giveaway: Speakable slim pre-release.

Hi loves!

I’m going to keep this short and sweet – I’m giving away TWO new SLIM Speakable necklaces! One choose joy and one thankful.

Speakable CHOOSE JOY engraved necklace || www.Speakable.co

Speakable THANKFUL engraved necklace || www.Speakable.co

This design isn’t set for full release until 2015, but I had to let it be available to purchase before the holidays for at least a few weeks :) It will be available for purchase until December first at Speakable.co (a great Christmas gift, just sayin’). But as for the giveaway…

This is an INSTAGRAM contest!

How to enter:

* post on Instagram which necklace you want to win, using either the Regram App OR taking a screen shot of one of these Instagram posts – click here for choose joy, click here for thankful
* follow @alagracie and @SpeakableNYC
* use the caption “I entered to win @alagracie’s @SpeakableNYC giveaway! #speakable #wearyourwords”

The winners will be chosen on Friday November 21st and will be contacted via Instagram and announced on this post.

Good luck! :)

Winners have been chosen!

http://instagram.com/jessieschnebs and http://instagram.com/jessicabogan Please email speakablenyc@gmail.com with your mailing address :)

nyc: 7 favorite holiday attractions.

I know, I know…it’s still the beginning of November. BUT I’ve already gotten a handful of emails from readers visiting New York for the holidays looking for the NYC “must-sees” during this most wonderful time of the year.

So here are a few of my favorite holiday attractions in NYC. Some of them are on the more touristy side…some not so much…but all part of what makes New York City the most magical place in the world during the holidays.

7 Favorite NYC Holiday Attractions || girlmeetslife.com

1) Union Square Holiday Market.
Each year the USQ Holiday Market seems to get better and better. Union Square is one of my favorite parts of the city, and from November 20 – December 24 it’s full of local artisans with all sorts of clothing, jewelry, home goods, food, etc. A great place to shop for fun and unique Christmas gifts!

Union Square Holiday Market NYC

2) Holiday Windows on 5th Ave.
From Bergdorf’s to Barneys to Bendel’s – walking up and down 5th Avenue during the holidays is straight out of a movie. The fact that it doesn’t cost a dime is pretty great too.

Bergdorf Goodman Christmas Windows

5th avenue NYC Christmas

3) Hot Chocolate/Dessert at Max Brenner.
…because calories don’t count during the holidays, duh. Max Brenner is in Union Square (so you could go before/after visiting the holiday market) and they have amazing food AND dessert. I’m partial to their fondue. And hot chocolate. And ice cream sundaes. It’s all amazing.

(Click here for more local restaurant finds, depending on the neighborhood you might be in!)

Max Brenner Chocolate NYC

4) Rolf’s German Restaurant.
Rolf’s in Gramercy takes Christmas decorating to a whole new level.If you want enough Christmas spirit to last you all year long, this is the place to go.

Rolf's German Restaurant NYC

5) Ice Skating Bryant Park.
There are a handful of places to ice skate during the winter/holidays in NYC, but I’m partial to Bryant Park. It’s one of my favorite parks in the city, right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Midtown. There is a holiday market set up there as well.

ice skating in Bryant Park NYC

6) Hudson Lodge.
Hudson Lodge at the Hudson Hotel has been a go-to spot for my friends and I over the past few years when the weather gets colder. It’s like a ski resort escape in the middle of NYC! It’s a great place to go with a group of friends or co-workers after work to enjoy warm spiked cocktails, comfort food like s’mores, and even fake snow.

Hudson Lodge at the Hudson Hotel NYC

7) Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
You didn’t think I could leave out the famous Radio City Rockettes did, you? Self explanatory – you really have to see the Christmas Spectacular at least once in your life.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

related posts:
5 nyc holiday date ideas
5 reasons new yorkers love fall
the best and worst things about living in new york

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Have you ever been to NYC during the holidays? Which of these would you want to do/see most?

wellness: whole30 – that’s a wrap!

And just like that – my first Whole30 Challenge is d-o-n-e-z-o.

I’ve got to say – I’m really proud of myself. I’m not very good at challenges, and as much as I may have made it seem like it was a walk in the park – Whole30 was not easy. So here’s a recap of my entire Whole30 experience. First up – the results!

my Whole30 results

I mentioned in all of my recap posts so far that the number one most noticeable (and favorite) result of doing Whole30 was the energy and mental clarity it gave me. Although I still drank coffee, I felt energized more steadily throughout the day without those bouts of mental/emotional fog I would normally get.

