I Joined Weight Watchers, so Here’s What’s Next!

Making healthy eating choices is the story of my life! I struggle so hard to eat right even though I know everything there is to it. I know what has proven to help me lose weight. I know the foods that make me feel bad. I know what foods are high in antioxidants, alkaline, good for my blood type, my particular metabolism, you name it, I know it! But… I STILL struggle to make the right choices that will keep me on a losing weight path whether it be to quickly lose the weight *cough cough* Keto and Quick Weight Loss Centers or simply counting calories- which is the slower route but better in the long run to keep it off.

Here is why I think counting calories is better. I have shared before how I have done Quick Weight Loss Centers program which worked. I lost over 30 pounds. Once I stopped following the plan, the weight quickly came back on. Then, I tried the beloved keto diet. That worked like a charm with intermittent fasting. I lost right at 30 pounds. Went on vacation last summer and got off plan. And…once the school year started, I began stress eating and oh my goodness the weight came back worse. Got on the scale I was up 20 pounds before I knew it. Basically, every time I have tried the quick route, the weight falls off but quickly comes back when I stop following the strict rules. And sometimes, in the case of QWLC I would be hungry. I was eating very little food; of course, I was going to lose weight.

My weight is something I have battled majority of my life. But being a mom now, I need to have an out pour of energy because my toddler is extra busy, and I really want to enjoy her.

Well to help a sista out, I joined Weight Watchers. I have been admiring Oprah eating whatever she wants and staying slim and all these other folks on her commercials. Plus, one of my great friends is a WW success story. So, I figured I paid Quick Weight Loss tons of money, why not try WW which is much less. I went to my first meeting, it went well. Then, I went to the second meeting, lost 5+ pounds my first week. THEN… I stopped tracking my points and eating whatever. That lasted for 2 weeks. The following Monday, I started tracking again, by Wednesday I fell off the wagon. Tried it again the next Monday. Lost 2+ pounds that week. So a total of about 8 pounds lost in a month. Not bad, right?

Yet, I was like this is taking too long. I want results now. I called my sister and told her I am starting Keto the upcoming week. Like that was going to keep me accountable. That lasted all of 5 days, if that. Meanwhile, my friend that has done WW before, she had gained a few pounds during the school year and started when I did in May to lose what she gained. Fast forward to today, she is steadily going down with the program! She may not always lose a pound a week, but she loses at least half a pound (which is what WW indicates, anywhere from .5-2lbs a week). Girl is down over 10 pounds. She is so faithful, and has a beautiful regimen that is so simple that I must get down to doing. However in the meantime, I am going to stick to tracking my points for now. Monday began week 1 for my restart, it’s ok if you are laughing at this point. I have restarted so many times in the past two months. Can’t help but laugh at myself. With that said, I have been on track since Monday. I track everything I eat, even down to butter. My friend doesn’t track that intensely. Perhaps one day I will get there. I did not weigh myself Monday as I refuse to get on the scale anymore. Yet, I will be attending the meeting this upcoming Saturday. Saturdays are my weigh in days. Fingers crossed for some rapid weight loss from a few weeks ago because I know I have probably gained during the time I was not tracking and eating whatever. But even with no weight loss or gain, I am going to press forward, and do better for the week after that.

I am sharing all of this to say that I have started an Instagram account just for this. I figured by putting it out there in a private IG account I may be able to keep myself accountable and on track towards a healthy weight. If you would like to follow along and provide health suggestions please follow me @dmstrivingforhealthy.

Apple Cider Juice. Recipe on my Instagram @dmstrivesforhealthy.

To all of you out there that understand this struggle, we are in this together. You can do this! I can do this! It is really just about making up your mind that you are going to cut out bad habits. There are so many people losing weight with WW, keto, counting calories, Whole 30, yoga, drinking a gallon of water a day, the blood type diet. Whichever of these float your boat, do it. The goal is to be healthy. My friend always shares how she wants to look good besides her kids when they take grad, wedding pics, and other milestone moments of their lives, and she is so right. I do not want my little one remembering me obese, out of breath, and looking plump beside her in those future photos. She loves me however I look, but I want to be my best self for her. And weight loss is not a race. With steady consistency in eating habits and incorporating more movement, we’ll get there. Most importantly, it takes loving the version of yourself you are now, and realizing that you will feel so much better as a lighter you. If you truly love thyself, you will do what it takes to heal and be a healthier you. I love being plus size. But this tummy has to go! We can’t be friends anymore. It aint’t cute, for one, and two, it is very unhealthy. I can write a list of reasons why having a midsection is unhealthy, but that is another post.

