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Friday, May 30, 2014

How I lost over 100 lbs in less 1 year without surgery as a broke college student!

Property of PrettyFunnyStrong

Well, that's quite a picture to start a blog post with isn't it? The photo on the right is my high school graduation taken in June of 2010. I was 18, and over 250 lbs. The photo on the left is me in my apartment in February of 2012.  Most people are a tad taken aback by it, because most of the people that know me now, didn't know me back then. I have lost over 100 pounds since then, and if you would have told me then how far I would come in just a few years, I would have said stop lying and pass the butter.

I have been asked countless times how I did it and what I am doing now and all that jazz, so for this post I'll tell you how I lost the bulk of the weight. Stick around for Part 2 when I tell you how I'm maintaining my loss!

I had been chunky for as long as I could remember. I had always loved the taste of food, I wasn't an athletically inclined kid by any means, I have asthma, I love chocolate and sugar, and I hated getting dirty. That was a perfect storm to being a chunky kid, who grew into a much more mature looking pre-teen than others who were my age, to becoming a plus sized teenager. My weight slowly crept up on me and I didn't realize it. By the time I hit that picture, I was probably around 270ish, probably more. When my size 18 clothes, that had fit me for years, were getting too small I was shocked into reality. I was busting out of my clothes, I couldn't walk a flight of stairs without getting extremely winded, and it took me over 20 minutes just to walk a mile in gym class. I'm pretty tall for a woman, about 5'8, and I was very well proportioned. My body distributes fat over most parts of my body very well, so I looked smaller than I was. Nobody knew how big I really was. But most importantly, I had no idea how unhealthy I was. I was fed up with it, so I decided going away to college would not be the total desecration of my health, it would be the beginning of a new me.

When I got to college, I started my mission. At my college we were required to purchase a meal plan from the school, and the university had a fully stocked gym usable by all students at all hours. These may not be important things to look at when considering higher education, but I took it into account. Our caf was, for lack of a better word, perfect. Fully stocked salad bar, juices and protein bars, real meals for every time of the day, and a small coffee house that served Starbucks coffee at bare minimum prices.

This cafeteria was integral for the main component of how I was going to lose a lot of fat quickly. I converted my diet to nearly 100% vegan, I avoided most animal products with the exception of lean meats and eggs. I'm anemic, so I really needed to make sure I got the iron I needed. And since the coffee house was essentially a full blown baby Starbucks, I could get the caffeine I craved with either soy or skim milk, depending on how much protein I felt I needed that day. I also began researching and purchasing vitamins, minerals, and supplements to support my efforts in a natural way. If anyone is interested in the products I tested out and what worked for me and what didn't, let me know if you'd like a post on that! For the first couple of days it felt like torture passing up cookies and cakes and rich meals in the cafeteria. But then one day something fantastic happened. My body, for once in my life, felt good. I slept better than I had in years, my acne started to clear, and I dropped a lot of weight, very quickly.

Many of you are going to ask about the classic college weight gainer, alcohol. The big question. Did I partake? No. Not once. Not at all. I was simply disinterested. I had no time for alcohol. I was at that point in my life a "straight edge" individual. No drinking, no smoking, no drugs. Period. This is something I had been my entire life, the decision was simple for me. I wasn't into the classic college social scene, but no one had a problem with my decision, many even admired my decision and confided in me that the only reason they did was because they felt obligated to. That is just awful. Pardon my soapbox, but do not let anybody tell you how you should live your live. Do you. Pure and simple. Nobody will fault you for it, and if they do they're douchebags, screw those people. 

However I didn't just change my diet, I also slowly started working out, finding exercises and machines that I liked that worked with my body. I knew that I would also lose muscle in combination with the water and fat I would lose, so I wanted to start a regular exercise regimen to try to minimize loss of muscle, stoke some muscle building, and help tighten up my body so that I would have as little excess skin as possible. I started off working on treadmills and cardio bikes and they were ok, but I just couldn't do treadmills. They were far too high impact for me and I grew out of breath very quickly. But I felt like I wasn't doing enough work on the cardio bike. It just felt too easy. 

One day I decided to try the elliptical and my life, changed. I found that I could do 20, 30, 45 minutes, an hour on an elliptical. Was I sweaty and sore and tired? Of course. But I felt so, alive when I was done. Accomplishment. I finally found that one thing that I could really push myself at, but at my own pace.
I was always told by conventional wisdom, being spewed by most of the people around me, that there was no other way to lose weight than extreme deprivation and torturous exercise. I think that is what motivated me to begin a semi vegan lifestyle. You don't realize how many things have animal products in them until you start looking for them. 

