Friday, April 20, 2018

Lifestyle Changes (And meet my BEST FRIEND!!!)























Blonde Sweatshirt // Brunette Sweatshirt // My Leggings // My converse/ Caitlyn's Converse // Sunnies (Mine are Gold and Hers are Black)
Preface/ Disclaimer:
I am nowhere near my goal or where I want to be in the end. I had just received a few comments, emails and DM's asking me to share what I've done to take myself from a total , self-described couch potato to someone who actually "enjoys" going to the gym each day.  I am not a fitness expert, nor am I saying that this is a one size fits all plan. I only wanted to share for inspiration / share my journey. If this post motivates one person to do the same or just provides inspiration on changing a sedentary lifetyle to a slightly more active one, than that is exactly why I wrote this, and I am going to die happy ;)

Also, meet my sister and best friend, Caits!

Backstory:
When I was growing up, I would see my parents doing home workouts each night. My dad was actually an avid hunter so usually he would be training for long weeks spent camping and hiking in rugged terrain, and my mom was always interested in keeping in shape. As a child and into my teens, I always played sports. I was introduced to an active lifestyle at a young age. Throughout high school, it was second nature for me to workout each night for at least an hour. I would always do home workout videos.  I stopped working out when I got a very physical job at a grocery store where I would run carts, run sweeps through the store, run go-backs, basically just run around and be on my feet for 8 hours a day. At this point, I was at my smallest I had ever been, and I actually hadn't struggled with keeping weight.

At 19, I switched to an office job, I started dating Aaron and without even noticing I began to put on weight as I hadn't changed my teenage eating habits, but had abandoned almost all forms of physical activity.  When I got engaged at 21, I realized that I had put on about 30 pounds. With the wedding coming up and the disaster of a wedding dress being 2 sizes too small due to the shop's error with not enough time to fix it, I went on a strict diet of lowering calories and exercised every night of the week at home.  I ended up losing 20 pounds and fitting my dream dress. However, after the wedding, I no longer had that fervent motivation that was driving me before, so I kept putting on weight without even noticing. At this time, Aaron and I were also building his business we had started when we began dating, and that meant long hours, lots of stress, and eating out a lot to work late nights.

I would go through periods between the ages of 22 and 25 where I would get into working out (doing at home videos which is what I had always used), and after a month of not seeing results would just phase out of trying them.  Even at 24, my sister and I were talking about how we had noticed the weight gain in ourselves and expressing how unhappy we had started to become with the ways we were living. We joined our first gym then.  We steadily went to our first gym for 3 months straight meeting every night after work.  However, each time we went, we felt so uncomfortable. My husband and our two best guy friends also worked out there and would show us how to use the machines, but we just felt uncomfortable and hated being there when we went. This meant that we would try to get through workouts as quickly as possible and dread going when we did go. This lead to us eventually giving up on this gym.  A couple months after that, my sister moved in with Aaron and I, so we got motivated once again to start a gym and try to begin a weight loss journey.  We signed up for a smaller gym this time that was open 24 hours so we would have no excuse because we could go day or night.  We went to this gym a total of 6 times, as we, again, felt very uncomfortable. I know it wasn't anything the gym was doing necessarily, but it was ourselves holding us back. Also, the last time both of us had applied diet plans or workout regimes (back in our early 20's), we would notice results almost immediately, dropping 2-3 pounds in the first week or two just by the changing of lifestyle. We were now at a place where we didn't see the scale go down by even an ounce after a few weeks, so I think this also added discouragement.

At this point and time, Aaron and I had bought our first home, so we were all moving about 30 minutes away. We cancelled the gym we never went to, and had really let ourselves just come home each night, eat a dinner that was usually take out, and then slump onto the couch until we were ready for bed.  About a month after moving in and over a year of living this way, my sister and I had expressed to each other that not only were we the heaviest we had ever personally been, but we were more tired and sluggish than ever. We felt so unhealthy and unmotivated, and we kept saying how we were way too young to feel this way.