Lastly, look forward to challenges that I will be doing. Feel free to join in and share how you are doing as we progress. As being week 1, I just wanted to get started again with making better choices. Next week, I will implement a small challenge that will hopefully become a habit. I will share those on the blog as well as Instagram.

Best wishes to you all, Jewels and Gents! And to those of you who are already on a weight loss journey or in maintenance mode, feel free to share your success! I love recipe and workout ideas.

Cheers to healthy habits! Don’t forget to follow @dmstrivingforhealthy!

Beauty Product Review: Belif’s True Cream Aqua Bomb Moisturizer

If you’re experiencing summer as I have, then your summer truly started in May. That’s right. Here in the south things warm up a lot faster. We didn’t have to wait until June 21st to celebrate the first day of summer. She was already here sizzling us with her shiny bright hot rays a month in advance.

As we move into the hotter months, our skin care regimen must change. While summer was creeping up on us, I decided to try the moisturizer everyone was raving about. I had ran out Philosophy’s Hope in a Jar moisturizer, so I figured I had nothing to lose by trying something new. This new product just did not compare to the wonders of Hope in a Jar.

Before I give Belif’s True Cream Aqua Bomb a thumbs down, I must say it does hydrate pretty well. But, that’s about it. It did nothing more than that. My skin felt moisturized; however, the antioxidant fighting agents that were present in Philosophy’s Hope in a Jar were not there. Within a week of using the product, I could tell a difference in my skin. I had a few blemishes, and as Summer cranked her heat up, I had to use a tad bit more product as some areas of my face were intensively dry and flaky.

Hence, the verdict on this product is perhaps it is a great moisturizer for the cooler months of the year where you will not have to apply as much to be satisfied. Also, to get the most bang out of your buck, I do not see the point in paying just about the same price as Hope in a Jar for a product that does not deliver nearly the same results. If your goal is just to place a moisturizer on your face daily after cleansing I would go for a drug store product that is cheaper. On the contrary, if you’re like me and you are working on your Halle Berry now, ensuring you age well with time, use a product that many love such as Hope in a Jar that I can contest to be great with keeping away blemishes, anti-aging and wrinkles, and being the ultimate hope in a jar that you can find at your local Ulta or Sephora.

Now, I must share that I have been testing out a lot of new beauty products lately. When I run out, which was the case with Belif, that is when I will share my results on how well the product worked. With that being said, I have switched from Philosophy altogether to Aveeno. Many people kept sharing with me their success with Aveeno. That made me really want to try it. Thus, info on Aveeno’s products coming soon.

Hope this review was helpful and insightful. I have used the entire jar of Belif. It took about two months to do so. Perhaps it didn’t deliver with the results for me and some of you may have better outcomes. My Belif was purchased at Sephora for $22 for the 25ml container. The standard size is $38 for 50ml of the product. On the other hand, a standard size version of Hope in a Jar is $39. Both products are very much loved by users. And this is not to say I am done with Belif, I do want to try their other moisturizer which may be more suitable for my skin. Whichever way the cookie crumbles, I’ll be sure to share.

Until then, cheers to well moisturized skin, Jewels!

The Lash Depot Store Review

From the first glance, you knew they were meant to be. It is something about them that makes everyone rave over them. Yes, lashes! They are the beauty enhancer you want in your everyday look. When your lashes are on point, you really do not need anymore makeup. Well, a little lip color and you are poppin!

Lash extensions are one of the biggest things in makeup right now. Everyone is wearing them.

I must say that the few times I have worn lashes, I felt beautified. I know many women can agree, and that is why so many ladies wear lashes on the every day basis or even have individual lashes put on that last a few weeks. My eyes look dreamy with the lashes. The lashes are definitely an appealing piece to have on. So, if you have not tried lash extensions or you are looking for the latest in lashes read on.

