Update

To My Dear Readers,

So we’re moving on close to a year since I’ve updated this blog. As I previously wrote, I’ll continue to keep this blog live. However, I’m doing other projects and will not be blogging at this url. I’m blogging on The Mighty Mite.  Most of you follow me on Instagram, so you know how to reach me. Anyway, I’ve greatly enjoyed writing at this URL and getting to know all of you. This isn’t a goodbye, just a see you later, elsewhere on the web.

XOXO,

 

Holly

Is Fit Still The New Black?

Time flies and I’m happy to have a chance to update this blog for a change. I feel like it’s strayed so far from what it initially was. Once upon a time I could easily spend all day thinking up fun but “educational” posts about health and fitness. I remember documenting things I ate with a sh!tty flip cellphone!

Sometimes I think I’m done with blogging, on here anyway.  I started Fit is the New Black in my mid-twenties. I really wanted to just focus on fitness and diet then. When I look back, there are so many things I could have done to make the blog better and I tried through the years to make that happen but I think I’m one of those destroy to recreate type people. Sometimes you just need a fresh slate.

You all know I’ve changed themes, writing styles, and topics a bunch of times. Now I realize that through the years my interest have expanded passed health and fitness because I’ve become a more circular person and I’ve cultivated many different interests/hobbies.

I’ve said it so many times but FITNB is my baby, so I can easily see me having it till I’m a sassy old broad, bitching about “today’s youth” in my vegetable garden. I can see myself re-registering the domain and trademark for years to come because this was my brainchild and it belongs to me. But as my life heads in a new direction, I find a strong desire to have a new spot.

When I began FITNB I was still in college, coming off of a very difficult breakup and had moved to a new city. Now I’m thirty-two (Ha, this is the FIRST time I’ve ever told my age on this blog), working, trying to build my own business, and evaluating my life in deeper ways because as you know, as we age we have other concerns like retirement and boring but important stuff like that. The city I live in use to be a sketchy hood and now it’s a gentrified “hot spot,” at least according to the NY Times and Wall Street Journal. I’m no longer a vegan (damn close though) and I cook way more than I ever thought I would and gasp, actually enjoy it.  In some ways I’m more open to new experiences and people and in other ways I’m set in my ways and completely at ease with that-something I once spent a year in therapy (at $75 per 50 minutes) trying to come to terms with. I use to hope this blog would become something huge and make me money. And while that would be nice, I really don’t care anymore. Ooh, side note: Can I just say how annoying it is when companies want you to do sponsored posts for free? I think none of us should agree to it, especially when the company is big. You know some reps from Ray Ban reached out to me a few months back but “didn’t have the budget” to pay for the post. Clearly I haven’t written about Ray Ban, so you know what I told them.

Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll start a new blog or what. I still live in an apartment with crappy lighting and that greatly hinders me from writing the types of posts that I want. Also, if I do start a new blog it will be very different from this one in terms of content. As always, I’ll keep you all posted.

HollyJBlog1

PS. Sorry about the lack of pictures in this post.

 

How I Fight Melasma and Dark Spots

First off, Happy Halloween in advance! I’m attempting to be Skull Face Tate from American Horror Story. It’s much harder than it looks though. Check out last night’s practice run.

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Any last minute suggestions on how I can improve this? I’m thinking I need to lighten the white makeup by using actual foundation (just several shades lighter than my natural tone).  The teeth are the most difficult part of the entire look in my opinion, especially the front ones. All the “gurus” I’ve been YouTubing have smaller mouths than me and draw teeth above their natural line. Since my natural line is a bit higher, the teeth end up enormous and sort of mess up the look.  #CostumeProblems.

But on to the post.

Last week I wrote a article for The Mighty Mite about natural solutions to fix hyperpigmentation. What the piece didn’t include is that it was inspired by a problem I had in late summer. Here’s the story:

I go to this county fair in August. It’s hot as crap and instead of using quality sunscreen I use the crappy stuff that melts off my face (did not reapply). I also don’t wear a hat or do anything to create some sort of shade for myself.  I’m in the sun all day, so it sort of makes sense when I wake up the next morning with something that looks like a f–cking mustache!

In better light.

 

Up close.

Up close.

 

Pretty gnarly, right?

I have melasma, a form of hyperpigmentation. It can be caused by  hormonal changes (pregnancy, prescriptions, etc.) and sun damage. It results in unsightly dark patches over your forehead, cheeks or in my case, the upper lip. There’s no cure for it and the treatments that derms give are 1) expensive and 2) not very effective. Like so many things, the holistic route is best.

I used several natural remedies to fix mine but I also used some other products to help the healing process which I’m going to share. Even if you’re not prone to melasma, you may find yourself dealing with dark spots (a form of hyperpigmentation), especially if you’re a sun worshipper.  And honestly, dark spots really age you, so kick those f–ckers in the ass now.

I did quiet a bit of research which is how I found the natural solutions I gave in the TMM post but I have three other recommendations that you must try to reverse and prevent sun damage. They are as follows.

