Sunday, July 17, 2011

Weight Loss

I've probably lost and gained a gazillion pounds in my life. Every time I lose weight I think that it will finally be for good--that this time my new eating habits will stick. But, they never do and the weight creeps back on until I decide to lose weight again. This time around I'd like to have a different outcome--I'd like to lose weight and not gain it back.

Albert Einstin is credited with saying that the hallmark of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So, I guess I need to change my behavior to get a different result.

With this in mind, I thought I'd take some time to identify what I've done in the past that might have contributed to regaining weight. If I can pinpoint what I do that leads me to regain weight, I can work to change them, right?

So far, I've come up with three big ones, but I'm sure there are more.

I stop weighing myself. When I am losing weight I weigh myself everyday. It helps me stay motivated and regulate my eating. If I haven't lost any weight, then I know that I'm eating too much and/or not burning enough calories. But, when I'm not actively trying to lose weight I stop weighing myself regularly. This means that I might not even realize if I've gained five to seven pounds. Then, once I've realized I've gained weight, I still avoid the scale because it is the bearer of bad news.

Ideally, I think it would be best if I continued to weigh myself everyday or every other day. I don't want to obsess about every miniscule fluctuation, but I do want to be able to catch myself regaining before the amount I have to lose gets overwhelming. It is much easier to lose three pounds than it is to lose twenty pounds. Even if I allow myself to overindulge too much, if I can recognize weight gain and use it as a signal to return to "diet mode" I shouldn't regain all of the weight I lost.

I rationalize anything and everything.

"Peanut butter has lots of protein"
"Nuts are the good kind of fat." 
"A small dessert every night is part of eating in moderation. It isn't good to deny yourself"
"Cheese is good for you in small quantities."
"I have to eat to stay awake in class."
"It is okay to have a huge portion of x, it is homemade and healthy."
"It is okay to indulge, its a celebration."
"It is okay to indulge, I had a hard day."
"It is okay to indulge, we are at a new/special/delicious restaurant."
"It is okay to indulge, I'm going to eat really healthy tomorrow."
"It is okay to indulge, I've been so good all day/all week."
"It's just 250 calories. No big deal."
"A five pound increase is no big deal. Weight naturally fluctuates."

I think it can be tricky to find a balance here. Because its not like it is never okay to indulge in some comfort food after a long day, but rationalizing everything all the time is problematic. I think the first step is to work on recognizing when I am doing this in the moment because if I have to rationalize it to myself, I probably shouldn't be eating it!

I "forget" that its about calories in versus calories out. This is something I did when I first made my new years resolution to lose weight. Instead of focusing on calories in versus calories out, I started focusing on cutting out preservatives, avoiding prepackaged foods, drinking more water and less soda, etc. Eating whole foods is certainly healthier, but eating these sorts of food will not automatically result in weight loss. Pizza is not all of a sudden diet friendly just because it is homemade (unfortunately). Ideally, I think healthy eating is a mixture of being mindful of calorie intake and what the food is made from. I'm pretty good at thinking about what I put into my body, but I need to remember that for losing weight the final number is what counts.

oh avocados, you are delicious and healthy. 
but, you are more than 300 hundred calories

Can you help me think of any other ways that I might sabotage my weight loss? How do you keep yourself from gaining weight? I'm not too far away from reaching my weight-loss goal and I really want to have a solid plan for how I will keep the weight off.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Try This On For Size

Recently, the word "modesty" has been rolling around my head.

The clothes I naturally gravitate towards tend to be relatively conservative in the amount of skin they show. I don't like to wear skirts, dresses, or shorts that go much above my knees and I always wear a cardigan over something that is sleeveless. I'm not into showing lots of cleavage (not that I have much) or wearing super tight clothing. I think wearing leggings as pants (without a long shirt to cover the bum and upper thighs) is too revealing and I'm really not into wearing alluring/provocative/sexy clothing.

