Smackable

Howdy, folks! It’s a totally miserable, dreary day here in the DC area, so I hope that you all are having extra sunny Tuesdays to counteract the weather here!

So in my post last week about the horrors of going to a college with a legitimate reputation for hot girls, and the body-image issues that ensued when I tried to work out around them, I left off saying that I would report back in with details about the actual functionality of the Active by Old Navy clothing I had been asked to try. Well, here I am!

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I know that you’ve probably been seeing quite a few of these Old Navy posts floating around the blogosphere over the past week or so, and that can be kind of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s great because no body (and nobody!) is exactly the same, wears the same size, has the same body shape, or likes the same stuff, so there’s a pretty wide variety presented within the same line. But on the other hand, I’m sure it can get a little grating seeing similar–if not the same–stuff over and over again. I’m sure it would feel that way no matter what the actual content–if every healthy living blogger coincidentally posted on the same day about what they ate, and nothing else, I’m sure that might get old too. (Oh, wait… awkward. Haaahahahaha.)

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Now, all that being said, I really do think that this line offers fantastic options for those who might not want to shell out $70 for a single piece of UnderArmour or Lululemon clothing. And as with ALL things, there are pros and cons. So now that I’ve had more time to wear, stretch, relax, and workout in these clothes, I figured I would report back in. Also, joy! A zillion more pictures of me! Bahahaha.

Okay, so let’s talk utility. Functionality. Usability. Being in the healthy living blog business, as well as having a sister who works for UnderArmour, I like to think I’m in a pretty good position to have an opinion about workout clothing. I mean, at this point, I practically own more of it than I do regular clothes (okay, well, that’s not true, because I am a shopaholic, but you get what I’m saying). Ironic, since I am always saying how much I hate working out, eh? Bahaha. Anyway, as I was saying, at this point I definitely know the things that I like when it comes to activewera: the features I look for, the fit that I want, etc.

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Which is why I’m happy to report that these items really do fit the bill for me! And, of course, remain a fraction of the cost of many other brands. I mean, I liked certain items so much that I doubled up on them, so that should really say a lot. So, let’s break it down, shall we?

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I actually tried on like, every single item from the Active line, because I was in such a giddy shopping mood, haha, but the pieces I ended up walking out of Old Navy with were:

Active GoDRY Mesh Tanks in black and neon salmon sizzle (also known as pink–what kind of name is that?)
Active Fold-over Yoga Pants in fiber optic (lime) and retro violet (purple)
Active GoDRY running top in silver

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Fit/Silhouette:

I love the fit of the tanks–fitted at the top but looser around my stomach–as well as the fact that they are SUPER lightweight. They are a mesh material that isn’t see-through and just feels really, really nice. I may or may not have slept in one at one point, that’s how comfy they are. I also really liked how long the tops were. Since I have larger, ahem, lady lumps than some, I find that it can be difficult to find tops that are the length I like (and I just really like the look of long tops in general).

Same for the pants–the fit is awesome, they’re not too long and not too short, which is actually kind of a hard balance to strike with yoga pants. They are nice and fitted through the thigh and knee, and the fold-over waistband is perfect for someone like me who still has a bit of a gut. Plus, the waistbands come in SUPER fun colors (I kind of wish I had gone with another bright color rather than the purple, actually, cause you can barely tell its purple and the bright lime green is so fun!)

I really like the fit of the running top, too. It’s not too tight in the shoulders, still skims over my stomach without being baggy. Also, the running top has THUMBHOLES. Which are the best. Because I find running gloves kind of annoying, actually, since I run with my phone for GPS/music and not all my gloves have capacitave touch. Also, I should probably note that I got size L in all the clothing, except for one kind of hilarious mistake which I will go into in a second.

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Function:

(Sidenote: even with a camera remote, self-timed jumping pics are really, really hard.)

