Category Archives: Lifestyle

Mardi Gras, Weekly Weigh-In, and An Update On My Goals

I suck at living in New Orleans at this time of year. I’d rather eat my calories than drink them (especially in open containers on Bourbon Street,) and I live in the Central Business District (two blocks from the French Quarter on the clean side.) I didn’t grow up here, and while I have grown to love New Orleans, I cannot stand Mardi Gras. (My favorite Mardi Gras hashtag is one that I created, #GetOffMyLawn, which is funny because I don’t have a lawn.)

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This is what the traffic looks like from my rooftop. It’s typically slow moving until after midnight when the parades clear out.

The traffic flowing through downtown makes it impossible to enter my parking garage without driving the wrong way down a side street, and people come here from around the world to act like drunken lunatics. I’m all for having a good time, but I draw the line before naked people enact sex scenes on my sidewalk. (Yes, that actually happens…every year.)

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On a brighter note, it is easy to buy big hats, plastic swords, and over-sized beads while waiting to get home!

The revelry ends at midnight, at which time many of the locals begin observing Lent. (Did you know that the purpose of Mardi Gras is to get all of the partying out before the 40 days?) I’m not Catholic, but I have looked forward to the end of Mardi Gras every year since I moving here in 2012.

Many of my friends make goals and dedications during this time, and I think I can use this time frame to do something good for myself. My goal for the next 40 days is to exercise at least four times a week. For a long time that was something that I accomplished without much effort, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been consistent in my workouts.

I’ve seen positive results from taking control of what I consume. I have not had a doughnut since late September, and at this point I am no longer craving them. I quit drinking sodas almost six years ago, and throughout the last several years I have gone from no longer craving soft drinks to thinking they’re disgusting. It feels like doughnuts could become equally disgusting to me. I suppose time will tell. I also saw good results on the scale when I refrained from eating desserts for 21 days in January.

Now I’m expanding my focus to include breaking out of this cycle of lethargy that I’ve been in. I used to live for a good endorphin rush, but it took effort to get to that point. I’m ready to feel that way again.

I’m down another 2.2 pounds this week, which means that I’ve lost over 12 pounds since the beginning of the year. The losses aren’t huge, but if they stay consistent, I’ll be pleased with that.

Does anyone here dedicate anything for Lent? If so, what’s your plan?

Fifty Shades of Grey

I read all three books in the Fifty Shades of Grey series, and I have been looking forward to watching the movie since before it was in production. Sure, I was underwhelmed by the lack of a tangible story line and the poor writing, especially when author tried to convince us that Ana and her roommate sat around their Seattle apartment drinking tea instead of coffee, but I enjoyed the first book enough to read the others.

I didn’t come to any harsh conclusions after reading the books when they came out, nor did I think that the sex was particularly steamy. The main female character was clearly inexperienced and naive, while Christian was successful, arrogant, and broken.

There’s something appealing about a sexy billionaire whose heart needs to be mended. We suspend reality to get to the happy endings, so why should Fifty Shades be any different? It’s not real; I’m not actually participating in abuse to watch this movie, and when it’s over I’m going to go back to the apartment that I live in alone. What’s the big deal? (I’ve been trying to honestly answer this question all week.)

The issue for me is that this kind of relationship leads to a path of devastation that I never want to experience. It is not sexy to me to think of a young, inexperienced woman who is manipulated and abused by a controlling man. It’s not romantic, and it’s definitely not GOD-approved.

When I read the books I was in a different head space. I wasn’t thinking about what GOD thought of my actions; I didn’t care about moving into a closer relationship with Him. I also neglected to see the implications of unhealthy relationships like these. I definitely should have known better.

I won’t be seeing this movie today or any other day. It’s not because I think I’m too holy for it; it’s because I think I’m too good for it. It’s because I only make room for people and things in my life that breed love, respect, and growth. I face real challenges, and watching watered down, R-rated pornography, while undoubtedly eating too much buttery popcorn, won’t help me conquer any of them.

I have friends who will see the movie, but I’m choosing not to. I won’t judge them for it, but I also won’t ask them about it. The truth is that my initial desire to watch this movie has caused me to look at other things that I watch, and I recognize that it’s time to make some changes in other areas as well.

Until then…

An Update On My January Goals and More…

I can’t believe it’s already February, but I’m happy to report that I accomplished the goals I set for January. One goal was to refrain from all desserts/sweets for 21 days, and I did it. Sugar is like air to me, at least it feels that way sometimes, but I didn’t cave. I used the times in which I craved desserts to pray and to read my Bible. It may sound silly to some, but I drew closer to God during that time. It was awesome. I felt so empowered by my actions that I’ll make a similar goal for February.

