Monday, May 31, 2010

Lululemon Resale Value

I put 4 very gently used Lululemon items on eBay last week to get rid of them and try to recoup a little bit financially.  But I was so surprised at how high they were bid up to!  For example, my Run:Sport Henley that I bought for $78 back in November or so, sold for $83!  Wtf?  I couldn't believe people were willing to pay more than retail for used items..??  Wow.

I bought this shirt online before it went to the stores, and from the stock picture I thought the manifesto print would be a lot lighter.  But in person it is very "out there" and noticeable.  I felt like a billboard when I was wearing it.  So it's been sitting in my closet ever since.  Oh, and also since then I've discovered I'm not a fan of luxtreme running tops.  They ride up, and just feel weird on the skin.  I much prefer the running luon material.  I'm also not crazy about the fit of this shirt on me.  The neckline is too wide and opens up awkwardly on me.  I started the listing at $30 or so hoping SOMEONE would bid on it, but never expected it to go above $40 or $50.  So yay for me!

I also sold my Run:Ultra Shorts II that I have a hard time finding matching tops for.

These retailed for $54 but I pretty much got them for free since Lululemon messed up hemming one of my older tanks and gave me a gift card for it.  I didn't care for that tank too much anyway and was happy to get full price back so I bought the shorts with it.  I love the fit and color of these shorts.  But I don't have any tops that match it really.  I could only wear them with black, white, or light gray tops as I don't have any antidote.  So they really were just taking up room in my overflowing Lululemon dresser.  I was able to sell them for $45 which is a really good return!

Also sold a couple Flow Y bra and Hot Set Bra that I don't wear for about $35 each.  I'm really amazed at how well second hand Lululemon items go for on eBay!  Now I have even more reasons to shop at Lululemon knowing that if I get tired of, or change my mind about something after wearing them, I could get 90% to over 100% money back!!!  So I can just keep selling the old and buying new and not have to break my bank account.  Hehe.  Now I have to go and see what else I can part with.

Victoria's Secret Pink Lace Waist Panties

I love Victoria's Secret Pink because they always send me cards in the mail for free lace waist panties.  I'm all about free stuff.  Especially when there's no purchase or other obligations required.  Obviously they send these cards hoping that customers would go into the store and make more purchases along the way.  Well not me.  I have so much underwear from there that my drawer barely closes.  I love them, but I really don't need to spend money on more.  I'm not a fan of their shirts and sweat pants and hoodies so there's really nothing enticing there for me. 

These are awesome underwear though.  I love the lace waist.  It's so pretty and feminine, and also very comfortable at the same time.  They are stretchy so they don't dig in on the sides or anything.  And the wide waistband lays nicely on the skin and underneath pants.  I do absolutely everything in these, from a regular work day, to the gym, to running errands, etc. etc.  They are that comfortable!  I love that they make these in every single color imaginable.  Having the rainbow spectrum adds a "pop" to my otherwise boring business professional work attire that I sport 5 days a week on the outside.  I gotta keep myself young somehow!

So yesterday I got another one of these.  The sales associate was giving me somewhat of an attitude probably because I wasn't purchasing anything.  Whatever.  They are 5 for $25.  I picked a really pretty graffiti type print, with pink lace waist.  She said that I could only get prints if the solid colors were out in my size.  That's not what it says on the card I got though so I don't know where she got that idea from.  I just told her fine, solid colors are out in my size, and got the one I wanted.  In fact, I'm wearing them right now!  (Though that may be TMI).

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Biggest Loser Finale

I'm a big fan of the show The Biggest Loser.  It's so inspiring and so cool to see the changes these people make.  I'm always amazed at the before and after photos - obviously they lose a lot of weight all over their body, but their faces sometimes look soooo different! 

This season's winner Michael was over 500 lbs - the biggest contestant they ever had, and lost about 50% of his weight.  He still has some ways to go but he looks so great!  I can't wait to see the pics after he achieves his goal weight.  But, Koli, who also made it to the final 4, and didn't make it to the final 3 because the viewers voted for Daris instead, lost 53% of his starting weight!!!  He won the at home prize, but if the viewers voted for him to be in the final 3, then he would have won the whole thing!!  Wow... I can only imagine how he feels knowing he lost more overall than the actual winner or anyone else.  If he had made it to the final 3, he would have won the whole thing!  The funny thing is, he was so focused on getting there that he sabotaged himself in a way and didn't lose enough weight to guarantee himself a spot in the final 3.  Funny how that works sometimes - when you want something so bad and stress out about it, it just doesn't happen.  That's life I guess.  Well, at least he got $100k.

I actually really liked this season because most of the contestants focused on losing weight and becoming healthy instead of game playing like they usually do, especially towards the end.  They had an opportunity to get rid of Michael at one point but they voted for him to stay.  I think that's what it should be all about.  Changing lives and being an inspiration to others.

I do wish though that the show would focus more on the nutrition part.  I know they do talk about that at times, and they have those silly product placements that are sooo cheesy and fake.  But I wish I could see exactly what the nutritionist prescribes each contestant.  I mean like for each meal and snack the exact food they are eating including how they are cooked, so I can break down the protein/carb/fat ratio and count the calories.  I know I always think of each of my meals and snacks in terms of that ratio (I'm a weirdo), and I like to have 50% of my calories from protein, 30% from carb (low GI carb), and 20% from fat (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated).  So I do take some time planning my food.  I also would like to know roughly how much fat, sugar, sodium, fiber, calcium, potassium, etc. etc. they consume daily.  But I guess that would make a very boring TV show for most people!!

I remember hearing Bob say to a female contestant one time to get her 1200 calories in daily.  That's not very many calories for an over weight person who works out 8 hours a day or whatever.  They must be starving!  I thought they would have given them at least 1400 or 1500 calories.  Maybe 1800 to 2000 for the men.  That's still a 2-3 time decrease from what they used to be eating at home I'm sure.  And obviously I would assume that they are eating healthy fresh ingredients that do not raise their blood sugar level.  I just wish I could find out exactly what!!  I feel like most weight loss shows keep nutrition a secret.  They tell you a little bit about it, usually stuff that we've all heard before, but not nearly enough for you to understand in more depth or replicate it. 

