Taking Stock

11.18.2016

Faux leather jacket; Target jeans and sweatshirt (my fave for lounging!); similar Nike sneakers (buying next); J Crew sunglasses.

What's new and happening around here, lately!

Drinking: tons of water (a struggle, but trying!), lifechanging cups of coffee (with yummy flavored creamer); and recently drinking white wine versus red (which has been giving me a headache!) Also, iced coffee with two scoops of chocolate protein powder (tastes like a mocha latte!)
Eating: Butternut squash (roasted and filled with ground turkey and enchilada sauce and topped with melted cheese. YUM)
Buying: Lots of Christmas gifts! Pokemon cards for the kids (mine are OBSESSED), plus Christmas pajamas and cozy socks for the night before (a tradition.) And a new personalized Stella and Dot necklace for me (with the coordinates of where my husband and I met in it.)
Watching: I honestly do not watch that much tv, but my husband and I do watch Total Bella's on E!;) Don't laugh.
Reading: I'm a romance reader through and through! I'm looking forward to the new Ginger Scott novel coming out today, and I loved this novel by Penelope Douglas. I also really recommend "You are a Badass," it is lifechanging. 
Lusting over: These Frye boots.
Listening to: The kids and I eat breakfast together before school (or I drink coffee, they eat), and we listen to Cool Jazz on Pandora. It is so relaxing. 
Working out in: Victoria Secret has THE BEST workout pants (seriously), and you can buy sports bras (love this one) by bra size. #gamechanger
Dreaming about: Our Disney vacation in a couple of weeks! I'm going to be smart this time and wear sneakers and workout clothes and be comfortable. Novel idea, huh?
Planning for: Christmas and all it entails! The stress! I'm making headway, but getting there involves so many lists and so much planning...
Wearing constantly: My Sam Edelman ankle boots without socks, while I can. Snow is coming...
Waiting for: Word for where we will move next summer. (My husband is in the Coast Guard and we transfer every four years.) We should find out at the end of January. I am DYING to know!


The eating plan I follow to go along with my BBG workouts

11.17.2016

VS Sport top, sports bra, and workout tights (obsessed, the best ones I've tried yet!)

I promised you after posting my first round BBG results last week that I would also disclose my eating plan and how I've tweaked my daily habits to support my new workout routine! I'm excited. 

A little back story: last Spring I kept reading about counting your macros and the IIFYM eating plan and I was intrigued. I've always been pretty decent about what I am eating, but I tended to make choices that weren't giving me energy (lower calorie meals and snacks with little protein), or I would just stop tracking all together and ignore portion sizes. The result was not a huge weight gain or anything, but my body was not where I wanted it to be with regards to how hard I was keeping track of my eating via Fitness Pal, and my workouts were not giving me results. Cue counting my macros.

 I googled how to get the macros I needed (basically you keep track of your protein, carbs, and fat intake), and came up with the numbers I thought I needed to start. Obviously everyone's numbers are different, but I just plugged my goals into an online tracker and it told me what to do. I then upgraded my FitnessPal app on my phone so it would keep track of my macros and I could begin. My biggest goal was to up my protein so I could build muscle. MY personal protein goal right now is 129 grams a day (this is highly changeable from person to person, your goal would be different!) This is hard! I tried to go even higher, bun honestly? Protein fills you up so much and I just could not do it. 

Below are some tips and a sample meal plan that work for me!

-The first thing you need to do is buy a food scale that does grams and ounces. I bought mine at the grocery store for under $10 and I love it. You will need to weigh almost everything you eat, and there is a learning curve to hitting your macros daily. On the first day I did it I was so off from where I should have been it was CRAZY!  Now I have a better idea of what I need to eat and how much so I can hit my goals. Measuring everything can sound daunting, but it seriously takes 2 seconds and it helps you keep track of how much you are eating. I even measure my ounces of wine in a glass before drinking (because mama can pour herself a big 'ol glass of that;)

-Once you have your macros you need to find the combination of foods you need to hit these goals. I looked around for high protein foods and filled in the rest. I eat a lot of plain Greek yogurt (mixed with chocolate protein powder and Pb2), protein shakes (with almond milk and protein powder), ground turkey, chicken, and fish. In the summer I ate tuna mixed with avocado almost daily for lunch with salad, now I tend to eat ground turkey with marinara sauce and veggies that I typically roast the night before. Carbs tend to add up fast, I indulge in flavored coffee creamer in my morning coffee (measured out to the TB so I don't overdo it!), a small bit of chocolate chips after dinner, or a glass of wine. Quinoa works as a protein and carb, and if my family is eating pasta I measure out a 1/2 cup to eat with them. It all comes down to measuring, portion sizes, and logging it into My Fitness Pal. I find a lot of recipes off of Skinnytaste.com, and I modify what I eat when I cook for my family (I'll hold off on the roasted potatoes, and load up on veggies instead.)

