Paleo challenge: week 2

Paleo Challenge

I was aiming to have these posts up each Sunday night but here it is Monday afternoon and I’m just now sitting down to compose my thoughts about week 2 of our Paleo challenge.  

How was week 2?

Week 2 felt more challenging to both Carl and me.  I think it’s a combination of trying to get the most out of our summer by getting out of the house while still trying to eat as Paleo/healthy as possible.  In general I usually feel like I could do a better job of eating more veggies and less nuts.  I guess it just doesn’t occur to me to pack some cut up veggies in a little thermal zipper pouch (I am a Thirty-One consultant after all!) instead of packing it with nuts or Lara bars.  I’m also typing this as I have rosemary roasted almonds baking in the oven.  I think I just like salty, crunchy non-veggie snacks and it’s going to take a lot longer than 30 days to change that.  

Did we have any “cheat” meals or desserts?

I really don’t like thinking of them as “cheats” because that implies that we’re “dieting” and not trying to make a lifestyle change.  I am really trying to work on my view of perfection (as in I’m a perfectionist learning that life isn’t perfect) but for the sake of the guidelines set up by Whole30 and our box, we did.  This week our “cheats” were some dark chocolate covered macaroons on Thursday, some sweet potato chips on Friday and Five Guys on Saturday.  

After we ate the Five Guys on Saturday night Carl and I both agreed that we’d be skipping a “cheat” meal for week 3.  It’s just not a habit that we want to get into and while I do believe that part of healthy eating is eating all kinds of foods in moderation, I don’t think we are in a place to do that yet.  For us a “cheat meal” easily turns into two or three meals and us feeling horrible both physically and mentally.

How are we feeling?  

Really great!  I’d like to say that we have a ton of energy but we are still staying up too late.  That along with a toddler has us still wanting to crash mid-afternoon.  Obviously if Harper is up in the middle of the night we aren’t going to be able to get as much sleep as if she sleeps through, but we can go to sleep at a time that could get us the 8 hours we’d be better off with.

How’s CrossFit going?

Carl and I both made it to three classes for week 2!  I’m so proud of Carl for getting back to the gym!  I know he’s struggling with figuring out how to properly fuel (we take Vega Sport before a workout and Jay Robb Egg White Protein Powder after) but I think he needs something during a workout.  


It’s hard to say if doing the Paleo challenge is helping me with CrossFit because I had taken a month or so off and I’m totally sucking wind at just about everything.  I even had to go down in weight with my wall balls (from 14 lbs. to 10 lbs.) to work on my form.  Ah well.  It’s a process, right?

Notable, amazing food we’ve eaten

Week two we included some of our standby meals like chicken sausage, kale and broccoli, ground beef with veggies, and chicken sausage, peppers, and onions with zoodles (zucchini noodles).

New recipes include:

Goals for week 3

  • Make three CrossFit classes
  • Eat less nuts/bars and more veggies for snacks
  • Skip the “cheat” meal
  • Get 8 hours of sleep a night – meaning go to sleep earlier!

What are your goals for this week?


A day in the life

Like the “what I’m loving lately” posts, I also love reading about what other people do during their days.  It had been a while since the last time I used my “real” camera so I decided to break it out and snap some pictures of what we did during the day.  Obviously not all days are like this and it’s just a snapshot of time, a nice highlight, if you will.

Note:  I definitely need to work on my photo editing so please excuse some of the horrible, grainy pics in some of the shots.  I’m working with PicMonkey right now but I’m not sure it’s what I’m going to stick with.  Any suggestions on free or relatively inexpensive photo editing software?

7am: Harper is up!


Carl made smoothies for breakfast so I down that, fill up my Hydro Flask, and slowly drink coffee while reading blogs for a little while.  Harper is watching cartoons (yes, we let her watch TV and *gasp* sometimes it’s on all day long as background noise while we are playing) and Carl is getting ready for CrossFit.

8am: Painting “Kitty” and “Ponies”


Earlier this summer I bought these painting papers on clearance at Michael’s to do as an art activity together.  They aren’t my favorite as the paint part of the paper often bleeds onto the table and makes a mess but they keep Harper happy and entertained for about 20-30 minutes.  When we first started there was definitely more water than paint on her paper so  she’s gotten the hang of dipping her brush into the water and then rubbing it on the paint squares before trying to paint.  She doesn’t like it when our pictures look better than hers and often tries to steal either our brushes or our pictures.

