3/3/16

What's New March

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Today I'm joining Gretchen and Kristen for their monthly, "What's New With You" Linkup, so I'm sharing a few new things I'm buying or doing, and I thought it would be appropriate to start off with things that are new to me...thanks to them!

What's New With You
New Hair Product:
John Frieda 7-Day VolumeAmazon

I have rather thin, fine hair and I'm always looking for products that help it look thicker and fuller than it is! Gretchen recommended this and said that any time she used it, she felt like it made her have a good hair day. I've been using it since September and will re-purchase it when mine runs out, but my experience with it varied a lot. First, the directions say to apply a generous amount to your entire head of hair in the shower and leave it in for three minutes. When I tried that, it was really bad news for styling my bangs and made my hair feel a bit sticky over all. So when I gave it a second chance, I only applied it to the lower half of my hair and the results were much better. I find that I have an okay hair day the same day I use the treatment (I still feel a bit of sticky product residue on there), but the next time I wash it (usually the next day), I have a great hair day. Normally I use it about once a week (on Mondays), but if I have a specific event where I want extra volume I plan to use it one or two days prior.

New Makeup Product:
Maybelline Age Rewind via Amazon

Kristen recommended this under eye concealer (with an excellent, easy-to-follow tutorial) and prior to this, I wasn't using any under eye concealer, even though I needed one! They all just seemed too expensive or required some kind of complicated application/contouring technique. But Kristen made this look easy enough to use and it's very affordable, so I decided to give it a try. Once again, it's a hit for me and I plan to re-purchase when mine runs out.

New Clothes:
I posted some of my President's Day Sale purchases from Express and Nordstrom last month and wanted to follow up with what I kept (i.e. new clothes!) vs. returned.

Express Order:
I originally posted my order for these items here:

And here's how it all looked in real life:

I broke down the outfit details below along with the reasons why I kept or returned each new item:

ONE:
Jacket: Express / Cami: Express / Necklace: Kendra Scott / Jeans: Express / Shoes: Sole Society

New Jacket: Keep! This fits great and feels amazing. The only reason I haven't worn it an outfit yet is that it's a thicker, warmer jacket (similar warmth to a Minus the Leather Jacket from Express) and we've been having temps 10-15 degrees warmer than usual here, so I would be sweating in this all day.

TWO: 
Top: Express (Fluro Guava) / Jeans: Express / Shoes: Sole Society

New Shirt: Return. This is even more neon in person and although I think the color is gorgeous, it was just too bright for me. I know if I wore it I would get several, "Whoa!! I need sunglasses for that shirt!" comments and that would annoy me to the point that I wouldn't enjoy wearing this.

THREE: 
Top: ExpressJeans: Express / Necklace: Kendra Scott / Shoes: Target (Similar)

New Supersoft Jeans: Return. These jeans fit and feel great and really are so soft as the name implies, but after getting them in person they just weren't different enough from my other (four) pairs of black jeans to justify them. That said, I would definitely recommend them if you need your first or second pair of black jeans! (For all my detailed notes on the differences in jeans at Express and where I sized up or down see this post.)

FOUR: 
Top: ExpressJeans: Express / Shoes: Steve Madden / Necklace: Stella & Dot

New Cropped Jeans: Keep! I love these! I wanted a pair of slightly lighter jeans with some distressing (but not too much) for Spring and these were perfect! Even though they are cropped, for my height (5'4") they still seemed normal length and I even opted to cuff them for the shoes I was wearing.

Nordstrom Order:
I originally posted my order for these items here

Shirt (Sold Out) / Shoes

Shirt: Return. The sleeves were too tight on this, and sadly it's already sold out so I can't even size up. It's also odd because I've owned this in two other colors and didn't need to size up, so go figure.

Shoes: Return. The sizing didn't work out for me on these. The toe bed was just too narrow and my toes were almost hanging off the side (and most certainly would be if I tried to walk ten steps in them). Sizing up wouldn't help because then I'd just get extra space at the front of the shoe where I didn't really need it.  


New Fitness Achievement:

If you follow me on Snapchat then you got a preview pic of this achievement, but Hallelujah, I can finally do the splits! I have been working on this goal since October (posted here) and didn't expect it to take this long because I thought I was already pretty close to my goal. It turns out training to get yourself down those last few inches into the splits is like losing those last five pounds. You have to take your commitment to a new level and work harder than ever!

From October through January, I was working toward my goal by adding 2-3 extended stretch sessions into my schedule each week. For reference, my daily stretch routine is almost identical to what Autumn Calabrese does in this video. (Thanks Megan for the recommendation!) Then I ended with more splits stretching as outlined in this article. In the first month, I noticed an increase in flexibility. Then despite keeping those 2-3 extra stretch sessions I plateaued for the next few months and didn't increase flexibility.

