5 Ways To Make Wedding Planning Actually Enjoyable

When it comes to wedding planning… well it can easily turn into a total shitshow.

Seriously.

There’s a billion things to keep track of and then a billion people have a billion opinions and pieces of advice for you until it feels like your brain is going to explode into a billion pieces.

Aside from feeling like an actual insane person for about 72 hours pre-wedding, every single thing about our weekend went perfectly. (I can say that now that there is no risk of jinxing it.)

SERIOUSLY.

We started early, surrounded ourselves with the very best and beyond capable team of professionals, and at the end of the day knew that as long as there was booze, food and music it was all going to end up just fine.

5 Ways To Make Wedding Planning Actually Enjoyable

  1. Do the heavy lifting way, way in advance. We got engaged right before Christmas and had a Google Doc started of a tentative guest list, list of venues + costs, potential photographers, planners and florists by December 26. Seriously. By New Year’s Day we’d booked our venue(s). It takes the stress out of the BIG decisions.

  2. Build an army of superior professionals to handle everything. My parents will, to this day, say that our wedding planner Camille from Dream A Little Dream Events was the best thing to ever happen to our wedding. She was (is!) spectacular. She handled everything, reminded us constantly of the things we didn’t know and frankly the entire reason the day was so successful is because of her. Add to that an amazing photographer in Claire from Tia and Claire Studio, floral designer Susan Barton of Fantasy Florals and Notorious as our band and we really didn’t have to worry about… much of anything.

3. It’s OK to not have the most Pinterest-worthy wedding stationary ever. Something you learn planning a wedding? That paper is f*cking expensive. And you order a lot of paper related things - Save the Dates, Invites, Table Numbers, Escort Cards, Menu Cards, Thank You Notes, Rehearsal Dinner Invites. Planners often have promo codes to use (which we took full advantage of) and I was just fine with the fact that that we didn’t have hand-written calligraphy on an envelope most people toss in the trash the second it arrives. Also Minted.com arrives REAL QUICK. Pro Tip: Spend the extra $$ to have your envelopes pre-addressed. Save yourselves the hand cramps and potential carpal tunnel.

4. Do what you want. With something as ‘traditional’ as a wedding, everyone has an opinion on the way ‘etiquette states’ you should do things. Screw that. It’s your day. It’s your wedding. Do things exactly as you want to do them. Want to walk down the aisle with your mom and dad? I did. Don’t want the traditional processional music? Play the Beatles, ‘Here Comes the Sun’ instead. Make it meaningful and personal to you and your spouse-to-be.

5. EAT THE FOOD AND THE CAKE. No one wants a sloppy drunk bride. Take a few bites of food in between ripping tequila shots or delicately sipping champagne. Another thing that costs an obscene amount? WEDDING CAKES. I don’t even like cake. But our wedding cake from Branching Out Cakes was terrific. Vanilla Bean Cake with chocolate mousse and a vanilla buttercream. I had two slices. And I’m so happy I did. (We absolutely did not freeze a slice to eat on our Anniversary. I do not want a year-old dessert thank you very much.)

BONUS: Enjoy every single solitary second. Soak it ALL in. It’s the one time in your life that everyone who matters most to you (save for those who sent regrets and couldn’t attend - we still love you) are in one place FOR YOU. Hug everyone. Take as much time at table visits as you want. Dance your freaking face off. Make sure you take time to check in with your new spouse and take moments together - we were together most of the wedding and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Best and worst parts of wedding planning? TELL ME.

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On Marriage

Hey folks, been a while. In the spirit of full transparency the last month or two has been a total whirlwind.

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We got married.

We went on a two-week honeymoon to Hawaii.

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We got back. Re-entered reality/society/work.

And now I feel like things are finally slowing down (a little/temporarily before the holidays).

I want to post more - and just kind of ramble and babble on.

Kind of like an online journal? A couple times a week. That cool? Guess what, if it’s not, just click that cute little red circle at the top left corner of your browser. This is my website. I am the captain now.

We’ve been married about 6ish weeks. But prior to the big day, had been together for 10+ years. It’s funny because everyone tells you, “Nothing changes, but everything changes.” I had my own views on that (read: I disagreed that anything would change at all), but then the wedding and the wedding weekend happened.

And I totally get it now.

It’s like nothing tangible changes.

Life goes on as usual.

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We still live in the world’s tiniest (but rent-controlled!) apartment.

We still go about our routines.

I still wake up absurdly early to walk every day.

