Friday, April 13, 2012

Before & After Pictures {3 weeks}!

I've promised updates and before and afters so here ya go!

The before picture was taken March 21- (I had started my diet and working out on March 1 so the before picture was actually taken after I had already lost 15 pounds!)
I didn't think to take any pics on March 1 :(
The 'after picture' was taken April 13!

It may not look like a significant before & after but considering the photos are only 3 weeks apart I'm pretty damn proud of myself :)

If you haven't already, you can read how I've been losing weight here.

I also wanted to list a few things I've found to be much easier with a few pounds shed:

Tanning. (yes, I already know the dangers of tanning) but Oh My Lanta! Laying in a tanning bed is so much easier with you have less weight and more room! I don't feel as squished as I used to.

My engagement ring is comfortable!  Before my fingers looked like cocktail weenies and now I've even noticed my fingers slimming down & my ring is so much more comfortable.  It was so tight before I thought I might literally have to have it cut off, now with just a little pushing it comes right off and on!

The obvious of feeling comfortable in clothes.  When I tried on a medium dress and it fit like a glove I thought I was going to cry tears of excitement!  I've been a borderline size 14 for the past few months so getting into those size 10 jeans and a medium top just sent me over the top!  It's really moments like those when your motivation kicks back in and you can really tell results.  I've always said- it's not the numbers on the scale that matter, it's how you feel.  If you feel great after losing 'only' 10 pounds or so then good for you! Keep rockin' on!  There was also this super cute coat I bought in November.  I couldn't fit into at the time (nowhere close to fitting in it, actually) but it was so cute I couldn't not have it, so I bought it.  Well, I tried that coat on a week ago and it fit perfect.  *SQUEAL* It made my month, really.  The best motivation is when you see results for yourself.

Now, I may have gotten a little overzealous but I bought a bikini top.  Not to wear now, oh hell no, but as a little more motivation.  It's hanging outside of my closet so I see it everyday and when I think I'm too tired to work out or don't have enough time, catching a glimpse of that bikini boosts my motivation and drive just enough to make me want to work out.

We had our engagement photos done in October and while the photographer was AMAZING I was so unhappy with how fat and bloated I looked.  I was still in so much denial at how much I had gained I hated the photos and only noticed my double chin, thick legs, fat arms, etc.  Since I'm feeling so much more confident about the way I looked we had another session of photos done and I am so anxious to see how those turned out, but I felt great while taking them so I'm sure they're noting but great.

I'm about half way to my goal weight so I am so excited for in a few months when I'm REALLY getting into shape.  After I lose the amount of weight I want I'll start focusing on really getting 'toned' so we'll have to see how that goes ;)

If you feel like you need or want to lose weight, just start.  Start somewhere.  Start taking small walks and build up to long ones, go for a bike ride, go paddle-boating, rollerblading. SOMETHING.  I can admit the only reason I didn't start working out before March 1 was because I was afraid.  I was afraid if I did start working out I wouldn't lose any weight, that it would be a waste of time and I would just be more upset. Well, I started and I couldn't be more happier.  I know I have a ways to go before I reach my goal weight but even the weight I've lost has boosted my confidence, self esteem, and just overall happiness. It sucks that weight gain can have such a hold on a person's emotions and esteem but the fact is that it does.  If you're not happy with how you look, it can will put you into crappy moods and feelings.  When you feel like you look good, you feel good overall.

As always, I hope this post has helped motivate some of you, get some of you started and has helped you see that your work WILL PAY OFF.

Monday, April 2, 2012

I Do.. Traditions?

(photo by Byerly Photography (me!)

I titled my entire blog "Bits & Pieces" because that's what I imagined it would be filled with: bits and pieces of advice, motivation, photos, stories, etc.  So here's a bit of advice from me, a bride, in regards to 'wedding tradition' that might help other brides out there.  

I've had my wedding planned since about 2 days before I was born so planning everything has been fairly easy because I knew exactly what I (we?) wanted.  I never realized I would have as traditional of a wedding that we currently have planned.  I don't consider myself much of a religious person but it was so important to have our ceremony in a church. I also never dreamed of seeing each other before actual wedding ceremony.. until I started making a timeline of the day and entertaining the thought for organization and time saving purposes.  I gave myself a cold sore from stressing about seeing each other before the ceremony or not.  
Well, I can't believe Im saying it but:  
We're Breaking Tradition And Seeing Each Other Before The Ceremony! :D 

I'm sure this is something a lot of brides consider over and over and probably stress about making that decision. So I thought I would lend my advice and the reasonings as to why we made the decision we did to hopefully help other brides out there.  I'm surprisingly at peace with our decision and already know it's the right choice for us.  I know it's not the right choice or even thought for a lot of couples but if you're considering it and can't decide here's what I think:

I was originally worried our ceremony wouldn't be the same if he didn't have some sweet, romantic reaction when I waked in, but I now really think his reaction to seeing me is such a personal, private moment that should be shared between the two of us.  In a way for me, kind of like the birth of a child- such a beautiful, unique moment that will only happen one time it should be shared between the parents. Hopefully that makes sense to you like it made sense and helped me.  

