It’s not goodbye, but see ya around!

Dear Double Chinners,

When I started this blog over four years ago (wow!), I felt inspired and compelled to chronicle my journey from fat to fabulous. When I started blogging, the ‘fabulous’ part meant that I’d reach my goal weight and flutter off into a land of thinness, where I could eat chips and dip with no ramifications (I still wish for that!). As the years wore on and the journey remained a journey and not a destination, I started to grow a little bit bored of the whole “losing weight” thing. I’ve accepted that my struggles with reaching a healthy weight will be something I’m constantly trying to achieve, and that’s okay.

I decided over Christmas this year that I was ready for a change. I was planning on writing my traditional New Year’s post for this blog, and I was looking back at last year’s New Year’s post. I had already been feeling stifled this time last year, and even wrote that I was considering starting a new blog, since my “weight loss blog” has really been nothing but a “weight maintenance, sometimes loss, and sometimes gain blog”. I was feeling like I was falling out of love with blogging, and that sucked, because I’ve been blogging since I was 14 and I LOVE blogging. So I took some time away from the blog to think. We didn’t break up, but we took a break. And that break was exactly what I needed to decide that while I’m not done blogging, I need a breath of fresh air. I need to get out of the box that I put myself in, and step into a new place– one that’s huge and large and limitless and lets me talk about whatever the heck I want, like travel or makeup or fashion or weight loss with PCOS.

And so, my friends, LaLaLyssa.com was born. I noodled for awhile on a new blog name, and settled on LaLaLyssa.com for a few reasons. First of all, I had purchased AllLyssa.com as a play on words, to be everything and ALL Alyssa, but then I learned that Allyssa.com (one less L) was a porn site. Yeah, no. Too much potential for awkward typos. I was going to blog under my business site, AlyssaCurran.com, but I liked the idea of a cutesy, separate land for all my ramblings. And so I chose LaLaLyssa.com, for a few reasons:

1) I choose to live my life embracing quirkiness, and sometimes I feel like I’m in LaLa Land.
2) I live IN La La Land (Los Angeles).
3) I used to name products, and one of my favorite things I’ve ever named is a popular toy line that starts with the prefix ‘Lala’.

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So there you have it. The Double Chin Diary isn’t going away, but it’s going to quietly simmer on the backburner. Every now and then when I want to write about weight loss or fitness, I’ll probably write a post over here, but will link to it from my new site as well. As I said before, my journey with weight loss is far from over. Despite the number on the scale, I’ve made some amazing progress towards being a healthier me — like being able to walk amost 60 miles in 3 days, and more importantly, learning to love myself despite my weight. I hope you’ll come over and check out what I’m up to at LaLaLyssa.com, because I love hearing what you think. I’ll always be grateful to the Double Chin Diary for giving me a taste of what being a ‘real blogger’ is like, and for opening the door to many exciting and awesome opportunities. I also plan to one day write a book, and that was the reason I started this blog — because I knew one day, I’d have an “after” to match my “before”, and I’d call it the Double Chin Diary. This isn’t goodbye — it’s just see ya later :)

The Double Chin Diary Siggy

 

Alyssa’s Costa Rica Adventure: Manuel Antonio

I can’t believe it’s already been a month since I got back from Costa Rica — take me back! I’ve especially missed the lush, tropical country as I’ve been stircrazy the past week since I’ve been stuck inside fighting the flu. (Yeah, I have rotten luck – I got over a cold and immediately got the flu. Yay!) Anyways, part one of our vacation was in Fortuna Arenal, part two was in Monteverde, and now we’re to part three: the beach! I knew after a few days of intense adventuring, we’d be ready to spend the final days of our vacation with toes in the sand.

On the way to Manuel Antonio, we stopped in Jaco Beach for lunch. Jaco is a famous surfing spot, and it seemed to be a popular beach town, especially with young international travelers. Isn’t it pretty?

Jaco_DoubleChinDiary

We arrived late into Manuel Antonio, so we pretty much headed to bed for some shut eye. The next morning, the boys went ziplining while I explored the public beach. I had an awesome time reading Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar while I dug my toes into the sand.

