Friday, November 7, 2014

Autoimmune Protocol :: Making the decision.

I revealed the reason why I considered starting the Autoimmune Protocol, but the process of making this decision was really difficult.  One might think that if someone has a health issue he or she would do anything to try and remedy or alleviate the problem.  As a lover of food and eating, I struggled with many emotions and logistics of actually following through with the AIP.

The Emotions.

Food and drink is a big part of my life.  Even though I cut out most fast and processed foods a long time ago, I still eat out often.  D and I enjoy food.  We bond over trying new restaurants.  When we travel, our favorite activities include trying new drinks, visiting breweries, and exploring the restaurant scene.  Food makes me happy.  Meals and drinks with friends is really something special and social.  This aspect of my life, our lives, makes completing a Whole 30 or AIP elimination so hard.  During my last Whole 30, I often turned down social engagements with friends or with D because it is too hard to be around the alcohol (or numerous people drinking around you) and choose appropriate items from menus to eat.  This aspect of an elimination diet is depressing for me.  I also knew that doing "another" strict eating plan would cause some friction between D and I.  He and I have different eating habits, and he gets tired of having to work around my restrictions.  

Then there was the fear.  Fear of the possibility of my body not tolerating my favorite foods: eggs, tomatoes, coffee.  Peppers, cumin, chili powder: goodbye taco nights.   Nuts: not my beloved Larabars!  The thought continues to linger (especially now that I've seen results after eliminating these foods) that I will lose a food that I love so much.  The mental battle between what I loved more, my (seemingly cosmetic afflicted) body or my food.  Seriously, the struggle is real.

[Why should I have to give up delicious, healthy foods like a caprese salad?!]

The Logistics.

You may remember that I am a pescatarian.  This has always made completing a Whole30 difficult.  After all my research for the AIP, I felt like it was going to be extremely difficult to complete the protocol utilizing only fish.  For this reason (and also hoping to appease D a bit more by making additional carnivorous dishes), I made the decision to consume meat while on the AIP.  There is plenty of research or opinions claiming that meat (organ meats specifically) help to heal your gut, but I have not messed with a lot of it.  My plan was to make the best meat choices I could: buying grassfed and locally as much as possible.  Of course, this is expensive.  BUT it has improved my success and progress on the AIP.  

I'll be providing a more thorough update on my body's healing and progress on the AIP next week!

Have you ever had to give up a food for a health reason?
What food would you have the hardest time giving up?

Monday, November 3, 2014

I've been keeping a secret.

 photo 6a7bcfdd-6a5c-4787-b33d-ed51b83b30db_zps8931669c.png

I mentioned last week that I started the Autoimmune Protocol diet.  Referred to as AIP, the "rules" of the eating plan can be found all over the internet, but I love this simple description from AIP Lifestyle.  Before I began my journey, I thoroughly scoured the resources of The Paleo Mom, Autoimmune Paleo, and A Clean Plate.  I've gotten ahead of myself.  Why in the world did I even think I should start this diet?  Even D reminded me that after my last go at Whole30 I said, "I'm never going to do this again."

Insert my secret.  Since I was a teenager, I have struggled with an embarrassing problem.  I have cysts or boils that pop up on my body.  They typically appear in well hidden but increasingly embarrassing spots such as my buttocks and thighs.  I delayed speaking to a doctor about my problem until I was in college.  The dermatologist sent me home with a special soap and no formal diagnosis.  After that embarrassing and unhelpful experience, I never bothered with consulting another doctor.  In the past few years, the problem has gotten worse.  More "spots" (which I call them and admittedly sounds better than boils) continued to appear, and they would take forever to heal.  About a year ago after having a painful spot appear in my groin area, I decided to do some research and again consult a doctor.  My doctor suggested a warm compress for the groin spot and asked no additional questions.  I continued to research on my own, and my internet research led me to believe that I suffer from Hidradenitis Supprativa.  Primal Girl is the online "expert" on the disease and provides a thorough description on her blog.  I understand that self-diagnosing myself is silly, but I truly feel that my symptoms are exactly what she describes.  I refuse to be on antibiotics or medications for extended periods of time, but I understand if this altering of my diet does not alleviate my condition I will likely need consult doctors.  I believe that I have Stage 1-2 of Hidradenitis Supprativa (HS) which I consider lucky.  There are many who suffer from the affliction to the point that it hurts to sit, stand, walk, etc.  I have only spoken to maybe three people ever about my affliction (and two of those were within the last year), but I believe in spreading awareness.  I know I am not the only one to be ashamed.

