Sunday, April 26, 2015

Steph Says: Stitch Fix Box 1 Review

So I finally caved and tried out this Stitch Fix thing that all the cool kids are talking about. 

Stitch Fix is an online styling service. You pay $20 for a stylist to pick out five items for you based on a style survey. You can also request specific items such as printed shorts or sleeveless tops to help guide their choices, or let them know of an upcoming event to style for you. In addition, you can create a Pinterest board with items you like and link it to your Stitch Fix account so your stylist can really see what floats your clothing boat.  When you get your items, you have 3 days to try them on and decide which ones to keep and which ones to return. They send you a pre-addressed and stamped envelope bag to make it easy on you! Your $20 styling fee is applied to any items you purchase, and if you keep all five, you get 25% off your whole box! In addition, you go through an online checkout and let your stylist know what you loved and/or hated about the items so they can style you even better the next time around.

I'm not quite sure if I love it yet, but there is something to be said about the element of surprise! And who doesn't love getting packages in the mail? For those women who hate to shop or don't have time, it's a great way to shop in the comfort of your own home.  I wasn't sure if Stitch Fix was for me because I actually love shopping. I love shopping a little too much if you ask my hubs but who's asking him. But I'm all about trying new things, and one of the biggest bonuses of losing 95 pounds is that clothes just look and feel 800 times better than they ever have before. So something like Stitch Fix is exciting instead of nerve-wracking and depression-inducing. Here we go!

I got home and this pretty little box was waiting on my doorstep. I give their packaging an A plus! It's cute and sturdy, and everything inside is wrapped up nice and neat. You also get a note from your stylist with ideas on how to style all the pieces in your box using items you already have in your closet. (Or items they assume every woman has in her closet, and I'm all like whaaaaat is a pencil skirt gonna do for these hips? Please.)

This is great for anyone who is a bit clueless on how to put together an entire outfit. I do have my moments of fashion brilliance, but I also need someone to hold my hand on MAJOR fashion decisions. That's where my girl Kat usually comes in! Now I'll have help from Stitch Fix, too. And we can't forget to thank The Hubs, my enthusiastic photographer. It takes a village, y'all. 

Item #1
Papermoon Polina Knit Top
First item out of the box was kinda eh. I feel like I could buy this sucker just about anywhere. The quality didn't wow me, and it also reminded me of literally every maternity top my beach ball belly sported those nine long, heavy months. I sent this one back. 

Item #2
Kut from the Kloth Parcey Polka Dot Skinny Jean
Loved. LOVED these jeans! The polka-dot patterned fabric was just too cute and the price was on point. However, they were a little too long. That, I could have fixed with some tailoring, BUT they were also too big in the waist! (Is this real life? Pants? Too BIG? Be still my heart.) As much as I loved them, they had to go back.

Item #3
Papermoon Floria Split Back Knit Top
This top was cute, and I liked the fun surprise floral print in the back. But it just didn't "do" anything for me. In fact, I think it made my hips look wider. Um, no thank you!  Also, the knit was a little heavy for Louisiana spring/summer. I had to send it back.

Item #4
Octavia Gweneth Chevron Lace Infinity Scarf
I adore scarves. My students could probably tell you how often they saw me wear scarves and cardigans, and it's more than I'd like to admit. But the price of this scarf was just too much to bear. I have a hard time paying $28 for a shirt, let alone one measly double-wrapped strip of fabric! Returned. Happily returned.

And then I found this one at Wal Mart later in the week for $6.99. I win.

Item #5
41Hawthorn Moni Geo Print Blouse
The keeper! The print on this top is so much FUN! There was a similar style/print top on my Pinterest board that my stylist used to inspire this choice. I think this piece was the most "me" out of them all. It was a little too expensive (champagne taste, beer budget and all that) but with the $20 styling fee applied to it, the price was much more reasonable. Kept it!

Overall, I give my first Fix a 6/10. Hopefully the stylists listen to my feedback so I can get more winners next time around! If you are interested in giving Stitch Fix a try, I'd love it if you'd use my referral code below when you sign up!

Feed the shopping addiction. Click here!
Have a great week, lovelies! 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Meg's Musings: Bad Habits

Bad Habits

When you start thinking about a healthy lifestyle, one of the most important things to be assessed is HABITS

We all have them: good ones, bad ones, and ehhh the harmless guilty pleasures we pretend not to like. 

Good habits help foster health, happiness, positive vibes, and well, they don't exactly look bad on you either! 

Bad habits help to destroy those things, and usually the payoff is some sort of downward spiral that lands you anywhere from mildly displeased to manically depressed. 

So yea, I guess your habits -- whatever they may be -- are kinda important or something. 

I've kicked a ton of bad habits in the last year of my life, and established some pretty kickass habits in their place. And then there are those lingering bad habits that are just....there... and easy....and maybe (we think) harmless. 

But are they really? 
Assessing your bad habits is healthy, and I challenge you to take a look at yours. 
What needs to go? 
What needs to stay? 
What's the payoff in keeping them around? 

