04/14/17

Playa Del Carmen Recap + Survey Winner

Happy Friday Friends!! 

It was a short work week for me but let me tell you, it didnt feel like it with all the catching up! But I am glad it is Friday!! And, we are actually doing some fun Easter Egg Partying today at Ridge’s school!

I wanted to share our whole Mexico adventure with you and recap all the amazing things there are to do in Playa! 🙂

First of all, we were up at 4am for a 7am flight so I wasnt too thrilled about starting the trip off like that but we survived…

playa del carmen

The Royal Resort & Spa

The Royal goes above and beyond to make you feel at home and the service is above what you would see even at some of the most exclusive luxury resorts in the world. In addition to exceptional service, the property’s elegant hacienda design adds an entirely different sense of luxury to your experience.

playa del carmen

This view never got old!!

The property was so spread out – I almost felt like I was on my own little island.  This resort is an adults-only all-inclusive resort 5 minutes south of Playa Del Carmen. It was by far one of the most picturesque resorts and while the reviews noted it was a couples resort and quiet at night… we weren’t visiting to relive the Vegas lifestyle but to relax (as if I ever relax on vacation… too much to do and too little time!). The pictures did not disappoint. The resort was stunning; a super sophisticated colonial-style property right on a powdery white-sand Caribbean beach. The gorgeous infinity pool leads right out to the beach, the ocean crystal blue, palm trees systemically aligned in the sand… it was perfection! It’s no wonder U.S. News ranks this resort in the top 5 for Playa del Carmen! Playa Del Carmen is touristy, but still maintains a quaint charm which I loved. It’s the perfect base to explore the peninsula, with tours to Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Tulum, Coba and Chichen Itza to name a few. The beach is beautiful and the restaurants and shops are only a few steps away from the ocean.

XCARET Park

xcaret playa

While you’re walking around Playa Del Carmen, you’ll see plenty of advertisement for Xcaret. The park prides itself for its conservation efforts for its Macaws, Turtles and wildlife. They are known for their natural underground rivers, which we almost froze to death in. We were intrigued by it, especially after a few friends had recommended it to us. Overall, Xcaret was great. The park is beautifully maintained, has gorgeous beaches, plenty of water activities for kids as well as adults and an amazing evening show which was the highlight of the day. Oh yes, besides getting to swim with the dolphins!!!

dolphins

Shopping

Our resort is just a short taxi ride away from the very trendy and European influenced downtown Playa Del Carmen. 5th Avenue, the most popular street in downtown, is great for shopping and dining. Fifth Avenue is Playa Del Carmen’s main drag, lined with shops of all kinds. Mexico is well-known for its high quality textiles– you can find everything from housewares to accessories to beautifully woven shirts. We stumbled across this open-air textile shop right in the town center. Everything here is handmade, sourced from local artisans and craftsmen across Mexico.

playa del carmen

The restaurants are so colorful and festive and simply amazing! We tried to go to a new place every meal and try a new drink every time! And we were pretty successful 🙂

playa del carmen

We got to check out Guy Fieri’s Restaurant and let me tell you it did NOT disapoint! I had the fish tacos and they were amazing!!! And of course this delicious Pina Colada!! 🙂

Oh yes, and dont let me forget the amazing artwork on the streets of Mexico!!!

playa del carmen

Overall, this place is a dream! Pretty much paradise! We had a blast and would recommend it to everyone! Especially for all you lovers out there 🙂

playa del carmen

But I was VERY happy to be back home with my babes!

I want to thank all of you beauties that participated in the blogger survey. I received so much amazing feedback and I am so grateful for all the sweet comments. Thank y’all again!

And now on to the winner of a $25 Nordstrom gift card…

Lilly from Beauty with Lilly!! YAY!!!! Lilly, I will be contacting you shortly 🙂

I hope y’all have an awesome Easter weekend pretty friends!!! 