Another result is that I learned more about my hunger cues and what sort of eating schedule works best for me. Before Whole30 I was a huge snacker. I’d graze throughout the day, or have smaller meals with snacks thrown in there. While I know that works for a lot of people, I’ve found that I’m much more of a three square meals type of person. It makes me feel fuller longer and taught me how to eat when I’m actually hungry rather than out of habit/boredom.

Last but certainly not least, I lost 9 pounds on Whole30. It looks like more because I’m a shortie (I clearly even tried the more flattering downward angle on the before pic, eek), but I still can’t believe how quickly the weight came off. I noticed the biggest difference over the last 10 days, which was nice to see all of my hard work pay off in more visible way.

I know I’m supposed to be all “I accept my body and feel beautiful no matter what blah blah” – and I do – but I’m also dang happy to see those love handles gone. Losing weight DID make me feel more confident and more comfortable in my own skin. I might even shoot for another 5 pounds. Sorry. Not. Sorry.

(I should note that my initial weight gain coincided with going on a new birth control pill earlier in the year for hormonal issues, which I since went off of. So that could have contributed to the weight loss as well. I still think Whole30 played the largest role, though!)

Whole30 before & after results

Whole30 highs

* all of those results above, of course :)
* getting back into cooking and experimenting with new recipes – I forgot how much I love it!
* being able to still eat out with my friends and stay on Whole30
* the confidence that came from knowing I’m able to stick to a challenge like this
* having friends and an online community to share motivation with
* feeling like I “reset” my body – physically and mentally

Whole30 meals

Whole30 lows

* missing Stevia in my coffee (but that only lasted about a week)
* missing grains and cheese (lasted the whole time)
* days that I wasn’t prepared with meals
* days where I had zero motivation and just wanted to eat “normal” again
* not being able to have Halloween candy (because I’m 5)
* got really sick of eating meat – it started to gross me out a bit

Whole30 meals

biggest tips

* read It Starts With Food
* don’t wing it. Decide a few days before you’re going to start the challenge to give yourself to prepare practically AND mentally
* prepare, prepare, prepare! Fully stock your kitchen and have recipe ideas ready to go
* have a support system. Ideally someone else doing the Whole30 too, but even just someone who will hold you accountable
* read through the entire Whole30 website and get involved in the community (forums, Instagram, etc.)
* keep it simple. Have a few favorite go-to meals
* track your progress somewhere

Whole30 meals

what now?

I’ll be honest – I’m in a place right now where I’m a bit nervous about what’s ahead. I desperately don’t want to reverse the amazing results I’ve gotten since doing Whole30, but I know I can’t continue eating this way 100% either.

As much as I wish I was one of those people who could stick to a Paleo lifestyle, I just don’t love that way of eating enough to do it 100%. I will definitely stick to Paleo PRINCIPLES, but I don’t want to feel like a failure if I have a piece of toast. Not to mention I’m out to eat all the time, and the social aspect of enjoying/sharing food with people is really important to me.

So for the sake of avoiding a pendulum swing, I’m going to focus on slowly integrating more foods back into my life. My “base” diet will still consist of vegetables, fruits, meats & healthy fats, but I’m going to add back in:

– dairy (in the form of hard cheese, not so much yogurt/creams)
–  gluten free grains

I’m also going to continue to have 3 square meals and less snacking.

I’m still going to avoid sugar and gluten to an extent, and avoid artificial sweeteners at all costs. If nixing artificial sweeteners for good was the single result I got out of Whole30, I’d consider that a huge success.

I fell off the wagon with posting the last week or so of my Whole30 meals on Tumblr, but I’m thinking about keeping up with tracking my meals here and there on Tumblr to hold me accountable. Feel free to follow along if you’d like! alagracie.tumblr.com

previous recaps
week one update
week two update
week three update

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So there you have it! Let me know if you guys have any more questions/thoughts about Whole30, but for now, back to regularly scheduled living :)

style: a #TrendyNotSpendy confession.

plaid dress + denim jacket fall fashion NYC || girlmeetslife.com || gracie gordon

So let me tell you something about this dress. It’s from Charlotte Russe – a store I had a hate/hate relationship with for so many years. Pardon me for sounding snobby, but a lot of their clothes can look…well, cheap. You know you’ve thought it too.

But here’s the thing – the whole point of #TrendyNotSpendy is finding gems in these stores we may have once discounted! Not to mention to oppose the “OMG so designer, so expensive” mentality that seems to have overcome the fashion blogging world over the past few years.