9am: Laundry


10am: Snack time and working on our monthly budget


A smoothie doesn’t hold me long so I was hungry just a few hours later today.  If I’m being honest I’m usually hungry most of the day so snacking really isn’t unusual for me.  Harper wasn’t too excited about me trying to work on the budget so this didn’t last long and we watched countless videos by Super Simple Songs on youtube.

11:00am: Lunch time


Carl is home from CrossFit and we make lunch.  I love when Harper helps us in the kitchen because it exposes her to different kinds of foods in their different stages of being cooked.  Girl loves raw kale but won’t touch it once it’s cooked.  Go figure!  Today we are making egg salad.

Noon: Folding laundry


1 pm: Nap time

No picture of this but I took a nap while Carl and Harper played downstairs.  I’m always thankful that Carl will watch Harper so I can take napes during the day.

2pm: Who’s a princess?  


Today there is a princess party at the local library so Harper picked out this dress from Keith and Amy’s rehearsal to wear.

3pm: Too crowded!

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We get to the library and it’s PACKED!  We parked a good bit away and walked in, discovering all kinds of fun things on our way.  We’d never been to this library branch and really liked it compared to the one that is closer to our house because it has a separate children’s area.  We opted not to participate in the princess party and decided to look at the books, play on the computer and make our way to the park we passed on our way in.

4pm: Parkin’ it

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Harper enjoyed the little park way more than she enjoyed being inside the library.  She’s definitely an outside girl!

5pm: A new place to explore


On our way home we decided to stop by Fresh Market to check it out.  I needed to pick up a dessert for girl’s night and we always enjoy checking out new (to us) grocery stores.  Harper even tried a free sample of grapefruit juice and loved it.

6pm: Girl’s night


I should have been there already but I was running a bit late.  I’m so glad that I pushed on and went because I had so much fun!  I love Catie, who truly has the most amazing heart, and was glad to hang our with her and some other ladies for the Initial Outfitters party.

7-8pm: Shopping the party and having fun


It was neat being a guest at a party instead of the consultant.  I enjoyed just sitting back and listening to the consultant’s presentation and flipping casually through the catalog.  I decided on a chevron scarf with my monogram and I can’t wait to get it!

9pm: Packin’ lunch


We are sending Harper to daycare on Fridays for the last few weeks of summer so I packed her lunch when I got home.

10pm: Bedtime


After a shower and chatting with Carl I finally crawl into bed to read the Paleo Magazine that I picked up from Fresh Market.  I don’t think I lasted 10 minutes reading before I turned off the light and went to sleep.

And there we have it!  A day in the life at the Unsweet Tea household. 🙂

What are your days like?  Do they vary or are they pretty similar each day?  


What I’m loving lately

What I'm loving lately

I always love it when bloggers share some of their favorite stuff so I thought I would share some of the things I’m loving lately.

The Door Monkey:Harper had a difficult time when we transitioned Harper to her toddler bed earlier this summer.  The first few nights were okay and then she’d get out of bed, close the door and sit between her door and the baby gate we have outside of her door to keep her from going downstairs.  After a few weeks of horrible sleep we finally broke down and bought one and she’s done AMAZING with it on her door.  The firs time we put it on she cried for about four minutes before putting herself back to bed and went right to sleep a few minutes later.  She hasn’t gotten out of bed since!  Score!

The Whole30A few people from our CrossFit box decided to start a Paleo Challenge on July 7th and while it’s hard, I’m really loving how I’m feeling.  We are closing in on week two (recap of our prep and week 1 here) and while we are definitely not perfect I love how it’s really challenging us to look at food (and our relationship with it) in a different way. It’s amazing how many things have sugar added to it, too!


This shirtbecause it’s awesome.  I want one for me and Harper!

The Hydro Flask: This water bottle is AMAZING!  I bought it after reading about it on someone’s blog (of course I can’t remember who now!) and was totally sold!  I bought the 40oz bottle in Everest Blue from REI a few days ago and it hasn’t left my side since.  I love that it’s insulated so it keeps water cold (seriously, I still have ice in there from when I filled it up this morning and it’s 8:30pm!) even when it’s left in the car, it doesn’t sweat, AND it’s 40oz so I’m getting my water in.  It’s on the pricey side but trust me, it’s worth every penny!