I would do cardio almost every single day, and I did some kind of strength training or yoga exercise a few times a week. However once I had lost about 70 pounds in about 6 months, my weight loss started to slow down. I wasn't nearly 300 pounds anymore. Even my roommate remarked on how much I had changed since we moved in together. It was at this point that I removed the semi-vegan program that my body was accustomed to, and delved slowly back into a diet that contained more animal products and carbohydrates. 

Many people question why I did this, because it did serve to slow my weight loss down. But, that is exactly what I wanted it to do. You see, even the most disciplined individual, no matter what they say, will not sustain a restrictive diet if they feel deprivation. In fact, sustaining an unreasonably deprived diet is an eating disorder in it's most simple form. Sure I felt great eating the food I was, but I MISSED the food I used to love. I missed bacon. I missed pancakes. Reese's. UGH. I knew that I wasn't going to ever be able to completely cut out every food that is crappy for you, I just needed to learn that special balance of good nutritious food to "cheat" foods, that would still allow me to live a normal life among friends and family, while still maintaining the progress I had worked so hard to achieve. 

At the same time, I also wanted to slow my weight loss down for another reason. I had already lost nearly 100 pounds and that excess skin concern of mine wasn't something I could put off anymore. It was at this point that I decided to flip up my exercise routine. I cut down on my cardio a bit (I still did it about 4 times a week because I loved it and how it made me feel afterward), with strength training exercises 3 or 4 times a week to really start to shape the new body that I was uncovering. 

I continued with my diet and exercise routine as it stood, and left that college 10 months later lighter than I had been in the 7th grade. My skin felt clearer, my hair healthy and strong, my nails longer healthier than I swear they have ever been in my entire life as a nail biter!

Well everyone, that's it for Part 1! THIS is how I lost 100 lbs in less than a year. Stick around for Part 2, where I fill you in on how I've kept this weight loss going, and my plan to hit my goal weight this year!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Some of my Personal Favorite Blogs! #followfridayismakingacomeback

Hellooo there everyone. I thought since my blog is a bit new and there's not much of my own material on here yet, I would share with you all some of the blogs that I love to read. Some of these blogs even inspired me to start this one! Before we jump into the blogs, I just thought I would mention I made a Facebook for the blog! You can like me on Facebook right here!! On to the blogs!

Viva Veltoro

This is a great mommy blog with recipes, giveaways, cloth diapering tips, diy projects, clothing, everything! If it's baby related, you can find content for it on Viva Veltoro. (I am not a mother personally, but I do have a nephew and plan to have a child at some point in life!) Check out her latest post about St. Jude's Children's Hospital!

Beautifully Bohemian

This is a great blog written by a vegan that offers up the natural way to clean your home and shows you can raise a vegetarian or vegan child. Not to mention some amazing raw vegan recipes! Check out her latest post about the Magic of Massage!

Budget Earth

This blog is fantastic. None of that nonsense where blogs have so many graphics they take 20 seconds to load. It's a very streamlined site with great reviews, recipes, giveaways, pet care, and money saving articles. With a huge focus on content, this blog has a little bit of something for everybody.

Beauty Tidbits

The name says it all! All beauty and fashion, all the time. She has incredibly high quality photographs, I could spend forever just perusing posts. Not to mention she's positively beautiful! With haircare and also some tips and tricks, this is a very fun site.

That's all for today folks! Make sure you take a look at these wonderful folks and I'll see you next time!

Disclosure: None of these blogs paid to be featured, this is not a sponsored post.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My #GoVoxBox from Influenster and Reviews!

Good day everybody! Been meaning to get a new post out but now I finally got around to putting together this super duper long post! Today I will be showing you all the products I got in my new #GoVoxBox by Influenster. Of course I received all of these products free of charge however I am only sharing because I am genuinely excited  about some of these of products, and these are things we all can use in our never ending journeys to better health. Now here you will find a brief description of the product and then my review.

NOTE: I have not tested all of the products yet, so as I test I will update this post accordingly. Check back and follow me on Twitter and Bloglovin to find out when the product you're most curious about gets reviewed!

Let's get this rolling shall we.

