Whole30: Mid-month Update

Several of you asked me to continue updating you here on the progress of our Whole30 adventure.  I will say that the last week and a half has been…. not actually difficult…but more difficult to stay devoted.  Which meant, I got a little lazy with food prep but luckily for you, that means I can share some super easy meal ideas because I just didn’t feel like doing anything but EASY.

So far the last several days, it’s been soups, salads and breakfast for dinner.  I’ve made two MASSIVE hauls of soup.  One taco and one veggie.  They are just compliant versions of something we’d already eat. I made enough each time for dinner, leftovers for lunch and even more to freeze for next week. My only tip here is to just be sure to make sure your stock or broth is compliant as well as any spices you use.

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We resorted to Larabars the first week if we needed something easy in the car or had a craving for sugar. This week I grabbed a few RXbars as well and I have to say I like them better.  They have a better texture and I prefer the flavors they come in… although, some aren’t compliant so you’ve really got to pay attention to the labels.

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The prepared grilled chicken strips from Trader Joe’s have been total lifesavers this entire time. I just made a run at lunch today to pick up some more! They’re great cold over salads.  I’ve also resorted to just dunking them in guacamole and getting on with my day! Crazy convenience. There are some chicken breasts available there as well but they’ve been marinated and are non-compliant.  These aren’t marinated but still have great flavor.

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And lastly, but not Whole30 related per say, are the collagen peptides I’ve been adding to my coffee.  This is a great source of protein in the morning and seems to help my breakfast stay with me longer so I don’t eat up all my snack options before the afternoon grumbles kick in.  G has hip trouble (poor old man) and collagen is great for joints (as well as hair, skin, nails) so I’ve gotten him on board as well.  I use Vital Proteins brand which you can snag on Amazon Prime.

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So, the mid-experience consensus is….

I’m down about 5 lbs in a little over two weeks. G is down significantly more.  And while we decided to do this to kick off a lifestyle change and detox, the weight loss sure is great. More importantly to me than the scale, I’ve noticed a change in the way my clothes fit and am beginning to see definition in my arms and legs that I forgot I use to have! HA!

Only 12 more days to go and, to be honest, I’m not really counting the minutes. I’m shocked at how little I miss things like cheese. I mean, there will definitely be cheese happening in 13 days but I’m just not DYING for it like I thought I would be.

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Whole30: Surviving Week 1

Last Monday, G and I dove head first into the Whole30 Program. (Let’s not talk about how Sunday, I ate ALL THE CHEESE… I mean, I had to get it out of the fridge, right?).  I’m not going to bore you with a million recipes because that’s what Pinterest is for. But I thought it might be helpful to share some of my survival tips.  I am 7 days into this thing, so obviously I’m a pro at this point. [Kidding – not even really sure I know what I’m doing]. But if I can do it, I think just about anyone can.

First, let’s talk about why we are doing it.  I’ve talked before about my desire to get healthier.  I’ve got a toddler to keep up with and – in all honesty – I want to feel good about the way I look.  I want to set healthy examples for my child so that making the healthy choice will be the natural one for him. G is at a point where he wants to lose some weight as well and he’s got some willpower like nothing I’ve ever seen. Several friends and coworkers have done the Whole30 program recently and it seemed like a tough but good plan for us to kick off a healthier routine… and it was NOT based on deprivation, special shakes or drinks, and weird supplements, which was big for us.

Second, let’s talk about the hardest parts.  For me, that was dedicating the time and energy to meal prepping and coming up with snack options.  The solution to this was to just keep it simple.  Pinterest is full of fancy, complicated and deliciously photographed recipes that require 25+ ingredients only found at Trader Joe’s.  That is so NOT necessary.  A lean meat with some roasted veggies will do you just fine. And who has time to slice and bake 600 sweet potatoes to make like 5 servings of sweet potato chips? Not me, that’s for sure.  So here are some things I did that made things much easier than I anticipated.