I also love that Hydro Flask has a charitable side to it, too.

5% Back (former was created by Hydro Flask in 2009. Hydro Flask stands apart in their belief that great flasks and great causes can go hand-in-hand. They are strong believers in taking care of each other and the environment in which we live. Therefore, when Hydro Flask began in 2009, 5% Back started as well. Through 5% Back, Hydro Flask offers you an opportunity to give back to the greater community by choosing a charity to donate five percent of the net profit of your Hydro Flask purchase.

Discovering new blogs: I’ve found a few new blogs lately and wanted to give them a shout out! Ashley from My Food & Fitness Diaries is just so sweet and has the cutest little boy.  I’m also loving A Healthy Slice of Life.  Brittany has a daughter around Harper’s age and just had a baby girl two months ago.  I love her real stories about life with two little ones and no, this doesn’t mean I’m thinking about another baby!

Shopping at new stores:  I’ve always loved checking out new grocery stores and we’ve started shopping at Whole Foods and Fresh Market again.  I know, I know, Whole Paycheck, but their 365 brand actually has lower prices than some of the brands at Publix (for coconut milk, unsweetened shredded coconut, etc.) which I was really surprised about.  Both of these stores are just fun and different than our normal Costco and Publix runs.

What are some things that you’re loving lately?

Note:  None of the companies I’ve mentioned above have compensated me in any way I just love their products and wanted to share them with you!

Made my Monday!

Since we’re on summer vacation Monday’s are pretty much like every other day of the week. I’m definitely not complaining and I’m incredibly thankful that both Carl and I are off so we can spend time together and with Harper. Yes, we drive each other crazy sometimes but I still can’t think of anyone else I’d rather spend all my time off with. 🙂

My favorite moment from today had to be the time we spent together reading the books we got from the library.  


I’m beyond excited to have a few books to read over the next few weeks!  

What made your Monday?

Paleo challenge: prep work and week 1

Paleo Challenge

Monday, July 1, 2014 marked the beginning of a 30 day Paleo Challenge that a few people at my CrossFit box decided to start. This couldn’t have come at a better time as we’d just spent the past week visiting our family for the 4th of July holiday and eating foods that were literally making me sick.

I’ve always been “lactose sensitive” (I put this in quotes because I actually think it’s whey that bothers me, not lactose) and have gone through different periods in my life that it has bothered me more than others. After I had Harper my wrist joints also started bothering me. Both of these symptoms, as well as some skin issues, totally disappeared when we started eating Paleo last year. Conclusion – my body just doesn’t process dairy or gluten/certain grains very well.

We got back into town late Monday afternoon so breakfast, lunch, and dinner were just complete Paleo survival mode – eggs for breakfast, a salad a Chik-fil-A for lunch, and ground beef with sauteed veggies for dinner.  As soon as we put Harper down to bed we worked on meal planning, scouring our two go-to Paleo cookbooks,  pinterest, and whatever I’d clipped into evernote over the last year.  We spent a crazy amount of time trying to plan out each meal for the first week and thankfully, with some help from friends on facebook, we have a better plan for the coming weeks.

Here are our favorite cookbooks and their blogs

Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan

Well Fed

Why we love it: Melissa does a FANTASTIC job of explaining how to simplify meal planning (that I didn’t listen to this time, but that’s beside the point).  With each recipe there are also tips for other ways you could change up the meal (to make it Italian, southwest, or Asian, for example) and even sides to pair it with.  I love the sides option because when I’ve already spent time to find the perfect meal it also takes time to figure out something (other than plain veggies) to go with it.

Against all Grain by Danielle Walker

Against all Grain

Why we love it: Carl’s aunt gave us this for Christmas and it has been AMAZING!  Nearly every recipe that we’ve tried has been spot on in flavor and texture to some of our favorite “non paleo” foods.  The blueberry waffles (that I can’t wait to have again once this challenge is over!!) are seriously the best waffles I’ve ever had!  I also love that there is a recipe index WITH PICTURES at the back of the cookbook.

