LIFE | Fall Fun

Monday, October 26, 2015

Fall is here! We may not get the pretty colors and sweater weather, but this is definitely one of the best seasons in Florida. The temperatures start to cool down a few degrees and if you are up early enough (or out late enough) you get to feel the crisp cool air that makes us want to make bon fires and put on our boots. The best part is we finally get to enjoy the outdoors without melting the second we walk out the door. We can beach it up and go to the fall festival all in the same day if we want!

This past weekend, I got to take my son out to the local Pumpkin Festival. It was so much fun! We didn't get to stay too long and I wish we had a little more time to explore everything they had to offer, but we definitely enjoyed our time there.  The Pumpkin Festival is held a place called Hunsader Farms and it is THE festival to go to every year. They have all kinds of little booths were local vendors sell their items, a TON of food, a bunch of activities to keep the kids entertained, and of course, lots of pumpkins!

It also means that Halloween is around the corner, so we have been busy getting costumes ready for the festivities around town and at school.

It took a while for Logan to pick out a costume. First, he wanted to be an Angry Bird, then he wanted to be Hot Guy (Hawk Eye... He kept misunderstanding me), then he decided he wanted to be a Jedi Hot Guy Two-Eyes (good use of imagination kid) and finally settled on a Jedi. All the toddler costumes looked kind of underwhelming and the sizes usually didn't fit him. Target had a cool looking boys Jedi Knight costume, but of course when I received it, it was WAY too big. He was swimming in it! Sewing momma to the rescue!

Here are the before and afters! And surprisingly no one got stuck with a pin. I call that a win.

And for school, the theme is storybook characters and Logan LOVES Curious George, so that was an easy choice! The DIY Man In The Yellow Hat costume is not quite ready and I still have a lot of tweaking to do, but these pics of our test run were just too cute not to share.

We found the George Sock Monkey at Target! The hat and tie are what had to be made from supplies from Michaels and the shirt and pants had to be hunted for, since apparently yellow is NOT a color for this fall (Gawd, its SO last year. UGH) I didn't want to have another costume that was one time use only, so I found him a Ralph Lauren Oxford shirt at Dillards and his yellow pants are coming from Crazy8. Now he has a costume AND winter clothes for when it finally gets cold.

There is still so much fall left and still so much fun to be had! I can't wait for sweater weather and hot coco!


Stop Using Your Sunscreen Now!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

When trying to better ourselves, sometimes we forget that what we do can affect all living things around us. When looking at sunscreen, we have found a way to limit the damaging effects of the suns harsh UV rays, which not only keeps the painful sunburns away, but also can help to prevent skin cancer. So why would anyone think that something so great and revolutionary could possibly be bad? 

Today I had an assignment for my ecology class in which I had to examine a current events article and I stumbled upon a piece published by the The Guardian. The article stated that our sunscreen is killing off coral and damaging our reefs! Poor baby coral!

Oxybenzone, is a common ingredient found in a majority of sunscreens because of its ability to reliably block and filter UV rays. However, this ingredient is also incredibly toxic to adult coral and fatal in baby coral. It disrupts the endocrine-receptors of the coral and actually causes the coral to encase itself in its own skeleton and die! 

It is estimated that anywhere from 6000 to 14000 tons of sunscreen makes its way into the ocean as it comes off our bodies. Thats A LOT OF POISON we are introducing into the waters. Not to mention, there is a lot of debate as to the safety of oxybenzone to our health and cutting out this ingredient is not only good for you but for the environment.

The great news is that there are many alternatives that are not made with oxybenzone and switching is easy! So I did a little research and found you the top choices in sunscreens made without oxybenzone. 

Not only is this sunscreen oxybenzone-free, but its natural ingredients help fight sunburns and skin damage with ease. Its formula protects you for up to 80 minutes and is also free of parabens, phthalates, or synthetic fragrances and is safe to use on children. This brand is also available at your local Walmart, Walgreens or health food store.

This is another goodie. It smells like mango, but its strong formula will keep you safe in the sun. It also comes in other scents like citrus mimosa! It is non greasy and it's formulated to nourish your skin! The Coola Sunscreen products are available at your local Ulta or Sephora.

This sunscreen is dermatologist recommended and is gentle enough to be used on the most sensitive skin. It is non greasy and formulated without other hormone disrupting chemicals. It can be found at your local Ulta store or Walgreens and a little goes a long way.

And of course, for the kiddos:

This Alba Botanica sunscreen, like the one I previously mentioned, is great for all the same reasons. It is formulated to stay on and protect your little ones from the harsh rays of the sun. It is water resistant and its gentle formula is non greasy so you can still hold on your babies while having fun!

I have not personally tested any of these products yet. I chose these sunscreens based on research I have conducted. Reviews, ingredients and reputation were all factors that I took into consideration when looking. I will be making the switch as soon as I go pick up my new sunscreen. After I have tried them, I will post my own personal review, but until then, these are my picks for best sunscreens that do not have these chemicals in them based on internet research. (As always follow the directions provided on your sunscreens and make sure to apply about 30 minutes PRIOR to sun exposure.)