  1.  I got some high quality food storage tupperware. I’ve always just grabbed a stack of the basically disposable stuff at the grocery store but I knew that for this kind of meal prep, that wasn’t going to cut it. I love the Rubbermaid Brilliance 14-piece set.  The tops snap on and keep raw items fresh and cooked items from geting mushy.  They stack nicely too!fridge shot
  2. I set aside time before the week started to prep meals.  Even if there wasn’t much I could cook ahead of time, I at least chopped up vegetables, marinated meat and got everything as prepared as I possible could to make weeknight cooking easy and quick.
  3. I cooked extra servings at each dinner.  I’m not much of a salad person – not because I don’t like salads – but mostly because I just always want a “hot” meal… maybe it’s a Southern thing? The best way to keep from burning out on salads was to just make extra servings at dinner so we could enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day. Sometimes I’d even make enough to last us two dinners and a lunch. Cooking every night can be hard when there’s a tiny human trying his damndest to destroy your kitchen so being able to just heat something up is like having an night off!
  4.  I kept fresh fruit everywhere! On the kitchen island and in the fridge.  As soon as I got home from the grocery store, I washed and chopped my fruit, tossed together and kept in tupperware at eye level in the fridge for a go-to snack.  I also bagged up individual servings to grab when we left for work. (NOTE: you’re gonna need alot of ziploc bags). Farmers markets and local farm stands are a great way to keep from dropping Benjamins on fruits and veggies.  I’m always amazed how much more expensive it is to shop healthy! Support your local farmers and save yourself some money. If you’re local to Birmingham, I love J & S Produce farm stand at Trinity Methodist Church in Homewood. They are in the parking lot every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning.fruit
  5. Guacamole has become my best friend.  Sure, I’d love to make it fresh each time but ain’t nobody got time for that. Sabra makes a smallish/medium-sized tub perfect for sharing and snack-sized portions as well.  I’ve been throwing it on salads, dipping carrots (seasoned with chili power and lime juice) in it. Any way you can add avocado to a meal, you’re gauranteed to stay fuller longer and it’s a great source of healthy fat.guac
  6. Portion out and package your snacks so eating on-the-go isn’t a disaster.  It’s those moments when you’re out running errands and hunger hits you that are the most dangerous while doing Whole30.  There is almost no compliant quick fix from the convenient store and eating out is pretty difficult. (We’ve eaten out once so far and there was basically one option on the menu that we could have). Grabbing a bag of carrots or almonds that is premeasured so you don’t binge in one of those Snickers hunger moments can totally save your day.almonds
  7. I stopped stereotyping my food.  Eggs aren’t just for breakfast. Grilled chicken isn’t just for lunch or dinner. Eat what you want (that’s compliant) when you want it.  This morning, I had roasted vegetables for breakfast. And I’ll be having a hard-boiled egg with my lunch. The notion that certain foods are for certain meal-times can really box you in and leave you with not enough options… especially when the fridge is getting bare and you haven’t made your next grocery run.
  8. Be confident that you have the willpower to do this.  It really isn’t that hard. You just have to want it bad enough. Want to give you body a boost, rid it of the stuff that shouldn’t be there and reap the rewards.  You’re not really supposed to weigh on this program but I am.  And the scale is moving in the right direction. That may not be your reason for doing this program, but it sure is a nice perk!

So, if you’ve been on the fence about tring Whole30, I say do it! What’s the worst thing that can happen?  You cheat? You fail? You probably would still be eating and treating your body better than you did before. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Let me know if you decide to try it. I want to hear all about it!

Note: Whole30 website has some awesome resources here.

Scroll down for additoinal essentials, tips and suggestions:

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Low Carb Breakfast: Sausage Drop Biscuits

The K List blog

I am about 3 months into my low carb adventure and it has really been paying off. I don’t think elimination diets are a sustainable way to lose and keep weight off but for someone who has alot to shed, it can really produce results.  I am now almost 15 lbs thinner than I was before I got pregnant with III.  I lost the baby weight quickly and easily. I honestly didn’t have much of an appetite for a few weeks after having him, I wasn’t drinking and I was bored so we did A LOT of strolling while on maternity leave.  But then I went back to work and spent most of my day in a chair.  I was struggling with merging two routines – a full time job and keeping a baby alive – so my time and focus on exercising & healthy cooking went out the window for a while.  I managed to put about 8 of the 28 pregnancy pounds back on.  I wasn’t happy with the way I looked and now, more than ever, it was important to me to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Sure, III is a baby but before I know it, he’ll be mimicking the way we live.  And I want him to grow up in an active and healthy family.  With his kidney disease, I want him to understand the importance and benefit of a healthy diet and have the nutrition knowledge he needs to be healthy as a teenager and adult when he is making his own decisions.