My nutritionist always says it's about 90% food and 10% work out, which I totally agree with because no matter how hard I work out, if my nutrition is off then I won't see any difference.  And vice versa, if my nutrition is on, I don't even have to work out to see results.  Working out would just serve as a catapult.  Obviously the work out parts are way more interesting on TV, especially with Jillian yelling at your face, and I do enjoy watching the different exercises that they do and get ideas from them.   

Anyway, this one trainer I trained with once (who told me that out of all the people he's trained, I was in the best shape when doing the first session with him!) is supposedly being considered as a trainer for the Biggest Loser so maybe we will be expecting more trainers in the future from the show.  I hope he makes it because he was very good, but if not, it will still be interesting to see different trainers on the show.  I like Bob and Jillian, but I'm surprised they haven't had others come on already.  So we'll see!

I feel bad for the people that haven't lost much weight, especially the ones that got kicked off earlier on.  You can just tell that some people are not "on" mentally.  How you can not flip on the mental switch when you've made it to the show out of thousands of applicants is beyond me.  And what about that season 3 winner who gained all his weight back???  OMG so crazy... I can't imagine letting yourself get back to that after working so hard to lose it.  And having to do it again.  Wow something funky must be going on with that guy inside his head.  Also, when they've showed other older contestants, they seemed to have gained some weight back too, but they've mostly stayed within reason.

My friend (who is like a size 000000 but thinks she's fat) who went to a consultation with a plastic surgeon said that according to him, the number of fat cells cannot change (it's genetic) unless with lipo, but they can shrink or expand, which is what happens when people lose or gain weight.  So it's way easier to gain the weight back if you have been overweight before, since the fat cells are already there, just shrunken, so all they have to do is expand again.  I don't know if this is true or the plastic surgeon trying to scare my friend and get business (is that illegal though?), but I guess it does make sense.  Well anyway, I know I'm not genetically gifted with extra low count of fat cells, so I have to always eat things that don't spike up my blood sugar level (which triggers the body to start storing fat) and keep my metabolism going.  I guess I try to eat as if I'm a diabetic!  It's hard though - other than the obviously desserts and pastries, I have to watch out for other simple, refined carbs too - like bagels which I love!  My grandpa's had diabetes since his 20s (he's in his 80s now), and I can't imagine how much self control it takes to maintain that disease!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Complimentary Kerastase Treatment - Go Get Them!!!

Kerastase is a (much more expensive) hair care product line from L'Oreal.  I used to use it when I lived in Australia a few years ago.  It costs about $70 or more for an 8 oz bottle of shampoo and conditioner - definitely not cheap.  But I loved what it did to my hair, and to their defense, you don't have to use nearly as much product to lather the hair, so the little bottle does last a while.  I stopped using it though once I came back to the States because back then I lived in Santa Barbara, and didn't know where to get it.  Now I just use the free Kiehl's stuff at the gym lol.  It's not nearly as good as Kerastase, but hey it's free.

Anyway, Kerastase gives out complimentary treatment and blow out every year in their select participating salons for a suggested $10 donation to a charity called "Locks of Love".  It's an one day only event, and this year it will be on June 23rd in the West Coast (East Coast was today so if you are just finding out about it now, then you've missed it).  There's a few salons in Beverly Hills that are participating, and the salon around the corner from me Juan Juan is participating as well, so I booked an appointment right away.

I am in serious need of a treatment!!!  I was actually just thinking about getting one the other day.  I've noticed some splits and dryness in my ends.  Maybe I really should abandon the Kiehl's stuff and just stick only with their amazing lotion.  =(  A treatment at a place like Juan Juan (fancy schmancy, targeting rich Brentwood housewives) would easily run above $100.  I'm happy to give them a $10 donation, especially for a good cause and silky hair!  What a great deal!  I may even pick up some Kerastase shampoo and conditioner as well.  And I guess I'll be taking that day off from work...

So for anyone out there who lives near one of these salons and can take the day off, I suggest you book your appointment right away before they fill up!!  Kerastase only partners up with high end salons and really, it can't hurt to treat yourself to some nice treatment without spending much money!  =)

Lululemon Dance: Strap Tank - Graphic print

I bought another Lululemon Dance:Strap Tank from ebay last week which just arrived today.  I really love this tank style, and I believe it is the tank that most embodies the Lululemon "from work out to night out" idea. 

I don't know the name of this print.  But I remember seeing it on a different Lululemon tank at my gym about a year or so ago.  I didn't like the style of that tank so I didn't pay much attention to the name of the print.  But I like it on the Dance: Strap tank.  

I actually found this listing about 5 minutes before the auction ended, so it was a very quick "to bid or not to bid" decision.  I almost didn't since I already have this tank in all white.  But then decided I just couldn't pass it up for $17 or whatever it was - super cheap.  

This one feels thinner and softer than my white one and gold one.  Weird.  I wonder if it's a different material.  I also noticed the hidden Lululemon logo within the print - very cute idea.  I wish Lululemon would start doing pretty feminine prints like this again though.  They have been doing all solid colors for a while now.  Well, minus some horizontal stripes here and there which I'm not a fan of. 