Here are some of mine:

1. Staying up late.... 

I know what it takes to accomplish all that I have to do in a day. If I want my morning writing done, I have to be up and ready to go, not up and groggy for two hours. If I want to fuel my body with a healthy breakfast, I need to be well rested so that I have the time to do that and also, so I’m not ramped up on hunger-inducing hormones that race through your body when you don't sleep and hijack your brain in the morning, making you crave greasy, carb-loaded breakfast food. If I want a badass workout and cardio session, I need to be rested, fueled, hydrated, finished with morning writing, and ready to go by 9 am. 

If I’m sluggish and foggy, I’m out of it in there. 
I'm not going to be able to lift as heavy.
I'm not going to move as fast when I get to my cardio.
I'm not going to hit that drop set or lift to failure.
I'm going to be sloppy.
I'm going to look as bad as I feel.

When I get back to my work, I will sit at the computer and stare blankly into space or google “How to write while tired” (which I may or may not have actually done a time or two....)

Also, I’m going to want a nap, I’m going to want an aimless drive around town, I’m going to want fatty, greasy fast food because those hunger-hormones are still kicking.

I'm most certainly not going to be focused on the rest of my writing that day. 

I’m going to be delirious, but then I’ll catch a second wind around 9:00 and want to (A HA) stay up late again! It’s a subtle drug, I tell ya. But there’s something about the TV shows that come on starting around 8:00 that are just guilty pleasures, and they allow me to go into autopilot and enjoy some mindless entertainment until I realize it’s midnight (crap). And then I’m just alllllllll thrown off. 

There really is NO payoff here...(says 10 am Megan.... 11 pm Megan sometimes sings a different tune)

....yea that's about right....

2. Negativity, criticism, and complaining. Oh, and PEOPLE WHO CRITICIZE YOU — UGH! 

Ever watched the Superbowl press conference and heard the winning head coach get up there and thank all of the people who were constant threads of negativity in his life? Me either. Know why?? Because... 

Yet do I ever notice that during slumps and bouts of writers block or gym shame, I seek people who want to sit and commiserate and give me one thousand reasons why I should just quit trying to write altogether? And forget about the weight room and focus on all of the reasons why life is hard and why choosing to reach higher is really kinda pointless? 

Almost exclusively. What’s the deal? 

We don’t want people to hold us accountable in those moments of creative despair I guess. 

But the best influences in my life are going to be those who are positive, motivating, and supportive. 

Those who talk about what I am capable of in such an inspiring way that it moves me to action. 

Negativity affects us all in a variety of ways. For me, it sets my blood boiling and welcomes in one thousand and forty seven OTHER negative thoughts that have nothing to do with the problem at hand. 

It makes me want to crawl into a hole and seek the boring serenity of my quiet little life ASAP! 

But then, like the sneaky little sh** that it is, it creeps up while I’m working and throws my train of thought entirely offtrack. 

From those who focus constantly on the negatives to those who criticize my health, my lifestyle, my constant working, down to those who openly degrade me and belittle me, negativity has to go. 

Ever heard the saying "Your vibe attracts your tribe?" 

It's true. 

Find the people who will lift you up and encourage you in your work, your life, your goals. 

Find the people who don't want to hear your excuses
Who don't want to give you theirs
Who want to see you succeed in life

Keep them around you. 

You need them more than you think. 

3. Angry thoughts...

I could harp on them all day long if I wanted to. I’m a dreamer. Sometimes I’m dreaming of winning that Oscar for the best Novel-become-Screenplay (or whatever it's called) or being on the set of a movie based on one of my novels. (Hey.. dreams are important -- why not dream big and have unrealistic goals? They might be more realistic than you think!) 

And then sometimes I’m thinking about all of the annoying, degrading, abusive, sabotaging experiences of life. 

I think of all the times I wish I would have stood up for myself when I was that feeble girl who didn’t know she had a voice. 

And I picture the things that Megan 2.0 would say in those moments, the way she would hold herself, the badass maneuver she would use to demonstrate that she did, in fact, mean it when she said “do not touch me.” 

Are these beneficial at all? Sometimes, honestly, yes they are, a little. While listening to Christina Aguilera’s Fighter on the elliptical machine, for instance, hyping myself up for a boxing session. 

While sitting here trying to write about a family battling survival during the Great Depression and some twelve year old boys playing sandlot baseball in a racially segregated neighborhood in 1938? No. Never. 

They bring me back to times that would be very healthy to be forgotten, and they remind me of experiences that are in the past for a reason, or, worst of all, they remind me of things undone, unsaid, that seem unfair and cold and wrong and betraying and at the end of the day cannot be undone or fixed. 

That’s when you have a problem. 

When you are obsessively returning to a real topic, rooted in a real memory that is dark and deeply painful, and reliving actual moments that you wish you could have had the courage to create. 

That is destructive in a number of ways, and I could fill the pages of a book with all of the reasons why…Perhaps someday I will. 

