January 2017 | Natalie in the City - A Chicago Plus Size Fashion Blog, by Natalie Craig
Natalie in the City - A Chicago Plus Size Fashion Blog, by Natalie Craig

A PLUS SIZE LIFE + STYLE BLOG

January 29, 2017

A SLEEP ROUTINE FIT FOR A PLUS SIZE QUEEN

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So many products are marketed and sold as "one size fits all." If you're plus size, like me, you know that one size never fits all when it comes to the clothes we wear. So why do we settle for a "one size fits all" mattress and sleep routine when those are two of the most important things for our wellness?

If I get up on the wrong side of the bed or don't get enough rest at night, I'm not productive, I get headaches, I crave unhealthy food, and I am drinking every cup of coffee I can get my hands on just to stay functional. 

Do any of these negative side effects sound oddly familiar to you? Well, you aren't alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of three adults don't get enough sleep, and the American Sleep Association says that sleeping on the wrong mattress can be the root of most sleep problems. 

But don't lose sleep over this. With the extra hours of darkness, winter is the best time to refocus on your sleep pattern. Here is how I drastically changed and improved my sleep routine in just one month!

I found a mattress made for my body type. 
There are a lot of mattress manufacturers out there that make false promises and try to market a "one size fits all" mattress to a niche group of people, like full figured and big and tall. However, no matter what mattress I have slept on, nothing has ever felt like it was made for me, which is why my sleep patterns have suffered over the years. When I found out about the Big Fig Mattress, the first and only mattress made for a bigger figure, I had to try it out. Since I am plus size and my boyfriend is big and tall, we have often struggled sleeping in the same bed together because of our old mattresses' lack of support, shift of materials, and weak foundation. But when Big Fig said their mattress would last 20 years or longer, and had the test results to prove it, I was sold. Sure enough, the mattress has immensely changed the way I sleep through the night. This mattress was truly made for a bigger figure with features like 1600 pocketed coil springs to support the neck and back, three layers of high density poly foam for no-sag cushioning, and the mattress has been tufted in 16 places to keep the internal materials from shifting. But my favorite feature of the Big Fig Mattress is the ThermoGel quilted top that keeps me cool throughout the night. Lastly, I had the option of ordering a heavy-duty (and virtually indestructible) bed frame made out of recycled railroad steel, which was uniquely made for the Big Fig Mattress. It only took me one month to get my sleep pattern and routine back on track, and right now, you can try out the Big Fig Mattress with a 101 night trial to see if it's the perfect fit for you, too.

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Essential oils engage your mind, body, and soul
For Christmas, my mom sent me essential oils to help combat my allergies. At first, I was unsure just how a tiny bottle of oil was going to solve anything, but after I opened the bottle and got my first whiff of eucalyptus and peppermint, my life was changed forever. Since then, I have purchased an essential oil diffuser and an array of essential oils that are supposed to help me de-stress, relax, breathe, focus, and sleep. One hour before I go to bed, I will usually mix blood orange, peppermint, and eucalyptus into my oil diffuser and turn it on. I let it run through the night to keep my mind and body at ease. 

Reset and restore every night
Sleep is critical because that is when your body restores and repairs itself, and the more you help your body with this restorative process, the better you will feel and look every day. During the winter, I wake up with dry lips and skin. So I invested in an ultrasonic humidifier to moisturize my skin and hair throughout the night. The humidifier helps keep my skin healthy, and the amount of breakouts I have had has significantly reduced since I started using the humidifier.

Don't sabotage your skin
While your body works to rejuvenate itself while you sleep, sometimes we are working against it by sabotaging our skin and hair with cotton pillowcases. I sleep on my stomach and my face a lot. So, I recently traded in my cotton pillowcases for satin ones because these pillowcases can reduce wrinkles and hair breakage. I thought this would be quite the costly purchase, but it turns out that satin pillowcases are actually pretty affordable.

One size doesn't fit all, especially when you sleep, so make sure to invest in yourself and find a sleep routine that truly fits you! 