Brittany 🙂

Linking up with: Friday FavoritesFriday Favorites with Meet @ The BarreOh Hey, Friday, High Five for Friday Weekend Wear Link UpFlashback Fashion Friday Link UpFriday Favorites with Lizzie in LacePassion for Fashion Link UpFun Fashion Friday Link Up

Brittany
05/20/16

April Insta-Roundup

Happy Friday everyone!!  It has been a crazy past two weeks for me, so today all I could muster up was an April Instagram Roundup for you!  I have linked some pieces for you but some are older pieces. I hope you all enjoy 🙂

all black

Top (similar) // Jeans// Shoes (similar) // Necklace (Sam Moon)// Purse (Neiman Marcus)

black plaid

Top//Jeans//Shoes

festival

Top//Shorts//Shoes//Bag (old)//Hat//Necklace (gift)

kimono

Kimono (similar)//Top//Shorts//Shoes//Clutch (Amazon)//Necklace

sequins

Top H&M (old)//Jeans//Shoes (TJ Maxx)

Cinco De Mayo #ootd 

tacos

Top//Jeans//Belt//Hat//Sandals

I hope you have an awesome weekend!!! 🙂

What are some trends you are loving right now?

Brittany 🙂

Brittany
05/06/16

My 30 Day, Sugar-Free Experience

7 Amazing Things that Happen When you Quit Sugar

A couple of months ago I was struggling with energy and getting up in the morning. I couldn’t figure it out. My weight was pretty much the same besides a couple extra pounds around the waist but I just starting feeling crappy. Kind of down for no reason, no energy, and I just felt BLAH. I started looking at my diet and paying attention to what I was actually eating everyday. I realized how much SUGAR was in my diet and I also realized I wasn’t getting enough protein. When I really studied it more deeply, I discovered my problem… Refined sugar!! Refined sugar is found in most sweets, sodas, white breads, and pastas, virtually all “fat free” and “low fat” snacks, fruit juices, yogurts, energy drinks, most Starbucks drinks (including many coffees), sauces (ketchup, BBQ sauces, mayo, pasta sauces), and countless other packaged foods. It has now been shown to make us cranky, causes us to make rash decisions, and sometimes a little out of it. From the research, I realized I had one of these things at least once a day if not twice a day. Problem #1!! There are so many other issues that sugar is linked to and I knew this could actually be the main factor for all of mine. Lack of sleep, acne problems and lack of energy. After several weeks of researching diets, organic foods and every detox out there, I realized I needed to do a detox. I decided on a 30 day detox because I did not want to make myself crazy and/or kill anyone! I was officially cutting out refined sugar for 30 days! Not only would I have to cut out my once-a-day Diet Coke but I would have to cut down on white breads and pastas and those deceptively “healthy” yogurts with fake fruity sauces added for taste. I do love my daily coffee with a few packets of Splenda. Aspartame has ZERO benefits and that is something I really wanted to cut completely. I knew I was up for a challenge.

Now please note that for the 30 days I did not give up sugar entirely, only refined sugar. I ate plenty of natural sugar—those found primarily in fruits, and the ones that the body turns into glucose from the meats, fats, and carbs we eat. Without the consumption of natural sugars, the body would not have enough fuel to survive for long. One last critical point: I didn’t change my daily calorie intake during my journey. I stuck to eating between 1,900 and 2,100 calories a day, just as I do when I eat a diet with refined-sugar foods. I also kept to my normal exercise regimen but maybe a little less running every morning.

Results:

Down 5 pounds

7-8 hours un-interrupted sleep

Clear skin

No afternoon crash

 Less bloated

Increased Energy

There are probably more benefits from doing this detox that I don’t even know about but these are the obvious. I can not stress enough how sugar really does affect the skin. Now, I know if I were to completely do away with caffeine it would probably improve my skin even more but no sugar really does make a difference. I only lost 5 pounds from the detox but I honestly was not expecting to lose weight. I know I took in more carbs that normal during this process but I have read that is normal. I replaced some of my sweets with carb loaded foods. I am eating more Paleo based meals and recipes which are amazing! I am not totally Paleo (yet) but I do agree with the program and meal choices. I am also a HUGE fan of LaCroix water (carbonated, naturally flavored) which pretty much helped me survive this detox. For more of an in-depth look at my top five benefits from this detox, keep reading:

Improved Sleep

But mood and mental clarity weren’t the only benefits I noticed by the final days of my refined-sugar-free diet. Sleep is a critical part of mental health. Not only does it give the conscious mind respite from the day’s activities, it helps flush out toxins from the brain. A good night’s sleep also helps make us smarter. Your insulin levels are regulated when your blood sugars are balanced. This promotes good sleep patterns and gives you consistent energy, which also reduces fatigue and means you can focus more. I had no expectation that giving up refined sugar would help me sleep better, but it did. On average, by Day 6 or 7, I fell to sleep within 10 minutes of lying down. Before I cut refined sugars from my diet, it usually took me about 30 minutes to an hour to fall to sleep. I also discovered I began waking up earlier and more naturally and that it wasn’t as hard to get out of bed in the morning.

No more energy slumps:

Everyday at 3pm when I was lacking energy, I would grab a Diet Coke or make coffee. This became so routine that I would start getting minor headaches if I did not have one. Sure, they gave me a quick energy boost but the more I thought about it I realized they actually would drain more energy which left me more exhausted, irritable, and craving another pick-me-up. Because these foods are broken down very quickly, blood sugar levels rise and the brain stops producing orexin, the neuropeptide responsible for feeling alert. It’s not surprising I couldnt focus on anything once lunch time has passed. Unfortunately, most people are adapted to using sugar as their source of energy, which burns much quicker, leaving them struggling to stay awake. I am one of them and I didnt realize what I was doing to my body. Now, I reach for a banana with almond butter or a Quest Bar to get me through the afternoon. Dont get me wrong, I still have my Diet Coke every now and then but more for a reward than a daily ritual. There are so many healthier snacks that I was missing out on that have NO refined sugar. Here is a list of my favorite snacks with natural sugars:

1 banana with spoonful of almond butter

Quest Bar

Raw veggies with organic hummus

Avocado Toast

Banana/Peanut Butter Smoothie

Reduce Inflammation:

There are several factors that cause bloating and inflammation and most of them have to do with the foods we eat. In addition, sugar and white flour are acidic foods and experts believe this is a major cause of chronic inflammation. Given that the average American consumes more than 130 pounds of sugar and 133 pounds of flour per year, it’s not surprising that so many people are suffering from diabetes, arthritis, and a host of other inflammation related issues. Once I cut out the sugar and replaced them with natural, healthier options like fruits, vegetables and complex carbs, there was a decrease in the bloating and inflammation.

Clearer Skin:

I’m forever on the hunt for perfect skin. I’ve bought way too many products and tried far too many treatments that all promised to transform my acne-prone skin into a porcelain complexion. While some things work as a temporary fix, nothing has actually forever changed my skin. While there’s no evidence that directly links a bad diet to acne, sugar has been shown to age the skin. During the first week I was on the diet, I did see major differences. Not only did I lose two pounds, but my skin looked noticeably clearer. At the time, I thought maybe it was because I just switched facial cleansers. But as soon as I went back to my unhealthy eating habits, the blemishes started popping up again. Whether or not science has declared it, I saw for myself the direct link between diet and acne.

Unexpected Weightloss

The final thing I want to mention about my refined-sugar-free diet was its effect on my weight. I did not undertake this experiment to shed pounds, and since this wasn’t a weight-loss diet, I kept eating the same number of calories as before. I also ate plenty of fats (red meat, avocados) and plenty of carbs and natural sugars (from fruit, veg, and whole grains). The only thing that I changed about my diet is I eliminated any calories from refined sugars.

The reason is though my calorie intake remained the same, my body was no longer fighting a constant battle of trying to process refined-sugar. Sugar spikes your blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as disrupting your neurotransmitters in the brain, which increases fat storage. Eating more protein, fiber, fruit, and vegetables increases your metabolism, and your body burns it off more efficiently. It really isn’t just about the calories but about the quality of foods you eat and the way your body processes them.

Is Sugar Free right for you?? 

After 30 days of eating a refined-sugar-free diet, I can honestly say my assumptions about the effects of my previous diet on my body were wrong. I feel as if a veil has been lifted and I finally get the reason why your body needs the healthy foods.