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When the guys got back and were thoroughly hopped on adrenaline, we headed into the private beach, which is a national park. This beach was stunning, as you can see above. There were monkeys and iguanas all around, and the water was about 75 degrees. The best part was you had to hike in to get to the beach, maybe about a mile, and that meant there were no cars, very little trash, no city sounds, and unspoiled nature as far as the eye could see.

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After the beach, we popped into the hotel pool where I flew down the water slide at an alarming speed. Then, we headed up to the rooftop bar to grab a drink before dinner. I enjoyed my pina colada as the sun sank into the horizon. Paradise.

Sunset_ManuelAntonio_DoubleChinDiary

The next morning, Matt and I went to the hotel lobby at 6:15 A.M. (ugh!) so we could go on a mangrove boat tour. Because the mangrove swamp changes depth based on the tides (the pull of the moon), we had to go super early to avoid getting stranded in the swamp. Mangroves are really cool, complex species — they’re a self-filtering tree that live only in brackish water (half salt, half fresh).

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It was cool being out in nature that early for a relaxing boat ride, and we ended up being the only two people on the tour. Our guide actually had spent a few years living in San Jose, so we had fun talking about the differences between California and Costa Rica (actually, more similarities than differences)! I told him one of my goals was to see a crocodile, and we ended up seeing three! This tour was a really peaceful way to see one of the special ecosystems of Costa Rica.

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Sadly after our tour, it was time to head back toward San Jose to fly home the next day. We made one last pit stop at the famous Tarcoles River bridge, because we knew there was a spectacle below… CROCODILES! Nobody really knows exactly why there are so many crocodiles at this spot, but at any given time you can expect to see more than 20 crocs. We counted 42 in just the few minutes we were there. We didn’t dillydally too long in this spot, because even though we were up on a bridge, I didn’t particularly need to spend much longer near these massive scaly beasts.

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Costa Rica far surpassed what I had hoped for in a good vacation. The people of Costa Rica were so welcoming and kind, and genuinely shared a love for the natural treasures of their country. I couldn’t take a single bad picture being surrounded by such vivid beauty, and at every turn, there was exotic wildlife. I loved getting to see the rain forest and cloud forest, and I can’t wait to go back. In a week we covered so much of Costa Rica (and ended up putting over 700 miles on our rental car!), but I already know the next time I go I’ll want to see even more. If you’re thinking about going, GO! Getting to Costa Rica is relatively inexpensive (about $500 round trip from LAX), as is the lodging. While things like the rental car and food were pricier than anticipated, it all evened out with the valuable deals on really top notch accommodation for around $90-$100 a night. If you have any questions about Costa Rica, leave a comment or shoot me an email and I’ll be glad to tell you what I learned. As the people of Costa Rica say… Pura Vida!

AlyssaInWater_DoubleChinDiary

 

Mamma Chia’s Clean Energy Drinks Review and Giveaway

Hi everyone! The day after Christmas, I started to get that too familiar tickle in my throat. The next day it got a little worse, until finally, I got a full blown cold. The cold is pretty much over (whew), but then today I woke up with a cough and sore throat….boo. Pretty sure I caught what my friend has. Gah, weakened immune system! Needless to say, my house being the equivalent of the sick bay on a ship isn’t helping me plow through my work day. What is helping is homemade chicken soup and a few well-timed boosts… like the Mamma Chia Clean Energy Drink.

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It is the FIRST beverage that combines the power of chia (remember these gummy, crunchy seeds?) with the clean energy of guayusa (gwhy-you-sa) resulting in a yummy drink. It’s made with organic fruit juices and is lightly sweetened (14g cane sugar). One bottle has:

  • More than an entire day’s worth of Omega-3s (2500 mg)
  • 25 percent of one’s daily fiber (6 grams)
  • 4 grams of complete protein
  • 90 mg of natural caffeine (about as much in an 8 oz. cup of coffee)
  • Twice the antioxidants of a cup of green tea
  • Calcium, powerful antioxidants and valuable minerals
  • 120 calories
  • The filling power to tide you over until your next meal, thanks to those jelly seeds.

These drinks, which come in four flavors, (my favorite is grape!) are Non-GMO Verified, gluten-free, vegan, Kosher and USDA Certified Organic. These will be about $2.99 and can be found at Vons, Whole Foods, Safeway and Target, starting now. Now, what good would it be if I raved about them without giving you a chance to try? Mamma Chia has kindly offered 1 Double Chin Diary reader a whole set of Mamma Chia Energy Drinks (4 drinks), a Mamma Chia Camel Bak Water Bottle, and a week supply of Mamma Chia Chia Squeezes!