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Big Fig sent me their queen size mattress to review. All opinions are 110% my own. 
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January 21, 2017

KOA & ASH


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I created this earthy ensemble around my Koa & Ash JORD watch shown above because I am partnering with JORD watches to give one of my readers a $100 JORD gift card. JORD makes handcrafted timepieces that tell a story, and they are made out of real wood! The chic face of the watch paired with the wood band is a combination that has everyone doing a double take. If you would love one of these original timepieces, enter our giveaway HERE and you will instantly get a $25 JORD e gift code! That's right, you win $25 off a JORD watch just for entering! One winner will be chosen on February 19 to receive a $100 JORD gift card.

There are many fun things about this look. So shall we move onto the rest of my ensemble? I love fringe, but I have been shy with incorporating it into my wardrobe. I bought this plus size fringe skirt on a whim from Fashion To Figure during one of their huge sales. I wasn't sure if I would like the skirt or where I could actually wear it, but it turns out that I was able work it into my wardrobe pretty easily. While it may be too chilly to sport during the winter months, you may see me sporting this skirt in summer.

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Jord Watches, womens wood watches, natalie craig, natalie in the city, fashion to figure, fringe, plus size fringe skirt, plus size fashion blogger, chicago blogger, midwest blogger, full figured, ft., blanket scarf,

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Photography: Ghaffar Gbenro

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January 15, 2017

LOOK GOOD FEEL BETTER

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This weekend, I got the opportunity to walk in Lord & Taylor's Charity Day fashion show in partnership with Look Good Feel Better. It was such a fun time especially because I got to model with my best friend and fashion blogger, Katherine (a.k.a Melony Melrose). My best friend Jennifer was also in attendance and is the one behind these beautiful photos in this post.

Our close friend Paul Anthony styled and organized the entire fashion show, and it was a major success. He is an up and coming stylist here in Chicago, and I can't wait to witness all the amazing things he will do!

Thanks to everyone who came out to watch the show and donated to Look Good Feel Better's amazing cause!

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 Photography by: Jennifer Wolan

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January 12, 2017

NO WEIGHT LOSS RESOLUTIONS HERE

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Every year, more than 41% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, with approximately 40% of those resolutions revolving around weight loss. So it comes as no surprise that I have been making that same New Year’s resolution for the past 15 years, too. I told myself that I would be more worthy, beautiful, and healthier if I just lost weight. But I have consistently failed at fulfilling this New Year’s resolution since I was 10 years old. I’m not alone, though. More than 48% of Americans who make weight loss goals at the beginning of the year, don’t succeed either. However, the worst part of this scenario wasn’t that I failed year after year, it was that I was just 10 years old, and I was already feeling the pressure of unrealistic beauty standards and I still do to this day.

The crisis of self-confidence in women is with us throughout our entire lives. Today, a 20% of 7-year-old girls experience dissatisfaction with their bodies, 42% of 11-to 16-year-old girls don’t like their body, and 66% of 17-to 21-year-olds say they are not pretty enough.

Whether I was 110 pounds at age 10, or now, more than 200 pounds at age 25, I have embraced my body year after year, but I have always felt the pressure to lose weight. The reason why half of us don’t follow through with our weight loss goals is because weight loss is not the answer to the crisis women experience every day. And it took me 15 years to realize it.

So, as 2016 came to an end, I decided to take a different approach to setting New Year’s resolutions for 2017. Instead of aiming for weight loss, I thought about the feelings weight loss would bring to me. In other words, what were my REAL goals? Were they to feel more confident, healthy, or happy? And the word “skinnier” never turned up in that list of feelings.

I made a resolution that doesn’t require a scale, but instantly provides me with those feelings I wanted. I spend an extra 10 minutes every day to express gratitude and love for myself just the way I am. Instead of looking in the mirror and saying "You will be beautiful when you lose weight," I tell myself, "You are beautiful and you are enough, today."

Daily positive affirmations can cure every woman’s doubt of self worth. If you say it, you believe it, and so will everyone else. If you are unfamiliar with affirmations, they usually consist of a list of intentions you repeat to yourself every morning that help set the stage for how the rest of your day, and life, will play out. This practice may be hard for some as they have never practiced self-gratitude a day in their lives. I still struggle with staying consistent in reciting my affirmations every day, but it’s a practice I wish I had discovered years ago. With this resolution, there are no 5 a.m. alarm clocks urging you to head to the gym, no diet plans, and no detoxing. It’s just pure self-love with instant gratification. It’s sort of magic!


