Monday, July 28, 2014

What's So Bad About the Late 20's?

I was skimming through my August '14 edition of Elle when I can across an article about a woman in her thirties. She forced a few friends to come over and throw out her 20-something-year-old odd clothing because she felt like it no longer suited her age. Before I got any farther in the article I thought, "Is this what I would soon be approaching? Should I dress more for my age? Do I act my own age, and if I don't, should I?" I'm only 27 after all - and then it hit me. I'm 20-freaking-seven. Every day creeps by and every day I slowly inch my way closer to 30.

There are so many milestones we hit in our lives: the legal driving age, the legal age to drink, and then what? All the rest of the milestones we pretty much make up in our heads. Things that we think are achievements, places we'd like to be once we hit a certain age, the people we aspire to be. Did I ever think I would be married at 26? Hell no - if you asked my 22 year-old self where I thought I would be, I probably wouldn't have much of a clue. And definitely not married. I guess the world works in mysterious ways and when you least expect it, something good will happen. But as I digress, I would still like to keep in mind that we weave this path in our minds that we try to live up to.

When I hit 25 I thought, damn I am really old. A quarter of a century after all. Ha! Life was only beginning. I was 25 when I got engaged, does that count? I'd like to think so, because I knew who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Fast forward another year and I am married at 26 (queue the music for the new milestone). And Daa-da-daa! Here we are approaching our 1-year anniversary at my fabulous age of 27. My three-years-away from being 30 age.

Looking back at the Elle article, I can't help but think that the author possibly just wanted a fresh start to her life. Maybe she went through a lot in her 20's and had a phase of a wild streak. Maybe she thought that she couldn't justify her binges at Forever 21 and arguing that it is OK to dress like a college girl going out on a Thursday night. Regardless, we need to stop looking at our lives that we have to be somewhere by a certain age. We can choose our own path, regardless of which step we take or whether we take the long or short route. I'm 27 and my Facebook page is now a wedding and baby feed. What once used to be a timeline of parties, funnels, and dancing on bars is now consumed with gowns, mini-me's, houses - I could go on and on. But this is the next phase of life. I have accepted that, and even though I'm getting closer to a new decade, there's nothing wrong with enjoying the tail end of my 20's.

One of the first weddings of my friends that we attended - definitely not the last! It's only the beginning..

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Life's a Beach

Where did the weekend go? Monday came and gone and next thing I knew I was back in the car headed north on the parkway. Four days with my family just wasn't enough, I felt bad leaving them. But another summer at the Jersey Shore was exactly what I needed.

Here's a quick recap of accomplishments from my activity list that I planned out on Friday. I must say I am proud that I hit a majority of them!

To-Do List
1. Exercise - My mom and I ended up playing tennis Friday morning. I keep telling everyone and I have to note here. My mom is much better than she leads you to believe! The woman can hang! I think I sweat more from that amount of hustle than I do when I'm running. On top of one morning of tennis, I ran Saturday and Sunday for about 2-2.5 miles/day.
2. Beach - Friday and Monday were definitely the best sun days, but we still made the effort the rest of the weekend.
3. Finish reading a book - Success here! Although I didn't start a new one, I at least managed to finish the one I have been reading for several months now.
4. Mini Golf - No-go here. We thought about it a few times but never made it to the course. I hope I didn't disappoint my brother too much.
5. Boardwalk - Drove by it a few times, but for the weekend it is tough with the crowd. There is always next year!
6. Family - This whole trip wouldn't have been anything without my family. After living away for so long, you seem to forget how nice it is to all be under the same roof. I wish I was still there with them for the rest of the week, but making the best of what we had was all that mattered.

I can't leave this post without a picture of the beach - and even though it is literally the only photo I took, it takes me back to the place where I was sitting in the sand. It will always be there for me when I return.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Weekend at the Jersey Shore

This time of year always brings back memories for me - I could practically  hear the music at the boardwalk as I drove down last night and saw the skyline ahead of me with the ferris wheel. Every year of my life (minus the year we were planning the wedding), we head down as a family to Wildwood Crest, NJ to take our annual vacation at the shore. I hit way too much traffic when I left work, but the 3 1/2 hours spent in the car was well worth because now I am here!

It was a little strange coming down without my husband. We do everything together and knowing that he couldn't come down this year is definitely a bummer. Sometimes work has to take a priority and I respect that. We of course are already texting this morning as I am typing this post. Funny thing is we both had nightmares! I guess that's what happens when we're not together.