Last month that finally sent me back to the drawing board because I was frustrated by my lack of progress. I also had kind of a lightbulb moment where I realized that even though I was able to get into the splits after a very long stretch session, I wasn't doing enough to keep my hamstrings open. Going with a diet/weight loss analogy again, I think it's similar to crash dieting for a day and losing two pounds, but then you gain it back the next day when you go back to eating the way you did before. To lose weight and keep it off you have to change your habits consistently, not just once in awhile, so I decided to apply that approach to splits training to see if I could get my hamstrings to stay in that new level of openness. It worked! After about three weeks of consistent training I am able to do the splits at the end of my normal workout and stretch routine.

If for some reason you are crazy like me and want to make this a goal for yourself, here's a break down of the key elements in my training success. (DISCLAIMER. Do this at your own risk. You probably shouldn't do this at all because there's a good chance you'll pull something and hurt yourself. If you choose to ignore my recommendation against my own methods, don't say I didn't warn you and don't come after me for the damages.)

1. All Day, Every Day. I kicked off my new plan on a rainy Saturday where we didn't have a lot of plans and we were mostly indoors. I did my morning workout and a full stretch. I wore leggings that day and decided that I would do the splits every hour on the hour as long as we were home. Not a full stretch, just the splits for at least one minute on each side. I repeated that again on Sunday. Then on Monday, I planned to do them three times a day. In the morning after my workout, in the evening when I changed into yoga pants/PJs, and right before bed. Again, I wasn't doing long stretch sessions, just a minimum of holding the splits on one minute per side.

2. Hands Up. One of the key points I implemented from this article was stretching in the splits with hands OFF the ground. Sometimes I would position myself between two chairs and hold onto them, other times I'd sit next to a bed or sofa or even a stability ball and put both hands up on that off to the side. This really seemed to help let gravity do the work of dropping my body further into the stretch instead of putting the weight on my hands. My hands were holding me up (literally and figuratively) and preventing a deeper stretch. Once I started doing this I found I would sink more and it was actually less stressful on my body overall since my arms weren't working so hard to hold on. All of my energy went into opening my hamstrings and hip flexors, mentally and physically.

3. Welcome to the Discomfort Zone. This process is very, very uncomfortable. Not painful, but also not enjoyable in any way. I typically enjoy yoga and stretching, but to do this I had to go to the point of the stretch where it stops feeling good and starts feeling not good at all. Not painful, but not good. I did a lot of deep breathing and just thinking to myself, "It's only one minute. I can do this for one minute." I honestly can't think of anything I've done in the recent past that required so much physical discomfort!

4. Accountability. If I had not blogged about this goal, I most likely would have dropped it once I saw how difficult it was to make progress. But since I had to go and blab to the whole interwebs about it, I didn't want to quite or fail! Coincidentally, my husband also started a nightly stretching routine. (Not for the splits, just for the sake of his fitness.) When one of us didn't feel like stretching, we'd see the other one doing it and suddenly feel lazy for not stretching. If you really want to do this, I think teaming up with a friend (in real life or online) to stay accountable is a key component to success.

* * *
Well, this ended up being a much longer update than I anticipated! Despite being a short month, February was rather full of "new" stuff! I'll be back tomorrow with a short and sweet weekly recap since I feel like I've already "talked" your ear off this week!


Linking up with:
 Amanda / Gretchen / Kristen / Lisa / ErikaAndrea and Narci /JoLynne

CONVERSATION

20 comments:

  1. I've been horrible at stretching overall and now I'm as stiff as an old lady. So needless to say I can't do a split and I probably lost all the progress I made, so I need to get it together. Congrats on achieving your goal. I think I need those supersoft jeans, I need a sale asap!

    xo
    PinkSole

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  2. Congrats on achieving the splits! I should get my husband in on stretching. It would help both of us! I use a few different concealers and always seem to switch back to the Mabelline Age Rewind. Its a great product!

    Jill
    Doused In Pink

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  3. I always love when you show things on the models and then on you. I'm so glad you kept those jeans. When I saw them on you, I thought "those look great!" Congrats on your accomplishment of the splits! That's huge and clearly took a lot of work. You know I am always looking for volume adding products too. I might need to check this out.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

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  4. I can't believe you weren't using concealer until now, I wouldn't be able to live without it! Yeah, they are pretty expensive though. Congrats on the splits, yay!

    Xoxo,
    Whitney & Blaire
    Peaches In A Pod

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  5. I have that Volume product too...I think I found the shampoo quite good, but am not sure about the serum/booster part. I think I'll give it another try! Love the Maybelline concealer - but it's always out of stock here, so I thought they were discontinuing it (which wouldn't make sense as it's one of their best prodcuts) - I need to track it down! Super-impressed by the splits goal - my sister could do the splits as a teenager, and I always wished I could too! Also - love the express cropped jeans - they're perfect to wear with booties!

