April’s bikini day at the beach

I did it.

I finally wore a bikini at the beach.

I had done it before as a child, I’m sure.

But as an adult, my stomach had never once felt the cool sea air upon it.

bikinibeachI’ve always wanted to try wearing a bikini. If I just didn’t have that horrible fear of what everyone there would think, I bet I would have done it a lot sooner. However on this day, once my friend and I had successfully walked the farthest away we could from people, I decided to strip down just to the bikini I had worn there with fearful anticipation of actually showing it. My friend easily sensed my embarrassment as I peered around to see just how far away everyone was, standing with my hands in my shirt ready for lift off. Luckily, as the awesome guy my friend is, he knew to say all the right things to make me feel better. Compliments about me being hot and “no one caring” eased my anxieties enough to get me to take off my top and plop down with my hands/arms hiding my stomach. With a few more self-esteem boosting words, I let go of my stomach and realized I badly needed to just get over this deep-rooted fear I have about wearing a bikini.

Why is that I could go to Burning Man and walk around with no  top? Or go to an Oregon hot springs and do the same? Why didn’t I feel horrible shame there the way I do at the beach?

A suggested answer came from one of my close girl friends. She pointed out that at Burning Man and hot springs, so many people are naked and “letting it all hang out” that the societal pressure to look a certain way just isn’t there. Though at the beach and other public swimming places, it is almost expected that the only women you will see wearing bikinis are thin. I am grateful that these times are changing and more and more women are feeling more secure about rocking whatever they want to at the beach. Sadly, I still haven’t been able to JUST GET OVER IT. I think I’m getting better since I’m even willing to give it a try, but I hate knowing that the #1 reason I won’t wear a bikini to the beach is because of my fear of what complete strangers think of my body.

How freaking lame is that?

So, blog readers, does the fear of what other people think of your body ever hinder what you like to wear?  If it doesn’t, how did you get to that awesome place of complete self-security? I’d love to hear it!

Oh, and by the way, I’m totally down 20 pounds officially from the start of this year. YAY. Thank you 3-day training and food allergies! WOOO!

 

Lots of love,

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

 

bikiki

Proof (at a safe distance for my insecurities).

Things I’m Reading and Loving

Hello there! One very subtle shift in summer to fall for me is that suddenly, my nose is always back in a book. I’ve always been a voracious reader, so much so that my parents used to buy books for me for vacations and hide them so I didn’t read them before the trip. However, in the throes of boring adult life, it seems like I never have time to stick my nose in a book; that is, until the seasons change, and there’s less weddings on weekends and allergy appointments and beach days (not bad things to be preoccupied with, other than allergy appointments.) I’ve been sick since Monday with a terrible cold, and the only positive of this crud (well, that’s being dramatic, because there’s lots of positives — like it’s not ebola, I work from home, and I have access to doctors and medications should I need them), is that I’ve had lots of time to read. Here’s what I’ve been reading: (And no, none of these are sponsored endorsements. As usual, if you click the link I may make 4c (I’m rich!), but these are my own heartfelt recommendations.)

1) Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

This book was given to me by an awesome friend and coworker, and it’s a wonderful mental vacation through the minds of a bored but genius architect mother and her 15-year-old daughter. Here’s the official blurb:

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

I really liked the way the book was written via different forms of communication: email, letters, post-it notes, etc, and from so many different points of view. I liked the snarky commentary on the tech world that comes about from Bernadette’s husband’s job, and the creative twist on perspective offered by Bernadette and her dreary suburban life. This is a book you’ll rip through quickly, and I promise you’ll feel good at the end.

