Where Did My Eyebrows Go?: 3 Tips For Dealing with Thinning Brows

I never leave the house without my eyebrows on (*Jazmine Sullivan singing voice*).

Why did no one tell me to that I might want to leave my naturally thick eyebrows alone because they would practically stop growing after I turned 30?  I blame my mother. As long as I have been alive, she has had no eyebrows. I would, and still do (since I live at home and her makeup dresser is in "my room"), watch her draw on her eyebrows. I never questioned why she had no eyebrows, until one day I woke and noticed my eyebrows were thinning and barely growing in. Ever heard that saying, "if you pluck one gray hair, two more will come to its funeral (at the location of the the plucking)? Why can't my eyebrow hairs do that?

I wish I could jump in a time machine and travel back 15 years ago and stop my younger self from allowing random women from plucking and waxing my eyebrows. Now I am filling in my thinning eyebrows with eyebrow powder every morning, so that I do not look like a big head alien. I already have a big forehead. The last thing I need is to bring more attention to that area between my eyes and my hairline.

What causes this thinning? According to my "Googles," eyebrow hair loss can be caused by a number of factors, including over-plucking or waxing (which can cause follicle damage or infection), excessive weight-loss, stress, vitamin deficiency, and aging.

To combat the thinning, I have done a couple things. First, I cut down on my monthly eyebrow maintenance. I quit waxing my eyebrows around 2008, after some woman in some random nail or hair salon left me with pencil thin, uneven eyebrows. I transitioned over to Indian eyebrow threading after hearing about how great and mostly painless it was from several friends. Eyebrow threading is an ancient hair removal technique which uses a twisting thread to pull hair from the root. I love it because they remove each hair individually, which decreases chances of over-plucking. The threaders always ask whether you want to clean up or fully reshape your eyebrows. However, after noticing that I could barely see my eyebrows, even without a fresh threading, I had to change my brow maintenance from every three weeks to every three months. Ugh!

Second, I started using eyebrow powder after a threader in Santa Barbara suggested I use it to get a fuller brow. She used the Smashbox Tech Trio on me and I instantly fell in love with the way my brows looked. Immediately, I headed to Sephora and bought a box. I used it until they discontinued it and replaced it with Smashbox Ultra Eyebrow Tech Shaping Powder, which I currently use in Dark Brown.

Third, I have been applying Jamaican Black Castor Oil, which is multipurpose oil that I have been using for years to regrow my edges and moisturize my locs. But, recently I found out that it is also good for stimulating eyebrow growth (it is stated as a possible use on the box). I wipe it on my eyebrows before bed after I wash my face. I honestly haven't been applying as consistently as I oughta, but I definitely recommend other eyebrow hair loss sufferers try it out.

Figuring Out Weight Loss: My Review of the Nutrisystem Uniquely Yours 4-Week Meal Plan

It is a kinda funny story how I ended up on a Nutrisystem 4-week meal plan. 

Four weeks ago, during my weekly dinner with my father, he asks me if I have thought about joining Weight Watchers. I was totally taken aback by this question and a bit offended. Why was my father asking me about joining Weight Watchers? At that time, I had already lost 10 lbs on my own. Could he not see my progress? Was he trying to tell me I was fat and needed professional help to slim down? 

So, of course, I got in my feelings and responded with an emphatic "No." I told him that I was not interested in joining a weight loss program because they cost money that I did not have to spare. Despite my response, he kept pressing me and even offered to pay if I wanted to join.  I laughed at his proposal and then later went home and told my mother about the conversation. I thought she would be mad at my father for asking me to join Weight Watchers, but she wasn't. She was actually mad at me for refusing his offer to pay for a weight loss program. She reminded me of how expensive eating healthy is and of how getting my father to pay for a healthy meal program, even if it was only for 4 weeks, could save me hundreds of dollars. 

As much as I hate to admit it, I quickly realized that my mother was right. I was not in a position to turn down an opportunity for free healthy food. 