Some activities I have in store for the weekend:
1. I'll get the boring one out of the way first - definitely need to exercise. I have just about four days down here. If I can run/exercise two out of the four days that will be an achievement. I also brought down my tennis rackets since my mom is quite the player.
2. Beach don't kill my vibe - hopefully majority of my days will be spent along the water, toes in the sand. The weather is supposed to be beautiful (and not as hot/humid as it's been).
3. Finish reading a book - and hopefully start a new one. All of my friends at work say how amazing Gone Girl is, but I need to finish what I started. Lucky for me, I brought the Kindle.
4. Mini Golf - A few weeks ago I schooled my brother and husband in a neck-to-neck battle of mini-golf. I'm sure he'll be back for a vengeance!
5. Boardwalk - I haven't been on rides in ages, so it would be nice to do a family trip at night to Morey's Pier. I also want to rent bikes to ride on the boardwalk in the morning. It's a great form of exercise and you get to see all the crazy people already out and about.
6. Last but not least - spend time with my family. If my older sister comes down, it will be the first time in years that all six of us will be under the same roof overnight.

The best part about this place is being with my family. It has been an annual tradition to come down, and now with my cousins, aunt, and uncle on the way it will be like old times. It makes me get excited for what the future will bring when Jay and I decide to start having kids. I want this to be a tradition for them because I always looked forward to it every year growing up.

I'll try to take pictures along the way - I hope everyone has a great weekend and hopefully I will go back up north with more memories and a nice bronzed glow. :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blog love to SolelyMer

I was excited to see a new header pop up on my feed for the Bloglovin Awards 2014. Being new to the scene, I am always searching for fashion and beauty experts. I knew I had my sister at my fingertips, but little did I know how much she would grow creating her blog SolelyMer.

Meredith is not only my sister - I seek her approval in almost all of my fashion and makeup choices. She has an instinctual sense of navigating through a lot of the clutter we see in the fashion world. She can keep up with the trends, but also creates new ones. Her uniqueness and conversational layout of her blog is what tunes me in every morning.

I also appreciate that she brings it down to Earth - she finds products and pieces that are not only stylish, but affordable. We all want the newest and best of everything, but sometimes it comes down to the cost. Meredith offers budget-friendly options that still can make us look like millionaires.

And so as my eyes caught the blue awards header, it was a no-brainer for me to select SolelyMer as Best Beauty Blog and Newcomer of the Year. She was my inspiration to let go of my own fears and put myself out there on a blog. Although Meredith is my younger sister, she sure doesn't seem like one. She is a best friend, a support system, and one of the most influential people in my life. If you haven't done so already, please check out her blog and see for yourself. I am so proud of her and can't wait to see what she has left in store for 2014.

Meredith is the beautiful young woman on the right. People used to say we look like twins - but she definitely got the better genes ;)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Rocky Review

Is it possible to take a simple-minded, gritty boxer and throw him onto a theatrical stage in song and dance? I'm no critic, but Rocky on Broadway was a decent attempt to accomplish just that. I'm not saying it is the next Les Miserables, but the show incorporated new on-stage elements and it was a treat to do something different as a couple.

This excursion was Jay's birthday gift - I bought two tickets to the Winter Garden Theater located in New York City so we could witness this new Broadway show. There has been quite a buzz and since the Rocky series is his all-time favorite (and ultimate motto in life), I decided to be the hero for the weekend. The streets were packed at 7:30 on a Saturday night, but we were refreshingly blessed with the lack of humidity - especially for this time of year in the Urban Jungle! 

There was an immediate hype in the air as you strolled up to the entrance. Whose eyes could neglect the big red lettering? With no true background on the show, we wondered which movie the play would be about. A compilation of the entire series? A focus on just the original? Honestly, I had idea what to expect. They finally started to let us in and we took our seats. 

Of course I chose the aisle seats for Jay's sake. There is something about men insisting to be on the aisle, as if they feel the need to escape! Jay gets a little anxious the deeper we are inside a row and I myself now prefer the convenience and freedom of the aisle. You never know what you may need or when you may want to get out. I am so thankful that we did, because the woman next to me was a drunk. She was by herself and double-fisting 20 oz. cups of beer. 

We realized right away that the show was a re-creation of the first movie. It started off slow as we watched this dopey fighter court the shy pet shop girl. Actually, the first half inched along somewhat at a snails pace. If it wasn't for the singing of the actress played by Adrian, I would have been mesmerized by the moth clinging to the stage light. Rocky's accent was also a little distracting. Back in my college days, I definitely could have drank myself stupid if I drank a shot every time he said "Yo, Adrian." Maybe then I would have been on the same level as my drunken pal to the right. But wait, she was too busy bending over in her seat and writing in her Harriet the Spy notebook. And I'm not joking - this woman probably caught a total of 30 minutes of the whole show.

We prepared ourselves for the second act as intermission came to an end. We sat back down and hoped that the show would take an exciting turn. To my relief, Rocky redeemed our attention as the training montage began. And as you started to prepare for the main fight, the crowd sitting in the "Golden Circle" was escorted to the stage for the final scene! We knew there was something special about those tickets, but it wasn't evident until they got in the bleachers and the boxing ring actually hovered over their rows. A jumbo-tron came down and we felt like we were at the Spectrum in Philly. The final scene and contention between Rocky and Apollo was about to begin, and you almost felt like you were at a real boxing match. They even used fake blood in the battle throughout the rounds. 