2) The SkinnyTaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka

I’ve been a fan of the Skinnytaste blog for years, loving that these light and delicious recipes aren’t loaded with chemicals or weird ingredients. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every single recipe I’ve made from Skinnytaste has been a hit. Pinterest? Not so much. (Pssst: Visit Pintester.com, which cracks me up, especially this post, because I’ve recently had the same fail.) I can’t wait to make the Skinnytaste Baked Potato Soup, or her watermelon lime granita, which I just may do as our dollar store is having a few sad looking late-season watermelons rolling in. The photos in this book are gorgeous, the instructions are easy, and I’m all about beautiful cookbooks that you can ooh and ahh over without feeling the button on your jeans simultaneously stab into your roll of tummy flub.

3) Not That Kind of Girl, by Lena Dunham

I don’t watch a lot of TV(probably less than two hours a month), but occasionally, I would check out old episodes of Girls. I didn’t fall in love with the show, but it did intrigue me; I appreciated the different perspective of ladies my age in the media. I enjoy following Lena on Twitter, and also enjoy seeing her challenge the media in a bunch of different ways: by wearing froofy pink and red ball gowns, by pointing out the very obvious fact that every time she gets told how “brave” she is for going naked in a film it’s implying that she should feel brave because she’s showing off her imperfect, non-Hollywood body, and by her unwavering stance on feminism and equal rights for all. Lena’s book is hilarious — it’s not going to be for everyone because she’s brutally honest in ways that may make some people squirmy, but her chapter about her food diaries had me guffawing and realizing how very much like her struggles with weight echoed my own life and my own Double Chin Diary. I think Lena and I would be friends in real life, and I already have two people in mind who are getting this book for Christmas.

4) Ebola’s Cultural Casualty: Hugs in Hands-On Liberia

As a sometimes journalist (Go CSUN, Class of 2008!), it warms my heart when I read a piece of journalism that not only informs, but also gives you all the feels in terms of story. This piece was the first piece of news about Ebola that made me really grasp the severity of what Africa, and now Spain and America, are experiencing. The piece specifically talks about the challenge of having to go touchless in a culture that is so built upon touch, and it’s a heartbreaking and eye-opening look into what this horrifying illness is doing. Read it.

What recommendations do you guys have for me? Now that I’m through these latest books, I need ideas for others! 🙂

All about April’s first blog convention, ShiftCon!

It has been a busy past couple of a weeks here at Double Chin land. Alyssa and I have both been prancing around the United States and last Wednesday ended up trading cities. I left Oakland for Burbank and a few hours after my arrival, she left Burbank for Oakland.

Saturday was the wedding of our special friend and honorary sister, Katelyn. Alyssa had to be back to do all the wedding party excitement and since she already had bought a ticket to her friend’s blog convention called Shiftcon, I got to reap all the rewards and go in her place!

The website does a better job than I can when it comes to all the awesome aspects of this event so here is a blurb of explanation from their page:

 “ShiftCon is the very first international social media conference focusing on wellness, health, and the environment. This conference blends workshops, networking, parties, and intense collaboration of changemakers all over the United States and Canada in one place. Bloggers and other social media professionals participate and collaborate with each other to inspire and empower each other to create effective communication and take their profession to the next level. Attendees participate in workshops, learn from professionals, discuss their niche and value systems, and decide on themes to collaborate on in the following year. This is a powerful event meant to organize the eco-wellness niche as a powerful community online.”

ShiftCon was held in Los Angeles from Thursday October 2nd to Saturday the 5th. I had wanted to be back in time for Katelyn and her (now) husband’s wedding, so I ended up only attending for Friday afternoon. Within a few hours I had pulled in so much information about brands I already loved and brands I have a feeling I will love.4

There was probably well over a hundred different eco-approved products to try with representatives from tons of companies ready to share information and samples. Besides the THREE hefty swag bags I immediately I received upon check-in, sponsors showered me in samples and challenged me to share pictures to receive additional perks. I got a sweet Patagonia bag from Organic Valley for instagramming a picture. I’m extra stoked on it because  it is PERFECT for my ultra long walks I have been doing!

 

Here are some brands I was excited to experience and/or learn more about!