-When it comes to indulging and avoiding temptation, I really try to say no to a lot of what is offered. If you think about it, "special occasions" pop up all the time. Dinners out with friends, the cookies in the work lunch room, treats at the movie theater, coffee with friends, etc. If I said yes to all that is offered with the thought that it was a special occasion, I would feel yucky. Here's the deal: I say no more than I want to. I say no to the treats at work, no to the bread on the table at a restaurant, no to the movie theater popcorn (I grab a handful from my husband, or bring my own), no to excessive appetizers and desserts, no to A LOT. I do indulge sometimes, but mostly I really just save my treats for the REALLY special occasions (like that piece of pie on Thanksgiving!) I order protein heavy meals and eat only half the rice or carbs they add with it, or eat a small bite of an appetizer or dessert. It is personally easier for me to say to to something than to have a tiny bit, so no it is. I DO give myself one meal a week that I can have fun with and not track, but even then I tend to not go TOO crazy. We went to Buffalo Wild Wings last weekend and I ordered a snack size boneless wings basket and my stomach kind of hurt the whole night after. I think once you start eating well and seeing results, the temptations aren't as rewarding. I don't think it is okay to stop your life and not go out to eat or out with friends, it is just about making different choices and being accountable. You also find that by tracking your macros, that Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks isn't worth blowing your carbs and sugar over...cue sobbing face emoji. 

-On what I eat during a typical day: I am a very routine person. I am very okay eating the same things over and over, and that helps not only in hitting my macro goals, but all my foods are saved in my phone and I can quick add them. It is pretty simple.

Breakfast: I am not a big breakfast person, I usually have to force myself to eat something. I love two cups of coffee with 2 TB of creamer in each cup, that is a huge happiness factor for me! I am bad and buy the garbage flavored creamers, but after two years of not, I find it is worth it. If I have little treats I feel better. My coffee is my treat;) I do try to have either one cup of Greek yogurt with protein powder and Pb2 mixed in, or a protein shake, with chocolate protein powder, Pb2, and unsweeted almond milk. 

Lunch: I will either have ground turkey with 1/2 a cup of marinara sauce, or smoked turkey lunch meat with a slice or two of low fat cheese and Kashi crackers, or whatever protein I have on hand with vegetables. 

Snack: I am not a huge snacker, I like more food at meals and fill up with protein, so I am tyically not hungry for snacks. If I have something it is often a cheese stick, or I make an ice coffee and drop a scoop of chocolate protein powder in it. 

Dinner: This meal varies, as I cook for my husband and kids. I modify some things, like when I make Turkey Taco Spaghetti Squash Boats I buy taco shells for them, or if I make Turkey Meatball Strogananoff I measure out 1/2 cup of pasta and the 5 meatballs in the suggested serving size, and give them extra. The biggest thing is, I need a protein source and I need to watch my portion sizes. I am rarely hungry when I hit all my macros. Roasted chicken and vegetables is a standard meal around here, as is this Turkey Chili

Dessert: I DO like something sweet at night, if I have leftover calories or macros! I enjoy a glass of wine, or a small handful of chocolate chips and a chai latte made on my Keurig. I typically don't indulge more than that, though, and limit my alcohol to just a few days a week (mostly;)


-On to weight and my personal goals! Here's the thing, when I took the picture above on the left (taken in June) I was not that far off weight wise from the picture on the right. I'm not completely sure what I did weigh, but it was around 5 lbs more. I kept my macros at the same level until I started round one of Kayla Itsines BBG in August, then I actually upped my calories and protein quota and that is when I saw my body change the most. I credit the workouts for how I have leaned out more, but I think increasing my protein and increasing my muscle mass has helped, too. My body is slowly changing week by week and I am now really addicted to seeing what I can accomplish and how I can improve. 