I plan to buy as many of this tank as I can find on ebay.  Or dare I hope that Lululemon would bring it back??  I know that they made tons of different colors in this tank, and I plan to collect every last one of them!  I wore my gold one out one night to a party, with my Lululemon Wunder Groove Crops and Steve Madden Xenonn knee high boots over.  Oh, and shiny dangly earrings!  It was super cute and comfy.  None of my friends could believe I was wearing an entire work out outfit (and they are fashionistas)!  It made me remember why I love Lululemon so much.  I've also worn my Dance: Strap tanks to work under my suit jackets as well.  Talk about being versatile!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lululemon Run:Swiftly Tech SS Silver/Potion Purple

I stopped by the Lululemon store after the gym today and picked up yet another short sleeve Run:Swiftly Tech.  I love these shirts so much because they are so cute and flattering on, and at the same time very lightweight and dries super fast!  I also love how colors look differently in this silverescent material - bright colors look more muted and softer.  It is a rather fragile material but none of mine has snagged or anything, and I don't baby them.  It's just a wonderful shirt and one of my favorites at Lululemon.

The color I bought today is called Silver/ Potion Purple.  It's really more light gray than silver, with potion purple colored stitching.

I really like the color combination.  I also noticed that the reflective logo on the back of the shirt is a very dark metal color, rather than the usual silver color.  I guess this way it stands out more on top of a silver shirt.  Interesting though, my silver long sleeve swiftly tech I bought a few months ago has the standard silver color logo, which is a bit hard to see.  I never realized that, and I don't really care either way, but at least somebody at Lulu paid attention!

I didn't try it on at the store since I own a few of these already and was buying my usual size.  But I put it on when I got home and I think it's a bit tighter than my other ones.  Hmm... maybe it will stretch with wear.  I think my other ones usually do stretch out a little bit.  They always feel tighter right after I wash them, and after wearing for a few minutes, they become a better fit.  I hope that will be the case with this new one too. 

Monday, May 24, 2010


I found a new Saturday work out to "replace" my boxing class!  Well, you know, it's quite different so I can't say it completely replaces boxing.  But at least it's a hardcore class with a crazy instructor!  In a good way of course.

I first started doing kettlebell about a year ago.  It's such a good work out and gets those muscles that don't normally get attention.  I loved how good it was for my back muscles.  During most of the "normal" work outs we always tend to concentrate on the front parts of our bodies, the back is always the after thought.  I guess out of sight, out of mind!  But that's why as people age, they tend to slouch forward - their back muscles are not strong enough to help them stand up right.  So it's so important to get that balance while we are still young and able to work out!  Also, it's just sexy to have a nice back!  If I had to pick one area of my body that needs the most work, I would say my back because I absolutely hate back fat and I'm always mindful of how much shirts cut into my back.  But anyway, kettlebell is great for the back, but it's also a great full body work out as well and that's why I love it!

Well the great instructor I used to take kettlebell class with left the gym so I stopped taking them for a few months, with only a few classes here and there with other random instructors - just not the same.  But my gym just got a new instructor who is great!  And it's a girl!  I think it's cool that such a "manly" class is taught by a girl.  She is bad ass too.  I think she may also be a Lululemon ambassador because she is always wearing outfits of the newest items.  I've taken her class a few times now and she is constantly coming up with new moves to challenge us.  She pushes us to failure, while giving different level choices for different people.  Every time I've come out of her class super sore for days after!!  And sore everywhere too in weird places - like butt, inner thighs, quads, calves, lower and upper back, arms, and even back of my ankles...?!?  That last one is definitely a first.

It's already Monday night and there's no sign of me getting any better lol.  I kinda like it though, makes me feel like I did something good for my body.  My arms are dying still, they are so tired that I feel like I don't even have enough energy to lift them.  Wow!  Glad I got back into this work out and found a new Saturday morning ritual!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lululemon Run:Speed Short - Coal/ Heathered Coal Wee Stripe

Ok, I decided to give the Lululemon Run:Speed Short another try and bought the new Coal/ Heathered Coal Wee Stripe combo. 

I like the Heathered Coal Wee Stripe pattern, it's subtle and neutral which goes with everything.  I also like that these shorts are all gray, instead of many Lulu shorts which have different colored outlines that make them a little harder to match with tops.

The last pair of Speed shorts I got in White/ Passion just didn't fit right so I had to return them.  The bottom was way flared out and made my butt look bigger than it is.  I thought I was the crazy one until I browsed through the Lululemon Facebook page and saw multiple people complaining that the Speed shorts don't fit the same way that they used to.  You can tell even by the stock pictures of the models.  For example, most of the new ones look like this on the model:

Notice how much extra fabric there is on the butt to create the "flared out" look, while the waist fits fine.  Compare it to the older Speed Shorts which fit much more flattering:

They are definitely different.  They even look shorter too.  Despite the GEC's answer that they have not been changed.

Well, the reason I got the Coal/ Heathered Coal Wee Stripe one is because the fit on the model looked more like the older ones than the new.

Even though it looks a little tight on this model since the front seems pulled, the back looks tighter.  Anyway, I received them today and they definitely fit better.  But the waist band is a little big.  I compared them with my Run:Ultra Short II in the same size, and these are wider by an inch!  But they do have the drawstring on the inside waistband so that's not a big issue.  The length is pretty much exactly the same as the Ultra shorts which I love.

I think I will keep these.  I like the look of the Speed shorts and the open vent in the back.  I wish these had a hidden pocket on the waistband though.  The Ultra shorts have a zippered pocket in the back as well as 2 hidden waistband pockets, one on each side which can come in handy.  But the inside liner feature is the same, and the length on the inner thigh parts are a bit longer to prevent riding up, just like the Ultra shorts too!  I'm excited to try these out on a run next week!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Circuit Works - Brentwood

Circuit Works just opened up their location in Brentwood on Monday a block away from where I live.  They are offering a whole week of unlimited free classes ending this Sunday!  So of course I signed up. 

The original Circuit Works location is in Venice, and is very popular.  I've never been there since I rarely venture out of Brentwood/Santa Monica area.  So now that the Brentwood location is open, I can actually experience the hype for myself.