The Lash Depot sent me a few sets of their Boss Lady lashes to try out. I was really excited to receive them and could not wait to try them. Of course, I did not wear them until I wanted to have that extra glitz of glamour. I did my makeup as usual, very basic day-to-day wear, then I added the lashes. There was a major difference between my mascara and the lashes. I truly took on the look of a boss.

The Boss Lady lashes by The Lash Depot are mink lashes. They are well packaged, and they are of great quality. The lashes are packed with an eyelash wand. I have worn the same set twice with no problems. I use the duo lash glue as an adhesive. The lashes do not come off until I pull them off. And for someone that does not wear lashes consistently, the Boss Lady lashes were very comfortable, hardly remembered I had them on.

I truly recommend this product. I am a beauty lover, and I believe in buying quality beauty products. These lashes are surely one I will add to my stash of makeup. Even for the ladies that are like myself, you may not wear lashes except for special occasions, the lashes carried at The Lash Depot are great to have on hand for those moments.

A great feature about The Lash Depot is that they are wholesalers. So, for those of you that are looking to rack up or add something new to your lash inventory, try THE LASH DEPOT! And if you just want lashes for yourself, check out their monthly subscriptions. There is something for everyone at The Lash Depot!

Thank you Lash Depot for sending me your lashes! When I want to have my ultra bossed-up look, I will wear my Boss Lady lashes.

Check out the Lash Depot at http://thelashdepot.com/ and Instagram, @thelashdepotstore, for all of their offers. Plus, receive 15% off your first order. Use the code NEWLASH!

Happy lash wearing, Jewels!

Build Yourself This 2019


“I am the sparkle in the gold.
I AM AMAZING!”
Donna Marie

The newness it brings, along with cheerfulness we sing, it’s a delightful thing. That’s the optimism that comes with the New Year. We excitedly bring it in, with hopes of achieving what last year did not win. But, this is not the time for any more excuses. This is the time for us all to embrace the hope the New Year has given us. 

For this reason, you have to accept the challenge that has been granted you, life. And you were only given one. So this year marks the start of completing those New Year resolutions. While failed attempts may spring about, you cannot give up. This is your year to achieve the unbelievable. Will it require hard work, and take you out of your comfort zone? Yes, but it will be worth it. Those nights you go down with the moon and wake with the rising sun, will all be for the good of accomplishing the life you have always wanted.  

This 2019, embark on creating the life you have seen yourself having. No more dreaming, time for your dreams to come to life. Walk in the path you have always known was meant for you. This is your year. There isn’t a more prominent time than now, to be in love with yourself enough that you give your dreams a chance to come alive.

There is nothing like waking up knowing that you are going to strive toward your greatness that day. Because too often, we drag ourselves out of bed to fulfill the dreams of someone else. But, it never has to be that way again.

You have the power within you to make greatness occur in your life. There are two simple steps to make this happen: believe in yourself and getting started. Once, you believe that you can possibly do it, you’re ready to take the first step. And then, you are on your way!

Last year, I learned just what it meant to step out of my own way and work towards my goals. And that was just one tiny step towards the big picture I envision of myself.

Jewels, if you do not have any goals this year other than surviving, I encourage you to build on the gift you have and elevate yourself. You deserve it.

Happy New Year, Jewels! Be You!

My Upcoming Book “That’s Me”

What I thought would be a simple project, turned into my new baby that became a long adventure. And honestly, as things get checked off of the to do list, I still feel as though I am embarking the beginning of this journey.

Thats me Banner

This new baby is my children’s book That’s Me. The illustrator, Sian Paulin, and I have spent several months perfecting this book, along with the support of a few others. It brings so much excitement to see how the words I wrote have unfolded into pictures and now an actual book.

Doll Girl Sketch
One of the sketches that has transformed.

While I have written many other works of literature, this one was important to me that I publish first. The inspiration that ties into the underlining purpose of writing this book is so dear to me. I will gladly share those details later. But of course, it apparently has to do with girls.

That’s Me while I hope it reaches the hearts of young girls, I also hope that it will touch the little girl that is inside of us women, too. And for those that have had the opportunity to read and give feedback on the book, they agree that it inspires them as an adult.

At this point, the world it literally a few weeks away from reading That’s Me, a lyrical book that inspires girls and women around the world to be true to who they are and follow their hearts’ desires.