Throughout the first week my body was eliminating fat, I was gaining muscle, and my energy levels spiked. The longer I live this way the better I feel and the more energy I have. It also makes me feel confident that I can take care of myself and teach my family healthy eating habits without being super strict with eating guidelines. I think the biggest misconception about a Paleo program is that it’s a carb free diet. I actually eat lots of carbs. I eat more fruit, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and plantains than I ever have in my entire life. I also track my protein intake. Making sure you eat enough protein everyday is HUGE! We need protein!

Mentally, I feel better than I have in years. I’m happier, more aware, and more focused. I sleep better without any disruptions and wake more refreshed than ever—I haven’t felt this energetic since I was a teenager. My relationship with hunger has also changed. Sure, I still get hungry—just nowhere near as often. Eating a diet free from refined sugars fills me up and keeps me full for seven or eight hours. This has changed my concept of what my previous “hunger pains” actually were. I now realize that prior to this diet, most of the times I had felt “hungry”—every three hours or so—it was my body reaching out for another sugar hit. It wasn’t true hunger.

As for those previous daily sweet cravings I assumed were perfectly natural: sugar in my coffee? Don’t even miss it. Those shelves full of candy bars at the check out? When I take my son for donuts I don’t HAVE to buy 2-3 chocolate donuts, I can just have a couple of his donut holes. Weaning myself off refined sugars has also allowed my body to reset what it perceives as sweet. For the first time in my life, the richness of the flavors of fruits and vegetables pop when I eat them. Going sugar free was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself, and it was life-changing in that it taught me to become far more aware of what is in my food and the effects those ingredients have over my physical, mental, and emotional well being. I now feel more satisfied with less sugar, have a deeper appreciation for the foods I do eat, and I have been better able to define what “in moderation” really means.

If you have thought about doing a detox or trying to be sugar free, please feel free to ask any questions or if you just want more food ideas, I have lots of snack ideas and recipes I love. There is so much I learned from this that I feel like I could just go on and on but it is Friday!!

Have you ever done a detox and what are some things you learned from it? What is something you are wanting to change but are just not sure how to?

Brittany 🙂

Brittany
04/25/16

Week 3 Sugar Free Recap

For real…. This has been a roller coaster of discipline and hardcore training myself to not eat sugar! I am over halfway done with ONE week left! Still sugar free and feeling great!!! Week 3 was pretty easy-peasy except for Thursday. I almost died – details are in Thursday’s recap. This detox is such a learning experience and I am so glad I decided to do it. Yes I miss sugar. Yes I want a large coke. Yes I really want a large chocolate chip cookie dough blizzard! But, good news…. I have one week left!!!!

So with that being said, here is Week 3 recap by day:

Day 16 – Saturday 

Had a 6-mile run on Saturday and felt great. We had some friends in town and they came to watch Ridge’s soccer game. Then went to have lunch at Central Market so I was excited for a yummy salad. The weather was perfect so spent the day outside and drank lots of water. We were supposed to go celebrate a birthday at my husbands aunts house but Ridge fell asleep early so I stayed home with him. So lucky me, I enjoyed a tasty bowl of sugar free shredded wheat cereal with cinnamon (sarcasm)…. And a glass of red wine 🙂

Day 17 – Sunday

We had a LOOOOONNNGGGG day of packing and starting to get everything ready to move. I went on a short run and had some toast with sugar free apricot jelly from Central Market. If you are toast and jelly person like me you should check this jelly out… its amazing!!!

jelly

I made homemade pizza for dinner on a whole wheat tortilla, tomato pasta, shredded cheese and olives. My husband wasnt a big fan since he likes thicker pizza but me and Ridge were fans. After a long day of packing, I also enjoyed a glass of red wine! 🙂

Day 18 – Monday

Back to Monday and feeling great. I can tell I have more energy and the cravings are starting to decrease even more. We had lots of rain on Sunday and it was still raining Monday (allday). Went to the gym for arm day and still had some energy afterwards so I ran 2 miles on the treadmill. The eating part of this detox has been easier and I know I will be sticking to better choices during the day. Bringing lunch to work was always a hassle at night and sometimes I just didn’t feel like making it but now I have decided that it needs to be a priority. Eating out is not healthy and becomes expensive. I have saved so much money during this process so its good to know there are more pros than cons. For dinner, I made turkey meatballs with quinoa! Will be making this one again.

