MOLO: Week 2 – Lower Body

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The Mother Love Wellness Challenge (aka MOLO) is in full-swing at Baby Boot Camp franchises nationwide, and my girlfriend Ruby over at Westside Mommy and I are tag-teaming the experience by sharing our experience on our blogs. Hit her up for an overview of Week 1, and next week for week 3… and so on.

MOLO_2016_a

So here I am, with the lowdown on week 2 – which focused on lower body workouts at Baby Boot Camp. Lots of squats, lunges, inchworms and cherry pickers left me waddling around for days! But what I love most about MOLO is our daily challenges – bite sized prompts for improvements, reflections, and small changes we’re encouraged to make and share our results in the private MOLO facebook group.

Here are the week 2 challenges, and how I fared: 
Sunday: Focus on water consumption: drink at least 1/2 your body weight in ounces each day.
– I’m a bit of a water-holic, and carry a 32 ounce mason jar filled with water around all day long, (even sleeping with one by my side), so this was not a very difficult challenge for me to accomplish, but I was grateful for the reminder to be mindful about drinking it!

Monday: Replace dessert with hot tea and fresh fruit.
– We’ve recently gotten into the habit of enjoying cool, sweet oranges after dinner. They’re juicy, refreshing, and the citrus helps cut through any lingering grease or fat on our palates. But replacing my typical glass of wine with hot tea was a bit more of a challenge! But, I do love a nice warm cup of candycane green tea (decaf) or roasted barley tea (aka bori cha – recipe here), and find them to be a nice relaxing alternative before bed.

Tuesday: Make a family favorite meal, but add a healthy twist.
– My plans to make lettuce-wrapped tacos was thwarted when the farmer’s market didn’t have any good butter lettuce available, so I changed gears and made a hearty-but-healthy chili and skipped the shredded cheese and sour cream with which we’d normally liberally adorn it.

Wednesday: Skip your biggest vice/trigger food today.
– Carbs. If I had my way, I’d eat carbs all day. Refined carbs, to be exact. So today, I focused on protein and veggies, and subbed in roasted sweet potato for white rice with delicious results!

Thursday: Hold a wall sit for 20 seconds every time you send a text today.
– Only sent 2 texts, haha! Thankful for baby keeping me busy! Because after Wednesday’s lower body blitz at Boot Camp, I could barely hold 20 seconds at all!

Friday: No soda for the next 3 days, or track water consumption if you don’t drink soda.
– I quit soda 3 years ago this spring, but I did manage to pour 160 ounces of water down my gullet! Huzzah!

Saturday: Plan next week’s meals and make a grocery list.
– Did this one day late, but made it happen! We’re focusing on proteins and veggies for dinners, making sure to cook enough protein that I can toss some on a salad the next day for an easy, healthy lunch.

Whew! It was an eventful week! I hope some of those prompts help inspire you to make small changes, as they all add up quickly!

Next week we’ll be focusing on our upper body, so make sure to tune in to Westside Mommy for Ruby’s report, and I’ll be back for Week 4: CORE. (Yikes!)

So far, I’m loving the MOLO Challenge. The sense of community and camaraderie in the Facebook group is absolutely wonderful and so inspiring – it helps keep me going on the days I want to throw it all out the window and drown my exhaustion in a bag of chocolate chips. And the daily prompts are just manageable enough to accomplish each day, giving me momentum and small boosts of pride. I can already see changes in my body and feel noticeably stronger than just a couple weeks ago. I can’t wait to see what kind of improvement I’m experiencing after the end of the first month!

About Baby Boot Camp
Baby Boot Camp is an innovative stroller fitness program designed to balance the fitness needs of new moms while spending time with their children. Delivered by nationally certified fitness professionals throughout the United States, Baby Boot Camp stroller-fitness classes include STROLLFIT, STROLLGA, 5K Training Program, and Nutrition Solutions. Created in 2001 by Kristen Horler, Baby Boot Camp strives to help moms regain or enhance their pre-pregnancy fitness levels and meet the physical challenges of parenting by emphasizing strength training in a supportive environment.

Click here for the website of Baby boot Camp Los Angeles (Culver City and Marina Del Rey) or visit them on Facebook.