I accomplished another goal as well; I lost 10 pounds in the month of January. I may have lost a little more than that because I reached the goal last week. I won’t step on the scale again until next Monday. I can’t express how awesome it feels to be moving in the right direction, and it feels good to have several weeks of control under my belt. My doughnut-free streak continues as well, and I need to buy new jeans as a result. I love that.

Dad arrived in New Orleans today, and I’m so happy that he will be spending the week with me. I had planned to go and see him during Mardi Gras, but I’m so happy that he’s here instead!

He met me at Starbucks because I was there most of the afternoon. The weather was nice enough to sit through a conference call outside, but it quickly turned cool. I tutored at City Greens, a farm-to-table restaurant next door, ate fruit, drank too much coffee and lots of water, and waited for him to arrive.

Eating fruit and drinking sparkling water always feels indulgent. I love that it's satisfying and positive for my health.

Eating fruit and drinking sparkling water always feels indulgent. I love that it’s satisfying and positive for my health.

I haven’t seen him since April. (I seriously refuse to go that long without seeing him again.) We went to Ulta, where we found some makeup deals. (“We” being me, but thanks for being a good sport, Dad! Ha)  I got two Laura Geller sets that included two bottles of primer, two foundation powders, two brushes, mascara, blush and brightener, and concealer. The bottle of concealer typically costs more than the entire package, which made it feel like a no-brainer.

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After that we went to dinner at one of my favorite spots, then dropped my car off for an oil change at the dealership. (That worked out well because he won’t have to pay $49 a night to park, which is what they raise the prices to when events like Mardi Gras are about to happen.)

Dad was exhausted after his day of travel, so I finished up my work for the day while he went to sleep. I typically do not allow myself to bring my laptop to bed, but I made an exception tonight.

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It was a productive day, and I got a lot accomplished tonight as well. Now it’s time to get some sleep because I plan to enjoy as much time with Dad as I can. Most other things will be secondary this week.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to make buttermilk biscuits, eggs, and bacon for Dad and friends, and I’m so happy that he will be seeing and meeting people who mean so much to me.

If you live far from your family, you know how it feels. I’m just so glad he’s here…

Until later….

 

 

Embracing My Selfie, Or Why I Take Lots of Pictures of Myself

I’ve been taking selfies since before they had a name. I avoided the camera for years, but at some point on my journey through life, it became common for me to snap photos of myself.

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Last week I got to spend time with a long time blog friend, Cathy, who was in New Orleans visiting for a conference. When she told me about her upcoming trip, we knew we’d meet up, and we did. We met at Cafe Dumonde, where I resisted beignets. (Yay for me!) We also walked around Jackson Square, which is the prettiest part of the French Quarter in my opinion.

This woman has been my friend since at least 2010. The moment I saw her, it was like seeing someone that I hadn't seen in ages!

This woman has been my friend since at least 2010. The moment I saw her, it was like seeing someone that I hadn’t seen in ages!

As we walked down Royal St, we stopped at CVS to pick up a few things, and I found a selfie stick! I obviously bought it on the spot, and it’s the best $10 I’ve spent in a while. I haven’t used it to take any selfies because doing that would be ridiculous, but I’ve been in some hilarious group photos that wouldn’t have been possible without my Mono Pod de Narcissism.

I’m surrounded by an uplifting group of friends, many of whom take selfies, with exception of a few because they’re too narcissistic, and I understand that. I really do, and even though I kind of agree, I look at it from a different perspective.

There was a time when I hated myself so much that i avoided mirrors at all costs. I looked at myself long enough to style my hair and apply makeup, but I was mortified when I caught my reflection in store windows. I hated the way I looked in photos. I still took them, but I didn’t post them online because of my shame. For years the only photo that I had one Facebook was a picture of my hair blowing in the wind while driving with the top down. I didn’t want to be seen by others, nor did I want to take a look at myself either.

Sometimes I take full body photos to send to Ariel, so she can say yes to the outfit or no.

Sometimes I take full body photos to send to Ariel, so she can say yes to the outfit or no.

Now, years later, I’m still not skinny, but I love myself. I’m not pleased with myself for still having so much weight to lose, but I love myself. I haven’t accomplished every goal that I set yet, but I love myself. (You get the idea, right?)

Full body Selfie Lane Bryant

I also think that it’s okay to wear horizontal stripes even though I always hear that I shouldn’t. Whatever, folks. I’m doing it.