I finally hit the point of having enough.  I'm tired of being embarrassed when changing at the gym.  I no longer want to feel forced to wear running capris instead of shorts.  I want to feel comfortable walking around naked!  I'm proud of the body I have worked so hard for, and I don't want to have to hide parts of myself.  I knew it was time to make a change, but the decision didn't come lightly.  It was time to take control of my health and well-being.  Many suspect that Hidradenitis Supprativa is an autoimmune disease and can be treated with the proper diet.  I'll be posting more on my AIP journey later this week.

Do you have an Autoimmune Disease?
Have you ever tried the AIP?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall capsule round-up + life.

 [1.6 outfit :: Denim on denim, but I actually didn't love this scarf paired with it.  It didn't leave me feeling very "fall" inspired]

 [1.7 outfit :: The warm weather is so hard to dress for (with only one pair of shorts and a long skirt).]

 [1.8 outfit :: This white pull-over is one of my favorites.  Plus I'm getting a million compliments on all my jewelry.]

 [1.9 outfit :: I actually hated this outfit.  This shirt was too short with these ponte pants, but I had nothing else clean and had worn all my other pants that week.]

 [1.10 outfit :: This shirt.  Love.  The material is thick and the style is perfection.]

[1.11 outfit :: These shoes.  Perfection.  Also, I switched to gray skinnies as the night progressed because it got cold at the beach.]

[1.12 outfit :: This is literally the first time I've ever worn closed-toe shoes with a maxi.  And it was ok!]

[1.13 outfit :: I wish I could find these joggers again because I would get so many more pairs.  They fit so well!  I randomly snagged the only pair on clearance at Gap.  I'm scared to style more than a tee and sneakers with them though.]

[1.14 outfit :: This maroon is my favorite.]

[1.15 outfit]

[1.16 outfit :: First time breaking out the tall boots.  As nice as Frye boots are, they have zero support in the soles. Note to self: add inserts!]

All pieces can be found on my original fall capsule post.  I'm definitely enjoying having a minimal closet.  I'm learning that there is certainly no need to have an obscene amount of clothes in my closet.  It makes life so much easier to have less.  That said, I do miss buying new pieces.  There are a few things I want now, but I know they won't be practical for my winter capsule.  I am getting a bit bored and concerned with the pieces I have.  The weather is getting really chilly in the evenings at school, so I'm considered switching out a bottom or two (ie. the maxi skirt doesn't feel practical going all the way through December).

On another note, I've signed up for my next half marathon in February and will be running with my bestie (her first half!).  I'm also in the process of following a 30 day elimination using the Autoimmune Protocol Paleo diet.  The first week has been extremely challenging, but better than the Whole 30 in some ways.  So no alcohol or coffee.  I'm scared to see how this month goes...

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fall capsule round-up 1.1

In an effort to document my capsule experience while not trying to be a fashion blogger (because I'm certainly not), I'm doing a weekly round-up of my outfits using my up picture snippets.

My lifestyle is very casual and easy. I literally have no dress code for my job and typically pair jeans with semi-nice tees. This works for me, and I love having a capsule full of casual pieces which can easily be worn from day to night and on weekends.  So far the most difficult part has been preparing for the 80 degree days we've been having in Raleigh.  I prepared my fall wardrobe with the idea of having plenty layers in mind, but I didn't consider a lot of warmer days.  Many of my pieces are thicker materials and long sleeves which don't fare well for hot days outside with students.  Raleigh is looking at another upcoming warm front (low 80s as the week progresses), so I'm interested to see how I'm feeling after another week of this.