 

Dynamic Duo

 

I’ve always talking about Visably Even from Neutrogena but it’s really good stuff. When I first went to a doc about my melasma this is what was recommended to me. It helps to even your tone, fight wrinkles and is a broad spectrum sun protectant with a SPF of 30. FYI, your sunscreen needs to be that or higher! You also much apply it every two hours (which now I do). Don’t forget to place on your visable tattoos (which do fade in time, especially when exposed to sun). I also apply SPF to my neck and chest. I know it seems tedious but just do it. You’ll regret not taking care of your skin as you age.  Even if you’re indoors, put the stuff on.

The next product I recommend comes from Garnier. I’m not a huge fan of their products to be honest. However, their Skin Renew Dark Spot Corrector is on point. I applied this stuff several times a day, rubbing in extra on the damaged areas. Unless I was going to bed, I topped it off with the SPF noted above. At bed time I used a gel from Ole Henriksen which basically worked as a gentle peel that promoted cell turnover.

So I used these products every day, several times a day, on top of using a bunch of natural remedies too.  I also started and continue to wear hats. Like, everywhere. To the gym, the grocery store, to meetings, you name it. I also wear massive sunglasses and make sure to keep my mirror visor down when I drive. I’m basically a vampire now.

 

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Staying in the shadows, lol.

 

 

I’m still doing the treatments but I wanted to show you what my skin looks like now after several weeks, no makeup or concealer.

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As you can see, I’m not a morning person and is it me or do I look like I’m falling asleep while holding the camera? Regardless, there’s a noticeable improvement.

 

Anyway, I hope you find this helpful and if I don’t write before hand, Happy Halloween! Stay safe. And let me know your holiday plans.

HollyJBlog1

All Work and No Play Makes Holly…

It’s been a minute since I’ve blogged ( more than a month, you guys!) but honestly, it’s nice to write for pure desire and not out of “fear of losing followers” type obligation.  Being connected to you all on Instagram really helps me to still feel part of your lives and visa versa. Out of all of the social networks out there, it’s my favorite and I really love seeing what everyone is doing in their part of the country.

When I left you last it was still summer and now we’re half way through fall. It’s been a whirlwind in B-City.  The Mighty Mite has been progressing. Adrea of Adrea Taryn (who has an amazing must check out site) was sweet enough to fix this problem I was having with the logo. I also had a lot of aesthetic and functional issues taken care of, interviewed some bad ass people (so did my writers which you know from my Instagram feed) and wrote up some interesting posts that I would have liked to share here but didn’t because it’s important to me to keep cross posting to a minimum.

The Mighty Mite is helping to sponsor this local event next month called The Hudson Valley Hullabaloo. It’s an amazing yearly event where crafters and makers come out and sell their products. Natural beauty product makers, jewelry artists, leather workers, you name it, they’re there. I’ve met so many cool and interesting people because of this event and I really wanted to support it. And of course, as a sponsor a perk is having the opportunity to get my business out there. If you didn’t click on the above link, click and read the super sweet and awesome write up that was done on us.

To prepare for this event I had to do a photo shoot so I had some “professional” pics to go along with the above story. You probably know by now that I don’t like having my picture taken. Most people think you can just shoot and click and I’m sorry but that’s a f–cking lie. Lighting has to be taken into consideration, along with backdrop and angles. The last time I did a professional shoot for the sake of headshots I spent the next three days crying because I hated the pictures and the overall experience.

For this photoshoot I called upon my mother. She’s actually an amazing assistant and helps me a lot with food styling for The Mighty Mite. Here are some of the photos from that day. I was actually really pleased with them. She’s a pretty good shutterbug!

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As you can see, at one point we had a couch in the midst which my mother and I ended up moving because it seemed sort of random.  We were trying to create “a story” of the wellness website owner which was tricky.  While I work everywhere depending on what the day calls for, the reality of my life mostly entails sitting on my bed writing or editing. Sure, sometimes I dress all stylish and go to meetings but more often than not it’s me in jeans, alone in my bedroom for hours. I have no home office because my living room is filled with gym equipment (I don’t even have a couch) and you know the light situation in my place is horrendous. These photos were taken in my parents sun room and front step, lol.

Here’s a picture tip: If you need professional/stylish pictures done and don’t have a professional camera or a photographer, use your smart phone with a selfie stick and the self timer feature. I did this when doing the “our team” page on TMM and IMO, it came out pretty good. Here is one of the outtakes I did, once again in my parents backyard because they have lots of plants and natural light around their house.

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And if you haven’t noticed from these photos I’m really into hats, especially the boho kind. I actually bought a beautiful new one while away in Vegas (you saw it on my Instagram feed and you may notice I had hats on in every photo I took while there, lol). Speaking of Vegas, let’s talk my recent vacation.

A lot of people, especially when starting a business, don’t take time for themselves. I completely understand. You really don’t have the time in the first few years. But burnout is real and I was mad eager to escape New York for a spell and regroup.

For the third year in a row I found myself in Vegas. Each time I go I like it a little more. It’s gaudy and an offense to the senses at times but I love the weather and the lights and the incredible shopping. My boyfriend and I really just relaxed this time around, not spending too much time in the casinos as we did in previous years. It was in the 90’s, so we swam a lot and just enjoyed the summerish vibe.

I had two major goals while I was away (along with finishing some stories for TMM which I did-hooray!).