Even if you are sticking to a weight loss resolution, adding a touch of self-love every morning will help you achieve it and the happiness you are looking for. Before I leave my apartment every morning I say positive affirmations aloud with conviction while looking in the mirror. My list of affirmations is pretty general and could work for anyone (see below). Sprinkle in some personal goals or mantras to make it your own, and let the magic manifest! 



My affirmations:
I am awake
My mind is free
I am creative
I love myself
My will power is strong
I am brave
I practice patience
I don’t judge people
My possibilities are endless
Everything is going to work out for my highest good
I am strong in mind, body, and spirit
Amazing opportunities exist for me in every aspect of my life
I love my life
I appreciate everything I have
I am positive and optimistic
I am a powerful creator
I create the life I want
I am excited about today
I choose to love with an expanded heart
I choose to work with a focused mind
I now release all of the drama and pain of my past. I consciously create my future
I have all that I need to make today great
I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.
Something wonderful is about to happen to me.

I wrote this piece for LifeSize Magazine.

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January 11, 2017

MEET ME AT LORD & TAYLOR'S CHARITY DAY

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For the second year, Lord & Taylor has chosen Look Good Feel Better as their beneficiary for their Charity Day in 2017! Charity Day is an all-day shopping event that will include in-store activations aimed at helping Lord & Taylor customers look and feel their best in the new year. Activities will be themed around “New Year, New You” and will include fitness classes, fashion presentations, and local entertainment. The event is free to attend, but a $5 donation/ savings pass is appreciated and comes with a couple of cool perks for you!
With the purchase of a $5 savings pass, Lord & Taylor customers will receive 30% off regular and sales priced merchandise, and 10% off on cosmetics and fragrance. The pass will be valid to use on January 14 in all Lord & Taylor stores and all proceeds from the sale of the passes will go to the Personal Care Products Council Foundation to benefit Look Good Feel Better.

I’d love to meet, shop, and hang out with all of my Chicagoland readers. So stop by Lord & Taylor’s Oakbrook Center location in Illinois at 1:00 p.m. Comment below, tweet (@nataliexcraig), or email me at natinthecity@gmail.com if you plan on attending so we can connect beforehand!

EVENT DETAILS
When: Saturday, January 14
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Where: Lord & Taylor, 100 Oakbrook Ctr, Oak Brook, IL 60523 
Cost: Free, $5 donation appreciated

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January 10, 2017

DO THESE 8 THINGS IF YOU WANT TO BE A MORNING PERSON

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We all have our reasons for hitting the snooze button every morning. Though it's not easy, it is possible to break the cycle simply by making a few changes. Follow these steps and you're bound to find success as a new morning person.

Hit the sheets sooner
First things first: If you want to wake up earlier, then get to bed one hour earlier. You won't wind up feeling groggy or tired because you won't be missing out on any sleep. I know this isn't the easiest task, but it's the best way to trick yourself into waking up earlier.

Don't close your blinds at night
I get that some people close their blinds at night to shut out extra light from the streets or for more privacy, but becoming exposed to natural sunlight first thing in the morning is the best way to wake up naturally. During the summer months, the sun rises earlier and by leaving your blinds open, you will be more inclined to get up once that sunlight fills your bedroom. In the winter, when you and the sun are on the same page of having to be dragged out of bed, you'll still get enough light to wake you—depending on when you wake up. 

Implement a routine
Decide why it is that you want to become a morning person. Maybe you want to work out in the morning or take on a more intense beauty regimen. On the first day of your morning journey, make sure that you fit in the tasks that you want to do every morning, and then follow the same habits moving forward. Making a schedule for your mornings will help you stay on track, and the more you accomplish those extra morning tasks, the better you will feel about dragging yourself out of bed earlier. 

Acclimate yourself to your new routine
Jumping right into waking up an hour or two early is tough, and it may set you up for failure. Instead of putting that pressure on you from the start of your new morning routine, make a gradual change. The first week, wake up a half-hour early, then wake up an hour early the following week, and so on. This gradual change will help to acclimate your body to your new schedule.