After cleaning out most stuff from my closet (I just didn't feel the need to remove every single non-capsule item from my big bedroom closet), I will admit I was scared.  Those are the only shirts (plus two vests) I would be "allowed" to use for three months!  It's not pictured but I have my sweaters folded on the rack above, but this looked sparse.

[1.1 outfit :: Jean shorts//Gap | Navy tee//Gap | Green Workshirt//Madewell | Gray Sneakers//Converse | Tote//Madewell]

This was the perfect warm weather outfit for work and play.  It may even be one of my favorite pairing so far.  It's comfortable and easy.  My classroom stays freezing, and the workshirt was a perfect layer to keep me cozy inside.

[1.2 outfit :: Dress//Madewell | Leopard loafers//Target]

This was my first time wearing this dress, and I was a little unsure of the fit (the waist tie hits at an awkward spot for my body shape).  Before even walking out of the gym, I got compliments!  I continued to get compliments all day and my co-workers kept noting how cute I looked.  The compliments boosted my confidence in this dress and I styled it up with a simple gold bangle (like this one).  The con?  These loafers are probably a half size too small for my feet and after an entire day they really hurt me.  When you only have five pairs of shoes, size and comfort is key.  I may need to replace this pair (with these JCrew beauties?).  I am excited about styling this dress in different ways throughout the season.

[1.3 outfit :: Stripped dress//Gap | Studded booties//Target | Tote//Madewell | Necklace//Madewell]

This dress has always been a favorite of mine.  The sleeves roll and can be secured with a button, and the fit is loose.  The fabric is a bit thick for a warm, sunny day.  I dressed it up a bit with a pretty necklace and again got tons of compliments.  It seems when I'm true to my own style, people notice.

[1.4 outfit :: Plaid shirt//Madewell | Destructed skinnies//Gap | Studded booties//Target]

I headed out for some day drinking with D at the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival in town.  This outfit was so comfortable and easy.  I curled my hair and didn't need any additional accessories.  I adore this shirt because it's lightweight.  I rolled the sleeves for the day, put them down in the evening and layered with my favorite new jacket.  

[1.5 outfit :: Tee//gifted | Dark skinnies//Gap | Plum sweater//Gap | Gray sneakers//Converse]

This is the perfect outfit for a chilly Sunday of running errands (and picking up Chinese food to-go).  I love the long length and open-front of this sweater.  It's thin, so it makes it a perfect layering piece.  

I'm finding that my signature style is easy and comfortable.  I love adding a simple piece of jewelry to make an outfit look a tad-bit nicer especially since I don't spend time curling my hair on week days.  I am learning that my shoe choices may be an issue.  It's not quite time for tall boots+socks, but my Converses & loafers hurt my feet when wearing them multiple days in a row (it's possible my sneakers are a half size too small as well), and I'm still waiting on the arrival of my Vans sneakers.  I'm still looking forward to the variety of outfits I can mix and match though.

What is your style?
Do you wear some shoes for the sake of "style" even if the fit isn't perfect?

Monday, September 29, 2014

The capsule wardrobe.

As I continue to get older, and hopefully more mature, I keep learning about myself.  I have recently discovered that one of my greatest faults is my management of money when it comes to shopping.  When I first learned about this capsule wardrobe trend, I thought, "no f-ing way."  There was not one part of me that wanted to go three months with no shopping and only use a select number of clothing pieces.

Then I started researching the idea more.  And I started kind of falling in love with the idea.  My closet was jam-packed with so many clothes that I did not know what I had.  Half the time my clothes stayed packed from trips or in piles because I simply did not need them.  This was a problem.  I'm mostly a thrifty shopper, and I buy primarily from clearance and sales racks.  While this can be a good thing, it left me with tons of clothes that I just didn't love (and also did not fit my style).  Who needs closets full of mediocre clothing?  

