Month: October 2015

Just PMS or Something More? An Interview with Dr. Drai

Hey Fam - You may remember a few weeks back when I wrote about my feelings of depression before my monthly visit from Aunt Flo. Well, the extreme nature of my experience got me to wondering whether it was just PMS or something more. So, I reached out to noted ob/gyn Draion "Dr. Drai" Burch to shed some light on what may be going on with me...and even a few of you. So, read on for more info - it just might change your life! Dr.-Drai-in-scrubsWhat are the typical symptoms of PMS? Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms that occur 1-2 weeks before your period. These symptoms usually disappear when aunt flow starts. Changes in hormones, chemical changes in the brain, low vitamin levels, salty foods, alcohol, caffeine, or stress may be the cause. when you have PMS, your face may break out, feel bloated, have food cravings, be tired, have mood swings, have headaches or trouble sleeping. You may even feel anxious or get depressed. This is super common; 85% of ladies have at least 1 PMS symptom. What would be considered "abnormal" symptoms of PMS? The most severe form of PMS is called PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder). Thoughts of suicide, lack of interest in daily activities, feeling out of control, having panic attacks, being anxious, feeling sad are some symptoms. At what point should a woman consider seeking medical treatment for such extreme symptoms? You have to have 5 or more symptoms to be diagnosed with PMDD. If your symptoms are disabling in any way, seek help from your doctor ASAP. Screaming womanWhat advice would you give to a woman who has been advised to take antidepressants or hormones but is wary of doing so? We know that PMDD is caused by abnormal levels of serotonin in your brain; that's why antidepressants that affect your serotonin levels work. Being on birth control suppresses your own hormones which can prevent PMS symptoms from occurring. Get treated. Beyond medication, what are other ways that women suffering from PMDD can cope better with their symptoms. You must change your lifestyle. Exercise, eat fruits, veggies, and whole grains, no sugar, salt, caffeine, or alcohol, sleep 8 hours, learn to de-stress, and no smoking cigs. Of course. All of the stuff I love. (Well, except cigs.) *sigh* Well, thanks Dr. Drai for sharing your input. If you want to learn more about Dr. Drai, check out his site and his social media channels. In the meantime, can you identify with any of the more extreme symptoms discussed above? Even if not, how do you cope with your monthly symptoms?

Real-Life Curvy CEO: Cynthia Harris of Diva Plus Consignment, LLC

Cynthia Harris HeadshotI first met the subject of today's Real-Life Curvy CEO series at the Shopaholics Suite I co-hosted last fall with several other area bloggers. Well, this fall Cynthia is bringing her own signature event to the DMV and I thought that presented the absolute perfect opportunity to feature her and her business here at Curvy CEO!

Cynthia Harris HeadshotTell me about your business, Diva Plus Consignment. Diva Plus Consignment is an online and mobile (pop-up) consignment boutique that caters to the curvy women in sizes 14 and up. At Diva Plus Consignment Boutique you will find vintage and the latest trendy fashions and styles in clothing, shoes, handbags, and accessories at affordable prices.

What inspired you to start your business? How did you first begin? Diva Plus Consignment was birthed from my love and passion for fashion. I lost weight, and I was in between sizes, I did not want to buy a new wardrobe until I reached my goal, but I still wanted to be fashionable. I went to the local thrift and consignment store but was saddened by the lack of their plus size inventory. I became more passionate than ever to provide a place where plus size women could purchase quality “new-to-you” clothing and accessories without spending ridiculous prices to look and feel good about their curves.

I started by having plus size swaps. Women would bring in their new and gently used items and swap them for “new-to-you” items; an inexpensive way to update your wardrobe.

How long have you been in business? I’ve been in business since July 2013. I had my official launch in July 2014.

If someone wanted to consign with you, what would they need to do? Do you work with consigners from outside of the DC metro area? Interested consignors in the Washington Metropolitan area can contact me via 202-607-1575. We would schedule an appointment to meet with you and pick up the items clients wish to consign. During the first appointment we go over the terms of consigning with Diva Plus Consignment, LLC. We explain our policies for determining what items we accept for consignment. A limit of 20-25 items would be accepted at one time. The items would be in rotation for sale for 90 days, during which time they would go through scheduled markdowns until sold. After 90 days, items not sold may either be picked up, or donated to a charity. We do not accept out of town consignors at this time but we are working to expand our policy to include out of town consignors very soon.