I specifically went for more yoga/group exercise-style workout wear this go around, mostly because I already have SO MUCH RUNNING stuff (not that I’m complaining, I’m just saying). So while Old Navy does carry a line of compression running stuff, I was very deliberate in my choices. I did some yoga and a session of Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred in the tank top and yoga pants and had no problems. The tank tops have sweat-wicking technology that did work insofar as I can tell (I am a SWEAT MACHINE) and the pants were stretchy and comfortable, without exposing my crack to Harry and Daxter in the process. I did find myself pulling at the green yoga pants a little bit during some of the more flex-intensive yoga moves, but it wasn’t terrible, and I think really it comes down to the fact that I probably should have sized down in the pants. I’ll get into that in a second though.

I haven’t tested the utility of the running top by actually RUNNING, but I will say that in the capacity I did use it (um, just, like, wearing it, haha) it definitely reminds me of a lot of my UA heatgear stuff, because I felt it was keeping me warm despite the fact that it’s super lightweight. So that’s a definite plus for outdoor runners/exercisers! And even though I did sweat quite a bit in one of the tank tops, I didn’t find it smelled super rank or anything afterward, which is a DEFINITE plus (though don’t ask me how I know that, hahaha).

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Sizing:

Okay, so here we come down to really my only issue with this line (and arguably, with Old Navy in general). The sizing is SO inconsistent. Generally, when I go into an Old Navy I assume the sizing is pretty generous. So whereas I may still barely be able to squeeze the girls into an L blouse at J.Crew, at Old Navy, I often fit into a size M. I mean, honestly, that’s probably one of the reasons I’ve always loved wearing Old Navy so much, because back when I *was* bigger, and quickly climbing my way up to size 20, I could always count on Old Navy to hold strong as a size 18, hahaha.

However, with many of the items in their Activewear line, I found the opposite problem. I own a lot of compression leggings and capris for running, and I consistently fit into an UnderArmour size L without much of a problem. I mean, they’re tight, sure, but they’re supposed to be. But when I tried on the Old Navy compression leggings in size L? Could not even get them on. They were SO tight. And belive me, I tried! But I would have had to size up one, maybe two sizes in order to even squeeze into them. And maybe it’s a thing about my particular body shape (I gots THIGHS, yo!) but I found the same thing with their super tight, compression, built-in-bra tanks.

Somewhat hilariously (because I’m an idiot), I actually ended up grabbing the wrong size in the purple foldover yoga pants. I tried on the green ones in L, and they fit, and I really liked them, so I grabbed another pair in purple without checking the tag on the inside (only the size on the hanger). My mistake. By the time I got home (having already cut the tags off because, again, I’m an idiot), I realized I grabbed the wrong size! A much, MUCH smaller size. However, I still put ’em on, and I think you’ll notice in the pictures above, that it doesn’t really look like the purple pants are too small. In fact, I almost liked the fit better with the smaller pants (probably because I wear so much compression gear) than with the size Ls.

So, yeah. Super inconsistent sizing, for which I could really smack Old Navy (title reference #1!) because it makes online ordering a pain. So I recommend you definitely go into a store and try things on if you can (although I think they offer free return shipping if you order from their website anyway, so that’s really good).

And with that, we move on to the final workout clothing judgement criteria (and arguably the most important one)…

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Butt Smackability:

And yes, that would be title reference #2. Heh. Oh please, don’t even try and pretend like you don’t think about this factor when it comes to yoga pants. So yes, borderline-inappropriate photo aside, the pants in particular are, in my opinion, very flattering and they satisfy that need of mine to be both incredibly comfortable and look as good as possible in one fell swoop. So sizing issues aside, as long as you find the size that fits you best, I heartily recommend this line.

Only time will tell if it has the long-lasting durability that some of my other fitness clothing, but if you’re looking for a few bright, fun new pieces to add to your workout wardrobe, why not grab yourself an $8 tank top or $12 pair of yoga pants? If nothing else, maybe it’ll be a way to get your signficant other to appreciate you just a little bit more. 😉

AdvertisementThis post is sponsored by Old Navy. Check out Old Navy’s Active wear in stores or at oldnavy.com. Active by Old Navy is 40% off until January 16th! I received a gift card and stipend for my participation but my words and opinions are 100% my own. #GetYourActiveON

Now and Then

So, alas, this post isn’t about the absolutely marvelous 1995 movie, Now and Then.

