Motivation Mondays: How Do You Measure Success? & LuluLemon Picks!

I got a question on my formspring page today asking me whether or not I've lost weight or inches from working out.

I've definitely lost inches on my body---and gained muscle mass--- but I only know this because of how I look and how my clothes fit. I don't weigh myself or take measurements.

I'm not on a weight loss journey like some health and fitness bloggers are, so weigh-ins and measuring are not part of my life, nor do I want them to be.  When I watch shows like The Biggest Loser or Heavy, I completely understand the weigh-ins because they really have to track their progress to make sure that they are losing the amount of weight they should be and to ensure their eating and workouts are effective.

When I made the decision to work out regularly, I did it for my health of course and to improve the look of my body by toning it.  So, that's how I assess my progress nowadays---by what I see in the mirror and how I feel

In the past, I've weighed myself regularly and measured myself and I became obsessed with the numbers and that's not where I want to be

I want to feel good about how hard I work and in order to do that, I can't obsess about the numbers on the scale or how much my hips measure. I've been there, done that---and I never feel happy because I feel like I'm not getting results (even when I am.)  Now, all it takes is just looking at myself and pulling my skinny jeans on to know that the results are there.

I was shopping at LuluLemon with Candice this weekend (and OMG do they ever have amazing stuff out right now!) and I even proudly flexed in the mirror as I tried a tank on.  That's how I measure success these days

How do you measure your workout success?  To clarify, I'm not saying I never weigh myself---I do. Maybe once every 3 months or so.

Speaking of LuluLemon---hello gorgeous!  I'm absolutely loving all of the stuff they have in store right now and I'm tempted to pay a visit again next weekend and make a purchase or two.

Here are my top picks:


 

Wunder Under Crop- Organic


Speed Up Tank



I just love that minty green color they're featuring in a lot of their styles right now! It's so fresh and pretty! They also had these adorable pleated mini skirts (or skorts, I think).  If I played tennis more often I'd definitely have bought one!

In more health news, I finally switched to regular oatmeal for breakfast and I LOVE it!  In my last post where I mentioned it, a lot of my lovely readers encouraged me to switch because the flavored formulas had so much sugar in them.

This morning I tried the Quaker brand rolled oats for the first time and they were awesome.  I prepared them just with water, put it into the microwave and then I added some honey and cinnamon powder.  To top it all off, I also added fresh blueberries and strawberries. YUM!  The best part? It kept me full until lunchtime at 12:30 p.m.

Isn't it so pretty!?  I'm really glad I made the switch and thank you to all the ladies who pushed me in this direction!

I had my veggie soup for lunch, almonds as a snack, peanut butter with Kashi crackers as a snack, some chicken and pasta for dinner and a few bites of H's cinnamon bun for dessert (I had to restrain myself from eating the entire thing!)

Since my colonoscopy is next week, I want to start eating well now and continuing to eat well after "the great cleanse of 2011." I'm praying the cleanse will eliminate my sugar cravings.  I can hope, right?

Thanks for reading!

xoxo,

Veronika.

Sunday Soup: My First Attempt at Cooking Healthy!

Cooking and I, we have a mixed history.  I'm not one of those people that loves to grocery shop for ingredients and then cook something awesome. I don't enjoy any part of it really.  However,  in my quest to eat healthier and incorporate more veggies into my life, realized I'd have to cook in order to accomplish that goal.

I hate following recipes. I kind of google what I want to make and then loosely follow the recipe and add or take away whatever I like. I know that's probably a silly approach, especially for someone who can't really cook well...but it makes cooking a little more tolerable for me.

I enjoy baking (hello cupcakes!) but I can't seem to wrap my heart around cooking.  It takes a lot of effort and like I said above, I hate following recipes and having to buy every.single.ingredient. that needs to go into the recipe.  I use recipes more like a guide instead of a set of distinct instructions.

While grocery shopping today, I decided I wanted to make a healthy, veggie-packed soup.  I googled a soup recipe on my iPhone as I shopped and picked up some of the ingredients that appealed to me and added some of my own favorite veggies.

I'm quite pleased with how my soup turned out! 

Ingredients I used:
  • Onion
  • Garlic Powder
  • Black Pepper
  • Carrots
  • Tomato
  • Sweet Green Peas
  • Zucchini
  • Light Red Kidney Beans
  • Great White Northern Beans
  • White Potatoes
  • Organic Chicken Stock
  • Parsley
My H loved the soup too---though he did add more salt and spice to his. I'm okay with a lighter tasting soup but he likes his a little spicier.

Though it takes awhile to peel and chop everything, I'm really glad I took the time to do it because now I'm more confident about exploring more and trying different recipes (or recipe guides, as I like to use them.)