I also decided to up our grocery budget this week from $140 to $200 because I wanted to stock up on things like coconut milk, shredded unsweetened coconut, coconut aminos (to replace soy sauce), olive oil, etc.  I know these things aren’t completely necessary but they are important additions that allow our family to do a Whole30 without pulling our hair out.  I shopped at Whole Foods (which actually has some better prices for their 365 store brand than Publix regular brands!) and Publix and Carl picked up some shrimp (that put us over budget, but that’s another story for another day…) at the seafood market.

I spent most of Wednesday making sauces and other goodies to get us through the week.  I was totally exhausted by the end of the day but it was all worth it when Harper was eating the food by the fist full!

Notable, amazing food we ate this week:

Now that the first week is over, how are we feeling?  Honestly?  We are feeling amazing!  I know that the cravings will come and be harder to ward off next week once the honeymoon phase of feeling better is over (maybe?) but I just can’t get over how drastically different I feel at the end of this week compared to how horrible I felt before we started!  I’m less bloated (because you wanted to know about the state of my digestive system), my skin looks awesome, and the skin irritations that I get from eating dairy (or gluten/grains?) are almost completely gone!

Lots of people hear “Paleo diet” and think it’s just a fad or a crazy restrictive way of eating.  I guess if you look at some aspects of it, it can be.  But I know for me and my body, it’s a healer.  There is power in the food we eat and the choices we make, friends.


Do you think there is power in the food we eat?  

Are there foods that your body can’t tolerate or process very well?

Edited to add: This week also marked our one day return to CrossFit.  Notice I said, “our”, which means that Carl is starting back too!  During this workout on the “active rest day” we were to work on some gymnastic movements in between rowing 250m, 500m, 1000m, and 2000m (I ran instead because we ran out of time).  I decided to work on my toes through rings that I couldn’t get for Rep Your Box (recap coming soon!) and I GOT THEM!  Two of them in a row, two separate times!  Yes!

I am…

As I approach my 1 year CrossFit anniversary I finally had the time to gather my thoughts enough to write about how CrossFit has changed my life.  Dramatic sounding, I know, but it’s really true.  This is going to be long and wordy, so sit back and get comfy or skip this post if you’re not interested.

For years I heard friends who did CrossFit and followed a Paleo diet talk about how awesome they felt, how much weight they lost and how strong they were feeling.  All I remember thinking about when they would talk about it was “They are crazy!  I could never_____” insert any of the following misconceptions about both here – lift heavy weights, do a burpee, give up bread (!!!) and pasta (!!!).  I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about because a majority of the people I talk to now say the same thing.

Right before I got pregnant with Harper I was at my lowest, most healthy weight, which was still technically about 20 pounds over a healthy weight for someone who is 5’3″.


January 29, 2011 – Fastest 5k at Race for the Cure

Over the course of my pregnancy I gained 50 pounds.  Yes, 50 pounds.  Yes, I said it out loud.  Chalk it up to all day sickness for the first 16 weeks of my pregnancy where I could only hold down one meal, typically lunch, and the greasier the better.  Carl would fix an amazing, healthy dinner and I’d walk in the door and go straight to the bathroom.  It was really that bad.  The years I spent changing my eating habits to include veggies, home cooked, healthy meals went out the window.  Once I started feeling better it was hard to break the habit of picking up fast food and indulging in sweet treats.

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December 13, 2011 – 38 weeks pregnant and two days before Harper was born 

After Harper was born I dropped about 25 pounds right away, but the last 25 pounds stayed.  Not that I felt like doing much about it in the exhausted state of first year parenting, but deep down I knew it was an excuse.  2011 and 2012 were rough years for our family, add to it the constant feeling of inadequacy and insecurity in nearly every aspect of my life, from parenting to teaching.  Say hello to emotional eating, more weight gain, and the cycle continues.

December 2012

Late December 2012 – right after Harper’s 1st birthday

Last summer, though, something in me changed.  I was finally so unhappy with the way I looked and felt that I was ready to make a change.  Actually, it wasn’t something, it was shame and embarrassment.  With the end of the school year approaching it meant SUMMER TIME (where livin’ is easy…) was coming!  Time for fun, family and play dates with friends.