We still hand wash dishes every single night (and morning and afternoon…)

We aren’t Lottery or PowerBall winners.

We still don’t have a dog.

But there’s this ‘feeling’ that changed.

It’s hard to describe it and I didn’t fully understand it until we went through it last month.

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It’s this feeling of contentment, of being “in it” together that I don’t think I fully grasped until we said our vows in front of all of our closest family and friends. It’s this notion of solidity. It’s this feeling of longevity that even dating for 10+ years didn’t afford us. It’s the mutual decision to enter into that lifelong commitment that changes things. For the (way, way, way) better.

Like I look at him and it’s like this entire future opens up. Family, house, dog, adventures, LIFE.

Well, wow. That got deep.

TL/DR? Marriage is awesome. I’ve loved every second of every day of it and I’m looking forward to the next 100 years of it (since you know we’re living to 130+ years old.)

And I’m also pretty darn happy to never have to use the word fiancé again! (SO SNOOTY!)

What I've Learned as a (Sakara Life) Vegan for 30 Days

Well folks, this 'mostly' vegan/plant-based thing has officially grown legs and taken on a life of it's own. Honestly it's ALL thanks to Sakara. I cannot say enough good things. (Also if you're interested click here to browse next week's menu). The end of this post has a discount code for you on your first order.

I honest-to-goodness never thought this would be a 'thing', and never imaged just how good I would feel (and frankly, LOOK).

I started eating 'mostly' vegan the last week of July. Over my Bachelorette weekend the first weekend in August, I had animal protein Friday and Saturday. Since then, I've had fish (tacos) exactly twice. It's been plants, grains, beans, nuts and seeds ever since.

A few things started happening when I shifted to a mostly vegan, and even more predominantly whole-food based diet.

The last 5-8 lbs? MELTED OFF. I didn't even realized I had them to lose. I was hovering at a certain weight all summer (still down ~12 lbs from my starting weight in early April) and was kind of like huh, I guess this is where my bod wants to be. Bless up, I'm good with it.

Then I swapped out land animals. And it literally just disappeared.

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My belly is flatter than it's ever been. My hips are narrow. My bum is lifted and tight. I can walk 4 miles in an hour. I've never felt stronger in yoga. I actually ENJOY yoga. 

I know. WHO THE F HAVE I BECOME?

It's to the point that even after two glasses of wine (also going vegan makes you even more of a lightweight so bless up for being a cheap date and having the justification to order the most expensive 2 glasses of wine on the menu) I still order the vegan option. Seriously, I was 2 glasses of Oregon Pinot in the other night and for my entree? Quinoa, arugula, avocado, pepita salad. Appetizer? Crudites and hummus. DIDN'T EVEN FLINCH.

It's tough to explain without sounding all hippy-dippy but I just feel LIGHTER all over. I don't bloat. I don't have gas. My skin freaking glows. They've had it right all along.

But my biggest take-aways? Glad you asked. 

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Got 'em.

1) You can be a good vegan or a bad vegan

I tried the whole vegan lifestyle a few years back and I felt... awful. Literally night-and-day to the way I've felt the last month on Sakara. Why? I was doing it all wrong. Pasta, chips, breads, crackers, "vegan" cookies. French fries are vegan! This time around I've focused on whole, plant based foods,  gluten-free grains, wraps and bread, and plenty of healthy fats to keep my energy up. The difference is absolutely astounding - mentally and physically.

I also love that Sakara varies the food and nutrients and superfoods they serve. In any given week, you’re getting the full array of vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients. (No more boring AF kale and quinoa salads). Every color veggie reflects a different set of phytonutrients, so by eating them all, you’re actually ensuring that you’re getting all different types. I.E red plants like tomatoes, watermelon and strawberries tend to contain phytonutrients like lycopene, Vitamin C and anthocyanin. Yellow produce has beta carotene, Vitamin A and alpha carotene. And green plants contain phytonutrients like chlorophyll, iron, magnesium and Vitamin K. HOT BOD TIME.

2) You don't need to feel "OMG so full" every time you eat

Sakara doesn't count calories. Why? A few reasons actually.