Just follow the steps listed on the Rafflecopter to earn entries, and don’t forget to tell your friends. US Only, 18+. Good luck!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


April’s 3-day Experience – The Hard Part

When you walk 52 miles in 3 days, you expect to lose weight.

Before the 3-day breast cancer event began, I recall having a conversation with my sister and our 3-day alumni team mate, Aubrey. As my sister and I joked about how much weight we should lose despite all the snacking we would do, Aubrey sat with a big smile on her face ready to burst our bubbles. “Actually,” Aubrey said, “Unfortunately most people gain weight on the 3-day because it basically is a 3-day buffet.”

Aubrey was so right. After three days of continuous munching mile after mile, I ended up gaining six pounds. SIX POUNDS OF PURE MUSCLE. Hah. Or six pounds of calluses.

While accepting my weight gain and dealing with my calluses were some of the less positive moments revolving around the 3-day event, they certainly were not the hardest part of it.

One of the hardest parts of  being part of  this walk was dealing with the people who chose to use the opportunity of  my eager participation to quickly bash Susan G. Komen for whatever reason they had previously heard before.  From the very moment I started to share my involvement with the 3-day with other people, I constantly found myself in a debate over the controversies that have faced Komen over the past years. Friends and random people I would interact with in public found it easy to quickly turn my attempt at doing something positive into a chance to completely make me feel like crap for what I was doing. Yes, Komen has dealt with some pretty gnarly accusations and on another blog, I might be comfortable enough to open up the debate but my overall feeling is this:

If an organization exists and successfully helps a massive amount of people, then why is it OK for someone to verbally  tear apart a person for being involved?

I also found it interesting that all the people (as far as I knew) had never themselves tried to do some sort of major fundraising challenge. Yet it was so easy for them to instantly bring up all the negativity around something that I was just trying to be optimistic about.

But through all the controversy and debates, the real hard part was the reason I was there.  After losing friends and family over the past few years to an assortment of types of cancer, I was walking because I wanted to walk and honor the people that had been effected by cancer in the past.

I had made a simple banner that said “Always in our heart” and on the last day during lunch, my three teammates and I circled around it armed with a Sharpee and way too many names to write down.

Standing proud.

The Double Chin Divas standing with honor and love.

When we were done we had over 100 names of people we were walking for who had battled cancer.

As Monique, Aubrey, Alyssa and I walked into the closing ceremony at Petco Park in San Diego, we carried the banner with so much love for the names on that pink piece of fabric. It was definitely one of the saddest but most uplifting moments of my life as I walked with my eyes full of tears towards the finish line. Behind the thousands of us in our white-for-walker Komen shirts, a group of beaming breast cancer survivors stood ready in their special pink shirts for their moment to walk across the finish line. Finally, when all of us in our walker-whites were across the line, we were asked to lift one shoe for the “One Shoe Salute” as the survivors crossed the finish line.

As soon as that group of women (and some men) started across that line, a flash of memories stored in my mind came over me as fast as my eyes were pouring out tears. Like every single person there at the event, we all came to honor someone who has faced cancer. The 3-day walk was EASY compared to what people face through cancer. All the pain I was feeling in my feet didn’t matter as my brain shifted into an extreme moment of reflection of why I participated in the first place.

Lucas in the snow of Germany.

Memories of blog posts that my friend Lucas Brooks had written about his colon cancer treatments…Happy smiles of him in the snow in Germany during his last couple months alive…The sunset our town had the night he passed…

Flashes of  my friend Scott Schipper playing his saxophone with one of his favorite bands, Less Than Jake, months before he died… The impact Scott was able to make by starting  the cancer organization “Thrive!”…

The moment my family was told that Alyssa’s mother-in-law Shirley had liver cancer… The way she smiled months later as she told us that her perfect blonde hair was actually a wig during a night we had dinner.. and then the way she was glowing the night I said goodbye to her before she left us for the heavens above.