*Note! My current goal is not about weight loss. I weigh myself very rarely (about once a month if I think of it), and I may stop that as well. I want to add muscle, be stronger, and feel good inside. And I do! I feel better now, in my skin, than I ever have, and I credit the BBG program and watching my macros. My goal is not a number on the scale, a pants size, or to just look "skinny". My goal is strength and being the best I can be. 

Another thought on this picture collage above! I am really scared to post it, as I actually took them both privately and never intended to share (the one on the left is in a dressing room....I texted my husband to ask him if it was too much for a day at the beach with the kids...he said it was, ha.) The one on the right I took last weekend, we were about to hop into the hot tub and I put this suit on and I took the pic, because I knew I had taken one before and I wanted to see the difference. I was actually pretty surprised my how different the suit fit and looked. I think progress photos are really important, because they help you see what is often hard to notice in ourselves. I never felt bad in that before pic, I felt good! I still think I look good in both, but internally better in the "after" version, and I look forward to adding muscle definition and adding strength.

VS Sport top, Nike sneakers. Lusting after THESE sneakers next!

That's it! Sorry this was so long, but I know a few of you have been asking for this post and I wanted to include as much as I could;) If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below, or email me. I love talking about fitness and health (it's a side passion of mine), and if I can help you I will.

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Kayla Itsines' BBG weeks 1-12 results!

11.05.2016


I just officially finished week 12 of Kayla Itsines Beachbody Guide and I am so excited to talk a little bit about it here. I took all the requisite photos to show the results, but I also wanted to chat a bit about the internal shift that has occurred while working this program. 

*just a little program overview. There are 3 days of targeted circuits (abs, legs, arms), where you  repeat 2 circuits as many times as you can for 7 minutes straight. The whole workout is 28 minutes long and kicks your butt. Seriously. Then there are recommend cardio days (2-3), where you either do steady cardio or HIIT workouts. I group those onto my circuit days, as I don't do the gym more than 3 days, but it is recommended you don't. I will say, there are some days I only do the circuits and they are a killer, so you CAN get away with just those! 

First off, I purchased this program because I was getting bored at the gym and wasn't really seeing any results despite working out consistently. I had heard a lot of people loved this program, so late this summer I decided to buy it. I started in mid August and began to see results pretty quickly. (Yay!) I didn't start out needing to lose any weight, but I wanted to tone up and gain some muscle definition. I also wanted to get away from worrying about the scale and the numbers that tend to go up and down on occasion. 

I weigh myself every four weeks as Kayla advises (the same day I take the progress photos) and that is it. I love how freeing that is! I DID end up losing about 2 pounds, but I don't really care about that, to tell you the truth. I love that because I feel strong and have a purpose at the gym, the number on the scale means nothing to me. I have weighted less and I have weighed more, but I have never felt this good in my skin. That has been my biggest takeaway from this program. 

Week 1, 4, 8 and 12 from left to right.
Week 1 and 12.
It's funny, when you look at my progress photos there isn't a HUGE difference from weeks 1-12, but I feel so much better in my skin as I've worked my way through these 12 weeks. (The ab photo below does show a more dramatic muscle definition difference. It was taken at the same time, just better lighting!) I saw the biggest difference in my stomach (I did no ab work before this), and my legs and arms have more muscle definition. I do a ton of pushups and burpees, so my back has finally gotten some definition as well! I'm going to try to do better photos for my 2nd round of this program to help capture the increased muscle definition a little better. Mirror selfies just don't show what I want to show, you know? Ha.

Week 1,4,8 and 12 from left to right.

This side view is a little bit more dramatic, my stomach is obviously flatter (I am sucking it in in that first photo, too!), and I can tell by the way my bathing suit bottoms fit that my legs and butt are getting better. I feel like my legs are a lot stronger and I am hoping in weeks 13-24 that I see further improvement here (I've always hated my butt, ha.) All in all, I AM pleased with the changes I see and feel and it makes me so excited to start week 13 next week. 


I have been loving the increased muscles I've been building and how strong I feel! I truly enjoy pushing myself and doing better each workout I do. I try my best to push it each time and to keep going even when I feel like I'm going to die. Lol. 