I headed to the Google to do some research. I looked up Weight Watchers and found out that although they sold frozen foods in the supermarkets, they did not offer what I was looking for, home delivery meal plans. Disappointed  I moved onto the next big name weight loss program, Nutrisystem. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Nutrisystem had exactly what I was looking for. Nutrisystem offers three different 4-week meal plans at affordable prices: basic, core, and uniquely yours. I told my dad about it and after some bantering with him (because he insisted that he only offered to pay for Weight Watchers and not another program), I got him to pay around $340 for a 4-week meal plan. 

I picked the uniquely yours meal plan, which included a choice of over 150 meals and snacks and unlimited frozen foods (starting at $11.96 a day). For signing up, I also got a two week supply of their turbo 10 protein shakes. 

My Review

Delivery, Packaging, and Food Selection: 

The food arrived a week later in two separate shipments--one for the non frozen foods and another for the frozen foods (which arrived in a dry ice-filled styrofoam cooler). When I opened the boxes, I was a bit overwhelmed by how much food I received. I had to actually rearrange the pantry and freezer to fit in all of the food I received, which included breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. The great thing about the food was that the boxes are clearly marked with the nutritional content, calories, and designated meal. 

Some of the food items I received were frozen cinnamon rolls, waffles, and turkey sausage egg sandwiches for breakfast, soups, steak and cheese melts, and mini pizzas for lunch, chicken parmesan, ravioli with meat sauce, and spinach-stuffed chicken for dinner, and fudge bars, slices of chocolate cake, and mini apple pies for snack. 

Taste:

Honestly, the food that I received varied in taste level. Most of the food tasted very good, such as the breakfast cinnamon rolls, the turkey sausage and egg sandwich,  the waffles and pancakes, the ravioli in meat sauce, the frozen hamburger and chicken sandwiches, and all of the frozen desserts. But there were a few meals that I felt tasted like bland diet food, such as the protein shakes, pasta, the bean chili, and the soups. 

Also, I must note that the portion sizes of all meals that I received were child size. Imagine a McDonalds happy meal versus a Big Mac combo meal. Get the picture? Tiny!!! I assume that the small portions are to keep the meals under 300 calories. But, it is very jarring when you first replace your regular meals with Nutrisystem meals. 

The first time I opened up one of their frozen personal pizzas I laughed and immediately opened another one to eat for my dinner. It felt unnatural to eat such a pizza for dinner that was the size of my hand. Eventually, I learned to pair the pizza with a small salad and a glass of grapefruit juice or red wine, instead of doubling my Nutrisystem meals to fill my stomach. 

Overall Value and Recommendation: 

I recommend the Nutrisystem Uniquely Yours meal plan with reservations. If you are looking for a home delivery program with a large variety of low calorie meals

and

 you have about $350 to spare to buy 4 weeks of prepackaged meals at one time, I recommend you try out this meal program. It definitely helped with my weight loss goals because I always had low calorie foods that I could quickly and easily heat up for my daily meals. I had no excuse for stopping at Wendy's for fast food because I had large variety of "fast" foods at home that I could eat guilt-free without having to spend time prepping and cooking food. 

BUT, if you do not have $350 to spend at one time on food, I would NOT recommend you pay for a Nutrisystem meal program. You pay the same amount of money or more in total on groceries throughout the course of a month. But, it is not the same as paying over $300 dollars on food at one time for prepackaged/frozen meals. The conveniences is not worth the financial burden. Nutrisystem is a subscription meal program so they are going to automatically charge your credit card every month unless you suspend or cancel your subscription. I canceled my subscription after 4 weeks because I can't afford the fee and my dad only agreed to pay for one month for me. 

Pump It Up: My 15 Power Workout Songs Playlist

Need some motivation to get you through your daily workouts or runs? Pump yourself up with a few of my favorite butt-shaking, head nodding, make you wanna run to the club workout songs. Music can make any workout feel quicker and much more fun.

So, warm up, work out, and cool down to 15 of my favorite workout tunes.

