Content Disclaimer

I've collected several photos through the image search feature on Google. If any of the featured images are yours, please contact me so I can add a credit if I haven't done so already. I will also gladly remove an image upon request. And please return the favor of crediting: if you use one of my photos, please link back to me! Thanks for all the inspiration!

Friday, July 31, 2009

DIY Bridesmaids' Bouquets Part 1: The Transformers

I know I left you hanging with my DIY bridal bouquet mock trial. I abandoned that effort for awhile after changing my color scheme and deciding to go with a new dusty pink bouquet to match my shoes. I still haven't found any fake peonies in that color, but in the meantime I've been on the lookout for my bridesmaids' flowers.

I finally ran into some when I wasn't even looking. I was strolling around the mall looking for a place to get a quick and cheap hair trim when I saw that A.C. Moore was having a huge sale on their florals. As soon as I was finished being groomed, I high-tailed it back over to the store and started on a shopping frenzy.

After the dust settled, I had the following loot:

Enough for 3 bridesmaids' bouquets! After a lot of debate, I decided to go with separate flowers for each girl and then combine all the flowers into one bouquet for not me, but my matron of honor. I'm sticking with my beloved peonies but I wanted a way to have my MOH stand out, and a combo bouquet is just the ticket! My bouquet will still be the largest and most lush, but it's fun knowing my MOH will have a little mark of distinction.

I'm still searching for one more flower in the same pink for the last bouquet (not including the combo MOH bouquet). I really want the ranunculus, but I'm not seeing it anywhere! I may have to go online to find a light pink fake version, so it could be awhile before I complete this little endeavor.

Anyhoo, as soon as I got home, I started work on the task at hand. First up, the hydrangea bouquet. I won't go back through the tutorial since I used the same method in my previous post about DIY fake florals, but I will tell you that these suckers were a lot harder to work with than the peony.

They are a lot more delicate and deceivingly full. I had to constantly rework the shaping to make them round. Once again, I forgot to purchase wire clippers, so I had to cut the coating with scissors then work the wire back and forth until they snapped apart. My first round with the hydrangea looked weak to say the least:

But I kept at it! I finished "beefing" up the handle with a trick a reader gave me in my last post (thanks Andrea!). I did it by adding in the leftover stems while putting together the stems with the blooms. Genius.

After I was done, the bouquet performed a little trick of its own. My little work of art transformed from a regular bouquet into a stunning centerpiece!

While at A.C. Moore, I purchased a couple smooth mason jars and candle rings in our wedding colors to do a trial run our centerpieces. If you can remember, I originally planned to use a combination of mason jars, lanterns, and candelabras for the centerpieces. Well, after attending one of my bridesmaids' wedding last weekend and seeing her clever dual use of the BMs' bouquets as centerpieces, I decided to nix the candelabras and do the same! I'll still have some lanterns, but the mason jars will now be filled with the BMs' bouquets. All I have to do is add some kind of sea glass or something to the jars to keep the bouquets upright and add more detail. Suggestions are very welcome!

Because I'm having a cocktail hour in a separate parlor, my BMs will be able to sneak into the reception hall and place their bouquets into the mason jars before anyone else enters the room. At the end of the night, they can collect their bouquets to keep if they wish. Best part? This saves me money! Boo-yah!

I guess I should show you what I did with the other two flower choices? Well, here's my fave of the three bouquets, the daisies! They were by far the easiest of the bouquets to make. I was done in less than 10 minutes. FSIL already staked a claim on these:

And last but certainly not least are the roses. They even had little "thorns" on them that actually hurt a bit as I was plucking off the leaves. They made the handle really hard to wrap and I had to keep trimming some of them off.

And here's the whole lot together, "transforming" into centerpieces! I'll probably add tea candles around them just to spruce up the tables a bit more. Then all that will be left to do is adding the doggie table numbers (and completing the other 5 centerpieces)!

I can't take the all the credit on these bouquet/centerpieces. FSIL's husband's niece was in town with her mother and helped me snap apart the stems (after I prepped them, unbeknown to her). Who doesn't love a little child labor? :P

I love that she has her sippy cup on hand when the really tough ones come up!

Ah! Success!