It was then that we knew we had to make a drastic change or else we could easily spiral. It's so hard once you start putting on a lot of weight to come back from it... and boy have we truly learned that.

The beginning:
Now, this is probably what most of you are really interested in hearing.  How we finally got ourselves started. Well, as I mentioned the only way we felt we could get out of these habits was to make a drastic changed. We obviously didn't know what we were doing and couldn't keep ourselves motivated, so we decided on getting a personal trainer together. I was not comfortable training individually, so I told Caits that we had to have someone who would train us together.

Tip:  We went shopping for trainers.  We discussed our budget and what we could pay each month for services. We researched in our area what an average trainer would cost, how much time they would provide for those costs, what we could expect for the costs, etc. etc.  Once we had some research, we set a price for both of us, we set out the amount of time that should get us per week and then looked around for gyms.  We went to multiple gyms to outline to them what we were looking for, what we needed, what we expected and asked them to give us pricing for that.
For example: We established a price for both of us, for one 30 minute session per week, without meal plans (as our budget was tight at this time, especially since we had failed on gym plans before).
Gyms will try and push you out of training together, they tried to push additional costs for meal plans and extra time spent, but we just remained firm (but fair) about our expectations, why we wanted to start off small due to our past failed attempts, and why we needed to ease into the costs and time spent.
Once we got pricing, we would take the best prices and go to other gyms in the area to try and match or lower the costs.  Gyms are competitive because they want your business, so you can kind of shop around a little bit.
Another tip:  Previously, we had gone to gyms a mile or so from our house, however we found this discouraging to us because we would come home from work to change and go to the gym, but we would end up making dinner or getting too relaxed and talking ourselves out of going. So, knowing that being one of our areas we didn't control very well, we decided to get a gym close to my sister's work.  Forcing ourselves to go straight from work to the gym and not being at home really changes how consistent we are. Also, having a partner that's counting on you to be there really helps.
So, we found a medium sized gym with not a lot of people who price matched a chain gym across the street.  We felt the smaller gym atmosphere worked better for us because we wouldn't be  as intimidated by "meat heads" and "gym rats" who seem to gravitate towards the larger gyms.  This may be only our perception, but it was one of the reasons we hated going to the gym. We felt like we were judged at the other, bigger gyms we went to.

We started going at the end of September, 2016. When we started, we were obviously very out of shape, so we started slowly. We would try and go three times a week, but most days we would do about 10 -15 minutes of cardio and 20-30 minutes of actual workouts. We were trying to figure out the gym and establish exercises.  About two weeks into it, we also decided to try out the spin classes that were offered.  We instantly fell in love with them.  Those were an hour, so we would go once or twice a week to those classes, do one 30 minute training session a week, and maybe go one other time on our own.  Eventually, our trainer told us to add in 30 minutes of cardio before his sessions, but we were still struggling and would do 20 minutes.

I'm not going to lie, in the first three months, my sister said she only noticed a few pounds lost, and I was actually fluctuating between going up a couple pounds and going down one pound. It was very discouraging, but we knew if we stopped going that we would only continue to put on weight. It was a mentally challenging time on fighting to give up or keep going.

In January of 2017, our trainer had to leave as he had taken a full time job elsewhere, so our gym assigned us to a new trainer.  One thing I clearly communicated on all fronts was that I was not motivated by angry trainers, people yelling over me or intimidating me, so I would not tolerate that. So, both of our trainers were more easy going, assigning us workouts to do, but then laying off, only adding words of encouragement if we struggled.

Our new trainer is still our current trainer, and we really love his training style and the results he's helped us achieve. For the first 5 months with him, we continued with our 30 minute a week sessions.  Eventually, he told us that we needed to be doing 45 minutes of cardio a day alongside a workout. By this time, we had begun going to the gym 3-4 times a week and staying for at least an 1 to an hour and a half a day.  We had become friendly with many of the patrons there. With it being a smaller gym, it was easier to form friendships with people who also regularly attended our spin class, our trainer and his mutual friends at the gym. With this, we had a lot of accountability. If we missed a weekday, people would ask where we were. It didn't feel invasive, it felt like a friendship where we all looked out for each other.