Diva Plus Consignment Logo What has been the key ingredient in your success thus far? I think the first key is FAITH! Faith in God and faith in my products. I also believe that I am in partnership with my clients. A partnership that is a synergistic blend. My consignors have an opportunity to turn their cluttered closets into cash, and the buyer gets to update their wardrobe on a budget. The consignment partnership becomes mutually beneficial to all parties.

What has been the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur? The most surprising? The most rewarding? For me the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur has to be -- being a one-woman show; I’m responsible for doing everything. I am the public relations person, the social media person, and the inventory clerk. You name it; I’m it. I do have a support system, however at the end of the day I’m responsible for my brand.

The most surprising is the growth of small businesses in the plus size industry. When I began this journey of resale of plus size clothing, the number of businesses that catered to the curvy diva was few.

The most rewarding thing about being an entrepreneur is doing what I love. Fashion is my passion. I love to see my curvy sisters bring it. No more tent dresses. I love to see a woman transformed in her clothing and her attitude.

What’s next for Diva Plus Consignment? Near term we’re hosting the “I Love Myself” fashion show where men and women will rip the runway showing confidence, which is the best fashion accessory, no matter the size. It is my mantra -- Good things start from within! The show will be on Saturday, November 14th, 2015 from 3:00 to 5:30pm at Signature Blue Events in Beltsville, MD. Tickets are $15 General Admission & $20 Very Important Diva (VID) Admission. The next thing is to continue to grow Diva Plus Consignment to become elite go to plus size consignment boutique, give back to my community of women through continued partnerships.

How can my readers keep in touch with you? I’m on Facebook and Instagram as Diva Plus Consignment. I also have a website, If they would like to speak with me they can reach me at (202) 607-1575. Anyone interested in attending the fashion show can purchase tickets on the website under the Events tab.

Yes, as Cynthia mentioned, you can purchase tickets directly from the Diva Plus Consignment website...OR, you can enter to win two free tickets from Curvy CEO! Just scroll down and enter below!

Good luck!

Salon Review: Blowouts Plus (Alexandria, VA)

Blowouts PlusToday's post comes courtesy of a friend whom I'll call "The Curvy Correspondent" :) She recently had a divine experience at a new salon in the DC metro area and was so excited, she asked if she could share with all of you. Naturalistas in need of a blowout, this one's for you!

Blowouts PlusRecently, I attended the grand opening of “Blowouts Plus” – a new salon in Alexandria, VA where I met owner/stylist Jennifer Jones. Jennifer previously worked at a popular salon in Georgetown with a contemporary and upwardly mobile clientele so she is used to catering to professional women.

[caption id="attachment_9992" align="alignright" width="300"]The products! *drool* The products! *drool*[/caption]The grand opening was quite an event! ORS hair care co-sponsored and generously provided 10 full size products for clients to use at home. Celebrity makeup artist Starlet Monee of Hello Gorgeous Beauty provided complimentary lashes and makeovers. Emmy award winning event planner Kristy Cooper of Pretty Parties and Fancy Favors beautifully decorated the salon and refreshment table where homemade treats like peanut chocolate chip cookies, nutty scones, and fudge brownies were delectable.

I was excited about receiving a complimentary blowout and makeup session. As a busy professional woman, I struggle with finding a good hairstylist who can make me look business savvy while accommodating my busy lifestyle. As I explored the possibility of finding the ONE - the stylist I can turn to for my hair care needs – there, I thought about the three criteria I need the most.

finished productFirst: Professionalism. I expect my stylist to be punctual and to start services on time or as close to my appointment time as possible. The salon staff should welcome me by offering refreshments, taking my coat, and providing a place for my handbag. I want to start my services in a relaxed mood and in a clean environment. When it comes to professionalism at Blowout Plus: check, check and check!

Second: Expertise. No stylist can be good at everything when it comes to hair; however, a stylist should be good at providing a particular service. When I asked Jennifer about hair coloring services, she stated firmly that she does not perform such services because she wants to stick to what she is good at doing: blowouts. Indeed, she is good. She shampooed, conditioned, detangled, blow dried, and flat ironed my natural hair with ease. I walked in with a “big hair don’t care” twistout; one hour later, I had shiny, soft and straight hair. Jennifer is good at what she does and I like that.

starlet monaeThird: Accessibility. I love a stylist who I can see without re-arranging my busy schedule. Basically, I need a salon that I can visit regularly outside of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Getting a blowout during working hours means not completing work tasks and using personal time off. Getting my hair done the night before risks bedhead hair. I love that Jennifer takes appointments at 7 a.m. With morning accessibility, I can incorporate a standing hair appointment into my busy weekday schedule, thereby freeing up my weekends. It also helps that her salon is just 15 minutes away from my home. I love having a great stylist nearby.

