September 24, 2010

My Fitness Story







































Grrr.... don't I look tough silly? I was totally goofing around in this picture, but it sure makes a great intro for talking about my workout routine! You may be wondering why I'm posting about fitness on a fashion blog, but I've had tons of questions about my workout routine over the past week and thought it would be fun to share my story. Please note: I am in no way a fitness expert, and as always please consult a professional if you're planning to start a new routine.

So let me start by saying that I think every person is unique and should really try to find a routine that works for them (same goes with fashion – those “10 items every woman should own” lists are ridiculous). I think we can all learn by example, though, so here’s my story of how I found a fitness routine that works for me (hint: there was a lot of trial and error):

Phase 1: I meet exercise for the first time. My second year of college (about 7 years ago), there was a red dress I wanted to wear to my sorority's formal but I couldn't fit into it. Before this moment, it had never occurred to me to workout, I had never run one mile without stopping and I definitely didn't know anything about nutrition. I started working out like crazy and lost 35 pounds. I kept it off during college, but I continued to eat badly and just worked out like crazy to make up for it. I was basically running in circles.

Phase 2: I meet nutrition for the first time. When I graduated college and entered the real world, I pretty much gained it all back. Why? Because I still ate like crap. Working a full time job doesn’t give you all the free time in the world to work out like I did in college. Here's a picture from this phase:




























It's kind of hard to see in this picture, but I was two sizes bigger. Definitely not obese or anything, but I was awfully sluggish and not very healthy. You add to the equation that I'm hypoglycemic, which means I basically get sick from eating sugars and white flour, and you've got one unhappy camper who needed to change her ways.

Phase 3: I become obsessed with exercise/nutrition. A couple years later, I entered this phase which I call the “maniac phase”. I cared way too much. I worked out 6 days a week, an hour a day and ate really boring food. I spent way too much time at the gym and not enough time enjoying the life. Here's a picture of me during phase #3. I was pretty darn fit, but I also really resented working out. You honestly couldn’t pay me to want to live like that again. Life is too short. ☺




Phase 4: Finding balance. Since moving to Florida in 2009, I started a wonderful new phase - the "finding my balance" phase. (Please note: this phase comes after you've already lost any weight you need to loose and are now just trying to maintain a healthy weight). Balance is about not being so hard on yourself in regards to the way you look. It's about exercising to feel good, and eating healthy because you want to (not to fit into a specific size). Being fit is a way of life. It's not a fad diet or the latest workout craze, or something you do twice; it's a life-long commitment to being healthy.  I honestly don't have a set workout routine because it works best for me to not think about it that much. That won't work for everyone though. For some people, finding balance might be setting up a strict workout schedule, blogging about food, or being on Weight Watchers; everyone is different. But the idea is to find what works for you so that you're able to maintain your weight within your everyday life. (this also applies this to having a fashionable wardrobe - find what works for you in your everyday life!)







































Here are some tips to get you started…

Fitness Tips
- Lift weights, lift weights, lift weights. I can't stress this enough. Every woman, regardless of age and weight, should be pumping iron (note: not heavy iron, but itty bitty iron, like 3-10 pound dumbbells). Trust me, you will not get huge muscles. But you will burn fat like crazy and slim down. Lifting weights/doing resistance training is the best advice I can give anyone.
- Find an activity you love. Swimming, playing tennis, biking, hiking, running, rowing, doing the elliptical. All of these are enjoyable to different people, and all of them provide pretty awesome cardio. Find the one or two that you love. I personally do a mix of running, elliptical and weights; but again it’s all about finding activities that don’t make you want to quit after the first week.
- Find your rhythm. Lots of people ask "how often do you work out?" but how often I work out won't help you because everyone is different. One person may only need to go a couple times a week, but another person may need to go 5 times a week to maintain their weight. Also consider your schedule. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Find what works for you and stick with it.
- Set a goal. Nothing feels better than setting a goal and smashing it. I ran my first race, a half marathon, this past March. It felt awesome. It was not about losing weight (I actually gained a few pounds doing it), it was about trying something that seemed impossible and overcoming it. Walk a 5K, loose 10 pounds, eat healthy for 3 days. Try something!! ☺ 






