What's the only important part of the ceremony? To me, The Vows. Period. I could show up wearing jeans and a Helly Kitty Tshirt and it wouldn't matter as long as the vows were read.  I mean, it would kind of matter because I have a beautiful wedding dress I want to wear, but you get my point ;) Realizing that the ceremony should be about your commitment and your future together and a promise to never give up on your love is what made the decision for me.  It's not about the way he looks at me or if he's already seen me because I know him already seeing me is not taking away from the importance of the ceremony.  I wish I would have realized this sooner because it's absolutely what sealed the decision for me.  I know I'll never look back on our wedding and think 'damn, our ceremony was ruined because he saw me before it.' or 'damn, there was nothing special about the ceremony since he had already seen me.'  C'mon now.

The only reason I began to even entertained the thought of seeing each other before the ceremony was because of how much I thought it would help the day stay organized and efficient on time.  I'm positive it absolutely will.  Seeing each other before the ceremony will allow us to get our photos done early, which I think our photos will turn out even better than if we do them after because we'll be more relaxed and not rushed to get to the reception. We also plan to stop at our reception site together before the ceremony so we can see it all decked out before the guests are there and 'ruin' the linens and decor. 

Another point that really helped me decide: the entire day we will be surrounded by family and friends (which is fantastic!) but it's our wedding day and we should have some time during the day to just the two of us.  Everybody will be watching our vows, our first kiss as Mr & Mrs, our first dance, etc. that it was so important to have a few moments together, alone. And yes, even without our photographer in our face for just a bit.  

I went from 'oh hell no would I break tradition and see each other before the ceremony' to 'ohh our day is going to be so much more relaxed knowing we'll see each other beforehand.' and the points I listed above completely set my decision and helped me feel so relaxed knowing we're doing the right thing.  If you're a bride having a hard time deciding, I hope this helped you <3 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Oh the places you'll go in CHICAGO!

I'm in the mood to write and with an exciting trip planned to Chicago (Cubbies home opener!) later this week I thought I would share a few fun things to do around the city!

My fiance and I have been so lucky to have shared so many awesome experiences in Chicago and sometimes feel like we've done everything there is to do and search for something new and exciting!

DIE.HARD.CUBS.FAN. and SO proud of it! Don't hate on 1908! One of the best things we've done in Chicago involves The Cubs and sports in General!

Obviously, going to the game itself is an exciting experience.  We've been to about 15 games together in the 6 years we've been dating and every single time we've sat in The Bleachers. Yes, they're so important they get capitalized :).  Whyy The Bleachers?  Well, first off you can get tickets pretty cheap from StubHub.  We've found that the closer it is to the game, the cheaper the tickets on the site.  It's other people trying to sell their tickets so as it gets closer, they just want to get rid of their ticket rather than make a giant profit. We once scored Cub/Cardinal tickets from StubHub for $15 a person for Bleacher seats!  Another great thing about the beloved Bleachers is that the seating is first come first serve.  NO ASSIGNED SEATS AT ALL!!  We've always sat in the first 5 rows!  You simply get in line about 30-45 minutes before The Bleachers open (1 hour before the game) and then once you're in the stadium you pick where you want to sit! You can even decide if you want Left, Center or Right outfield!
I will say, most people who sit in The Bleachers are adults so I definitely don't recommend it for family seating.  Unless you like your children being exposed to drunk Bleacher Bums :)

Another must is a Wrigley Field Tour! 
For $25 a ticket we got to experience Wrigley Field in an unimaginable way.. we learned the history of the field while visiting the locker rooms (can I say Zambrano had a photo of Megan Fox in his locker?!) dugouts, broadcasting booths, Bleachers, and even got to STEP.FOOT.ON.THE.FIELD! It's really a must for any sports fan!
just hanging out on the field & in the dugout!