So I bet you're wondering how much money all of this trouble actually saved me? Well, see for yourself! Keep in mind, these flowers won't die a few days after the wedding! ;)

Bridesmaids' Bouquets

Daisy Bouquet
10 stems
x $2.09 each

Hydrangea Bouquet
5 stems
x $2.79 each

Rose Bouquet
8 stems
x $1.39 each

Chocolate Satin Ribbon
$4.39 for 1 1/2 yards

Pearl-headed Pins
$0.00 (left over from previous bouquet project)

Grand Total Including Tax
$53.89 OR $17.96 each


Mason Jars:
$1 each x 3 = $3

Berry Candle Ring:
$2 each x 4 = $8

Grand Total Including Tax
$11.77 OR $3.92 each

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Holy Crap! (And our first wedding-induced fight.)

We've hit the big 1-0-0 mark on the countdown.

Okay, I'm officially freaking out.

To make matters worse, Mr. Lab and I have been fighting. And it's about something that we should not even be arguing about: the "need" for a wedding cinematographer.

It's a long story and I won't get into the specifics. We've finally come to a compromise and I don't want to open up any fresh wounds. But boy was it exhausting. He basically didn't see any reason to have a wedding film made, no matter the cost, because he-along with the backup of some of his recently married guy friends-felt like the film would never be viewed; thus, making it worthless.

To me, having a wedding cinematographer ranks up in the top 3 most important things to have on the day of the wedding. I didn't care what it costs (of course I'll go for the cheapest option I can while maintaining high quality of work). It's our one day that we've (read: ME) been planning for nearly a year and I wanted every moment captured on film to cherish for as long as we live. It's about having a record of our day for not just us, but also friends and family and the future family he and I will create one day.

But once I began researching cinematographers in our area, I realized quickly that the east coast is lagging behind on people trained in this emerging wedding must-have. I get that there are options to have friends film for you or to find someone on Craigslist. But I'm a journalism student who works with a camera daily, so I have a higher standard than most when it comes to shooting and editing a "story". I also want to avoid any potential for regret due to hiring an amateur. Because of this, people who fit my standards ended up on the higher end of the price spectrum. This didn't sit pretty with Mr. Lab despite the fact that these options technically still fit within our predetermined budget.

In the end, we had a long talk a couple nights ago and finally reached a compromise.

Even though these cinematographers I found fit within our budget, I could still find ways to cut back in other areas to save money further to make the cinematographer "cost less". I could also continue my search for more affordable cinematographers before putting down a deposit without truly taking time to think over the options. Mr. Lab realized how much it means to me to have a wedding film and I realized how much it meant to him that we didn't spend out the butt for it just because we could (within our budget).

So I'm currently in contact with my photographer to cut a few options out of our package (like the rehearsal dinner coverage and bridal portrait session). And I'm going to put up ad on Craigslist just to see if there might be some very talented SCAD students who can fulfill my high expectations without draining our wallets.

But we also decided that if I can't find someone by the end of the weekend, we will go with one of the cinematographers I've already found because time is a-tickin'. Many options have already been booked for our day. It's now or never!

I can finally sit back and enjoy our 100-day mark with a little less stress weighing down on me. *ahhhh*

I guess this is what the whole "marriage" thing is about, huh? Compromise is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

You Are Cordially Invited... help Miss Lab create her invitations!

I'm stumped hive. I'm closing in fast on the recommended two month mark to send out invitations and all I have are a few scrapbook papers that caught my eye while I was killing time in a Michael's. I'm slowly starting down the short path to full-blown wedding freak-out mode. *gulp!* Help?

Okay, here's what I've got:

All my Michael's finds in our wedding colors.

I love this shimmery patterned pink paper probably the most.

This is probably my second favorite paper of the lot.

The more I look at this one, the more I'm not really feeling it.

This is a closeup of the solid cream paper. The color of the paper is truer in the first photo.

Here's the chocolate brown paper's detailing. I like this because it has a subtle damask feel to it.

I have no idea where to start. Which paper to use, how to combine them, whether to use these at all or to get additional paper...*sigh*

I was also hoping to add some kind of detail from our ceremony or reception sites to the invitations as well. Like a gazebo or train motif:

As far as the "look" I'm going for, I want something simple with a romantic, southern feel. I love love love Miss Cowboy Boot's invitations:

I won't have an entire suite like this because I'm not doing response cards (just RSVP at our wedding website or by phone) or a map. But some of the invites will have a rehearsal dinner invitation included. So maybe I can incorporate some of my/your ideas into one or the other?

Or maybe I should just cave in and buy some invitations? Anyone seen anything that reminds you of what I'm looking for? They've gotta be inexpensive!

A "Real Wedding" Special

As promised, I am here to deliver a quick recap of the wedding of two of our wedding party members this past weekend!