Click here for more info about the 2016 MOLO (Mother Love) Wellness Challenge.

Disclosure: My participation in this 3-month MOLO challenge is generously sponsored by Baby Boot Camp Culver City & Marina del Rey.


Getting My Groove Back: Baby Boot Camp, Week 4

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Confession time: Thanksgiving week was an epic fail in the health and fitness department in my world. My sister came to town, which gave me a convenient excuse to skip Baby Boot Camp, and the holiday made rationalizing over-indulgences all-too-easy. I went to class on Monday last week. And it was all downhill from there. As much as I’d love to show up today and humblebrag about my discipline… alas, it was nowhere to be found.

What-Defines-Us

Sunday night, I resolved to make up for it this week. My house is stocked up with healthy choices in food. I boot camped Monday and Tuesday, and took a 1.5 mile walk yesterday (with a 17lb baby strapped to me, no less!). Planning another walk today and boot camp again tomorrow. So far, so good. I definitely feel my dalliances last week in my body this week – I’m slower, my stamina is suffering – but I know fitness is often a two steps forward, one step back game. So I’m trying to practice patience with myself.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I cried a little after Tuesday’s class because it broke me a little bit. But I repeated some kind affirmations to myself afterwards, in an act of self-forgiveness. I never cease to be surprised, horrified, and amazed at how different my body and it’s functions are since giving birth. I used to be so strong! I’m learning to love my new self a little more every day – but that doesn’t stop me mourning my old self too.

On the bright side, this was my view during ab exercises that day. Not too shabby. It was my first time at the Playa Vista location – and I really like the park we’re based in there. It’s spacious, cheerful, and in a charming part of town.

palm trees

And on the even brighter side: this week, my husband is joining me on this challenge, in his own way! He sold his car last weekend, and will be walking to and from work (which is a little less than a mile from our house), and eating healthier meals with me at home. It’s always easier to meet goals with a partner involved… especially a hot and sexy partner that I love 🙂

Tune in next week for more goal and measurement updates! EEK!

baby boot camp fitness

Disclosure: My participation in this 3-month challenge is generously sponsored by Baby Boot Camp Culver City & Marina del Rey. 


Getting My Groove Back with Baby Boot Camp: Week 3

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Last week, I promised you guys “before” photos, and so photos you shall have. Here I am, in all my 4 months post-partum glory. I had to work stupidly hard to not suck in my stomach for these pictures, by automatic instinct. Vanity, friends. It’s a bitch.

Baby Boot Camp Before and After
I also took measurements before starting my 3 month Baby Boot Camp challenge, so I could track my progress with greater specificity. I’ll be sharing the changes in my measurements monthly. Since muscle weighs more than fat, and I’m hoping to convert a lot of this fat into heavier muscle… numbers on a scale are the least of my concern.

But, for transparency’s sake, I’ll tell you right now: I weighed 200lbs on the dot the first morning I went to Boot Camp. It is definitely the heaviest I’ve ever been. I’m OK with it, inasmuch as I know this body is responsible for creating, housing, and birthing the most beautiful, wonderful creature I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. But still, it would be nice if I could fit into any of my old clothes, y’know?

I also promised you goals this week. One thing that gives Baby Boot Camp some sweet added value is that Melinda and Elizabeth don’t just lead class, they also provide coaching outside of class time, via emails and a private Facebook group for Boot Camp members. It’s turning out to be a wonderful community of women, as we share inspiration, tips and tricks together. Elizabeth and Melinda encouraged us to set goals for ourselves through the end of the year, and provided great guidelines for setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound) goals.

So I thought on it, and decided that my goals would be as foolproof as possible.

  1. Attend Baby Boot Camp 3x/week
  2. Take long walks (minimum 1 mile) on non-bootcamp weekdays
  3. Cut back on sugar and refined carbs by not having them in the house
  4. Eat larger lunches and smaller dinners
  5. Acknowledge my beauty, growing strength, and the non-physical benefits of this challenge every day

Somehow, I think the last one might be the hardest. But it’s so, so crucial.

Every day when I get dressed, or catch my reflection in a mirror, an insipid little voice inside me tries to bully me into a state of disappointment and defeat. It’s gross, and I try to vigilantly tell that little voice to FUCK OFF every time I hear it’s whispers. And the best way I know how to shut that voice down is by working out, feeling my strength, and honoring my journey. I’m only human. I’m doing the best I can.