Nutrition Tips
- Make peace with food. It took me years to figure out that what I put in my mouth affected my body, but it absolutely does. I could never find balance until I got my eating in order since it's such a huge part of the equation. If you have an emotional response to eating try to get at the source so you can stop the emotion that causes the eating. (They talk about this all the time on The Biggest Loser.)
- Don’t bring junk food into the house. Make sure you’re not hungry when you go to the grocery store. Then limit yourself to buying only healthy/un-processed items. I sometimes get cravings for ice cream during the week, but that added hurdle of actually having to leave the house and go get it usually changes my mind.
- Make Monday-Friday your safe zone. As noted above, there's no junk food in our house so I pretty much eat like an angel during the week. On the weekends though, we tend to eat out once or twice and that's my "reward" time for eating healthy during the week. Nobody is perfect, so give yourself the opportunity to eat fun stuff from time to time.

Feel free to leave your own tips for healthy eating in the comment section, and check out these food/fitness blogs for more great tips and daily inspiration!

- Meals and Miles 
- The Fitnessista
- Meals and Moves
A Foodie Stays Fit
- Raya Runs
- The Balanced Foodie
- Peanut Butter Fingers

62 comments:

  1. This is such a great post! I love your story and love the balance you've found. You honestly look great at every stage in your journey, but you're absolutely right that you need to have balance! And thanks so much for the shout-out!!

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  2. Awesome post! I am working on finding my balance now, it definitely takes some trial and error and time. Thanks for sharing your fitness story! Looking great!

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  3. Love it! I'm still working on that "finding balance" phase... and lifting more weights!

    You inspired the outfit I'm wearing today - an all white with a black blazer from a few days back. Thanks!!

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  4. I agree finding a fitness goal and sticking to it helps from thinking of it as just weight loss. I ran my first half marathon in June and since then have ran 2 others. That inspired me to run a full marathon. After accomplishing that I still plan to run cause its my new love, but I plan to incorporate more strength training. Cardio can only get you so far in your fitness goals but I agree the lifting weights is key. One thing that running has taught me is whatever I eat affects my body and my run, especially the longer distances. I started to look at food more as fuel for my body. BUT at the same time I eat what I want in moderation never in excess. Thanks for the great post! Are you planning on running any more races? I love reading your blog!

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  5. Great story, I also lost pounds, and i'm mantaining... a healthy life style is for all your life not for one week, or one month.
    For that reason i began a nutrition blog :D

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  6. Im loving this post-- after moving from my home town, getting married and having another baby, I tried everything and for some reason cant find my way . I worked out hard, hardly worked out, so now Im trying to find my balance and fun zone with exercise too. Hope to continue to read this!

    www.originalprototype.com

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  7. Thanks for sharing! I am definitely in that finding my balance stage. I feel so gross when I don't get enough exercise or eat badly. As a new grad student it is hard to find time to work out and go to the grocery store. If I do have to eat out or eat something fast I try to eat a smaller portion as the alternative. Since the calories are higher it will still last me a while. My school has a great gym but I live in the next town over. I have to come home to take care of my dogs and don't have time to use the gym. Running has been my best friend. Since I haven't run a lot since undergrad (4 years ago) I used the Couch to 5K program to get myself back on track. My town has a race called the Crazy 8s that I want to run this coming year!

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  8. This is a fantastic post! It boils down to everything in moderation ... darn, I hate it when my mother is right LOL

    I have finally, at the age of 47, given up on 'shoulds and should nots' when it comes to exercise and food. I just do what I love, while continuing to eat healthfully 80% of the time.