After meeting with my physician and doing some personalized tests, I learned that I have moderate insulin resistance so cutting carbs and sugars within reason would be beneficial for my health and waistline.

Bottom line – you should do what works for you.  I’ve adjusted to these habits fairly well and can allow myselfs carbs and sugars…. and wine… within reason without reversing my progress.

My biggest struggle was usually breakfast… Before, I rarely took the time to cook something for myself in the mornings and most grab-and-go items aren’t low carb.  I found a couple of recipes online but nothing I was loving so I just came up with my own… hope you enjoy!

1 package (16oz) of breakfast sausage (opt for turkey sausage if you want to cut the fat… but I’m denying myself enough.. ha!)

3.5 cups of almond flour

3  teaspoons baking powder

8 eggs

Shredded cheese… I used basically an entire bag 🙂

Mix in a bowl by hand the same way you would mix up sausage balls.  Use a large spoon to place on a greased pan. Pat down slightly with spoon…not quite as flat as a cookie.  They will puff up some when they bake.  Bake on 375 for 15-20 mins.  I checked on mine at 15 minutes and they needed just a couple minute longer.

You could really throw just about anything you want in here and they’d be great… onions and bell pepper or do bacon instead of sauage.  A great vegatarian option would be wilted spinach and feta.  III loved these as well so next time I will probably grate some broccoli in just to sneak in a little extra goodness!

PS – This makes about 20-24 drop buscuits and they are very freezer friendly.  I put a few in the fridge to eat on this week and froze the rest.  You can thaw them out directly in the microwave!

Going low-carb & a Pinterest recipe round-up

In a somewhat recent endeavour, I’ve spent a lot of time and effort focused on my physical well-being. Post-pregnancy, I wasn’t happy with the way my body looked but that wasn’t exactly a new thing. I’d been uncomfortable in my skin for years.  And now, with a little one, I decided there would never really be a “good time” to make it a priority so I might as well just do it.  After all, I now have a little one who will eventually learn his healthy (or unhealthy) habits from me.

I’ve almost gotten a handle on how to fit exercise into an already overwhelming schedule (along with some time for my mental well-being) but my main focus as of late has been on our diet…. that’s for another post.

Now, I am NOT one of those people who thinks carbs are the devil and then eats a bajillion grams of fat and various other alwful things. Can’t you tell how well-versed I am in healthy eating??  But I HAVE found that one of the most effective ways for me to lose weight and slim down is to carefully monitor my carb intake. This means that whenever I easily can, I keep carbs to a minimum so that when it’s a little hard (for example, co-worker lunches or girls’ night out), I can just not worry about it.

This is a great article about carbs, blood sugar and – most importantly – insulin resistance.  And those facts are what ultimately led me decide which route I wanted to take with me new diet/lifestyle. I found Pinterest to be a treasure trove of delicious low carb meals and ideas to “feel” like you’re getting your carb fix without actually doing it.  These are not my recipes but I will share some details on what I tweaked.

1. Spaghetti Squash Pizza Pie – We’ve all heard about using spaghetti squash as a substitute for pasta.  I’ve alwasy felt that the squash just wasn’t “noodle-ey” enough but this dish really does it.  Once you baked the squash and assembled the meat sauce and layered it like baked spaghetti, you bake it once more (WITH CHEESE) and the second go ’round in the oven really softens the noodles.  This is perfect dish to make double the portions and freeze for later.

2.  Taco Turkey Burgers – We eat these OFTEN. I typicaly don’t have tortilla chips so crush up and use in these (and that would carb it up) but I will use a small amount of panko bread crumbs or almond flour to help bind the patties together, which ground turkey often needs a little help doing. I also tend to mix in diced onion and bell pepper.  I found the best finish for these in to broil in a cast iron skillet and add cheese for the last 45 seconds-1 minute for a nice golden brown topping. So basically I don’t follow this recipe at all. Still, so yummy.  I make about 12 patties total and make 4-6 depending on if I want to take leftovers to lunch the next day (1.5 for me, 2 for G, and 1 for III to eat on for the next two evenings for dinner, and an extra 1.5 for me to take for my lunch).  The other 6 patties get frozen individually to cook and eat later.  And they are awesome with just about any sides… you could do an avocado salad, sauteed brussel sprouts, or sweet potato fries.