Sometimes when I take a selfie, I’m reminded of how much work I have to do. It’s also hard to accept the fact that I could have done so much more over the last few years. Those thoughts are important to face because it has helped me make better decisions over the last few months – decisions that bring me closer to my goal.

Gym Selfie

I was frustrated seeing myself in the giant gym mirrors when I took this around the holidays because I should be smaller now, then I remembered that I was in the gym doing something good for myself. I like capturing those moments.

Some days I post selfies because I want to hear that I’m cute, pretty, etc., and when that happens I admit it with proper hashtags. #PAYATTENTIONTOME

See? I have some pretty uplifting friends who encourage me when I need it.

See? I have some pretty uplifting friends who encourage me when I need it.

And some days (many lately) I take selfies because I feel pretty. I’ve been using a few products on my face since Christmas, and the result is that my makeup is still mostly in tact even after singing (sweating guts out) on Sunday morning. (Thank you, Smashsbox Photo Finish!)

Kenlie Naps

I took this selfie last week right before I took a long afternoon nap on my sofa. Sundays start early for me, so sometimes I nap.

Some people find success, at least temporarily, by tearing themselves down. I feel successful when I see myself and love the person that I see.

I have a lot to accomplish, and I’m happy to say that I’ve lost week for the last five weeks in a row. It may not sound like much, but I’m experiencing more consistency in my food choices than I have in a long time. I haven’t had a doughnut since September, and I haven’t indulged in any desserts in over two weeks.

I’m feeling good about my tiny steps in the right direction, and the selfies will continue to be a small representation of that. They might also lead to encouragement from people who care on days that I need that too.

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How do you feel about selfies? Are they good? Bad? Do you care either way?

 

 

Wish List 2015

I know that Christmas is over. I also know that it makes more sense to post wish lists before Christmas, but I didn’t make a list this year. I received some really thoughtful gifts, and I loved each happy little surprise. I have everything I need, but as a girl who loves to shop, it’s fun to daydream about these little things that I think are awesome.

– I am in love with this Urban Decay Naked On the Run palette. My mom gave me the original Naked palette for Christmas, and I use it everyday. I lust after this one too every time I’m at Ulta or Sephora. It’s only available “for a limited time.” Who knows how long that is?

Urban Decay Naked on the Run

– And while we’re on the topic of makeup, I want this mini Urban Decay Naked Basics 2 Palette too. It’s inexpensive, and I like the idea of keeping it in my bag with Naked On the Go so I’m always ready..

Urban Decay naked Basics 2

– I’d also love a new pair of Ugg Slippers. I have two pairs now, but one is on its way out. I’ve had that pair since Christmas of 2009, so I’d say I certainly got a lot of wear out of them. The draw to the ones that I want right now, the Ugg Dakota Slipper, is that they have rubber soles that I could wear when I need to walk down to my building’s lobby and stuff.

Ugg Slippers

I can’t decide if I want them in Espresso or Pewter, which is okay since I’m not buying them at this point anyway. (Is it selfish to want all the colors? Ha)  I wanted them for Christmas until I realized that I needed them in a size 10. I usually wear a 9, but whatever. Mom and I agreed that they made my feet look bigger than usual, but I want them anyway.

I’m so thankful that I have everything I need. I just think it would be fun to list things that I’d like to own in 2015. Do you own any of them? Do you love them?

 

End of the Year Reflection

Each year, as it comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the last twelve months, and this year is no different. I was wasting time on Facebook last week when I decided to join everyone else in a Facebook contrived review of my year, and according to Facebook I was completely lame. If you’re on Facebook, you’re probably familiar with the little slideshow of photos that the site puts together for you. Mine showed a salad, a few silly photos with friends and nothing at all that I would consider noteworthy. The truth is that some of the coolest moments of 2014 didn’t make it to Facebook.

Even though Facebook might disagree, I did some cool things this year. I met my newest niece (actually I met her last Christmas, and I saw her again in April when I visited Colorado.)  I celebrated Hannah’s 5th birthday with my family in CO, and I can’t wait to head that way again soon. It’s been way too long for Auntie!

I spoke at an airline conference in Washington, D.C., and I met with executives from several major airlines in order to promote positive change within corporations that have the power to turn the tide.

JetBlue

I accidentally reconnected with an old friend for a day in front of the White House. I was able to hug her, apologize to her for the things that I did wrong and enjoy an afternoon of sightseeing with her. It was completely random, and I am thankful that it happened that way.

Kenlie White House

I took on a more active role as a worship leader at NOLA Church, and my voice and skills have grown. My relationship with Jesus has grown too. I also hosted a pretty cool small group in which I made a new and awesome friend.