Are you a cooking novice like me? How did you finally get yourself excited about cooking? Let me know because I could use more motivation!

xoxo,

Veronika.


PS- I have a giveaway coming up this week!  Look out for that :)

OOTD: No Casual Friday For Me

I thought I had a meeting today at work so I erred on the side of caution and abandoned casual Friday.

Here's what I wore:
Top- Costa Blanca
Skirt- BCBG MaxAzria
Tights- Target
Shoes- Jessica Simpson
Necklace- NYLightMetals
Bag- Tory Burch Reva Clutch


Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

xoxo,

Veronika.

All-Time Favorite Nail Polishes (Requested)

It's taken me awhile to get this post together but I've finally done it!  Thanks to everyone who requested this one---I know it's been a long time comin'!

My H went out with his friend tonight so I decided to break out my camera and take pictures of....drum roll..........

My absolute favorite nail polishes!  I divided them into color categories so that it's a little easier to follow.

Let's start with soft pinks and whites:

From L-R:  Minimalistic; Fiji, Bubble Bath; Otherwise Engaged; Alpine Snow & Funny Bunny. One color note pictured is OPI's "Sweet Heart." Looks like I need a new bottle! It's one of my absolutely faves---I even wore it on my wedding day.

Next up, my top picks for dark shades:

From L-R:  Lincoln Park After Dark; Sapphire in the Snow; We'll Always Have Paris; Midnight in Moscow & Wicked.

Hot pink shades are hard to come by, but these take the cake!:

Pink Parka & I'm India Mood For Love
As for non-traditional shades, these top my list:

From L-R: Lucky Luck Lavender; Splash of Grenadine; Lilacism; Mint Candy Apple

.......and finally, if you're in the mood for a little sparkle:

Only Gold for Me

Wondering how I store it all?  This Target container does the job:


What are your favorite shades? Comment below and let me know!

xoxo,

Veronika.

OOTD: A Standout Piece

Do you ever buy something that you think is really cute and then end up wearing it so much that you realize it was one of your best buys of the season?

That's how I feel about this H&M sweater coat. I can only think that my grandma's sweet spirit was shining down on me when I discovered this sweater coat while shopping in Bratislava after her passing. 

I've worn this sweater/coat more often than I ever thought I would. It's warm and so cozy and it's the absolute perfect length for my long limbs.
Sweater Coat- H&M
Belt- J. Crew
Dress Underneath---you can see it in THIS post
Tights- Target
Boots- Jessica Simpson
Bag- Tory Burch Reva Clutch---
love this bag! I just started using it this week. It's really small but I pared down what I carry and honestly, I don't need to carry a ton with me day-to-day. 
Remember my teeny Kate Spade bag? This one's quite a bit larger but it's slim, so you can't over-stuff it.


Do you have a standout item you bought this season?  Let me know what your winter season "best item" has been this year in the comments below!

xoxo,

Veronika.

PS- I know many of you are dealing with the snow and freezingness---so, who's ready for SPRING!?  Me!

PPS-  Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who left such sweet comments and great advice in the post about my upcoming colonoscopy! I will let you all know how it goes. It's in a couple of weeks.

I'm Having a Colonoscopy

The title says it all, folks.  I finally went to see a gastroentronologist after dealing with IBS (and its many, many symptoms) since I've been a teenager.  I've seen many doctors and done many tests over the years but I'm still having issues and I'd just like to get my digestive system back to normal (if that's possible for me).


In the past, I was never willing to change my diet to help my symptoms, but now, I'm just so tired of dealing with this that I'm willing to do anything to improve my quality of life. 
If you have IBS or know someone who does, you know what I'm talking about
. The discomfort, pain and unexpected symptoms that seem to come out of nowhere. Not knowing when the symptoms will come is the worst part.  They can happen at inopportune times and it's embarrassing and so uncomfortable. I'm ready to say goodbye to IBS.

My doctor recommend a colonoscopy to rule out anything more serious like Crohn's disease or Celiac disease (which is unlikely). If it's not something more serious, I'll probably go on some antibiotics that destroy all of your "bad" intestinal bacteria and replace it with "good" bacteria.

I think most people would be kind of scared of this procedure, but I'm actually really happy about it.  I feel like this is an opportunity for a "fresh start" with my digestive system and it will also make me worry less about my stomach issues to have peace of mind about them.

Have any of my lovely readers had this procedure done before? If you have, let me know in the comments below!  I've been told that the night before the procedure where you have to drink all of that "cleanse" stuff is the worst part.

Before I go, a really simple outfit (from Monday):

Sweater- American Eagle
Shirt- Forever21
Skirt- Banana Republic Heritage Collection
Tights- HUE
Shoes- Jessica Simpson
Necklace- Forever21

xoxo,

Veronika.