  • Your microbiome (that 6 pounds of bacteria living in your gut!) is a huge determining factor as to how many calories you will absorb from your food. Want it to be healthy? Eat a lot of plants. They're nutrient dense but not calorically.
  • Restricting calories is a stressor. When your body is stressed and believes it is starving, it wants to hold on to fat. By eating more of the right foods, you tell your body it’s okay to burn fat.
  • Nutrient dense foods are often sacrificed when people restrict calories. Their salad dressings are some of the highest nutrient content of any food. They’re also high in calories. WE NEED CALORIES TO STAY ALIVE. Without proper nutrients, your body won’t efficiently burn fat or build muscle. It’s food quality and composition that matter, not volume

I love to eat. So, so much. That said, I routinely over-served myself and would leave meals feeling so full and just, tired. Then I read The Beauty Detox Solution (literally because I read a magazine while getting a manicure and Kate Mara said it inspired her to go full-on vegan. I also love to read.) I learned that the reason we feel exhausted after a big meal is because our bodies are literally expending that much more energy trying to breakdown and digest heavy animal proteins, or inflammatory causing foods. Think about it - you eat a salad and you have energy for days. You eat Thanksgiving dinner and you take a nap. Not a coincidence. I've learned to eat until I feel satisfied, not stuffed.

3) It's OK to be hungry

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The body is incredibly intelligent and intuitive. It knows when it needs more or less of certain nutrients, it knows how to tell you when it’s thirsty, hungry or sleepy. It’s in tune with every action and reaction from a cellular level all the way up to the mechanical level. Body intelligence is about building a body you can listen to.

Historically (until like a month ago let's be real), every time I had a hunger pang, I'd pop an RX Bar or start munching on chips, crackers, etc. It's okay for your body to feel a little hungry. Between dinner and breakfast you should actually allow 12 full hours for your body to optimally detoxify and fully digest. The body uses a lot of energy to detoxify, but it also uses a lot energy to digest food. When your body is not busy digesting food, it can focus its energy on eliminating toxins and healing.

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4) You don't have to kill yourself at the gym or in class to see results.

I walk an hour a day. No exceptions. I feel fantastic, I get outside, I listen to an audio book or music, or spend time catching up with a friend or on the phone with my mom. I also do Hot Power Yoga 2x a week to sweat, detoxify, stretch, and workout my mind. Weird, I'm incredibly high-strung and try as I might to resist it, yoga actually helps me. 

When I was doubling at spin class or going all-out at bootcamp, I was starving all the time and eating way more than I needed to, stressed out mentally and physically, tired constantly, and not seeing near the aesthetic results I am now. Not to mention it's EXPENSIVE.

But so is health. Sakara isn't cheap but it's full of organic, great-for-you ingredients and foods that also aren't inexpensive to source. It's also portioned out, thoughtfully prepared, and delivered straight to your door 3x a week. CONVENIENCE, no decision fatigue AND abs that miraculously show up out of no where? 

The (mostly) vegans had it right all along.

Click here to shop Sakara. Use REF_KRISTINE15 for 15% off your first order.

The Ultimate Bachelorette - Wine Country

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Recently, my girlfriends planned the ULTIMATE weekend - my Bachelorette. (In case you're wondering we get married in exactly 31 days.)

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They asked me what I wanted and I instantly replied with, "Good food, wine, sunshine, rounding it out with time at the spa and the pool." 

Wine country was a no brainer. We live ~90 minutes from some of the best wineries, restaurants and spas... basically ever.

I should also mention I run with a crowd that knows a thing or two about where to eat, where to taste, and what to do basically wherever they go. The standard is set very high and they never disappoint. 

So without further ado, I bring to you, How to Wine Country Like a GD Queen.

Accommodations

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There's a ton of options. Hotels, AirBnBs, Resort & Spas, etc. We opted for my favorite spot in Calistoga - we had a two-bedroom cottage and it was perfect.

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Indian Springs Resort and Spa - natural hot springs pool, mud baths (not for the faint of heart but dang I was into it), a great restaurant for food and a patio for cocktails, and walking distance to downtown Calistoga.

Alternatively...

Solage - one of my favorites. The casitas are adorable, the spa treatments are amazing and SolBar (their restaurant) has some of my favorite food, wine and cocktails. Bonus: the frosé they serve poolside is TO DIE FOR.

Wineries

Skip the touristy spots and go straight to the good wine.

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Frank FamilyOne of my favorite wines. I love their reds (their Reserve Cab is only available at the winery) and I LOVE their tastings. The patio is stunning, so relaxing and Bristol, the resident Chocolate Lab is very friendly.

Rombauer - My favorite Chard of ALL TIME. Their reds are also excellent. Frankly so is the Sauv B.