3.  Cauliflower Mash – talk about some TRICKERY! Ok… if I’m being totally honest, these aren’t a perfect replica for eating mashed potatoes but honestly, it’s super tasty and typically appeases my carb cravings! I follow this recipe exactly but I’ve also done it greek yogurt… and a little extra butter never hurt! This also freezes well so you can make it larger batches.

You can see these and more on my Low Carbin’ Pinterest board!  Stay tuned for an upcoming post on my meal planning and prepping process!

What I learned during 7 months of baby reflux

reflux-blog

After a somewhat complicated delivery and extra week spent in the CCN with III, I was SO relieved to come home.  I had struggled with breastfeeding during the 11 days we were in the hospital but I blamed it on us both being on antibiotics and him being connected to IVs and monitors for 7+ days.  I assumed once we got home, relaxed and found a rhythm that things would fall into place.  But that just was not in the cards for us.  I continued having a difficult time producing. I ate ALL the oatmeal, was taking up to 9 fenugreek tablets a day, baking lactation cookies and even drinking some digusting green flavor Gatorade that somebody told somebody told me helped with production.

It was my mother who finally convinced me to just let it go. God bless her!  I was legitimately overwhelmed and Tripp was starving.  Even when he wasn’t starving, he was screaming. Let me say here that I totally understand the benefits of a mother’s breastmilk but there’s also a benefit to having a fed baby and a mom who doesn’t feel like she’s losing her mind. All of that to say, this is not meant to be a breastfeeding post.

Once we were on formula, things normalized a bit but III was still unsatisfied – even unhappy – after feedings.  His reactions to mealtime began to worsen until he basically refused to eat altogether. We were on the cusp on heading to the ER for IV fluids when our pediatrician finally conceded to the idea that he might have acid reflux. We moved to a gentler formula and were prescribe Zantac. That was at 6 weeks old. Over the course of the next 6 months, we saw numerous specialists and increased dosages little by little as III gained weight until he was at the max dosage for an infant. Because he was gaining weight, doctors didn’t seem to be too concerned with the “inconvenience” of a baby that fought and screamed at every feeding.  I remember one particularly bad night calculating how many HUNDREDS of bottles we had left until he hit the magical 6 month date where most babies stop having reflux issues.

That date came and went and we still needed meds. Because of all the tests that were required of III during this process, we discovered a chronic health issue that has the potential to be far more serious than the reflux we were dealing with.  (That is a post for another time). So, in a way, I am grateful for our reflux experience… although that’s hard to admit when I think of the worst of it.  But I learned a few things along the way that might be helpful for some desparate new mom our there googling the heck out of baby reflux hoping to find some answers.

  1. YOU know YOUR own baby. Well-meaning friends and family may unintentionally play down what you are dealing with in an attempt to comfort you or make you feel like nothing is wrong. I can’t tell you how many times others suggested that maybe he was “just a fussy baby” or had colic. I’m a smart person. Common sense can tell me that if my baby is seemingly normal at all times OTHER that feeding times, our issue is definitely feeding-related.
  2. Find a pediatrician YOU TRUST. And I don’t mean trust as in your think they’re a nice and honest person. Most are… there aren’t alot of evil pediatricians out there. But find a pediatrician you have confidence in. Many tend to not worry too much if you child is gaining weight (which mine was…becase I was basically force feeding him). Acid reflux in infants is extremely overdiagnosed so they will often avoid the diagnosis or attempt to let things “take care of themselves.” I resented our first pediatrician for not listening to me or taking my concerns seriously and then when she finally conceded to a reflux diagnosis, she seemed very overwhelmed and uneducated as to why things were not improving.  I had ZERO confidence that she could help me keep my son healthy (especially after a later and unrelated diagnosis). So…I consulted other moms and found one I trusted. And we love him.
  3. Don’t compare your baby to others.  This can be said about alot of things when it comes to parenting… parents tend to compare their children to others based on their size (what’s the obsession with having “big” babies these days???), the timing of their milestones, how quickly they hold their bottles… the list goes on. In the same vein, your baby’s reflux and someone else’s will likely not be the same. Tripp’s reflux lasted months longer that most babies whose moms I’d spoken to and I got so discouraged. And then one day, it stopped. All that desparation and concern that something else was wrong with him was gone. I had done so much unnecessary worrying.
  4. Rely on other moms. Someone else is going through the same thing. I had mom friends that hooked me up with others that they knew had gone through similar situations.  I texted my best friend and III’s godmother an ungodly amount of times throughout our “battle” with reflux. I had a million questions and sometimes just frustrations that needed venting and I would have been much worse off without them.