    Given I have the attention span of a gnat, I switch up my exercise routine a lot. Right now I am in my Daily WiiFit Plus stage. In the spring, that will change to Training For Half Marathon stage.

    As you say, it is all about doing what you enjoy.

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  9. Love this post - thanks for sharing your health journey!
    I just found your blog a few weeks ago and I'm loving it!!

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  10. I love that you have been at BOTH ends of the spectrum and you are able to share your feelings, thoughts and experiences from both points in your life. It looks like you have found a happy "in between" which is SUCH a good feeling..and you look ROCKIN'~ so that's a plus ;) Thanks for the shout out, I blushed. Happy Friday, lady! xo

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  11. I agree! I have struggled with finding balance but now I am just doing what I enjoy everyday and feel so at peace! I love walking, playing tennis, doing yoga and cooking (hey, being on your feet for 2-4 hours isn't easy!)...so I am going with it.
    As for food, I am actually trying to incorporate a bit MORE fat into my diet as I had not been eating enough of it due to an IBS diagnosis, but realize that it is important to overall health.
    Love your fashion sense & blog!

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  12. Hi, I just found your blog a couple of weeks ago and love it! this is a great post, I think we can all relate to at least one phase. By the way, you look awesome in brown hair!!! your blond hair does not look bad at all but the brown looks awesome, frames your face better. Thanks for the inspirational posts.

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  13. I love this post!! I know why people have been asking about your fitness routine-it's because you're in great shape!! Be proud!


    P.S. I now stalk your blog for new style ideas b/c I...have none. haha :)

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  14. I am so glad you decided to make this post. I have been curious but did not ask because this is a fashion blog. Yea! Thanks for the info/advice. I went to a town with an H&M for a business trip and oh my it was fantastic! H&M needs an online site or they need to come to Texas! Not that you care about my opinion but I think blond looks so good on you!

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  15. Like most other aspects of like, it's all about balance. I really enjoyed this post, and it isn't even about "fashion." Thanks for sharing!

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  16. what an awesome post! so fun that you did the princess half- i did too :)
    thanks for the shout out!
    have a blast interviewing giuliana today- she's my style hero :) i'm going to try and stop by after dance
    xoxo

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  17. I'm so glad you posted this! I was going to ask you about your workout/eating after your great cruise pictures! question- do you drink any sort of supplement/protein type of thing after you workout?

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  18. J! Amazing and inspiring post. It is about the overall life you live and not a screw up one day or a really strict week. Thank you for sharing your story. You look great at every stage! Love reading your blog :)

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  19. Thank you all so much for sharing your stories, tips and feedback!! I really enjoyed reading all of your comments, and I'm so glad that you liked this blog post. I was a bit nervous since I wouldn't consider myself a fitness expert but also was hoping to help/inspire with my fitness story! We can all learn from each other's "mistakes." :-)

    Cynthia, I absolutely agree with you that running long distances makes you realize how much food is really fuel for your body. Put in the wrong fuel and my runs were horrendous! :-) I'm hoping to run a full marathon this spring. I'll keep you guys posted!

    Poor and Fabulous, I don't usually drink protein or anything after working out. My husband does, so sometimes I'll take a sip of his, but having hypoglycemia I tend to shy away from anything sweet as different sweeteners can really make me sick. :-(

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  20. And the truth is ... super creative!

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  21. Wow, we actually have a really similar fitness story. Except I'm now at the phase where I gained back all the weight I lost during college. I just graduated college in May and I'm having a really hard time losing the weight now that I'm working a full-time job. The last time I lost weight, I had all of the time in the world and could devote the majority of my energy just to that. But now when I come home from work I'm exhausted and don't always feel like going to the gym and/or eating healthy.

    I know once I get into the routine of going to the gym consistently and eating well that I'll be fine. It's just forging the routine itself that's hard. So how did you get the ball rolling? How did you start relosing the weight and creating a routine that ended up being successful while juggling a full-time job? I'd love any advice you can give =)

    PS: love the blog! you're doing a great job.