And sure, I’m often the slowest in class. When we jog around the park or do walking lunges, I often lag behind the other women, huffing and puffing and red-in-the-face. In these moments, when instinct has me wanting to speak unkindly to myself, I practice a new mantra:

This is for her. This is for me. This is for him. This is for us.

Because this challenge isn’t just about vanity. It’s about modeling a healthy lifestyle by example for my daughter. It’s about my mental health, physical wellbeing and longevity. And being happy and healthy makes me a better wife to my husband and a better mother to my baby. I work out because it betters my whole family.

So, my challenge is going strong, and I’m feeling the benefits add up more and more every day. I’ll be back next week to check in on my goals and progress!

baby boot camp fitness

Disclosure: My participation in this 3-month challenge is generously sponsored by Baby Boot Camp Culver City & Marina del Rey. 


Getting My Groove Back with Baby Boot Camp

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Before I got pregnant, I was pretty friendly with my fitness. I worked out regularly, and ate a healthy diet of mostly whole foods. Let’s not forget, I was careening quickly toward my wedding day – always a great incentive to watch my figure and double down on my commitment to a healthy lifestyle. And on my wedding day, I looked and felt great! Success!

Then I went on my honeymoon to Paris and Korea and came back 5 lbs heavier (Thank you, cheese. Thank you, chocolate. Thank you, 3-michelin star meals), and 3 weeks pregnant. Then came the chronic first trimester migraines, followed quickly by second trimester nerve pain, and working out quickly became the absolutely least desirable activity I could possibly think of. I was basically couch-bound for the majority of my pregnancy, and while having Gestational Diabetes helped mitigate my weight gain, I lost considerable muscle mass as a result.

In the 4 months since having Maeve, things have not improved at all. I’m now 35 lbs up from my pre-pregnancy weight. Nothing I own fits me. I feel schlumpy and weak and tired all the time, and I hate it. Working out is a huge part of my mental health upkeep as well as my physical well being, and neglecting it was starting to take a real toll on every part of my spirit. And modeling a healthy lifestyle for my daughter is incredibly important to me. I’ve reached critical mass of feeling like shit. So, I knew it was time for a serious change.

baby boot camp culver city

I found Baby Boot Camp during a search for fitness options that allow me to bring my baby along, and as luck would have it, they were offering a free class to celebrate their grand opening of a new location at Howard Hughes Promenade. I went, and over the course of the 30 minute demo, doing exercises that used to be in my comfort zone, I thought I was going to die no less than 10 times. It was a huge wake up call for me.

I talked to Melinda and Elizabeth, the owners of my local Baby Boot Camp franchise, and we thought it would be fun for me to document my progress as a Brand Ambassador, so they’re generously sponsoring my attendance for the next 3 months. I’m historically useless about exercise without some form of accountability, and this way failure is not an option!

Baby Boot Camp Culver City

I started my program last week and had a great time! Their Howard Hughes Promenade location has stairs that Melinda integrated for a really strong leg work out, and the Helms Bakery location has a lovely cobblestone courtyard with nice grassy areas for people’s kids to play on. Women brought their children ranging from 6 weeks to 4 years, and if a baby got fussy or needed to be fed, Melinda was happy to push their stroller or hold a bottle so mom could keep working out. It was so nice to be among women just like myself, rather than in a gym setting surrounded by muscle-bound weightlifters and impossibly perfect bikini babes.

“Boot Camp” is a bit of a misnomer for the experience though. There’s no “tough love” whatsoever in these classes, as you might imagine in a boot camp-y setting. Rather, it’s warm and encouraging. We do lots of body-weight resistance work like squats, lunges, and planks; and use resistance bands for bicep curls, obliques, triceps, and more. I love the variety of exercises we do, because as soon I start to get tired of one, we move onto another.

After only one week, I’m already noticing a change in my energy level and mood. I’m so excited to see what other progress I can achieve over the next 3 months thanks to Boot Camp in conjunction with clean eating. I’ll be sharing my journey along the way. Wish me luck, and stay tuned next week for my before photos (youch) and goal setting update!

baby boot camp fitness


Ear Candy: Sexy Times & Kicking Ass

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Guys. When I need to set a mood, the first thing I turn to is music.

