Rebranding Me: A Jumpstart


So, as it turns out, I am terrible at resolutions. If you recall from my New Year’s Resolution post, I made a goal to post on Tantalizingly Tasteful every Friday. Well, I’ve gone nearly two months without a post. And that’s not the only goal I didn’t follow through on.

While I was gone, I turned 20 — which means I’m officially an adult. *gulp* I went back to school, and I’ve honestly been having a great semester. Just like last semester, I’m working on a lot of awesome things that are making me super busy. But that’s not an excuse to get lazy with taking care of myself and my blog.

 

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A picture of me from my 20th birthday celebration, taken by my beautiful best friend Lauren. Thanks to my other best friend Ian for the wonderful “20” balloons. Seriously, best birthday ever!!

 

In the last few years, I have been much more open about my health struggles, both physical and emotional, and I’d like to continue that trend. While my emotional and mental health have noticeably improved this semester, my physical health has noticeably… not. I went on an amazing vacation to Punta Cana with my entire family (21 people total!), but when I got back, I brought that “who cares” attitude home with me. Since then, I’ve been eating whatever I want without considering the impact it might have on my body. My visits to the gym have been far and few between. And I’m starting to feel the difference. My legs hurt and I’m more tired. I want to make a change, but change is hard. Why would I want to make my life any more difficult than it already is if I’m doing alright with what I’ve got?

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A photo with my entire family in Punta Cana! Yes, we planned the white shirts and blue jeans.

The fact of the matter is that I’m not alright with what I’ve got, and sometimes, you just need a jumpstart to help you realize that.

My friend Caroline sent me a really awesome blog post the other day that served as my jumpstart. Lee Tilghman, the blogger behind leefromamerica.com, recently posted a blog post about living with PCOS. I read it and, of course, shared her pain. But one thing I noticed is that Lee has done more to help her body in just a year of knowing about her disorder than I have done in eight whole years. It really opened my eyes to what I can be doing to help myself combat the symptoms of PCOS that I see and inspired me to get started.

I don’t think I would have been inspired to make a change if Caroline hadn’t sent me that text. This is why we need jumpstarts. The littlest things in our lives can inspire us to make changes, as scary as change can be. For those of you who are tired of dragging your feet through life, take this as your jumpstart. I’m challenging you to join me as I renew my desire to better myself and my life. It’s nearly Spring anyways, which means it’s time for new beginnings. So, who’s with me? Let me know, and let’s take on these challenges together!

xx,

Toni
Email: tantilizinglytasteful@gmail.com
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Rebranding Me: Learning to Love Myself


Welcome back to Tantalizingly Tasteful! Today I want to talk about something a little bit out of the ordinary for me: body image and self-confidence. Being confident in yourself and your abilities is much easier said than done, but I think the process of getting there is something that needs to be discussed. I want to share my own personal story with you. This is something I’ve been working on for about a year now, and I’m honestly still a little hesitant, but I know that so many people go through the same kind of situation and I want to open up the discussion. So, here goes.

I’ve spent my whole life being overweight. I knew in kindergarten that I was different from the other girls in the class. When I walked, my shorts would ride up my thighs (what has affectionately been known as thwedgie in my family), I couldn’t run as fast on the soccer field, and I couldn’t easily be lifted up. But as a kindergartner, you don’t really understand that having a bit more body fat than the other girls in class is going to make you stand out in a bad way.  I was also one of the only kids in class that wore glasses, and to five-year-old me, that made me “uncool.” I would play a game with my friends in which I would take my glasses off and say “cool Toni,” then put them back on and say “nerdy Toni.” How did I get the impression that a pair of glasses defined who I was?

 

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A shot from elementary school field day, complete with my classic “thwedgie.”

 

 

In elementary school, I was the first of my friends to wear a bra, and it wasn’t because I was the first to hit puberty. And yet, I still didn’t really think anything was too wrong with me. It didn’t really hit me until fourth grade, when a “popular” girl who I considered a friend nicknamed me Jell-O. I didn’t understand why she was calling me that, so I was thrilled to think that I had finally made it into the “cool girls” crowd. When I got home that night, I excitedly told my parents about my new nickname, only to have them explain to me that it wasn’t a very great nickname to have. I was incredibly hurt to think that the people that I considered friends saw me that way and, even worse, seemed to be out to make fun of me because of what I weighed. I dwell on that realization a lot.

 

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This one’s from my cousin Effie’s wedding. I was 11 and a junior bridesmaid. I had gained weight between the fitting and the actual wedding, so my dress ripped during cocktail hour. I was humiliated.