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  22. Anonymous, you are not alone! I think everyone has an adjustment period after college, trying to figure out how to balance your work life and healthy living! I think every person's situation is unique, however, some things that helped me:
    1. If at all possible, go straight to the gym after work. Pick days of the week that are non-negotiable, then don't even have the "should I go?" discussion with yourself. Just pick up your gym bag and go. :-) Then give yourself the weekend off. (without feeling guilty)
    2. I used to prepare snacks for the week on Sunday - I would chop up raw veggies and package them for snacks, or put some raw nuts into ziplock bags. Anything that encourages healthy eating at work.
    3. Make double of what you cook for dinner, and eat the leftovers the next night for dinner. Less effort that way!

    Hope this helps get you started! :-)

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  23. Wow, I really can't get enough of your blog! I am totally inspired by your fashion advice and now after reading your "fitness story" I feel I can totally relate. Keep doing what you do!

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  24. Gosh everyday I think I will start a routine and then I get lazy. I just had a baby 6 months ago and I am still 8 pounds heavier than before I got pregnant. I look terrible in pictures! Although I would like to loose 20 in total to feel really good. I kind started today eating less... I need strength!

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  25. Hang in there! Try to find a routine that you love and look forward to, and you are more likely to stick with it. There are so many creative ways to get exercise, try to find one that you love!

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  26. I love your fitness story, it really hits home with me. My biggest struggle is ice cream. I used to have a bowl a night after eating great all day and working out too. But I decided I needed to substitute something else in place of my evening indulgence. I started freezing Yoplait whipped yogurts and eating them as dessert. Get great flavors like lemon pie and raspberry. Oh, it's wonderful! Just thought I would share...

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  27. jseverydayfashionMarch 9, 2011 at 9:21 PM

    Thanks Maeg. That is such a great idea for replacing ice cream! It's really all about not depriving yourself, but finding something that works for you. Thanks for sharing that tip!

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  28. Hi J! I love your blog! This is the only blog I actually follow <3
    I have a huge sort of last minute question... I am going hiking this coming Thursday thru - Friday, I am in California...the temperature will be around 95 degrees on the daytime and 63 degrees during nightime; I HAVE NEVER gone hiking in my life... and I have no idea what to wear
    PLEASE help me!!!
    Thank you! and keep up the awesome work!

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  29. Thanks Lucy! For hiking, you'll want some shoes with grip - hiking shoes are best, but some sneakers (like running shoes) will also work. You also want pants/shorts that you can almost do the splits in, so you don't split your pants taking a big step up. You could wear some yoga pants, running shorts, or some loose cargo pants or shorts. For a top, I would layer to account for the change in weather throughout the day - a tank top with a long-sleeve shirt over it maybe. Have a good time, hiking is so much fun!

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  30. Just found this post: I also went through a phase like your phase 3 (a mannniac). I stopped cold turkey and it took me 5-6 years to get to a healthy balance (your phase 4). Personally, I can't count calories or have a regimented routine either. I turn into a maniac and get too obsessive. I do best when I stop thinking about it. I eat what I crave and then let it go. I make an effort to exercise when I can. If I don't make it one week, I won't beat myself up over it - I was too miserable in the maniac phase.

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  31. jseverydayfashionApril 5, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    Julia, I am the same way! I have a bit of an obsessive personality so I've found that thinking about it too much actually works against me. I work hard when I can, show myself some grace, and it all balances it out in the end! :-)

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  32. Great post J. It took me some trial and error experiences to find what works for me too. I have found that embracing weights is the best thing women can do and it seems like the biggest kept secret! I agree, it's about finding things you enjoy and finding balance.