 This dress from gap is something I would try on. 
The length isn't too short and it has sleeves. 

I realize this sounds judgmental, but I'm sometimes baffled by how much skin other women choose to show. I swear I see some shorts out there that barely cover more than underwear.

 j. crew's 3' chino shorts show too much leg for me

I wasn't raised in a household that emphasized modest dress and it was never something I really gave much thought to, so I'm surprised to find that I lean to conservative dress. Even though my taste or preference tends to be on the modest side, I'm still not quite sure what my beliefs are on dressing modestly. Is it important? What does it symbolize? Would I give up wearing something I want to wear because it shows more skin? What does it mean if I or someone else dress immodestly?  

What are your thoughts on modesty and clothing?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Blogging Burnout

Is there a blogging burnout support group out there? If so, I desperately need to attend.  At the end of May, I got so burned out on blogging that I considered deleting my blog. Now that I've recuperated a bit, I realize that I don't really want to give up blogging, but I do need to alter my approach.

When I started blogging it was a way for me to write about whatever was going through my mind. I wrote about whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I wrote for myself. As I started reading more blogs and getting a sense of what I liked and didn't like in a blog, I started to approach my blog differently. I started to write for other people and I started to worry about being part of a blogging community.

So, I began to spend more and more time trying to develop my blog. There were some weeks when I probably spent fifteen hours on blog related activities! Do you know it takes probably takes me an hour just to comment on five blogs? (Twitter tangent: I joined twitter to get more connected to the blogging community and I loved it, at first. Then, I started to feel guilty and inadequate when I wasn't on twitter more.  I'm still really confused about how lots of people manage to be on twitter all day every day, but I just have to accept that I do not have the sort of life that allows for that.)

But, as more people started reading my blog (and I realized family members were reading it), I started to censor myself more. It got to the point where I didn't even feel like I could write about what was truly going on in my life.

Spending too much time writing posts that don't even feel real to me = blogging burnout.

I think this was a good wake up call. Quite honestly, blogging isn't one of my primary goals. Unlike so many of the bloggers I read, I have no desire to become a full-time blogger. Nor am I using blogging to break into the wedding planning business, become a wedding photographer, fuel my designs, get my writing discovered, or fill some sort of void. I work hard in graduate school so that I can get my PhD and become a clinical psychologist, the career I've dreamed of ever since I was in seventh grade. If anything, blogging is actually antithetical to this goal.

So, I'm reclaiming this blog and my time. I may not post as regularly and I won't be able to comment as much on your blogs, but when I do it will be real. I hope that you will like this new blogging me, but realistically  I know that these changes will probably mean that my posts will get fewer comments and I will have fewer readers. This is a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

How real are you on your blog? How do you manage blogging with everything else going on in your life? Have you ever experienced blogging burnout?



Sunday, July 3, 2011

June: A Month in Review

So . . . hi. My name is Alisha and I used to blog here. And then I stopped and didn’t come back for a long time. 

And, actually I’m not really sure that I’m back. 

But, I promised myself that I would check in about my new years resolutions each month to keep myself accountable. So, here I am. I hope some of you are still out there, reading. 

+My first resolution is to get healthy. For the first five months of 2011 I didn’t make any headway, but I had a turning point towards the end of May. I joined a gym, started working out, and sticking to a diet. I hoped that in June I would continue to work out four times a week and lose 10 pounds. I am quite excited to say that I met this goal! Its been pretty easy to get back into the routine of going to the gym and I like the way exercise makes me feel. Dieting has been hard and I certainly haven’t been perfect (whatever that is), but having Neill’s support has made it do-able. Not keeping junk food in the house and giving up take-out has made a huge difference. My goals for July are to continue going to the gym four times a week and to continue to watch my calorie intake. Next month, I want to be able to report back that I’ve lost another seven pounds. 