We obviously know how this ends - even though Apollo wins the fight, Rocky still wins the girl. All is right in the world again. And Jay and I talked about it for the rest of the night. We were pleased overall with the performance and I think this whole adventure sparked our interest to try more Broadway shows together. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Weight Watchers: Fitting the Wifestyle

I was never the skinniest kid growing up. In fact, there were times I remember being made fun of for being chubby. I grew out of it as my body matured, but it was never easy listening to 12 year-old boys tease, "Melissa Solimine can't wear a bikini."

Being an athlete was my best life decision as a young adult because I was literally forced to exercise. Ballet, gymnastics, soccer, softball, volleyball, track - you name it, I tried it all. Maintaining a healthy weight was not a challenge since I was burning hundreds of calories a day - and yet could eat a little more than the average person.

College eagerly approached and the forced physical activity came to a halt. I realized I needed to push myself and make the time or else I would lose my athletic build. Trips to the gym were daily, but a nutritious and fit lifestyle in college was practically impossible. I despised the cafeteria food so I had to find other options. And who could neglect the 3-5 night drinking binge that always led to late-night snacks? I swear I woke up one morning junior year, stepped on the scale,  and stunned myself as I had gained a whopping 30 pounds since freshman year.

My turning point is an embarrassing story that I now use as a motivating factor and reminder of why I started my Weight Watchers journey - I was at a house party and remembered my friends and I had our own stash of beer at our apartment. I began walking down the hill of the complex to pick up the secret 30-pack. There was a group of guys at the corner of our turn that were yelling over at me to come by. I tried to ignore it, but as I got closer one of the boys turned to his friend, laughed and said, "Nevermind, she's fat!" Was my 30 pounds really that noticable? After hearing this (and already being several drinks deep), I went back to the apartment sobbing, made sunny-side up eggs and toast, and swore to myself that tomorrow things would change. And this vow to myself began my path to weight loss.

But how would I lose this weight? I always read in magazines success stories of young women like myself joining Weight Watchers. My Grandma had all of the books and nutrition information, so I figured why not give it a shot for free? I began writing down my points each day in a notebook. It definitely wasn't the easiest decision - I was often tempted by my surroundings and getting used to a new diet can be a difficult transition. I stuck with it as best as I could and by the end of senior year, I was able to drop 10 pounds. It wasn't until after I graduated that I was really able to get on track.

I made the adult decision to purchase the mobile app about two years ago and I have never turned back. I think knowing that I pay $18.95 a month, pushes me to want to do better. You don't want to feel like a failure when you're paying for something. It is also very easy to stay on track when you have the access at your fingertips to track each day. Most foods are easy to search and the app is very simple in general. There are also great recipes where you wouldn't even realize they are Weight Watchers friendly. I search the recipe library on a weekly basis and have found some staple favorites that I cook almost every week.

I am not going to lie, there are times when I don't track every single piece of food I consume, especially on the weekends. But when I step on the scale every Wednesday morning, I have to hold myself accountable and if I gain a few, I just remind myself of my goals and that I can turn it around if I just stick to the plan.

It has been a grand total of five years out of college and I have been able to stay at a normal 133-135 pounds. We all fluctuate with water retention, PMS, and life in general gets in the way. Birthdays and weddings, restaurants and happy hours - you have to live and enjoy your life. The best part about Weight Watchers is that you can essentially eat whatever you want, as long as it's in moderation. I can still eat the cake-batter ice cream cake on my Mom's birthday - I just have to keep in mind my priorities and make up for it later in the tracking week.

I would recommend Weight Watchers to anyone who doesn't want to cut certain foods completely out of their diet. Man or woman, we can all do it as long as we keep the drive to stick to it.

Below are my before and after pictures - I use these if I feel like I'm slipping. I know where I was and I never want to go back there again.

This picture is me junior year - probably at my heaviest 160 lbs (don't mind the outfit, it was an "anything but clothes" party. I was literally wearing a pillow case and Christmas ribbon as a belt).

This picture was taken a couple weeks ago at my grandparents anniversary party. Since joining Weight Watchers, I have been able to maintain around 130-135 pounds (the fluctuation is normal and changes depending on my exercise regimen).  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Happy Birthday Mom

I can't count the amount of times growing up where I said, "I'm never going to be like my parents." As kids, we always think we're right - that our parents don't know what's best for us. If I ended up the total opposite of my mom, I would have been a waste of life. My mom is not simply a mother - she is a role model, the definition of strength, the kindest most loving woman I've ever known, and most of all, a best friend.

She is beautiful on the inside and out. She has the patience of a saint and is always willing to lend a helping hand. She would do anything for her husband, daughters, and son. I most admire her selflessness - she puts her family first no matter what the circumstance.

I would be a fool to not want to be like her. She is the ideal example of what a wife and mother should be. So without further ado, I want to wish my mom the happiest of birthdays today. Mom - You were right all along and I want to thank you for always being my guiding force. I'm honored to have you in my life. I love you, Happy Birthday!