I walked over there yesterday to sign up for the 5:30 am class this morning and also to watch what was going on.  The theory behind Circuit Works is that it combines aerobic and anaerobic activities to maximize calorie burn, which is a theory any fitness conscious individual is aware of.  The gym itself is pretty small.  It has 5 treadmills, 5 spin bikes, and 10 different weights stations that's designed to work out the whole body.  Each station is numbered, and there are little TV screens all over to show you what you are supposed to do at each station.  The instructor tells you to get on and off from one station to another every minute, with a minute of cardio in between.

The philosophy in their own words is:

"Circuit training burns more calories than any other form of exercise available today. What separates Circuit Works, Circuit Training classes from all the rest is:

Our classes switch from an aerobic cardiovascular exercise to an anaerobic resistance exercise every 60 seconds, keeping the body from choosing the energy expenditure system it's going to use. This confusion forces the body to burn more calories, a process explained by science as the Zig Zag theory. This activity of switching back and forth from an aerobic cardiovascular system to an anaerobic system is what increases the fat expenditure of the body by more than 500%.

No other program out there today goes from an aerobic activity to an anaerobic activity, back and forth every 60 seconds or less."

Is the last statement true?  I know there are others out there like Circuit Works, such as Burn 60 or Turn 60 - another popular LA work out place in Brentwood, but those are 10 min intervals instead of one.

Anyway, so I went to the 5:30 am class this morning.  Actually knew most people that showed up since they also go to my run club!  Cool... guess it's a small neighborhood.  So there were 10 people there total - the classes have a max 20 people capacity .  The instructor was Raphael Verela, the man whose face is on all the Circuit Works ads.  He must be their best right?  There was also a girl there as his "assistant" that demonstrated to us what we are supposed to do at each station before class and went around to helped correct people's forms during class.  So 2 instructors for 10 people, we definitely got enough individual attention but not overbearing.  They were both pretty good at helping me use the machines or correcting my form but I'm not sure how it would be in a full class with double the amount of people.  But they are friendly and seem easy going, not the "drill sergeant" type that yell at your face.

So Raphael divided the class into 2 groups.  One group is always doing cardio while the other group is doing weights, and switch back and forth.  Each person is assigned a number that corresponds with the numbered weight sections.  You are there for a minute, then go to the bike for a minute, then go to the next numbered station for the next minute, and then to the treadmill for the minute after, etc. etc. until you have hit all 10 stations and have done basically 10 cardio sessions of 5 treadmill and 5 bike, and 10 weight sessions.  THEN, you do the same rotation again, except you are going to 2 weight stations back to back, so the cardio people are on the treadmill or spin bikes for 2 minutes instead of 1.  And switch back and forth.  He would also tell you the resistance you should be doing on the treadmill - the highest we got to was 13.  You can walk if you don't want to run, but I was pretty much sprinting whenever I was on the treadmill.  Hey, I'm getting my free work out's money's worth!  At the end of class, we did some ab work, and ended with stretching.

The class was over pretty quickly since you are constantly moving around.  I was definitely sweaty at the end and it was definitely a good work out.  But I'm not sure if it is "the best".  I've had harder work outs boxing or doing kettlebell or my boot camp classes at the gym.  In the first half of the class when we were switching every minute, I felt like I never had the time to get my heart rate up.  When I'm sprinting, it takes me definitely longer than a minute to get my heart rate pumping.  So it was time to get off the treadmill and switch to weights before I even got there.  Spin never gets my heart rate as high as running.  My heart rate was hovering at like 130 the whole first half of class so it was definitely not intense at all.  The 2 minute sessions were obviously better, and climbing at 13% incline or sprinting at 6% will take it out of you after a minute.  That was when I got some serious sweating going on.

But maybe I don't have to sweat my butt off in order to have a good work out (but it's a mental thing).  I was extra hungry today after that work out, and it lasted all the way till lunch.  So maybe this work out provides a greater after burn.  Or, maybe the extra burn is due to trying a different type of work out instead of my routine.  I guess I'll never know.  I will definitely go back to Circuit Works again before the free week is over though.  But I don't think it is something I would pay for regularly.  It's not cheap - starts at $25 a class, and you can buy packages of classes which makes it cheaper per class by a few bucks.  So if you did it twice a week, that's $200 a month.  My nice spa-like gym (Equinox) is only $150 a month and I can go as many times as I want and take as many classes as I want, AND sit in the steam room and shower after with Kiehl's products in the locker room!  Plus Equinox has amazing instructors so... not a hard decision there.

P.S. All the Circuit Works people were wearing full on black Lululemon outfits with the big "Circuit Works" lettering printed on in strategic locations.  Actually looked pretty cute.  I wonder if Lululemon partnered up with them or gave them some free clothes?  Must be nice!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Waist to Height Ratio

I was reading an article on about the new determinant of health risk - waist to height ratio.  The quick summary is that we've long been using BMI (Body Mass Index) to determine an individual's health, which is the ratio of weight to height.  But new studies have suggested that a more accurate measure of health is actually the waist to height ratio.

This is surprisingly simplistic thought.  But the best things in life are the simplest!  This result just makes good sense.  I've never been a fan of the BMI because it's a widely known fact that muscles weigh 3 times more than fat.  So an athlete with more muscle mass is going to weigh more than a pudgier person with more fat.  But BMI could suggest that the person with more body fat is actually healthier than the lean person since he/she weighs less (until you touch them and they are all soft and gooey!).

I've read numerous studies that have shown that belly fat is the most dangerous - it has a higher risk of causing heart diseases and diabetes.  That's why evolution makes us naturally attracted to the 6 pack stomach right?  It's actually an indicator that the individual is in good health and able to pass on good genes to their offspring, rather than just aesthetics.  For me, I know that for sure my tummy area is the first to add on pounds and last to take off.  I guess it all makes sense then that the waist to height ratio is more suggestive of health than the BMI, as simple as it is.

The waist to height ratio is calculated by dividing waist size by height, in inches.  As an example, a male with a 32 inch waist who is 5'10" (70 inches) would divide 32 by 70, to get a waist to height ratio of 45.7 percent, which is in the "healthy" range.