No, sadly (though we can get into all the various ways in which that movie changed my life when I was 7 another time) this post is simply about, well, me. And I would apologize for that, only I’m pretty sure that if you didn’t like to read about me talking about myself, you probably wouldn’t be on a blog that literally has my name in the title. I mean, just scroll back up to the header if you need a reminder, haha. There’s a picture of me, too. Just saying.

Anyway, one of the things I like best about this blog is how it enables me to have open (and thoughtful and intelligent and generally awesome) conversations with you guys about topics that are really near and dear to my heart. These also tend to be topics that not everybody really likes to talk about. So when I was able to submit myself for an opportunity to sample ON’s new line of Activewear and discuss how my workout wardrobe has changed over time, I jumped. Like, seriously, jumped right out of my desk chair. Not just because I was so excited to get a $50 gift card to go pick up some new Activewear items (don’t get me wrong, I was totally excited for that — $50 goes REALLY far at Old Navy! I got FIVE things and only went like $8 over!) but because I was also immediately inspired to re-open and re-discuss one of those hard topics. But one of those really necessary ones: body acceptance, body image, and body confidence.

Let me paint you a word picture. I went to James Madison University for college. JMU is a beautiful little (well, not really so little) school down in Harrisonburg, VA–the furthest south I have ever lived. It’s a really gorgeous place, with the old (er, historic) campus on one side of highway 81 and the newer part of the campus on the other side, bridged by… uh… a bridge. And when I first enrolled, as a wee young Freshman, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and totally naive to the concept of skipping 8 AM classes (oh, how quickly that changed) one of the shining gems of the newer part of campus was–and I’m assuming, still is–UREC. The University Recreation Center.

Actually, I just realized I don’t need to paint you a word picture. I can show you a real picture. Heh.

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Pretty nice, right? And it was–er, is. It’s got tons of machines, an indoor track, raquetball and basketball and whateverball courts, group fitness classes… and a ROCK WALL. Sweet, right? Only, I never got a chance to test out the rock wall. Not once in my four years there. In fact, I could probably count the number of times I actually ventured into UREC on both hands. (Well, okay, maaaaybe it would take three hands.) ‘Cause here’s another thing you should know about JMU. We have a widespread reputation throughout the state of Virginia (perhaps further than that?) for having really hot girls. I know. I’m so proud.

So anyway, here I am, just one of thousands of faces, enrolled in a school that is literally known for the hotness level of its female students. Talk about pressure. And, of course, we all know I had my eating issues, and my body issues, and those led to my weight issues… and by the time I started realizing that my weight was getting out of control, by the time I actually wanted to DO something about it, well… things didn’t go very well.

See, at first I thought, Okay, here we go. I’m going to go to the gym every day and eat super well and things will work out, you’ll see! Except I was already ashamed of my body, ashamed that I had gained so much weight, and comparing myself to every Jessica and Lindsay I passed certainly didn’t help (seriously, there were, like, six Lindsays living in my Freshman dorm). Because you know what those girls spent their spare time doing? Working out. Doing yoga. Going running. At UREC. In spandex capris and tight tank tops, and sometimes just in their sports bras. To say it was intimidating is like calling a jaguar a cat. UNDERSTATEMENT.

So each admittedly infrequent time I would actually get up the nerve to go to the gym, I was so afraid. So afraid that someone would see me, that they would judge me, that they would know I don’t belong. So I’d put on my baggy t-shirts and my loose-fitting sweatpants thinking that they hid my bulges, and I would pull my hair back and stuff headphone in my ears and pretend like I wasn’t watching the taut-bodied, long-legged girl reading Glamour on the elliptical. I’d huff and puff for maybe 10 minutes and then would get too discouraged to keep going, because I was so certain that SOMEBODY was going to look at me and think, “Ew, why is she even here? It’s not like it’s going to help…” and then I’d make sure I grabbed a grilled cheese sandwich from D-Hall on my way home.

