June 6, 2019

Book Review: All Things Teen

Every time I finish one piece of my finals, I am going to write a book review because we r e a l l y need to catch up here.

This is a post about all things Teen. This is my favorite genre. It consumes more of my spare time and recreational reading. All of my favorite books are teen books, with the exception of Gatsby. 

I have one big rule of thumb for Teen books and it is don't read the book until you're the age of the protagonist. Teen has a spectrum of content and parents, you'll be able to tell if it's appropriate for your children based on the age of the main character. 

My favorite thing about Teen as a genre is that the books teach teens how to handle issues that arise in pivotal years of growth and that's useful especially in the same years that they may be timid to talk to their parents about things. It's also a good way to escape a daily routine that is packed with class, homework, extra curricular activities, and friends.

Laurie Halse Anderson

Let's begin with Laurie Halse Anderson. LHA is where my rule developed because her characters have experiences that may not be suitable for younger readers. That's not to say younger readers have not experienced these things, but if the themes in her book are new to a teen then ensure the reader is an appropriate age.
Speak (age 14) caught my attention due to how renowned it is, so I decided to bite the bullet and it left me speechless. LHA created beautiful, grounded, dimensional characters who will break your heart as you journey with them. The themes of the novel are entered around the r*pe of the main character and branch into themes of isolation, communication, guilt. and bullying. On average, there are 321,500 Americans sexually assaulted each year, therefore I believe this book is imperative for everybody to read to recognize the signs in their peer and themselves and know when to reach out.
Wintergirls (age 18) is the story of two girls with eating disorders challenging each other to see who can be the skinniest while exploring anorexia, self-harm, and mental illness with readers.  It branches into larger themes including trust, relationships, and communication.
Twisted (age 18) follows a boy named Tyler, which was what had my interest because finding novels for an older demographic with a male protagonist that isn't fantasy or a queer novel is not easy. Tyler is currently doing community service, then he has a discrepancy at his dad's boss' party, and when the boss' daughter has unflattering photos posted on the internet, Tyler is to blame. This book is a diamond in the rough that explores sex, alcohol, violence, the complexities of relationships, and growing up with an overlying theme to not let one event dictate your opinion of a person.
These are novels that a teen will not be able to put down. They are bittersweet, relatable grounded stories that deserve to be in the hands of ever teen in the world and I am grateful I was able to experience them.

The Merciless Series by Danielle Vega

Described as Mean Girls meets The Exorcist, Vega wrote fours books that nail the horror genre for teens. These caught my attention because of the cover design and they were recommended by a co-worker. They have a good chunk of teen melodrama weaved into them, but there are plot twists and suspense to keep readers engaged. Vega writes vivid, terrifying characters and tells stories that will keep readers of all ages at the edge of their seats. I have two more TBR by Vega: Survive the Night and The Haunted, which was just released and you will be seeing reviews for those soon!
I also highly recommend these books for fans of Riverdale.

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Penny just started college away from home, Sam works at the coffeeshop, and they meet each other through Penny's roommate. One day, Penny finds Sam sick around town and, to make sure Sam gets home safe, Sam makes Penny his emergency contact. This spirals into a deep relationship over text where they learn more about each other than every intended, but what happens when they try to meet in person? This is my favorite sub-genre in Teen; I love fiction that is realistic. Choi does an incredible job of painting a beautiful relationship between two people at two very different points in their life while keeping the story complex, yet grounded. Her next novels comes out later this year and I already have it on pre-order.

I have three more round-ups of book reviews to do, then we're on to single book reviews for the rest of the year as I plug through the Goodreads challenge. My summer reading goal is to read through my bookshelf, too, so be on the lookout for all of that. 

Have a good weekend you guys. <3

June 3, 2019

Motivation Monday · My First Diet Bet

Hi everyone!

Welcome to the first installment of . Being the first post, I wanted to swing in and explain where I am at in my journey, what sparked the journey, and what I am doing this time that makes it different from the previous times.

I am at the very beginning of my journey right now. I’ve been going to the gym for maybe two weeks. I’ve been tweaking my diet. And, finally, I joined my first Diet Bet. Diet Bet is a website where you pay money into a pot, and win money if you hit the goal weight loss for the group. This is the group I am in right now, run by Jessica of GetFitWithJess and my goal is to lose 4% of my body weight which is a little under 10lbs. 