  • Organic Valley – I’m a fan of chocolate milk so it was easy to lure me to the table with buckets of chilled chocolaty drink calling out to me. Organic Valley does a lot more than make delicious tasting drinks, they also do a variety of dairy products like cheese, butter and sour cream. I noticed at the grocery store tonight that they also have a bunch of organic produce available too, like the bag of potatoes offered at the same price per pound as conventional potatoes. I got a few bottles of their protein packed milk shakes called “organic balance.” These yummy drinks carried 16 grams of protein with them and I’m likely to be utilizing my coupons to buy more. With  the awesome bag they gave me and these drinks, I’ll be well set on my ambitious outdoor adventures. 1
  • Nordic Naturals – This is a product I noticed had hooked up our swag bags pretty heavily with goods. They gave me a whole gift pack full of samples, coupons, mints, a pen, chapstick, a lanyard, and a full size bottle of “Ultimate Omega” fish oil supplements. With my food allergies kicking my ass lately, I am excited for the opportunity to try out some new ways to improve my health.  According to their website, “Extensive research has documented the health benefits of EPA and DHA, which include not only a healthy heart, but brain and cognitive function, joint mobility, eye health, pregnancy and lactation, healthy skin and hair, and a normally functioning immune response.” I’ve got enough capsules for a month so I’ll report back and let you all know how I feel!

    I've got lots of love for all things Norwegian.

    I’ve got lots of love for all things Norwegian.

  • Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap – I’m not sure when I first discovered what I fondly refer to as “hippie soap” but I have been a faithful fan of this product for definitely more than five years. They were certified organic before being organic was the cool thing to do and their big variety of body products is always giving me more things to try. I started my appreciation of this product when I fell in love with their original castile soap. It is incredibly concentrated and a little bit can create a ton of bubbles so it is the perfect product to take while traveling. Plus, they can be used for way more than your skin. “Completely biodegradable and vegetable-based, our Castile Liquid Soaps have been called the “Swiss-army knife” of cleaning – usable for just about any cleaning task. These simple, ecologically formulated soaps are gentle enough for washing body, face or hair, but also powerful enough for tasks like dishwashing, mopping, laundry and even pest control. ”  Dr. Bronner’s seems to be found in all sorts of stores now, I know our local drug store CVS carries a ton of their stuff at a pretty cheap price so give it a shot! I’ve had the same little bottle for years throughout my travels!

    I was excited because this photo was tweeted by the awesome Trish at Dr. Bronners!

    I was excited because this photo was tweeted by the awesome Trish at Dr. Bronners!

  • Naturepedic Beds – This organic mattress company started out making beds for infants and toddlers and grew in size from there! Now offering all sorts of beds for the entire family, these beds feature no harmful chemicals and are made with organic materials that help ensure the healthiest night’s sleep you can get. The ladies at the display offered me a moment of rest in exchange for a selfie and I was excited when I saw they used it on their own instagram feed! I’M FAMOUS! Thanks, naturepedic! Plus, the bed itself was super comfortable and when I’m ready to buy a new bed next year, I’ll be checking them out first!

    Comfortably organic.

    Comfortably organic.

  • Soap Box – I’m obviously a fan of products not made with a bunch of weird chemicals so when I saw I had a full size bar of a BLACK soap, I got really excited. The company is Soapbox Soaps and they make simple soaps that are 100% palm oil free, vegan, and every box gets another box sent to a child needing their own cleanliness product. They’ve got more types besides my charcoal-activated black soap like lavender, orange, cinnamon, and eucalyptus. Plus,  these soaps run just $4.99 which is pretty reasonable considering the high-quality product it is. I used it tonight during my “shower break” away from writing this long post and my skin feels super silky and clean without an ultra strong scent or weird film that some soaps leave.

    They have a $20 gift set with a bunch of products for the holidays! Click here for their website!

    They have a $20 gift set with a bunch of products for the holidays! Click the pic for their website!