+My second resolution is to finish my master’s degree. And guess what? I can officially cross this goal off the list because I am DONE baby. Done Done Done. On June 14th I gave my committee members my thesis paper, on June 21st I defended and PASSED, between June 22nd-June 29th I made the requested edits, and on June 30th I officially turned in my thesis to the graduate school. Now, all I have to do is sit back and wait for my degree to come! 

+Another goal is to make more time for my VIPs. I think the month of June was a big failure in this realm. Between my two summer classes, rushing to finish my thesis, making time for the gym, and avoiding restaurant food I barely saw anyone this month. While there is a part of me that feels guilty about this, another part of me is happy that I took the time I needed. I don’t want to apologize for putting myself first. That being said, I would like to make more time for my family this month. I miss my mom :( 

+ My final goal is to be financially responsible. I don’t really have much to report on this. Money is always tight for me in the summer since I only get paid during the school year so I’ve been feeling extra thrifty. I guess this is the perfect time to give up eating at restaurants then, huh? I did do some online research and found a financial planner to meet with, but than I never actually called him to make an appointment. I guess my goal for July is to finally call this guy and set up a meeting. 

And that’s all folks! Thanks for sticking with me through my new years resolutions updates. Writing these posts really help me stay committed. 

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend!


Friday, June 3, 2011

In Bed, Under the Covers

I feel badly that I've been neglecting my blog lately. And I feel even worse that I've been neglecting all of your wonderful blogs. I won't even tell you how many read posts I've starred in my reader with the intention of returning to leave a comment. Its a lot. I'm sorry. I promise that I will be back and commenting soon.

On the bright side, I've been MIA for good reason. My thesis defense is officially scheduled. I have two weeks before I have to give a copy of my final document to my committee members and so I've been expending lots of energy worrying about that.

My summer classes have also been keeping me busy. I'm in class everyday of the week except Friday. One of the classes I'm taking is a class on group therapy. So far, I've found it really interesting. I think when I'm licensed I'd really like to run groups so I am trying to soak up as much information as possible.

Working out has also been taking up time that was previously reserved for blogging. There are times when I don't want to go the gym, but I just tell myself that it doesn't matter whether I want to or not because I have to. The other day Jenna posted about her weight loss and while I do not agree with everything she said/recommends, I did appreciate this little part of her post:
Know that it’s going to be hard. And that maybe it will be the focus of your life for a period of time. Once you meet your goals, you get to move on with your life! You won’t regret the hard work for a moment.

Neill and I did manage to take some some time out to celebrate Memorial Day together. Monday was the first really warm and sunny day we had in Chicago and so we enjoyed the weather by taking a long walk around the lake, something that was on my summer bucket list. It was just as much fun as I thought it would be! Chicago's lakefront is truly beautiful and it really gave me a new found appreciation for my city.

I love the water. In my dream world, Neill and I would have a wonderful boat that we could take out onto Lake Michigan. 

Navy Pier

One of the best ways to see the city is through a boat tour. If you ever come to Chicago, you absolutely have to go on one. It takes you on the Chicago river and just a little bit into Lake Michigan. 

This cute little guy stole someone's snacks

I'm watching the Real Housewives of NYC and I'm reminded about how much I love Jill Zarin. Do you have a favorite real housewife?


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May: Month in Review

At the start of 2011, I challenged myself to develop meaningful New Years Resolutions in many areas of my life. To hold myself accountable and maximize my chances of being successful, I review my successes and failures at the end of every month.

Our trip to Jamaica was the highlight of May

+As I admitted last month, getting healthy had really taken the back burner this year. Even though I said it was one of my resolutions, in reality I wasn't making it a priority. But, realizing this made me motivated to make some changes. I am so ecstatic to say that I have followed through! I joined a gym on May 15th (the day after we returned from Jamaica) and I've been consistently working out since then. It took me five full months to go back to the gym and I'm so proud of myself! With exercise and dieting I've also lost five pounds! I know the key is to continue on this path and so my goal for June is to continue to work out four  times a week and lose ten pounds.