 

Fast forward to middle school, when I just continued to gain weight and started growing facial hair due to polycystic ovarian syndrome. At that point, it had become more common knowledge to me that I was the heavier friend, and while my friends really didn’t have anything to say about my “physique,” it was quite evident that I was just different and sometimes had to be left out. I could never share clothes with my friends, I could never eat as much as my friends, I struggled to keep up with them in sports. I had girls pull my bra strap and laugh at me because my bra wasn’t supportive enough for my chest. One of my best friends pointed out to the entire gym class that I was growing a beard. I started to become ashamed of my body, a feeling that I would never wish on anyone. And instead of combating my issues with an improved diet and more exercise, I comforted myself the only way I knew how: food.

 

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A photo of my mother, my youngest brother and I at a bat mitzvah. Clearly I did not know what a bra was.

 

In high school, I tried to pretend that I was more comfortable with my body. I had accepted that I was just bigger than my friends, but my weight was still a source of contention with my family. My parents have always been super supportive, and when they worried about my weight, it was always for the sake of my health and not my appearance, but it was (and still is) a sore topic for me. My grandmother was notorious for not giving me a second serving of food to keep me from gaining weight. My parents often told me that certain clothes just weren’t meant for my body type. Even my five-year-old cousin told me I was fat. For me, realizing that even my family remarked that I was overweight was heartbreaking. I felt like no one saw me for my personality or interests, but only saw me as the girl who needed to lay off the pasta and hit the gym. This realization brought on a rough time of self-doubt, self-loathing, depression, and self-harm. When I finally got myself out of that slump, I decided I was going to take ownership of who I was and focus on bettering myself and getting healthy, not necessarily skinny. I told my parents that I needed them to support me despite what I looked like or what I decided to wear. I thought this inner transformation would be good for me in so many ways.

Here’s a picture from marching band in ninth grade. I remember loving this picture because I thought my hair looked so long.

But then prom season hit, and two years in a row, no one asked me to be their date. And I couldn’t help but attribute it to the fact that nobody wanted to go with the fat girl. Of course, I was heartbroken, and debated not going to prom both years, but ultimately I went and had a great time. But the idea still remains in my head that no one wants to date me or be friends with me because of my weight.

A picture of me, alone, at senior prom. Luckily I still had a great time.

I had a similar experience at the beginning of college. Before I moved in, I was considering joining a sorority, but at the actual club fair, I noticed that no sorority sisters even considered approaching me. Instead, they were approaching the teeny tiny skinny girls, the girls who were the “populars” that would have made fun of me in elementary and middle school. It was then that I realized that my body weight can sometimes prevent me from achieving everything I would’ve liked to, and it was then that I was inspired to write this post.

This is one of my favorite selfies from freshman year. Before I found my close friends, I would go home every weekend because I felt so out of place.

That was a year ago, during my very first semester of college. I had completely different friends, completely different interests, and a completely different outlook on life. Originally, this post was supposed to be a wake-up call to me and to anyone reading, a cautionary tale that would hopefully teach people that they should keep themselves from getting heavy so they can prevent themselves from getting hurt. Now, I see things very differently.

It’s taken me a long time, but I’m finally getting to the point that I’m realizing I love the person I am. There may be things I want to change and things that I regret doing, but I’ve learned over the years (and especially the last six months) that the only person I need approval, attention, and love from is myself. The only person who can help me is myself. It also helps that the friends I have now like me the way I am, so I’m not forcing myself to be something I’m not.

I wish I could detail how I got myself to this point, but honestly, I think it was just spurred by a sudden realization that if I can’t love myself for who I am, no one else will love me for who I am. I do have some recommendations, though, that I know have helped me feel happier and more confident and empowered.

  1. Read self-help books: Yes, this is corny, but after reading even a few pages of self-help books, I always feel refreshed and inspired. One of my favorites is Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, even though I haven’t even finished it yet. I used to read it every night before bed during the spring semester of my freshman year, and it made me feel like I could take on the world just the way I am. Some more on my list of books to read are Yes Please by Amy Poehler and Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur.

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    You can get your copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller for $10.96 at Barnes and Noble.
  2. Work out: I’ve been talking about this up and down for the last six months, but working out has made me feel a million times better about myself. Every time I work out, I do into beast mode, and I feel like I can accomplish anything. Find an exercise routine you love and stick to it. Not only is it good for your body, but it’s also good for your soul.
  3. Listen to pump-up music: I literally have a playlist called “I DESERVE BETTER” that’s filled with songs that make me feel better and remind me that I am worth the work and worth being treated well. It’s filled with some of my favorite songs, like Hair and Shoutout to My Ex by Little Mix, Stronger by Britney Spears, and Down in the Dumps by Walk the Moon. I highly recommend putting together a playlist that makes you feel great about yourself and helps pick you back up when you start to fall.
  4. Get motivational wallpapers: Inspirational phone backgrounds and computer wallpapers are my guilty pleasure. I like to change them every month just to get something a little different. I always find it so inspiring to turn on my phone or laptop and get some sort of pick-me-up.

