Freckles in April: February 2017

Monday, February 27, 2017

Year Round Skirt Style with Lark Skirts

I haven't taken pictures of myself like this in a while. But, as it turns out, style blogging is a bit like riding a bike. Which is good because somebody's gotta take pictures of my skirts and I happened to be available. And affordable.

Lark is releasing a new skirt each month in 2017 and this lovely green number went up in the shop this morning for the month of March. Some of my skirts are a bit more seasonal but I think this one works year round so here are some styling options for spring, summer, fall and winter!

Top from TJMaxx (similar)
Skirt from Lark
Shoes from Target (similar)

Those blue pinstripes!! So good.

Top from TJMaxx (similar)
Skirt from Lark
Necklace from CDavis Designs
Wedges from Payless, I think? (similar)

Shirt from TJMaxx (similar)
Skirt from Lark
Moccs from Payless (I also have Minnetonka ones, which I love and have held up a bit better than my Payless moccs. I've gone through about 4 pairs of those! Payless brings them back each fall and I grab a new pair every year)

That neckline though
Shirt from TJMaxx (similar)
Skirt from Lark
Shoes by Miss Mooz via Nordstrom Rack (similarish)

And YES all my shirts are from TJMaxx because that's where I went the other day to find styling options for this skirt. They're all recent and under $20, because that's how TJM rolls (bless them), so you might be able to find them if you go look! I tried to find the brands online and give links to the exact styles but my Google searches came up surprisingly empty. That's what happens with no-name brands, I guess. But TJM is really good right now! If you have one local, it might be worth your time to pop in.


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Friday, February 24, 2017

My Tips for Gym Success: Track Your Progress (OFF the Scale)

Booty check: still no booty :(

The scale says I weigh exactly one pound less than I did a year ago. My measurements and progress pictures show a much bigger difference.

Five years ago I took my bust, waist and hip measurements and wrote them on a piece of paper to keep by my computer for when I ordered clothes online. Eventually I transferred it to a note on my phone and periodically measured myself again to make sure it was still accurate. The result is that I have a running list of measurements for the past five years (minus pregnancy) on my phone and it hasn't changed much...until the past 8 months. Since July I've taken an inch off my bust and hips and an 1.5 inches off my waist.

The scale has limited usefulness. Take measurements. Take pictures. Weigh yourself from time to time if you want to, but don't worry too much about what it says. Evidence of change will likely show up in other ways (like arm muscles!) and that will keep you motivated.

(This is where I SHOULD show you my progress shots but I take pictures in my underwear and sports bra and I cannot bring myself to put pictures of myself in my underwear on my blog. Sorry/you're welcome?)


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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My Tips for Gym Success: Have a Plan

A few years ago I told myself that I would get serious about exercise after my 3rd (and final) baby. Until then...meh. Do whatever.

Well. She's here.

And has been.

For kind of a while.

It took a looming swimsuit vacation to finally kick me into action. The Caboose was over 18 months old when Aaron's brother got engaged and we were suddenly looking at a fall trip to Hawaii for his wedding to a tiny, adorable Frenchwoman.

I got a gym membership in June and worked hard until our trip in October. There are certainly fitter people out there but I dropped some belly fat and got more toned and I felt comfortable in my swimsuits.

It wasn't until I got home that I changed up my routine and started seeing more solid results. If you've seen me in person in the past few months I've probably flexed for you or maybe shown you my calves.

I am so annoying.

But I have baby muscles!

I'm still figuring everything out (and my thyroid is complicating things and making it difficult to build muscle) but, judging by the questions on my Instagram stories, I'm not the only one who finds getting in shape confusing and a bit complicated.

So today is the first in a short series of posts breaking down everything I've done that's gotten me to the gym regularly for the past 9ish months.

I actually wrote a lot of this stuff down back in January but I made myself hold off on posting. I'm a big fan of setting goals for the new year but I don't think January 1 is a great time to start a new fitness plan. People seem to roll into January ready to go hard and then they burn out. I first ventured into the gym on a Wednesday afternoon in late May and it took me a while to build up the momentum and habits that I have now. I'm posting mid-week in February so the information is there but it's not tied to any artificial start date. If you're not that active but want to be, start slow when you feel ready, not when the calendar tells you to.

Here's my most important tip-

Have a Plan

(related: Joe Biden also thinks you should have a plan)

When I first started going to the gym I, with the help of Google, cobbled together an arm day for Monday and a leg day for Wednesday with a vague idea that I should maybe do some kind of full body workout on Friday. Three days at the gym seemed good, right? Three sets of ten reps for each exercise? Sure.

I'd do my Monday and Wednesday workouts but then Friday always ended up being sort of short and useless (if I even went) because I didn't know what to do when I got to the gym. I settled for doing Zumba once a week. For cardio? Yeah.

After a few months I hit a plateau. My patchwork routine was a great starter situation for me but it had gotten me as far as it could.

When we got home from Hawaii I decided I was ready for something a little harder to keep me interested and motivated. Several people recommended but it was Elaine's recommendation (and, let's be honest, her booty) that finally pushed me to do it.

She recommended a couple programs and I decided to start Jim Stoppani's Shortcut to Size. She swore I would build muscle but I wouldn't get huge and that has definitely been the case. I recently (as in, yesterday) moved on to an Erin Stern program. You can also use the find a plan tool to find suggestions that work for your age, size, and goals.

My sad spaghetti arms are looking less like sad spaghetti

Four days a week I print off my workout and take it to the gym with me. I know exactly what I need to do and how many reps. There's a printable log to keep track of how much weight I lift (there's probably an app too but I have a 16gb iPhone and there's no room for anything beyond music, Google Maps and Instagram). I don't have to wander around the gym wondering if I should be using this machine or that free weight. The planning has been done for me by someone who knows what they're talking about.

(Their workout plans are free, by the way. You do have to give them your email and they'll send you ads for their supplements and stuff, along with your workouts. And this post isn't sponsored, I just really like the website and use it almost daily)

It's really hard to come up with a solid fitness plan on the fly. Plan your workout ahead of time. Watch instructional videos so you know proper form and how to avoid injury. When it's time to lace up your shoes, you'll be ready to work!


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