This is the chart of the waist to height ratio ranges:

• Ratio less than 35: Abnormally Slim to Underweight
• Ratio 35 to 42: Extremely Slim
• Ratio 42 to 46: Healthy
• Ratio 46 to 49: Healthy
• Ratio 49 to 54: Overweight
• Ratio 54 to 58: Seriously Overweight
• Ratio over 58: Highly Obese

• Ratio less than 35: Abnormally Slim to Underweight
• Ratio 35 to 43: Extremely slim
• Ratio 43 to 46: Healthy
• Ratio 46 to 53: Healthy, Normal Weight
• Ratio 53 to 58: Overweight
• Ratio 58 to 63: Extremely Overweight/Obese
• Ratio over 63: Highly Obese

So according to this, I'm at 42 or 43 depending on rounding.  But I really want it to get down to 38 or 40, so that means I have to lose an inch or so around my waist.  This all falls in line with my nutritionist's theory as well that we should always aim to lose body fat rather than weight.  She always says that losing inches is typically a sign of losing body fat even if the number on the scale remains constant.  It's a little hard to accept though just because of our obsession with weight that the society imposes on us.  But I know that I personally have met people who appeared very lean and fit, but their weight was 30 or more pounds heavier than I would have thought.

My nutritionist, who is also a competitive body builder and personal trainer, has also told me that another misconception that people have is they think they have to do stomach exercises everyday, and if they do, they will have a kick ass belly.  While in reality, if you don't get your diet right and start to lose body fat, you can be doing thousands of crunches a day and not seeing any result.  Oh boy do I know this!  Especially for us women (who aren't blessed with crazy awesome genes), it is so hard to get the muscles to show.  The best I've done is a faint 4 pack.  Now I just have two shadows of lines down each side and no pack lol.  These lines are a sign of very very early stages of any "pack" developing so I'm sort of getting there...?!?  Only if I could stop eating the junk stuff that I so enjoy once in a while (as indicated by my previous 5 or so posts...).  I know the only way to get there is to be very strict for a month or two - with my nutritionist's meal plan I can probably do it more like in a month if I don't cheat because she's amazing like that.  But sometimes it really just comes down to how much I really want it.  I mean, I'm healthy and fit, do I really care that my awesome stomach muscles are hiding under a thin layer of fat?  Lol...... hmmm something to chew on for a while....

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Amandine Patisserie

I went to Sunday brunch today at this place down the street that I've never been to before - Amandine Patisserie.  It's on Wilshire among a little row of restaurants.  Always looked super cute from the outside with the big glass windows and outdoor seating with cute umbrellas and vines.  It's also a pretty trendy place, I think the girls from The Hills have gone there.

It was very crowded when I first got there.  A long line of people waiting to order.  We saw an open table and had to grab it right away while the other one stayed in line to order.  I guess there is a lot more seating if you walk around the corner to the back of the cafe, but we didn't venture that far.

They were serving both breakfast and lunch, and I noticed that they didn't have too many varieties of breakfast - pretty much just different french toast and omelets.  We got the Florentine Omelet which has muchroom, spinach and cheese.  Also got the California Omelet which has tomato, avocado and cheese.  I guess we could have added some chicken or ham but we didn't realize at the time.  We wanted some orange juice but they didn't have any which is weird.  The price is very "LA", at $25, but we are all used to that here!

While we were waiting for them to bring us the food, I was kind of disappointed and wishing I had gone somewhere else, because the omelet didn't sound that exciting.  But when the food came, it was so good!  The ingredients were so fresh, and cooked to perfection.  The omelets were a pretty good portion and came with side fruits, 2 pieces of toast, and potato au gratin.  We wolfed down our food so fast!  I saw many people sipping on their big mugs of coffee which looked really good, but we were kind of in a hurry and I decided I didn't need the additional calories anyways.  But next time I go I'd like to sit outside and hang out for a while!

Mmmm looks good.

This place is known for their dessert and pastries, but I couldn't eat anymore!  The cakes did look amazing and I was very tempted to stuff myself.  Here are some pictures I stole from their Yelp page.

I couldn't help but get some yummy looking chocolate scones to go, and they were yummy for sure!!

Glad I found a new place nearby!  Can't wait to go back and try different things next!  I really want a quiche, it's been so long since I last had one!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Express Stuff - Dolman Graphic Tee, Twisted Racerback Sequin Top & Rouched Cow-Neck Top

I ordered a couple more things from Express earlier in the week and they just arrived today.  Here's what I got:

The Dolman Graphic Tee:

I tried this shirt on in person at the store in size S a couple weeks ago, but it was too big.  I know the style is meant to fit large and loose but it was way big and falling off my shoulders.  I really liked the shirt though but they didn't have an XS.  So I found it on the Express website and ordered it.  It's made of thin burn out material with silver graphic prints on it.  It's semi see through, but I don't mind that.  The bottom has a wide elastic band that holds it in place.  Cute!  Right after I bought it it was gone from the website so maybe I got the last one!

I have an older shirt from Express I got a few months ago that has the exact same back as this one - I love the braid look!  But the front is also white, with big silver rhine stone decorations on the neck area.  It's so cute and one of my favorite shirts that can be dressed up or down.  This one though, has gold sequins on the front to make it more dressed up looking.  I read the reviews on their site about this shirt and everyone was saying to size down.  So I did.  But I wish I didn't because while it's still loose fitting, it's not quite as long as I would like.  So I might take it back to the store to see if they have one size up, though I've never seen this shirt in the stores around me.  If not, I think I will still keep it because it's not a super big deal.  Price is a little high for this shirt though - $50.  So maybe I will re-think.

It also comes in all black which I think is cute too.