+My next resolution is to finish my master's degree. May was quite a productive month for me and I think I accomplished everything on my to-do list. I reviewed my results to make sure I completed the analyses correctly, met with my advisor about my discussion section, finished a second draft of my discussion section, and finished my methods section. I also submitted my thesis for a format check and I have started to schedule my defense with my committee. Right now, it looks like I might be defending June 21st. Crazy soon! My goals this month are to do a final draft of my discussion section, edit the entire document as needed, schedule my defense, distribute my final copy to my readers, make my power point slides, pass my defense, and make any necessary changes my committee requests. The final final final version is due to the graduate school on July 1st and so a lot of work needs to get done between now and then. I have faith in myself that I will be able to pull this off, but I am a little nervous about managing all of this and continuing to work-out. The challenge for me will me to do both. 

+My third goal for 2011 is to make time for my VIPs. In some ways I've succeeded at this and in other ways I failed. Neill and I got to spend time with lots of his family when we were in Jamaica and we also obviously spent lots of time together. Win, win.


But, since we've gotten back I don't think I've done such a good job. I've made time for some of my friends, but I've also declined invitations and not been as proactive about organizing things as I had hoped to be. Working out, being on a diet, and working like mad on my thesis make it hard to be a social butterfly. I just don't have the energy or the time. Since my thesis has such a hard deadline and I also really need to focus on losing weight, I'm giving myself permission to let this goal take the back seat. My goals for June are to have a wonderful one-year anniversary celebration with Neill and to plan a nice birthday celebration for my mom.

+Lastly, my fourth resolution is to be financially responsible. I don't have much to report on this. It's been hard for us to give up credit cards completely, but we've made a concerted effort to pay them off in full. In June, I'd like to look into finding a financial adviser.

How is everyone else doing with their resolutions? Any awesome successes you'd like to share? What are some things you are looking forward to accomplishing in June? Do you have any advice on how to juggle dieting with spending time with loved ones?

Friday, May 27, 2011

One Year Anniversary Gift Ideas: Paper

The hubs and I are in the middle of planning our one year anniversary and so I've been a busy bee researching gift ideas. We are planning to stick with the traditional give idea of paper, so it has been a challenge to find gifts that are still personal. I thought I'd share some of my favorite ideas :)

Savings Bond

This might seem unromantic at first, but I think the symbolism of waiting for a bond to mature to full value is sweet. Plus, then you could cash it in on your thirty year anniversary and do something fun with the money! 

Two 8 X 10 print's by Nicole Cohen of Sketch42

I think art is a wonderful way to get creative with a gift of paper. I've followed Nicole's blog for awhile and love her dreamy paintings. But, they are way out of my price range. So, I was so excited when she started to sell photographs of her paintings! I love the colors she uses and I think a set of two 8 X 10s hanging next to each other in crisp white frames would look phenomenal. She has a lot of different options, but these two are my favorite. I think there is something romantic and whimsical about them.  

Night Sky Print

Indigo Night has come up with such a cool idea! If you tell them the place and date, they can recreate what the night sky looked like from that location on that specific date. I think a print of the night sky from your wedding day would be such a romantic gift. 

Tickets to a Show

Neill and I don't go to shows too often, but when we do we always have such a good time. Well, except that time we went to the opera and I likened it to being tortured, but I'm willing to try it again. Tickets to dance, plays, and musicals would be a great gift because it is something we could do together. 

Personalized Anniversary Memory Album

I love the idea of having a special book to record how we celebrate each wedding anniversary and it would be so easy to design something on a site like blurb. The cover could be an engagement or weddings photos and then each page could have something like "June 12, 2060: 50th Wedding Anniversary" (how weird is it to think about the year 2060?).  Then there could be a few questions with blank space left for us to fill in the answers.