Here’s the things about acid reflux in infants… it’s not life-threatening (unless you’re in a failure to thrive situation).  But it’s more than just an inconvenience.  I used to feel so guilty about feeling sorry for myself when there were so many mom and babies out there fighting much more difficult battles.  But you know what? No matter the source, it’s terrifying to watch your baby be in pain. It’s gut wrenching to feel like you have no power to help them. And you’re ALLOWED to feel that way.

Here are some specifics about our reflux diagnosis in case you are interested:

  • Diagnosed at 6 weeks, prescribed Zantac
  • Hospitalized at 3.5 months for refusing to feed for 2 days
  • Dosage eventually increased to 1.5 ml 3 times per day
  • Sought chiropractic care at 8 months
  • Stopped usage of meds at 8.5 months
  • Reflux free

I’m not interested in getting into a debate or feeling judged about our decisions to seek chiropractic care but I will share this with you (and you’re welcome to contact me directly if you’d like to discuss further). Around 5 months old, III was coming home with constant run of the mill daycare colds.  Every kid in class had the same cold but III was being sent home because he was vomiting.  Think about that for a minute… consistent (and massive) vomiting with EVERY SINGLE COLD. The average child gets upwards of 10 colds in their first year of life. Our assumption was that the reflux was causing this reaction… either way, one puke and you’re outta daycare for a full 24 hrs…. imagine what that was doing to my paid time off at work.

I’d been advised by many to at least look into chirorpractic care. After speaking to others and doing my own independent research, we decided to take III in to Homewood Friends and Family Chiropractic (PS – they do NOT pop and crack babies so let’s please not go there).  It was the chiropractor that suggested that perhaps it wasn’t III’s reflux but his reflux meds that were causing the vomiting. You see, Zantac is the type of reflux drug that neutralizes stomach acid.  At that point, the only thing III’s body had to digest was breastmilk, formula and watered down fruit purees. Imagine if he was constantly draining (because babies don’t have sinuses) and his stomach acid was not acidic enough to break down that mucus. (I know… this is all very gross). So after just two sessions, we decided to take him completely off the Zantac. Since that day, III has been reflux (and cold-related) vomit free.

I’m not here to recommend chiropractic care as an acid reflux solution for ALL infants. I’m certainly not qualified to do that. You should BY ALL MEANS find a pediatrician you are confident in and trust the diagnosis and prescribed care they give your child. I do fully believe that Zantac was the right solution at the time it was subscribed and that it helped to decrease the symptoms of III’s reflux… until it became the problem. That’s where chiropractic care came in for us.

With their help, we are lucky to be out of the reflux storm now. At 9 months, Tripp is eating, drinking and sleeping like a “normal” baby (whatever that really means).  I personally found motherhood as a whole to be quite overwhelming and dealing with this only made things more difficult for our family. BUT I am a better mom because of it. In just a few months, I went from the new mom that panicked about everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) to a mom and wife who can actually enjoy the fun parts of motherhood.  Who can handle a cold or virus like a normal person without a total meltdown. Who can intentionally time with her family. We are lucky.  And my hope is that you will be too.

 

Burrito Bowls (I have no idea if they’re actually healthy but at least there isn’t a tortilla involved)

Lately, I’ve been attempting to either meal prep my lunches for the week at one time or cook enough portions of our weeknight dinners to take leftovers to work multiple days a week… so as not to be enticed with the world’s greatest styrofoam box Chinese joint just a few blocks away from my office.

Sundays is great for meal prepping because I can take my time. On a typical weeknight, I don’t start dinner until after III’s bath while G is giving him his bedtime bottle.  That puts us eating dinner sometimes as late as 8-8:30PM depending on what I’m cooking. On Sundays, though, I get started before bath time – doing all of my chopping, preheating, etc before so once I’m ready to get going in the kitchen, I can whip things up quickly.