But, for now, this is a habit that needs to go. Like yesterday. Like all the moments from that old life are gone. Forever. Foreva-eva. Goodbye.

4. Social Media? 

Ehhhhhhhh, I didn’t even want to type that one. It’s such a guilty pleasure. It is so easy to get to the end of something productive (a chapter, a workout, cooking…) and just see what’s going on out there. 

And then it’s an hour later and you haven’t gotten to the end of the news feed yet and you’re four news stories deep and you’ve gotten annoyed 47 times with the comments you just had to read through, and you stalked someone down to their seventeenth cousin twice removed’s ex husband’s new girlfriend’s roommate’s father’s friend’s daughter who you now feel so invested in you might as well send a friend request, and…. 

Wait what was it I even took a break from? Ahhhh! 

It is probably the number one distraction for our generation because we hardly ever even notice how distracting it really is! And time consuming. And mentally draining. And borderline socially disgusting. 

I mean really... how many news articles about Kim and Kanye really need to be circulating on our news feed on any given day? Oh, they ate lunch today? You're kidding, right? Stop what you're doing, we need 583 comments on that story fa sho.  

Oh and hello successful, grown women hosting a morning show that focus exclusively on spreading the juiciest gossip of the day... You really need to be the topic of discussion for us grown-ass educated people don't you? 

And why the hell is it so easy to get sidetracked by this circus?! 

And why am I so annoyed by this when I JUST said I need to cut out negativity and criticism?! Ahh.... see?? It's an annoyingly vicious cycle! 

But let's be honest. 
I'm still gonna peruse social media and see what my friends are up to. 

And I'm still gonna stay up late every now and then, because when E! airs a marathon of The Royals, I mean, what else can I do? 

And I'm gonna fall into the cycle of negativity sometimes. 

But it still doesn't hurt to assess it and clean up those bad habits. 

They say life is too short to be unhappy but I kinda think at the end of the day, life is too long to stay unhappy! It costs nothing to be kind and positive. It can be done :) 

- Meg


Monday, April 13, 2015

Steph Says: Reading For Miles

You ever have one of those moments during a run where you think "If that song comes on one more time, I swear. SWEAR. I will strangle a squirrel"? No? Just me?
The BEST (sarcasm) is when it happens in the middle of a long run. I'm already pretty pissed off because I've already wogged 7 miles and still have like a bajillion to go, and then THAT SONG comes on and I rip out my earbuds and snarl in frustration while my feet just keep pounding the pavement- literally POUNDING like a herd of tired, irritated, achy elephants- and I'm just like I'M DONE. I HATE RUNNING. I hate waking up early on Saturdays. I hate the way these shoes feel on my arches. I hate the way my shirt tag is making my back itch. I hate this stupid street and the stupid crack on the sidewalk that I'm about to trip over and the stupid stupid stupid fact that I'm torturing myself just because I said I would train for XYZ race and I can't back down now!!!
The song is different every time. It's not one song in particular. It's just me, in the moment, getting violently angry because I am grumpy and hangry when I run.
But I digress.
My sister-in-law listens to audio books while she runs and when she first mentioned it, I thought she was plum crazy. There's no way I could listen to someone yap at me while I'm trying to dodge oncoming vehicles, tree branches, and small ankle-biting dogs (double the yap? No thank you).

And then Serial happened.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, we seriously can't be friends anymore. 
Serial happened, and I binge-casted like it was my JOB. Then one fateful morning, I dropped the kiddo off at school and I was supposed to go for a run, but I just wanted to stay in my car and finish that week's episode when it dawned on me...
I can stream this.
And listen to this on my phone.
While I run.
Birds, meet stone.
Life forever changed.

Then Serial ended (#freeadnan) and one Saturday morning in early February, I wiggled in my earbuds and before I even took three steps THAT. SONG. STARTED. PLAYING.
So I though to myself, "Oh forget this. I'm finding an audio book." I checked Spotify and surprisingly, there were a ton of classics! My little English-teacher-loving heart adores the classics, but Jane Eyre for 14 miles just wasn't going to help my violent tendencies, amirite? I saw Animal Farm on the list and remembered that it was one I always managed to dodge growing up, but it had always intrigued me. 14 miles later and I'm all (spoilerish alert) "Napoleon, oh NO you DIDN'T.” And I'm done with my long run, feelin' all kinds of educated and cultured.
Thus began my new obsession with listening to audio books while I run. My pace suffers a little when I'm not listening to my peppy music, but I'm a lot more relaxed and a lot less murderous. And no one would be cool with a tired, achy, irritated, AND murderous herd of elephants. Again...amirite?
My next audio book choice was The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins and Y'ALL. IT WAS AH-FREAKIN-MAZING. Very Gone Girlish, but I actually liked the characters. As in, felt empathy toward them.Something I was truly lacking by the end of Gone Girl. 

Of course I immediately told Meg to stop her life and start reading it. And she did. And now we refer to it in daily conversation, because that's what normal people do. 

What should I listen to next?