Motivation Mondays: Jamie's Back to Talk Swimming!

Do what you love!

Since my last motivation Monday post a lot has changed. I'm going to be completely honest with you. I used to be the kind of person that would work out once a week  if at all in the winter, and then when April rolled around I would grudgingly up my workouts to 3 a week and hate working out. I am in school as well and I would always use the excuse that I had too much school work, or that I should be studying instead.

In April I made a pretty drastic decision. In order to force myself to workout I took my car off insurance and decided to ride my bike to work. No excuses. I rode the 5k each way 3 or 4 times a week (I work part time) for 6 months. Luckily for me the ride to work is mostly downhill, so I arrived at work early enough to change clothes and cool down to avoid being a sweaty mess. On the way home it's mostly uphill and I worked hard to make it a good workout. This only took me about 20 minutes, so there wasn't a lot to complain about.


It grew on me, and I started to cycle on my days off; riding up to the waterfront trails and exploring the back roads in my town 20k at a time. Once I even made a 3 and a half hour trek up to my parents house. I got lost and and really bad tan lines but I was so proud of myself.


As the end of October neared I wondered what I would do for exercise in the winter. I'm not one of those extremely dedicated athletes that rides or runs outside in the winter. I don't do well with cold. I really didn't want to fall back into my lazy winter routine.


I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me sooner.  I took swimming lessons my entire life from tadpole to NLS life guarding courses. I was on the swim team when I was 6-8 years old, again in the ninth grade before the strike cost us school sports and again in OAC when we got our sports back. Needless to say I love swimming. I love being in the water. The pool is my happy place; when I walk in to the rec center and smell that chlorine, hear the loud echo-y drone and water lapping against the side of the pool I am in heaven... and I haven't even gotten into the water yet!


I guess somewhere in my head, I had strangely associated exercise with something that I had to do rather than something that I wanted to do. In the beginning of November I bought a year pass to the pool and started going four times a week. I love it and I look forward to it and so I have been able to keep up my routine no problem. 


Swimming is a great workout, it combines cardio and strength training, and it's easy on the joints. It's a low impact workout that is great for people who are just starting to exercise, or getting back into exercise and it can be customized to your needs and exercise goals.



Right now my swim schedule looks like this:


Monday
  • 10 lap warm up alternating front crawl and breast stroke 
  • Legs: 10 x 25m flutter kick with flutterboard 
  • 10 x 25m breast stroke kick with flutterboard
  • 10 x 25m flutter kick on my back
  • 10 x 25m breast stroke kick on my back 
  • in water stretching using the ledge of the pool like a ballet barre to stretch various  muscles in my legs (it's about waist height)
  • 10 lap cool down alternating front crawl and breast stroke
 Total: 60 laps

Tuesday
 
  • 10 lap warm up alternating front crawl and breast stroke 
  • Sprints: 20 x 25m sprints front crawl
  • in water stretching using the ledge of the pool like a ballet barre to stretch various muscles in my legs 
  • 10 lap cool down alternating back stroke and breast stroke
  • tricep dips and ledge pushups in the deep end using just my arms to raise myself out of the pool and lower back in slowly
Total: 40 laps

Wednesday
 
  • Pilates and strength straining: legs and core

Thursday
  • 10 lap warm up alternating front crawl and breast stroke
  •  Sprints: 20 x 25m sprints front crawl
  • in water stretching using the ledge of the pool like a ballet barre to stretch various muscles in my legs 
  • 5 x 50m sprints front crawl (I am working on switching to these so that I can do 10 x 50m sprints on Thursdays
  • Legs: 10 x 25m flutter kick with flutterboard
  • 10 x 25m breast stroke kick with flutterboard
  • 10 x 25m flutter kick on my back
  • 10 x 25m breast stroke kick on my back
  • 10 lap cool down alternating front crawl and breast stroke
Total: 90 laps

Friday
  • 10 lap warm up alternating front crawl and breast stroke
  •  Sprint Sets: 20 x 50m sets alternating front crawl sprints and moderate breast stroke to return (25m front crawl/25m breast stroke)
  • in water stretching using the ledge of the pool like a ballet barre to stretch various muscles in my legs 
  • 10 lap cool down back stroke
Total: 40 laps

Saturday
  • Pilates and strength training: legs and core

Sunday
  • Day off :)

The biggest difference that I have noticed so far is in my arms, they are really toned and the muscles are well defined, the rest of my body has tightened up quite a bit and is starting to look a lot more firm and toned as well. Overall I have lost about half an inch in my midsection and am down to my "summer size".

