Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Time! (Winter favorites)

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year! So I decided to do a winter favorites blog post to let you know of a few things I am loving this holiday season and every year around this time!

The first thing is Christmas music!
I am currently obsessed with the new Pentatonix Christmas CD "That's Christmas to Me"
I have been absolutely loving this CD and I have been blaring it in my car every time I get in and I listen to it when I'm working on anything as well. It has some really great new twists to some of my all time favorite Christmas songs! The song I am loving the most is a tie between "White Winter Hymnal" and "Mary Did You Know" both are just SO good!

The next thing I have been loving this Christmas season is scarves!
Anyone who knows me will tell you I have a slight obsession with scarves but I just LOVE them especially in the colder months! They are a staple in my winter wardrobe and I am currently obsessed with the sweater/knitted thicker type scarves right now. They just add that nice finished touch to any outfit.

The next favorite I have is any and everything bright and sparkly!
In my wardrobe I have noticed I have been picking up more items that have sparkle in them or shimmer. I have recently just bought a really gorgeous gold shimmer top from Forever XXI (Below)

I have also been buying really shimmery cardigans and little throw over a shirt type over-sized jackets that I have been in love with ( My favorite online boutique for those is . I just think it adds just a little bit more to each outfit and helps to add to the feel of the season!

Another favorite this time of year is all things comfy and cozy. I have recently bought a few super comfy and cute Victoria's Secret sleep shirts and I have been living in them during these chilly winter nights! They have the cutest sayings on them and are great for people who get hot at night!

Another holiday favorite of mine is a place in my city. It is Bellingrath Gardens. It is a place where you can go and walk through a beautiful historic home and garden and look at TONS of Christmas lights! It is always a tradition to go with me and my friends and we went this past weekend and it was so magical!
It is always such a magical experience and I love going and having fun spending time with friends and enjoying the spirit of the holiday season.

Another absolute favorite during the holiday season is buying everyone's gifts! For me, I really enjoy buying gifts for my friends and then wrapping them really cutely and giving it to them! I love surprises and giving gifts is just so enjoyable for me! I really love sentimental things and so this time of year really makes me want to craft and make the cutest gifts for friends! I have been really busy this past week trying to get everyone's gifts figured out and bought so that I don't have to worry about rushing around as it gets nearer and nearer to Christmas day!

Some of my next favorites are makeup and skin care products! Some of the things I have been LOVING recently are the really yummy holiday scents and colors!

First is a new fragrance by Bath and Body Works called A Thousand Wishes. It smells so heavenly and it has a sweeter scent but it is still very strong and is something that just smells so great. I also got this in a shimmer body lotion because who doesn't want their skin to glow!

Another favorite I am loving right now is the Urban Decay Naked 3 palate. It just has so many Christmassy colors and festive bright colors and I have been wearing it every day for the past month it is SUCH a good purchase!

This palate is mostly rosy tones and I am loving that so much right now. It also has some really nice subtle darker colors that are great for blending into your eye crease to make a nice smoky eye.

Another favorite makeup product I am loving is something that I think everyone should have in their makeup drawer! A good concealer is something that is super hard to find and I have been loving the Benefit 'Stay Don't Stray'  in light/medium as an amazing under eye concealer.

A favorite winter relaxation product line that I have fallen in love with is Lush Cosmetics. They have some of the most amazing bubble bath and bath bombs I have ever tried. They always smell so good and leave your skin feeling so refreshed afterwards! The best thing about it is they have the cutest holiday themed bath products!

Not only are they amazing products but they also are festively shaped and scented! Such a great little gift idea too!

These are just a few of the great things I am loving right now during the holiday season! I have also left links under all of the products I have shared in case you want to go check out these awesome products!

What are some things you are loving this holiday season?

xoxo Jess

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dream big and reflection

So I have recently realized I am at a precipice for my life coming up very soon. Many major life events are happening within the coming new year. I am turning 25, graduating with my masters, and pursuing my dreams.