    This is the wallpaper on my laptop right now and I love turning it on and seeing this.
  5. Don’t take things so personally: I’ve always been a very sensitive person, and I always let people’s reactions to me affect the way I feel. Recently, I’ve come to the realization that you don’t always know what other people are going through, so you can’t hold things against them or let them get you down. Like I said, the only person’s validation that matters is yours, so don’t let yourself get down because of a stupid comment someone else said. When I dyed my hair purpley about a year ago, one of my best friends made a comment that if I lay down on the grass, it would look like Barney. His opinion meant a lot to me at the time, and I was upset about it for a while. Since then, I’ve realized that it’s my hair, not his, and if I like the way it looks, I don’t have to really consider his opinion.
  6. Do what you’re passionate about: Doing things that you love to do and are good at are great for a confidence boost. Plus, if you get involved with something you’re passionate about, you can find other people who are passionate about the same thing and you immediately have something to connect over. When I started writing for my school newspaper last semester (even though it was for class credit), I met so many awesome people who were also passionate about journalism. It was really inspiring and motivating for me to get pointers from them and just be surrounded by people who loved to interview people and write just as much as I do.
  7. Journal: One of the best ways to release negativity is to write it down. I find that every time I write down what’s bother me, I can better recognize what the problem is and then find an appropriate way to deal with it. Also, I can write down all the positives in my life and reread them if I start feeling down. I also love picking pretty journals that inspire me to write and work hard, like this one from Barnes and Noble.

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    Be Awesome Today Bound Lined Journal, $9.95 at Barnes and Noble
  8. Find support: The biggest thing that has helped me come to terms with the person that I am has been my religion. I was born and raised Greek Orthodox, but I didn’t really get into learning about my religion until I was 16 and went to Camp St. Paul for the first time. Since then, I’ve become more confident in myself and my abilities because I know that God made me the way I am and only sends me challenges that He knows I can handle. For those of you who are not religious, I’d recommend finding something or someone that always has your back and best interests at heart. I have a handful of really close friends that constantly cheer me on and pick me up when I fall. I’d be nowhere without them. Even my parents are there for me whenever I need them, and I can tell them absolutely anything without them judging me or putting me down. The bottom line is that it feels amazing to know you have people who love and support you all the time and can pick you up if you start doubting yourself.

I hope this post gave you a bit of a look into my life and some inspiration and motivation to start loving yourself completely and entirely. Don’t forget to keep me in the loop as you embark on your journey!!

xx,

Toni
Email: tantilizinglytasteful@gmail.com
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Looking Back at Washington, D.C.


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The beautiful view from the Lincoln Memorial

I got back from Washington, D.C. on Sunday night, but honestly, it feels like forever ago already. I had been so excited for my trip beforehand, and then it went by in the blink of an eye. Here’s a look back at my weekend!

Friday, November 4

Traveling is never the fun part of traveling. On Friday afternoon, I had to get on a 1:19 train to get to Penn Station and meet my friend Demi. The train alone took just under two hours. Demi and I then walked ten minutes to Port Authority to meet our friend (and her “fousin”) Stella for a four-and-a-half-hour bus ride from New York City to Washington, D.C. The bus ride itself took up a majority of our day and was completely exhausting, but it was nice to get a chance to catch up.

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Finally getting into Union Station (which is totally beautiful, BTW!) From top top bottom: me, Demi and Stella

When we finally made it to Union Station at around 9:30, we were so tired and barely wanted to go out, but we fought through it. We took a taxi to the Renaissance Hotel in Dupont Circle, where our friend Anastacia was already waiting for us. We rushed to get ready and eventually made it out for the first event of Panhellenism Weekend 2016 by midnight.

Saturday, November 5

I guess the first party should probably go here since it was after midnight… But we walked a few blocks (and then Ubered because we got a little lost) to this super-cool four-floor club/bar called Ozio for the first event. Luckily, we didn’t wait on line to get in for more than 20 minutes, and in the meantime, I got to chat with some friends from camp I hadn’t seen since August. To me, that was better than the actual party.

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It was so great to catch up with friends this past weekend! From left to right: me, Raquel, Steph (who was one of my first camp counselors!) and Victoria

The club was totally cramped. Like, the kind of cramped where you can barely breathe. And that’s doable when you’re with your friends and know the people around you. But it’s a whole other story when the people around your are drunk strangers. Long story short, it wasn’t long before I got uncomfortable and wanted to go to sleep. I had expected a great, long night of dancing with my friends, but there wasn’t even enough room for that. I was disappointed to say the least.

We didn’t get back to the hotel room until 3AM, and didn’t really get to bed until five, but when we woke up in the morning, we were ready to take on the day… kinda. While my friends went to a brunch for alumni of Ionian Village, a Greek Orthodox sleep away camp in Greece (which needs your help, BTW!), I stayed in the hotel room and worked on my NaNoWriMo story (I am so behind now, don’t even get me started) and FaceTimed my friend Maria to catch her up on what happened the night before.