1. Buy Holy Water perfume by Demeter which I did at a Walgreens. I had never smelled the stuff before but I loved the name so much that I had to search it out. And as it turns out, it really suits me. I wish I could tell you the notes that were in it (the description, if you click on the link, is really not great). But it smells like berries and coconut milk and maybe something else. It’s very fresh and not a “traditional” Holly scent, as I like very heady, vanilla based oriental perfumes. But something about Holy Water grabs me. It’s a great day perfume.

2. Pole in Vegas so I could send a picture to my friend and pole teacher. This was actually a lot harder than it sounds but on our last full day there I choppered on a sign pole at the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign.

3.  See a show which ended up being Crazy Girls. It was good, sort of like Broadway meets a strip club.

Most of you have seen pictures of my trip, so I’m not going to repost them here.

 

I’m currently sick but I’m looking forward to Halloween and dressing up. Last year I was the Black Dahlia and I’m eager to try to top the costume. Before I sign off, I want to say a big THANK YOU to all of you who have checked out The Mighty Mite, followed us on Instagram and continue to be there for me even though I don’t post as much as I use to. Even though I haven’t met a number of you, you all mean something special to me and I love seeing what you’re doing and hearing from you.  Many of us have been reading each others blogs for years now and it’s exciting to see you find love, have children, kick butt at work and just do you. You constantly inspire me and bring happiness to my day.

Let me know what you are doing for Halloween.

HollyJBlog1

 

 

How I Cleared Up My Skin Rash + Recipes

Can you believe it’s already September? Summer is almost gone. Are you bummed? Yeah, I know. Me too.

One of the last post I wrote was about the gnarly skin rash that had appeared on my arms.  To remedy the situation I hauled in my diet BIG TIME! We’re talking homemade dressings, lots of meals made from scratch, avoiding processed foods, reading ingredients and going organic when I could.

Here is a little of what I’ve been eating.

 

BLUEBERRY PROTEIN SHAKE

blueberry smoothie

I love blueberries for their fiber and antioxidants. Finding ways to add them to my menu is a plus. If you notice, my vitamins are included in the above photo and it’s because I try to toss them into whatever smoothie or shake I’m making. I don’t always remember otherwise.

Ingredients

1 cup of frozen blueberries (no sugar added)

2/5 of silk tofu

1 cup of OJ (make it 100 percent)

Directions

Blend in blender, and then drink.

blueberry smoothie1 blueberry smoothie2

 

HEMP, BANANA & BERRY SHAKE

 

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A few years ago I was obsessed with hemp. It’s loaded with fiber, protein, and is sort of this “holy grail” food if you have stomach and hair problems. I drank it every day until I become totally sick of it. It’s only recently that I began to add it back into my diet. It’s very earthy in taste. It makes things brown and thick, so to remedy that I mix it with water and fruit to sort of mask the color and flavor.

hemp shake hemp shake2 hemp

Ingredients

1 scoop of hemp powder

1 cup of blueberries

1 banana

1.5 cup of water

Directions

Blend in blender and drink.

 

APPLE SLICES & GRANOLA

 

snack1

KIND Snacks has recently come out with gluten free granola! I had to find a way to use it, so I’ve incorporated it into my snack time.

Ingredients

1 organic golden delicious apple cut into slices

1 Tbsp of natural peanut butter

Granola

Directions

Smear PB on apples and then dip into granola.

 

BLUEBERRY CRUMBLE & CASHEW ICE CREAM

dessert breakfast dessert breakfast1

Okay, so you may be getting sick of all these blueberry recipes but if you prefer another berry, go for it! I used what I had. Plus I love blueberry crumble and cobbler. I don’t eat these things anymore because of my sensitivities but with the KIND granola I was able to revisit this old favorite.  And I didn’t have this dish for dessert but breakfast! It’s actually very nutritious because of the coconut oil, blueberries and chia seeds. Plus the ice cream is made from cashews and is raw! It’s not calorie free but in my opinion, it’s the ice cream you can feel virtuous eating before noon.

blueberries

Ingredients

1 tsp of coconut oil

1 cup of blueberries

1 tbsp of chia seeds

1/4 cup of granola

1 scoop of raw vanilla ice cream

Directions

In a non-stick skillet, allow coconut oil to melt and then add berries and seeds.

When the juices of berries have began to run, place in a bowl, sprinkle with granola and add ice cream.

 

EGGPLANT & ZUCCHINI MARINARA

marinara

Yes, I do eat other things besides fruit! For example, this eggplant and zucchini marinara is crazy simple, quick, and delicious.  I wish I remembered the name of the sauce I used but all I can tell you now is that it was organic and had olives and capers. It really gave the dish a zip and fyi, this dish is vegan!!

mainara1

Ingredients

1 small eggplant chopped into discs

1 zucchini chopped into discs

1 small bottle of sauce (preferably with olives or capers)

1/4 cup of vegan Parmesan cheese

* Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Layer eggplant and zucchini into a baking dish.

Cover with sauce and place in a preheated oven of 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

Take out of oven, sprinkle with cheese and place back into oven for 5 minutes and then serve.

 

I’ve also been eating a lot of kale, other dark greens, and snacking on carrots. The results of this diet?

arm

 

I only used cortisone cream twice, plus some tea tree oil. I really wanted to clear the rash up by my diet because other than my stress level, I’m fairly sure it’s the reason why I had the rash in the first place.

