Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, I’m IN LOVE with Halo Top, and You Should Be, Too!

While on the ongoing journey to better health, I was introduced to Halo Top. Last year when talking about foods that are yummy and healthy, my dad’s friends suggested that he and I tried Halo Top, a high-protein, low-calorie ice cream. As a huge ice cream lover, I was intrigued to try Halo Top and see if I liked the brand. Long story short, it was love at first spoonful.

When I say I love Halo Top, I mean I am in love with Halo Top. The ice cream is creamy, sweet, and mouth watering. It doesn’t taste ice-y, like many low-calorie ice cream brands do. It tastes….basically like the real, fattier version of ice cream. I am obsessed.

Last week, I decided to write a love letter to Halo Top, published on Odyssey. In the letter, which you can read HERE, I mention most of the reasons I love the brand. The truth of the matter is, while on the journey to weight loss and better health, you cannot deprive yourself. If you do, you’ll go crazy and end up binge eating (trust me, I know from experience). Halo Top allows me to enjoy my ice cream as often as I’d like. Every single one of their 17 flavors is less than 400 calories for the entire pint…that is insane. And the ice cream is so, so tasty!

Ever since being introduced to Halo Top, I feel so much better about my food choices because I know that my ice cream isn’t primarily filled with sugar, but instead with organic, high-protein ingredients such milk and cream, milk protein concentrate, organic cane sugar, natural flavors, sea salt, etc.

Halo Top is my go-to treat. I think about it all the time, and I’m literally obsessed with it. Their social media team is always on top of their game, and always so kind and interactive. They even wished me a happy birthday this past January. Needless to say, I shared my love letter to the brand and they replied…and look at what I received a few days later:

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If you’re an ice cream lover like me, and you’re looking for a healthy option that tastes good and makes you feel good about yourself, give any of Halo Top’s 17 flavors a try–scratch that…give them all a try! I actually haven’t tried a few of these flavors yet (I couldn’t find them in my local stores), so I’m so excited to dig in and fall even further in love with this brand.

Thank you, Halo Top, for being my absolute favorite ice cream. Ever since our introduction last summer, you have consistently been so kind to me. I cannot believe how lucky I am to have healthy, delicious ice cream to enjoy, and I’m not going to lie…every time I take a spoonful (or get a response on Twitter), I tear up with joy. You’re the BEST, Halo Top!!!! No doubt about it.

Which flavors are your favorite?? Let me know in the comments below! Thus far, my top favorites are Lemon Cake, Chocolate Almond Crunch, Vanilla Bean, Strawberry, Oatmeal Cookie, and Black Cherry…but I truly love them all. I hope that you can fall head over heels for Halo Top, too!

Make Everyday a Bright, Sunshiny Day

Somehow, it’s already May. The year is nearly at its halfway mark, and time is flying by. While it is important to balance responsibilities like school, work, and household chores, it is also important to make every day count. Do things that make you happy. Life does not slow down or stop for anybody or anything, and if you go through days, weeks, or months feeling nothing but boredom and exhaustion, your mindset and outlook on life will turn completely negative.

What makes you happy? Think about it…the little things and the big things. Is it being with your best friend? Going out to dinner with your parents/grandparents? Maybe it’s going to the movies with a special someone, or going on a walk with your dog. Maybe it’s singing along to your favorite songs in your car or in your house, when no one is there to hear you. Or maybe you’re at your happiest when you are watching your favorite show, reflecting back on happy memories, planning once-in-a-lifetime events like seeing your favorite artist/band on tour, etc. If it helps, write a list of people, places, and things that bring you joy. Keep this list somewhere where you won’t lose it, whether it’s on your phone, your refrigerator, your closet door, or your computer. Everyday, try to do something that brings you happiness.

Sometimes the simplest things bring me joy. Just sitting on the couch with either (or even better, both) of my dogs makes me feel loved, special, and happy. Singing along to my favorite artists’ music makes me feel good inside. Taking a break from schoolwork to watch a 21-minute episode of a show, usually The Office, brings me laughter and happiness. And when I’m lucky, spending time planning fun events–like attending a Blondie, Coldplay, or Harry Styles concert–can brighten my entire mood.

