Opinions Page

Biggest Loser in Trouble: How is That a Surprise?

I’m a sucker for some good inspiration. I used to watch The Biggest Loser while eating light ice cream and thinking “wow I don’t have that much to lose, I can do this.” Or “WOW that is an insane story, my life’s not too bad.” I also used to watch Intervention while drinking. I know, I’m twisted.

The Biggest Loser’s changed hundreds of lives, plus I’m sure inspired thousands more. But lately it’s come under criticism, and I hate to be the Negative Nellie here, but WHY IS ANYONE SURPRISED?

It can’t be healthy to lose 100 pounds in six weeks. It just can’t. They might be doing drugs? They might be working out six hours a day and only eating 1,200 calories a day? Nothing here surprises me.

The former contestants who are suing are just ridiculous. YOU signed up for the show. YOU were responsible for reading the fine print, for knowing what you agreed to before you participated. And YOU reverted to bad habits. The show is a launching pad and a great help, but one’s own personal health is his or her responsibility, no one else’s. They remind me of lottery winners who blow their fortunes and then blame the lottery for ruining their lives. It’s your own fault if life hands you lemons and you throw them at a wall instead of making lemonade.

So the drugs … did they force feed them to you? You could’ve said no. Why wait until now to bring it up? It seems like people are willing to compromise their morals when it’s benefiting them, but once life’s not so peachy anymore, let’s take it out on the show.

And before you get on me about all the articles about how the extreme dieting, exercise and weight loss killed their metabolisms … I’ve read those articles too. It seems like a lot of hype. If you’re super extreming it, and go home and back to higher calories and old ways, OF COURSE you’re going to mess your metabolism up.

I also read the claim about contestants being taken to the hospital. Years of neglect + sudden onset of extreme exertion = physical distress. It’s bound to happen.

Do I still like The Biggest Loser? Yes. But I do think the standards and methods are quite extreme. I much prefer the Powells’ approach of helping someone change their life over the course of a year; it’s healthier and more sustainable. Still, regardless of how you lose weight, it’s your choice. You CAN say no. Don’t blame someone else because you said yes.

 

Animal Makeup: An Open Letter to Cosmetics Companies

lpobeauty.comI LOVE makeup. Thank you, Captain Obvious, right? Well why have I not bought any for the past six months? Well,  I finally broke my way out of my “ignorance is bliss” mindset and decided to educate myself. And I was disturbed. So disturbed in fact that my blog has virtually been in limbo. I’ve felt paralyzed at how daunting it can be to check all the ingredients, compare them with what I’m ok with and not ok with (for example, I can handle beeswax but the stomach lining of an animal is SO not ok to me), try to figure if ingredients are an animal or a synthetic form, etc. The days of just picking something up because “ooh I like this” are gone. I’ve learned a lot and I’ll include some links and tips for avoiding animal products in your makeup at the end. But for now, this post from Beautylish breaks it down great; it was a huge eye opener for me. So it’s finally time for me to have my say, and I’m doing it in the form of letter.

Dear Cosmetics Companies,
You have been the benefactor of a good chunk of my expendable income for the past 17 or 18 years … ever since I visited my first MAC Cosmetics store in California. I was in love. The color … oh the color. So much so that, four years ago, my friends encouraged me to start a blog to share the product reviews I did for them with the world.

I have been a vegetarian since 1997. I don’t expect anyone else to live that way, to avoid leather because I do. But it’s pretty clear cut, I know what to avoid and what to embrace. Buy you have so carefully hidden the fact that animal parts are rampant in your products. I had NO idea that because of carmine coloring, I’d been putting BEETLES on my lips and eyes for years. Beetles! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

So I just have two questions for you:

  1. Why do you make it so hard to determine what I’m putting in my hair and on my face?  How do I know if the musk in perfume is from beaver genitals or if it’s synthetic? I know not everyone shares my views, bur ripping an animal apart in the name of beauty is not cool with me. And putting those things onto myself – seriously, ground animal hooves and derivatives from horse urine? No thank you. I have a feeling that your answer is going to include something relating to cost cutting measures, which leads me to my second point.
  2. Eyes Lips Face (e.l.f) products are completely vegan. Their items mostly sell for $1-6 each. If the most affordable cosmetics company out there can eliminate animal products, why do we need them at all?

I can’t wait to hear your answers. In the meantime, I’d like to thank those of you that do NOT use animal products and those that provide transparency on their websites about what’s in their products.