Turning 25 is not something that I am afraid of but it is just an age where people want to put so much pressure on you about your life and to me it feels like the perfect time to uproot myself and go chase after my dreams because why not. Many people ask me all the time what I am doing or if I am going to settle down soon and my answer is always that it is not the right time for me. Mister right may or may not reveal himself any time soon but I don't want to plan my life around someone else and that's why I believe I haven't met "the one" yet. God knows that I have so many big dreams that would just not work if I had someone else attached to me to have to worry about and I am fine with that and have come to terms with it. I have never felt like I needed someone to hold my hand as I move through my life and I realized that more and more through this past year.

I will be graduating with my master's degree in May of 2015 and I couldn't feel more bitter sweet about it. I am happy that all of my hard work over the past year and a half will be over and result in a great degree but I am sad because it will mean I am done with my higher educational pursuits. I have really enjoyed getting my master's degree which is something that many people don't really say. Choosing to get my master's in communication was the best decision I could have made for my life. I have learned so much more about the art of communication and added so much to my repertoire of things learned but I have also discovered so much more about myself. I have figured out what I want to do with my life and I have figured out how to be confident in my life too. I have met many great people and created bonds with people outside of my normal social circle and have been exposed to many things that I was sheltered from even when getting my bachelors degree. I went to a small private school for high school and so I was very sheltered and so through getting my masters I feel like I finally grew up and learned who I am as an adult and also how to be an adult you could say.

Many people struggle with the fear of doing something big by themselves and they let that fear hold them back from doing what they have always wanted to do. I refuse to let that stop me from trying to do exactly what I have always wanted to do.

I feel like I have learned three very important things from much reflection and thought about these major life events which are swiftly approaching.

1. Be yourself
For as long as I could remember I was always trying to be like the 'cool' kids or trying to be something I wasn't for the sake of fitting in and feeling like someone who was accepted. I was very shy and very much a push over. I would do whatever anyone wanted me to do and would do anything to make sure that everyone else came before myself. I have learned through this past year that being myself not only makes me happier but it also doesn't scare people away. *surprise surprise*
When my dad passed away in July of 2013 something just switched in me. I had to learn a lot about who I was and what I wanted in life because having such a huge loss in your life really makes you think about everything and cherish your life so much more. I wish more than anything that I could bring my dad back but losing him has pushed me into this mind frame of refusing to be anything other than myself. I have a crazy sense of humor, I'm loud, I love to sing about everything, and if you can't handle my silly side then I am okay with that now. I have also never worked harder in my life. I was forced to grow up and learn how to fend for myself and that made me grow a thicker skin and learn to not care what people may think or say about me anymore. Learning to understand and accept who you are is a huge step and I am so glad that I can finally say I have done that.

2. Love yourself
For most of my life I really loathed myself. That gets you no where. Before I decided to change my health habits by eating clean and exercising I would use food as a comfort to help me feel like I was happy when I never was. I was always the goofy fat friend that every loved but who didn't love herself. It is not something you can just switch off so I still struggle with it today but it is definitely something that isn't healthy and you will never be happy with anything or anyone if you can't love yourself. Through major weight loss I have seen how strong I am and I have seen how much discipline I can have and how much care I can have for myself. I have become a happier person through this process over the last year and I am happier now than I ever have been. I believe that the body change truly has helped my mind change as well. I have learned to love myself even with my flaws. I have learned to accept the fact that I have a bad temper and I am easily hurt by the smallest things. But accepting that and learning to keep moving even when there are bumps in the road is something that has allowed me to learn to love who I am more and more. Some days are down days and I realize that you can't be happy happy joy joy all the time but learning to push past that is part of learning to always love yourself.