Smiling Shirley and her son, Matt (Alyssa’s Husband)

The 3-day walk was such an incredibly fun experience and through all the blisters and tears, the absolute hardest past of the event was the overall reason it exists in the first place.

Cancer has taken millions of peoples lives and continues to be the second leading cause of death after heart disease.

According to medicalnewstoday.com, “In 2014, about 585,720 American are expected to die of cancer – almost 1,600 people per day.”

With so many people hurt by cancer, besides hoping and fighting towards a cure, the best we can do for the people we love who are facing cancer today, or to those of you who may be battling cancer right now, is to use every single day as a gift. We are fortunate to be here. We are fortunate to be able to wake up every morning, hopefully in good health, and to be able to see the sky show off its daily sunrise and sunset. We are fortunate to have friends and family to hold our hands and keep the faith strong, even when our own faith has dwindled.

For everyone we have lost, their memory lives on in all of us who are still here today.

 

A gift from Lucas Brooks.

 

With so much love,

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

PS: Special thanks to the awesome people at Chia Warrior for graciously providing us with delicious chia fuel through out our 3-Day journey!

 

 

 

Alyssa’s Costa Rica Adventure: Monteverde

We last left off in the scenic volcano town of Arenal, and after a lovely two days and two nights exploring hanging bridges, spotting wild frogs, and hanging in a waterfall hot tub, we headed to Monteverde. I knew I wanted to see Monteverde because it’s a cloud forest, and these rare ecosystems are only 1% of planet earth. The drive to Monteverde started with a beautiful drive around Lake Arenal. For about 20 miles, we kept seeing funny, hand-painted signs with sayings like “Face it, you’re stopping at Toad Hall” or “World’s best pit stop – Toad Hall”. We decided after seeing the Michigan J. Frog painted on a sign that we would stop to check out this clever little place. We pulled up to Toad Hall and were greeted by the very friendly owner, who invited us to take a look at all of the hotel rooms.

ToadHall

This hotel was nestled on the edge of the mountain, overlooking an incredibly lush jungle. My father in law was admiring the view when he noticed a toucan perched in the tree. I ran up towards him and started snapping photos, feeling so lucky to catch this beauty of a bird mid-flight.

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We got back on the road feeling excited about the awesome toucan sighting we’d had, just in time for that adrenaline to get us through the very bumpy car ride up to Monteverde. Quakers created Monteverde and they opted not to pave the roads to maintain the simpicity and purity of the environment. The roads are still unpaved today, and up steep, winding roads etched into mountains. As you get closer to Monteverde, the air becomes dense and wet as you essentially enter the clouds. On our way up we stopped to view a magnificient rainbow that was so close to us, we could touch it. (I looked for a pot of gold, but saw nothing!) We arrived at our hotel and immediately enjoyed the constant chatter of jungle birds and gasped at the cold, wet mist that was constantly on our faces.

ElParaisoMountainhotel

We walked around downtown Monteverde, where we had a drink in the treehouse bar, followed by an awesome dinner at Morphos. Then, it was back into our cozy beds, listening to the clouds hug the building, leaving behind only misty, wet kisses against the glass.

Raw Coffee Beans and Shells

Raw Coffee Beans and Shells

The next day, we checked out the El Traipiche Coffee, Sugar Cane, and Cocoa tour. We learned about the life cycle of the coffee plant, from sprout to roasted bean, as well as how to make sugar cane candy and cocoa. The highlight of the tour for me was grinding fermented cocoa beans to see how it is transformed from cocoa into actual chocolate (the trick? sugar and milk.) Real cocoa has such a rich, luxurious taste.

Standing in front of Sugar Cane

Standing in front of Sugar Cane

Making Sugar Cane Candy

Making Sugar Cane Candy

Raw Cocoa before adding sugar

Raw Cocoa before adding sugar

Before entering the Cocoa Bean Factory

Before entering the Cocoa Bean Factory

When our bellies were full of coffee and cocoa, we got back on the road to head towards our next destination — Manuel Antonio, the coast of Costa Rica. Departing Monteverde was full of breath-taking views like the one below… and breathtaking adventures, like having a tractor re-build you a small piece of road so you can pass. Imagine looking down at the side of the moving car to a ten foot trench right below you. Whew! Adventure all abounds in Costa Rica! Stay tuned for part 3 :)

Monteverde

Tractor-trench

Alyssa’s Costa Rica Packing List: Must haves for your trip to the rain forest

Hi guys! Part 2 of my trip is coming soon, but in the meantime, I have a few friends headed to the rain forest so I wanted to share my packing list.