Photo Album of our Relationship

For our one year anniversary Neill and I made a photo album together and we planned to update it every year. Lovely idea right? We thought so too. But, unfortunately we never kept up with it. Sifting through all of the photos that we've taken over the years would be quite a daunting task, but the end result would be so worth it. 

Canvas Print of a Wedding Photo

Neill and I don't have any of our wedding photos hung and so it would be lovely to have one of our favorite photos printed on a canvas.

Love Art


I've got to admit, this is something that I've wanted since I created our bedroom design board back in November. I love the simplicity of this piece and the romantic message. I planned to attempt a DIY version of this piece, but let's be honest - I'm just not a DIY girl.

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Do any of these strike your fancy? What is the best anniversary present you have ever received? How did you and your hubby celebrate your one year anniversary?


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Little Lists

Dear readers,

I apologize, but today's post is going to be all about me. I must be having a very narcissistic day.

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A while ago Joelle, one of my best blogging friends, tagged me to write about my ten favorite things. I think this list probably changes depending on what is going on in my life, but currently here are the ten things that top my list.

1. My husband

This seems pretty self-explanatory and obvious, right? But, it felt weird to make a list of my favorite things and NOT have him on it. He is my rock. My best-friend. My partner in crime. Pretty much everything is better when he is around :) 
2. A big, juicy hamburger with an egg on top


I haven't had red meat in a while and damn does a hamburger sound good. Chicago has some awesome hamburger joints, but Kuma's Corner makes an amazing burger on a pretzel bun. I'm drooling just thinking about it.

3. My sigg water bottle

I don't go anywhere without a water bottle! I was brand loyal to nalgene for probably close to ten years, but after I lost my last one I ended up buying a sigg at a Whole Foods. I like that the bottle is slimmer, but I do miss having the top be permanently attached to the bottle. Every morning I have to run around the house like a crazy person looking for the top because I hate leaving the house without a bottle of water!

4.Coffee in the morning

 After the alarm goes off I think about drinking coffee to help get me out of bed. That first cup is just bliss. I know eventually I will give up coffee and I think that just makes me enjoy it even more now.

5. My MacBook Pro

There is no getting around this one, I love love love my laptop. I use it every single day and I hate to be away from it :( It is reliable and gorgeous.

6. Pajamas

 This is kind of embarrassing, but since we'll friends I'll tell you a little secret. I only wear normal clothes if I'm leaving the house and the second I get home I change back to my comfy clothes. The idea of sitting around at home in jeans makes me shudder! In fact, right now I'm blogging in a pair of boxers and a big comfy t-shirt. How's that for a mental image?

7. Healthy Choice Fudge Bars

I love all desserts. And dessert loves me. So much so that it likes to stick around in the form of pudge. So, I'm trying to keep my distance from sweets. But, these chocolate ice-cream pops are guilt-free and completely delicious. (Tangent: last weekend I broke my diet and tried black dog gelato. It was fabulous. If you live in Chicago, definitely worth checking out!)

8. Real Housewives


My guilty television pleasure are the Real Housewives shows on Bravo. I like New York and Orange County the best, but you better believe I watched Atlanta and Beverly Hills too. Pure drama.
9. Travel

I love traveling to different places and getting to see new things. If I had a genie grant me three wishes, I think one of my wishes might be to have a wonderful world-wide journey. 

10. My Kindle

Neill just gave me a kindle a few weeks ago, but it has fast become one of my favorite things! I've read ten books on it already! I love easy it makes it to buy books and how light weight it is. I don't get to do any pleasure reading during the school year, so I've really been enjoying my fiction lately. I think the next book I'm going to read is Postmortem

What are your favorite things? 

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The other day Andrea, one of the coolest Chicago bloggers I know, was kind enough to give me the Kreativ Blogger Award. Let me just say that this was ridiculously exciting for me because it is my first blogging award! I'm no longer a blogger award virgin :) 

Thank you so much, Andrea! Here are my ten facts about myself:

1. I'm almost constantly on g-chat, but I make myself "invisible" almost half the time. I'm tricky like that. 

2. I graduated college in three years.

3. I love head bands

4. When I remember, I like to check my horoscope everyday.  (I'm an aries and my husband is a scorpio.)

5. My parents were somewhat older when they had me (my mom was 36 and I'm an only child) and I think that is why I want to have children when I'm on the younger side.