Mama Said Knock You Out by LL Cool J

Work by Ciara featuring Missy Elliot

Where Have You Been by Rihanna

Mc Hammer by Rick Ross featuring Gucci Mane

Breathless by Roy Cape All Stars and Blaxx

Work by Iggy Azalea

 Damn Baby by Janet Jackson

Rumble by Skinny Fabulous

Baby Hello by Wande Coal

WTF by Missy Elliot featuring Pharrell Williams

Bundelele by Awilo Longomba

 Done D Party by Fay-Ann Lyons

 Anaconda by Nicki Minaj

Dancing On My Own by Robyn

When Love Takes Over by David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland

Figuring Out Weight Loss: I Lost 17 lbs in 2 Months

Today marks two months since I started this 50 lb weight-loss journey on July 25, 2016. I am proud to announce that I am now 17 lbs lighter.

Honestly, it has not been easy. There have been many days that I wanted to run to Shake Shack for a delicious

double smokeshack cheeseburger 

or stay in bed instead of going to the gym (and, there were those moments when I snuck and ate a piece of my brother's wings plate). But, for the most part, I pushed through those feelings and thoughts and made the healthy choices, with the help of the Super Shred Diet by Dr. Ian Smith and the Nike Training Club Lean Fit fitness program.

I choose to share my weight-loss journey with you all to show that it can be done. You don't need to starve yourself or live in the gym to see results. You just have to be ready and willingly to make healthier choices---to walk more, to eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water, pick up some light weights, and eat smaller portions. If you can gain it, you can lose it.

Today I celebrate my major weight loss. But, my weight-loss journey is far from over. I still have 33 lbs to get back to my ideal weight. Tomorrow I start a new 6-week diet program, the

Shred Diet

by Dr. Ian Smith. I hope lose another 9 lbs by Thanksgiving.

If you are looking to lose weight, I encourage you to join me on this program or try the Super Shred Diet.

Week 8: 

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Figuring Out Weight Loss: Surviving Vacations, Weekends Away, and Dining Out

I am happy to announce that your girl Toya T is still losing weight. I lost 1.6 lbs this week. This is really a huge feat because of the fact that I took off three days from my diet this past Labor Day weekend. 

Week 6:

From Saturday to Monday, I was in Philadelphia with two of my friends at the Made in America Festival, which is a 2-day music festival sponsored by Budweiser. At first, I thought that I might be able to follow my diet with a few tweaks while I was at the festival: eat my regular healthy breakfast and lunch, drink a minimum of one beer per day, and eat the least fatty meals for dinner while I was at the festival.  I really thought that this was going to work. Or, at least I wanted this plan to work because I did not want to lose my weight-loss momentum from the past 6 weeks. I packed as many healthy snacks as I could carry and brought along a homemade protein shake, since our hotel had a mini fridges in the rooms. 

By noon on Saturday, I realized that it was unrealistic for me to follow my diet during my weekend away. This was my last hoorah before heading back into the classroom and plus I was with my friends. Sticking to my diet felt more like work than a normal healthy life choice.  So, I decided to allow myself three cheat days, not to overindulge on fatty goodness, but to eat and drink when I felt hungry without counting calories (and feeling guilty). To not fall back into bad eating habits or throw away my weight-loss successes, I also decided to jump back into my Super Shred diet at the point that I stopped on the program's weekly meal plan--in this case, it was Days 5, 6, and 7 of Week 2.

During my three cheat days, I made sure to stay active. Luckily, the festival made this very easy because it involved a lot of walking around and standing. I made over 24,000 steps on Saturday alone and burned over 3000 calories (note: this is more than I burn on a regular day eating healthy and working out). 

When I weighed myself on Tuesday, I was surprised to see that I didn't gain any weight. I lost .2 lbs and by Thursday I had lost an additional 1.4 lbs. 

This past weekend was very important moment in my 50 lb weight-loss journey. I learned that I can still eat, drink, and be merry without losing control. Cheat days or cheat meals are good in moderation as long as you stay active and focused on your goals. I am now 12.2 lbs down and determined to lose another 8 lbs by the end of the month. 

Smiles and Lime-a-ritas at Made in America 

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How To Stay Focused During a Long Weight-Loss Journey

First things first, I am proud to announce that I lost .9 lbs this past week. Although it is not a big number, it is still a victory because it is a weight loss and not a weight gain.