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Turnbull - Hadn't ever been and now it's the only place I want to go. Mostly reds but with a winery so gorgeous it looks like Restoration Hardware exploded. High, high ceiling, floor-to-ceiling windows and a gorgeous backyard/patio area with couches, tables, and plenty of space for lounging with several of your favorite tastes. Or bottles. Get the Black Label and lie it down for 5 years to age.

Paraduxx - Part of the Duckhorn family and one of my favorite spots to taste. The outdoor area is beautiful, the cheese/charcuterie plates are amazing, and I love their wines, Goldeneye Pinot and Migration Chards. 

Schramsberg Sparkling Cave Tour + TastingI'm not the biggest fan of bubbles but you get a LOT at this tasting (read: you're loaded by the end) and the tour is really, really informative and interesting. They have several million bottles of bubbly in their caves. 

Restaurants

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There are a million restaurants in Napa Valley and the surrounding areas. And they're (mostly) all terrific. Here are some favorites.

Farmsteadmy first time there and OMG it didn't disappoint. Besides being the absolute cutest spot (at Long Meadow Ranch), the cocktails and food are to-die-for. Starting with the Cheddar Biscuits and Honey Butter. The salads were fantastic. The Beef Tartare was amazing. Everything.

Mustard'sOne of my favorite spots to eat. It's classic, consistent, the food is great, and like the menu says, there are way, way too many wines.

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Oakville Grocery - The best for grab-and-go sandwiches to take with you to picnic at wineries, chips, snacks, and to-DIE-for pesto pasta 'salad'

SolbarAt Solage, great 'date' spot for dinner but also a great spot for poolside drinks, snacks, apps, and frosé

Sam's Social Club - At Indian Springs; they have a great bar and patio for cocktails, and a great brunch, lunch and dinner.

There are a TON of options in wine country, but if you want to narrow it down to Calistoga/St. Helena area, you can't go wrong here. 

Enjoy!

I tried Sakara Life for 2-days and I'm basically a Victoria's Secret model now

I've long been fascinated with Sakara Life. Their branding and aesthetic is beautiful, and the food always looks appealing. I love to eat plants. It's absurdly expensive. *All* the Victoria's Secret models do it. 

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I HAD TO TRY IT.

I'm on this major health kick pre-wedding, I've lost 11 lbs and several inches, and TBH I go through phases where meat totally grosses me out. (Never gonna give it up forever, hence the 'phase') Also I have a very expensive wedding dress I want to look hot AF in. And then 2 weeks in a bikini on our honeymoon.

So I went for it.

Wait, back up, what is Sakara?

The Sakara Life organic meal delivery program is based on a whole-food, plant-rich diet that includes fresh, nutrient-dense, and delicious ingredients.

TL/DR (but you're gonna wanna read it all): I was blown away. I've tried just about every meal delivery in the book and the food is typically underwhelming. Sakara was excellent. The greens were crisp, the portions were perfect, the sauces were delicious and the MUFFIN. OMG THE MUFFIN. I almost cried actual tears when that breakfast ended.

Their difference? 

IT'S FRESH. Within 48 hours of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients arriving at their kitchens, your meals are on their way to you, packed in eco-friendly cooler bags. (We use ours all the time)

CLEAN INGREDIENTS. Sakara sources all of their ingredients from trusted suppliers and organic farms that use healthy, sustainable agriculture practices.

MENUS MATTER. The meals are inspired by everything from the latest microbiome research to Michelin-starred restaurants in NYC, and combine expert nutritional design with sophisticated culinary technique. Literally I had an artichoke heart/coconut 'ceviche' that was better than most restaurants.

Before we jump into the (vegan) meat of it, it's worth your while to understand Sakara's 9 Pillars of Nutrition

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The Deal:

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You can choose how many days you're looking for (3 or 5) and all programs come ready-to-eat and include Detox Tea and Beauty + Detox Water Concentrates. I'm not a tea drinker and I was actually really into the Detox Tea. The chocolates are also a nice little dessert/treat. I obviously ate all of mine in one sitting. It's fine.

The Food:

The food is packed with flavor - I was never hungry. Some of my favorites?

Yoga Bunny Breakfast - it was this carrot, raisin and walnut 'muffin' with this insane turmeric pumpkin butter and some blueberries (I added extra blueberries because I am extra.) I heated mine up in a skillet and I loved every single bite. I SAVORED IT.

Youth and Beaty Salad  - so fresh, so much flavor. I was actually really into the lemony/citrusy dressing and the amount of 'crunch' (hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds) to sprinkle on top. The pomegranate seeds gave it a great amount of sweetness and the thinly sliced beets and carrots and cucumbers made it incredibly refreshing (this is coming from someone who hates beets and still ate them). 