6. I'm not sure if I believe in free will. 

7. I absolutely love being a therapist. I can't wait till I'm licensed and I can have my own private practice! 

8. I have very liberal political views

9. My bookshelves in the living room are organized by color. I remember what almost every book looks like so I have no problem finding what I'm looking for.

10. I couldn't care less about sports. Like really. Don't care about them at all.

And here are the ten bloggers I'm presenting this award to:
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Whew! I've had enough with this all about me business. Please, tell me something about yourself! What are some of your favorite things?


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer Must Haves Swap

A few weeks ago I signed up to do a summer must haves swap on Krysten's blog, After I Do. You better believe I was all over Krysten's idea to randomly pair two people up and have them send each other gifts! Getting a surprise package in the mail filled with goodies just sounded like way too much fun to miss out on.  

I was paired with Sierra, who writes the fabulously awesome blog Ocean Dreams. I fell in love with her blog the instant I clicked over to her--she has the perfect balance of eye candy and real, thoughtful content. And, it turns out we have a few things in common! We both love the color turquoise, books, and gummy bears. So, I had a really good time picking out her gift :)

Today, we're each going to write a post about our gifts. I'm going to share what Sierra sent me and she is going to write about what I sent her.

I knew I was in for a treat when I got this fun package in the mail!

While I let the UPS man convince me to stuff everything into a too small envelope that probably arrived a crumpled mess, Sierra took the time to beautifully wrap the items. Isn't that ribbon just too cute?

And the contents did not disappoint! She sent me a blingy pair of earrings, an i-tunes gift-card, lip gloss that smells and tastes so good I'm in danger of trying to eat it on bread, a delicious candle that takes me right back to Jamaica, and the book Something Borrowed.

Didn't Sierra did such a wonderful job picking things out! Everything is just right.

Thank you so much to Krysten for organizing such a nice event and a big thank you to Sierra for sending over such thoughtful gifts! Check out Krysten's blog for more swap fun and don't forget to head on over to Ocean Dreams to see what I picked out for Sierra! 


Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Cocktails

Can I hear a big old amen for the fact that Friday is finally here? Since coming back from Jamaica, it has been full swing ahead and this week has been one long day after another. But, I don't want to ruminate about work stress or the cold weather. I'd so much rather take a little trip back to Jamaica. Honestly, whenever ever I start getting anxious or feeling overwhelmed, I just pull these images up in my mind and I'm instantly transported back to my happy place.

st. mary parish 

prospect great house

prospect great house

laughing waters in ocho rios, jamaica

laughing waters in ocho rios, jamaica

fresh coconut water at couples san souci

pool and ocean

the sunset from our balcony

time for the beach

water sports

the resort included complimentary room service. 
we ordered hamburgers and champagne. 

bob marley shot

natural spring pool

One of the best things about being married to a Jamaican is that I have an excuse to visit Jamaica again and again! 


I am more than ready to unwind with a few cocktails this weekend! On Saturday, some friends and I are going to check out a new bar that just opened up in my neigborhood--Bar Bar Black Sheep. Is that not the cutest name? I can't stop saying it! I've been drooling over the menu for a few days and I've already decided I want to order the duck tacos. I'm also in the mood to try a fun cocktail, like a French 75 (gin, champagne, lemon juice, and sugar). I've never had one, but doesn't it sound delicious and fun? 

What is your happy place? Do you have any fun plans this weekend? What is your favorite cocktail? 


psst. did you see my new blog header and button? Jess from IROCKSOWHAT hooked me up after I won a design from her from a giveaway that maegen of chesterrific hosted. I'm kind of in love.