When the girls were done with the brunch, Anastacia and Stella came back to the hotel to get me and Demi hung out with her friend from Ionian Village. The girls and I walked to the Lincoln Memorial with our friend Niko. It was so warm out and the scenery was so beautiful, with leaves changing colors and fashionable people walking past us. I loved D.C., but it was definitely a little quiet for someone like me, who loves New York City.

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I couldn’t put my camera down at the Lincoln Memorial
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Had to get a shot of Abe…

We met up with some of our friends at the Lincoln Memorial and took some awesome pictures (shout out to great lighting!). I wish I had gotten to do more sightseeing though, but we had limited time and Stella had to meet up with some friends from high school.

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Anastacia and I in front of Abraham Lincoln… I guess we cut him out
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A shot of my outfit, courtesy of Stella! We took a ton of pictures in the spot because the lighting was great.
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Stel and I chilling on the steps
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Had to get a shot by the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, even if the sun was in our eyes

The three of us took a taxi to Georgetown and I was immediately in love. It was so trendy, clean, historic and photogenic. We literally stepped out of the car into a brick alley that was just begging to be photographed, so we had yet another photoshoot (shout out to Anastacia and the brick wall for giving me something to use for my photo class project).

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The love I have for these two is insane… thanks to you two (and Demi) for coming on this adventure with me
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Posing with Anastacia
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All smiles (and all black) with Stella

When Stella left us to visit her high school friends, Anastacia and I grabbed lunch at a restaurant called J. Paul. They had really yummy pretzel bread as an appetizer, and Anastacia was totally obsessed with her sandwich. I got a crab cake sandwich, figuring it was something more regional and something I was much less likely to get at home, and it was alright. When we were done, we headed to Forever 21 for some last-minute accessory shopping. I bought a pair of earrings and Anastacia got a choker. We then found Stella, the girls stopped for bubble tea (I tried a sip for the first time, still not sure what I think), and headed back to the hotel for a nap.

We got ready for the night and were ready to leave around 11:30 or so. The event was at the historic Howard Theatre, which was stunning to say the least. The line was so short, which was a plus, and there was food (even though all I had was one mac and cheese bite). There was much more space to dance, but my feet were killing me from the night before and the day of walking, which was a bummer. I was able to catch up with some friends, and snagged a seat next to my cousin Dionysia to chat for a while.

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Catching up with my amazing and incredible cousin Di

Stella and I finally decided to head back to the hotel around two because we were exhausted. We stayed up a little while longer just talking, but eventually fell asleep before Demi and Anastacia had even gotten back to the room.

Sunday, November 6

I woke up the next morning in a panic. The clock next to me said 11:30 and our bus back to New York was at 2:15. We hadn’t even started packing our stuff up yet, and everyone except for Anastacia, who had gone to church and wasn’t leaving until 4, was still in bed. Then, I remembered daylight savings time was a thing and calmed down. We eventually got up, packed our things, checked out and headed to West End Bistro, a restaurant Stella’s sister had recommended for brunch.

Honestly, if you’re in D.C. and around the Dupont Circle/Ritz-Carlton Hotel area, I highly, highly recommend West End Bistro. The staff was so accommodating and friendly. The restaurant itself was stunning. The food was spectacular (even if it was a bit expensive for my taste).  I got the WEB Breakfast Burger, which had an actual burger with cheddar cheese, a sunny side egg (which I usually don’t even like), bacon, and caramelized onions on a brioche bun and French fries on the side. It was so, so amazing.

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MY AMAZING WEST END BISTRO BRUNCH

Stella, Demi and I said goodbye to Anastacia and finally made it to Union Station but, wouldn’t you know it, our bus is late. We thought we were going to miss the bus, but it didn’t leave till around three. And then we hit traffic. We were supposed to get into Port Authority by 6:35, which meant I’d be able to take a 7:18 train back to Stony Brook, but we didn’t get in until closer to seven, which gave me absolutely no time to make it back to Penn Station and grab my train. So, we grabbed dinner at Port Authority (chain pizza and pasta, anyone?) and then Demi and I left Stella to head towards Penn. I finally got back to Stony Brook around 10:40, a whole hour later than I was supposed to and eight hours after I started traveling. Like I said, traveling is exhausting.

So now you’ve (presumably) read a lot about what I did during the day, but here are my thoughts. D.C. is stunning, and I wish I could’ve spent more time enjoying the city and the sights than waiting on lines for parties I barely enjoyed and being squashed in between people. Also, next time I go, I want to go for a longer amount of time so I can better enjoy it.  And if I do go to Panhellenism Weekend 2017, likelihood is I’ll only be attending one night event (in much more comfortable shoes!)  and spending the other night taking in our country’s capital.

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Another beautiful view in Georgetown (which I think is the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal but honestly I’m not sure)

I hope this post gave you a little bit of a look into my life and my head. Let me know about any of your own experiences traveling or in Washington, D.C., or tell me about other places I should check out! Hope you’re out there loving the world!