Start living your life to the fullest, and make sure that everyday you do something to bring you joy. If you don’t know where to start, here’s an idea: select a happy song for your life. A happy song is a song that makes you release all of your negativity, at least for the length of the song. Your happy song should have a positive message and should lift your spirits. My Nonna designated I Can See Clearly Now by Jimmy Cliff as our family’s happy song. Whenever someone was sad or had a bad attitude, she played I Can See Clearly Now and we had to become happy.

As a child, I thought it was so corny to have a happy song. Now, every time I hear the song I sing along and force myself to become happy. I hope the song brings you happiness, too. What other songs make you feel happy or inspire you? Let me know in the comments below!

What I Wish Kim K Knew About Her Power (And Cellulite)

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have seen the recent paparazzi photographs of Kim Kardashian with cellulite all over the lower half of her body. If you’ve seen these photographs, I’m sure you have also seen retouched images of her body, which were presumably released by her publicists and team. There was no comment on the un-retouched photographs, which means there was no intention to normalize cellulite; instead, there was a push for posting retouched photographs that hid normal bodily features.

I am extremely disappointed with Kim Kardashian for brushing over her cellulite. Yes, if you watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians, you have seen the Kardashian women seek cosmetic surgeries to remove or hide their so-called-flaws. However, after all of these years, you would think that the Kardashians would realize the power they have over the media. Celebs like the Kardashians/Jenners have enough money and power to make a change in the world. They can preach about body acceptance, beauty, and self-love so that their followers and fans can accept and love themselves. Instead, these powerful women choose to hide “ugly” marks on their skin, sending the message that their followers should, too, hide (or get rid of) those marks.

If celebs were to accept and normalize these “flaws” rather than cover them up, a clear message would be sent that features such as stretch marks, cellulite, and fat rolls are things to embrace and celebrate, rather than hide. Thankfully, there are models and celebrities who embrace features that many girls and women are insecure about. I believe it is time for more celebrities to do the same. Do you agree? What do you think about cellulite/ celebs retouching cellulite? Let me know in the comments below!

Danielle Brooks Shares Inspiring Words About Beauty with People Magazine

People Magazine recently released its Most Beautiful Women spread for 2017, featuring women from a range of races and sizes. I was SO excited to see which beautiful women were featured, including Chrissy Metz, Viola DavisNina Dobrev, Danielle Brooks and others. Out of everyone, Danielle really stood out to me because of the message she shared with the magazine about beauty. To hear that message, watch her segment of People’s World’s Most Beautiful: Not a Drop of Makeup episode.

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Let’s appreciate what Danielle shared during this video:

“I know for a fact that I am beautiful, and what I do know for a fact is that we are spirits, at the end of the day, regardless of how much melanin we have, or how many pimples we have, or how curly or straight our hair is. It’s really about what we have inside of us, that makes us who we are.”

Beauty isn’t restricted to one shape, one size, or one shade. Beauty does not have a list of requirements. Beauty isn’t something that’s merely physical; beauty comes from within. And Danielle preaches this when describing beauty. Her inspiring wisdom continues as she says:

“People just need to realize that there’s so much beauty in who they are in their skin and to find that beauty within themselves.”

I just think it’s so refreshing to hear someone in the media’s eye send out positivity to the world. Instead of looking at images of photoshopped celebrities and wanting to be as beautiful as them, Danielle is sending the message that we should all appreciate our own beauty. These are words that I definitely need to adopt in my own life. I need to put my ideas of beauty aside and appreciate my own looks, and more importantly, my own thoughts and feelings. What about you? Do you think Danielle’s beliefs about beauty could help you learn to appreciate your beauty? Who or what inspires you to feel beautiful? Let me know in the comments below!

