Tuesday, December 31, 2013

You've been so Good to Me, 2013

After a successful thesis defense. Cloud nine would be an understatement!

On the way to graduation!

My sister's first time making the turkey and when I tell you she nailed it I mean she NAILED IT! Turkey has never disappeared so quickly in my house.
Getting ready to go Christmas shopping!
Going out for a celebratory dinner with my mom after landing my fellowship.
This is an outfit I wore to church a couple of Sundays ago. I swear I've never gotten so many compliments on an outfit. I'm ending 2013 on a very fashionable note!
I don't really like alcohol so this is what I'll be having when the clock strikes 12.  Peep my sparkly NYE nails! They're graphite by Chanel.

2013 has been an incredible year! Nothing short of it. The good completely overshadowed the bad and I am immensely grateful. There were so many things I was able to accomplish this year from starting this blog, graduating with my masters, and landing a pretty awesome fellowship that I'll be starting in the New Year! The growth and success I've experienced both personally and professionally have been beyond anything I could have dreamed of at the end of 2012. With all of that being said, I am so excited about 2014. I'm excited for the people I'll meet, the opportunities to travel, to write and connect with more of you on this blog, and to continue to grow as a person. I hope you all have a safe and amazing night and a spectacular New Year! I'll see you on the other side:)

Lots of love,

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mickey D's Free for Two Years and I'm Lovin' It

The Omnivore's Dilemma
An excerpt from the Omnivore's Dilemma

It was the Tuesday just before Thanksgiving my first year of graduate school. After running some errands, I got in my car and started to head home. I was a little hungry so on the way I stopped at a McDonald’s, pulled up to the drive through window, and proceeded to order a large fry. Little did I know that would be the last time any food from McDonald’s would ever cross my lips. It wasn’t planned. I didn’t say to myself, "Chioma, no more McDonald’s ever." It just happened. That day was November 22, 2011.

Maybe the Omnivore’s Dilemma had something to do with my decision to abandon fast food. For those unfamiliar with it, it’s a book written by investigative journalist Michael Pollan about the U.S. and it’s dependency on corn. Let’s just say when you order a Big Mac with large fries and a large soda what you’re really ordering is corn with a side of corn and washing it down with yet more corn. I don’t think reading Fast Food Nation helped either.

It has now been a little over two years since I last ate at McDonald’s and I feel great. Right around that same time I also stopped eating at most of my favorite fast food restaurants like Chipotle, Zaxby’s, and Bojangles (you’d only know about the last two if you live below the Mason-Dixon Line). While giving up McDonald’s wasn’t too challenging, giving up these three was much harder.  Fortunately, they don’t have as many chains so I’m not as often confronted with the decision I’ve made.

While I do have a lot of willpower, I’m also human. At some point in the future, I may find myself in a Zaxby’s parking lot, not knowing how I got there, and I’ll order a Wings N’ Things  with ranch dressing not Zax sauce. But for the time being, I’m at peace with the decisions I’ve made. If that changes, then I may have to make a one-time exception.

It’s about sustainability after all. Sustainability equals long-term success. When you have a plan that you can stick to, then you’re golden. If you can’t imagine going the rest of your life without a burrito bowl from Chipotle then don’t, but maybe you could limit it to once every few months.  When you find your groove, whether it’s an eating plan that works for you or an exercise plan that you enjoy, that’s when six months, one year, two years goes by and you’re still going strong.

You just have to be willing to figure out what is and isn't realistic for you. It's much easier than you think, I promise! Go out and be great this week!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Encouraging Words: "Your Past is a Learning Tool"

There are a lot of changes getting ready to take place in my life and as exciting as it all is it's also a little scary (I can't wait to share them with you!) Change makes me quite reflective, so I've been spending more time recently reflecting on my life. Generally, I've been thinking about the goals that I've set for myself (personally and professionally) and the bonds I've formed with people.

Instead of harping on the negative or what I perceive to be as "mistakes" in my past, I'm choosing to appreciate them as life lessons. I'm looking at how I can change my thoughts, my words, and my actions, so that history doesn't repeat itself? It's actually quite empowering (and also very healthy in my opinion) when you view your past in this way. You're not dwelling on it or bothered by it, you're just learning and growing from it.

Here are some lessons I've learned from my past:

Put yourself out there (be a bit more extroverted). While it seems scary, I think it's doable. It just involves sharing a little bit more of yourself (your sense of humor, your smile, your interests) with the world. Introverts are incredible people (and I speak as one), but we tend to be more guarded, and as a result I think we can miss out on some amazing opportunities.