Yeah, I know. It was messed up.

But the point of this story isn’t to dwell on the sad-sack Gretchen. Eventually she found in-office gyms and home workout videos and a diet that finally worked, and she ended up pretty okay. The point is to focus on the things that made her feel like she needed to cover up, to hide, to feel ashamed. Because even though, yes, I was overweight, it’s like there was a rule that said I wasn’t allowed to like the way I looked, or wasn’t allowed to associate with the skinnies, or wasn’t allowed to look cute at the gym. It was all self-imposed. A symptom of my complete lack of body confidence. And the ironic part is that before my senior year, I wasn’t even “that bad.” I didn’t reach my highest weight until 2009, the year that I graduated. I’m sure that I think I’m still heavier now than I was when I started college. (I graduated from high school around 185.) But, man, 197 pounds feels really different on this side of the void, that’s for sure.

I wish I had some photos of myself in “gym clothes” from back then. (But of course I don’t. I would never have let anyone take that photo, haha.) I wish I had something to really show you how low I thought of myself back then, how I thought I needed to hide, that how I looked was somehow offensive. How I hid my curves and rolls and completely HUMAN imperfections under unflattering giant t-shirts and old pairs of stretched out Soffe shorts.

So I don’t have photos of exactly that, but I do have a couple of photos that might help show what I mean:

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These photos are unrelated to gym apparel, obviously, but they make a point. Here I am, in giant, oversized sweatshirts–which I wore A LOT in the hopes that that they would fool the world into thinking I was smaller. Silly, right? Because in reality, all that wearing big, baggy, oversized stuff does is make you look oversized. Which makes you feel oversized, which makes you not want to show off the goods that God gave you. And the cycle continues.

So. We thank our lucky stars that those days are done, and we revel in the fact that the same girl who used to think like that and hide her body, well, now she wears stuff like this:

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And like this:

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I got a camera remote for Christmas and I am SO EXCITED but still figuring it out, haha. Can you tell?

And she doesn’t just wear them, she feels legitimately awesome in them. Confident. Unashamed. And yes, it helps that she’s lost a lot of the weight she put on during college and beyond. But her stomach still bunches up when she does crunches and things still jiggle when she’s on the treadmill and–gasp!–her thighs will always (ALWAYS) touch. But who cares? She doesn’t. And neither should you. What she does care about is the fact that the sweat-wicking technology in her tops helps keep her cool, and the spandex in her bottoms help her stretch and bend and reach without showing the world her buttcrack.

Old Navy has always been awesome about providing clothing that fits almost every shape and size of woman. It’s why it was one of my favorite places to shop THEN, and it’s still one of my favorites NOW. Because I appreciate the fact that they make it so that you can look good, no matter what number is stitched on the inside label of your jeans. I’ll go into detail about the actual utility of the pieces I’m wearing in a later post (for your reference though, I’m rocking the Active GoDRY Mesh Tanks and Active Fold-over Yoga Pants in both pics, with the Active GoDRY running top added in the second). The point is, workout apparel like this — clothing that clings and is fitted and has technology that helps make us better and faster and stronger… that is what’s important. And the fact that it all comes in awesome colors and flattering shapes and helps us look cute even when we don’t have that perfect body yet? That’s just gravy, man.

AdvertisementThis post is sponsored by Old Navy. Check out Old Navy’s Active wear in stores or at oldnavy.com. Active by Old Navy is 40% off until January 16th! I received a gift card and stipend for my participation but my words and opinions are 100% my own. #GetYourActiveON

(Swim)suit Up!

This post is underwritten by Old Navy. Whether you’re looking for a tankini, bikini, or a one piece, Old Navy has you confidently covered at a great price.