Week 4 Progress:

In 4 weeks, I have lost 8 lbs with the Super Shred diet and Nike Training Club Lean Fit workout challenge.  **pelvic thrusts** Now I have 42 lbs to go...42 LBS TO GO!!!! Ugh.

Losing that much weight is not going to be easy or quick (unless I max out my credit cards and get liposuction). It is going to take months upon months of working out, dieting, and focus.

To help me keep focused during my weight-loss journey, I am doing the following 3 things:

1. Join Fitness Challenges 

This is very simple. Find a fitness challenge and do it.

  • It helps you develop a regular fitness schedule that is easy to follow and increases with intensity as it progresses.

  • It prevents you from feeling overwhelmed by making you focus on a short-term, achievable fitness goal.

  • If you get your friends or family to join the challenge, it helps you create a fitness support system to keep you motivated to finish.

  • Plus, when you finish, you are fitter and have the sweet satisfaction of completing a fitness goal.

Here's a challenge for you: 

2. Try New Healthy Recipes 

The internet is wonderful place to find tons and tons of healthy recipes (note: Pinterest is the best site ever to find yummy, healthy recipes).

  • It helps you transition from bad eating habits to good eating habits, by allowing you to eat less calories without feeling deprived.

  • It helps you discover new foods and dishes that you can share with your family and friends and impress them with your culinary skills.

  • If you cook your meals ahead of time, preferably at the beginning of the week, it will help you stay on your diet and give you less excuses for grabbing for "fast fatty foods" (the dreaded 3 F's).

Here's a healthy recipe for you: 

3. Buy Cute Workout Clothes

Just because you are working out and sweating doesn't mean you can't look good while doing it.

  • Having cute workout clothes takes the UGH out of working out by giving you the same feeling as getting dressed up for a night out.

  • They tend to be form-fitting, which is a GOOD thing. Wearing oversized and baggy workout clothes make you look frumpy and larger than you really are, skewing your body image. Wearing cute, form-fitting workout clothes provides much-needed support for your jiggly parts and allows you to check your form and make sure you are correctly performing exercises, decreasing injuries and maximizing workout benefits.

  • Plus, it helps show off your new developing fit body.

Here's some cute workout clothes options for you: 

Low-end Activewear Brand: Everlast (sold at

Sears

)

High-end Activewear: Ivy Park (sold at

Nordstrom

)

Figuring Out Weight Loss: Week Three---The Scale and My Body Disagree

I have completed another week of my weight loss journey. And, after eating a meal plan consisting of 2 meals and 4 snacks per day and working out 6 days a week, I proud to announce I lost .2 lbs. That is right! I said .2 lbs.

At first, I felt a bit discouraged after I stepped off the scale this morning. All that work and not even a full pound down. Ugh! But, then I remembered that the scale is not the only measurement of my weight loss progress. The fact that I was able to comfortably fit into some of my favorite clothes this past week without feeling like

Kim K's pregnant feet stuffed into tight shoes 

(never forget!!!) is the best proof of my progress. Plus, my brutally honest mother actually told me that I looked like I lost weight, specifically that my backside was less wide (i.e., West Indian mom's way of saying you lost weight in a good way).

Despite the scale disagreeing with my body, I am pushing forward on my weight loss journey stronger and more determined.

In honor of my small victory, I have posted another brief video of your girl Toya T sweating it out in the gym. This workout is part of Nike Training Club's "Controlled Blast" 45-minute workout.

Figuring Out Weight Loss: Week Two---I Lost 2 lbs

Good news, guys and gals!!! I lost another 2 lbs.

I am so proud of myself for decreasing the number on the scale for a second week in a row, especially since the human body tends to fight weight loss after losing a significant amount during your first week of working out and dieting. If you want proof, check out the first two episodes of  any season of the tv series

The Biggest Loser

to see the drastic difference in weight loss between week one and week two. Contestants go from losing 15 lbs week one to losing 0 to 2 lbs week two.