Lastly, I got the Rouched Cow-Neck Top:

This shirt is ok, it fits fine in my regular size, but it's not my favorite.  It's a very fitted look, but doesn't hug the wrong curves or anything.  I don't know, maybe because the material is so thin that it feels a little cheap to me.  Like a shirt I could have gotten at Forever 21 or something for $10.  I do like the color - it's a very dark charcoal, almost black, with subtle shine and sparkles.  It also comes in black and hot pink.  I thought this one was the most interesting color though.

I will have to think about what to do with this shirt.  While it's a cute enough shirt that can be worn to work under my suit jacket, or out and about, I just don't know if it's worth it.  Maybe I should return it and save my money for something that I really love.  Not that it's very expensive at $34 but still.  Money is money!  So we'll see!

Friday, May 14, 2010

100th Blog!! Plantain Chips & Raspberry Yogurt Pretzels

Wow can't believe I've hit triple digits with my blog postings, time sure flies!  =)

I was in a bad mood tonight because it took me 2 hours to get home from work due to Friday evening traffic!!!  I commute from downtown LA to the west side which is only about 10 miles.  So it was absolutely ridiculous even for LA standards.  Going west is against traffic, so it's not usually so bad.  Maybe takes 30-45 minutes, but 2 hours...!!!

So I walked over to Whole Foods after I got home and was rather inclined to get some junk food.  I've loved the plantain chips from Trader Joe's - the roasted and salted kind that's cut like banana chips, not the sweetened longer kind.  But they stopped carrying them!!  So I had been looking for the same ones forever.  I guess I should have looked at Whole Foods sooner.  But tonight was the first time I'd seen them there.  Yay!!!

They are soooo good and addicting!  I could finish the whole box of it in one sitting - and that's just what I did tonight.  Well my boyfriend did his fair share too, but it was definitely a calorie splurge regardless.  I wish I had another box of it though lol.  The thing is, obviously Whole Foods prices are on the high side - they don't call it "Whole Paycheck" for nothing!  So for the same chips they are more than double the price of the Trader Joe's ones.  That is why I love Trader Joe's!!  Too bad they discontinued carrying these.  I have to remember to ask someone about it next time I go there.  I've heard that sometimes they bring items back if customers request it.

While I was grabbing the chips, I also saw the Raspberry Yogurt Covered Pretzels.  I've always been a fan of regular yogurt covered pretzels, but have never had raspberry flavored ones.  I really just wanted to try one and see how it tasted.  But obviously I couldn't just break the box open and take one so I had to buy it!  It's very very delicious too.  Sweeter than the regular yogurt covered ones.  And obviously has the raspberry flavor.  I like!  I think I will have to go back and get more later.

They are cuter too in this pinkish color!  The ones I got are a very faint pink, not as dark as the ones pictured above.  I wish they weren't so high cal - 7 pieces for 200 calories is a lot!  I've been splurging on my calories way too much this week.  Better work out hard this weekend!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Kogi BBQ Truck

Hmmm just had Kogi's for dinner.  It's been so long since I last tasted the yummy short rib burrito!  About a year ago the Kogi truck was soooo popular in LA.  It's basically a food truck that makes a fusion of Korean and Mexican food.  Sounds very strange but oh so tasty.  They had a Twitter page and people had to track its location by following it on Twitter.  Then they would wait in line for like 2 hours just to get some!

I don't have a Twitter account and don't plan to get one, ever.  So I was never into this craze.  The first time I had Kogi's was at a summer party at my CEO's house last year.  He actually got it catered for the night so we had it exclusively on the street outside of his Pacific Palisades house!  Of course the food was free for us, so I was able to try everything on the menu, like the Korean BBQ Short Rib Burrito, Sliders, Kimchi Quesadilla, Short Rib Taco, etc. etc. 

I seriously stuffed my face.  And I couldn't believe how good everything was!  I always loved Korean BBQ, and short rib is my favorite item whenever I make it to Koreatown.  I also love burritos, so combining the two was just amazing.  I don't know what they put in the sauce of the meat or veggies, it's a distinct taste that I can't describe.  But trust me when I say that it is GOOD!  The thousands of people that have waited in line for hours will agree with me.
Well nowadays the lines aren't nearly like that anymore since the craze has died down.  And they've got 4 trucks up and running now that cover different locations.  Tonight after my run club I really felt like one, and I checked their location on facebook (I friended them on facebook so I can get their location updates), and they just happened to be at UCLA which is super close to Brentwood where I live.  So I went over and got some burritos and sliders.  I think the burritos are smaller than before - at least from what I remember.  But it's still full of meat and it's a pretty good value at $5 each.  The sliders though are priced a bit on the high side since they are also $5 for 2 little things.  It's my favorite though so I had to get it.
I think those things are loaded with sodium so I feel dehydrated now.  But hey, once in a blue moon, it's totally worth it.  Though I probably also just canceled out the calories I burned running tonight.

Since Kogi came out there's been lots of copy cats so there's food trucks everywhere now.  There was a shaved ice truck right behind Kogi's tonight.  I wonder if they follow the Kogi truck around?  There's also a Calbi truck which is an exact copy cat of Kogi, but their short rib burritos are not nearly as good for the same price.  I've also seen dim sum trucks, sandwich trucks, grilled cheese trucks, dessert trucks like Sprinkles cupcake truck, etc. etc.  It's so crazy!!  Hard to believe they all can make money.  But interesting how they turned food trucks into a hip thing.  Must say that the Kogi guy had a good idea and did a great job of making it happen!  I read in some article that he was actually a professionally trained chef that worked at fancy restaurants before this Kogi truck idea.  Good for him!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Crystal Light & Ritter Sport Chocolate

Sometimes I get really obsessed with something for a while, then I completely forget about it.  It's very weird but it happens to me all the time.  Crystal Light is one of them.  Last summer I was seriously obsessed.  I tried pretty much every single flavor out there, and I would even carry the packets around with me "just in case".  It really helped me drink lots of water.  For those that aren't familiar with this product, it's basically powdered flavor packets that you put in your water.  It's sugar free, fat free and has only 10 calories per packet (I usually only use half of the packet for a 16 oz glass of water).  The flavors are great and there's a whole lot of variety. You can get them at any grocery store.