And the two things I find myself needing to set moods for, most often, are either “Kicking Ass” or “Getting Freaky.”

I know I’m not alone in either jamming my face off to get myself motivated and confident before an important meeting or during a bad-ass workout, or letting some seductive tunes slide over me like silk as I prepare to have my world rocked by a special someone. So, I’ll be sharing those tunes with y’all, from time to time, via my carefully curated Spotify playlists.

PS: can we take a moment to mourn how abysmally overused the word “curated” has become? It’s like the handlebar mustache of verbs.

Anyway.

Here are the first tracks on each, for your aural pleasure! (hehe, I said aural. It sounds like oral. I’m twelve.) I’ll be adding new tracks each week, so stay tuned!

Music for Kicking Ass | LaRueblog

Music for Sexy Times | LaRueblog


Supplementally Speaking…

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For most of my life, you couldn’t pay me to take vitamins on a regular basis. My aversion to their size and taste had me reaching for Flintstone’s chewables or Emergen-C in the rare instances that I actually would cave in and allow them past my lips. And oh, how times have changed.

In the past year, I’ve made my health much more of a priority… partly because I know I’m headed toward motherhood, partly because my adulthood has been wrought with unfriendly wake up calls about my health and habits, and partly because I met Paul – who already had a strong vitamin routine of his own and could help educate me about what I might consider taking.

My supplemental needs break down into a few categories:

1. To offset our insane dining habits (aka we eat way too much, y’all), Paul and I have an equally insane workout schedule, that keeps us strong underneath the extra cushion that our many meals have provided. So, supplements to support my metabolism, my endurance in my workouts, and the strain they put on my muscles, was definitely an essential.

2. My immune system is… unreliable, at best. It has a mind of it’s own, but I’d like to “brainwash” it and bend it to my will. So, strengthening immunity was definitely a must.

3. Balance. My system had none. I needed lots. Supplementing my diet and hormonal structure provides balance, and I likes it. Also, my mental health is rickety at times, and while I’m on an anti-depressant to manage my illness, supplementing with natural boosters can only help keep my blues at bay.

4. Vanity. I’m getting older every day. Anything that can help my skin and hair stay youthful, I want. I especially want things that will not just help me stay youthful, but even improve the situation. Vitamins can do that, yo. SCIENCE!

5. Fertility. I need all the help I can get in strengthening my reserves in the ladybits department, so I’m taking anything I can to support my hormones and fertility through supplements and diet. My future babies will thank me, I’m sure.

Now, witness the daily insanity!

Daily Supplements copy

Aooooga, am I right? Dudes, I know this looks excessive. But taking them has left me stronger, healthier, more consistently energized, and vibrant than I ever was before I made them part of my daily routine. It takes some time (around 21 days) of regular use for your system to adjust to any new supplement, so don’t expect immediate results. But, they’ve changed my quality of life for the better, so I wanted to share them here.

Now, here’s what they are, and why I take them:

Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women Women’s Multivitamin
Just your every day multi for us ladies. I love Optimum Nutrition, because they come in tidy capsules that are pleasantly sized, easy to swallow, and don’t have the vile vitamin-y smell or taste that have kept me away from most multi-vitamins until now.

Turmeric w/ Bioperine
Turmeric is credited with helping prevent cancer, improve digestion, boost immunity, among other things. But it’s most notably known as a powerful natural anti-inflammatory, which is my primary reason for taking it. And it works! I no longer require prescription-strength Aleve to manage my arthritis pain! I never thought that would be possible. It’s kind of a miracle drug.

Nutrigold CoQ10
This is an enyzme that supports heart function and promotes energy production in cells. It is also said to boost energy and speed recovery from exercise, improve gum health, and have anti-aging properties. All good things, yes?

Natrol DHEA 25mg
DHEA is a naturally occurring hormone that the female body converts into androgens (mainly testosterone). I take it because science suggests that it can be very beneficial for women with low ovarian reserves and increase the likelihood of pregnancy through IVF. Yes please!