Although I’m feeling better, I’m sticking with my diet. I went to a county fair recently (where I had an ice cream sundae and blooming onion) and I’ve also had some processed food but I’ve been trying to be temperate in my treats. No food is worth that damn rash!

Let me know what you’ve been eating and how your summer has been.

HollyJBlog1

 

 

Why Over-Exercising Is Bad

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I thought my first post this week would be about the semi anti-inflammatory diet I’ve been on to deal with my skin rash but I have something far more exciting and important to report on first.

Last Friday one of my writers sent me a draft of an interview she did with Michael Feigin of The Fitness Guru gym in Brooklyn. It was so F!cking good and insightful that I needed to share it with you. And no, I’m not doing this for the hits. I seriously know it will be beneficial to you guys and want you to read it.

I asked her to reach out to him because recently I’ve encountered a lot of people who I believe over-exercise. You know what I’m talking about, right? Everyone has seen that person who is always at the gym no matter what time you go.

 

Before you think I’m casting stones, I want to share something with you. A few weeks ago I came across an old box of stuff from when I was in my late teens and early twenties. I discovered an old paper where I had typed out my schedule for school. According to the document, I was getting to the gym by 7:30 in the morning and staying there till 1:30 in the afternoon.

I remember those days but they seem so far away that sometimes I question if I was ever that sick. Let the record show, I was.

I had a poor relationship with food. I didn’t see food as fuel but as this horrible necessity that I thought I could avoid or bend to my will. When that didn’t work, I’d work out to “get rid” of all of the calories I consumed.  I’ve written about it numerous times but just to recap: I had gained weight (unhealthy lifestyle), went to extremes to lose the weight (unhealthy lifestyle), and never really took  stalk of my life to figure how I had gotten to where I was until it was too late.

I’m over simplifying a complicated subject. I was an extreme case and people with EDs are extreme. However, I think MANY people who are enthusiastic about exercise can learn something from this. How many times have you heard people say after they eat a lot or too much of something that they will just “burn it off at the gym” or “I’m going to make up for this when I workout?” How often have you felt guilty because you didn’t exercise?

Food and exercise enhance your life. Exercising doesn’t earn you the right to eat- being a person does! Food and exercise are not punishments or rewards. So often we think if we eat a stringent diet or workout really hard we’ll see results faster, be entitled and therefore be happy. It’s simply not true and there’s a nasty price tag to pay for that way of life.

I really want you to read the interview Alyson (my writer) did, so I’m not going to get into the science behind a lot of this. All I’m going to do is tell you what happened to me and what I’ve seen happen to others who (to my knowledge) were/are not battling an eating disorder.

What happened to me is that I started to suffer from a lot of injuries. My feet were always hurting. My knees cracked. I was moody and exhausted. That schedule I referenced, you know how many classes I took each day? One. It was all I could muster and a lot of times I skipped. One day I woke up and literally after taking a few steps felt my knees buckled. I couldn’t walk more than a foot without feeling like they were going to pop out. I had to stop working out and you know what, it was my own fucking fault.

There was a lady at my gym once. I’ve written about her before. She hadn’t been working out for more than a week when she starting copying my friend’s workout by running super fast up a steep incline. We tried to gently tell her she didn’t need to do that. Exercise was new for her. She could walk for thirty minutes and still see results. She didn’t listen but kept at it.  Later I found out she got injured and had to have surgery. Oh, but FYI, when she recovered, she started doing the same thing again.

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You don’t have to be at the gym all day  to have an over-exercise problem or to be in danger of overtraining. Over-exercising is easy to get into and can happen to anyone, even with the best of intentions. Check out some warning signs:

1. Crappy Performance

Basically, the workout you use to do with ease is suddenly hard.

2. You Don’t Look Forward to Exercise

You’ve switched into the territory when fitness is now a chore. Something you have to do or you’ll feel guilty or bad.

3. Poor Recovery Time

You’re not bouncing back from your workouts as fast as before.

4. Insomnia

You can’t sleep!

5. Tired

You’re exhausted not refreshed. You feel lethargic all day.

6.  You’re Immune System Gets Weak

You have a cold that won’t go away or you’re always sick.

7. You’re Moody

Don’t blame your time of the month. It may be your workout making you pissy.

8. You Beat Yourself Up For Skipping Your Workout

If you don’t exercise, you get down on yourself.

9. Exercise Takes Top Priority

You don’t have to skip your classes like I did to have a problem. Not seeing friends, missing events and arranging your schedule so you have your workout are all signs that you’re in the danger zone.

10. You Exercise When Injured

You’ve hurt yourself but you’re still working out. Ask yourself, Why?

This is a short list. Some others that can be included is stalled progress and even weight gain. I would also like to add that the desire to always add more to your “workout to-do” list is a sign. Are you training for the Olympics? Than why are your swimming thirty laps, running a mile, and then lifting for half an hour in one day? You only need twenty minutes a day to keep your heart healthy. If you’re looking to lose weight or maintain, experts recommend thirty minutes to an hour depending on the intensity and times per week. Obviously, there are always exceptions to these rules but the average person doesn’t need to make the gym their second home.