Our first play date was all set for the the beach (!!!)  the first Wednesday after school got out.  Yep, I made a play date to take Harper to the beach, by myself (!!!), with some ladies from work who are exercise queens!  They ran faster than I could even imagine and did P90X after school.  For fun!   What was I getting myself into?  I was terrified and embarrassed and contemplated not going.  My bathing suit didn’t even FIT me!  I had to squeeze myself into bottoms and a flowy workout top.  Holy hell!  What was I getting myself into?  So, after shedding a lot few tears, a pep talk from Carl and WAY too much stuff packed into my beach bag, we went off to the beach.  I knew that no matter what I wasn’t going to let my insecurities interfere with taking Harper to the beach and having fun.  If there is anything that I DON’T want to pass on to Harper is MY body issues.

You know what?  We had a great time!  Okay, I did spend the entire time feeling nervous about my body, chasing Harper around the beach, trying to tell myself that she wouldn’t drown in the giant ocean.  It was stressful but I’m am so proud of myself because I did it!  I was so proud of myself that I scheduled another play date to the splash park the following Saturday.
Beach Day

June 12, 2013 – Beach Play Date

Like I said, that play date to the beach was my turning point because while Carl and I were on a breakfast date on a Friday just a few days later, we decided to check out the CrossFit Box that was down the street and see what it was all about.  We walked over, which was a lot farther than we anticipated, and unfortunately we were in between classes so no one was there.  We found out later that the owner was at the same place we ate breakfast.  Small world.When he arrived back at the box, he talked to us a little while and we made an appointment to go in for our baseline on Tuesday.  We started Paleo that weekend.

Carl and I were both nervous as hell when we got to the box because we didn’t really know what to expect.  We were at the box a little over two hours talking about CrossFit foundations, nutrition, basic movements.  Then we did our baseline.  Holy Hell!  500m row, 40 air squats, 30 ab mat sit ups, 20 push ups, and 10 pull ups.  I had to modify the push ups (on my knees) and the pull ups (jumping) and finished in 10:09.  It was the hardest 10 minutes of my life!  I’d never been so exhausted after a workout and I’ve never been more proud of myself either.  We joined that day and I never looked back.

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June 18, 2014 – Our first day of CrossFit for our baseline

Saturday I went to the splash park with Hilary and our girls had a blast!  Well, Harper spent a majority of the day in my arms, but for her first trip she did great!  While we were there Hilary snapped this picture of me. IMG_4609

June 22, 2013 – Splash park play date

Holy Hell!  This picture proved to me that we’d made the right decision to embark on the journey to lead healthier lives through CrossFit and Paleo.

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July 2013 – Two weeks in

I traveled a lot those first 30 days but still stuck to eating Paleo and doing travel CrossFit workouts in the hotel gym.  That first month I lost about 10 pounds and four inches from my hips!  As excited as I was, it wasn’t about losing weight or inches, it was about starting to feel strong and comfortable in my skin again.


August 14, 2013 – First time upside down attempting a handstand push up


September 2, 2014 – Committed!  I bought my first pair of CrossFit shoes.

At the six month mark I felt like I could barely recognize the person I’d been and was wearing all of my pre-pregnancy clothes.


December 2013 – Wearing my favorite pair of jeans

On February 26, 2014 I re-did my baseline and went from a 10:09 to a 5:37 doing the same modifications.  I’d say that’s progress! In March, with encouragement from my coaches, husband and CrossFit friends I participated in the CrossFit Open and was able to submit a score for ALL of the workouts, which was my goal.  There was definitely blood, sweat, and tears but I did it!


March 8, 2014 – With my CrossFit girls after 14.2 and NINE overhead squats at 65 pounds (PR!)


March 28, 2014 – Totally dazed after the hell that was 14.5 

On April 1, 2014 I went for my six month Health Risk Assessment (HRA) and received glowing remarks from the doctor.  Since June my total cholesterol dropped 29 points and my LDL (bad) cholesterol dropped 31 points!  That’s a HUGE improvement and is a direct result from a change in my diet (read: what I eat, not that I’m on a diet) and increase in exercise.  My levels have never looked this good.

Monday Carl and I started our second 30 Day Paleo Challenge with my mom, who after hearing me sing the praises of Paleo for almost the past year, has decided to do it with us.  I am so proud of her!