 

So, as you can see, I had a blast at Shiftcon getting to know these products better and learning more about the organic and eco-product movement. I was especially grateful to meet many incredible and like-minded individuals and excited for all the networking I was able to do! Thank you SO much to the people who worked their ass off to put it on, you all were running around the whole time so I only got to meet a few of you! Event planning is tough but you guys did a great job! For a list of the MANY sponsors that hooked us bloggers up, click this link for a wonderfully made list! 

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Check out the enormous amount of goodies I came home with!

I hope you all have a great rest of your week!

 

Lots of love,

AprilSignatur

 

 

How do I love Avocados? Let me count the ways.

So even though it’s September, I still haven’t come down off of the epic high that was winning the California Avocado Commission Cutting Edge Culinary Contest! I wanted to share with you guys what I’ve been up to with all of my awesome prizes. For three months, I get a monthly shipment of ripe California avocados. The first month I didn’t plan well, and ended up giving away many avocados, which made for many happy neighbors and friends. However, I did have this recipe set aside from Yoga magazine that has just five ingredients: avocado, cocoa, honey, coconut milk, and vanilla. I was amazed at how delicious these little fudgsicles were — you’d never guess that avocado was a primary ingredient, and they were so rich and clean tasting.

Coconut Avocado Honey Fudgsicle Recipe Yoga Magazine

Alyssa’s take on Avocado Fudgsicles

I’ve also fulfilled my life’s quota of avocado toast, but that’s not really true because I could probably eat avocado toast every day for the next year and still want more. There’s nothing like some toasted sourdough with mashed avocado, sea salt, and pepper, and if you’re feeling really fancy, you’ll top it with a fried egg. Isn’t this droolworthy?(Newsflash: I’ve only just now gotten into “Dippy eggs”. I used to be one of those people that thought you’d get sick if you ate a runny egg yolk. It’s not true…at least not so far, anyways!)

Avocadowitheggyolk

Now that I’ve either made you hungry or grossed you out, let’s talk about prizes! My beautiful new white Kitchenaid is enjoying its new home in my kitchen and has been used several times already, to make a gluten-free cake, brownies, and a marinara sauce. I also scored a Williams Sonoma giftcard, and with that, I made several purchases, including:

StuffAlyssaLikes_DoubleChinDiary

Nordic Ware Honeycomb Pull-Apart Dessert Pan – There’s no reason I got this other than the fact that I love bees, and I wanted it (it was on sale, too!). I’ve also kinda always wanted a NordicWare pan because I’ve heard you could try and blast them to smithareens and barely make a dent… and it’s true. This thing fell on my kitchen floor the other day and it looks great… the tile it fell on, however? Not so great. Goodbye, rental deposit. Hello cute novelty cakes.

KitchenAid 5-Quart Glass Bowl with Lid – My fellow avocado queen Kelly suggested this to me and I’m so glad she did. I’ll often times bake something and have leftovers that I don’t really want to swap out into a different container. The lid is great and it’s way prettier for photographing!

Top Shelf Living – Slate Cheese Board – 10″ X 14″– I’ve been having a wild love affair with cheese the last year, and having a slate cheese board makes me feel all “Oooh, you fancy.” This one came with chalk so I can write the name of said cheeses, which will usually be, “Brie, Gouda, Cotswold, Cheddar.” The end. (And there’s something about how slate keeps cheese at their natural temperatures yadda yadda but I just think it looks cool.)

The Spice Lab Cyprus Citron Lemon Flake Sea Salt, Island of Cyprus 2 oz. – Impulse buy! I’d never seen lemon sea salt, so in the basket it went. I just had this on top of a tomato slice fresh from the garden, and holy heck, was it yummy.

Chef’n Stem Gem Strawberry Huller – Totally worth $7 and adorable. I hate cutting strawberry tops, and on the occasion that I want a strawberry without the flat top, I have this handy tool. Also can be used for tomatoes.

Chef’n Buttercup Butter Maker – Another impulse buy. Everything is better with butter, and I fantasized about making my own butter with honey or herbs. Sadly, I haven’t had a chance to use this yet but I’ll give you the full report when I do.