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Kisses to you, Tasters!!

xx,

Toni

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Why I Love Working Out with Friends + Yummy Salads with LP


Today’s post should’ve been about my weekend in Connecticut for an Orthodox Christian retreat, but unfortunately, that plan fell through. So instead, I’m here to tell you all about why working out with friends makes exercising fun, easy and motivational, at least from my perspective.

 

 

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Clearly, my friend Lauren and I are both Nike girls! Our sneaks are pictures with my beloved Zumba shake weights (the green ones, which are 1 lb., came with the Zumba Exhilarate DVD set, and the purple ones, which are 2.5 lbs., came with the Zumba Tone Up DVD set) and my BPA-free fruit infuser water bottle, which you can get here.

 

 

Don’t get me wrong, I love working out on my own. It’s this weird power trip: nothing goes straight to my head more than a half hour of beast mode at the gym. But there’s also some great benefits to working out with your friends, and not just physical ones. And it doesn’t even have to be in a class, it can be at home or in your neighborhood. I’ve done both, and they can both be equally fun and inspirational.

  1. Accountability: There’s no bailing out on exercising when you’ve made plans to hit the gym or pound the pavement. Your friends will make sure you show up, on time, and put all your energy into your workout.
  2. Motivation: When you feel like there’s no going on and you’ve exhausted every last bit of energy you had, your friends are there to cheer you on and keep you going. It’s a lot harder to do that all on your own, just saying.
  3. Positivity: How many times a day do we tell ourselves that we’re not good enough, not performing well enough or just not up to par with everyone else? Friends and workout buddies are there to nip any negativity right in the bud and raise you up again.
  4. Catching Up: Sometimes, a workout sesh can be just what you need to catch up with your pals. In between push-ups or during laps around the track, you can be gabbing about what’s going on in your life. Not only is the conversation great, but it also makes the workout go by quicker. The perfect way to multitask!
  5. Trying New Things: Friends are the perfect people to drag along when you want to try out a new workout. Whether it’s a class like Zumba or SoulCycle, or even just a new routine, having a friend to try it out with you can make the activity less daunting and more fun. Last summer, when I wanted to give running a try, I went on walks/runs with my best friend Lauren who also wanted to try something new. Having her with me made me less scared to try and more excited for something new.
  6. Answering Questions: I can’t even begin to explain to you the number of questions I have had about different workout machines at the gym. I was always too scared to use them because I didn’t know, but whenever I go to the gym with my friend Alyssa, who is definitely more athletic than I am, she can answer my questions and tell me what to do. It’s definitely reassuring to have someone who has my back explain what each machine in easy, plain terms so I can understand it.

Since I didn’t get to go to the retreat this weekend, I got to spend Saturday morning and afternoon with my best friend Lauren, who has been one of my best and constant workout partners for a while now. From our Zumba sessions with our other besties Torie, Dani, and Emily, to our morning summer runs on our local trails, Lauren is always there to keep me positive and motivated. She came over in the morning to do Zumba, specifically the DVDs from the Zumba Tone Up System (get the 5 DVD set here.) We did about 35 minutes, with 15 of it doing the Amazing Abs, and the rest working out biceps and triceps. After a week of not working out because I was sick, it was so energizing to get back into the groove. Plus, I hadn’t seen Lauren in a few weeks, so it was a great chance to catch up and gossip while working out our abs.

 

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Our post-workout meal!

 

After our workout, Lauren and I went to this super awesome salad place called Chopt, and I totally loved it! It’s like the Chipotle of salads- pick from a variety of toppings to create your own salad or order a salad off the menu. I got a Santa Fe salad, which had romaine lettuce, corn, avocado, pepper jack cheese, grape tomatoes, (delicious) homemade fried onions, and sweet and smoky chipotle vinaigrette. I also added steak, which was totally yummy. Though my salad was a little spicy, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was so filling and super delish.

 

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My delish Chopt salad!!

 

Lauren ordered the Mexican Caesar salad, which comes with romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, cotija cheese, jalapeno peppers (which Lauren subbed for cucumbers), tortilla chips, and Mexican Caesar dressing. She said hers was spicy too, but it smelled really good and I know she totally loved it!

 

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Doesn’t Lauren’s order look yummy, too?

 

My favorite part of working out with Lauren is getting to catch up and having her there to motivate me, but the tasty food we sometimes get afterwards doesn’t hurt either!! And it’s good to know that the feeling is mutual. I asked Lauren what she likes about working out with a buddy, she agreed with me and said, “Ok so working out with friends is more fun because you not only work out but you can catch up. The time passes quicker and you can share new techniques with each other. It’s great to motivate each other.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. Best friends think alike, I think!

 

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Lauren trying out her salad post-workout.