In May or June of last year, our trainer bumped our sessions up to an hour a week. We felt comfortable with the extra costs as we had been dedicated and hadn't missed a week since we started the September prior. We had also consistently gone to spin classes twice a week for several months (which also established a friendship with our spin instructor).  Shortly after, another class started up that we really liked, it's a lower body blast class that also incorporates ab workouts, and it was only 30 minutes. This class is offered three times a week, and since it's started we've tried to go at least two times per week and use it as part of our cardio.  Our trainer also up'ed our cardio to an hour per day. So, twice a week, we use the hour spin class as cardio.  The other two days we would go, we would do an hour on the treadmill, stair climber and sometimes elliptical. So, all that to say, try out your gym's classes, go to a gym specific in certain classes, and add in a window of cardio prior to them!

Tip: I HATE running, it literally hurts everything in my body , so I asked my trainer what I could do on the treadmill instead, and he told me to go as high as I can with the incline and do a brisk walk on it instead of a full blow run.

When we hit the middle of last summer, we were going 4-5 times per week, we had really modified our eating (I cut out all meat except for chicken, which was the way I jump started my weight loss, up until this time, I had only lost 3 or 4 pounds and a total of 10 pounds since my heaviest weight). I know it's because it was summer and we love going on a lot of trips, so there was constant motivation to stay in shape and take care of ourselves.

Currently: 
Now, we feel very established at our gym. I am a horribly picky eater, so I struggle with constantly wanting to eat out versus cook.  Through the holidays we had a lot of events to go to and so many things going on, we cut our gym days back to 3 days per week, and did eat out more than we wanted to.  At the start of the new year, we were paying for it!! My body was not feeling so great, but we finally went back to strictly cooking in, focusing on grilled chicken and salads.  We did go to the gym only three times a week at the beginning of this year, but as of the end of February, we got back to four days a week.  Our trainer has really pushed us into adding protein shakes and BCAA's into our regimen, and as of now I've only been using them for less than a month. So far, I like it. My sister has stuck pretty strictly to a very healthy eating plan during the weekdays, and I try my best. Just by bumping up her strict eating plan, she has lost significantly in the last three weeks, and everyone has noticed how great she looks!  As I previously expressed, I'm a picky eater, so I end up eating the same healthy meals over and over again, and as soon as I get bored, I stray.  Most days, I focus on fruits, simple fruit and yogurt smoothies, greek yogurts with granola, eggs, grilled chicken, salads, and sometimes turkey sandwiches. Eating is the hardest habit for me, but just like with our original ease into our workouts, I am easing into this. Yes, it has taken me almost a year and a half to begin this part of my fitness journey, and I bet it will take me a very long time to ease into the nutritional part of it. However, I know myself, and I trust each part of my journey. If slow and steady wins the race for me, I will keep on with it, and I will continue working on my will power.  It is slowly becoming our lifestyle, but it is hard, friends, it is hard. It takes up a lot of our time, and we are currently going back to 5 days a week. We have moved to two one hour sessions a week with our trainer, try to go to one spin class per week, do at least 45 minutes of cardio each day we are at the gym, and do HIIT workouts each day we are at the gym without our trainer. (These are the winners for me, girlfriends! I love these, and you can easily find these on Pinterest if needed. They are fast, but will get you sweating if you push yourself to not rest too long... it helps having a partner force you into accountability, and this applies to all aspects of working out).

Results so far:
Between the two of us, since we started a year and a half ago, we've lost around 70 pounds.  We are very proud of that result.  I don't look at my body and say "I'm done" or "I'm at my best", but I do look at my body and see that I'm proud. Not only for sticking with something, but for the changes I do see . It's taken so much work and took a lot to break bad habits, but we still push ourselves to go each day because of the changes we have seen so far.  And I thank myself for that one big decision I made in 2016 because of the way I feel now!