Day 19 – Tuesday

Loving the Blueberry, Strawberry & Banana smoothies!!!

smoothie

Ingredients: blueberries, strawberries, banana, rolled oats, peanut butter, protein powder and chia seeds! These really do keep you full and give you energy all morning. I love a tasty and quick meal in the mornings while trying to get out of the house in one piece. Ate leftover turkey meatballs/quinoa for lunch which I am a huge fan of meatballs. It feels amazing finding such healthy meals that do not have to taste like dirt. Since it was raining in the morning I didnt get a run in so I decided to take a rest day 🙂

Day 20 – Wednesday

Crazy day at work calls for lots of coffee!!! There were new people joining our office and a large meeting in the afternoon. I am usually arranging everything for meetings and getting new hires on board and situated in their offices. This was a crazy, hectic day but luckily I had a “mom dinner” later that night with all of the soccer moms. It was much needed after a long day. Taco Diner here we come. I went with the ceviche and red wine. Of course the other moms had mambo taxi’s which are always my go-to at Taco Diner! This was a fun night! 🙂

Day 21 – Thursday aka (Day from Hell)

I had to get breakfast for the office then lunch for another meeting. There were people all over the office asking for this and that so I was running around like crazy… all I needed was a “Superwoman” cape. All of this on top of dealing with a migraine… I really wanted to go get a large Coke from McDonald’s which is what helps cure my migraines. But, I have come this far without sugar I didn’t want to turn back now. So the migraine actually turned into making me nauseous and sick the rest of the day. Thankfully, I could get my morning over with and was able to help out as much as possible but I was ready to get home and sleep. I left around lunch time and thank god I did because I got sick at home. I was down for the count the rest of the day. I get migraines every now and then but this one was pretty much death! I haven’t had any major side effects yet and I am not sure if the migraine had anything to do with no sugar. It was not fun so hopefully I don’t experience that again!

Day 22 – Friday 

SOOOOO glad Thursday is over! Felt so much better and refreshed after such a bad experience. I had some toast and almond butter with a large glass of water. I know I was probably de-hydrated from the crazyness Thursday and not being able to keep anything down. I was ready to get through this work day and get a nice workout in to make up for missing 2 days. It was one of the girls birthdays yesterday so of course I went to Nothing Bundt Cakes and didn’t have one… And they are still in the kitchen staring me in the face. However, I walked past them and said I will be enjoying one of these very soon. I made ground turkey tacos and had a glass of wine to celebrate another sugar free week!

Meals of the week:

IMG_5822

Have you thought about doing a detox or sugar free diet? Are there any healthy recipes you are loving?

Brittany 🙂

Brittany
04/08/16

Week 1 Recap – 30 Day Detox

Well….. its FRIDAY!!!! I usually do Friday Favorites but I promised a Week One recap of my 30 day sugar detox…..

Soooooo here is my current state:

So on Fridays, depending on how my child was the whole week I will reward him with donuts. Today was HARD! I resisted the usual dozen donut holes and a warm kolache from the donut store this morning. Instead, I am enjoying my scrambled eggs on sugar free toast with avocado. It has actually become my new favorite breakfast AND snack. Week 1 has been pretty good so far, I have not had ANY sugar. Of course the temptations, cravings and habit-of-wanting-all-things-sweet were real but I survived week 1! I weighed myself last Friday to see if I will lose any weight from this diet. So far… I am down 2 pounds! Guess this detox isn’t so bad 🙂 But….. I REALLY want a Diet Coke and Starbucks!!!

Here is my WEEK 1 recap….

(BTW – my weekly meals are below the recap to see what I ate every day)

DAY 1 – Friday

Feeling pretty good and following the diet plan. Felt a little sluggish towards the end of the day but nothing too crazy. I haven’t had any major cravings except with it being Friday I would like an ice cold beer. Sticking to the dryest red wine and some good reality tv at home.