 

Lauren and I went back to her house after we got our Chopt salads so we could eat and watch HGTV, which is one of our post-workout routines. Nothing is more rewarding to me after working out than a laid-back afternoon with my bestie! Let me know what keeps you motivated to work out, what your healthy post-workout routine is or if you’ve given fitness with friends a try! Keep on working, Tasters, you’ve got this!

xx,

Toni

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My Love-Hate Relationship with Packing: Connecticut Edition


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I have always been a girl who loves too much. I love people too much, I love food too much, I love shoes and clothes way too much. Which makes packing for anything a challenge from the get-go. I always pack (you guessed it) too much, and then I have to schlep a gazillion heavy bags to wherever I’m headed. Not. Fun.

But the contradiction lies in the fact that I love packing. There’s something about it that makes me feel so productive and grown-up. Maybe I associate packing with adventure and journeys so I get all excited when I pack. All I know is that packing makes me feel official and gives me purpose.

That’s not to say it’s easy. It definitely isn’t, due very much to my original problem of over-packing. Even when my mom used to pack for me, I would somehow find a way to sneak more and more things into my luggage. My mom hasn’t packed a suitcase for me in close to a decade, so the blame is falling more and more on me, and now that I live in a dorm room and not at home, it is much more imperative for me to pack light for my own convenience and sanity.

I spent five weeks as a counselor at a sleep-away camp called Camp Saint Paul this summer, and even though I was only supposed to stay for four weeks, I somehow managed to pack my suitcase with enough clothing to last me months, even though I had convinced myself that I packed light this year. How in the world could I have been so wrong?

So now, I’m limiting myself.

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I’m spending the weekend in Connecticut at an Orthodox Christian Fellowship retreat (more details to come soon!), and I am traveling by train, so it was incredibly important that I pack in a smart and efficient manner. I knew exactly what I needed, so I packed no more and no less. I packed:

  • two T-shirts
  • one pair of jeans
  • one pair of joggers
  • one dress
  • one pair of ballet flats
  • one rain jacket
  • one set of pajamas
  • four underwear
  • toiletries: BB cream, mascara, eyeliner, makeup wipes, toothpaste, toothbrush, perfume, deodorant, pads, a razor
  • a pillow
  • a blanket
  • a sleeping bag
  • a journal
  • my planner
  • my Kindle
  • my camera
  • notes to study (I have a media law midterm next week)

packing-3

That’s enough for an outfit on Saturday, an outfit for liturgy on Sunday, and a travel outfit for when I leave the church on Sunday. I’m honestly really proud of myself for the surprisingly light and efficient packing that I did, so here are some of my tips and tricks on how to pack smart!

  1. Make a list: Making a list of what you need to pack without a doubt makes your life easier. It lets you check things off as you go so you can be certain you have everything you need. When I was packing my suitcase for Connecticut, I nearly forgot pajamas. Like, my suitcase was packed and zipped and ready to go, all without pajamas. Thankfully, I consulted my list again and realized my mistake.

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    I would be no where in life without the Notes app on my iPhone. This checklist option makes my life so much easier.
  2. Mix and match: Mixing and matching the pieces of your outfit can make packing a million times easier. The less items you need to pack the better, right? Now, I’m not saying pack one underwear or shirt and wear it for the entire duration of your trip, but planning your outfits around re-wearable accessories like shoes will make your packing lighter. I packed one pair of shoes that I need for liturgy on Sunday, and the rest of the time I will be wearing the shoes I’m traveling in, which is my maroon Vans.
  3. Know your itinerary: Knowing what activities you might be preparing in will help you know exactly what you need to pack. Since I knew I’d be attending a church service, for example, I knew I needed to pack a dress and nice shoes. This ensures that I won’t feel out of place or be uncomfortable in any situation presented to me while I’m away.
  4. Early preparation: Getting your packing done earlier instead of waiting till the last minute helps you ensure that you don’t forget anything while getting your things together. Like my issue with the pajamas, I would’ve been much more likely to forget them if I had packed after all of my classes instead of the night before.
  5. Check the weather: Checking the weather of your intended destination will help you pack clothes that you’ll be comfortable in. I knew the forecast for Connecticut this weekend predicted rain, so I made sure to pack my fave raincoat. Even if I’m not outside that much, I’d rather be over-prepared than under-prepared.
  6.  Layer: On the topic of climate, you may not know how it will be inside your destination. Sometimes it’s freezing cold, other times the heat is blasting. By planning out outfits that you can layer with, like a T-shirt and a sweatshirt or sweater, you make sure that you’re prepared for anything.
  7. Solve the puzzle: This might be both the hardest and funnest part. Packing is indeed a puzzle. You need to make the most of the space you have so you can pack as much as possible. The key to this is finding a way to condense your belongings as much as possible and then fit them together almost like Tetris. I tried to accomplish this for this particular trip by stuffing my pillow at the bottom of my suitcase and then packing everything on top of it. I rolled almost all of my clothes so that they would take up the least amount of space possible and could be stacked. Anything that I didn’t fold got placed on top of what was already there. My toiletries sat in any empty spaces. Don’t forget to take advantage of any zipped compartments your suitcase may have!

    packing-1
    A successfully solved puzzle… I think. The clothes I’m going to wear first are on top to make my life a little easier, too!