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The Sakara Burger - yes it's your typical plant-based beet/grain burger but it was excellent. It was on this dense bread that heated up really well and came with a side salad. I reluctantly gave my mom a bite (I do not share food well) and she LOVED it. So being daughter-of-the-year, I gave her half. #favoritechild

Cooling Cashew Vermicelli w/ Pink Probiotic Dressing - This was absurd. I've never had kelp noodles before (spoiler: they're really good for you) and I heated this up like a stir-fry. It had veggies, this delicious creamy sauce, nuts, greens, and 'noodles'. LOVED.

Results:

This is what they promise you:

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All of the above is true. I understand our bodies fluctuate in weight quite a bit, but I also understand that in two days I lost 2.2 lbs (water weight, whatever, the number still went down on the scale), I had no bloat, I was very, ahem, 'regular', and combined with my Tata Harper skincare regimen and my summer tan, my skin was freaking GLOWING. 

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I also had no problem completing my daily power walks or my thrice-weekly Bar Method classes. And I'm an eater. This is a big deal. I actually posted this photo ON THE INTERNET after completing my Sakara two-day bender.

Do you know what it's like putting a photo of yourself, in a bathing suit on the internet? 

It's something you only do after a glass of Sauv B by the pool. (Which is exactly how this transpired.)

My key-takeaways?

Yes it's expensive. But so is organic food and high quality superfood supplements. You're also paying for convenience. But to do this every now and again is worth it. It instills a mindset and resets you. Or if you have a stressful period in your life coming up and you don't want to think about food (hello wedding planning + new job), it's a great way to take the work out of what you're eating for a few days.

Want a discount?

Check out Sakara's menu here. Use code REF_KRISTINE15

 

 

[The Wedding Bod] Part 2 - Diet

Need to catch up?

Check out Part 1, here.

It's all about exercise and the simple and low-intensity approach I'm taking to get wedding ready... and beyond. Pro tips too.

But it's never just one thing, right?

You've heard it before...

"You can't out-run a bad diet."

"Abs are made in the kitchen." 

"It's 80% diet, 20% exercise and genetics."

What's most annoying? IT'S ALL TRUE. Ugh.

I've experimented with it all.

Paleo. Gluten-free. Vegan. Dairy-free. All that horsesh*t.

In the spirit of full transparency, I was constantly bloated, eating too much of everything, spending too much money on everything, and believing every f*cking thing I read on the internet.

GAH. TO BE YOUNG.

And then you know what I *finally* did?

I LISTENED TO MY MOTHER.

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She told me to keep an eye on portions, and to eat any and everything I want. Including booze. (Drink responsibly kids.) Nix the crazy workouts that had me on the brink of exhaustion and building LOTS of unwanted muscle (sorry, not what I want aesthetically) and go for a head-clearing yet metabolism boosting walk complemented with barre or pilates to lengthen and stretch the muscle I do have while maintaining a healthy tone.

What a concept. What a cost-saver. What a SANITY CHECK.

It's been 10 weeks of this.

I started eating bread, cheese, pasta, wine, you name it on just about a daily basis. 

I've lost 11 POUNDS.

And I'll be incredibly real with you, the walking/barre helps, but it's ALL DIET.

Calories in, calories out friends.

You need to create a 3,500 calorie deficit to lose ONE POUND. That's a lot of excess calories. 

So how to get started?

Write down exactly what you eat, for a couple days. The serving sizes too.

Like me, you likely don't need to be eating that much. EVEN the 'good for you' stuff.

Actually weigh yourself.  We've never owned a scale. We got one.

The human body fluctuates like 4-5 lbs throughout the day. I think it's incredibly interesting to see how my weight can fluctuate (water, wine, salt, time of the month, etc) in a matter of hours and also how men can drop like 8 lbs overnight. (SERIOUSLY HOW?) 

It's an accountability tool and frankly, I geek out over the metrics and data.

Reality check?

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you don't need to eat an entire avocado with your scrambled eggs. 1/4 does the trick.

A serving size of peanut butter is 2T. That is a pathetic amount, I KNOW. Pretty sure I was dumping on double that any time I had my favorite food in the world.

Also, your favorite 200+ calorie protein bar? Again, if you're looking to lose weight, you don't need it while you sit at your desk all afternoon. Nosh on a hard-boiled egg or a few almonds instead. 

Watch your portions and your serving sizes (I don't when it comes to lean proteins, legumes, fruits or veggies as an FYI.)