Last night, I made healthy(ish) burrito bowls and cooked everything in larger quantities so I would have enough for dinner and 3 lunches prepped for the week (because – let’s be honest – I’m not eating at my desk every single day. I just can’t).

I’m sharing the recipe below. As you’ll learn, I don’t really measure so, um, sorry about that.

1 bag of Mexican rice (because a burrito bowl with brown rice is… meh)

1 can of black beans

1 can of corn (or Mexicorn)

1 can of Rotel

Chopped onions and  bell pepper

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 3 smaller ones)

Taco seasoning, olive oil, red wine vinegar, limes

Lettuce (I used a mixture of arugula and spinach but shredded iceberg is probably more appropriate for this type of dish)

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Marinate chicken in olive oil, red wine vinegar, the juice of 2 limes and taco seasoning. Cook rice according to packaging.  While the rice is cooking, chop your fresh veggies. I mix the beans, corn and rotel (all drained) directly into the rice once it’s cooked. Cook chicken breasts on med-high heat in a non-stick skillet. Mine were on the larger side so it took about 9 minutes on each side (which actually gave them a nice little char on the outside).  It might have been smarter to slice the chicken before browning it but, you know, whatever. Throw in chopped onions and peppers with the chicken for the last 5 minutes.

Combine in bowl, top with cheese. cilantro, salsa, whatever floats your boat!

This made enough for two healthy adult dinner portions and three lunches for myself.

Things I could (and probably SHOULD) do differently… use less canned ingredients (that would definitely take the healthy up a notch), use healthier rice options (but I kind of think that would take all the flavor out of this). I did, however, go low sodium on everything else to make up for the salt in the Mexican rice. Watching your sodium is always a good thing but it’s a habit I’m really trying to enforce around our house. III has a kidney disorder so once he is eating what we are eating for daily meals, we will really have to be in the habit of staying on a low sodium diet.

I got a pack of these bento boxes on Amazon to take my lunches to work. It always seems that I’m taking multiple ingredients that I don’t necessarily want sitting on top of each other getting soggy so I love these  as an alternative to traditional tupperware.

Athleisure – because who cares if you’ve actually been to the gym

Thank the {fashion} gods. Yoga pants are now high fashion. Goodbye buttons. Goodbye zippers. You will NOT be missed.

For the record, I do the best I can (with a busy husband, a 5 month old and the occasional desperately needed social outing) to get to the gym pretty regularly.  If I can’t and the weather permits, I at least get a good baby strolling in several times a week followed by an at home workout.  This YouTube fitness channel is my favorite!

Here’s an example of a quick full body dumbell workout I do often after stroller jogging with III or a treadmill run (I desperately hate hanging out on the weight side of the gym… I’d rather just do it in my living room).

Ok, enough about fitness.  I am NOT your guru for that. In fact, my post baby bod has really got me in the dumps (like a truck) but – hey – I’m doing the best I can.  In fact, I’m about to start a new vitamin and supplement regimen along with some new meal planning that I’ll be updating you on down the road.

Anyway, the good stuff.  The clothes… because, now, you can express you inner fashionista at the gym. On the way to the gym. On the way home from the gym. Not going to the gym at all.  Places like Publix, Starbucks, on the couch with wine and a bestie. So basic.

Long before III and athleisure were a thing, I desperately wanted to avoid being the mom that was always in yoga pants and sweats… the epitome of “letting herself go”…. even for a valid reason like having a baby | being covered in formula | not sleeping for more than 3.5 hours at a time for 4 months straight…. and GOD, yes, I know how sexist this all sounds.  Who cares what you look like and what you wear and so on and so forth… not me… you do you.  But the bottom line is… I do care what I look like, how I present… at least a little…most days.

Enter: Athleisure Wear. This fall and winter you’ll find me cozy, comfy and hopefully fit in my new favorite pieces.

 

 

  1. ALO Moto Leggings 
  2. Beyond Yoga Cozy Fleece Convertible Cardigan
  3. Cole Haan Snakeskin Sneakers
  4. The North Face Slacker Turtleneck Poncho

 

Cozy and comfy never looked so good!