Budget Friendly Yoga Mat?

An awesome Groupon deal was recently referred to me from a friend that I couldn’t pass up!  I am now the proud purchaser of 30 yoga classes.  As much as I love yoga, truth be told, I am desperately need a new yoga mat and would like to purchase one before I begin any new classes.  I have been using the same cheap yoga mat for 4-5 years now and while it’s functional, I sweat a lot and slip and slide around the mat.  As a quick fix I usually just place a bath towel over my mat.  I am looking to purchase a new, non-slip mat or perhaps a non-slip towel, but nice yoga equipment is usually quite expensive.

After perusing the internet, here are my current top options:

Gaiam Premium Sticky MatGaiam Premium Sticky Yoga Mat, Gaiam, $29.98

Yogitoes Skidless Yoga TowelYogitoes Skidless Premium Mat-Size Yoga Towel, Amazon, $47.95

Aurorae Northern Lights Yoga Mat, Amazon, $44.95

Nike Dual-Sided Yogirl Yoga MatNike Dual-Sided Yogirl Yoga Mat, Sports Authority, $31.99

I have heard about and read reviews that Manduka is honestly one of the best brands of yoga mats around.  However, one of the cheapest Manduka mats I could find on Amazon was quite pricey.

Manduka BlackMatPRO 71-Inch Yoga MatManduka BlackMatPRO 71-Inch Yoga Mat, Amazon, $84

Is a more expensive and reputable yoga mat worth the investment?  What yoga mats or equipment do you use?

Budget Friendly Candles? Yes, they exist!

Growing up, I’ve noticed more and more I am definitely my mother’s daughter. I have become obsessed with candles and all things that make my apartment smell good! We all know that Yankee Candles can run anywhere from $10.00 – $35.00 for one candle. As much as I wish I could afford to splurge on them all, I’ve found a better alternative that not only beats the Yankee Candle prices, but smells just as delicious, if not better!

Ashka Candles have been in business for about 2 years, and are only getting bigger and better!  Not only am I proud to support their business that happens to be located in my local hometown of New Philadelphia, but they are also two women who have taken their dream and made it reality of owning their own successful business.

Photo Courtesy Ashka Candles

I put the candles to the test against the Yankee Candles for burning duration and scent. Ashka candles burnt longer and had a scent that lasted longer and filled up my apartment with the smells of fresh linen and coconut lime.  Their candles range in price of $1.50 for a tart to only $10.00 for a 12oz candle! They have about every scent you can imagine.

Photo Courtesy Ashka Candles

All of the candles are 100% soy which give the candles their longer burn time.  Ashka uses no additives and all of their wicks are zinc free which leaves no soot residue after they are burned.

I recommend these candles to anyone and everyone. Ashka ships anywhere in the US. They fit in my candle obsessed budget and are great for gifts as well!

DIY Show stopping scarves!

With the new year and recently becoming engaged, I have found myself putting my budget at the top of my priority list and it being even more strict than before. However, a tight budget doesn’t always mix well with a shopaholic. I have managed to stay under my budget with all of the help from my internet BFF, Pinterest! I’ve been in need for a new scarf for awhile but I haven’t allowed myself to spend the money on the $45.00 scarf I saw at Macy’s.  So, I decided to make my own! For how much you ask? FREE!   Here’s how:

You need:

  • Old tee-shirt
  • scissors
  • glue
  1. Lay the t-shirt flat on the ground. Use your scissors to cut about 1″ rows of fabric all the way to the armpit of the shirt.

(The dog is optional ha. )

2. Pull each strand so it is stretched out and each piece is around the same length.

Photo Courtesy of Ette Studios

  • Gather all of the pieces together. I looped them on the palm of my hand so they were all hanging from my hand at full length. Since I used a shirt that had a seam in it, i put all of the seams together so they were easier to hide.

    Photo Courtesy Ette Studios

    3. Cut an additional piece of fabric from the shirt to use to wrap around the seams to cover them and also add some design to your scarf. Glue the end of the additional fabric down so it doesn’t come loose.

4. You can play around with what you want to add to your scarf, or just leave it plain, but I wanted to add some subtle “bling” to mine.  I had an old necklace from Forever 21 laying around that was perfect.  It was added simply by mixing the chain in with my fabric and braiding it in. I wrapped the additional fabric around the top of the chain where the seams of the shirt were being covered to make sure the chain would be secure.