I think over-exercising is symptomatic of something else. Sometimes people are like I was. They let themselves go and when they realize it, they sort of panic and do all they can never to get back to that place and all the bad feelings they associate with it. Other people use it fill a void or avoid problems they have. When you’re focused on your workouts you don’t have time to feel lonely or disappointed about something  in your life.  Sometimes I think people do it because they have addictive personalities and exercise, as good as it is, can be abused. It’s easy to ignore it because people think it’s healthy and feel justified in making it a priority in their life. Same goes for eating. Hello, that’s why orthorexia is a thing now!

In any case, while I’m still a total advocate for working out, I wanted to share this information with you. I never thought or really knew about these things when I started the fitness game. If I did, I think I would have approached exercise differently.

Let me know your thoughts.

HollyJBlog1

Hooray for Measuring

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Have I written about this before? I feel like I have but in any case, let’s chat about this again. For the record, I’m not a big fan of weighing myself.

At the doctor’s office I won’t let them put me on that stupid machine. The last time I was in for a check-up my doctor really pressed me. I had never been examined by her before, so I’m not sure why it was such a big deal to her. “I see you didn’t want to get weighed,” she said looking at my medical chart. “What if you get on backwards?”

No,” I said.

“What if I don’t tell you the number?”

“No.”

“Why is this an issue for you?”

“I don’t let anyone weigh me.”

Once she saw the scars on my arms she asked if I had an eating disorder, even though I never put that sort of thing on my forms because I don’t trust health insurance companies and keep a lot of my medical history to myself because I’ve been in recovery for awhile and don’t think I should be financially penalized for past issues. Any doctor who doesn’t know my past tells me I’m in amazing shape, minus the fact my blood pressure is sometimes low. Sooo…

The doctor was nice and all but I thought her interest in me getting on the scale was really annoying. You can’t tell if someone is healthy by how they look but I think she could look at me and tell I don’t have a weight problem so wtf did she want me on the scale so badly?

 

Here’s the thing about weight. It can be tricky. Sometimes we’re in denial about our weight gain and the same can even be true for weight loss. In my opinion, unless you’re suffering medical problems because of your weight, you really don’t need to be hopping on and off that bad boy, especially if you’re active. There are other, gentler alternatives for seeing that you’re in a healthy place. My favorite is the tape measure.

As I said before, weight can be tricky. Some people can go down or up a couple of inches while the scale doesn’t budge.  Sometimes we lose or gain inches in places we’d rather not (like our boobs or butt). In any case, the scale can only give you one thing and that’s a number. It can’t tell you if you’ve lost fat or muscle or if the loss has come from the desired area.  Honestly, unless you’re obese or severely underweight, I’m not sure the point of it. It can make you neurotic. Measuring once a month is – in my opinion – is better.

gain

Our society may give a lot of attention to body composition and how it makes you look but medically speaking, there’s a reason why you want to watch where your weight is distributed. Those with thicker waists have a higher risk of heart disease. And while pear shapes may have a lower risk of that chronic disease, if you have early metabolic syndrome, the extra weight can lead to an over production of the proteins chemerin and omentin-1 which can lead to inflammation.

And what are considered healthy measurements? If you want to hear what experts say, you can read this and this but I’m more of an advocate of doing what is best for you as an individual. The only real way to do that is to get to know what works best for your body. If I’m not being healthy my energy levels are the first to go. My workouts get crappy. Soon my clothes don’t fit the way I want. Please note, this can go for losing too much weight as much as gaining.

Why bother doing this at all? Because, like I said, weight can be tricky. Sometimes, particularly when we’re active or seeking some sort of physical goal, we don’t see things as they are. Personally, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been straight up sickly thin and still thought I needed to lose weight. And there have been more than enough times when I was gaining weight and still insisted I was the same size as before. The mind is a funky place and a tape measure can be an objective ally.

Measuring yourself is really simple. All you have to do is wrap the tape around the smallest part of your waist, the fullest part of your hips, and if you feel so inclined, you can measure your bust, thighs and arms. It’s really up to you. I took a picture of myself demonstrating but the lighting in my apartment remains horrible and you could see the outline of my nips. Oops!

 

What do you guys think about measuring? Do you do it or do you prefer the scale? If so, how come? Let me know. For some reason, talking about this stuff on the internet always feels more appealing than in real life.

HollyJBlog1

 

 

Stressed Out In B-City: How to Deal When Your Life Is Cray

stressed

See that photo above? That’s me. Okay, not technically. It’s a stock image but its sentiment is the same.

Recently, you guys, I’ve been stressed out. Cue that Tribe Called Quest Stressed Out track.

Done watching that video? Love throwbacks! Anyway, yeah, I’m stressed out and I think it’s one of the reasons I’m breaking out into rashes (besides my diet). The other day I woke up and literally had a feeling of dread for the upcoming day, although nothing incredibly terrible was planned.

That sort of bummed me out because I use to have that feeling ALL.THE.TIME., especially when I was in high school. Waking up with a perceptual knot in my gut became so common to my existence that when it went away in my twenties, I was actually shocked and sort of terrified by what happiness felt like. It was such a wonderful surprise to have days, weeks even, when I didn’t contemplate throwing myself out of a moving car. Needless to say, I don’t want to start having to live with this sort of feeling again.