Speak your truth (your morals, beliefs, values, etc). Whatever your truth is, speak it and own it. In a society obsessed with followers, likes, and retweets, we sometimes stop speaking our truth because it's not popular opinion. We feel like we have to fit into a box or use a specific formula to be accepted. Well, who cares?! Speak your truth because someone out there is going to be able to relate to it and probably needs to hear it. Also, it's very powerful when you can stand up and say this is who I am and make no apologies for it.

Have more faith in yourself. Whether it's translating your passion for baking into a dessert shop, becoming a medical doctor, or designing a clothing line, believe that these aren't just pipe dreams, but they are goals that through hard work and determination can actually materialize.

Use your past as a learning tool! I hope you all have a fabulous week!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

An Extra $1.50 a Day

According to a recently published review, that is the difference in cost between the healthiest and unhealthiest diets. That translates to about $550 per year. For lower income families this can present a real challenge to choosing healthier food items, but for others, not as much. When you consider the health implications of an unhealthy diet, like diabetes and heart disease, that amount pales in comparison. For a more detailed summary of the review, check out the article I wrote here.

Now, I do not presume to know people's financial situations, and I'll be the first to admit that choosing a healthier diet can often mean parting with a little more money, but there are ways to offset these costs. Here are a few things to look into:

How often do you eat out? I'm not just talking about going to sit down restaurants. I'm also talking about stopping at fast food restaurants or picking up something from the deli section at your grocery store. Often times you're paying $10, $20, or more for one meal, when that amount of money could have gone towards groceries that would have produced multiple meals.

Plan ahead. This goes hand in hand with eating out. When you don't plan ahead you find yourself picking up meals at the last minute. If you decide what you're making for the week, buy the necessary groceries, and make those meals, then there will be no last minute Mickey D's drive bys.

Are there any farmer's markets nearby? Farmer's markets are great for a number of reasons. The produce is local, fresh, and cheap. Often times you get to interact with the people who grew them and there is usually a much better selection (more variety) than what you'd find at a grocery store.

Buy in bulk and freeze. Pretty self-explanatory. If you see a good deal on bell peppers (and there's no limit per customer), buy as many as you want and freeze the ones you're won't immediately use.

These are just a few of the suggestions I could think of to help make a healthier diet more accessible. Do you all have any more ideas on how to offset the costs of healthy eating? Share them in the comments!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

HGT 2013 Holiday Lookbook

If you're like me then this is, without question, your favorite time of the year. It's a season of celebration, reflection, love, and gratitude. It's also the season of endless holiday parties and get togethers. These parties can be a lot of fun, but figuring out what to wear to them can be stressful. Well stress no more because I have got you covered. I decided to do a holiday lookbook with three looks for events you may attend this holiday season. This was a completely spontaneous idea. Literally last Wednesday morning I got the idea to do a lookbook and that night we shot these looks. I must thank my sister who not only acted as the photographer but also as the makeup artist and hairstylist for each of the looks. She did an incredible job! Bonus: these looks don't break the bank. Each one is under 100 dollars!

The Holiday Soiree
Total Outfit Cost: $97.80
Dress: 59.99
Shoes: 24.80
Bracelets: borrowed from mom
Ring: 13.00

versona accessories

Dress: Versona (similar here), Shoes: Forever 21 (similar here), Bracelets: borrowed from Mom (similar here)

The Work Christmas Party
Total Outfit Cost: $97.18
Top: 11.89
Pants: 15.29
Shoes: 48.00
Necklace: 22.00
Bracelet: same as in first outfit


Top: JcPenney, Pants: JcPenney, Necklace: Versona (similar here), Shoes: Nordstrom (similar here), Bracelet: same as in first look

versona accessories

A Friendly Gathering
Total Outfit Cost: $99.80
Dress: 45.00
Shoes: 36.80
Necklace: 10.00
Bracelet: 8.00


forever 21

forever 21
Dress: Madewell (similar here), Necklace: Dress Up Boutique (similar here), Shoes: Forever 21, Bracelet: Versona (similar here)

Links to each of the items can be found in the captions under the pictures. Not all of the pieces I wore were available online, so I provided links to similar items.  I hope you enjoy this lookbook, and enjoy the rest of your week! 

Would you rock any of these looks?
Which look is your fave? 
Tell me in the comments!