If I'm not working I can go to the gym my regular days (typically M/W/F), and can do an hour or so of the circuits and cardio with some stretching at the end. If I am working (I sub at my kids' school!), I wake up and go to the Y at 6 am and just do the circuits and stretching. I have tried going after work, but I do best when I workout right away, and despite the fact that getting up at 5:30 HURTS, I'd rather get my workout done early rather than later. 

My favorite low impact cardio is walking on the treadmill at an incline (about 10-14%) for 15 minutes, and my favorite HIIT workout is running intervals for 15 minutes (run at a 7.5-8 mph pace for 1 minute, hop on the side for 30 seconds of rest, and repeat.) I am hoping to add one more cardio day to my routine for the next 12 weeks, just to see what the results can be. 

Week 1 and 12 ab progress. (The week 12 photo above shows my muscle definition so much better than the frontal collage above... lighting DOES makes a difference;)

I think I have seen the most progress in my abs. I didn't really do any ab work before this, and while I was pretty happy with my stomach before, I am really excited to see some definition here. There is something really empowering about feeling like you can have two kids and then get yourself back together after and be better than ever. I was thin before I got pregnant, but my stomach looks way better than it ever did before children, and I love how awesome that feels. 


The whole point of this for me has been to do my personal best and see what my body can do. I want my kids to see their mama working hard to be as healthy as she can be, and that I care about myself enough to better myself. If I am happy, they are happy! Again, while I have really liked seeing physical results from these past 12 weeks, I feel like I have felt a more drastic inner change. I feel more confident and in charge of my body and what it can do. I feel really good in my own skin, for the first time in a long time, and I love that. 

I'm thinking of doing a post about how I eat for my next fitness installment! (I follow the IIFYM guidelines.) Thoughts?!



Life Lately

10.18.2016

Lularoe kimono (buy here); Free People tee; Sam Edelman boots; Old Navy jeans; necklace via Rocksbox (similar Baublebar style.)

-I'm currently on week 10 of Kayla Itsine's Beachbody guide and I am still loving it! I am going to do a full before/after post when I finish Week 12, but I have been so pleased. It's nice to see some definition in this stomach of mine (I did a quick photo update on Insta last week!) 

-I also plan on posting about my current eating situation, which include counting my macros. I've been watching my macros (IIFYM diet guidelines) since late Spring and it is pretty great. Once you get over the initial keeping track of your protein, carbs and fat (and the learning curve associated with that), it's actually really easy to follow.

-Besides running my shampoo business, I work as a substitute teacher at my kids' school. This means I can work 0 days, 2 days, or a bunch in a row depending on need. On the days I work 5 days it has been a bit of a struggle to balance my kids, their school and activities, with working out and getting stuff done at home. I've been really good at working out on alternative days, or going to the gym while my husband brings the kids to soccer, and finding stolen moments to get other things done. It is hard, though! I am not the best mom (in my opinion) when I work full time, but I try my best to keep organized and fit in all the things I need to. The bonus in all this? I choose what days I work, so a crazy week one week can translate into an easier one next. 

-I recently made these Butternut Squash and Black bean Enchilada's for dinner and they were so good! 

-I am currently not shopping this month and it has been a struggle,  but I feel like I buy a lot of things on impulse that, on second or third thought, I didn't really care about. I've stopped myself from buying about 10 things so far and I don't regret a single one.

-I've been slacking off on blogging regularly around here, but I'm still hanging in there! I am a much more regular poster on Facebook (for real time outfits and shopping tips on the regular) and Instagram, if you care to follow along there as well;) I DO plan on continuing to post here, as I have a bunch of essay type posts rolling around in my brain, so thank you so much for sticking around and checking back in.

-I basically gave up on Snapchat. I can only put my creative energy into two social media spots right now, and Facebook and Instagram win. I just can't tape my life 24/7 and still be a present person with my family, so there's that! I DO enjoy watching everyone else live their lives, though. Ha! I will say, I am more attached to Instagram stories, I think it is just easier to check in there as I scroll through? 

That's it for me lately! What's new with YOU?





How to find your style in 3 easy steps

10.03.2016

Free People sweater (currently 25% off!) and lace tunic (also 25% off!); Old Navy built in sculpt jeans; Sam Edelman booties; Rebecca Minkoff bag.