Sincerely,
Liz Perry
LPOBeauty.com

So if you’re as grossed out as I was, here are some tips to help you get started:
1. I’m about 50/50 on PETA – Im not a fan of the whole world HAS to be vegan mentality or its shock tactics. However, PETA has accomplished some really great things (exposing animal abuses, helping end animal fighting, etc.) and one thing I really appreciate is their educational aspect. I’ve been referring a lot to this list of completely vegan companies, which takes out the need to read every single ingredient. I’m a big fan of Pureology (pricy but worth it), Skyn Iceland, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, and Pacifica.

2. Sephora’s website actually has great search function. Just type in “vegan and you’ll get pages of results.

3. Companies that are awesome with transparency include:

4. There are some really great bloggers that keep tabs on what’s available sans animal parts.Cruelty-free Kitty has great listings by brand and Logical Harmony does a great job of breaking down vegan products by store and by product category (foundation, skin care, etc.). They’ve done a ton of legwork contacting the companies who don’t publicly list what’s in their products.

Husker Punch

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I apologize in advance for the pun, but this Husker Punch was a major touchdown at the party I took to last week. Whether you like the Huskers or you don’t, this punch is winner. It’s easy to make, and sweet but not too sweet. Using lighter versions of the punch and soda helped with that. Plus, with some fruit in there, you almost feel like you’re hitting all the food groups.

lpobeauty.comThe fun thing about this is you can do however you want. If you want more fruit, more alcohol or more juice, play with the ratios. If you want more sugar, go with the full versions of Sprite and Hawaiian Punch. If you like 7 N Up or Sierra Mist better than Sprite, go for it. You could also do fresh pineapple … I was just being cheap since it soaks in alkie anyway 🙂

This recipe is also scaleable. Just follow these guidelines and you can make anything from 1 glass to 100 gallons (ok that’s extreme, but who knows, maybe you’re having a frat party.)

  • 1 part strawberries
  • 1 part oranges
  • 2 parts pineapple
  • 2 parts pineapple rum
  • 2 parts orange vodka
  • 4 parts punch

One final tip – be careful when stirring … the Sprite could cause a bubble over.

Why I’m Digging Clothing Rental: Gwynnie Bee Review

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Clothing rental – they send you clothes, you keep them as long as you want and send them back or buy them and keep them permanently. Compelling right? I thought so.

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The second dress I purchased from GwynnieBee was perfect for travel (this photo was the result of 24 hours with no sleep)

So I decided to try out Gwynnie Bee for a lot of reasons:
1. Real girl sizes – I am struggling with losing this damn weight and they offer sizes 10-32. (What size am I currently? Not telling, but it’s not a 10 and it’s not a 32.)
2. Flexibility – As I lose weight, I can choose to have smaller sizes sent to me.
3. No Commitment – Have you ever bought something based on losing weight later or taken something home just because “it was such a good deal!!” Clothing rental means avoiding these kinds of “who was I kidding” retail regret.
4. Since I am losing weight, I don’t want to load up on a bunch of clothes at my current size.

And I am HOOKED. Why? Well, first off, to give you an idea, I pay about $37 a month. That means I get one item at a time, and can send it back unlimited amounts of time within a month to get a new garment. The turnaround is pretty quick (a few days) and you can notify them ahead of time that you’re sending it back so they can get your next item ready.

Why I’m addicted:
1. Laundry salvation – A little too much fun this weekend, last night, whatever? At least I’ve got ONE clean outfit that just came in the mail.
2. Versatility – A lot of the outfits work for both work and casual (mainly the dresses).
3. Loyalty perks – On a couple of occasions, they’ve given me two outfits at a time, just for being a loyal customer.
4. The discounts – Because you pay for the service, you already get a killer discount (like $100 dresses for $50), but watch your emails – sometimes they knock more off. Also, they have a store with good deals just for members (I think these are for the items they retire).
5. Public opinion – A lot of times I’ll base which items I keep on how many compliments I get. You can’t do this when you’ve already purchased the item 🙂 I also try to only keep items that will look good as I go down in size (to a point – but they are all quality pieces, so it’s worth getting them altered down the line if needed.)
6. Prioritizing – You pick everything you want sent to you and it goes into a closet. See a pic of mine below.You can choose which items you’d prefer to have sent to you first (this is a newer feature not originally offered by the site).

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Negatives:
Really my only major complaint is the lack of tall sizes (for pants). The sizing is pretty accurate, but until you get the hang of it, check the size charts, as every designer is different.

So what did I buy? So far, two super versatile dresses and I’m definitely buying the one I’m wearing today. Check it out!

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The great pieces I’ve scored so far from Gwynnie Bee

A Unique Dining Experience: Heritage Omaha

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I was provided a complimentary experience at Heritage Food and Wine for my honest review of the restaurant. I was provided with free food and drink, but all opinions are my own.