But, by successfully completing another week of my Nike Training Club Lean Fit workout plan and following the week two meal plan from the Super Shred diet, which included eating three meals 3 to 4 hours apart and two snacks daily, I was able to push through and get myself closer to my weight-loss goals.

Week 2:      Front View                                              Side View

Wish me luck for this upcoming week. My meal plan is going to be drastically different than the previous two weeks. Week 3 of the Super Shred diet focuses on calorie disruption. So, I will only be allowed to eat two meals and four low calorie snacks  (less than 150 calories) per day to throw my body off kilter and force it to readjust.

As I mentioned prior, my main problem is my bad eating habits. Eating less food is going to be a BIG challenge for me. But, my desire to fit back into my favorite outfits are greater.

Figuring Out Weight Loss: The Running for Weight Loss App

In my last post, I promised that I would discuss the running app that I have been using to help me lose weight. I discovered the

Running for Weight Loss

app a few weeks ago as an ad on the

MyFitnessPal

app, which is an online diet and exercise journal. To be honest, I do not like running. But, when I saw that I could possibly lose 35 lbs in 8 weeks using this training program, I decided to try it out.

The Running for Weight Loss app is a unique running program designed specifically for weight loss. The program features six 8-week interval plans of walking, running, and sprinting intervals, with three levels of difficulty. It also has audio instructions and encouragement, GPS map of your run, daily weight-loss tips, and detailed records of every workout and your overall progress. 

This week I completed week 3 of the program and so far I am really happy with my progress. I am running longer and faster than week 1, day 1. Plus, I am burning over 400 calories in 39 minutes. Hopefully, with the Running for Weight Loss app,  I will be down 35 lbs by the end of week 8. 

***App is available on the AppStore, Google Play, and Amazon Apps.***

Figuring Out Weight Loss--Week One: I Lost 4.2 lbs

My first week of trying to figure out how to lose 50 lbs is completed. And, I am happy to share that I lost 4.2 lbs. Yay!!! **pelvic thrust** 

     August 1, 2016: FRONT VIEW                                  SIDE VIEW

Honestly, this week was not easy. I WAS SO HUNGRY the first 3 days of Week One.  It felt like my stomach was going to open up, grow teeth, and chew off someone's arms (like in the 1982 horror film The Thing). As I stated in an earlier post, I have no problem working out, despite the fact that I hate working out. My problem is food, or more specifically (eating) fatty (delicious) food. To help me refocus my eating habits, and my appetite, I am using "

Super Shred: The Big Results Diet: 4 Weeks, 20 Pounds" by Dr. Ian Smith

. I chose this diet because it allows me to eat food, drink liquor (albeit a limited quantity), and lose weight in a short period of time. Plus, I have successfully lost weight using two of Dr. Smith's other diet books ("

The Fat Smash Diet: The Last Diet You'll Ever Need

" and "

Extreme Fat Smash Diet: With More Than 75 Recipes

"). I have tried the Super Shred diet before but I don't think I ever completed. This time I am determined to complete it, and I am using a few other health tips to help me slim down.

To supercharge my weight loss, I have started drinking a

flat belly detox drink

, which consists of grapefruit juice, honey, and apple cider vinegar. It is suggested to drink a cup of this mix 2x a day for 14 days. But because I do not like the taste of grapefruit juice, I have been trying to drink at least once a day with lunch or dinner. 

I definitely suggest trying out this drink, since each of its ingredients have their own weight-loss and health benefits. Grapefruit is a fat-burning food that improves blood flow and helps your body metabolize sugar. Honey is a simple sugar (much healthier than processed or refined sugar), filled with vitamins and nutrients that boosts and revs up your metabolism. Apple cider vinegar helps to regulate your blood sugar levels, which prevents sugar from being stored as fat, and clean out your system (check out its many many health benefits

here

). 