That is Me Cover8.5x11

You may visit my author page DonnaMarieLeonard.com to gather more details on the book and events. Can’t wait to share the excitement with all of you, Jewels!

The Keto Diet: Does it Really Work?

Ever since I can remember, I have always sought out the next diet fad. One may work for a little while, eat wrong and you gain every bit of what you lost back. Or worse, it is not healthy or doctor approved. But mostly, diets are extremely difficult because we are not eating enjoyable food. Essentially, that is truly what it is.

Well, just to give a little bit of history. I can recall doing Tae Bo with my sister after she had my niece to attempt to lose weight, to tell you how long ago that was my niece is now in college. She lost weight, I gained. I have tried cutting out all the white foods, that lasted for a few days, and I lost nothing. How about joining the gym in December in hopes of actually going through with my tenth year in a row New Year’s resolution. EPIC FAIL! Nothing has worked. Atkins, personal trainer, gym for two weeks then off, Miami Beach Diet, going vegetarian for a while, drinking a gallon of water a day. None of these fads work. And this is not to say that they don’t. Perhaps they just don’t work for me.

I have been successful with Quick Weight Loss Centers; however, if you cheat, or not even eat all of your food, you will gain, or your weight will stall. And when this happens you have to eat dissatisfying foods to get back to losing. By the way, the food was not bad, it is just that I was always hungry. And bonus, you could only eat their snacks. That got pretty expensive, pretty fast.

Fried Bacon and Cabbage
Bacon Fried Cabbage, yum!

So, I was left thinking that I should just accept being fat. Earlier this year, my cousin introduced me to the Keto Diet. Bacon? What? That sounds so unhealthy. But when I saw the weight dropping from her body, I was like healthy or not, I have to give this a try.

Well fast forward to now, I have lost over thirty pounds, I have a ton of energy, and I feel great! I could have never said that with Quick Weight Loss. I was tired and hungry. With keto you are full off of the healthy fats you are consuming, which has allowed me to fast up to thirty-seven hours. One day I hope to reach seventy-two hours. But the point is, KETO WORKS!

Keto is not a diet where you can just say don’t eat this, eat that. Well kind of. Yet, it requires a lot of knowledge. This is especially so if you are anything like I was, keto is so unhealthy. You do not have to eat bacon. And healthy fats are not the same as McDonald’s.

While I would love to post a before and after picture, I am completely embarrassed at this time. But all of my family and friends that have seen me recently see a major difference. Post baby, I am down over fifty pounds. In clothing, I have gone from a size 18 to some 12s but comfortably and loosely size 14 clothing. All in all, I feel so much better. And the biggest component to my desire to lose weight is to have the ability to keep up with my outgoing daughter. I could be much smaller if I had not enjoyed my summer vacation as much as I did the last month of summer, but what the heck. My body paid for it. I surely was not feeling my best and drained.

Well…What is keto? Keto is a high fat, low carb diet. Essentially, you will want to calculate your macros. Simply google “macros calculator” and follow the directions from there. As far as carbs, it depends on who you talk to. I see weight changes as long as I do not eat over 27g of carbs a day. But I like to stay under 20. 20g of carbs should be your goal. That is the ultimate number for weight loss. However, some people suggest not going over 50g of carbs a day. As I have mentioned, there are so many thoughts on what is really keto and how it works. With that being said, I am not telling anyone how to eat or what keto really is. Anytime I share about anything related to food and weight loss it is from what has worked for me. I am not a doctor. I just know what has worked for myself and my friends.

Now there is some extra calculating that goes into this such as net carbs. I will get into that later on. For now, please know that you must avoid sugar, bread, pasta, carbonated drinks, aspartame. Consume meat, fatty oils such as avocado oil, olive oil, nuts- my favorites are pecans and almonds, and dark and green leafy vegetables. Pork skins go great with many dishes. They’ll become your best friend. There is so much to share. But at least you can start with something as easy as eggs and sausage for breakfast, a salad with avocado, cheese you shred- I’ll explain later, bacon, chicken- I use rotisserie chicken sometimes,  a boiled egg, you can add sliced almonds, pecans- whatever you like as long as it is low carb, and a low carb salad dressing. For the dressing, you can never go wrong with ranch or cesar. I love the Olive Garden Italian dressing and their Parmesan Ranch. They have like less than 1g of carbs. And for dinner, a shrimp and asparagus foil pack is great or instead of shrimp you can have chicken or steak or salmon. You eat really good with Keto. The recipes are endless. Simply google or pinterest them.