I love trying all kinds of food, ok let’s be honest all non-meat kinds of food. So when I was invited to the soft opening of Heritage Food and Wine, I was excited to learn that it was family style. The only family style restaurant I had been to previously was a large chain that left Omaha years ago. The portions were huge, and it was more about the cheesy experience.

Heritage was completely different. They explained to us that the concept revolves around abandoning specific courses and experiencing all kinds of food at the same time. The  food was excellent – fresh ingredients, awesome preparation, and top notch touches like homemade sweet ricotta on the cheese plate. Plates were shareable, but not obnoxious in size.

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Location and Ambiance

Heritage is located in downtown Omaha, so of course parking can be tricky but it’s worth it because you’re literally close to everything is you want to do something else afterward. (I did just learn though, that they have valet parking through the hotel entrance, which is sweet). I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really liked it. The staff was friendly, not pretentious. With a little more upscale food, I was afraid it would be stuffy, but it wasn’t at all. The place was humming with excitement, which I love because I am loud person and super quiet places kind of bug me.

Everything was clean and cohesive, down the logos in the fun lamps on the ceiling.

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 Drinks
It was fun to experience Heritage’s unique cocktails. I don’t ever use this word, but I really would call their bartenders mixologists. I asked for “something fruity with rum” and it was magical. They used bitters and other fun ingredients I’d never even heard of, let alone tried. They even made some amazing virgin concoctions for a member of our group who is expecting.

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Veggies
As a vegetarian, there were a lot of options for me. And, if like me you’re pursuing a healthier diet, there are lots of good options as well. However, the biscuits and sweet potatoes with white chocolate were amaaaaazing.

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Who knew pickled veggies could be so amazing?

Ok and I’m embarrassed to admit this one – I’d never tried parsnips before. Turns out I love them!IMG_3203[1]Meat
And for my carnivorous friends, I was told the meat was fantastic too (duck and fried chicken pictured below).

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Omaha Steaks Saves the Day

When I was invited to attend a meal planning class with Nicole of Mom Saves Money, I was stoked to get it together in that department. When I learned it was a partner event with Omaha Steaks I freaked a little – vegetarian say what ?!?!? As I thought about it more, I figured I could get a single, veggie girl take on the event. What I didn’t expect was that, in the end, it would save me a whole lot of mental anguish.

Nicole gave some amazing tips on planning ahead and preparing your meals while saving time and money. Omaha’s queen of couponing, she knows her stuff. If you’re any the area, check here for more on her classes.

After the event, we got to do some shopping. Shopping for meat gives me major anxiety. However, after a disastrous Thanksgiving (my brother abandoned me and my aunt invited me to dinner the next day, with twenty minutes advance notice), I decided I would host Christmas. As far as turning into our parents, I’m SO glad I got the entertaining bug from my mom. I planned this amazing menu and shopping list last week. However, as I was looking around, I realized I could save myself some time and money. Here’s the roundup:

1. Chicken Roulade with Cranberry Sage Stuffing

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I had planned on making a roasted chicken where you stuff it with lemon and rosemary. This freaked me out so much I actually had recruited a friend to do that part. Now we’re both off the hook. No shoving my hands up a bird carcass!!! Yes! The salespeople were so helpful on this on, as well fellow blogger Dana from Triwives Club and a fellow coworker, who now happens to do communications for Omaha Steaks. They explained to me that it’s all included – just stick in the oven and you’re good to go!

2. Cheesecake

Omaha Steaks cheesecake lpobeauty.com

Now cheesecake in my family is kind of an obsession. I’m very picky about baked goods because I was completely spoiled by my mom’s skills. I had planned on making an Irish Cheesecake for Christmas. When I tasted the Omaha Steaks cheesecake, it tasted as good as my mom’s homemade. That is RARE in a commercially made, frozen product. Super rare. Full disclosure, we got really great discounts that night, but they are always running awesome specials. For what I paid for the cheesecake, it probably would’ve cost me that just for the Bailey’s.

3. Dog Treats

Omaha Steaks Dog Treats lpobeauty.com

My looongtime (as in more than half my life) friend Jen from Liv, Laugh, Love suggested I get the dog treats. I questioned it, as my dogs will eat just about anything, and I wasn’t sure it was necessary. But hey, I was getting a deal, let’s give it a go. Holy freaking crap. They went NUTS. They could smell them from across the room. I’ve never seen them get that excited about treats. Think of it like the difference between fresh, deli made mozzarella and rubbery string cheese (oh ya, I can make cheese analogy out of anything).

So if you’re a vegetarian, but occasionally cook meat for those you love (or give it as gifts), Omaha Steaks will save your butt. P.S. They ship everywhere 🙂