Don’t get me wrong – one day when I can afford more designer items, I’ll probably get them (let’s be real). But for now, as a girl on a budget trying to make it work in NYC, I’m going to keep on keepin’ on with the #TrendyNotSpendy. And so far I’m having a heck of a lot of fun doing just that.

plaid dress + denim jacket fall fashion NYC || girlmeetslife.com || gracie gordon

plaid dress + denim jacket fall fashion NYC || girlmeetslife.com || gracie gordon

plaid dress + denim jacket fall fashion NYC || girlmeetslife.com || gracie gordon

plaid dress + denim jacket fall fashion NYC || girlmeetslife.com || gracie gordon

plaid dress + denim jacket fall fashion NYC || girlmeetslife.com || gracie gordon

The whole look:

dress – Charlotte Russe
denim jacket – Forever 21
tights – No nonsense
boots – Boohoo
clutch – Urban Expressions
necklace – Speakable

watch – Nixon
bracelet – Ben Amun

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What stores/brands would you like to see me include in #TrendyNotSpendy? I’m up for a good challenge!

inspire: how to stay on course.

A lot of people struggle with not knowing what they want. I’m not one of those people – I know quite surely what I want my life to look like.

My problem, though, is that I so often find myself doing the exact opposite of what I actually want. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a matter of self sabotage or just a basic characteristic of being human. I’m thinking it’s most likely the latter.

I recently heard a great message from Maria Durso where she talked about the most difficult journey we can take being the 18 inches from our head to our heart. She went on to say how part of having a relationship with God is growing to the point of having your mind (thoughts) in alignment with your heart (feelings).

Unfortunately, though, it’s not always that easy. Sometimes – at least for me – there are circumstances where I have to trust my mind over my heart, or vice versa.

I think my problem is not so much overthinking – it’s overfeeling. While I definitely think it’s important to know how to listen to your heart, I can often let my feelings/emotions override certain truths.

I want to be in better shape, but I also want to eat whatever I want.
I want a chill night out, but end up at a club until 4am.
I want to take certain steps professionally, but I let fear stop me.

…the list goes on.

I’m assuming at least some of you can relate, so here are some things I’ve been working on that I think really help when it comes to staying on course.

1) write down your truths.

If you’re anything like me (very much a heart person), your emotions can very easily override what you know to be true. So I think it really helps to write down your truths – the things you know for sure – and refer back to them when your feelings might be telling you otherwise. Have yourself answer questions like:

What do I really want my life to look like?
What makes me the happiest?
What is my bigger purpose in life?
Specifically, I want relationships like ____
I want my career to look like ____
I want to look/feel ____

2) keep yourself out of tempting situations.

If there are particular areas in your life that you know you struggle with, try to avoid them! I’ve learned from personal experience that no matter how strong I think I am in a certain area…I’m not. So whether you need to avoid going to bars, or stop buying the boxes of cereal you binge on late at night, or decide not to see that guy/girl anymore, find as many ways as possible to stop the unhealthy situation before it even happens.

3) surround yourself with supportive people.

This is key. Whatever goal(s) you have, it is SO important to have people in your life that are on the same page! Or at least people that understand and want to encourage/support you in the right direction.

4) keep your eye on the prize.

I must admit that I can all-too-often fall for instant gratification. Don’t get me wrong – not ALL instant gratification is a bad thing. The problem is when it overrides and contradicts your ultimate goal.

They say the best way to reach a goal is to visualize it, so try to genuinely imagine your life the way you want it to look. It’s kind of that whole “fake it ‘til ya make it” mentality, which I really do believe works.

Can you relate? Which of these tips do you agree/disagree with most?

style: baby, it’s not cold outside.

Ummm hello November, why do you feel so much like September?

I’m definitely not complaining – I kinda sorta wouldn’t mind temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s all year long (although I could do without today’s rain, which wasn’t around when I put this post together yesterday ;)).

While I love me a good coat and scarf, I’m soaking in these last few weeks of mild weather, sans outerwear.

 fall in NYC || girlmeetslife.com || gracie gordon

fall in NYC || girlmeetslife.com || gracie gordon

fall in NYC || girlmeetslife.com || gracie gordon

fall in NYC || girlmeetslife.com || gracie gordon

fall in NYC || girlmeetslife.com || gracie gordon

The whole look:

pink blazer – ASOS
white tee – Target
silk “pajama” pants – Gypsy
shoes – DSW
necklace – Speakable

{photos by Sam Ruby}

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Has it gotten cold in your neck of the woods yet? What winter clothes are you most looking forward to?

life: you know you’re a heart person if…

There once was a time that I was fairly certain I was more of a “head person” – someone who thought things through, made rational decisions, and didn’t allow myself to be too swayed by my emotions.