    I also believe it comes down to consistency. I don't think it matters as much WHAT you are doing as long as you are doing SOMETHING on a regular basis.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  33. jseverydayfashionApril 6, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    Great tips Katelyn! Consistency definitely helps, and so does adding some weight lifting your routine. Thanks for reading! :-)

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  34. Thanks for sharing. I was just wondering what you do to stay in shape, and now I know. I am similar but right now I'm at a stand still with my weight and seems like I just can't get below it. I guess I need to work harder.

    Love this part: "... I cared way too much. I worked out 6 days a week, an hour a day and ate really boring food. I spent way too much time at the gym and not enough time enjoying the life. Here's a picture of me during phase #3. I was pretty darn fit, but I also really resented working out. You honestly couldn’t pay me to want to live like that again. Life is too short..."

    You are so right about that, and I appreciate you being so honest with your readers.

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  35. jseverydayfashionApril 8, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    :-) Who doesn't wish they could have the perfect body, but I think you've got to draw the line somewhere. I have an obsessive personality so I don't/won't let myself get too concerned with fitness or it's no fun anymore!

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  36. I think it is also important- as stressed by many articles related to fitness/health- to consult a doctor (under fitness tip). To make sure a "balance" can be found in a way that does not hurt our body/health.

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  37. jseverydayfashionJune 19, 2011 at 6:50 PM

    SLG, at the very beginning of the post I stressed that I'm not a professional and to please consult one when starting a new routine!!

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  38. Stephanie_walter0409June 20, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    Can you do a posting on your nutrition, things you eat during the week that are healthy etc?  Your body is AMAZING, and I am trying to figure out good, non processed items to eat, and I would love to see what your diet consists of!
    Thank you!

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  39. jseverydayfashionJune 20, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    Stephanie, thank you! Here's a run down of what I eat during the week:
    - for breakfast I have about two eggs scrambled with extra egg whites, and a link of low fat turkey sausage
    - for a snacks I will have a banana or apple with peanut butter, yogurt, cheese and crackers (we get the Kashi brand so they are all-natural), or mixed nuts (no salt)
    - for lunch I have either leftovers from dinner or I make a turkey sandwich. we buy 100% whole wheat bread and always use low fat mayo, cheese, etc.
    - for dinner we make baked chicken or seafood with veggies, and either brown rice or whole wheat pasta. I love spicy food so I will add things like garlic, pico de gallo, cilantro, cajun seasoning, anything to give it flavor while still being healthy! Hope this helps. :-)

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  40. I like your fitness story, but I think you look great in your "post college photo."  You look healthy and I like the brown hair and slightly lighter skin-tone. In some of the later pictures, you look a little too tan (all that Florida sun?) I'm glad you've found a good balance in your fitness. 

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  41. jseverydayfashionJuly 12, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    Guest, I'm actually multi-racial and my skin is naturally dark. In all of the other photos besides the college one, I was at the very end of a two-week vacation in Florida and had been outside doing water sports and playing at the beach the whole time. My skin is already dark + gets darker really quick, so although I wear SPF, I can't help how dark it gets. Sorry if that bothers you.

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  42. Of course it doesn't bother me. It's great you can get tan quickly. I just wondered if you had done it on purpose ( tanning beds, laying out a bunch, etc), which would not be healthy and then I would be concerned. If it's just from playing outside, then that's great!  I haven't been to this blog much, so I guess you've probably talked about it before. Sorry, and I love looking at all your outfits. You have great style!

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  43. jseverydayfashionJuly 12, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    Unfortunately this is a topic that comes up a lot - I'm accused almost daily of unsafe tanning practices, even though people don't consider (or ask about) my heritage. I'm a crazy about SPF and not using tanning beds and recommend the same for everyone!

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  44. I buy the little one serving size Ben & Jerry's ice cream- it comes in a cute little package and a little spoon- which means it takes longer to eat and you are not going to smash an entire pint of ice cream. Preeettty much guilt free :) Love the blog 

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  45. I recently discovered your fashion blog (which I love beyond words, btw) and after following for a few days I popped in this morning specifically to ask you what your workout plan looks like.  Thanks for sharing!  You look amazing!