I enjoyed my time at the grand opening of Blowouts Plus with owner/stylist Jennifer Jones. Plus, the ORS products help maintain my sleek blowout at home. Given that Jennifer was very professional, displayed great expertise at giving blowouts and is very accessible, I plan to return to Blowouts Plus for my next blowout.

Well, there you have it! Be sure to show some love on the 'gram to Blowouts Plus and Starlet Monae as well as ORS Hair Care and Pretty Parties and Fancy Favors!

Picking Up Where You Left Off: “Starting Over” with Weight Loss

Picking UpWhere You Left OffWith Weight Loss (1)Picking UpWhere You Left OffWith Weight Loss (1)In yesterday's post, I cried wailed bitched moaned wrote about how I'd fallen off the proverbial weight loss bandwagon in recent months. As I prepared to embark on this journey yet again, I realized that I don't have to start from the very beginning. Even if only through years of reading women's fashion magazines, we ALL have absorbed a fair amount of knowledge about small, simple steps one can take towards losing weight. So, rather than putting myself on some radical eating plan or exercise regimen, I've decided to simply start where I left off by incorporating the simple steps below.

Drink more water.

Get 7-8 hours of sleep.

Move as much as possible.

Reduce added sugar/salt.

Schedule your workouts. Make it an appointment like anything else.

Eat in more often. They say that by eating smaller amounts of food more often, you prevent yourself from getting hungry and later overindulging.

Add in healthy foods that you like (as opposed to cutting out unhealthy foods you don’t like). This is a tip I learned from the ever-awesome Erika of Black Girl's Guide to Weight Loss. We all know that in order to lose weight you should increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein while reducing the amount of fried, fatty, sugary foods you consume. That all sounds great, but when you've been living on a diet of nothing but take-out and junk food, it's all but impossible to switch entirely to a diet of grilled chicken, boiled broccoli and other "healthy" foods. So, one tip suggested by Erika is to focus on incorporating healthy foods that you do like into your diet. So, for me, that would actually include broccoli, brussel sprouts, zucchini, and cucumbers.

Nothing is off limits. Ok. So I know this one is controversial. I have several friends who have lost tons of weight by going vegan, eliminating sugar, or otherwise eliminating entire categories of food. I know from past experience that this type of extremism doesn’t work for me. If I make something “illegal,” I only crave it more. So, with the permission of Geneen Roth, I am going to keep all foods permissible.

These are just the ones that immediately come to mind. What are some other simple ways to start incorporating healthy habits into your life? Please really, please share! *lol*

Healthy Curves Progress Report (October 2015)

Woman stepping on scaleWoman stepping on scaleIt feels a little disingenuous to call this a "progress report." In truth, there has been very little progress on my mission to pursue "healthy curves." This effort first began back in August of 2012. (You can read about the start of this adventure here as well as my one year update.) Since then, I have hosted curvy bootcamps, fallen in love with yoga, and even sponsored a yoga retreat.

At the same time, I've also allowed "life" to get in the way of my healthy pursuits. For the last several months, I've sustained myself on a diet composed primarily of caffeine, sugar, and carbs. I've paid almost no attention to my sleep patterns and generally taken the path of least resistance in every way possible when it comes to my weight. As a result, my clothes are fitting tighter and my breath is getting shorter. Meanwhile, it seems like everyone - from curvy celebs like Mo'Nique, Jill Scott and Jennifer Hudson to close friends and associates (You know who you are! *smooch*) - have been losing weight and gaining a new outlook on life.

Although it's so easy (and tempting!) to be a hater, I don't begrudge anyone for doing the hard work of changing their habits and adopting a healthier lifestyle. But, I would be lying if I didn't admit that it makes me feel that much more isolated, discouraged, and ashamed about my current weight situation. I know, I know - I should be inspired, but...yeah. For some reason, somewhere deep in my psyche I have planted the notion that it is simply not possible for me to be a healthy person and to lose weight. Like, I'm destined or doomed or something. Notwithstanding any genetic predisposition to be heavier (because I do come from a Curvy Mama and Curvy Papa), I do know that this is not outside of my control. It's actually just math.



Now, I know some might say, "You've been so successful in other areas of your life. Losing weight should be easy!" Well, while the calculations above prove that weight loss is, in fact, simple, it is anything BUT easy. I mean, how do you think I nurtured myself during all of those long nights of studying when everyone else was partying on campus? Or, soothed myself while chained to my desk night after night in the office? Usually it was through packages of "fun size" snacks from the convenience store down the street and/or takeout from the local pizza shop or Chinese food joint. Oh, and rest assured, there was very little movement during these long hours of work and study...unless you count trips to the bathroom.