One thing is for sure though:

The ocean is beautiful, let's help keep it beautiful!

Do you have any recommendations for sunscreens without oxybenzone that you use? I would love to hear about them!


LIFE | Fighting Against Genetics: A Fitness Journey

Sunday, October 18, 2015

If you are someone who has a genetic condition, you know how difficult it can be to control your weight. I see a lot of memes and jokes where people are making fun of those who are a little heavier because of the conditions they cannot control. I am one of those people who has a hard time controlling my weight. And those memes suck.

REALLY??? Come on.

I have posted about this before and have explained my issues with my thyroid. For those who do not want to travel back to an earlier post, I will give a brief explanation of my condition. I have Graves Disease, which is a halloween-ish sounding condition that leaves me with an overactive, overachieving thyroid. It is definitely a show off.

"Thyroid hormones act throughout the body, influencing metabolism, growth and development, and body temperature. During infancy and childhood, adequate thyroid hormone is crucial for brain development." (Thank you

 I was diagnosed a few years back and after an ER trip, I was prescribed with anti-thyroid medication to slow it down. I started to feel like my normal self again soon enough but as my thyroid slowed down, the weight crept up. It continued to do this until I was at my heaviest weight at 136 ( well, aside from pregnancy, but that doesn't count because the baby made me eat everything....) I felt so helpless. And I know that some women who are larger, even more so than me, can find confidence in their bodies, but I never could. I didn't like what I saw in the mirror and it just kept getting worse. 
(Keep in mind I am 4ft 10in, so 136 lbs for me puts me way in the overweight category.)

At my heaviest weight. I even untagged myself from this pic on Facebook.

I thought I was doing everything right, by eating healthy, but it turns out what I thought was right for me was very wrong. So while I thought I was making good life changes, I was still sabotaging myself. 

Here are some mistakes I was making and how I made the changes that have helped me to lose over 11 lbs. I still have quite a bit to go until I am at a comfortable weight/fitness level, but I'll share how I got to this point so that hopefully it can provide some insight to you.

Mistake #1: I assumed that my weight was out of my control.

After a while, I gave up. I let my condition and my mind set decide that I was powerless. While, science will show that genetics plays a pretty significant part in deciding how your body will hold onto weight, it can be SIGNIFICANTLY lowered by healthy eating and fitness habits. 

Mistake #2: I didn't realize caloric intake was dependent on the person.

I saw the information on the back of food packaging that said "Based on a 2000 Daily Calorie Diet" and I thought well, I should maybe have like 1500 calories a day since I'm smaller. Honestly, I just made an "educated" guess - clearly not so educated. After I researched, I found that for my size, weight and fitness level, I only needed to consume 1300 calories to maintain weight and 1200 to gradually lose weight. (And this can change often based on your stats and fitness levels.) So by eating 1500 calories a day, I was overeating by 200 calories a day/1400 a well and that's if I wanted to maintain my weight! 

Mistake #3: I guessed my caloric intake.

Okay, so I was guessing and keeping a running tally of my caloric intake daily. I can remember a lot of things, but I definitely cannot remember a running tally of everything I had eaten for the day. I was setting myself up for failure. So I downloaded the app called MyFitnessPal and started login EVERYTHING that I ate or drink. That was the most truly eye opening discovery. I was drinking too many of my calories and I was snacking too much and I was just making a lot of choices that were not at all helping me. By using this super user friendly app, I was able to scan any barcode and log that item in my food diary. It it also able to log exercises, as well. 

Mistake #4: I wasn't moving enough.

Okay, I wasn't moving at all. I had completely given up and given in to my condition. My thinking was this: "Well, if I'm not losing any weight and I'm eating well, then nothing I do is going to work!" See, thoughts are poisonous. Finally one day, I dusted off the treadmill I have bought for Christmas a couple years back and got my lazy butt on it. THAT was tough. I was so out of shape, but I did it. I DID IT. To help with my running I downloaded two more apps. Nike + Running, which logs activity levels and the C25K Running App, which gradually eases you into running for out of shape people like me. These apps are motivating and keep you from getting discouraged because you can see your progress easily. 

Mistake #5: Weight is not the only thing that matters.

I, like many others, wanted to see the number on the scale go down, WAY down, but the number on the scale is not the only important thing to consider. When getting in shape and getting fit, you are going to see a muscle increase. Muscle weighs more than fat, yet takes up considerably less room, which means the number on the scale may not go down, but you will be slimmer. When this number doesn't move like you like, DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED. This is so important because it is so easy to just give up, but don't. You are making progress, really, you are. 

From the MyFitnessPal App. Slow progress.

I can't go over every tip I have in one post, so as I continue on my fitness journey, I will continue to post tips that have helped me. Clearly I am not a doctor or nutritionist or person trainer or anyone who would have some real scientific information for you, but I am someone who has decided my genes were not enough to keep me down. Yes, I may have to do double the work to see the same weight loss or muscle gain as someone who does not have any health issues, but that doesn't mean I should not try. It is so important to not get into the mindless of being powerless because many of us are not. 

If you have any tips, I would definitely love to hear them! If you have any other apps that have helped you, please share those, as well!