4. Trust your journey
The biggest thing I have learned is to not compare yourself to anyone else. Everyone is unique and everyone's life stories are unique and comparing yourself to anyone else won't help move you forward or make you feel any better. Learning to trust my journey of life has made a world of difference for my life path. Realizing that not everyone wants the same things you do and not everyone thinks the same way you do is a big step is learning to trust your own personal journey. Learning to not envy others for what they have or hate someone for being what you want is a big step in maturity. I have seen this the most with myself in my weight loss journey. I have lost 80 pounds in a year and I was beating myself up about it because so many people I follow on Instagram who have also lost weight lost 100 pounds or more in a year and I kept trying to compare myself to them and would say things like if they could do it why can't I because I have worked so hard. Instead of having that mentality I should have been thankful and proud of the fact that I accomplished so much in a year towards moving to being healthy. I have had a major mind switch the past few weeks in regards to every part of my life journey and I have realized that I am never going to be where I want to be if I stay negative about myself by comparing me to everyone else.

I have learned a lot and continue to learn about myself as life progresses which I think is something that everyone discovers. I hope that you can discover these things sooner rather than later so you can start truly enjoying everything you have in your life especially yourself!

What is something you have learned about yourself in this past year? What is something you want to change?

xoxo Jess

Thursday, November 20, 2014

These are a few of my favorite things... about Pure Barre

If you don't know Pure Barre is one of the best things you can do for yourself! So what exactly is Pure Barre? Well their website says "We’re thrilled that you’ve decided to try out a class. You won’t regret it! We believe that everyone is capable of rocking our classes- no dance experience required. As long as you can hold a ballet barre, you can do Pure Barre. That’s not to say that it’s easy, your first class will likely feel challenging at times, but we encourage you to stick with it. Try your hardest and let loose and feel free to ask your instructor plenty of questions after class if you weren't clear on any of the moves. At Pure Barre, we believe that exercise should be fun!"

They pretty much sum it up well but what exactly does that mean? It means you can go into a class and experience a workout like you never have before and you can definitely expect to be hooked!

I started at my local Pure Barre studio in December of 2013 and I have been in love ever since. I want to tell you about my five favorite things about Pure Barre!

First, the people. 

I know this may sound cliche but it really is a family at Pure Barre. Not only the teachers and owners but also the other clients. When I started Pure Barre I had turned a new leaf and it was a few months after I had decided to get healthy and this was something my best friend Amber had been begging for me to come try.

When I went, the instructor made sure to come up to me and introduce herself and make sure I felt comfortable. She went over some of the basic techniques and told me that she would make sure to come around during class and fix my form when I wasn't hitting it quite right (Which will happen a LOT your first class so don't freak!).

After my first class I was hooked and signed up for my first month. Every class I attended other instructors would make sure to greet me and get to know me and other clients would do the same. Everyone was so friendly and it made me feel very at ease since I was very inexperienced when it came to fitness and Pure Barre.

Second, the encouragement.

The encouragement and helpfulness you get from everyone at Pure Barre is my second favorite thing. When you are hitting your 90 second plank in warm up or you are on your last change in seat work and feel like you can't possibly hold it anymore without collapsing on the floor you can bet you will hear some wonderful words of encouragement. "You can do anything for 30 seconds" "Best 10, Final 10" " Great form Jessica" "You can do it, mind over matter." These are just a few of the many encouraging phrases that are said by the instructors during a typical Pure Barre class.

The encouragement alone has helped me not only complete a rep but also push through and give it my all when I have felt I couldn't give anymore. It makes you want to go back and go to more and more classes because you know they will push you to push harder, sink deeper, or lift higher.

Third, embracing the change.

It is possibly the scariest and yet most energizing feeling you will ever experience. What I am referring to is being able to physically feel your muscles changing and strengthening during each section of class. In the beginning I could barely do a sit up and could barely balance on the balls of my feet for thigh work let alone lift my leg high enough off the floor. The more you go the more flexible you become and the more you understand your body and you establish your mind body connection. When you are in class and you are in a thigh position and are holding a hard set up and you feel your muscles screaming and you want to stop that is where you have to focus and tell yourself that you are close to the shaking point. When your muscles shake you are making them stronger. There is a saying at Pure Barre and it is "shaking legs are changing legs" and I can tell you from experience that is very true.