Viviscal Extra Strength Hair Renewal System
I met the Viviscal folks at Blogher last year, and was thrilled when they offered me a six-month trial. It features a deep sea vitamin complex that helps nourish thinning hair and promotes existing hair growth, resulting in thicker, fuller hair. Paul and I been taking it for 3 months now and can absolutely tell a difference. I have tons of new hair growth and more volume than ever, and Paul’s hair is noticeable thicker too. I’ve always struggled with my fine hair, and I’m so thrilled to have found something natural that helps! It’s brilliant.

Macro Greens Nutrient-Rich Super Food Supplement
Paul and I start every day with a protein shake containing the next 3 products. The Macro Greens contain 38 nutrient-rich superfoods and 18 billion probiotics, along with some herbal anti-oxidants. It supports immunity, provides part of our daily servings of fruits/veggies, and fills our bodies with lots of good stuff in one little scoopful. And it doesn’t taste bad, either! Especially when mixed with…

Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard Natural Whey (Chocolate)
Now, I’ve always given protein powders the side-eye because they’re often so gritty or thick I can’t stand the texture. This one dissolves beautifully without barely augmenting the texture of the water you blend it with, and has a really nice, light, clean chocolate flavor that reminds me of old school Carnation Instant Breakfast. (Does anyone remember that stuff?) It has no artificial colors, sweeteners, or flavors, either, which I love.

Miracle Reds Nutrient-Rich Super Food Supplement
This tasty powder features 19 anti-oxidant rich fruits and berries, and a ton of plant sterols, which help keep cholesterol low. It boosts immunity, combats aging, and is a great workout recovery complex. Together with the greens and protein powder, it lends a slightly fruity flavor to the shake, which is super yummy.

20oz Sundesa Blender Bottle
These little babies are what we use to mix up our morning shakes. Super easy to use, easy to wash, and inexpensive. I love ’em.

Natrol Melatonin
Melatonin is a naturally-occurring that helps regulate your sleeping and waking hours. Taking it as a supplement helps me get to sleep, when my mind is churning. Fair warning: it can cause super vivid dreams if taken in too high a dosage, so if you try it, stick to 2mg each night and no more. I learned that the hard way!

Optimum Nutrition ZMA
Zinc, Magnesium, and B6, in the right dosage, are shown to increase speed of muscle recovery, as well as boost their growth, in people who are athletic or who do weight training. It’s also shown to increase the quality of REM sleep, so I take it at night to help my body recover from the day’s workout and help me sleep a little deeper.

WHEW! That’s a LOT right?

And that doesn’t even take into account the foods I’ve also incorporated into my daily diet, or the herbs my acupuncturist recommends!

Do you have a supplement regimen? Or am I alone in my crazy, pill-filled world?


I see London, I see France… meet my favorite underpants!

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Until the tender age of 35, I wore whatever nether-tethers Costco or Target was running a sale on. See, my dog Paco is a card-carrying member of the Crotch Cuisine Club. That’s right folks, something about the smell and taste of anything that has rubbed up against his mommy’s undercarriage apparently smacks of divine nectar to my dog. He has been known to consume the entire crotch from a pair of denim jeans or yoga pants I had dared go commando in – and lived to tell the tale. And no matter how deep in the hamper I’d bury my laundry… he managed to seek and destroy pair after pair. So, you can imagine that the thought of splurging on fancy panties seemed rather out of the question.

Until I got divorced.

Suddenly, my Hanes habit was infinitely less appealing. The thought of a new man having to bear witness to me in a generic cotton underoo was simply not acceptable! (My poor ex-husband was not really afforded such royal treatment. Symptom #1,419 that we weren’t the best match.) Plus, now I was sharing custody of Paco with said ex-husband, so my undies were guaranteed sanctuary from the panty-pirate-puppy at least every other month. So I set about finding some intimates that fit my criteria: cute, comfortable, durable, and natural.

Is it just me, or does wearing underwear from Victoria’s Secret make any of you feel like you’re dressing up in your mom’s lingerie? I mean, not that it’s old lady-ish. But, that kind of sexy just doesn’t feel natural to me. And, in my experience, their undies shrink and/or fall apart very quickly. After a few washes, the elastic would start to pull out and the edges would fray, and I ain’t got time for none of that cheap workmanship on undies at that price! Target stuff held up better, for pete’s sake. And in generally, overly satiny, lacy, “sexy” stuff just felt like a costume to me. Meanwhile, I hadn’t felt sexy in such a long time, I didn’t even know where to start. Suffice it to say, finding the right kind of lingerie for my kind of sexy has been kind of an adventure.