Because I analyze things to understand them better, you know I had to spend time trying to figure out why I was feeling like a pissy adolescent. Right now I have three jobs, not counting my online thrift shop or the personal writing project I’ve been working at. I write for a local magazine, as well as creative consult. I’ve also started my own business. I’ve invested money in it and everything. And unlike United States of Thrift or even FITNB, there is a legit staff and contracts and bank accounts. So now on top of creative consulting and fashion writing, I’ll actually running a company and it’s sort of crazy since that wasn’t my goal when I was in school or anything. I never wanted to deal with paychecks and legal contracts but I believe in this idea and am going for it.

I’ve also had A LOT of family stuff going on since May. It’s strange. In my experience, people come from one of two  types of families. They either are not close and only come together on holidays (if that) or they are still attached to the umbilical chord long after they leave the nest. I’m in the ladder group. It has it’s perks, for sure. It also has its downside which people who are not close to their relatives can’t really understand. A lot of anxiety, pressure, and generally yucky feelings surround you when your original social group is in turmoil. I don’t want to get into it but there’s been death, disease, and troubles. I’ve been making myself available to be a support and while I know I could refuse I’m not down with that. My family needs me and I can’t watch them suffer for the sake of “being an adult with her own problems.”

Along with my family stuff my boyfriend’s birthday was last weekend. I planned a party for him which was stressful. He always takes the week after off and I wanted to spend time with him but of course, I was given stories to write for the magazine, not to mention dealing with my new staff, looking for seed money and running the business aka content producing- a job which currently entails writing, editing, photography, photo editing, social media, editing the work of others, HR stuff, and being a face of a company. Oh, and I still try to see my friends occasionally, just so they know that I still love them.

I’m not complaining, just trying to give a full picture of what life has been like in good old B-city, New York. The other day while driving I literally started yelling in my car. I just started thinking about all that I had on my plate and I began to sort of howl like a rabid dog. I can only imagine how sketch I seemed to fellow drivers.

Ironically, though I feel on the verge of tears a lot these days I have three tried and true tips for dealing with stress and they have nothing to do with exercise. They are as follows, from last to first.

 

Stress Reliever, No. 3: Find A Hobby

I’m not talking going to the gym here or learning how to code. By definition a hobby is “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” Doing crunches or learning a skill can be fun but if you do these things some days out of pure obligation, it’s no longer a hobby.

Hobbies have no end game. You don’t do them with the intent of turning it into a business or necessarily becoming the best at it. It’s something that you can pick up and put down at will and do for pure enjoyments sake. For example, I use to collage. On any given evening you could find me in my room with a journal and a stack of magazines, glue and scissors, making random phrases and “art.” It was really soothing way to remind myself that there are still simple pleasures in life, like listen to music or seeing something beautiful. Hobbies can help us center ourselves and recall the sweeter parts of being.

Stress Reliever, No. 2: Turn Off Your Tech & See Someone

Technology has made it seem like we’re always connected but nothing can be further from the truth. There have been studies showing how spending too much time on social networks can actually makes us feel crappy because it projects an image of perfection which can be irritating if your life is anything but. Don’t get me wrong, I love Tumblr and Instagram but there’s something to be said about focusing on yourself instead of others. Sometimes looking at images of a bunch of fancy women in their carefully curated workspace can be a bummer when I’m in my gym sweats, toiling away on an unmade bed alone. I start thinking, When am I going to find time to build my home office? and How can I find other people with the same work drive as me? All the time I spend thinking about these asinine things is time I could apply to grants and editing. The fact is that #LiveAuthentic hashtag is bullshit because there is nothing authentic about spending an hour trying to get good lighting and arranging your camera, notebook, laptop and headphones in a symmetrical way so that it looks as pretty as Karie Kloss on a cover of Vogue.  Of course, no one wants photos of a hot mess and yes, there is something aspirational about seeing things as the ideal but there’s a time and place for everything. If you’re stressed out, get off your phone and computer.

curated

Photo Credit: We Heat It

A nicer alternative to connecting to strangers is seeing-*gasp*- real people. As mentioned above, I haven’t been able to be social like I use to but it’s nice to plan a visit with a friend. If you’re stressed, pick this friend wisely. You want to see someone who lifts you up and gives you perspective, not brings you down. This is not the time to see your well meaning but competitive chum.

Choose someone who is supportive, honest, and preferbly, will be unloading some of their problems on you as well. Don’t think of it as a bitch fest but a confessional. It’s cathartic and you can gain perspective about your own problems by helping someone out with their own. Sometimes when I’m out to dinner with my BF I just unfurl whatever messed up stuff is in my head and he gives me  no-hold back advice. Like recently, when I was actually thinking about getting another job because I never feel what I do is impressive or legitimate enough. I asked him, ” Do you think I should take it?” He looked at me with his eyes wide and said, “You already have your own business! You won’t have time. It’s too much.” Something about him acknowledging my current pursuits and that I was only one person made it all make sense. He’s right, I don’t have to do it all. #IFeelBetterNow

 

Stress Relief, No. 1: Pray

You may not be religious or believe in God and that’s your business. I’m not out to convert you. However, I am a Christian and believe in God, Jesus, and the power of prayer. For the record, not all believers are like the ones portrayed in the news. Some of us are-*gasp again*- pro-women, pro-equal rights, and are educated and fairly liberal. Of course, no shade to those who are none of those things. If that’s your thing, that your thing. Not sure if that’s exactly Christian but…

Anyway, I’m not going to get into the story of how I became a believer (it’s long) but my spiritual beliefs gives me an entirely different perspective on life. My belief system encourages me to focus on myself from a place of raw honesty. Prayer is how you do that. When I’m alone with God I focus and unravel. It’s confessional, it’s meditative, and freeing- sort of like when you were young and could crawl on your parent’s lap and cry about everything that went wrong that day without fear of being pushed away or ignored.

