I’m super lucky that my “battle” with skin cancer has been solely kept to the scalpel removal of my malignant and abnormal skin cells.

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My arms, back, and chest are pretty scarred up, and although they aren’t pretty, I’ll take that over having to go through any chemotherapy or radiation. And I pray I’ll never know what that’s like, especially after watching my (amazingly strong) sister go through it these past few months.

The American Academy of Dermatology has designated the first Monday in May as Melanoma Monday, and May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

I find this to be incredibly perfect timing. In May, the sun comes out for the first time in what feels like forever, and we all turn into idiots who forget we’ve gone through a long winter of no sun exposure.

Check out this eye-opening video that shows we’re not as covered as we think we are when we apply our SPF:

So, who’s got your back? Who do you have out there with you in the sun to let you know when you’re turning pink?

Be a sun cop with me. You can enjoy the beautiful weather, but I implore you to reapply your sunscreen every 30 minutes to two hours. Not reapplying your sunscreen regularly, even if you’re wearing a higher SPF, has proven to be much less safe.

Trust me on this. I have 7 scars to prove that being tan for a few weeks isn’t worth having scars on your body for your whole life. The following are all old photos from my scars:

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In case you missed my pasts posts about melanoma and irregular skin cell adventures, I’ve linked them below:

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I’ll say it before, and I’ll say it again. If I can prevent just one person from having to go through the things I’ve been through because of melanoma, I’ll feel like I’ve done my job.

Please go get a full body scan at your nearest dermatologist, even if you don’t have any suspicious spots. As you have read in my past posts, none of mine looked obviously suspicious.

And wear lots and lots of sunscreen! I recommend the organic Coola sun care brand, which has an amazing makeup setting spray with 30 SPF in it (so smart, right?). I adore that, the COOLA Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30 Pina Colada, and the COOLA Mineral Face SPF 30 Matte Tint Cucumber.

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If you’re interested in snagging any of the COOLA products from Elements Beauty Shop (located in Carytown here in Richmond, VA), use the code “lifeofblyss” and get 10% off your purchase. You absolutely won’t regret it.

Go spread the safe sun love, my friends. :) Happy #MelanomaMonday to you!

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Happy Monday!

As I’ve been alluding to via Instagram photos and mentions here on my blog, I’ve been skipping through my own little clean eating challenge.

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Notice I said “skipping.” Not begrudgingly trudging, not crawling, but skipping. I’ve been cleaning up my act, and I’ve been enjoying it.

After being sick mostly all winter resulting in my being on Prednizone for almost a month, I had lost a bit of weight. When I quickly gained that back and then some, I was physically feeling really gross, my clothes were less flattering, and I was frustrated.

I shared these feelings with my friend (and health coach) Brittany, and we decided to help hold each other accountable so we could feel better, and hopefully as a result, look great. :)

My meals have been delicious, my cooking skills are evolving, and the number on my scale is going down. And I’m not cutting out my favorite things, so I’m not feeling deprived.

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I’ve done Brittany’s 28-Day Challenge before, pretty loosely, and I lost 6 pounds. I know her advice works for me, so we both made a pact to track our eats with the MyFitnessPal (which I used while on my friend Jim White’s nutrition plan). We’ve been at it for over a month, and I’m really proud of the results, even after taking two weeks off after surgery. Because honestly, anyone who goes through two surgeries and is on Percocet while on a diet plan is a nutcase.

So, the guidelines for this self-made challenge? Avoid soda, sugar, and junk. Track calories. Hit at least 10,000 steps every single day. Work out at least 6 times a week (I always have some sort of rest day, but with my energy, I prefer active rest like taking a walk).

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I’m currently a roasting machine.

And no, I didn’t say “cut out.” I don’t really believe in completely cutting anything out, because then, it’s all I want, and when I can have it again, I go ham.

I’ve been doing a really good job of drinking La Croix instead of soda (not that I drank a TON of soda to begin with, but I still treated myself to it from time to time), hitting my steps goal, and finding ways to stay active despite the surgery.

I had lost 5 pounds in about two and a half weeks prior to surgery. After two weeks of eating a lot of ice cream, milkshakes, and comfort foods after my two surgeries, I got back on the wagon and am now 4 pounds down from my original weight. I’d consider that a pretty big victory for all that I ate and how little I could move post-surgery.

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This was my last weekend prior to climbing back on the wagon. I had my first Mrs. Yoder’s doughnut from the Farmer’s Market (it was a bucket list item to try, and it surely delivered), and I had spanakopita poached eggs for brunch on Greek Easter. Opa!

Today is the first day I’m cleared to do Pure Barre after surgery, and I’m really exited, although I’m also really happy with my rekindled love for running. Moving forward, I plan incorporate a healthy balance of short runs and Pure Barre classes into my weekly routine.

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So, what has this clean eating challenge has taught me over the past few weeks?

  • I can lose weight and still indulge. For example, I’ve been treating myself after a day of healthy eating and a 5-mile run to a Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered caramel. These are the best thing I got in my Easter basket this year. And yes, I still get an Easter basket because I’m obviously still 6 years old and have the best mom in the whole world.
  • Roasted veggies are the bomb.com. They are so easy, so delicious, and so perfect for advance meal prep. I get home pretty late when I teach barre after a full work day, and I love having prepped roasted veggies from a few nights ago to add to my meals.
  • Running still makes me HUNGRY. I was so used to very little cardio and lots of barre this winter, and I’ve forgotten how crazy hungry running makes me. I’m excited to find a healthy balance of barre and cardio beginning this week.
  • I can cheat on weekends and not feel guilty. I may be generally up in weight on Monday mornings due to Friday and Saturday indulgences (no, you won’t stop me from drinking palomas, wine, or stouts on Saturday night. YOLO), but I’m still losing in the grand scheme of things. And I’m perfectly fine with that, because I need balance.
  • The MyFitnessPal app is the best tool I’ve used to hold myself accountable for what I eat. It lets me eat what I want with the “if I have this, I can’t have that” mentality. It promotes a healthy balance mentality to eating, and I really love that.
  • Having a friend to talk through “adventure” with makes a huge difference. We share results, frustrations, and encourage each other by taking walks and runs together.