I finally decided to do something about it.  I followed Caroline's recommendations and took every single thing out of my closet.  With little abandon, I narrowed everything down.  I ended up with about six trash bags full of clothes.  I had remorse on only one piece of clothing (and actually ended up adding that one to my fall capsule).  I did keep a container with "maybe" and/or "keepsake" pieces (I just can't let go of that shirt I wore on my first date with D).  With the minimal amount of pieces I kept, I was able to hang up all of my clothing (aside from sweaters) and it was liberating!  I've had such an easy time picking out clothing.  Now I feel confident that a minimal clothing lifestyle is going to make my life easier and hopefully curb my spending habits.

I've been prepping my fall capsule for about a month.  There's a feeling of excitement knowing that I have "special" clothing items waiting for me.  I know my capsule will be an experiment, and I'm not sure what my end feelings will be.  Will I hate all the clothes after a month?  Will I have to constantly do laundry? Will I be good at mixing and matching?  I'm trying not to focus on the what-ifs and instead maintain the goals for my fall capsule:

Spend less money on clothing.
Buy a few quality, well-made pieces.
Establish my own personal style.

And with that, here is my fall capsule that will run from October through December.

Gap Legging Jeans (similar) | Gap Dark-Wash Legging Jean | GapFit Stripe-Panel Pants (similar) | JCrew Factory Gigi Pant

Gap Boyfriend Shorts | Old Navy Maxi Skirt (similar) | "Leather" Leggings (similar) | Gap Jeans

JCrew Chambray | Gap Popover Shirt (similar) | Gap White Tee (similar) | Gap Light Chambray Popover Shirt (similar)

Graphic Tee (similar) | Gap Tee (similar) | JCrew Striped Tee (similar) | Gap Sweatshirt

Madewell Workshirt (similar) | Gap Cardigan (similar) | Gap Cardigan (similar) | Old Navy Chunky Sweater (similar)

Madewell Anorak Dress (similar) | Gap Striped Dress (similar) | Target Blazer | Gap Vest

Target Leopard Flat (similar) | Converse Sneaker | Target Studded Midi Boot (similar) | Frye Shirley Boot | Vans Leather Sneaker

Not all items pictured are the exact pieces I have, but this gives you an idea of my color scheme and style.  Since I work with children and have to be outside on a regular basis, my wardrobe needs to be pretty casual.  October through December can be tough months in the south in regards to predicting the weather.  I made sure to choose lots of pieces I can layer for the changing weather.  If you're interested in doing your own capsule, I would definitely recommend downloading Un-Fancy's free wardrobe planner!  It has been extremely helpful along the way.

Do you have a capsule wardrobe?
Do you dress minimally?
What am I missing?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Adventures in packing :: How to pack a backpack + small carry on.

 photo ab27c1b3-4385-425a-8019-363e60abfd49_zps4f677d3a.png

After planning out what I was going to wear for our hiking/exploring trip to Europe, D and I made the decision to take our backpacks (which we took on our first trip to Europe) as opposed to our rolling carry-on suitcases.  While I'm usually one to save money instead of checking bags, we made this decision for a couple reasons.  First, we're flying Delta and get free checked bags on those long-leg flights.  Second, we're going to be doing a ton of travel via train after our hike is over.  In my opinion, this is a really important aspect when attempting to decide what luggage to take.  Lugging a rolling suitcase (of any size) up tons of stairs or through narrow train (or plane) isles can be a pain.  Even though a big backpack can seem cumbersome, it's a lot easier to get around.

My Kelty has served me well.  It has a ton of pockets, and the top portion can be disconnected to serve as a fanny pack if that's your thing.  There's so much going on though, it's hard to know where to start when packing this huge thing.  


If your backpack has a bottom zippered pocket, reserve that for your shoes.  If you're not using a backpack, try to pack your shoes first.  It'll help your suitcase to not be top heavy and fall over all the time.  

Quick tip: Stuff your socks inside your shoes before packing them.  I'll mostly be wearing sandals or my Chucks and won't need many socks.  I am taking two pair of sweat wicking socks for the hike, so I stuffed those inside my boots.