Kenlie NOLA Church

I was given the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe and perfected it.

I watched countless Christmas movies with Mom throughout the year.

I helped a few kids gain confidence in their abilities to succeed in school.

I went to Fitbloggin for the fourth year in a row in Savannah, GA and connected with friends who didn’t allow me to feel out of place (even though I did for the first time.)

Mission Meltdown Epic Selfie

I dined at the newest, hottest restaurants in New Orleans with friends and private jet pilots. (They didn’t offer to fly me anywhere though. Ha.)

I bought a new car.

I became a Starbucks gold card member.

I saw George Strait and Reba perform live with Clint before he moved to Chicago.

I visited Oklahoma and spent several days with Dad while it was about 3 degrees outside.

I went to my first New York Mets game at Citi Field. (I’m still a Yankees fan, but this was a pretty stellar way to spend my birthday.)

New York Mets

I got closer to finishing my degree at Tulane.

I survived heartbreak and salvaged a relationship that meant a lot to me.

I cultivated relationships with friends and made some new ones as well.

Kenlie and Friends

I went out on some dates with interesting guys, though I didn’t meet the Future Mr. Kenlie. Ha I did get to watch my close friends say “I do,” which was pretty amazing. I’ve never been happier to see anyone marry.

French Quarter Wedding
Overall I guess my year was relatively routine and low key. It definitely had some ups and downs, but I can’t tell you how cool it is to feel like I have roots somewhere. I doubt I’ll stay in New Orleans forever, but I’m happy here now.

I’m thankful that I’ve lived in the same place for a couple of years, and I’m looking forward to living in the same place for even longer. I like my location, my neighbors, my view and my surroundings.

After a few tumultuous and/or eventful years, it’s okay to look back on 2012 as quiet and satisfying. Maybe I’ll do something more exciting in 2015, or maybe I’ll just kick back and enjoy my quiet, friends and family filled life.

Here’s to a bright 2015 for all of us…

 

Facing the Fat

I’ve experienced some ups and downs since my last post, but I recognize what I have to do in order to be happy with myself. I’m still lacking motivation to exercise, but I’m doing it anyway. I know that if I keep trudging through that I’ll be glad I did.

I spent most of the weekend at Mom’s house, and I saw family and friends that I don’t get to see everyday, and it highlighted how different I look and feel than I did last year.

Mom has dropped over 50 pounds since February, and our family friend, Linda, has dropped 50 pounds as well. I gained about that much, but they weren’t judgmental because they understand how tough it is.

I know that I have an opportunity to change what I don’t like about myself. I know that I don’t have to choose between being physically healthy and emotionally healthy, and I’m working on improving physically right now because I’ve come so far emotionally over the last couple of years.

I’m eating more vegetables, drinking fewer sugary drinks and dragging myself to the gym. I know that eventually I’ll get back to the place in which I crave the endorphin rush, and I hope it happens soon because I’m tired of feeling like this.

As we close out 2014, I’m holding onto hope that I’ll feel different by this time next year…

 

 

 

Adding More Goals to the List

Am I the only one who finds it hard to believe that it’s already December? It feels as though this year has flown by, but I’m okay with it being over. I’ve had some great moments, but this year has also come with some stress and disappointment (in love and within myself.)

I didn’t gain all of my weight back, but I’ve gained enough back that I no longer feel confident in my abilities. I’ve already shared that I feel like a failure in this area, and it’s still true.

I remember a time when I felt like a weight-loss champion. I also remember a time when fruits and veggies were a priority in my daily life, but they have once again been replaced by unhealthy, sugary alternatives.

When I was experiencing success before I was doing some key things that I’m not doing now: exercise and food journaling, and I was doing both consistently. (I’m sure that none of us are surprised that I saw good results.)

I’ve grown a lot spiritually, and I’m a much better person than I was several years ago. Life is better than it has been in a very long time (even when stressors pop up.) I’m happy with my life right now, but I’m not happy with my weight. It’s hard to explain that, but I’ve tried in numerous blog posts.

After having success recently when I eliminated sugary drinks and doughnuts, I’ve decided that I’m going to continue refraining from doughnuts. I haven’t had one since mid-September, and after months of overindulgence, it feels good to say no. I’ve been more careless with sugary drinks at Starbucks, but that ends now too. I can enjoy regular coffee, but I’m not going to allow myself to fall back into a routine of daily hot chocolates or caramel macchiatos.