Body Positivity Is Saving & Empowering Women

Recently an article by Aero Magazine has come to my attention which argues Body Positivity is Killing Women, specifically plus-size body positivity hashtags and movements. In the article, the author points out that obesity is a huge medical issue. This is true, there is no denying that. Being overweight and obese can be very unhealthy for many people, sparking illnesses and limitations. However, hating yourself and hating your body will always not spark weight loss.  In fact, most of the time, it will spark further weight gain.

I’m not saying it’s impossible for body hatred to spark weight loss. It’s very possible, but often it leads to eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia–which, to spark your memory, are not healthy paths to weight-loss. On the other hand, if weight loss isn’t sparked through body hatred, depression and emotional eating surface. These actions cause even more body hatred because of the vicious cycle of weight gain.

So what is a healthier alternative to these health issues? Loving your body, loving your skin, and feeling confident. I know, crazy right?! Being overweight and loving yourself could spark something positive! Body positivity does not necessarily mean that a woman is not trying to improve her health; it just means that she’s learning to love herself, accept her insecurities, and live her life in a way that makes her happy. If that means staying at an obese BMI, so be it. However body-positive women can choose to lose weight to feel healthier in their bodies as well. Ultimately, these choices are left for an individual to make.

For the record, I’d like to remind everyone–especially the author of Body Positivity is Killing Women–that body hatred is not just an overweight or obese person’s problem. Many, many thin people hate themselves as well (underweight and normal-weighted people included). Hating your body won’t make you thin, and being thin won’t make you stop hating your body.

No matter what size clothing you are, or how much you weigh, self-love is important. Everyone should love themselves, or at least begin the process towards loving themselves. In the end, love is a lot healthier than its alternative, whether judgmental people like it or not.

“I am more than a number and a jean size.”

When celebrities speak out about their internal struggles, especially with issues many of us “regular” people face such as body image issues, it’s always refreshing. Granted we’re not wishing for others to suffer from poor self-esteem, body image, etc.; it’s just nice to know we’re not alone. Demi Lovato continues to be amazing when sharing her struggles with body image and being open about her depression, anxieties, self-harm and eating disorder. If you relate to any of the battles Demi fights/has fought, it’s great to know that someone as successful as Demi has made so much progress on her never-ending journey towards self-acceptance and self-love. Actually, even if you can’t relate to most–or any–of the battles she fights, you can’t help but feel a sense of happiness for her. Look at her overcoming her fears and making milestones; look at her feeling confident in the skin she’s in. She’s amazing! And guess what? You, or anyone you know, that is facing similar battles with self-image, self-esteem, etcetera are capable of being successful. We could all learn a thing or two from Demi Lovato.

Recently she tweeted about what she does when she has days hating her body and feeling negative towards her body image, writing:

Whether you have lived with an eating disorder or not, it’s important to take away one key message that we often hear, but don’t necessarily comprehend or understand: “I am more than a number and a jean size.” Your weight, your clothing size, the space you occupy, and the ‘flaws’ on your body do not measure or limit your beauty. Beauty is immeasurable. Everyone has good days and bad days, even people like Demi Lovato. Don’t give up on those bad days, though. Keep making progress! Are there any other body-positive celebrities that inspire you? I’m always on the look-out for more celebrities to look up to!

A Brave, Important Video about Public Fat Shaming

Recently a video posted by a woman named Shauna went viral on Facebook, in which she provides details about her fat-shame experience on Free Cone Day at Dairy Queen. In her video, which you can see HERE, Shauna reveals that she has lost 60 lbs since starting a paleo lifestyle–but 120 lbs overall. Her weight loss is obviously a huge accomplishment, and she decided to treat herself with a food she very rarely has any more: an ice cream cone. While eating the ice cream outside with her husband, a car full of men yelled out the window, “Eat that ice cream you fat b*tch!” Unfortunately, Shauna’s experience is not a rare experience. Fat shaming happens all the time no matter where you are. My heart broke when I watched Shauna’s video. It hit so close to home because like Shauna, I have been fat shamed (numerous times in fact).