My nutritionist told me to drink lots of water - 3 liters a day to be precise.  Now that is a lot of water!!  The daily recommended water intake for an average person is 64 oz and most people don't even drink anywhere close to that.  3 liters = about 105 oz!  So when I first started doing it, it was hard!  But putting Crystal Light into my water helped me drink easier because of the nice flavor.  Like I said, I've pretty much tried all of them, and the Green Tea Raspberry as pictured above is my absolute favorite.  But all their flavors are good actually, it really just depends on your mood.  I have about 5 different flavors sitting in my kitchen cabinets.  

So Crystal Light is pretty much made of the same stuff as Splenda, which is my nutritionist's #1 recommended sweetener.  I've read about the differences between different artificial sweeteners and they are very interesting, me thinks - I'm a nerd sometimes.  For example, Splenda is made of Sucralose which is a blend of sugar molecules and chlorine (doesn't sound nice), and is 600 times sweeter than natural sugar.  Sweet n' Low, which used to be my favorite, is made from Saccharin - a product from the reaction between sulfur dioxide, chlorine, ammonia, and 2 biochemical acids, and is about 300-500 times sweeter than sugar.  It's known to cause cancer in rats but not in humans.  Finally, Equal, or Nutrasweet, are both made of Aspartame which is combination of two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine.  This sweetener is found in diet sodas.  It's 180 times sweeter than sugar, but some people with the genetic disease called phenylketonuria (PKU) can't process phenylalanine. 

Ok back from nerdland.  After my body got used to drinking 3 liters of water a day, I didn't need Crystal Light anymore.  Plus I know it's not good to use it so much since there are chemicals in it.  Although Splenda has no known side effects, it also hasn't been around long enough for us to really know.  Better be on the safe side!  So I stopped using it for months and completely forgot about it.  Recently I re-discovered it in my cabinet and remembered how much I love putting it in my water and having it with dinner.  It's kind of like my dessert!  It really takes care of my sugar cravings at night when I KNOW I should NOT be having it!!  So I'm back on the Crystal Light bandwagon.  But in moderation!

By the way, I also use Crystal Light packets with my alcoholic beverages.  I hate drinking my calories because I rather eat a cake.  And most of the calories in drinks come from the mixers.  So what I always do now is I order a shot of vodka in a glass of iced water.  Then I mix in some Crystal Light and voila!  It takes SO good and only 50 calories from the shot and that's it!  People do look at me weird until they try it and agree with me!  Plus there's no hang over factor since hang overs come from the sugar, not alcohol itself.  I find that the Wild Strawberry flavor is best to mix with alcohol.  It would be a little weird to mix alcohol with tea flavors.

So I must go from my "healthy" food to a less healthy snack now.  It's the Ritter Sport chocolate!  I've recently discovered them at Trader Joe's, and I love love love it!!  Trader Joe's only has the dark chocolate hazelnut flavor and the butter biscuit, which is just amazing.  Basically just butter biscuit covered in milk chocolate.  Sweet, crunchy, yummy.  I can get the packet and finish it in less than 5 minutes.  That's almost 500 calories!  Sad face.

The Ralphs market by my work has a few more flavors, so I was able to get the white chocolate hazelnut one, which is amazingly good too.  I've always been a big fan of white chocolate.  It has whole hazelnuts and rice crisps in it.  OMG heaven.

By visiting Ritter Sport's website, I see that they have TONS of other flavors too! Like the cappuccino flavor, praline, and yogurt - those are the top 3 I want to try.  But where do I find them???  Trader's only has 2 flavors and Ralphs has about 5 or 6 but not those ones.  Must find them!!!

These are so addicting.  They are quite expensive too - the little square costs $3-4.  But yummy.  I will now be on the hunt for those other flavors.  I guess having Crystal Light and chocolate is really counter productive.  This is probably why I've been trying to lose 5 pounds forever.  Oooo well, what can I say.....

Friday, May 7, 2010

More Express Stuff!

My order from Express came yesterday.  I got 5 items total.  I'm really happy about 3 of them and not so much about 2 of them.  So here's the dealio.

I got 2 more pairs of the Editor Wide Waistband Pants - as I've stated many times before, I LIVE in these pants (when I'm at work).  I got a pair of gray ones which were on sale from $59 to like $30.  They look a lot lighter in the picture than in person.  I thought I was getting very light gray with almost a tannish tint to it, but what I got was quite a few shades darker gray with black pixels in it.

I actually really like the color even though it wasn't what I expected.  It's just a little close to my other gray ones, but definitely distinctly different so I'm keeping these for sure.  They are also very comfortable because they are "studio stretch".  From now on I will only be getting the studio stretch material when I get these pants.  It's seriously the best.  So comfortable, form fitting, and flattering!

I got the same pants also in blue.  They really resemble denim color, so I was kind of afraid they would look too much like jeans.  But the way they fit is definitely different from jeans.  So it just looks like I'm wearing blue pants at work!

I really like these pants and they are also studio stretch.  So they are a perfect fit!  And I think this color is available online only because I've never seen it in stores.  I love them!

I also got the Graphic Dreamweight Tank

I had seen this tank in stores before when it was at full price.  I actually almost bought it then, but decided I should wait till it went on sale.  Well it did!  From $30 to $12.  So I got it.  It seemed to run a bit big, or it might be that it's supposed to be looser fitting.  But I got XXS and it fits perfectly.  It's a cute light weight tank kind of in the babydoll style.  It's great for the summer.  And the tummy area can stretch out a lot so I was joking with my boyfriend that it's like I'm buying maternity wear!

I also got the V-Neck Roll-Tab Blouse in both black and bitter grape (blue).