So, in essence, I have almost two decades worth of habits to break in order to really realize my goal. And this is what I think causes me the most anguish. Because I feel like, at any moment - a high stress situation at work, a family emergency, or even my regular visit from Aunt Flo - will cause me to descend right back into those old habits.

So what's a girl to do?

For a long time, the answer was nothing. But I know that NOT changing is simply a prescription for discomfort and disease...and I deserve better than that. Instead, then, I'm going to take a tip from Jai and focus on slow weight loss...gradually incorporating more healthy habits into my life and building on them for future success.

Tomorrow, I will be back with a few healthful habits that I think are good starting points for me. In the meantime, I'm wondering if anyone out there can identify with today's post? Please share your feedback - I could really use the support!

Monday Morning Memo – Next Time You’re Feeling Envious, Remember This

"Nearly every glamorous, wealthy, successful career woman you might envy now started out as some kind of schlepp."

It's often been said that you've got to start somewhere.

But in this age of Facebook and Instagram, it can be hard to remember that piece of truth. Thankfully, today's quote from legendary Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown reminds us that most of the world's richest, most famous and influential women experienced some sort of drudgery on her way to success.

I mean, lok at Oprah. When she first started out, people couldn't pronounce her name ("Did you say Opree? Did you say Opry? Did you say Opra? Did you say Opera?"), forced her to change her hair (a move that ultimately left her BALD!), and even got fired from a television gig for being "too emotional". (I'm sorry, is that Chris Brown I hear in the background? Or perhaps it's Drake?)

This is just one many, many stories we can draw from for inspiration.

So, next time you're tempted to sip on some haterade, just remember that what you're only seeing the finished product after what was likely years of hard work and rejection. Take heart. Your time is coming!

#WorkwearWednesday – How to Wear a Cape Without Looking Like a Superhero

how to wear a poncho at the officeIn yesterday's post, in which we discussed the here-again poncho trend, I promised to provide a look styled specifically for the office. Now, in my opinion, your best bet for the office look is not to wear a poncho, per se, but rather one of it's "cousins" - a ruana, cape, or other wrap. With the right complementary pieces, it can replace a blazer altogether and you can go for a soft suiting look. Here is one look that styles both high- and low-end pieces from a variety of retailers. (I even included my beloved Lollitint Cheek & Lip Stain as a cosmetic accent.)

how to wear a poncho at the office

(For shopping details, click here.)

What are your thoughts on this trend? Will you be wearing any ponchos, capes, ruanas or wraps this season? Will you wear them to the office? Share your thoughts in the comments section or on Facebook or Twitter!

Trend Alert – Ponchos, Ruanas, Capes & Wraps (Fall 2015)

poncho wrap ruana transitional weatherponcho wrap ruana transitional weather

It really is true that "What goes around, comes around."

I remember when I first started blogging four years ago, one of my very first posts talked about the resurgence of the poncho trend. Even though I'm totally embarrassed by the amateur nature of the imagery (What can I say? It was maybe my 3rd or 4th post!) I still agree with the thoughts I had then:

1. Didn't we just do this?
2. Well, it's a stylish way to cover less flattering parts of the body.
3. But don't cover too much - otherwise you will look a sloppy mess!

Fast forwarding to 2015, the poncho - which is defined as a "a blanketlike cloak with a hole in the center to admit the head" - is back in full force along with similar items like the wrap and ruana. While the poncho is a great item for the weekends, I think that wraps and ruanas, if styled correctly, are great, work-friendly pieces that can really add that extra oomph to your look. Not to mention the fact that they make great transitional weather pieces. (Hat tip to Aly of Wardrobe Oxygen for inspiring me to write this piece as a result of a recent post on her site!)

Here are some of my favorites from this season...

Tomorrow for #WorkwearWednesdayI will show you how I would style a look for the office!

Monday Morning Memo – In Love with Your Liabilities

"We continue to entertain [our problems] because we've discovered that some of our troubles actually have their advantages. In spite of our protestations to the contrary, we perpetuate many of our dramas because we've found that they leverage sympathy, help us avoid taking responsibility for our lives, and give us viable reasons for avoiding risk in life without much chance of being challenged. And so, we've grown attached to the very things we complain about the most. So attached, in fact, that we've even come to identify with them." - Katherine Woodward Thomas, Calling in "The One"

Yes. I am still in love with this book! (If you missed them, check out my earlier discussions of snippets from this book here and here.)