Another thing that I have noticed is that a few weeks after I started swimming regularly, my skin completely cleared up. I think it is partly because I am less stressed and partly because the regular exercise is getting all of the toxins out of my body. Plus I think the chlorine just kills any bacteria on my skin :)

I have found that swimming helps to relax me; I am a lot happier and less stressed. It's an hour that I can just enjoy the refreshing feeling of the water on my skin and kind of shut the rest of the world out and not have to worry about anything else.


In May I plan to give up my car again and cycle to and from the pool (4k each way) as well as cycling to work, on top of my 4 a week swim workouts and I also plan to run a 5k once a week; most likely on Sundays so that I can be active every day. The thing about exercise is that the more you do it... the more addictive it becomes.



More true words could not be said!  Thanks so much Jamie for motivating us this Monday!  Jamie and I were actually on the swim team together in high school and boy do we have some fun memories from those times! :)

If you have any questions or comments for Jamie, please post them below.  And remember, DO WHAT YOU LOVE!
xoxo,

Veronika.

Shop My Closet: Blog Sale

I hope everyone had a love weekend! Today my husband, my best friend and I went to church together and then went and had brunch at Backstreet Cafe. Yum! 

I spent the entire weekend cleaning my house. Like deep cleaning everything.  It was nice to have today off to relax. I also had time today to finally take photos for my blog sale!
Remember, prices are negotiable.  Rules are the same as the last blog sale but I'll re-post them for those who haven't seen them:

1. If you'd like to reserve an item(s), EMAIL me at veronabrit at gmail dot com with the item number(s) you would like to reserve.  For Candice's items, please email her at candicebersani at gmail dot com.

2. Please copy & paste the item # and description as the subject of your email 

3. I will sell on a first come, first-served basis. I will notify you via email whether or not you were the first to reserve the item.

4. I will accept payment only through PayPal. My PayPal email is the same as the one above (veronabrit at gmail dot com)

5. I am shipping to the US & Canada only--- in my last blog sale, most shipping was between $2.50 and $5 depending on how many items were shipped and weight.  I bill you for shipping when I send them item and I send you a scanned copy of the receipt so I don't over or undercharge for shipping.

Candice's Blog Sale Items: Remember, email candicebersani at gmail dot com for these

Authentic black patent leather COACH purse.

Asking price: $100 (paid about $350)


Authentic COACH bag

Asking Price: $100 (paid about $300)

Authentic Micheal Kors Clutch
Asking price: $75

Veronika's Blog Sale: email veronabrit at gmail dot com for these items!

1.  Ann Taylor Floral Detail Tee (SOLD)

Size: MP Worn a few times
Selling for: $9
2.  Charlotte Russe Bow Tank (SOLD)
Size: L (it's super-long, perfect over skinny jeans)
Worn once or twice
Selling for: $7


2.  Zara Women's Blazer
Size: S
Worn once
Selling for: $25 (paid $60)

4.  Forever 21 Stripped Nautical Tank (SOLD)
Size: M
Worn a couple of times
Selling for: $5

 
5.  Charlotte Ronson for JC Penny Dress (SOLD)

Size:M
Worn about 5-6 times, include black liner to wear under dress
Selling for: $13
 
6. Papaya One Shoulder Stripped Top (SOLD)

Size: It doesn't have a size on it, but you can probably tell the fit by how it fits me!
Selling for: $7

7.  Black workout top from PH8 (bebe's workout wear line)
Size: M- I'm selling it because it's too short on my long torso, has a little zipper at the front, never worn
Selling for: $10

8.  Gray and Pink Workout Tank from PH8 (SOLD)Size: L- once again, selling because it's too short on me, worn once
Selling for: $12

9.  Forever 21 Bright Green Dress
Size: S, never worn
Selling for: $20

10. ALDO Nude Sandals (SOLD)
Have been worn once- they are too small for me even though they are my size. These might be ideal for someone who wears a 9 or 9.5. They have a pretty pretty sort of mirrored heel. I love them and wish I could keep them but they are just too small :(
Paid: $110
Size: 10
Selling for: $12


Thanks so much for looking!  I originally had several more items that I was going to put on sale, but then I realized when I took photos of those items that I actually really liked them and just forgot I had them in my closet

So word to the wise--- I completely recommend every once in awhile really taking a long look through your closet and trying some things on and taking photos of yourself in those things. You might be surprised to find something you forgot you had or thought you'd never wear again that makes you very happy!


Also---before I go, though you can see it in some of the photos above, here are some additional close-ups of my new hair color:



We decided to do the roots and also added in some blonde highlights underneath so that it would have a little more dimension when I curled it.  Me likey.

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! 

xoxo,

Veronika.
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