Image by Prettyfunnystrong

Triad Orthotic By Profoot for Women - Product claims to cushion the foot in 3 different key areas to reduce knee, leg, and back pain. As soon as I opened my box I popped these bad boys out of the package. They're only a 3/4th length, so they don't come up toward your toes and crowd your foot in the shoe. Very nice feature, I like that. I put them in my semi new running shoes and immediately went for a jog to see how they felt. They worked like a dream. I jog/walked 2.5 miles and my feet, knees, and body in general felt great. Fatigued, obviously, but no pain, which is something I used to get in my knees and ankles while running on these hilly Pennsylvania roads! The only complaint I have with this product is whenever I remove my foot from the shoe, they come right out. They came with 2 small glue tabs to stick them to the inside, but it only came with enough for one per shoe. They were just not strong enough on their own, so I would recommend purchasing your own glue tabs if that really bothers you. 

Image by Prettyfunnystrong

Playtex SPORT Fresh Balance Regular Tampons - To be put simply these rock. Smooth easy to grip plastic, not bulky or uncomfortable. Easy to remove and I have never had a leakage problem with these. I like them so much I bought a box! I haven't used any other brand since, I even like the fresh scent. Not for everyone, but I like it.

Image by Prettyfunnystrong

Next Step Shaker cup - A 16 oz. shaker cup with a star shaped shaker (say that 3 times fast) and a flip top lid. I was pumped when I saw this in my box! My water bottle had just sprung a leak, so I was in the market for a new beverage holder. This little guy is perfect. Big enough to hold 2 glasses of water, and actually very effectively dissolved the protein powder (see review below) that was also sampled from The Vitamin Shoppe. It took maybe 15-20 seconds of continuous shaking, and that's not too shabby. The seal around the top is completely water tight, I shook the crap out of this sucker and my hand was dry as a bone. I've been using this thing non-stop since I got it for every cold beverage. I might just get my fiancee one because he's been eyeing mine! At $5.99 on their current sale (reg price $7.99), it's affordable enough to get the whole family one. This product is a winner.
Image by Prettyfunnystrong

Next Step Fit n' Full Shake in Berry, Vanilla, and Chocolate - I don't think I can express enough how glad I am this exists in this world. It is so hard to find a good meal replacement that won't just keep you hungry, and gives you just protein but no other nutrients. This stuff has protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, it's a wonderful thing. I tried these for post workout energy boost, and as a breakfast/lunch substitution. They taste so good, I just can't get over that its a meal replacement shake. It tastes like milk, swear. Especially if you use milk to mix it and freeze it a little bit, stirring occasionally. You have yourself some healthy ice cream my friend. You're welcome. Oh by the way, it's on 25% sale now at Vitamin Shoppe's website, so grab some while you can!

Image by Prettyfunnystrong

Aqua Spa Relax Body Creme in Lavender & Chamomile - Honestly you guys, I was confused by this product. I was like why the hell is there a body cream in a fitness box? It's not firming, it's not energizing, it's relaxing. Working out is the opposite of relaxing. Shenanigans are afoot. I tossed it on top of my dresser and went for my jog after doing my unboxing. Jogged those 2.5 miles, came home and showered. I figured oh screw it I'll use my new body lotion. YOU GUYS I'm obsessed. My skin was so so soft. It smells like the most relaxing tea you will ever find, and I swear when I put it on I could feel my tense workout muscles that didn't loosen in my shower melt right away! Right away! Just poof! Gone! Friggin gone! And I wasn't the only one to experience this phenomenon, I put it on my fiancee's legs and back. He works on his feet all day and has horrible back and knee health, so it often tenses up so much on him that it'll spasm and he's in serious pain. I give him massages to help work that tension out, and that day I used this. He fell asleep during his massage. Dead asleep. He was wincing in pain when I started, and by the time I was finished he was out like a light. That has only happened one other time, and he had just come home from a 12 hour shift. This shift was only 6 hours long, he wasn't even tired. This stuff is miraculous, smells like angel flatulence, and I need 7000 tubes of it so I will never run out. Please never stop making this Aqua Spa!

not yet purchased - review to come soon! 

not yet reviewed - Will do on my next long walk!
not yet reviewed - This intrigues me but im ticklish, so I haven't got the courage up to put it on my foot yet, ha! I promise I'll do it soon!

Remember to check back in the next few days to see my reviews of the rest of these fabulous products! Until then, I wanna know what kind of things you guys do to stay fit and healthy, send me a tweet @thisiskoko, or Instagram me @whoskoko, or just leave me a comment down below! 

Monday, May 12, 2014

My First Diamond Candle ~ A Review

Hello everyone!

Time for my first blog post! Excitement! Today I have for you a review of my very first Diamond Candle. I have purchased this candle myself with my own money at full price. I am in no way affiliated with Diamond Candles and they are not compensating me for this review. However this post does contain a referral link.