The Friday before the wedding, we met up with the bride and groom for their rehearsal dinner at a local steakhouse:

All photos by me or friends using my camera. Click to enlarge!

Top: Me and Mr. Lab with Brooke & Jimmy.
Bottom: Brooke's family enjoying the show.

After dinner, the boys and girls split up for a night out. Their wedding was at 7 pm the next day, so they could afford to stay out late.

Brooke looking adorable in her Audrey Hepburn-like outfit. Must point out the too-cute Kate Spade bag!

The day of the wedding, I was appointed the "provider of instant photos via Facebook"-photographer along with official make-up artist. I took both jobs very seriously (and I have over 200 photos to prove it!). Armed with my bag full of MAC and my point and shoot camera, I made my way over to the State Botanical Gardens in Athens, GA (after FINALLY picking up my e-ring from its month-long hiatus).

The day was absolutely gorgeous and the setting was simple stunning.

Entrance to the Botanical Gardens.

Top left: The path down to the day chapel.
Bottom left: The plaza outside the reception hall where the drinks were set up.
Right: The charming day chapel!

As soon as I arrived, I got to work making the girls look as gorgeous as possible. Brooke looked absolutely stunning in her Anya Bridal "April" gown. She switched out the ivory sash it came with for a black one that tied into her theme better. She's planning on selling her dress, so let me know if you want more information. The bridesmaids were allowed to pick out any black cocktail dress of their choice.

Top left: Doing makeup for my second wedding! I did Mr. Lab's sister's makeup for her wedding as well!
Top right: This is one of my favorite photos from the night. I love how Brooke's BMs are all fawning over her!
Bottom right: I made sure to stay out of the way of the professional photographers by hiding way back in the bushes and secretly stealing shots.

I made sure to capture some details from the day that I now know as a bride-to-be took a lot of thought and planning to make happen.

Top to bottom l-r: The bridal party gifts (my tote has my NEW initials on it!!!), Jimmy's motorcycle bout charm, Brooke's wedding gift from her new hubby, the BM's bouquets/centerpieces, the "guestbook" that had an etching pen (HUGE hit!), Brooke's one of a kind modern-inspired bouquet

Mr. Lab stopped by to say hi to the bride before getting ready for his photos with Jimmy. He was really upset because when he went to pick up his suit from the drycleaners, they had already 1 pm on a Saturday!!! But he threw together a quick black ensemble (all wedding party members wore black as a main color). Isn't he good looking? ;)

I apologize for the flash reflecting in the mirror and blinding you! You might recognize my dress from our engagement party. I resisted the urge to buy a new outfit! Yay me!!!

Finally, it was go-time! The ceremony site was absolutely breathtaking. Just the venue alone was enough decoration with all its gorgeous detail work, but Brooke had the florist add simple and complimentary flowers to the altar and first pews.

Top left: Jimmy's parents ready to go down the aisle (Mr. Lab and I were also greeters and in charge of opening the door for Brooke's grand entrance)
Middle: A view from the altar
Bottom right: A view from the entryway

After the "I do's", we moved over to the reception site for the cocktail hour while Brooke and Jimmy had their alone time and photos taken (they opted for the aisle first look, prompting Mr. Lab to beg for that again!). The food was AH-MAZ-ZZZZZZZZIIIIIINNNNGGG. It was catered by an Athens' favorite, Marti's at Midday.

Top row is the dinner served while the bottom row was the passed appetizers. Sorry about the shot of the half-eaten bruscetta. I kept forgetting to take a picture before munching down!

Equally amazing were the desserts! They had a candy buffet (featuring my fave: Sour Patch Kids), the wedding cake, and a cheesecake groom's cake. I did make myself a baggie full of the candy, but I somehow misplaced it before the end of the night. I woke up the next morning grateful for this because I'm supposed to be taking my own advice, remember?

Soon it was time for all the key moments of a wedding reception:

Top to bottom l-r: The first dance, best man toast, cake cutting, sparkler exit

But during all of that, we had some good times dancing (burning off that dinner!) and enjoying meeting and mingling with other guests. Not to mention with the bride and groom!

Bottom left: Overview of the centerpieces
Top right: Bridesmaid Ashley's introduction (she's one of my bridesmaids as well!)
Bottom right: Brooke in her totally cute "Marilyn Monroe"-esque reception dress

I had an absolute blast at Brooke and Jimmy's wedding and can't wait to return the favor at our wedding in November!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Crash course on cardio and weightlifting: The perfect fitness marriage!