So, you’re going to Costa Rica! AWESOME! Here are five things that I found invaluable on my jungle adventure to Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio. I was not compensated in any way by any of these companies; this is just from me to you to help out those wondering what the heck to bring on a trip to CR. This post does contain affiliate links, so if you click on the link, I may make four cents to fund my next trip to CR ;)

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  • Rain Jacket

I liked my Columbia Rain Jacket, because at $44, it wasn’t terribly expensive but it WORKED! You definitely want something lightweight for Costa Rica because while it’s raining, it will also be around 85 degrees. This jacket, the Columbia Women’s Plus-Size Switchback II Jacket  came in a ton of different colors and goes up to a size 3X. Amazon offers it with free two day shipping for Prime members. It has a hood, folds up lightly, and dries quickly; an absolute must in the sauna of the jungle.

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  • Hiking Shoes

I debated about wether or not to bring hiking shoes and I’m really glad I did. Some people suggest that rain boots will be fine for Costa Rica, and I don’t doubt they are, but I liked having shoes with a good amount of support in them and tread on the bottom. While most of the average tourist activities are not super intense, you’ll definitely want shoes with good traction to keep you up right on slick leaves, muddy ravines, and to grip the metal floor of the hanging bridges. I used the Ahnu Women’s Sugarpine Hiking Shoe here on Amazon, available in lots of cute colors up to a women’s size 11.

3) Bug Spray
Holy bugs! I learned my lesson in Thailand, which is, thou shalt always wear bug spray in the jungle. We used OFF in an aerosol, which smells only a little bit unpleasant, but is not sticky. It did its job quite well, because on the day I didn’t wear it (of my own forgetfulness), I was a luscious leg buffet for Costa Rican mosquitoes.
Off! Deep Woods Insect Repellent V, 25% DEET 6 oz

4) Gorilla Pod
Consider yourself an amateur photographer? No? Who cares! If you want awesome photos of yourself, your honey, or your family but don’t want to be reliant on the awkward German tourist to take it for you, you need a Gorilla Pod. Gorilla Pods run from $20 – $60 depending on your camera size, and have three legs that can stretch around ANYTHING, and I do mean anything: in my case, a wooden stump, a fallen tree trunk, and even a beat up old coconut on the beach floor. Verse yourself in your camera’s self timer function and enjoy the fact that gorgeous photos like the one below can still be taken without awkward German tourist’s assistance. (Disclaimer: I love awkward German tourists. I probably look like one myself.)

This picture was possible thanks to the Gorilla pod! I wrapped the legs around a random wood post on the side of the road.

This picture was possible thanks to the Gorilla pod! I wrapped the legs around a random wood post on the side of the road.

5) Stink Proof Bag

I have no idea what the proper name for this is. Let’s see… Tide Stinkproof Bag. Okay. Time for some truth. The jungle is wet. Your body becomes wet, from sweat, rain, bodily fluids, whatever. (I know, eww, but true.) You will stink. After two days in the jungle, your suitcase will take on a slightly sour smell. After three days in the jungle, it will smell like a New York Dumpster on a summer day. After five days or even seven? Forget it. Your suitcase should have a radioactive hazardous material sticker slapped it over, and be sent right to the incinerator, because HOT DAMN, it will stink. I have a stink proof bag I got for free, and now I am wishing I had a better quality stink proof bag, or even some of these cheap mesh laundry bags, because my bag STINKS. In the jungle, your wet swim suit won’t dry. It will just take on varying stages of dampness, from still in the pool wet to “Does this fabric ever dry?” wet. Your bag will stink whether or not you use a stink proof bag, but it will stink a little less with a stink proof bag. Do it.

Other things you definitely want? Lightweight, breathable pants. Ziploc bags, for covering your camera when it rains. Sunscreen, and lots of it. Chapstick. Extra underwear. Your camera and electronics chargers. Snacks, because many of the drives through Costa Rica are through very remote places.

Got other must haves for a Costa Rican or Rain Forest expedition? Leave them in the comments and I’ll add them as I go.