A day in the life

Truth be told, my meals are pretty simple these days, and incredibly consistent. Once a week we go out for what I've dubbed, a 'sanity meal'. Or ANYTHING I DAMN WELL PLEASE. Like a burger, fries, a couple glasses of wine and some dessert. It's so freaking satisfying.

I made a joke on Instagram about how I eat the same breakfast every single weekday, and honestly, it's true. But it works. All those little "add-ons" truly do "add-on" excess calories that, for me to reach my aesthetic goals, I don't need.

So what's it look like?

Pre-workout:

[If needed] 1/2 Banana, 1t PB (just to break the fast and give me a little energy)

Breakfast:

WEEKDAYS: 0% Fage Greek Yogurt, 1c berries, 1/4c granola, cinnamon, drizzle of honey 

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WEEKENDS: Soft scrambled eggs, avocado toast with sea salt and red chili pepper flakes (bonus if it's on farmer's market sourdough bread which is my new thing to get), everything but the bagel seasoning

Lunch:

SALAD: 1/2c quinoa or rice, greens, lean protein, mix of veggies, 1/4 avocado + EVOO/red wine vinegar

OR

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SANDWICH: Turkey, spicy mustard, greens, Dubliner cheddar, avocado on a wrap, whole wheat bread or sourdough; always toasted or grilled! (If we have any veggies that need to be used up I'll add 'em too)

Apple

Snack:

Rice cake with 1T peanut butter and 1/2 banana

Dinner:

Sometimes a glass of wine.

Salmon Burgers with Jalapeno Peach Salsa

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

Roasted Veggie, Protein, Grain Bowls

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Pizzas (with this insane homemade dough)

Spaghetti and Meatballs (with whole wheat pasta and freshly grated parmigiana)

Blackened Fish Tacos

Dessert:

Dark chocolate, always. We buy 100% cacao that is mixed only with vanilla bean and love it.

Post-Dinner:

Air popped popcorn, every night

That's really it. It's not super fancy, but it works frankly. I want to be my best self at our wedding and on our honeymoon. 

It's not cutting our food groups or over-emphasizing a particular macro-nutrient. It's not spending a fortune on boutique fitness classes.

It's creating a caloric deficit. It's moving my body every day for 45-60 minutes and toning 3x a week. 

3 months until I do. 

 

 

[The Wedding Bod] Part 1 - Exercise

I'm fairly certain that when you tell someone you're getting married, the requisite questions that follow include:

  • When?
  • Where?
  • Do you have a dress?
  • What are you doing diet/exercise wise to get wedding ready?

Ah yes, the wedding body. 

I get it. I'm spending an obscene amount on a dress and for someone to photograph the entire day. It's probably the only day of my life that all eyes will be on us (fine me, I get it, it's about the bride) and to be honest, I want to look damn good. 

But I had no intention of going crazy, spending an exorbitant amount of cash, cutting anything out of my diet, or becoming sober. 

So, on March 31, I decided that with ~5.5 months to go, it was time to get focused.

This will be a two part blog-post because like anything, it's never about just one thing. I understand that achieving the goals I have is mostly diet, and that exercise is the metaphorical cherry on top.

But let's start with exercise today.

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I took a minute to think about the kinds of exercises I enjoy. It's not killing myself at a spin class or a boot camp class. It's not running for hours on end. It certainly isn't yoga.

So what is it?

  • Walking. Why? I love to be outside, feel the fresh air and the sunshine, and move my body. Even better? You never have to psyche yourself up for a walk, the way you do a run. Start your day with an hour outdoors and I promise you, it will be a good day, no matter what else happens.
  • Barre Classes. Vanity or not, I love the way my body looks by being consistent with barre. It lengthens, strengthens and tones every single inch in a streamlined way. It also never gets easier.

Lauren Seib is a certified personal trainer, barre instructor, and someone I take a tremendous amount of inspiration from and trust her advice and opinions.

Click through to her IG and her website - she's funny, real, loves dogs, can make light of all things fitness and nutrition while maintaining a serious approach, and side-eye with the best of them. Plus, she creates absolutely spectacular content. I’ll be featuring selected workouts, musings, etc from Lauren on a semi-regular basis here.

Would power walks and incline walks be enough?

I consulted her expert advice.

"Power walks are not only a great way to soak up the great outdoors, they're a low-impact cardio option that will lengthen and lean your legs. Plus you literally walk off any wedding-related stress while burning calories and stoking your metabolism."

What about with barre as a complement?