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  46. Thank you Angie! Welcome to the blog! :-)

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  47. Thanks for all the sites!Hope I stay motivated!

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  48. this is what i need at present J...u have an awesome bodyyy....

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  49. thanks for this post! the idea of a "fitness story" really appeals to me because i've also had periods of lots of working out and health food alternated with a period of gaining weight and generally unhealthy habits. this was a good reminder that there is an in-between. i look forward to reaching this "balance" stage and appreciated the little tips for getting there!

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  50. I came across your blog about a week or so ago and am pouring through it. I love how down to earth you are. I'm learning my style and have a very similar "health history". Didn't workout really until college, ran like crazy! And have just NOW begun to comprehend nutrition and how much it really does affect my body. Thanks for posting. =)

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  51. Thanks Becky, and welcome to the blog!! :-)

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  52. You look fantastic! I love your blog. Being a Tampa girl, I really appreciate your outfits that are wearable in the Florida heat! Most fashion blogs are layer crazy. I also love that you wear shorter shorts. Most blogs advise me at 40 years old to give them up. But I'm short and long Bermudas just make me look shorter!
    Anyway, I'm hoping to lose about 30 lbs. my reward will be to schedule a consult with you! Question about weights: I've been told to lift "real" weights instead of light to build muscle. But you mention light weights. I'm confused!!

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  53. i am in love with your blog! i love clothes and fashion, but i'm a huge cheapskate and always want to find bargains! i love shoes and heels, but its hard to find them that are comfortable for all day use. Keep up the blogging i would love to see your summer looks!

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  54. I'm currently about to start my 3rd year at college and I've had my own struggles with my weight. I'm also not overweight by any standards, but I just don't eat very healthy all the time and have a love-hate relationship with working out. This blog is totally inspiring! I've been stressing over the fact that I'm almost 21 and I haven't figured out how to balance my eating and working out yet. It definitely made me feel a lot better to see that someone else went through the same thing and came out on top with a great balance :) Thanks for the inspiring words, J! Love your blog!!

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  55. jseverydayfashionJuly 6, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    Thanks so much Elena! I definitely didn't find my balance until I was in my my mid-20's. Especially with the lifestyle of a student, that can be really hard to stay healthy. We gotta just do what we can when we can, and not beat ourselves up too much in the in between. :-)

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  56. Hi J,
    I have a question regarding how you wear/tie your belts.  Do you size up? I can't figure out how to make my skinny belts look like yours and also, aren't they really "just for show"?  When I wear a belt over a cardigan or the way you do in today's post, the belt rises when I sit down and I have to "readjust" when I stand up.... ugh!

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  57. jseverydayfashionJuly 20, 2012 at 4:55 AM

    Deb, watch this video and where I explain how to get the belt to stay in place, without needing to punch any new holes: http://www.jseverydayfashion.com/2010/11/video-how-to-belt-cardigan_12.html I like to buy them so that they fit the largest part of your body, so up high on the waist there is plenty of belt to work with!

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  58. Hi J!
    I'm a senior in high school and I've had a hard time with diet and exercise my entire life. I'm 5'7" and around 140 lbs, which is fine since it's not the weight I'm worried about. I just have a hard time passing up a sweet or bag of pringles, like any typical girl! Your blog is inspiring me though. I love fashion but I always feel self conscious in my clothing because I'm not as fit as other girls. I think after reading your posts I'm going to start making goals though. You've inspired me (: Thank you!
    And one question, how did you start running? I'd love to run but I'm so out of shape that it just seems like it's impossible to start!
     

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  59. So glad you enjoyed the post! I began running one day on a treadmill - it probably wasn't the healthiest way to start. I would suggest Googling some starting running programs (start really small) or using a personal trainer to start.

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