I’m sure there are some scientific studies about why prayer can be productive but I’m not interested is those as much as I’m interested in the transcendental experience that one can achieve with it. Because really, climbing the corporate ladder or being physically fit or incredibly talented is sort of bullshit in the long run. My meditative periods have showed me that about 90 percent of what we do is vanity (look up the meaning of the word, if you don’t know it) and when I remember that I realize all the stuff that stresses me out is not important.

If you don’t believe in God or prayer, I still have some advice worth taking, though, in all honesty, I don’t believe it will be as effective as with the ladder (just being honest). But here it goes: Spend quiet time with yourself and really think. Don’t think about your to-do list. Instead, think about what’s really bothering you and allow your mind to go wherever. Ask yourself the hard questions. When you allow yourself to slip down the hole of honestly it’s crazy what revelations come to you. For example, about two years ago I was underemployed and scrambling for my “perfect magazine” job. I spent a lot of days and nights crying, panicked and frustrated about my future. I decided to sit with this feeling for awhile and really delve into why I was freaking out. I believe that prayer isn’t always a “Dear God, do this for me, do that for me, please-” sort of thing. Sometimes it’s a “Dear God, please sit with me while I figure this out.” Anyway, so I was deep in thought, pretty zoned out and as I revisited the last few years I began to remember a time when I wasn’t chasing Conde Nast and actually loathed the very idea. Suddenly, very clearly, I recalled a lot of my original desires for myself and none of them included begging nasty editors to give me a chance to research for them and grab their lunch.

Once again, this is a long story but by the time I was through with my alone time, I had an entirely different perspective on my situation and for the first time in months I felt good. I had acceptance and would you know, a little after it happened, I found jobs with employers that were inline with my real goals.

So what I’m trying to say is that sometimes you need time to tune out and then tune in to what’s important. Think of life as a radio simultaneously playing different stations. Kind of ick, right? Prayer, is how you turn off the radio and learn how to readjust the volume.

This has turned into an epic post but I hope it was helpful if any of you can relate to what I’ve shared. How do you deal with stress? Let me know.

HollyJBlog1

Food Allergies & Sensitivities: The 411

eat

True to my word, I wanted to create a post about food allergies, sensitivities, how to know the difference and solutions if you suffer from them.

Before I start, can I just say that I noticed something semi-sketch, semi-disturbing while going through my blog? Perhaps you’ve noticed this already (you are my readers, after all) but I’ve been struggling with my food sensitives for awhile.

It seems that every few weeks I write a post about breaking out into some type of rash or having to detox because of my diet. Don’t believe me? Look at the above photo or check out this and this.

It’s so embarrassing, you guys! I’m a bloody fitness/wellness blogger (with freaking credentials, I’d like to add) and I’m struggling with this sh!t? Please don’t misunderstand, if you’re dealing with something similar, I’m not judging you. If anything, I hope you find solace in knowing someone who knows better is having the same issues. However, I am judging myself.  I was right in my last post, I’m repeating history and that is bullsh!t.

 

But for once, this post isn’t going to be all about me. This is a more “informative” entry. Let me begin by saying the following: Food allergies are real and so are food sensitivities. Yes, they are sort of trendy terms these days because people looking for quick weight loss fixes are eager to blame their denial of certain food groups on these things. However, for people who really suffer from an allergy or sensitivity, #thestruggleisreal and it’s about time people paid attention. Ten years ago the term gluten-free was not a common phrase. Neither was Celiac disease. If I’m correct, I think kids were still allowed to bring PB&J sandwiches to school. A lot can change in a decade.

If you didn’t know, food allergies and food sensitives are two very different things. Here’s the scoop:

 

breakfast

A world without pancakes & bread = my life.

 

WTF IS A FOOD ALLERGY?

Our immune systems are designed to protect us from harmful germs. Sometimes it mistakes a food protein- an allergen- as a threat and over produces antibodies to fight it. FYI: An allergen is just a term for something that can cause an adverse reaction in the body. Food allergies are immunoglobulin E mediated, also referred to as igE mediated. In plainer English, igE’s release a ton of histamines and chemicals to fight the allergy which is what produce an allergic reaction.

People can be allergic to just about anything but according to foodallergy.com, 90 percent of allergies are triggered by soy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, eggs, milk, and shellfish. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe, even causing your airway to close.  Here’s a list of allergy symptoms.