I thought this shirt looked really cute in the photos in both colors and they were on sale for like $13 so I got both.  The reviews said that they ran a size big so I got the XXS.  But it's so stupid because the shirt doesn't have any stretch whatsoever!  So they were SO hard to put on!  Once they were on though, the chest area was a bit tight but the waist and stomach area were pretty loose fitting, like on the model pictures.  But it was impossible to get off!  I had to have someone help which just would not work.  I felt very claustrophobic in it.  I can't believe they would make a shirt with absolutely no stretch in it!  How do they expect people to get it on and off??

So I returned them today to the store and exchanged for the Essential Stretch Racerback Vest which I've always had my eye on but it just went on sale from $45 to $29.

This vest is super cute.  I will most likely wear it to work but I can also wear it out and about I suppose.  The store only had size 00 and 2.  I think size 0 would have been a perfect fit because 00 was just a tiny bit tight, and size 2 was too loose.  So I got size 00 because it's not bad tight, and I do plan to lose some weight!  I love the style in the front as well as the back.  There is a clasp in the back that can be adjusted for tightness and that is a great feature!

I also have the Editor Wide Waistband pants in the exact same pattern so I could make the outfit that the model is wearing.  But I'm not sure if that will be a good look for me or a little too much.  While the black and gray crosshatch pattern looks good as a single piece, together I think they may be a little too busy.  I don't know, I haven't made up my mind.  But either way, the vest will look cute with solid black or dark gray colored bottoms.  Now that summer is coming up and my work will observe business casual dress during the summer, I can finally shed my suit jackets and this vest will come in handy!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

LORAC Makeup from Hautelook

I can't remember if I've used LORAC makeup before, but HauteLook had a sale last week so I grabbed some stuff for pretty cheap.  But after I bought them, I noticed that some of the items were discounted at the same price on the LORAC website so I could have just bought from there.  Oh well, I did get some stuff that were not on the site so whatever.  I received all the items today in the mail.  Obviously haven't had a chance to really try them all, but I did play with them and am pretty excited about some of them.  I think LORAC stuff is definitely better than the Urban Decay stuff I bought from HauteLook before - most of that stuff was pretty much a waste of money.  Anyway, here's what I got:

A couple eye shadows, $3.99 each from $18 retail.

Color: Charcoal

Color:  Innocence - lilac with silver shimmer

The colors go on pretty easily and blend well based on the test on my hand.  The innocence color is very different in person than the picture.  It's much darker and has almost a tan/brownish undertone when you are looking at it.  But when it's applied on the skin, it looks more purple.  A very light and shimmery silvery purple.  I think if I wear a primer before applying this color, it will make the color brighter and shinier and very pretty.

I also got a pack of two toned eye shadows called Eye It Kit - Love & Money.  Got it for $4.99, retails $28.

I really like these colors.  They go on really well too and I love the combination of the two.  The lighter color is supposed to be light green but it has more of a golden undertone.  It would be fun to play with these colors and use one color to fade into another!  I do have to say though that I don't like the clear white plastic case it comes in.  I get that they are trying to make it "on the go" and easy to carry.  But it just looks cheap.  Oh well, no biggie.

I also got the On Screen Duo in Champagne and Caviar.  Got it for $6.99, retails $24.

This one is pretty cool.  It has a base color / highlighter color on top, and a charcoal colored cream eye liner on the bottom.  I have the cream eye liner from MAC in black with gold flecks, but I've had it for a while and it dried up and is now very hard to apply.  I decided on the charcoal colored one since it might make a more natural look so I can wear it during the day time too if I want.  And also to just have something different.  I haven't tried this yet so I hope it works well!  I always applied the MAC one with the MAC eye brow brush, which worked really well and should also work for this one.  

Ok next, I got the Glam Rocks Loose Metallic Eye Shadow in Gold.  Got it for $4.99, retails $16.

I also have loose eye shadows from MAC, one of which is the copper color which I always wished was gold.  So when I saw the gold one, I just had to get it.  I actually like this one better than my MAC ones because the color doesn't look painted on when it's applied.  The MAC ones just look way too theatrical, which is why I never use it.  This LORAC one actually spreads really well and becomes very light and shimmery.  It's more like the effect of glittery lotion when it's applied - very faint and can be seen from different angles when it catches the light.  It doesn't come out of the bottle very well though.  You kind of have to shake the bottle and tap the bottom really hard for a few flecks to fall out.  But a little bit goes a long way, and I would just use my fingers to apply.

Then I got the Cheek Stamp in Coral for $3.99, retails $22.  

This one is very interesting.  You basically stamp on the color to your cheeks - just like the name implies, and then blend with fingers or a brush.  I tried it on my hand and the color seemed to go on very well.  It's a darker red color in person than the pictures.  So I guess I have to be careful to not over apply.  Lately I've been using my Shu Uemeura Glow On Blush in neutral color, which I love because it makes me look more tan.  But going back to a pinkish/reddish tone will be a nice change of pace sometimes too.  So I will have to test it out tomorrow.

Ok LASTLY, I got the Delicious Lip Polish for $3.99, retails $17.50.

I thought it was interesting that this lip gloss came in a nail polish like bottle.  I thought it would be the same size as a regular sized nail polish, but it's actually much smaller.  Like a mini nail polish bottle that you can get as a sample or as a part of a gift pack.  But the color is nice.  It goes on pretty thick and glittery.  But it's much more liquid than other lip glosses I've used before.  The consistency really reminds me of nail polish too.  So I feel kinda weird putting it on my lips.  Hmm... I guess I will have to get over that!

It's awesome that I got all this stuff for $32 plus $6 shipping and $3 tax for total $42.  Oh yeah, that's the thing I don't understand about HauteLook - all the other sites like it out there do not charge tax but this one does for some bizarre reason. But anyway, it's still pretty great to get all this stuff for $42!  They will keep me entertained for a while!
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