I’m super glad I got to have this experience with packing because I’m heading on a trip to Washington, D.C. in early November, and even though I’ll need to pack totally different items, this really taught me how to pack more efficiently. I hope you guys have some awesome trips coming up and can use these packing tricks to make your experience a little less stressful! Let me know about any cool adventures you’re taking and any packing stories, mishaps or tips you may have. Happy and safe travels, Tasters!

xx,

Toni

Email: tantilizinglytasteful@gmail.com

Twitter: @TTasteful

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Friday Finds: Pinterest + New Fitness Plan!!


No day is better than Friday. I don’t have classes on Fridays (ha!), so I usually spend my time sleeping late, going to the gym, and browsing social media. So, why not  peruse social media AND be productive by blogging about it?

Welcome to the first of (hopefully) many Friday Finds~

Basically, I’m just going to list a few cool things I found on the social media of my choice that I think you guys would enjoy. Please don’t forget to tell me what you think and share your Friday Finds with me!

OH and make sure to stick around till the end so you can take a peek at my new fitness plan 🙂

FRIDAY FINDS: Pinterest!

Pinterest is my source for information, motivation, inspiration and creation. I am highly addicted and love trying out the new ideas I find on there. Here are five pins that I’m loving this week:

1. Morning Yoga in Bed: Let’s be real, I am definitely a lazy girl. So if I can spend just a few more minutes in bed AND stretch at the same time, you can count me in! This awesome graphic, originally from Fit Girl’s Diary, demonstrates some easy yoga poses we can do to stretch and energize our bodies before even rolling out of bed. What’s not to love about that?

yoga-in-bed
Wish my bed looked this neat… Make sure to follow Fit Girl’s Diary on Pinterest, @fitgirlsdiary14!

2. Rainbow Smoothie: Yeah, this is pretty darn cool. Not only are these multi-color smoothies totally Insta-worthy, they’re also naturally good for you! Complete with fruits and veggies like bananas, mango, beets and spinach, this smoothie by The First Year will give you plenty of essential nutrients. Can’t wait to give this one a try!

rainbow-smoothie
If you try this super cool smoothie, make sure to let me know what you think! Check out more of The First Year’s recipes on Pinterest, @thefirstyear!

3. Work, Work, Work: This week has been a little rougher for me than others. I was so ready to jump right into my new plan and work to achieve some goals, but come Monday morning, I was feeling under the weather and dealing with some unwelcome drama. This little quote right here kept me going through the week. I didn’t miss a single gym day and kept eating well instead of giving in and saying, “Oh, I’m sick, I’ll just start over next week.” It’s all about mindset, and honestly, this image kept me in the right one all week. Thanks to skinny-healthyme.tumblr.com (now http://www.nutrifitblr.com/)  for the original post!

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Had this up on my computer all week… just saying. Repinned from @standouthealth

4. Dutch Sister Braid: I am always looking for new ways to wear my hair to the gym instead of resorting the the same old ponytail, especially since I go to the gym after/in between classes now. This super cute braid and pony combo from MakeupWearables is trendy and chic, but more importantly, practical. So excited to test this look out!

dutch-sister-braid
How can a hairstyle be so pretty, easy and practical all at the same time? Make sure to follow them on Pinterest, @makeupwearables!

5. SCARVES: Just because I’m adding some new content doesn’t mean I’m not still going to post about fashion! Yesterday was the first day of autumn, and I am so excited about the change in fashion that comes with the change in seasons. The layering, the boots, THE SCARVES!! Yes, I have a slightly unhealthy love of scarves. What I love about this look found on Wachabuy is that I can totally imagine myself wearing it and still being totally comfortable and practical. Most of my gym times these days are scheduled after or in between classes, so outfits like this that can transition from the classroom to the Arc Trainer are perfect for me. And a scarf makes it even better! Just gotta trade the Starbucks for my water bottle and the tote for my backpack…

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Lovin’ this outfit inspiration… Check out @wachabuy on Pinterest for more ideas!

 

If you all love Pinterest as much as I do, make sure to follow me and let me know what you’ve been loving and pinning!

And onto the next bit, here’s…

MY FALL 2016 FITNESS PLAN!!

So, after a lot of research and thought, I finally put together a plan for myself to follow on my journey to a healthier lifestyle. I compiled some (more) Pins I found and took my own schedule into account to decide how I should work out and when.