I think what I can really attribute this change to is my best friend (sister, gym partner, she fills a lot of roles in my life!). Truly, being held accountable by someone is so game changing, especially for someone who struggles with self control. Multiple times we have told each other at random how we struggle to be at the gym without the other.  So, the days when I'm home and just not wanting to get my butt to the gym, I think of her getting off work and heading to the gym feeling discouraged also and then I feel responsible not only for missing my workout, but for causing her to miss too, and I know that goes vice versa. She's a great workout partner because I can vent to her when I'm at a plateau, when I'm getting discouraged, when I need encouragement, when I feel good , when I lose a pant size, when I feel I may be gaining something back, when I want to quit, when I want to go harder, and she supports me and she has never judged me. I only hope I do the same for her.  We have had each other's back, and I think we understand the struggle on a much greater level than any close friend or family member that we try to describe our journey to.  It's so crazy, but I wouldn't want it any other way. If you can find an accountable gym partner, then utilize that. If you can find anything that gives you that fire to start a change in your lifestyle, do it! It's so important to do something for yourself. It's not necessarily fun or great to do each day, I'm not going to lie, but overall, it is for me because I'm healthier, noticeably stronger, and it helps me deal with personal anxiety issues (believe me, they're still pretty strong, but it has helped). 

I hope that this (VERY LONG ) post has encouraged and inspired at least one of you. I am so excited for this part of my life, and I am so proud of how far my sister and I have come!

Thanks so much for stopping in, girlfriends!!!

XOXO,

Nicolette

P.S. YOU AND YOUR BESTIE NEED THESE SWEATSHIRTS!!!



Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Prints and Pops of Color

















Top // Cardi (C/O Haute As Ice Boutique) // Bottoms (So Old!!) Almost exact here and here // Shoes (Similar chunky heel here) // Bag: Celine Phantom in Black (Pre-loved versions here , here, and here ) // Earrings  (Similar Here) // Rings // Self- Tanner (Mitt Here) // Necklace Here and Here 
Hey Girls,

So, if you're one who stops by often on my blog, you've probably noticed how MIA I've been lately. Truly, I've felt horrible, and I have really missed my blog a lot. One thing that is different about me than most bloggers is that I do it as a hobby, I do make a little bit of money here and there off of commissionable links and some collabs, but for the most part it is something I do because I love it, and my main focus stays on other things in my life. I also rely heavily on my husband and sister to take my photos for my content. They both work full time jobs, so I often feel terrible asking them to also take time away from their weekends to essentially work and assist me with the task.  Aaron owns his own business and it has grown exponentially since we began in 2010, so his time and efforts are dedicated there on weekends even. With that said, I have a lot of content ideas, and sometimes I don't have the time to designate to actually photographing it to share.  I appreciate those who continue to stop in and take interest in my little fashion blog, as I do loveeeee this space.

Since the break, I have loved alleviating the pressure of doing it , it has allowed me to spend time with my brain to come up with some creative content, miss doing it, and fall in love with my small sharing space again.  I hope you'll bear with me. I have shot content for the next few weeks, and I truly hope you enjoy the items I've shared and plan to continue to share.

Please feel free to interact with me, reach out to me, send me questions, requests, and all other sorts of things. One of my favorite things to do is interact with others about fashion, lifestyle and all else!!

Anyways, straight to the content of this post. Okay!!! So!!!  I found this adorable little top the other day while out shopping with my sister, and we were in love. I even bought it in the dress, as well!! It is so much fun. I absolutely love wearing it, and it adds that cute pop of personality to any outfit I put it with. Which is why I was obsessed with pairing it with this gorgeous pop of yellow today.  This cardigan stole my heart from the moment I saw it!!! I found this at Haute As Ice Boutique.  It is so fun, and will pair perfectly with so many spring looks. I have worn it with a white camisole and ripped knee skinny jeans and a cute pair of pumps, I have worn it with a v neck and cut off shorts paired with my converse. It goes with all styles. I think it looks great with this dressy look for a casual office vibe or even brunch with the girls.  What do you guys think???