I have also started drinking 66 ounces of water a day. This has not been too hard for me, since I developed a love for water from my Fat Smash diet days. Plus, it has been hot as hades outside.   Water has been shown to have significant weight-loss benefits. It keeps you hydrated during workouts and it helps to stave off hunger by making you fill fuller faster. The fuller you feel, the less food will eat to fill your belly. Health experts suggest you drink half of your body weight in water (in ounces) to reap the hunger-busting benefits; for example, a 135 lbs woman should be drinking 67 ounces of water (or a little more than 8 glasses of water a day). I tried doing that, but it was very, very, very hard due to my actual weight, which is way more than 135 lbs. I want to lose weight, not drink a large aquarium of water a day. It is bad enough that drinking tons of water makes you have to urinate several times a day. I feel like my 88 year old granny due to the amount of runs to the bathroom I have to make a day. I truly believe that 66 ounces is best. It is doable and satisfies the 8 glasses of water a day that is suggested by most physicians. For an extra health boost, I mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with the 32 ounces of water in my trusty Columbia water bottle. 

Paired with my

Nike Training Club 7-week Lean Fit

workout plan and 8-week Running for Weight Loss plan (which I will discuss in a later post), the Super Shred diet is helping me get closer to my 50 lb weight loss goal without starving myself or joining the cast of The Biggest Loser.   

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Nike Training Club, Get Lean Fit Workout- Go, Rest, Repeat

To help me get lean and fit, I am using the Nike Training Club app (available for iPhone and Android). The app is FREE and loaded with 100+ workouts, featuring clear audio and visual guidance throughout each workout and plans that focus on getting either lean, stronger, or toned.

 I have been using this app since 2012 and I love it because when I am not indulging in fatty goodness and avoiding the gym, it has helped me get my body toned, lean, and fit. Today I finished week 2 of a 7-week Get Lean Fit workout plan, which include a mixture of running, cardio, light weights, pilates, and yoga. The workout plans adjust daily, increasing and decreasing the intensity of the workouts based on how challenging you found the previous workout.

Okay, folks. Below is a short clip of my "Go, Rest, Repeat" workout from this morning. Please do not laugh at my gym attire or my sweaty body. I workout in the "Women Only" room at my gym, so that I can sweat, curse, and look crazy in relative privacy.

I will post my weight loss progress later this week (since I am only weighing myself once a week).

Figuring Out How to Lose Weight in my 30s: I am OBESE!

Hello, my name is Toya T and I am obese. Yes, I said it...OBESE!!! I never thought that I would ever use that word to describe myself. But, after my most recent physical exam in June, I saw the dreaded five-letter word written in my health summary, and I almost had a stroke.

 I will admit that I have gained some weight over the past two years. Okay, full disclosure. I gained 50 lbs since 2014. Ugh!! Regardless of that number, I wouldn't have described myself as obese. Overweight? Yes. Thick and juicy? Yes. Obese and a potential contestant of The Biggest Loser? NO! 

Ugh! How did I get here? I was not a "fat" kid or teenager. For most of my life, I was what I would describe as petite thick---that is, short, small-waisted, and thick-thighed. Like most young adults, I gained weight in college, about 10 lbs during my sophomore; however, I easily lost the weight by taking biweekly African dance, tap, and ballet classes and stepping weekly with my college step team. Then I gained 20 lbs during the first two years of my PhD program. I was the biggest I had ever been, and I realized that I actually had to make some lifestyle changes to shed the pounds. I joined my local YMCA, worked with a personal trainer to develop monthly workout plans, and changed my eating habits with the aid of

The Fat Smash Diet by Dr. Ian Smith

 (of Celebrity Fit Club fame). In the first 11 days, I saw big results; I lost 11 lbs. Within a year, I lost the rest of the weight and kept it off until five years ago.

2014

2016

The past five years my weight has yo-yoed up and down; my body has gone between being fit and trim to its current state of round and juicy. Interestingly, despite overweight (and now obese), I have bene generally healthy. According to my most recent physical, my glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels are within a healthy range. So, my main health concern has been, and is, my weight.

First off, I know that the number on the scale can be deceptive, since muscle weighs more than fat. I have been very fit and trim, 145 lbs, and a size 8 (my ideal size). I have learned that it is definitely about how you feel, how you fit in your clothes, and how good (you feel) you look naked. Right now, I don't feel good about my body in and out of  clothes. All of my favorite outfits fit very tight on me---and not in the good way.