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  6. yay!! congrats on the splits, that is awesome!! that is seriously awesome and i am so happy for you! high five. i am also ridiculously excited that the maybelline product worked for you because i remember you saying you were pretty set on the products you used. i vary all over with all sorts of products, but that is literally the only thing i have repurchased and used up and will continue to use up. everything else, when something runs out, i try something new. if it runs out haha because my stuff rarely runs out. except for the maybelline stuff! love it. duh. i have super thin fine hair as well so i will have to try that volume stuff, but i won't put it on the top of my hair either - my hair hates when i do that! i used some random product once and my hair was so gross that no matter what i did, i couldn't get it out! my bestie recommended i wash my hair in dawn, and voila! nice and clean haha.
    thanks for linking up with us lovely :)

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  7. Okay, definitely need to start stretching more- you're killing it, lady!

    And I love that under eye concealer- it's the besssst! I think I'm on the third tube now. :)

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

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  8. I love your product recap - and wow, that shirt was neon - so different than the product image. I had a sweater that color - and I got that reaction. Congrats on the splits - I haven't been able to do the splits since cheerleading - and I won't mention how many years that has been!

    Lisa
    Daily Style Finds

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  9. I need to stretch more as well. It would help me in so many ways.

    I'm actually looking for a good concealer that doesn't cause me to break out anymore than I have been.

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  10. so much to say...first off I bought that shirt just after I read that post and the sleeves were too tight for me too, boo! And funny thing about the shoes, I couldn't find them online for whatever reason, and so I happened to be in Nordstrom that night and was wondering through the show clearance and they practically jumped out at me! They didn't have my size, but he was able to find them online and now they are in my hot little hands and I've worn them once already and they're super comfy too! Oh and the splits thing...picture or it didn't happen :)

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    Replies
    1. I posted pics on Snapchat! Stuff like that just feels more comfortable for me to post there.:) I'll do it again in the near future in case you or anyone else missed it.

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  11. I love how you show how the items look on you! I really like the pieces you kept. That tan jacket is so cute and those jeans fit you perfectly!

    Nicole
    Nicole to the Nines

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  12. I recently switched to the Maybelline Age Rewind, now I want to go watch her tutorial on how she puts it on! I have never been able to do the splits, but I used to be able to touch my toe to my nose! My daughter was doing this the other day and I thought I'd try it and was sad when I found out I'm just not as flexible anymore. I love your goal of being able to do the splits! My daughter can do those, too... sigh. :) I really love that camel-colored jacket, too!

    Carrie
    curlycraftymom.com

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  13. The neon shirt looks nothing like the on-line picture. I would have returned as well. But great job on the splits and I loved seeing your picture on SnapChat (which I'm still trying to figure out). I need to put your method into action, not only for splits but for general flexibility and some of the yoga poses. Oh and I also love that Maybelline concealer. I'm going through a more expensive tube of Estee Lauder which is okay, but not worth the price difference. I love a good drugstore product.

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  14. Thank you so much for linking up with us :) Love hearing about your new products and I'm glad that the treatment (semi) works for you. I wonder if it's different for you since your hair is shorter? Idk...I'm glad you found a way to get it to work though! Congrats on your splits..I saw that and was so happy for you!

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  15. That instant age rewind is one of my favorite makeup products!! I've been using it for like a year and a half and I'm still obsessed!
    www.amemoryofus.com

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  16. The Maybelline Age Rewind sounds awesome!

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  17. I love how honest you are about what you keep and what you return! I think some bloggers fail to disclose this but just affiliate link like crazy, so it feels disingenuous. You're always good about your reviews so I trust your opinions!

    Congrats on the splits! That's so awesome! You might be the only person I know who can do them. And amen on crash dieting vs. making eating habits a lifestyle. Now that I've discovered a new way of eating, I'm going to keep it up. I feel great!

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  18. Re: the bp tee- I noticed the last batch I ordered (3 of them) were all smaller than the ones I got last year. I've been tugging at them to stretch them out a bit but yeah it's frustrating they aren't the same.

    Re: splits! So proud of you! Blogging def makes me feel accountable for working out since I've been talking about it so much lately, so I'm glad it pushed you to make your goal despite it being so uncomfortable. I would love to be able to do the splits one day but I don't think I could do it with the dedication that you did! I will stick with my flexibility in Pilates, though your post makes me want to push myself that much harder!!
    Carylee | http://morepiecesofme.com

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  19. My hair is super thin and fine as well and I have the hardest time with styling products so I feel ya!!! I love that striped Express top!!!! I have been on the hunt for the perfect striped top for me since my current love has a hole in it and has to go. I have no clue how that happened?!?! Congrats on the splits!!! That is awesome!!!!

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