We've also seen The Bulls and Blackhawks at The United Center, The Sox vs Cubs at US Cellular Field and The Bears vs Vikings at Soldier Field.  We've also bought tickets to all these events from StubHub

If you are a sports lover be sure to check for charity events sponsored by pro sports teams or players.  We came across a Chicago Cub charity event and purchased tickets for $100 a piece to attend with all proceeds going to a Cubs charity.  At the event we had dinner, received autographs and were able to meet and get photos with Cubs players!  There was also a silent auction and autograph balls for purchase with proceeds again, going to charity.  We got to meet players, get autographs and pictures all while donating to charity!! Win-Win! 

Me with Derek Lee! I think he winked at me with both eyes.. or maybe that was just a blink but still! And my fiance and I with the legendary Ernie Banks the a ball he autographed! 

Another SUPER FUN thing we've experienced is a Segway Tour! 

You will feel like the when zipping around on a Segway wearing those super cool helmets but it is so worth it! I can't remember how much it was but it couldn't have been too terribly expensive and whatever the cost, it was so fun! We glided (because that's what it feels like) by Lake Michigan and around Grant Park.  It was a little tricky at first learning how to ride on one but the instructors were super helpful and once you got used to it, it was fairly easy.  One of my more favorite things we've done! 

Museums! I wouldn't normally visit museums but since we were looking for new things to do we decided to visit the museums in Chicago.  We've been to the Field Museum, Science and Natural History Museum, Art History Museum and the Shedd Aquarium.  As far as I know, we only have the Planetarium left to visit! 
All had cool exhibits but we both like learning and seeing new things so deciding on which museum to visit depends on your personality :) The photo above is when we saw Sue the T-Rex at The Field Museum which was very cool! 

Dinner Cruise!
Ohh la la! Every once in a while it's nice to get all gussied up and enjoy a fancy, romantic night out so we treated ourselves to a wonderful dinner cruise aboard the Mystic Blue Cruise liner. We were entertained with a live band, a full dinner and dessert buffet, dancing and a firework show from Navy Pier while cruising on Lake Michigan for 3 hours.  I believe the price was a little over $100/person but since it was a treat and not a usual event it was worth it and a great memory! 

Dining. We have a rule that anytime we go anywhere for vacation or a weekend trip we do not eat at any place we could at home and boy oh boy does Chicago have some amazing restaurants!! My top two favorites are:  Pizano's and Gino's East.  Both are pizza/Italian restaurants and oh so good! I'm a sucker for Chicago style pizza so I can't leave the city without having some!  The Signature Room at the John Hancock Building is also a fabulous place to dine.  It's located on the 95th floor and has breath taking views of the city and delicious food.  We ate there for dinner which was 'fancy' dress code as I call it.  I wore a dress, the fiance wore a suit.  Our dinner was over $200 which we had planned for and expected after looking over the online menu.  We also ate there for a weekend brunch which was a normal business casual dress and much more affordable.  We ate the brunch buffet and the bill was about $30 for the two of us.  I actually liked the food from the brunch better but the dinner was a cool experience.  I don't think we'll ever have a dinner that fancy again :) 

View of the city from our brunch at The Signature Room! 

Other places we've eaten and enjoyed are: Ed Debevick's, House of Blues, Giordanos, Billy Goat Tavern, Harry Carey's Steak House, and Al's #1 Italian Beef.  

Chicago Chocolate Walking Tour! Nearly 3 hours of walking around Chicago taste testing chocolate from the finest bakeries and chocolatiers. Need I say more?  I scored the tickets off of Groupon for $40!  If you love chocolate then your life isn't complete until you experience this!

Annual Chicago Auto Show! I don't know a dang thing about cars other than some of them are so pretty and I like the way they look.  That's about it.  My fiance likes the Auto Show to see all the new cars and everything they come loaded with, I like just looking at the pretty cars!  There are so many cars and so many people it's almost overwhelming but it's pretty cheap (less than $15 a person- but I can't remember the exact price) that it makes a great day experience.  

Ice Skating & Carriage Rides<3.  Is there a more romantic combination?! The answer is no, there's not! Each winter Millennium Park transforms into a public ice skating rink! I had never ice skated in my life but it actually wasn't too bad! It does cost, but for the fun experience it was worth it and it wasn't very expensive that I can remember.  There are also horse and carriages rides available during certain days and times! Ice skating and then a carriage ride in downtown Chicago?! I think that's what makes movies.  

My fiance and I both love the city of Chicago and have scoped out so many fun things to do that hopefully you'll be able to experience some fun things as well!  Feel free to share the fun experiences you've had in Chicago!