salad meal prep
Meal prepped salads for lunch

Lastly, caffeine is your best friend. If you like coffee like that. I am an addict, so I have to have it every day. I have a post that shares how I have my coffee. But to add to it, I normally have black tea iced or hot with stevia and heavy whipping cream. Or, I’ll have iced coffee with heavy whipping cream or half and half with stevia. And sometimes, I drink my caffeine beverages black with or without stevia. This is due to dairy products sometimes cause your weight to stall. You cannot have milk because it contains sugar, but there are many dairy products you can consume- I’ll get into this later. Again, there is just so much to this way of eating.

I truly support low carb/ keto lifestyle because I am not limited on what I can eat. I am fuller longer, and I have so much more energy. Stay tuned for more news and facts about the keto diet. If you are uncomfortable with the fact that keto is a high fat diet, try low carb. When we cut a drastic amount of carbs and sugar from our diets, you are bound to see results.

To good health Jewels!

Be Compassionate

In the mix of this everlasting journey called life, so many parts of our lives can fall out of place as we are climbing to reach our fullest potential. One life component that people often let go of first is compassion. This element sits in our hearts as the reminder to embrace the pain of others as we sympathize and empathize with them during that low time in their life.

I believe that majority of human beings desire to be great, they want to live fulfilling lives, and they want to be  of service to others. After all, we are nothing without each other. Humans make up this earth. Without people we will have nothing. And because we are all human and not perfect beings, we are bound to have moments, days, months, times in our lives where we are uncertain of ourselves and the situations we are in. In these times we may need a shoulder to lean on, to cry on, for someone to show us love, a listening ear. But because everyone is so caught up in their own lives even a teacher next door or the co-worker in the cubicle next to you or your favorite barista can be dealing with a hardship. And unfortunately, their difficult life experience does not get the support it needs, because we are so wrapped up in our personal lives, our little problems, our own mountains that we must climb. That when we see the glitch in their eye, the smile that disappeared, the gloominess in their overall appearance we aren’t available even to say something as simple as “I miss your smile, hope everything is alright, I am here for you.” Sometimes those welcoming words may bring about a conversation or just the thought that someone notices me can make all the difference in a person, and they gain the courage to continue on to be a ray of light for the next person.

We are all meant to encourage in one way or another. It may not even be words, because sometimes we do not have the words to say, but a hug can do, a touch on someones shoulder, a pat on the back. These subtle things imply you care. You may not be able to express your concern with words, but you are able to with a touch. Seriously, this makes a big difference. I hate to see people down, or even on the phone, hearing it in their voice. When this happens, I express concern. And at least the person knows I am available if they need anything.

Another great gesture for displaying compassion when people are struggling can be in giving. My first year of teaching, I will never forget a teacher that gave me a nice gift full of some well needed goodies- a bath bomb, a loofah, a book, a journal, and an encouraging card that lit up my face. She saw where I was having a hard time, everything was a drag for me that year, and she showed compassion towards me by giving me that gift. But it does not always have to be that drastic. Just bringing your coworker, your child’s teacher, or a friend a cup of coffee, tea, a coke, donut, or muffin can brighten their day. I said coke because I know some ladies that will give you the moon if you bring them a coca-cola.

flowers
Flowers I received from one of my students.

Honestly, it is just the little things that count. It is letting people know that you care. That you notice them. While we may think certain individuals are unbreakable, they cry too. Many of us are good at putting on strong faces. When people see that you care, that you see them, that alone will go such a long ways in that person’s life. You may be the one that truly gave them hope. And just knowing that you give another human being hope should be all the more reason to dish out compassion when the opportunity presents.

Let’s not allow our own lives to be the center of the universe, because it never will. While something may be on the news right now, believe in five minutes something else will take over the media. That’s just how fast our lives move. And that is just how fast you can choose to uplift your fellow neighbor.

Be compassionate Jewels. We only have one life to disperse love to one another. The beloved Maya Angelou said it best, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”