5.  You’re finished! Best part of these is that they are totally custom and so easy to make! You can dress them up or wear them with your favorite casual outfit as well for a little added flare!

I’d love to see what you all come up with!

Lose weight all day? Sure!

While I was recently browsing through my daily morning Yahoo articles, I came across one that instantly caught my eye. “How to lose weight all day long.” Uh, Hello! Of course I’m going to read that! I was expecting the same old “don’t do this, run a lot, don’t eat this” sort of thing, but I have to say I was more than pleasantly surprised. I read the article about a week ago and I have been following it’s guidelines along with my fellow blogger, Sandi’s tips and 100 workout. So far, only in a week I have lost 2 pounds and I feel so much better already! Amazing? I know. Who knew what a little bit of advice and self-discipline could do !  So let me share these awesome tips with you!

You should try as best you can to keep your body on the same schedule.  Within an hour of waking up and before you eat breakfast, squeeze in 20 minutes of cardio. If  you can do this outside, even better. Research has shown that early morning sunlight can help your body set itself on a healthier sleep and wake schedule.

Photo Courtesy motiveweight.tumblr.com/

Before and after every meal drink 8 ounces of water.  This will help you get filled up faster and help your metabolism speed up.  After your cardio, don’t keep your body’s “feed me” scream hanging on for too long.  Make sure you eat within an hour of waking up and after your cardio.  If you put off eating breakfast for too long, it will make you even more hungry as time ticks by.

Photo Courtesy motiveweight.tumblr.com

I was not a believer in this next one until I finally did it right.  Eat every 3-4 hours.  That hunger scream comes back once you really get into the swing of the cardio in the morning because your metabolism will be faster. Keep the hunger suppressed and have a snack every few hours. I have found that snacking on things with a texture to them psycologically is better to me. Things like carrots, celery and green peppers have been my snack of choice due to the “crunch factor”.

Photo Courtesy motiveweight.tumblr.com

Around 3:30 pm is the time where if you feel you need a boost, now is the time to drink your last cup of joe!Drinking coffee after 4:00 PM disturbs your sleep cycle and can keep you from falling asleep.

From 4:00PM -8:00 PM is the best time to do your strength training. This is because it’s when your body temperature is the highest, so you’re ready for your best performance in the gym yet!

Photo Courtesy Les Mills Body Pump

To make sure you don’t have those late night cravings, eat dinner somewhere between 5:00PM and 7:00PM.

It’s crucial for your body to stay on a regular sleep schedule. Of course, we have later nights than others, but you should try to limit the number of those nights.  Your body feels more refreshed and energized when it’s on a regular sleep schedule.  So around 10:00 each night, stop texting,  turn off Jersey Shore and go to sleep!

Stick to this plan, and I can guarantee you will see results!

Advice From A Rapper & Dear Photograph

I wanted to share with you all a couple of websites/blogs that I am current obsessed with!

Advice From A Rapper

I recently stumbled across Advice From A Rapper, a website/blog created by a graphic design artist in Austin, TX named Jessica Wright.  She takes famous lyrics from rap songs and creates uniquely styled graphics.  She hasn’t updated in a while but the graphics she already designed are incredibly creative!

Here are some of my favorites:

Bone Thugs N Harmony I TriedNotorious BIG JuicyyTupac Me Against the WorldPhotos courtesy of Advice From A Rapper

Dear Photograph

Dear Photograph was passed on to me from a friend and reminds me of Broke Girl Sandra Leah’s favorite site, PostSecret.  Dear Photograph is a site dedicated to users submitting photos – old photos held up to the current photo’s location.  Short stories and anecdotes are usually submitted with each photograph, some being sad and others nostalgic.

Here are some of my favorites:

Dear Photograph Family - KidsReminds me of my siblings and I!

Dear Photograph Old CoupleDear Photograph Little Boy Olden DaysPhotos courtesy of Dear Photograph

Progress Report

Just a quick little check in! I’ve been on my “lifestyle change” diet for about a week now and have some positive results thus far. I’ve lost 7 pounds already! Now, before you get excited because of this miracle, it was that time of the month for me last week (sorry, TMI) so I’d guess that 2-3 of those pounds are legit.

Regardless, this is good news! Way to boost my ego to help me keep on trucking.