It gradually became clear that my undergarment needs generally fall into three primary categories: casual, sexy, and fitness-friendly. (To be clear, even the casual and fitness-friendly pairs should have an element of sexy in them. But “sexy” still deserves it’s own category, y’know?) After careful research, trial, and error… I’m pleased to share with you my favorite knickers for each need!

Casual:
MeUndies are, hands-down, the perfect blend of comfortable, cute and casual for every day underwear needs. Their boyish cut of their brief gives just the right amount of coverage while still feeling feminine and flirty, and the micro-modal blend is almost too-soft-to-be-true. They’re like your softest, favorite vintage t-shirt jersey… only with enough grip to hang on to your bum. And the waistband is nice and thick, without being too tight – so no muffin top! They’ve also got nice thongs, socks and t-shirts, but the boycut briefs are definitely my favorites. They come in a sweet array of colors and patterns, and MeUndies does a bunch of fun “subscribe and save” or bulk purchase deals. Bonus: they hold up absolutely great in the wash. I just throw them in with my other delicates, and they come out fine, every time. I just love ’em.

MeUndies-Arrows-by-CavernBriefs

Sexy:

I’d been hearing about Hanky Panky for years. Women I know would extoll their virtues regularly, and my interest was definitely piqued. One day they had a big sale, and I took the plunge. My friend Jessica specifically recommended the low-rise thong, so I got a few colors in that cut, and a smattering of other cuts and styles that looked interesting. Holy baloney these things are amazing. They’re lacey, but somehow feel as comfortable as jersey. No itchiness, no weird pulling, just the right amount of spandex. The thong is a one-size-fits-all dealie, but they miraculously fit like a glove. The waistband has a nice feminine dip, and the wide straps on the sides grip without cutting in. Best of all, the *ahem* rear of the thong slides cozily into it’s *ahem* slot, and doesn’t irritate my skin at all or feel like a weird overly-tight strap. They’re simple and effortlessly sexy. I also got a couple pairs of boyshorts and hipsters, which I also really love, for days I want just a wee bit more coverage. These also fare really well in the washing machine, I’m happy to report. I ain’t got no time for handwashing my knickers!

Hanky Panky
clockwise from top left: 1. low rise thong, 2. low rise thong, 3. low rise thong and lace bralette
4. cheeky hipster, 5. signature cheeky hipster, 6. lace boyshort – available here

Fitness-friendly:
I work out a lot, and I sweat a lot while working out. I wear tight, spandex pants with moisture-wicking fanciness, and I definitely wanted underwear that a) wouldn’t leave visible lines, b) wouldn’t retain moisture, and c) was comfortable as hell. I found it in the least-likely/most-likely place: Lululemon. At first blush, it seems laughable to even call their Light as Air thong “underwear”. When you get it out of the box, it’s all but see-through. Just a seemingly flimsy, seamless, and incredibly thin band of “Transluxent” fabric, with a tiny cotton patch sewn into the crotch. But, slide this sucker on, and give it all you got in the gym, and you’ll never go back to any other panties for your fitness needs. I am completely sold on it’s breatheability, moisture-wicking awesomeness, and barely-there comfort.

light as air thong

It’s just the right amount of underwear, and softly clings to my skin with just the right amount of hold, and zero friction factor. Sometimes, I completely forget I have them on, and something about the sheer softness of the fabric lends them a decidedly sexy factor, too. These do stretch out a tiny bit by the end of the day, but a quick wash on delicate with my other workout gear snaps them right back into place. No shrinkage, just a return to normal. Oh, and no fabric softener for these puppies, as with any other moisture-wicking fabrics. Otherwise they get coated and lose their wicky mojo. No bueno.

I’m so pleased to have found 3 go-to brands that make me feel naturally sexy, comfortable, and happy. Now, if I could only have such luck with bras. I’m still in Target junior’s department styles up top. Yeah. SEXY.

But I’m sure I’m missing some stellar options out there. What are your favorite brands?