There is absolutely no reason to call someone a mean name. One of the biggest motives behind putting others down is feeling better about yourself. But are you so insecure that you have to embarrass and harass a complete stranger, or worse a family member or friend, just to feel good? Just to feel in power?

Shauna asks in her video what bullies get out of putting others down and points out that bullies have no idea what circumstances others are facing. A person you bully for their size may be on an ongoing weight loss journey, making major progress to live a healthier life. S/he may be suffering from health issues you cannot see. Because at the end of the day, the person you are bullying is a person. That person has a life, and you have no clue how your comment(s) will affect them today or in the long run. Think before you speak. Be a nicer person.

I was happy to learn after seeing Shauna’s post that Torrid, a plus-size fashion brand, invited her on a special, once-in-a-lifetime shopping spree with their newest model and brand ambassador, Maria Gimena. Shauna left her shopping spree with a new friend, a bunch of clothes and a large amount of confidence. I’m SO JEALOUS of her shopping spree — because Torrid is my favorite store– and SO HAPPY that something amazing came out of this terrible shaming experience.

If you’ve ever been shamed or bullied because of your size, what did you learn from that experience? Do you have any advice for others who are going through similar bullying? If I could give any advice, I’d just remind you that things will get better. You will get stronger as long as you fight for yourself. At the end of the day, doesn’t your love for yourself matter a whole lot more than some stranger’s feelings towards you?

Stretch Marks – How we think & talk about them matters

Today while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I noticed a friend of mine had liked a beautiful photograph of a woman and her daughter at the beach. Both Mom and Daughter were wearing bikinis, and both had a radiating smile across their faces. When I clicked on the caption, I was inspired. Honestly, I almost teared up. I instantly knew that I wanted to share the post with you. Take a few moments to read through the caption and appreciate the picture HERE.

In the beginning of March, I posted a blog about the importance of changing the way we think and talk about bodies, body image and self-esteem. Allison Kimmey — a body-positive coach and blogger who stars in the photograph with her daughter — could’ve handled this situation in many different ways. She chose to normalize stretch marks and add a positive connotation to them. The truth of the matter is, everyone has stretch marks. No matter your weight or body shape, it is nearly impossible to not have stretch marks. Children and adults get stretch marks when skin grows very quickly, meaning when a person gets taller, gains weight, etc.

Because stretch marks are hidden in advertisements and social media posts, there is an idea that stretch marks are ugly. They are something we should hide and be ashamed of. If they weren’t shame-worthy, wouldn’t they be shown regularly in pictures?

What’s so wrong with stretch marks? Why are we brainwashed into thinking they’re ugly instead of studying their unique marks and appreciating our skin for what it is? After all, each of us is one-of-a-kind. Our bodies are complex and remarkable. Instead of hating our bodies and criticizing ourselves over things we think are “ugly,” we need to appreciate the beauty of our bodies.

Maybe our stretch marks aren’t as ugly as we think they are. Instead of dwelling on the negative thoughts, we should try to think about the positives. Think about the fact that no one else on this planet has the same stretch marks as you. No one else has the same story behind those stretch marks, either. Maybe you grew two inches in high school, well after your doctors told you that you stopped growing. Or maybe while you gained weight and fought inner-demons, you grew tiger marks on your stomach: something that you believe symbolizes the invisible battles you overcame.

Allie’s post is a push I needed to get me to love and admire my stretch marks. How do you feel about yours? Have you hated your stretch marks before, and if so, what helped you learn to accept/love them? Share your advice and experiences in the comments below!

The Power Behind The Secret

Lately my life has been lacking empowerment and inspiration, so I decided to re-watch a documentary I’d seen in a few years ago that motivated me to dream big and chase my ambitions: The Secret, a film based on a book written by Rhonda Byrne. As a child my Nonna introduced me to messages from The Secret, and later I was re-introduced by my high school teacher Mrs. Stasi. The documentary, like the book, credits the law of attraction to everything that happens in our lives. Now I know this may sound pushy, corny, and maybe even a little ridiculous, but me a chance to tell you why the message is so great.