Summer 2014

Summer 2016

In public, I have blamed my weight gain on the fatty goodness of Shake Shack (and its proximity to my job and home), my love of food and drink, stress of finishing my Phd program and emotional eating, my sheer hate of working out (especially when it is cold), and the winter of 2015 aka Snowmaggedon 2015 (which is when I gained the majority of the weight from eating and being trapped in doors by the 100 inches of snow). But, honestly my bad eating is to blame. I can push myself to work out regularly, especially if I have a very detailed workout plan set out for me with a definite beginning and ending (e.g., a 4-week summer sexy workout plan or a 30-day squat and abs challenge). What I have trouble with is keeping my love of fatty foods in check. Once I start eating something I like, it is hard for me to stop until the dish is clean. Put me in front of a Chicago deep dish pizza from Giordano's, and I will devour it in one sitting, no matter how much my brain tells me to save some for later.

Now, for the rest of the summer, I am challenging myself to get my eating back on a healthy plan and get my body back in my favorite outfits. This week I started a 4-week shred diet to detox and refocus my eating habits and a 7-week slim fit workout plan to lose the pounds. I will update you all each week on my progress and if you are interested in joining me on my 50 lb weight loss journey, I will share the tools, recipes, and health tips I am utilizing.

3 Fitness Tools For Losing Weight and Getting In Shape

Although Mother Nature seems unable to make up her mind about what constitutes "spring weather" (why is there snow on my car in April???), I have my mind set on getting curvy fit for 2016. Last winter's snowmaggedon brought inches upon inches of snow to the Boston area and also inches upon inches to my waistline (legs, back, and arms...oh my!). All those months of snow and freezing temperatures had me hibernating (i.e., eating, sleeping, and curling up under my covers) longer than usual. Now, one year later I am working hard to slim down and tone up my (relatively) new juicy body.

To reach my body goals, I am utilizing some fitness tools that have helped me lose weight and get in shape in the past.

10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse by JJ Smith 

I first learned of the "10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse" from my Zumba instructor. She lost more than 10 lbs after completely her first 10 days of the cleanse. She looked healthy and significantly smaller. Soon after she told me about the book, I bought the book immediately (available at  

amazon.com

 for $10.99 kindle/ $9.59 paperback).   

The book provides a shopping list, recipes, and detailed instructions for the 10-day cleanse, along with suggestions for getting the best results. It also offers advice on how to continue to lose weight and maintain good health afterwards.

There are two versions of the cleanse---the full cleanse (which includes drinking 3 smoothies as your daily meals) and the partial cleanse (which includes drinking 2 smoothies a day for breakfast and lunch and eating a healthy meal for dinner). I recently completed the partial cleanse and lost about 5 lbs (with some cheats). Honestly, the first few days of this cleanse is rough, and the author tells you that you may experience fatigue, hunger pains, irritability, and other side effects while your body goes through the detox process. But, it definitely is very useful for developing, or redeveloping, healthy eating habits.  

Nike Training Club App

Nike Training Club

is hands down the BEST FITNESS APP!!! My very fit and toned BFF told me about this app about 4 or 5 years ago and it has been my go-to fitness tool to get in shape. Plus, this app is FREE (available for download in the App Store for iPhones and Google Play for Androids) !!

Designed specifically for women, this app provides more than 85 instructor-narrated fitness routines—basically it's an audio-only exercise video you can play from your phone. It tracks your progress and rewards efforts with custom workouts created by Nike’s professionals, pro athletes and celebrities such as Glee star Lea Michele, Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, and personal trainer Ary Nunez, who trains Rihanna. You can also create playlists to go along with your workouts, and, if ever you don't understand what the instructor is talking about, you can click into a video.