Truly, I'm so glad you stopped by today, and I plan to post again this Friday. I have a fitness post in mind, so stay tuned for that!!!

XOXO,

Nicolette



Thursday, January 18, 2018

Striped Sweaters for Winter
















Sweater C/O // Denim (Gift) (Similar and Same Brand Here and Here) // Sunglasses // Shoes (Old) Similar Here // Earrings  (Love these too) // Handbag : Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM (Pre loved here and here) Similar , less expensive version here // Necklace C/O // Scarf (Old) Cashmere on sale here and similar here

Hello Sweet Friends!!

We are almost through this week, and then it's Hello Weekend!!!

Okay, today, I'm sharing this new boutique I recently found... gosh, it's so good, and their pieces are great quality.  I found a few pieces while browsing there, and I can't wait to share the others with you on Instagram, but today I'm sharing this adorable black and white sweater.  

So, it's light weight, you will definitely need a light white camisole to layer underneath, but that makes it a great transitional piece (or good piece for us So. Cal gals who don't know what winter is lol). Anyways, it would be so cute layered under a scarf (like I did today) and larger coat, but can easily go into spring sans scarf with jeans, and I can even see it in summer with a cute pair of cut off shorts.  I love black and white stripes, one of my favorite patterns (if you browsed through my closet, you would soon figure that out haha). It's such a great pattern to take through all seasons (as mentioned above), and it's great on it's own or layered. My favorite colors to pair with would definitely be olive greens or camel tones. These just look so good together in my opinion.  

The sweater definitely fits true to size, and has a "shark bite" hem so perfect if you're into the "front tuck" styling method like myself.  It has a lot of character and I think it's a perfect casual piece to toss on and go out and about for the day.  Head over to Emmer and Oat to check out their collection. Their sweaters are the cutest!!  Like I said, I cannot wait to share the other pieces I picked up on Insta soon!!

I hope you're all having a great day! Thank you so very much for taking the time to stop in today!

XOXO,

Nicolette

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Wedding Season, Meet the Perfect Dress























Dress C/O // Earrings (Sold Out) Similar Here // Handbag (Poshmark Find) Similar Here and Here // Sunglasses // Chain Bracelet //
Hello Friends!!!

Happy Tuesday!  My sister was off yesterday, so I wasn't able to get the Monday post published until today, but there will be regular posts resumed tomorrow and Friday! Both are a lot of fun, so be sure and check in for those too!

Today, I am so excited and I could not wait to share this stunning dress  from Ivy Staple boutique. First of all, it's perfect, and let me tell you why!!

I am 5'7 and the length is amazing. I wore this with 4 inch heels, so you may need to get it hemmed, but I am happy about that because most of the time I get maxi dresses from boutiques they are much too short, and there's nothing you can do when that happens. Luckily, when they are longer, you can hem them, and I've always liked to keep my maxi dresses a bit longer than they should be because I think a long flowing dress is so beautiful and romantic.  

Another thing is the quality of this dress is also fantastic. It sits beautifully on the frame. I felt it to be true to size. It has a stunning open back and a long sash that ties around the back of your neck for an added touch of character. I am obsessed. I've already had a few invites for friend's and family member's weddings come in, and I've already put this one aside for my cousin's wedding this spring. 

It's going to be extremely hard to do because I am obsessed with this dress.  So pretty!! AND BEST NEWS OF ALL , it's under $45 so great for every budget (especially wedding attire budgets since you'll more than likely be spending on transportation, a gift, and possibly even travel for an event like this!).

Now, with all of that said, I found this beauty at Ivy Staple Boutique.  It's called the "Elise" Maxi dress.  It comes highly recommended by me, and I cannot wait to wear it to events !

Okay, friends!! Thank you so much for stopping by!

XOXO,

Nicolette