So there you have it! That’s how I spent some of my giftcard from the lovely people at California Avocado Commission. I still have some funds left that I may put towards another Le Creuset item, but we shall see. I’m not being compensated to talk about any of these products, I just wanted to update you on a day in the life of an Alyssa spending spree. These links are Amazon affiliate links, which means if you click on them I might make 4 cents, but that’s all. What would you buy with $150 for kitchen stuff? Also, am I missing out on any amazing avocado recipes? Do tell!

 

I’m Friday’s Featured Female!

Hi Friends!

Today, I’m honored to be the Friday Featured Female over on my friend Melissa’s blog, The Valentine RD. I first met Melissa at Fitbloggin’ in 2013, and realized not only do I live near this lady, but she’s super sweet, super smart about all things food, and in general, that person that everybody just loves! It’s an honor to be on her blog today, so please go check it out. I’m sharing a little bit about my “A-ha!” moment when I realized I needed to let go of binge-eating. Hope you have a wonderful day!

AlyssaMelissaValentineRDDoubleChinDiary

What’s up, Wednesday?

This week feels simultaneously really long, and really short. How is that even possible, right? Here’s a few things I’m diggin’ as of late:

1) My friends at Diet-to-Go occasionally let me ramble over at their official blog. This week I shared ten of my favorite health and fitness people to follow on Instagram. There’s no way I could ever list everyone amazing I follow on Instagram, but this is a good start. Check it out and let me know who else I need to follow! #1 is my buddy Alan, who I’ll get to see at Fitbloggin’ in a few weeks!

2) Thanks to a lovely reader of the DCD, Carrie, I checked out my first ever TOPS meeting! TOPS stands for Taking Off Pounds Sensibly, and is a community supported weight loss group with a $28 annual membership fee. (Yeah – annual! Cheaper than one month of Weight Watchers!) I really liked the group I went to, as there was singing; cute weight loss related songs to the tune of pop culture songs like “You are my sunshine”, and a chance to win some money, as there were several weight related bidding games. You follow whatever eating plan your doctor gives to you, and the weekly weigh ins and meetings are for support. I’m still trying to find the right day of the week and time for me to go to meetings as I’ll be traveling often the next six months, but you should definitely check out a meeting. It’s a refreshing twist on group weight loss.

3) I’m finally back on track with healthy eating. Grief does strange things to you; in my case, making me want to eat chocolate cake all day every day. I had a few weeks to project my emotions through food, but the buck stops here. For the past few days I’ve been good about sticking to a low-carb eating plan. Here’s what I had for lunch today; turkey breast slices, broccoli, and some sparkling orange seltzer. It’s definitely less exciting than chocolate cake, but I don’t feel crummy, and it will help me reach my goals.

4) This week officially marked 24 weeks to go until the Double Chin Divas and I walk 60 miles!!! I’ve got to get on a solid training plan, and thankfully, the 3-Day provides several ways to stay on track. I’ll be seeing April this weekend, and I know we’ve got a nice long walk planned to help us log some miles. I am surprised at the way my gratitude strikes me when people make a donation — I cry. It’s so incredibly special to be able to do something like this to show my support for the millions of people in America who have been affected by cancer. I’m carrying the names of loved ones lost with me on my journey, or names of survivors to honor. Please help me make a difference in the fight against cancer. Just one $10 donation can help change somebody’s life.

5) I’m currently binge watching Orange is the New Black. Who else watches? I kind of love all of the characters, and I think they did a really good job capturing the complexities of females. Now, some of the stories are a little bit too far out, like, have you ever heard of a prison without security cameras? But, it’s a great, entertaining watch for vegging at night. Now, I just need to remember that enjoyable TV shouldn’t mean I sacrifice sleep, cuz I’ve been tiiiiired this week. Anyone else do this and regret it the next morning?

That’s all I got. Tell me whats up with you!

xo