  • Hives
  • Eczema
  • Itchy throat
  • Redness of skin or around eyes
  • Stomach Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Itchy ears
  • Chest pains
  • Swelling of mouth, tongue and/or throat
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Struggling to breath

 

An allergic reaction can happen immediately after ingesting an allergen or take up to a few hours to show. If you have one, you probably already know it. However, if you suspect you have a food allergy, you should go to a doctor (preferably an allergist) for testing. They can give you medication or a plan to avoid these types of food and tell you what to do in case you accidentally ingest something you’re allergic too. Some of the tests they may give you can include an elimination diet, blood test, skin prick test, or oral challenge.

WTF IS A FOOD SENSITIVITIES?

burger

My cheat meal of choice but an issue if I’ve been “cheating” on other stuff throughout the week.

 

Food sensitivities or intolerance can be a little harder to diagnose. Unlike an allergy, symptoms can take two days to rear their head. They do not involve the immune system but are caused by a toxic response to a molecule your body has difficulty breaking down. In short, while allergies are about the immune system, food sensitivities are about the digesting process. People with sensitives can eat small amounts of the substances that irritate them with no trouble. It’s when eaten in large amounts or frequently that troubles arise. The list of symptoms include:

  • Brain fog
  • Depression
  • Migraines
  • Lethargy (especially after meals)
  • Mucus
  • Bloating
  • Weight gain
  • Intense food cravings
  • Candida
  • Mood swings
  • Swollen joints and muscles
  • Skin issues (eczema, keratosis pilaris, rashes)

Foods that people tend to be sensitive to are dairy, gluten, tyramine, preservatives and additives. And although sugar is not part of this list, I would like to add it because too much sugar (which Americans tend to eat a lot of) can cause an overgrowth of candida (yeast) in the body and cause the above symptoms.

For more about symptoms and specific foods that cause sensitives, I suggest going to whfoods.com. I would also like to add that I believe that sensitives are becoming more common because people are eating too much, especially of the wrong thing. In terms of allergies becoming more common, I’ve read that we’ve become such a paranoid bacteria-phobic society that we don’t allow children to develop strong immune systems. I think this could be true.

Like food allergies, it’s recommended to see an allergist for testing but it’s not as easy to diagnose sensitivities. Remember, most people who have them can eat the offending culprits in small amounts from time to time with no problem (unless you have Celiac Disease). Many experts suggest an elimination diet to identify which foods make you sick. I suggest going to an allergist first to make sure you’re not dealing with a mild allergy and then move on to the possibility that you may have a sensitivity and try the elimination test.

 

Now that you know the difference between food allergies and food sensitives, what do you think? As you know, I am working to get my body (and diet) back in check but I know that for all the struggle and inconvenience, identifying problematic foods and learning how to avoid or work around them is worth it. Do you have a food allergy or intolerance? How do you deal?

HollyJBlog1

 

 

 

 

FITNB is Trademarked!

trademark

It’s official: Fit is the New Black is a trademarked blog!!

Fit is the New Black has been in existence since 2009 or 2010. I started it as a hobby and it’s evolved in so many ways since then. When I began blogging, the term “(fill in the blank) is the new black” wasn’t such a buzzworthy term in pop culture but was generally something you read in fashion mags. I developed a sturdy following of readers back in my WordPress.com days and had a huge following on Tumblr. That’s when I started to notice annoying copycats popping up. They used different url’s but their blog titles were similar or straight up the same. That urked me out, so I decided to protect myself and go official. Yes it cost some money and took some time but it’s worth it in the end. I now how legal rights and if I so choose I can send these copycats “cease and desist” letters because really, this is the original Fit is the New Black and no one should accept wannabes or imitations. Even though sometimes I take blogging hiatuses, FITNB is my baby and I love it. I’m not going to just leave it to the wolves.

In other news, if you follow me on Instagram (@miss_holly_j) you know I’ve broken out into a gnarly rash.

rash

This weekend my arms broke out into this mess! Gross, I know. The culprit? My diet.

Oh, diets can be such tricky beasts. I think I’m going to write a more detailed post about food allergies and intolerances down the road, so I’ll just say here that when I look back at what I’ve had in the last week this skin rash makes sense. Last weekend I had ice cream with cookies. I’ve been enjoying way too many sauces and dips. I’ve had chips and I also have been sneaking bites of the pasta I made for my boyfriend. Because I eat well most of the time it’s really easy for me to ignore these indulgences. I eat them in such small amounts that I fool myself into thinking I’ll be fine. The problem is that when these “small amounts” happen frequently, my body freaks out. Now I’m beginning to wonder if this is the reason I’ve been also feeling stressed and moody.

I really hate the idea of having to monitor everything I eat and being so stringent. I associate these things with eating disorders and you know how I feel about that.  On the flip,  I also feel too old to still be dealing with this. There was a time when I always had rashes like this on my arms and face. Eventually I hauled in my eating habits and the problem went away. I look back and cringe over how reluctant I was to do something that was good for me. Now I’m thinking I’m repeating history. Not cool.

Finally, remember how a few posts ago I wrote about how I wouldn’t wear leggings to the gym? Well guess what I’ve been sporting recently?

workout outfit

I’ve come to strongly dislike posting cell phone pics on FITNB but just so you can see me in the feared garment…

leggings

 

I started wearing leggings and tight pants out in public, so I decided to try do it at the gym. Honestly, it’s easier working out when you’re not wearing heavy clothes. Who knew?

That’s it, darlings. How was your weekend?

 

HollyJBlog1

 

 

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