"Barre tackles stubborn/hard-to-reach areas (often called "trouble zones") while building long, lean muscle for the ultimate wedding-dress friendly arms, back - okay, everything!"

I'd agree - the difference I've seen in 2 months of complete consistency has exceeded my expectations entirely. Especially since I once viewed barre as "not a workout". Naivety at its finest. 

"In every exercise, the core-centric mindfulness and overall attention to form whittles every inch of your body."

So what about the combination of power walking + barre? Do I need to do more?

"Together, barre and power walking will create that sleek physique suited for your big day (or any day, or every day!) and have you feeling strong... even in those weak-in-the-knees moments on the big day."

Say no more.

It's been two months of consistency - power walks for 60-75 minutes a day (usually yields around 4-5 miles). I alternate a few incline treadmill walks at The Bay Club but stick to mostly outdoors, as well as 3x a week barre classes

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it's also THE MOST INCREDIBLE WAY to start your day.

Some weekends I'll throw in a real sweaty class like spin or bootcamp after I've um, overserved myself the night before, but that's strictly for survival purposes. 

In conjunction with eating well and being mindful of portions (and also incorporating bread, cheese, pasta, and booze into my diet the majority of the week), I'm down 10lbs. 

Big changes, minimal effort, maximum enjoyment.

That's how it should be done. We should never, ever feel that we're sacrificing or depriving. It took me quite a while to come to the realization that killing oneself in the gym, logging miles or spending hard-earned cash on every supplement isn't the answer. 

It's simplicity and consistency.  

I can't wait to say "I do" in September.

Part 2 - Nutrition, coming your way shortly...

 

Why I hate the term 'self-care'

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I'm putting it out there: I HATE THE WORD 'SELF-CARE'.

I think it's annoying, overused, and frankly... weird. I want to punch it in it's face.

But yet, we're inundated. On social, blogs, publisher content, everywhere. It's like doing something for you has to be justified with a label like we shouldn't be doing it all the time Want to take a bubble bath? #selfcare. In the mood for an indulgent meal? #selfcare. Did you just get a *gasp* manicure/pedicure then grab a latte?

SELF-CARE, SELF-CARE, SELF-CARE.

I've even seen it extend into these weird rituals like "oil pulling" (swishing oil in your mouth), "tongue scraping" (your tongue) or "dry-brushing" (your legs). Seriously. I do not understand. 

HOW IS THAT ENJOYABLE? (Also what even is it? Pls keep it away from me.)

I try to practice common-sense and moderation in everything that I do. I love a cocktail or glass of wine, I indulge with delicious food when the moment calls for it (or doesn't, I'm like a beagle in which I'm highly food-motivated), I love to move my body, I try to make smart choices about what I put in and on it, and I schedule a monthly massage and bi-monthly facial. Because it's lovely and relaxing and... I want to.

I like to think I breathe deeply on my own, you know, to stay alive. I don't feel the need to download a meditation app to feel like I'm taking care of myself. Meditating for me is not relaxing.  It's stressful. Then I remember all the things I've already forgotten to do that day. Honestly I just end up thinking about everything but the actual act of meditation. My world record for meditating is approx. 15 seconds.

I don't need to label it or shout from the roof-tops when I'm taking care of me.

The whole idea of 'self-care' has frankly gotten to the point of distraction and over-stimulation vs. having the information to make solid choices that benefit yourself.

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So stop. Every time you do something for you, that you want, it doesn't need a label or justification. 

Do the best you can. Stop stressing out over what you can't control or that you're not up to snuff with the 'self-care people'. It's not good for you. 

Life is busy, and you shouldn't feel guilty for not carving out specifically labeled "self-care time" like soaking in a detoxifying bath for an hour with a face-mask on, some 'serenity candle' and a self-help book.

Taking care of yourself means doing what makes you happy.

Here are some ways to do it:

1. Spend time doing things you like

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Like literally anything -  spa treatment, calling someone vs. texting, a long walk, hanging with the people you love, hugging a stranger's dog (just me?), cooking/ordering/Postmates-ing your favorite meal. Make you happy? Awesome. Do more of that. 

2. Step away from the phone

The comparison trap is a real thing. "Healthy Influencer XXX" may avoid gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, and happiness while taking daily detoxifying baths and scraping her tongue with a torturous device and eating milk-thistle-ashwaganda-adaptogenic-mushroom-tea but that doesn't mean she's better than you and it certainly doesn't mean she's happy. Don't like matcha? Same, I abhor it. Drink your non-organic coffee. DO YOU.