Anything is possible with the Law of Attraction. You attract everything that comes into your life, whether you realize it or not, with your thoughts, feelings, and actions. This means that if you think about events and actions you do not want, those things will show up in your life. If you dwell on your debt, you end up attracting debt. If you are angry or upset about your weight, things you don’t want to happen about your weight will come true. For instance if you feel defeated and cry, “I’ll never stop gaining weight!”, the universe will make that thought a reality. Frustrating, right?

At the same time, though, you have the power to put happy thoughts out there. You can activate the thoughts, feelings, and energy on what you do want rather than what you don’t want. Sculpt your life and your future with your thoughts. Feel healthy, prosperous, loved, and prosperous, even if those feelings are not directly in your life at the moment. You will attract these features and they will come. Dream small and dream large, ask the universe for a parking space near the mall’s entrance or for a Range Rover, and you’ll be surprised at what can happen. The Secret is not suggesting that by merely thinking of a Range Rover is enough; instead, it proposes that you lead a life full of gratitude. Be grateful for something, anything, that you have – whether it’s tangible, health related, or family related! With gratitude always in mind, ask for what you want. Ask and never lose patience or hope. The universe will eventually answer, possibly in an unexpected way. If you give up hope, however, and start doubting The Secret, the universe will take note and give you exactly what you are thinking. If you think your dream is impossible, it won’t become possible.
Overall the message is: decide what you want, believe it can happen, believe you deserve it, and believe it’s possible for you. By doing so, you can make your wildest dreams your reality. After I saw this for the first time, I created a vision board. I had images symbolizing happiness, health, money, success through writing, and interactions with my favorite celebrities. Since creating this board, many of my dreams have come true, and yet there were many times where I dwelled on unsuccessful attempts and fell off the wagon. After re-watching The Secret, I hope to continue to think and feel more positively, and I strongly recommend you do the same. Check out at least one of the many The Secret products (whether it’s a film, a book, an audio book, an app, a CD, or a download for your devices) and let me know what you think in the comments below! Have you tried to live by The Secret’s message before, and if so, what happened? If this is your first time hearing about The Secret, what do you think about the message? Are you ready to adjust your thoughts and feelings to give the law of attraction a try?

Alicia Keys’ Inspiring Uncovered Movement

A few days ago I came across a post about Alicia Keys embracing her natural skin and living a makeup-free lifestyle. Although I don’t wear makeup often (ok, I don’t wear makeup ever) or know how to apply makeup, I was curious to learn why the singer was taking a break from beauty products. To my surprise, she has been sporting a makeup-free look for longer than I realized and she created a public post to voice her story.

In her post, Alicia explains that before writing her album Here, she put together a list of things she was sick of. That list includes how women are pressured to be skinny, sexy, beautiful, and perfect. She explains her frustrations about the constant judgement and impossible standards that women receive and are held to. Alicia also reveals that as she was writing songs, she worried she wasn’t good enough for the world. Her daily thoughts were filled with worries that others were picking apart her insecurities, judging her solely off of her looks.

It wasn’t until she was photographed in, as she describes, her “run-to-the-shoot-so-I-can-get-ready look, not the actual photo-shoot look” that she felt empowered and beautiful as herself. Her uncovered self. She writes in her letter that she doesn’t want to cover herself up—whether it be her face, thoughts, or dreams—anymore. She is free, she is beautiful, she is raw. Although I don’t cover my face with makeup, I do cover my emotions, thoughts, and dreams with shields. I tend to hold myself back from embracing, accepting, and loving myself as I am because I worry that I am not good enough. If Alicia Keys can uncover herself, maybe I can, too.

We can all learn a thing or two from Alicia’s uncovered message. Read her post for yourself and let me know what you think! Does this remind you of another public figure or movement that has inspired you? What’s your takeaway? Could you go without makeup for a while, and if so, how do you think it would make you feel about yourself? Or if you feel empowered by wearing makeup, share what makeup means to you and your self-confidence!