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Just grabbing some essentials.

Balance. That’s actually my word of the moment. I’m aiming to balance different healthy foods without depriving myself of indulgences, I’m going to balance different workouts to keep my body and muscles fresh and guessing, and I’m working on balancing my work and social life so I can spend time with the people I love while staying successful. So far, that’s what’s keeping me happy!

Hopefully, the above photo montage of what I’ve been munching on throughout this clean eating challenge can inspire you to try some healthy balanced meals as well. I am in such a hurry in the mornings, many servings of peanut butter Ezekiel toast and PB2 oats went unphotographed, but it highlights a few of my dinners and other mealtimes throughout the week.

Now, you. What can you not cut out? What’s your word of the week? Have you used MyFitnessPal to reach our goals?

 

 

 

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I really, really hope you guys have discovered the My Idol app. And if you haven’t… you need to.

I think a picture will do it justice.

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UNCANNY, RIGHT?

This app takes a picture of your face and makes you into a cartoon. A really sassy, caricature-esque cartoon, but I’ll say, it’s the most spot-on cartoon I have yet to see of myself. I had a hard time controlling myself and went a little ham in the design process.

Because, you know, I’m an adult.

And before you get started on creating your own mini-me, let me warn you it *might* make you a boy first.

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Because who doesn’t want to see themselves as a brunette boy in cat overalls? I SURE DID.

This is when I started to have fun.

I became Elsa.

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Life dream, realized.

And then I was Ellen.

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Ellen and I are basically twinsies.

And, of course, I was Superwoman.

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Because WHY NOT? Check out those QUADS, man.

I even toyed with the idea of going dark (never happening, ever).

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It’s probably more likely I go pink.

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Nice mini bangs, girl.

All the buttons on this app are in Chinese, and since I’m definitely fluent in Chinese, it took no time at all to figure out what I was doing (that’s a joke). But I did figure out what the different sliders were once I started experimenting.

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I took a trip back to yesteryear… (baby mini me)

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And got a little preview of what I’ll be looking at in the mirror 60 years from now.

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Zing!

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After toying with the idea of being the cartoon version of Chris Soules’ fianceé, I went with my usual uniform. But my cartoon self likes to show a little more skin than I typically do.

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She’s just finished the Pure Barre challenge AND went to the hair salon. #abrific #shewins

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better… there are videos.

We even have the same facial features when we dance seductively. Sorry, Dad, you can’t unsee this.

I’m really on a roll with all these super mature and entertaining apps I’ve been finding. Join me, won’t you? And obviously, if you post your mini me, puh-lease tag me @ablyssa on Twitter or Instagram so I can see how wonderful (s)he is. Find this in the app store fo free under “Huanshi.”

BRB, gonna go play with my mini me forever and make her do all the things I can’t.

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Another Surgery

April 17, 2015
www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkPfLalWb9U”

You all know about my history with melanoma. I had two back in 2012, and I’m scarred up and cancer free now. I was very hesitant to try a new dermatologist now that I live in Richmond, since my awesome derm in Virginia Beach is the one who caught my two melanoma, three basal cells, […]

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My Experience with a Septoplasty & Sinus Surgery

April 14, 2015

I’m alive! And I can breathe! As you know from my last post, I had a septoplasty and sinus surgery almost two weeks ago. I’m still in recovery mode, so I’m not completely able to reap the benefits. I can tell you already that I am breathing so much better. It’s amazing to actually feel […]

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Septoplasty & Sinus Surgery… fo mah face.

March 31, 2015

Hi. My name is Alyssa, and I have a deviated septum. As I so nicely diagrammed for you above (from a shameless haircut selfie I probably took to send to my mom), the septum separates the two nasal passages. If it’s crooked in any way, it disrupts airflow and causes difficulty breathing. Welcome to my […]

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Which Fitness Tracker is Right for Me? [My Garmin Vívofit]

March 26, 2015

I’ve had my Garmin Vivofit for almost four months now. I get questions about it all the time, so here’s my writeup about how I chose it, what I like about it, and what it lacks. I really never thought I wanted or needed a fitness tracker. I tend to obsess if I track anything […]

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Simply The Best

March 23, 2015

Yesterday was simply the best. My Pure Barre studio hosted an #AMYSTRONG class to benefit my sister in her second fight against breast cancer. We had a completely full house, and the energy was absolutely amazing. I was so frazzled and emotionally overwhelmed, I’m certain I was spinning around like The Tasmanian Devil as I […]

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IsoPump You Up

March 20, 2015

You guys, I have a new favorite thing. It’s protein powder. I have a new favorite protein powder. Does my excitement about this make me a total meat head? I’ve taken a vacation from making protein drinks. I’m not quite sure how or why they fell off my radar, but I haven’t been including them […]

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Tips To Getting The Most Out Of Your Barre Class

March 18, 2015

We’ve all hit the workout plateau before. After you’ve been taking a certain fitness class for a while, it’s possible you’ll hit a weight loss plateau, a stagnant level of perceived challenge, or a need to reignite your passion for the exercise. Keeping in mind tricks like these always seem to help me push myself […]

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