I am currently in the highest weight class that I have ever been. After a bad breakup following two years in a bad relationship, the death of my grandma, and putting down my dog, I turned to food and embraced treating myself because things were bad and I deserved it. I don’t remember when exactly all of the weight packed on, but I scared myself recently stepping on the scale and decided it’s time for a lifestyle change.

This time is different because my mindset is different. This was almost called Weight Loss Wednesday until I realized this time it isn’t about losing weight. It’s about a lifestyle change involving making healthier food choices, proactively being more active, and taking better care of my body altogether.

I have been taking baby steps so far because it is only the beginning, but I have been feeling a lot better already. My first step is my relationship with food. My worst food habit is eating late at night due to my sporadic schedule. However, I’ve been replacing my last meal of the day with a protein shake and some fruit to shake that habit. When I feel comfortable, I will begin eating a meal in its place again, but for now this is working for me.

The other step is being more active. I finally bought a new charger for my FitBit and have had it on non-stop since. My step goal for the day is 15,000, which I usually get close to due to working retail. But, I have started going out of my way to get more steps. I’ll take the longer way around a building, spend my breaks going somewhere instead of sitting, and exercising at night if I haven’t reached my step count. We have also started going to the gym. Though I haven’t created a routine because I’m newer, I’m doing what makes me feel good and listening to my body. This is causing me to push myself just a bit more than normal while still being comfortable with the work I’m doing. 


Hi everybody!

I am writing this part of the post about a month after I drafted the last part and I have some catching up to do. I wanted to keep that piece in there so we could all see where I started. I also think it's important to record my headspace at the beginning of this journey because that's something that I don't want to change as time progresses.

I participated in my first DietBet.  It was run by GetFitWJess and she has been a big inspiration to me because besides her weight loss, she is battling cancer. She is strong, beautiful, and the most inspiration woman that I follow and it was a pleasure to participate.

Here's how Diet Bet works:
1. You download the app and find a game that you like the most. I found Jess' through her Instagram, but there is a homepage on the app that offers several games.
2. There is an amount you pay at the beginning. Jess' was $35, but my DB for June is $15. Whatever you're comfortable with, there is a price point for you.
3. On the first day, you weigh in. DB sends you a photos of a code word on the app when you are ready to take the photo. You write the code word down on paper and it needs to be on the screen with the photo on the scale for verification. You will then submit a second full body photo of you on the scale. Then the challenge begins.

The next twenty-eight days, you are trying to lose 4% of your body weight, and man was the money a beautiful incentive. I didn't want to be out $35. I found myself working out at home and starting to go to the gym more often than I ever have before.  I tried new workouts and pushed myself harder than I would have had their been no money on the line.

Whenever I start a new regime, after about three weeks I hit a slump where I lose interest. I have no more motivation to workout or eat healthy and I fall off of the wagon. However, this helped me push through them because by the time I hit this wall it's almost time to weigh in. 

DB also helped me improve my relationship with food. I began cooking more often instead of eating out with my boyfriend all of the time. We made toast, chose healthier snacks, and ate better at parties and social situation. However, I didn't limit myself to no fun food, just made better decisions. We went to a bar one night and I had one beer instead of three or four. I drank a lot more water to keep my hands full when we were out with friends so I didn't feel left out because I wasn't drinking. Finally, I spent more time at the grocery store picking out food for meals and that's time that I would have spent just walking down the block to Taco Bell.

After the 28 days, you receive another code word to take your final weigh-in photo and the team at DB verifies it. If it's successfully verified in the photos, you split the pot with the other winners and you win money starting with at least your initial payment back.

I think this experience has greatly impacted my relationship with food and this is what I'm grateful for. Alongside the weight loss, of course.

This is the June DietBet I would be joining. The initial payment is only $15, so if you're interested then this is the one to join. The community is incredibly motivating and non-judgmental because everybody is participating for the same reason.

I'm excited to see how the next month plays out and how my workout regime develops and I will (hopefully) be checking in on here each Wednesday with a new update!