I'm going to jump right into the gym stuff now that you've been introduced to a new way of looking at diets and food. Again, make sure you've had a recent physical and clearance from your doctor before starting any new exercise program. And certainly don't start off too quickly! It took me a long time to work up to the weights I use. Just be patient. Pretty soon you'll be challenging me to a lift-off! ;)

When it comes to cardio and weightlifting, you'll need to determine a "split" that works with your schedule. A split just means how many days of the week you dedicate to working out all the muscle groups of your body. I currently have a 4-day lifting split.

My lifting split is as follows:

1. Chest/Triceps/Abs/Cardio (aka PUSH day)
2. Back/Biceps/Cardio (aka PULL day)

3. Off Day
4. Shoulders/Calves/Abs/Cardio
5. Legs
6. Cardio/Abs
7. Cardio

Of course you can switch them around to fit your schedule. Just make sure to rest a muscle group for at least 2-3 days before working them again. And always lift before cardio. The reason why I have PUSH and PULL next to #1 & 2 is because it helps me remember the muscles being used during those days. Should I happen to forget my workout sheet, I can think about what exercises require me to pull (e.g. cable row) or push (e.g. bench press) and it coordinates with the muscles I'm working! I also always include triceps with my chest days and biceps with my back days because you tend to work out those muscles indirectly at the same time. This means you can do less work but still target the muscles just as efficiently as a workout dedicated solely to that group!

When lifting, do about 5 sets: 1 warmup set with low or no weight, then 4 additional sets starting out light with high repetitions (like 12) and working your way up with heavier weight but lower reps (down to about 6 or 8).

Do not be afraid to lift heavy. You will not look like a bodybuilder!
Girls are afraid to lift heavy because they think they will end up looking something like this:

But the only way you're going to end up looking like that is if you're taking steroids while lifting. Women do not produce enough testosterone themselves to build muscle like that so there is NO need to worry about bulking up. I'm pretty sure you're not planning on taking steriods, right? So go ahead and dismiss that silly gym myth. For example, I can squat about 135 lbs but I don't have thighs like a man! See?

Here's the really cool thing about lifting weights: for every pound of muscle you gain, you'll burn an extra 40 calories a day! And that doesn't include the extra calories you'll burn by going to the gym. That's just calories burned during a normal day. So it's really necessary to hit the weights and not turn into a "cardio bunny" as I like to call them (you know, the girls who pedal along on the elliptical for 2 hours a day and wonder why they aren't making real progress, haha). According to Mr. Lab, the girls with the hottest bodies in the gym are the ones who lift like the guys. Seriously.


If you're only doing cardio, the best you can hope for is to be "skinny fat". Skinny fat people are slim but have virtually no lean muscle. Most models fit in this category. Here's a little lesson on skinny fat vs. fit models:

"Skinny Fat"

"Fit & Fabulous"

See the difference? These two women could potentially weigh around the same, but the "fit" woman (fitness model Jamie Eason who started out like you or me just wanting to get in shape) isn't "soft" around the edges. It took some time in the gym lifting weights to achieve that body, not just time on cardio equipment. And because lean muscle weighs more than fat, she could weigh more than the skinny fat model! Remember: SCALES LIE. Quit using them!

But speaking of cardio, I'm not against it at all even if it may sound so after all that. In fact, cardio is essential to losing fat! I do at least 30-45 minutes of cardio (on any equipment of choice or jogging/walking briskly) 4-6 times a week and burn at least 200 calories each session (to ensure losing 1-2 lbs. a week). Morning cardio and HIIT (high intensity interval training-google it because it takes too long to write out, lol) revs up the fat loss even more.

Try to eat carbs/protein about 1-2 hours before the gym and then right afterward as well. I suggest buying whey protein and putting a scoop in a water bottle so all you have to do is add water and shake it up to drink after your workout. This will help you rebuild torn muscle from your workouts and you'll recover quicker. The only way you'll be able to add that sexy, lean muscle that burns extra fat and keeps you looking toned and tight is by including enough protein in your diet along with weightlifting. It's almost impossible to eat enough protein in a day without going over calories, so you may want to invest in some protein powders. My fave flavors are fresh cinnamon that I put in my morning oatmeal, vanilla that I use for my smoothies and post-workout shakes, and chocolate that I mix with skim milk and a scoop of Skippy Natural peanut butter for a yummy alternative to sugary snacks!

My original fitness inspiration. I liked Jackie BEFORE Bravo's "Work Out"!