DAY 2 – Saturday

Woke up feeling great, ran 6 miles and did not feel tired or sluggish. Breakfast consisted of sugar free cereal/almond milk and I added some cinnamon for flavor. Ridge had a soccer game that my family came to and then it was time for lunch with the family. We decided to go to Chili’s since I had more options as far as healthy food. I am totally obsessed with Chili’s queso so I sat in misery while they all enjoyed this amazing appetizer. I had grilled chicken and steamed broccoli. I was actually super impressed with the chicken. My meal was $5 and considered a kids meal. WIN!!! I had to do some shopping so I took Ridge with me. Of course he wanted some candy at one of the stores and me being the “whatever-doesn’t-make-you-scream” type of mom, I said fine! Sour Watermelon Gummies – my favorite. I didn’t have ONE! That was hard. But, I knew my large glass of wine was waiting for me later 🙂

DAY 3 – Sunday

Cleaning & Laundry Day! I have started feeling the detox working in my body. I am lacking energy but thanks to coffee, I can function and get my house sparkly clean. Speaking of coffee, I can not add my regular creamer or Splenda so I am just adding sugar free milk. It isn’t too bad. I have now gotten used to the taste of no artificial sweeteners. My husband has been really great about not wanting to go out to eat at all. He has actually been taking part in my sugar free meals and my son is not complaining either. His snacks are healthier and he seems to like the fact that everything is “new”. Trader Joes has really great snack options especially for kids. Hardest part at night is no desserts.

DAY 4 – Monday

 Back to work where there are lots of temptations as far as snacks and drinks. I knew this going into this detox so I was already preparing myself to just stay away. I brought my breakfast/lunch to work and I wrote out a weekly meal schedule to help prepare everything. This has helped me stay on track and save time on figuring out what to eat. If you want to log your meals for the week, here is the PDF meal plan I used. No office snacks or my daily Diet Coke… I had water all day.

DAY 5- Tuesday

I normally run 2 miles in the mornings before work but I woke up feeling dizzy and lightheaded. I am guessing this is the lack of sugar or my body adjusting to the diet. It could of just been that I was tired but I usually am up ready to get my run on without feeling weird. I haven’t seen any drastic changes physically but I can feel it in my body so far. I have read that it is normal for energy levels to go down when you are decreasing your sugar intake but once you get the toxins and waste out of your systems, you will have more energy. I think that is the case with my body at this point. My energy level went up as the day went on and I felt great to teach dance. Totally forgot to take a snack so I had to stop at the store to get something. It is challenging finding a “small snack” with no sugar at the grocery store. Grabbed some fresh fruit and headed to the studio.

DAY 6 – Wednesday

Got my 2 mile run in before work and I don’t feel dizzy or sluggish. PB&J smoothie for breakfast is amazing!! I can also say that it is not cheap to be healthy but I haven’t spent a dime on eating out or fast food.  I also have not been to Starbucks in 6 days!! WHATT??!?!?! I normally would have already been 4 times. Feels pretty good to save money in that department 🙂 However, I do miss my daily orange juice. I have not found one that is sugar-free so that is a little depressing. I will probably be substituting Vitamin C pills to replace my orange juice consumption. Learning process. Good news: It is Wine Wednesday 🙂

DAY 7 – Friday

I’M ALIVE!!!!!! One week of NO SUGAR has not been that bad. This morning was tough as I already stated but I didn’t die without donuts. Feeling pretty good especially since I have lost 2 pounds. I hope this is a good sign since I have 23 days to go!!! YIKES!

Here is what I have eating that last 7 days.

First 2 days

Week 1

Stay tuned for a Week 2 recap next week. Maybe I will be adjusted to the food and feel more energized. This weekend, I am judging an event and they feed us the most amazing food, not to mention all of the candy, snacks, cokes etc. they have on panel for us. This will be a true test to my discipline – or the opposite, I might rip every bag of  candy open and just inhale it! Also, hoping to find another alcohol option besides red wine.

Have you ever done a sugar-detox? What are your thoughts on detoxing? Are any of my symptoms normal for this kind of detox?

Brittany 🙂

Brittany