Pure Barre slenderizes your muscles while burning away fat and when you can reach that shaking point even after going for weeks, months, and years, that is when you know this is something that will always work. It does not matter how long I have been attending classes at Pure Barre there is always a way to tweak a move and take it to the next level by either digging deeper and sinking lower or flexing harder. You will never become stagnant in a Pure Barre workout.

Fourth, the afterglow.

That is the only way I can think of to describe how you will feel after you have attended a Pure Barre class. You have such a sense of relaxation and satisfaction by spending 55 minutes to focus on you and bettering your body. In between each different section of class there is a stretch sequence to help either stretch out the muscles you have just worked or to warm up the muscles you are about to work. To me, this helps to achieve this euphoric feeling that I can only describe as afterglow after a Pure Barre class.

At the end of the class you also get a chance to slow everything down and stretch while listening to calming music while the instructor is encouraging you to thank your body for the work it has put in and to just have a general appreciation for your body and muscles. The promotion of self love is huge at Pure Barre and when you leave you feel proud of what you accomplished and you feel 10 feet tall because you just kicked major butt in a really tough and rewarding workout.

Fifth, No experience required.

The last point I want to touch on is the fact that you can walk in to any Pure Barre studio with no workout experience, no dance experience, no fitness experience and go right in to a class with people who have been going for years and not only learn from their experience at Pure Barre but not be intimidated because there is no prep necessary to jump into a class and be able to do it all. Each instructor flawlessly guides you through the entire 55 minutes demonstrating each move and setting you up for each section while also walking the room the entire time to ensure that everyone is doing the work safely and in good form without risk of injury.

In all of my experience and time spent at Pure Barre I know that even if I go to a class and there is a new move or new instructor I don't have to worry because they will set everything up for me and I don't have to worry about keeping up with how many reps I have done or how much longer I have. I can lose myself in the workout and focus my entire attention on connecting to my body and listening to it to push myself to the next level.

Pure Barre has nothing but positive benefits and I have not stopped raving about it since day one. I fully believe that anyone who tries Pure Barre will fall in love with all of the things I have mentioned above and also countless other benefits that you get from such an amazing environment.

So what are you waiting for? Go find the closest Pure Barre studio and go try it for yourself!

xoxo Jess

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Let me introduce myself

Hey there!

My name is Jessica and I have been toying with the idea of starting a blog for the longest time and I am finally jumping off the cliff and diving in! 

I want to begin by telling you all a little bit about myself!

I am currently working on my masters degree in communication. Spring boarding from this the one thing to know is that I love to talk. I have loved to talk since I came out of the womb. I love to talk about any and everything and I love to listen to what others have to say. 
I am an only child and so I believe that friends are like family. I love my family dearly and enjoy spending time with them when I have free time.
I love to perform and sing. Along with talking I also came out of the womb singing. I have been singing since I can remember and when I was obtaining my bachelors degree I also minored in music to help fine tune my gift. I love being on a stage and performing and I hope to be able to do that for the rest of my life because not only does it bring me joy but it also touches the lives of others.
I am a health nut. About a year ago I changed my life around and wanted more than just being unhappy and overweight. Since then I have dropped 70 pounds and continue to work towards my goal weight. I do this through clean eating and exercise (especially Pure Barre).
I love the holidays and fall/winter is my favorite time of year. I love the vibrant colors and cozy weather. I also love fashion and beauty. I have a very casual and laid back style but I also love to get dressed up and go to nice events.

So what can you expect to see on my blog?
-Posts about my family and friends and activities I am dabbling in
-Health related posts regarding food/recipes and also about Pure Barre
-Beauty and fashion trends that I am loving or product reviews 
-Life advice or rambling about graduate school and how to overcome stress

I hope that you enjoy my blog and reading about my life!

xoxo Jess