But over the past couple of years – especially since moving to New York – I realized that I was totally fooling myself. I’m a heart person through and through.

Basically, feeling > thinking.

Don’t get me wrong – I definitely think it’s important to be both a head AND a heart person. God equipped us with both a mind and a heart, and I think that most decisions in life should be made using both (also intuition, but we’ll save that for another post).

But for the sake for a fun post that my fellow heart people will probably relate to, here are…

13 ways you know you’re a heart person.

You’re one of those “cry out of joy” people.

You keep a journal.

You have to verbally process everything, preferably with another heart person.

PDA is your thing.

You’re a hopeless (hopeful?) romantic. Don’t even try to fight it.

You’re highly sympathetic and empathetic.

You desperately seek out those songs that make your heart explode (which typically occur two, maybe three times a year).

You’re bad at pretending you’re interested in something when you’re not.

Sometimes your life feels like a movie.

You’re probably into writing, music, dance, or art of some sort.

If you really like something, you have to share it with everyone. Everyone.

1618d558845dd235746adf407c24674c

You’re observant and discerning of the aura/emotions of people around you.

You sometimes wish you weren’t a heart person, but most of the time you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Related posts:

On Being Inspired
Choose Joy
Wise Words, A La Gracie
You Are More

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Would you say you’re more of a head or a heart person?

style: denim on denim.

White after Labor Day.
Mixing brown and black.
Mismatching patterns.

…these are a few of my favorite style “rules” to break, and the list goes on. I dunno, I’m not an adrenaline junkie, so I guess this is my form of being rebellious…?

One of my favorite broken rules, which is now quite the trend, is denim on denim – AKA the “Canadian tuxedo.”

denim on denim || girlmeetslife.com || gracie gordon

denim on denim || girlmeetslife.com || gracie gordon

denim on denim || girlmeetslife.com || gracie gordon

vintage earrings

denim on denim || girlmeetslife.com || gracie gordon

H&M infinity scarf

black booties + distressed jeans

denim on denim || girlmeetslife.com || gracie gordon

NY Yankees snapback || girlmeetslife.com || gracie gordon

The whole look:

jeans – BDG (Urban Outfitters)
top – Charlotte Russe
boots – Express
boyfriend blazer – Silence + Noise (Urban Outfitters)
scarf – H&M
hat – 47 Brand (Urban Outfitters)
earrings – vintage find at the Hell’s Kitchen flea market
necklace – Speakable

{photos by Sam Ruby}

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What fashion rule(s) do you like breaking?

wellness: whole30 week 3 update.

Helloooo from day 23 of Whole30! I can’t believe I’m so close to the end of the 30 day challenge. Here’s a recap of the past week.

{the food}

Whole30 week three update

* You’ll notice I don’t have as many photos of my food as I usually do, which is something I definitely want to change for my last week. Even though I didn’t slip up, taking the photos of what I eat really helps me stay accountable and more on track (especially with avoiding mindless snacking).

* I planned my meals better this past week, which was an improvement from week two. I especially loved the buffalo chicken I made (using the Whole30 homemade mayo).

* I still ate out a few times and stuck to it 100%. On Wednesday I ate at a Mediterranean restaurant and had shrimp/chicken/steak skewers, and on Saturday I had shrimp fajitas topped with guacamole at my favorite Mexican restaurants.

{how I’ve been feeling}

I feel amazing! As I mentioned before, the mental/emotional clarity has been my favorite and most noticeable change throughout this challenge.

I must admit, though, this past week I felt more cravings than before. I’m a bit surprised by that because I thought I got those carb/sugar cravings out of my system, so I think it might be mostly mental.

This past week I also started noticing physical changes for the first time. I still haven’t weighed myself, but I notice a bit of fluff subsiding in my stomach area, as well as my clothes continuing to fit a bit looser.

{other thoughts/observations}

I haven’t mentioned this before (because I didn’t really make an “official” decision), but I haven’t been exercising much since starting Whole30. There were a few days where I almost went to the gym, but my body just wasn’t feeling it. I still walk a ton every day (and live on a 5th floor walk up, HELLO), but that’s been the majority of my activity. I’m going to continue with that throughout the rest of the challenge because I think it has really helped me to focus entirely on my eating. I’ll start incorporating more exercise again in the coming weeks.

more:
daily meals posted on my tumblr
week one update
week two update

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Do you have any questions about Whole30/my experience? Let me know – I’m happy to share!