So without further adieu, here it is! (I color-coded it just for you guys:))

fitness-plan-fall-2016

My cardio usually consists of the Arc Trainer, which I set to “Women’s Weight Loss” mode. It gives me the option of “Hill Climb” and “Speed Bump” (I think), and I generally alternate between the two. Sometimes, I use the bicycle machine or go on a run instead,  but the Arc Trainer is my preferred method of exercise.

As far as my other workouts, basically all I did was pull ideas from the following three pins and combine them based on what I thought I could handle physically and what my schedule allowed.

exercise-circuit-schedule
This pin that I repinned from @POPSUGAR served as the basis for how much time and what body parts I exercise each day.
weekly workout circuit plan.jpg
This graphic from cocolifestyle.tumblr.com is the framework for what exercises I use to work out each body part. I ended up changing some of them a little bit based on what I can handle physically and what I can actually do in my dorm room (like I don’t have weights so I can’t do tricep extensions), but it’s definitely a good place to start.
30-day-abs-and-squats-challenge
I love challenges with particular outcomes in mind, so I definitely wanted to add this 30 day challenge from Fitness Republic so I could consistently work my problem areas.

So far, I’m really loving my new plan. I do my cardio at the campus rec center during the day, either after or in between classes, and then do my strength exercises when I get back to my room. I’ll go through one circuit, then do my sit-ups, then another circuit and crunches, then the last circuit and squats, and then I’ll end with the killer one minute plank. (Yes, I am weak and shake the entire time, but I’m working on it!) I won’t lie, it is pretty exhausting, but it’s totally worth it and my body already feels better. I also make sure to record everything I eat and every exercise I do in the MyFitnessPal app. It helps me keep track of my progress and everything I’m doing.

I hope that one of these pins or my new plan inspires you to try something new in your life, whether it be directly from something you see online or something you have to manipulate to fit your lifestyle better. Remember, we’re not cookie-cutter people, so not everything is going to work exactly the same for everyone. Don’t forget to let me know what you thought about these pins and what you’re working on at home! Until next time…

xx,

Toni

Email: tantilizinglytasteful@gmail.com

Twitter: @TTasteful

Instagram: @tantalizinglytasteful

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Rebranding Me: Beginning A Journey of Self-Discovery


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“Above all, remember to love yourself.”

My hair used to be brown, then it was brassy red, then the color of red wine, then a dark brown that really looked like black, and now it’s a combination of the four. It occurred to me around the time that I started dyeing my hair that I wasn’t really sure who I was. Sure, I had a vague idea of what I liked and disliked, but I began to realize that many of my “opinions” were actually just the regurgitated words and thoughts of friends and family. I had never consciously sat down and decided exactly what it was that Toni thought, admired or despised, I just repeated what I heard everyone else around me say.

The problem with me not knowing was that if I didn’t know who I was, no one else did either. I have friends that are so completely sure of who they are that you can describe them in a nutshell just minutes after meeting them. I, however, was not one of those people. I blurred the lines of fashion styles, personality, sense of humor. And so I decided, it was about time I defined myself.

I’ve struggled with self-esteem issues since my early teenage years. I was never pretty enough, never funny enough, never well-liked enough, etc. Throughout high school, I compared myself to my friends and classmates, and drove myself insane. I started college out pretty much the same way, until I got tired of that same old routine. I soon realized that the reason I was always so unhappy was that I was comparing myself to other individuals, each of whom was unique and beautiful in their own way. The issue with that is that I was not seeing any of those people in their own context, or even myself in my own context. In other words, I was failing to realize that what may work for one person in their life does not necessarily work for me in mine, and I was making myself unhappy.

That’s when I decided it was time to make a change. I didn’t want to feel lost or discouraged anymore. I wanted to find out who the real Toni was, imperfections and all. And this blog is the (ongoing) story of how I took my first real steps towards rebranding myself.

I’d like to give a shout-out to my mom. A few months ago, I decided I wanted to focus on my health– emotional, physical and mental. She suggested that, in order to keep myself motivated and accountable, I do what I do best and write about my journey. I’m really ready now to tackle this challenge head on. So here I am. Thanks, Mom, here’s to you.

This is just a little bit of background information to explain my blog’s new look and focus. My hope is to update the blog every few days with inspiration, ideas and plans. I hope that these posts will not only help me stay accountable and motivated, but that it will also help other people get out of their ruts and find out who they are.

 

Just a little motivation I found on Tumblr

 

To anyone reading this: We’re in this together. If there’s something you want to read or see from me, or something you want to share, let me know. I’ll leave my contact info below so you can reach me. If you put the work in, and you continue to love yourself, this journey will be worth your while. Best of luck to you. Looking forward to seeing your progress and mine.

xx,

Toni

Email: tantilizinglytasteful@gmail.com

Twitter: @TTasteful

Instagram: @tantalizinglytasteful

Pinterest: @TTasteful

Facebook: Tantalizingly Tasteful

Snapchat: @TTasteful