A reminder on what I’ve been doing:

-low carb (basically no processed carbs, sugar, flour-based products)
-no artificial ANYTHING
-only drinking water
-lots of fruits and veggies
-turkey and tuna for a big portion of my animal based protein
-no soy!

I’ve been doing the 100 workout basically everyday with different forms of cardio thrown in.

Give it a whirl! It’s definitely worth the effort.

Somebody That You Used To Know-Gotye

I am at it again!  A great song and a great cover from YouTube.

I don’t know if I have been living under a rock or what, but I just heard Gotye’s (pronounced Go-To-Yay) “Somebody That You Used To Know” on the radio last night and immediately fell in love.  The song is so emotional, yet hip and upbeat.  Gotye sings about the common feelings one endures after a relationship comes to an end.  It features Kimbra who sings from the perspective of the woman in the relationship and she is just amazing.  Also, the video is gorgeous!

Canada’s Walk Off the Earth did a cover that is so great, it reached almost 15 million views in just one week!  Truly remarkable.

Please listen (if you haven’t already) and you will also fall hard for it.

Gotye ft. Kimbra:

Walk Off The Earth:

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Rollerball

As displayed in my Philosophy Purity Made Simple – Travel Size post, I have an affinity towards small and travel size beauty products.  Not only do smaller, high end beauty products allow me to try/shop around to find what I like, but the items are almost always inexpensive.

My favorite perfume is Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb. The sensual, floral scent is unparalleled to any other perfume I’ve had before and honestly smells amazing. The downside? A Flowerbomb 3.4 oz Eau de Parfum Spray will run upwards of $150. You obviously get more bang for your buck the larger the size, but why not try out a smaller option before you make the big purchase? Flowerbomb’s rollerball is now available at Sephora for only $25!

Viktor Rolf Flowebomb RollerballPhoto courtesy of Sephora

I purchased the rollerball for budgetary reasons about six months ago and it’s still going strong.  I use it everyday by adding a few quick rolls to my wrists.

If you are interested in a specific perfume, I definitely recommend checking out to see if a rollerball option is available.  You’ll save money and smell like a million bucks!

Lifestyle Change.

It is always on everyone’s mind, even you boys!  What can I do to lose weight fast and keep it off?

I don’t want to just go on another crash/fad diet (until something new comes out, ha)!  I want to slim down, get toned, and be healthy.  I have a plan.  Drum roll….

“Eat Healthy, Work Out”.  What do you think?  Sounds simple but it is much easier said than done.  I work from 6:30am until 5:00-6:00pm.  With the Los Angeles traffic, I usually get home around 7:00pm.  Sure, I have the time when I get home, but i’m often so tired!   But, these are the excuses that are keeping me from my goal weight!  No more crap 🙂

I want to eat healthy and work out in order to lose 6-8 pounds.  This sounds realistic so I am going to really go for it! No more jerking around!  Perhaps I can use this blog to publicly shame myself into staying on track?  

My Edibles Plan

  • Cut out all simple carbs like table sugar, items containing high fructose corn syrup, baked goods, chips, etc.
  • No more bread (yes, even whole wheat) unless it is sprouted wheat, made from rice flour, or quinoa.
  • Cut processed foods down to a minimum (nothing canned, packaged, artificial sweeteners, butter substitutes, etc).
  • No more soy!  I know this sounds crazy but i’m over it.  I heard that soy products (think soy milk, protein bars, etc…edamame should be OK as it is not processed yet) are incredibly difficult to break down and can hinder weight loss!
  • Eat more good fats like avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, raw nuts, etc.
  • More complex carbs!  Think fruits, veggies, sprouted wheat, quinoa, brown rice, etc.
  • No drinking alcohol, juices, diet sodas, etc.  Basically just water.
  • No more artificial sweeteners! I already mentioned this in the processed food no-no’s but I thought I would reiterate as I have a big problem with this. Mmm, Splenda!
My Work-Out Plan
  • Work out 5 days a week!
  • Cardio for 3-4 of the days.
  • Weights of some sort 2 days a week.
  • Stretch, stretch, stretch even on the 2 days I am not working out.
If I follow my own rules, maybe I will look like this:
Or this:
But hopefully not this:
Woof, scary.
__________________________________________________________________
I will track my progress online.  I will let you guys know how it goes!

PS:  I am in a friend’s wedding in April and the dress is a size too small.  So….I might be needing a crash diet in mid-March.  Let the Googling begin!  I kid, I kid!….kind of….