Since February, I have been working my way through the Get Lean program, which is designed to burn fat and lose inches with 3 - 6 workouts per week and yoga to energize you. The program offers three levels---beginner, intermediate, and advanced---and each level lasts 4 weeks. I am currently in the middle of week 1 of the advanced level, having completed the beginner and intermediate levels. The workouts have been kicking my butt, but I have seen results. My stamina and energy has increased, my legs, butt, and arms are more toned, and the pot in my belly has gotten shrunk with each week. I feel stronger and more energized. 

MyFitnessPal App 

MyFitnessPal

makes losing weight a little bit easier. Studies have shown that there are many weight loss benefits to keeping a diary of the food you eat, the water you drink, and the activities you do. MyFitnessPal allows you to log your meals, water consumption, and workouts/activities easily and quickly. It also syncs with popular fitness apps like Fitbit (which I also use in my fitness journey). Plus, the app is free (available for download in the App Store for iPhones, the Marketplace for Windows phones, and Google Play for Android phones) !!

Bonus:

C9 Champion Power Core Compression Racerback Sports Bra ($16.99 at Target)

A good sports bra is also extremely important in losing weight. I got this sports bra for free from

Influenster

to review and I have used it every week since it arrived in my mailbox. The

C9 Champion Sports Bra

provides medium support and a compressive fit. Wicking fabric stretches to move with you and dries fast to keep you cool. The sports bra gives me great support during my NTC workouts.  

Interested in joining Influenster and getting products from the brands you love (or will soon love) for FREE, click

here

Product Review: c.Booth All-Over-Body Sea Salt Scrub

The Product:

c.Booth All-Over-Body Sea Salt Scrub

As the weather is getting colder in the Boston area, I have been looking for different ways to keep my skin smooth, soft, and hydrated. I have eczema, and as I have gotten older, my skin has gotten more and more sensitive. I have to be very careful about what I put on my skin from my body wash, lotions, perfumes, jewelry, and clothes.  

I really like to use sugar scrubs in the colder months to help with some of the rough patches that develop on my arms and legs. 

Before I could buy one for this Fall, I got selected by Influenster to try out this sea salt scrub by c. Booth for free. I got this container of sea salt scrub from Ulta Beauty  (priced at $8.99). 

My Thoughts: Recommend as a Winter Body Scrub

This was my first time using a sea salt scrub and I was not sure how it was going to compare to my usual sugar scrubs. When I opened the container, I immediately noticed that the grains were bigger than sugar scrubs and that the grains were a really nice blue color. The scrub has a nice fresh smell to match its sea-like blue color. The sea salt scrub scoops out of the container and rubs onto the skin very easily. I have used the sea salt scrub a few times over the past two weeks in the shower and I have definitely noticed a difference in texture of my skin. I focused the scrub on my elbows which were forming some rough spots. Now these rough spots are gone. The skin is visibly smooth and soft. I definitely recommend if you are looking for a quality scrub to help keep your skin smooth during these cold months. 

Finding the Perfect Jeans For Curvy Girls (With Big Thighs)

For curvy women, finding a great pair of jeans that are flattering and affordable is hard, especially if you are part of my particular sect of the Women with Curves club---the Big Thighs Crew. Unlike women with those highly sought-after thigh gaps, women like me with big thighs and disproportionately smaller waists are lucky if we can find jeans with spandex in them. The jeans that I  typically find at the local mall are either too big in the waist or can't get passed my thighs (without a lot of dancing and struggling and deep breaths).

As a curvy woman who added on a few more curves over during Snowmaggedon 2015, I have actually avoided wearing jeans for the past 6 months because I can't fit the ones in my closet (they look real nice on the hangers). For most of this year, I have turned to leggings--a curvy girl's best friend. But, after seeing a post on

Hey Fran Hey

's blog about how she found a flattering pair of curvy girl friendly jeans, the

Levi's 721 High-Rise Skinny Jeans

. Inspired by her, I hit Macy's and tried on about 10 pairs of the 721 and of the

Levi's 311 Shaping Skinny Jeans

. The 721 fit me, but the 311 fit me so much better. The 311 features tummy slimming technology and feels so soft on the skinny. I loved them so much, I bought two pairs. If you are looking for a pair of jeans that flatter all of your curves, I highly recommend you check out what Levi's has to offer.