I routinely keep track of my progress at the gym by carrying a notebook with my workouts. I use the previous week's data to push myself. I love finishing a workout with a gain, even if it's one more rep or one more pound I can lift. It keeps me motivated beyond seeing changes in the mirror. I am including some sample workout sheets at the end of this post so you can start keeping track of your gym progress. You may have to tailor them to fit your needs or likes (some people prefer tricep kickback to tricep pulldowns, etc.). I make a one page chart for each day so I can fill in my reps/weights and keep track.

Cheat Meals

Okay, I promise some talk on "cheating" the last time. The only time you can eat "cheap carbs" (i.e. sugar or any other carb that isn't a complex carb) is right after a workout. Your body will use them to replenish lost muscle glycogen and will cause an insulin spike so your body rushes the protein to the muscles quickly. Don't abuse this though!

Now, it's inevitable that there will be slip ups. If you happen to eat something bad or miss a few days of gym (like during a holiday or birthday or some other special occasion *cough*wedding*cough*), don't fret! Just pick right back up where you left off! No biggie!!! Just don't PLAN cheat meals. If they happen, they happen and then you move on. But if you get into the habit of planning when you can eat bad, then you'll start to unravel all the hard work you've been doing.

Okay, now it's your turn to take all this information and put it to use. Let's hit the gym ladies! We've got wedding dresses to fit into!

Miss Lab's Sample Workouts:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Our Wedding Party Members Are Crazy In Love With Each Other!

Okay, actually it's just two of them and they're getting married today!

I just wanted to give a quick shout out to my bridesmaid Brooke and Mr. Lab's groomsman Jimmy. We've all been friends for years and cannot believe their day has finally come! I will definitely post photos of their black and white with splashes of red wedding being held in a day chapel at a botanical garden.

Brooke & Jimmy on New Year's Eve. We're so happy we got to spend our engagement night with them!

I met Brooke as a freshman in college and we've been friends ever since. I still remember the late nights we spent in our dorm rooms gossiping, watching tv, and hiding alcohol (shhh!) from our RA. Jimmy is one our former co-workers and one of Mr. Lab's former roommates (actually, Brooke is too!). He's actually willing to lend a hand when we need one, whether it be moving or fixing something that's broken.

When Brooke and Jimmy started dating, I knew it would lead to marriage because they're made for each other! Congrats soooooo much and I cannot wait to get down at your wedding! ;)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Crash course on nutrition! NO DIETS! It's a lifestyle change! :D

Official Disclaimer: I'm no doctor, nutritionist, or personal trainer. Just a regular bride-to-BEE wanting to look smokin' hot for her wedding day. ;) So what I'm basically trying to say is you should consult your physician before starting any diet or exercise program. I'm just sharing what's worked for me because it would be selfish not to. It is certainly not to be taken too literally, as my goals and fitness level are a lot different from the average person. Anal leakage may occur. Okay, I'm joking about that last part.

Don't worry if you feel overwhelmed after reading this post. It's normal. Getting in shape is like the training portion of a new job. It just takes some time to get used to it and figure out how to do everything right, but after awhile, it's all second nature! And like any job that's worth doing, it's going to be hard and push you to fulfill all of your potential.

First things first, nutrition! In my personal experience, I've found that about 90% of my fitness success comes from my diet. Oh yeah, I should clarify the use of "diet" here. My idea of "diets" is someone's daily eating habits. Not the newest fad the celebrities are following.

Glad to get that out of the way. Back to what I was saying: I try to eat enough calories based on my lifting schedule. I use to keep track of the macros (aka grams of fat, carbs, and protein). Let me take a moment to clarify something again. Checking your calories is meant to give you an idea of what you're currently eating, what you should be eating, and how much you're eating. It's amazing how much you eat in a day if it's not out all laid out in front of your eyes. Once you start learning what foods have certain proteins, carbs, and fats, you'll get to the point where you won't need to track them anymore. You'll know if you're eating too much without relying so heavily on counting up the total calories. So please please please don't get obsessive with calorie counting!

Miss Lab's Sample Macros:

  • Lifting days: 1800 calories: 45g Fat, 160g Carbs, 190g Protein
  • Non-lifting days: 1600 cal: 45g F, 110g C, and 190g P

Based on Miss Lab's Current Body Specs:

  • Height: 5'5
  • Weight: 140 lbs
  • Fitness Level: Active & Experienced
I can't reiterate enough about not obsessing over calorie totals. As you will see in my sample meals at the end of this post, I regularly stray from my outlined macros. It's no big deal! As long as you're close, you'll be aiiiight!