As long as you won't be using these items first (for instance I won't be using my dresses or jeans on our hike which is the first part of our trip).  After we finish our hike, I'll move those pieces to the bottom.

Next load up the items you'll need first.  I topped off the jeans and dressed with my hiking and yoga pants.


I would strongly suggest using packing bags.  I find it helpful to have my clothes sorted, so I'm not constantly digging through my bag trying to find a specific shirt.  This would also cause me more stress because I would be constantly folding & re-folding clothes within my backpack.  I used Eagle Creek Pack-It Compression Cubes, and they work wonders!  They have a lifetime guarantee and honestly hold much more than you think they would.  Plastic ziplock bags, old Toms shoes bags, or these adorable bags Anna used to pack for a west coast trip would work too.  Anything to separate and easily navigate within your bag will do!

In the smaller of my compression cubes, I packed six tanks (I ended up moving the camisole to the bigger cube).

In my larger cube, I packed four shirts and two pair of shorts.  In both cubes I found it easier to keep the shirts folded instead of rolled.  It really depends on what works for you.

I'm not 100% sure if wrinkles will be a problem, but I'm planning to have access to a hair dryer most of the trip.  If you won't have a dryer, pick up something like this from Downy.  Target almost always has travel sizes of that or a similar product.

I threw the cubes on top of my pants in the backpack.  Following that I layered a button-down shirt.  Wrinkles are a concern with the chambray, so I put that on top with very little on top of it.


I have that handy "fanny pack" on the top of my bag, so I threw in lighter pieces including a sweatshirt, packable rain jacket (necessity for a hiking trip), and my hats.  It's possible I'll switch around the toiletry bag.  The issue I have with the toiletries being on top is that they could get banged around in the checked-bag process.  I don't want anything to bust or get broken, so that's a detail to bear in mind when packing a bag that isn't hard on the outside.

Finally the front zippered pocket is reserved for the lightest items (which will also protect toiletries or items on the inside) such as underwear, scarves, bras, and swimsuits.

The last and final element of packing was including my small daypack with a hydration bladder which I'll use for the hike.  If you're into it, you can just use your daypack as your carry-on.  For me, I didn't want to carry something on my back around Spanish cities since I feel like it's an invitation for pickpockets.  I also like a bag I can easily reach into when I need something.  My daypack is smaller than my purse, so I chose to pack it.

While it may not look like it, the day pack slipped in easily on top with all the straps tucked in underneath.  
Backpack complete.


Last, but not least, is the carry-on.  Finding the perfect purse was important and difficult.  I often use my Kate Spade Minka, but it's orange and just wasn't going to work for the summer months.  I also needed something that zipped across the top (no pickpocketing!) and fit my DSLR.  

I'm still debating two options for my carry on.  The above includes my ONA camera organizer.  It's important for me because it keeps my camera from getting scratched up or lost in the mix in the satchel. It is a tad bit big for the satchel especially when I include a few other larger items like my wallet & kindle.

Nonetheless, there are some important necessities you want to have in your carry-on.
  • Travel wallet (which holds my passport inside)
  • Kindle/tablet/iPad
  • Headphones
  • Earplugs
  • Kleenex
  • Sleep mask
  • Travel journal
  • Sleep aid (so I can sleep on the overnight flight)
  • Playing cards
  • Umbrella
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera
Am I leaving anything out?  Including my camera, the satchel is heavy.  I wouldn't want much more aside from maybe my glasses and a few toiletries (to brush teeth and on the chance that my checked bag gets lost).

Monday, May 19, 2014

Adventures in packing :: Hiking+exploring for 15 days in Europe.

 photo ab27c1b3-4385-425a-8019-363e60abfd49_zps4f677d3a.png

Over the past two months, I've been having a lot of anxiety over packing for our upcoming trip to Spain & Portugal.  I mean I've done this before, so it should be no problem, right?  Wrong.  Even though this trip is shorter, it will be very different.  We're beginning our trip by hiking the first leg of Camino de Santiago trail.  Hiking means completely different clothing than I would wear for trekking around cities.  I was racking my mind every night with what I should pack, what I might need to buy, what will I carry it all in, etc.  Finally I eased my anxiety by {poorly} sketching out a packing list.