April 29, 2014 – Wearing shorts for the first time during a WOD

At the end of May I’m particpating in my first CrossFit competition, Rep Your Box, which is a team event made up of three men and three women.  I’m nervous as hell about the scaled workouts, but I’m also excited about growing as an athlete. That’s right.  I said I’m an athlete.  The first day we walked into CrossFit to do our baseline one of the coaches said we are all athletes, just to varying degrees.  This past year I’ve learned that he’s right.

Being an athlete isn’t about how fast you are, how much you can lift, or how many reps you can do unbroken.  Being an athlete comes from your heart.  Being an athlete is when you keep going when that little voice in your head tells you to stop.  Being an athlete is perservering when it gets hard.  Being an athlete is about learning to embrace the suck.  Being an athlete is about cheering other athletes on.  Being an athlete is about getting it done through all of the blood, sweat, and tears because you don’t want to quit.

CrossFit is nothing like I thought it would be and now I can’t imagine my life without it.  From the people I’ve met who are now some of my closest friends to what I’ve learned about myself as I’ve grown emotionally, physically and even spiritually.  I am a better person because of CrossFit.

My story is about CrossFit and Paleo but maybe those aren’t for you.  Fine.  But you deserve to be healthy, happy and confident in your skin.  Find something and then push aside those thoughts of “I can’t” and “It’s too hard”.  Do it.  You are worth it.

My mom always told me that the two words “I am” are two of the most powerful words we can say to ourselves.  I am a CrossFitter and an athlete.  What are you?  What do you want to be?

Something to celebrate


This may just look like an ordinary picture but there are actually several things that I’m celebrating about it.

My mom got Harper a bike for Easter and she absolutely loves it! While I’m sure it will be quite some time before she can steer, pedal, and go on her own I’m so excited to watch her with it and enjoy being outside.

If you know me well you know how I feel about shorts. My legs have always been the area on my body that I’ve always struggled with accepting. I was gifted this pear body shape with these legs and booty from my father’s Cuban heritage. Baby Got Back was my anthem back in the day. My mother’s Italian roots aren’t helping either but her gift to me was the cellulite. Oh God, the cellulite. The look of it ebbs and flows with my weight and while I’ve never been small enough to see if it would go away completely, seeing what my Mom and Gram’s legs looked like in shorts as I was growing up, I think it will always be there. I’m working on accepting it but there are still days that I’m embarrassed by it. I’ve talked to a few of my lady friends about this just recently and I so appreciate their support to embrace it.

So today when Harper asked to ride her bike when I picked her up this afternoon, I used it as an opportunity to get outside my comfort zone and put shorts on. Here I am in this picture for the world to see, wearing shorts with legs as white as beach sand.

Of course we had to document Harper on her bike, you know how I love pictures! I made Carl go first, pushing Harper back and forth on the sidewalk in front of our house. Eventually he got tired and it was my turn. He asked for my phone to snap some pictures of me with Harper and I hesitated a moment. I really did. I contemplated whether or not I wanted any picture of me in these shorts.

Then I remembered why I bust my ass three days a week at CrossFit, run one day a week and try to eat as healthy as I can. It’s to learn to feel more comfortable in my skin. It’s to teach Harper to love her body every nook, cranny, curve, bump, and beautiful part of it. I handed Carl the phone and had fun with my daughter. I pushed her up and down the sidewalk, guiding her as we worked on her steering and her left and right. I enjoyed the breeze on our face and the sound of her the little streamers on her handlebars. I enjoyed the moment, and it was wonderful.

Of course as soon as we got into the house I looked at the pictures, dissecting each one to see if the image I had of myself in the shorts was as bad in real life as I thought it would be. You know what? None of the pictures were. In fact, when I came across this picture all I could see was the muscle in my quad right above my knee. Hell yeah! That’s something to celebrate!

So, does Baby still Got Back? Sure thing. And I may always. But today I’m celebrating shorts, growing muscles, and a new found acceptance and love of my body. Will I still feel a little anxious the day I wear these to CrossFit? Hell yes! But you know what? I can’t think of another group that will support me and encourage me to wear them, cellulite and all!

What are you celebrating today?