Since most of you are not going to be lifting as heavy at first as I do, you won't need to eat as much protein as I do (since you won't need that extra amount to rebuild torn muscle). A good rule of thumb is 1 gram of protein for every pound you weigh. I would suggest (if your body specs are similar to mine) that you start out by eating about 1600-1700 calories a day with around 50 g of fat, 150 g of carbs, and 150 g of protein.

The average woman should be eating about 2000 calories a day to maintain their weight. If you cut 500 calories out a day, you would lose 1 lb a week (3500 calories = 1lb of fat). BUT, you don't want to rely solely on cutting calories to lose weight. If you start starving yourself, your body will begin storing food as fat quicker as a basic survival mechanism. You'll also be setting yourself up for failure by doing that. So, in order to avoid this, we'll use weight-lifting and cardio to account for the other 400-500 (or more) calories you'll need to burn a week in order to safely and effectively lose a 1-2 pounds a week.

Keep your meals about 2-3 hours apart with small portions to keep your metabolism running as high as possible throughout the entire day. You should be eating 5-6 meals per day. This will keep you feeling full all day and you won't be as likely to binge on a very large meal. Your meals should be a proportional balance of all three macros (again, that's carbs, fats, and proteins). I'll give sample foods and meals later.

When you first start out, you'll drop pounds quick due to water weight followed by a slight weight gain (during weightlifting you'll be replacing fat with lean muscle which will weigh more), then plateau (this is the REALLY hard part), then start leaning out (where you see the REAL results that LAST). Start learning to judge your success based on the way your clothes fit and using tape measures to keep track of inches lost rather than hopping on a scale. Scales LIE. The sooner you learn that, the less you'll beat yourself up later for thinking you're failing! Seriously! :)

Clean Eating = The Secret to Success

No fitness goal can be reached without "cleaning" up your diet. Most of us are used to overly processed foods.
Our reliance on these types of food is an addiction. Think addiction is too strong of a word to describe our eating habits? Consider this:

A person that eats clean generally practices the following:

  • Eliminates refined sugar
  • Cooks healthy meals
  • Packs healthy meals
  • Makes healthy choices when dining out
  • Drinks a lot of water
  • Eats 5-6 small meals per day
  • Eliminates alcoholic beverages (or significantly limits it)
  • Always eats breakfast
Do you follow that regularly? Is it hard for you to give up your daily Mickey D run? When you've tried "diets" in the past, did you eventually give up on them? Still think it's not an addiction? Didn't think so. ;)

An easy way to remember if a food is clean is: “if man made it, don’t eat it.”

Eating clean will give you the optimum chance of getting to your goals as quickly as possible. They rev up your metabolism, help you cut fat, and build lean muscle. Basically, the less processed a food is, the "cleaner" it is. Don't get caught up with "low fat, reduced fat, healthy" blah blah blobbity blah crap on packages like Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice or Cheeze Its, etc. Do some research and check the nutrition info. That's what it's there for!


Red arrows: Macros
Blue arrows: Other details you should be aware of!

Anything with more than 6g of sugar per serving size or that has saturated fat or has a billion ingredients you can't pronounce is probably a bad idea. Remember: a clean diet is about 90% of what's needed to be successful. As they say, "Abs are made in the kitchen." That's no joke and is 100% accurate.

Now with all that said, just like with the counting calories warning, don't go too overboard with clean eating when you're just starting out. It takes a long time for your body to get rid of its addiction to processed food. If you jump in the deep end before learning to swim, you just might drown. ;) Even at the height of my training I never ate 100% clean. Besides, it can be hard on a busy schedule to cut out ALL processed foods. So just start with a few simple changes and work your way to a cleaner diet. For example: didn't have time to make a bagged lunch to take to work? Well stop by Chick-Fil-A and grab a grilled chicken sandwhich made on whole wheat buns instead of a McDonald's Big Mac. The grilled chicken only 270 calories of mostly protein and good carbs whereas the Big Mac has 270 calories from fat ALONE (and 560 calories total). See? It's about compromising when you're first learning!

Have this:

Not this:

I hope this gives you a good idea of where to start and a better understanding of how to be successful with nutrition. There's no short-term dieting your way to your goals. You have to change your lifestyle to have real and lasting results.

Here are some suggested sites and readings:
Oxygen Magazine

Still need some more motivation? Here's one of my favorite examples of what being fit can do for you.
I can only hope I'm half as talented and in shape as this woman at her age!

Next up: Crash course on cardio and weightlifting: the perfect fitness marriage! Plus, "cheat meals"!