I purchased the very pretty purple candle in the scent black raspberry vanilla. Sadly I forgot to take photos of my candle so I have no photos of it before I finished it (I know, super blog faux pax, I'll get better I promise!). I also did not film an unveiling of the ring because quite frankly I could not for the life of me figure out how to film it. I don't have a real camera, just my laptop webcam for now. I refuse to use a smartphone as the quality can be dodgy. On to the review!
The Candle
  • The candle arrived on time, securely packed, clean, and undamaged. That can be taken for granted but remember, they are shipping something somewhat heavy and made of glass. Secure packing is a must.
  • Upon opening I smelled the candle immediately so I expected the scent in the candle to be quite strong. I was wrong. When I lit it, the scent took a few moments to become apparent. The scent itself was beautiful, fruity but with a warm vanilla note. The website said it's candy scented but I don't see how or why it would smell like candy. I've never heard of candy that smells like black raspberry vanilla, but if that exists someone link me to that shiz! The scent was in no way strong enough to fill my entire bedroom however.
  • When the entire surface of the candle had melted, I could smell the scent at a maximum of 3-4 feet away. I desired a very strongly fragrant candle, so this was a letdown to me.
  • The candle burned very slowly and very evenly. However when the candle started to burn down the glass, a thick black soot began forming on the glass. As the wax level dropped, the soot got even thicker. I couldn't even light the candle without my hand getting all black and dirty. Not cute. I trimmed the wax before every light and never kept it lit for longer than recommended. It got to the point where I had to clean my candle with a tissue before I lit it to keep my hand clean. I don't think I should I have to do that with any candle, much less a candle that costs almost 30 dollars.
Just a tiny bit of wax left over

Do you SEE that? I've never had a candle do this!

  • I did burn the candle to the very bottom and in that way it performed very well, almost all the wax melted away.

The Ring

  • When I fished the ring out of the wax, it was wrapped in gold foil and then sealed in a plastic bag. The gold foil reminded me of Ferrero Rocher, the incredibly delicious hazelnut candy. Mmm.

  • The ring appears to be a size 8, it doesn't fit on my ring finger but is just a teeny bit loose on my middle finger.

  • It is a pretty ring, the inscription on the inside of the ring says china, so I don't believe I got one worth any more than probably $10 dollars.

The Wrap-Up
  • The candle was in fact beautiful and smelled great. A candle that doesn't have a very strong smell could be an advantage for some people.
  • For instance, my mom has allergies and smelling candles sparks them off something fierce. For people who live with those with allergies, or simply have a sensitive sense of smell, having a candle that won't fill up an entire floor of your home with fragrance would be ideal. If I still lived with my mom, I would love this candle. However, I don't live with my mom.
  • I desired a strongly fragrant candle and that is just not the experience I had with this candle. Now being that this is the very first Diamond Candle I've ever had, perhaps I just got a bad batch. I had heard that these candles were very strong which is why I purchased one, and honestly I'm let down. I was looking forward to a much more fragrant experience and that is just not what happened.
  • The ring isn't really what drew me to buy this candle, but I know some people see $10,000 ring and get a lady boner, so let me just address it now. These rings are a gimmick. Yes they're fun and pretty and I was definitely excited to see which one I got! But I have seen the very ring I have received in at least 5 different reviews. Factor in the percentage of their clientele that are actually probably bloggers, and it makes it seem like they just buy hundreds of the same ring and throw them in. Obviously they are a business and they need to make money, but the odds of getting a ring worth even just $100 dollars let alone a few thousand are slim to none in my opinion.
Was it worth it?
  • All in all I paid $24.95 for this candle, free shipping with a coupon code found on the website. If you factor in that I got both a large candle and a piece of costume jewelry I believe money-wise the price is not unreasonable. However, the candle was not of the quality I was expecting, and quite frankly I wanted a piece of jewelry I haven't already seen before. The ring doesn't even fit as they don't bother with sizing. I won't say that I wouldn't order from Diamond Candles again, but I may just wait an extended period of time to see if their stock of rings changes. I also want a candle that I don't have to tissue off just to keep my hand clean to light it. If you can afford it and you like the whole candle/jewelry reveal package, I see no reason why you shouldn't order from Diamond Candles. They would make a fun gift any candle or jewelry enthusiast would at least be amused by, if not really love.

If you would like to try Diamond Candles out for yourself I have here a coupon code by way of a clickable link that will give you 20% off of your entire order.

Hope you enjoyed my first post! Have a suggestion? Send me an email!