Your life doesn't have to be up to 'Instagram standards' and it doesn't have to be some weird health 'trend' that sounds horrifying. You don't have to schedule time to have conversations with yourself about how much you love yourself either. 

3. Use your brain

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I'm fairly certain we all know things we should be doing for ourselves and things we shouldn't. We should make sure that we have time to rest and relax. We should make sure we eat delicious food and drink amazing wine. We should travel and explore new places, even if that's a walk in the opposite direction you usually take. We should spend time with the ones we care the most about. We shouldn't shell out thousands of dollars on cleanses or health trends.

We shouldn't force ourselves to like or do things we don't enjoy. 

So instead of self-care, just take care of yourself. 

You with me?

 

Hey, Hi, What's Up, Hello

Well this is embarrassing. 

Approx. 4 months since I last posted. YIKES.

Anyway, enough with the lallygagging about my lack of posts (Instagram is great to see what I've been up to tbh), let's just focus on the present.

At this current time we are just under 5 MONTHS FROM WEDDING DAY. 

I know, I can't believe it either. When did this happen? Why am I not tan yet? 

Anyway, we're fully in the throes of planning and it's been a LOT of fun. Unsurprisingly I am probably most excited for the food/wine tasting at our venue. #onbrand

We had our first round of festivities when friends threw an engagement brunch for us and two other newly engaged couples - fiance has a very tight knit group of friends and as such, the ladies have also gotten close over the last several years. With three couples getting married this year, we had quite a bit to celebrate (and so many babies to play with!)

But let's get to the real reason you're here. (As much I'd love to think so, it's likely not to see photos of me getting decked by a wave during our engagement photo shoot. I commit to my craft.)

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Anyway.

I'm an... all-or-nothing person. We know this. I throw myself into workout routines and occasionally, or always, get hurt. Refer to: Stress fracture and torn biceps tendon. Fun times.

I promised myself I wouldn't let that type of mentality get the best of me in the weeks and months leading up to the wedding. Happy to say I've been committed to that mentality. 

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Instead, I've almost completely gone the other way. My workouts have decreased in intensity, almost ten-fold. I walk for an hour a day and I do barre classes 3-4 times a week. I love to alternate between getting outside and cranking up the incline on the treadmill at the Bay Club. (To be real, "cranking up" is approx. 3.5 incline).

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Frankly, I'm seeing both views (Exhibit A + B) I've never taken the time to see, and results. I feel toned and strong. It's actually astounding what not stressing your body to it's maximum capacity every single day can do for your overall well-being and sanity. I have invested in monthly massages and bi-monthly facials to baby my bod a bit - I'm going for consistency and longevity here. (Speaking of consistency, I wrote a post for the Bay Club's One Lombard blog about it and you can read it here.)

I've also been cooking like a maniac. I've been loving simple, easy, delicious and healthy recipes that don't require obscure ingredients or $$$ supplements. Cooking for yourself makes all the difference in the world. It also helps you afford said facials and massages.

I EVEN KNEADED PIZZA DOUGH WITH MY OWN TWO HANDS ON SATURDAY.

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Some recipes I'm loving lately?

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  • Skinnytaste Crockpot Honey Sesame Chicken (Notes: It makes a TON - we serve it in lettuce cups, or with brown rice and roasted broccoli. I also 1/2 the sugar to 2T vs 1/4c).
  • Skinnytaste Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken (Notes: Crockpot meals are awesome for weeknights. Set it and forget it baby. This one is as easy as they come and is a great way to get your burrito bowl fix at home. I love it with avocado, cilantro and brown rice).
  • Skinnytaste 3-ingredient Pizza Dough (Notes: I'm still freaking out about this. It's flour, Greek yogurt and baking powder. I made the dough for a dinner-style pizza and it was light, fluffy and frankly, unreal. It also makes insane bagels. YES, BAGELS IN 30 MINUTES.)

 

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  • Steel Cut Oat Energy Bites (Notes: I never get satisfied by bars (it's true!) and I've made a point to make a batch of energy bites each week for us. They're so convenient to just grab-and-go in the morning or when hanger is just about to strike.)

 

  • Goop One-Pan Recipes (Notes: That Miso Salmon and Harissa Roasted Vegetables though. Added bonus? NO DISHES. Dishwasher-less households rejoice.)

Would definitely encourage you to check them out - they're healthy, easy, and make leftover. BONUS. 

What's the best thing you've whipped up lately? Hit me with it.