I’ve also added tracking back into my routine, and I’m going to do it daily for the next 30 days. It’s an effective way to make sure that I’m eating what I should be eating, and I’m going to let go of the regret that I have due to my lack of faithful tracking until now. I’m going to focus on cardio 4 days a week too.

I’m completely different than I was when I tried this before. I barely even remember the person that I was. I’ve spent so much time looking at the way I lost in the past that I’ve overlooked who I am now. I’m going to start telling myself that I can do this and challenge myself to take steps in the right direction.

 

 

Crafty Kenlie

I’ve been quiet here over the last few weeks, but I’ve been blogging in other places. I wrote a post about Old Navy on the PlusInc blog, and I wrote an article about my love for Richard Simmons on DietsinReview.com. Last week the Today Show talked about Richard, and a friend sent me this photo from the segment. I had never seen it, but I remember that day. It made me smile, and I want to wish Richard every happiness. I’m praying for his healing too.

Richard Simmons Today Show and Kenlie

The month started with a bit of stress, but most of it has subsided. Now I’m in holiday mode, and I cannot wait to finish decorating for Christmas. I’ve been baking cookies, which is something that I do at this time of year. (I’ll share some photos soon.)

I’ve also been making wreaths. I sold a few last week, which is great because it means that I get to make more wreaths. I’ve been knitting too, which is also good because it keeps my hands busy.

Crafting has always been a pretty big part of my life, but lately I’ve been reminded of how much I love it! Cookie art aside, crafting keeps me from mindlessly snacking, which is a double-win.

Christmas Deco Mesh Wreath

red and silver deco mesh wreath

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Thanksgiving is almost here. The end of the semester will be here before I know it, and that means that I have to manage my time well so that I’m not stressing over exams and papers two weeks from now.

Happy (almost) holidays!

Changing My Mindset

Right now my head hurts, and I feel a little achy. I’m not officially sick, but I feel like whining. I’m tired even though I shouldn’t be. I’m stressed even though I know that stress typically passes. I’m just don’t feel great. I don’t feel like myself. Instead I feel like crawling under the blankets in my bed and watching Christmas movies until it’s an acceptable time to sleep. (Okay, the Christmas part sounds like me, but  the watching TV in bed is definitely not normal in my world.)

I’m not at home because I had class today, which was followed by a tutoring session and church. (Once a month we have a service on Wednesday evenings,) and now I’m planning to meet someone for coffee. It has been a busy afternoon and evening, and I’m looking forward to sleeping.

I’ve been thinking about what I could do to improve my health between now and the end of the year. I feel like the sugar thing is under control now more than it has been in a long time, and someone who knows me made a statement earlier today that resonated with me. We were talking about adding more goals that would help me get a better grip on my health, and I’ve been thinking about his response a lot this evening.

He said, “You were really great at it when it was a priority.”

We all know that it’s true. There was a time in which I felt like I had it figured out, and now it’s embarrassing to admit that I didn’t have whatever was necessary to keep it up. I think about my failures a lot, and for a long time, I’ve used them as an excuse to refrain from trying.

The last six weeks or so have been better. I’m eating less sugary crap, but I’m not exercising much. I did a 10k with a friend one day last week, and I walked a few times in the month before that. It’s just not enough. It’s a decent start, but I want that feeling that I used to have when I knew I’d workout everyday.

I want the endorphin rush, and I want to feel the consistency that I felt exercise even when I wasn’t eating as well as I should. I’m seeing the numbers decrease just a little, and I know that if I add some exercise back into my daily routine, I’ll see those little sacrifices add up to a lot of success.

My mindset needs to change. I’ve been lazy in fitness most of this year, but that’s something that I can change right now. I don’t even have to leave home to sweat it out. I have several awesome workout DVD’s, several flights of stairs and a gym at the top of my building. What else do I need? Motivation? Inspiration? Willingness?

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, but I think I need to spend time doing it (and figuring the rest out later if I still think it matters.)

I need to change my mindset. I’m careful not to “fake it ’til I make it” because that attitude has gotten me into trouble in the past, but in this case, I’m pretty sure that it’s okay.

My weight and health hasn’t been a priority in a long time, but I’ve (successfully) trying to shift that lately. I will remind myself that I’m not going to miss anything important by heading out an hour later than normal. Actually, I’ll be using that time to do something important – to better myself. Few things are more important than our health, and it’s time to adjust my priorities.

It’s not Monday or the first day of the month. This day carries no particular significance, but it’s the day that I can decide to do something good for myself. It’s a day that I get to live without pain or illness. It’s a day in which I get to breathe and enjoy my life, and I’m going to respect that gift by doing something good with it.