I’ve talked about my fake-it-’til-you-make-it bikini confidence before. I spent years living in full-coverage tankinis and strategically colorblocked one-pieces that did nothing for my self-confidence (nor for my tan lines), constantly telling myself that “one day” I’d be thin enough, gorgeous enough, confident enough to strut my stuff on a beach in a bikini. Well, as it turned out, “one day” was evidently not soon enough. As I began to lose even the slightest bit of weight, my confidence rose skyrocketed. Even though I wasn’t (and still am not) at what my former self would have considered “bikini weight”, I started to care less and less. Why shouldn’t I be able to rock the adorable patterns and silhouettes that seem to be almost exclusively reserved for two-piece suits? Why shouldn’t I be able to get a tan stomach and back? (It helps hides the stretch marks, after all! Hahahahaha.)

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So last summer, I really took the plunge. I had lost a considerable amount of weight, my prior swimsuits no longer fit particularly well, and I finally starting to really see myself in my new body. It wasn’t anything quite as poetic as purchasing my very first bikini, putting it on, and strutting out with all my confidence shining. No, I had already clandestinely purchased one or two bikinis in the past. I think I had maybe worn one of them in public one time before self-shaming myself into tucking them into the back of my underwear drawer, and trying my best to forget about them. But I did take the plunge in that I picked out an adorable halter-topped ‘kini from Old Navy, put it on, and actually felt good about myself in it.

 

And that’s how it all began. I know, I hardly have the “ideal” bikini-wearing body. I’m still curvy and squishy and soft, I have stretch marks on my stomach, and I have sometimes seemingly untameable bazoomas… but I also have long legs and a lean back and skin that gets beautifully golden brown. Surely those latter attributes deserve their time in the sun (heh), even if society might not think the former ones do.

Sure, there are still times when I feel too bloated or too self-conscious or have some other excuse for not getting out there in the swimsuit I really want to be wearing. Luckily, I have a couple of cute and flattering one-pieces for those days. It took a little while to come to the realization that don’t have to resign myself to “old lady suits” just because I’m not feeling the ‘kini on a particular day either.

 

I was absolutely ecstatic when I got an email from the Clever Girls Collective, notifying me of a sponsored post opportunity from Old Navy swimwear. I actually had just come to the realization when I was in St. Maarten last month that every single bathing suit I own is from Old Navy. So you see, I was already a convert long before this opportunity arose and thus my opinion is all the more valid, no? Ahaha. I firmly believe that any woman, no matter what her size, can look beautiful in a bikini as long as she has the confidence to go along with it. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s true! I also believe that said confidence comes not only from learning to appreciate your body as it is, but also from knowing that you’re in a flattering and supportive bikini for your body type.

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I know from one horrific dressing room experience that I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever be able to wear a triangle/string bikini. Even trying one on was a serious mistake, hahaha. I think that thick-banded halters like the paisley, zebra, and navy tops above, tend to suit (heh) my body a little better, but as far as style goes, I really love retro-styled bandeau tops like the yellow polka-dotted one above. If I was looking to supplement my swimsuit wardrobe any more this summer (I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t, I really shouldn’t… right?), then these current styles would be the first ones in my cart:

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My personal aesthetic tends to stray towards fun patterns, like polka dots and paisley, bright colors, and hardware. I’m a big fan of anything with a touch of vintage, and for bottoms, I am all about a wide band. Not too wide, though: I find boy-short or hipster-cut bottoms are incredibly unflattering on me. If the sides are adjustable, even better!

Nobody’s saying you HAVE to wear a bikini. It’s not as if I’m trying to say, “You only wear one-pieces, therefore you must be ashamed of your body!” Please. No. I’m just saying that if you WANT to wear a bikini, but for whatever reason have always felt like you can’t, or shouldn’t, or both… well, I’m just saying that’s a fat load of crap. You can, and you should! I bet you’ll look gorgeous. No matter what your preferred swimsuit type, it’s really just about wearing what you want: something fun, hopefully flattering, and that makes you feel beautiful all summer long.

Thank you again to Old Navy for sponsoring my post. I was compensated for this post as a member of Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all my own.