Free People open back sweater (similar colors, under $30) and lace tunic (25% off!); Old Navy jeans; Matisse fringe booties; Rebecca Minkoff bag; necklace from Rocksbox (use code MEAGANBFF57 for a free month of Rocksbox. Hint: I'm obsessed!)


I've been learning a lot lately about my own personal style and what I want to be wearing on a dialy basis. I've been cleaning out my closet and seeing what is left (and what I really wear), and it has been eye opening. It turns out, I am a pretty basic gal. I like simple silhouettes and all neutral looks. I also really like a formula. I'm 36 and I'm figuring it all out again, which is actually really fun. My style has been changing, it is simpler and less flashy, and I'm happier than I've ever been with what I have and how I'm portraying myself. I wanted to write a bit about how I've figured my style out lately, and hope it helps anyone that has struggled (like me) to find who and what they are and how to get dressed in the easiest way possible. Let's do this!


1) Look to your Pinterest boards.

Back in the day I would cut out pictures from magazines and make a collage of outfits and pieces I liked each season. Now I do this exclusively on Pinterest (you can follow me here to see what I love!) Here's the deal: If you pin a lot (like me), you will start to see patterns. I noticed that I pin a lot of slouchy cardigans, ripped jeans, and ankle boots. I tend to like neutral outfits and very minimal looks. My preferences change by season, obviously, but the minute I looked through my boards and analyzed WHAT I was pinning, I saw the same themes. What are some patterns you see in the outfits you pin? Is there a common theme? 

2) Don't be afraid to wear what you like over and over again.

As a style blogger there can be a lot of pressure to wear the newest and latest all the time. You find yourself purchasing things just because it is popular, or wearing things you may not really love because you need to post different looks on a daily basis. Since I took a small step back from blogging this summer and really just wore what I felt like without the pressure of having to photograph it, I found that I really like a very basic look. The two outfits above are ME. I wore them out to dinner with my family on two separate weekends, and they make me feel very comfortable. I like sweaters in black, grey, white, and pink. I like dark colored skinny jeans. I like neutral ankle boots. And I like pretty accessories. That's my formula. When I've been shopping lately, either online or in stores, I keep this in mind. The pieces I wear all the time are all neutral and can be mixed and matched. While my head may be turned by a bright blue body con dress or burgundy heels, I know that I just won't reach for these things. What are the pieces in your closet that you love? Why do you love them? 

I find that I really enjoy slouchy/oversized sweaters in basic colors. I invest in these and they are my go to tops that look great with skinny jeans. It's my thing, so I go with it. Am I making news with super trendy/blog worthy looks? No. But I'm building a closet that works in my real, everyday life. 

3) Invest in quality pieces that ground your look. 

I've struggled on and off with wanting multiple things for cheap (that I wear a couple of times and give away), or investing in items that I can get less of, but wear more. It's hard! I'm a shopper. I truly enjoy wandering in stores and seeing what is new. I love getting things for cheap and having 10 new things for little money. Yet this rarely works out for me. While there are many things I buy for cheap and never regret (Target boots and sandals, Old Navy skinny jeans, most of my jewelry), most of the items I truly cherish and wear to death are items I invested in. Case in point, my Sam Edelman ankle boots. While you can find these at any price point nowadays, these particular boots are so worth the splurge. They work with everything (especially the tan ones), and they are so seriously flattering. I've had both my black and tan pair for 2-3 years and they show little wear and tear. 

Another thing I love to invest in is a good handbag. It just elevates any look. I tend to get these as a gift for my birthday or Christmas, and I love being able to search for the perfect one to fit into my life. I suggest going simple with a black or tan one before branching out to other colors. You will never regret it. 

Lastly, this time of year I love investing in pretty sweaters from Free People. I search deals at Nordstrom and Macy's online daily, and the second pieces go on sale I stock up. I love how these sweaters fit me, I have yet to find a cheaper place that gives me the exact same look for less. Quality, fit and proportion is really important when it comes to finding THE PERFECT piece to invest in, and Free People always works for me. I get the exact look I'm looking for, and I can wear and re-wear it for seasons to come. While the term investment piece changes (my version of investing is a lot different than it was when I was 25), it really just means buying the best possible version of something you love, so you cna wear it for years to come. 

Tell me, how have you defined your personal style? Do you have any tips or tricks that have worked for you?