(Pants: Dolce and Gabbana, super discount from Filene's Basement - I still think about the olive pair that they also had and wish I had bought those too :), sweater: Banana Republic from a long time ago, shoes: Vince Camuto from DSW.)