Tips for making a packing list:
  • Establish a palette/theme :: I'm a neutral girl all the way, so I have lots white, gray, and black.  I would suggest picking one general color palette and ensure that your pieces mix-and-match.
  • Realistically determine what physical activity you'll accomplish :: Traveling is tough because it takes me away from my normal exercise routines.  I'm always tempted to take my running shoes, but unless I'm at a resort I know I won't be running.  There's something scary about running unknown streets, so I shouldn't kid myself.  Take the running shoes, yoga mat, sports bra, only if you know you'll use it.
  • Be aware of any "dress codes" :: Many countries won't allow you to enter churches or cathedrals if you aren't wearing sleeves.  Make notes of dress codes such as this or simply carry a long sleeve shirt with you.
  • Layers, layers, layers :: I'm pretty fickle when it comes to temperature.  D likes to say that there's about a 10 degree range that works for me; anything outside "the range" leaves me freezing or scorching.  Remedy? Layers. Button-downs atop short sleeves atop tanks as necessary.

When planning out my packing list, I tried to be frugal but give myself enough options.  I packed minimally for the hiking portion of our trip (it is only four days of the trip) knowing that I'll have to reuse at least one bottom and top.  I gambled that it would be ok because I likely would't wear those clothes again throughout our trip.  As for the city-wear, I could make so many outfits out of these pieces.  As a chronic outfit planner (down to each and every piece), it makes me a little anxious but also gives me freedom!  I know I'll need that freedom since I won't be able to predict the weather.  To break it down:

  • Shirts :: 
    • 4 tees (three neutral colored+one bright)
    • 3 tanks (again, two neutral+one bright
    • 2 blouses (chambray+white
    • 1 thicker long sleeve (can be used hiking and in the city
    • 1 camisole
    • Added last minute: 3 sweat-wicking, activewear shirts for the hike
  • Bottoms :: 
    • 3 shorts (two neutral+one bright
    • 1 skirt (I'm actually taking two skirts & two shorts
    • 2 pants (one hiking+one yoga)
    • 1 pair of jeans
  • Dresses ::
    • 2 dresses (can be dressed as skirts or used for nice dinner occasions)
  • Outerwear ::
    • 1 rain jacket
    • 1 light casual jacket (to be worn on the plane)
  • Shoes ::
    • 1 hiking boot
    • 1 active sandal
    • 1 casual walking shoe
    • 1 cute sandal

I truly packed everything, plus more, that I mentioned.  When I was packing I was a bit worried that I packed too much.  It's possible you could scale it back.  The weather is predicting low 70s, and I'm cold-natured.  I wanted to ensure that I had plenty of layers if it is chilly.

For accessories, go simple and light!  All of mine will fit in the front pocket of my backpack.  Aside from the basic underwear & bras (sports bras included if you're hiking), you want pieces that will change the the look of your outfit so you can mix and match items.  A few components to add:
  • A hat and/or headscarf (which doesn't take up much room at all!)
  • 1-2 necklaces
  • 1-2 swimsuits
  • 2-3 scarves
  • 1 thick belt, 1 thin belt

While I'm only taking one swimsuit, I'm planning to take 7 pairs of underwear & 2 sports bras (to alternate for the hike).  I'm actually taking 3 scarves, but I'm planning to wear the biggest, an infinity scarf for warmth, on the plane.  I'm throwing my necklaces in my toiletry bag, so they aren't pictured either.  The belts are necessities, but I just forgot to picture them.

The only items that won't be included in my backpack are my airport outfit.

Aside from this outfit, I'm fitting everything into a backpack.  There's a method to the madness, so check out how to fit all of this (which includes a smaller backpack with hydration bladder) into a backpack and a purse.  


Pin It button on image hover