Trick yourself into getting out of bed
Here is the easiest thing you can do to ensure that you will wake up a little earlier than expected: Move your alarm clock to the other side of the room. This will make you physically get out of bed and will make it easier for you to jump right into your morning routine. Just don't crawl back into bed! 

Coffee or tea is key
Find a coffee or tea maker that allows you to set the time at which it starts brewing. Waking up knowing that your coffee has already been brewed will make getting out of bed much easier. To make it even easier, place your coffee maker close to your bedroom so that aroma of fresh brewed coffee drifts in.

Two alarms are better than one
For those of you who actually need a little time to wake up and don't benefit from jumping out of bed right away, consider setting two alarms: one that initially wakes you up and another that goes off five minutes later and tells you that it is time to get out of bed.

Make sure there is a light at the end of the tunnel 

Give yourself some kind of incentive to get out of bed so that you can be excited to get your day started. Becoming a morning person will make you feel good if you are rewarding yourself for getting out of bed early and thinking about how much more you have been able to accomplish by doing so.

TIPS FROM MY READERS:
  • "Before I moved into a closet-sized bedroom, I would put my alarm clock on the other side of the room so I HAD to get out of bed. Unfortunately now I can reach everywhere in my bedroom from my bed so now I'm always late. Whoops." - Randi Shaffer (She has the right idea! Check out tip #5)
  • "Sleep on a Big Fig Mattress!" - Big Fig Mattress (I sleep on a Big Fig Mattress, and I LOVE it. It's probably the reason why I am able to hop out of bed fully rested in the morning. This tip has my approval! BTW: Check out their brand new website: www.bigfigmattress.com)
  • Just roll out of bed, fall on the floor, and voila, you're awake! - Myles Adams (OKAYY. But ouch! Maybe if the tips above don't work, I will resort to this!)
 
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January 8, 2017

BACK TO BACK

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I rarely ever do this, but I'm wearing these thigh high faux suede boots back to back (If you didn't notice, I wore these boots in my last outfit of the day post). I love how versatile these boots are, and I have been praying to the plus size gods for some boots that fit my wide calves and thighs. So you can probably understand my excitement. I bought these boots from Fashion to Figure, but they have since sold out. 

I can vary the length of the boot since they tie in the back, which also speaks to the versatile of the shoe. For this look, I went for a thigh-high length with my favorite jeans ever from Target's Mossimo denim line, a plus size longline y-strap shirt from Forever 21, and an I.N.C military style jacket that I scored at a consignment shop a couple of years back. 

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 Photography: Katherine Davis
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January 5, 2017

GABIFRESH'S SWIMSEXY SAYS "F YO NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION"

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Photos by Ryan Michael Kelly
GabiFresh has yet again graced the full figured community with another boundary-breaking and absolutely gorgeous collection of plus size swimsuits under the online retailer Swimsuits For All.

Gabi's second line is made up of trendy prints, plunging one pieces, see through jumpers, earth tones, and a whole lot of sexy. Although I would love to see her introduce some mid-rise or lower waist bottoms—since a lot of plus size women don't want to sport a high-waist (myself included)—Gabi really knows how to inspire every curvy girl to embrace her body and swim sexy. The color tones and prints couldn't be more on trend, which is so important because up until recently, plus size swimwear looked like it came out of a terrible '90s workout video.

My favorite pieces from the line include the Wish Underwire Bikini, the Midnight Jumpsuit, and the Midnight Zipper Suit.

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Photos by Ryan Michael Kelly

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Photos by Ryan Michael Kelly
Another thing that really resonated with me and made me even more excited about this line were the sentiments that Gabi stated in the promotional video below. "Every year it's the same thing. New year, new you...It's time that we embrace who we are now...Look in the mirror you are already your best you." This year I have totally kicked the notion of a resolution out the window, and I have just decided to treat myself with gratitude and kindness and really realize that I am enough just the way I am. So thank you Gabi for the kick ass CURVE power and taking time to make something this community needs!

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January 1, 2017

BOOK REVIEW - PUSSY: A RECLAMATION


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Imagine reading a book with the word "PUSSY" on the front of it while riding on a crowded bus or train. I couldn't imagine it, which is probably why I bought my copy of Pussy: A Reclamation for my Kindle. But that didn't stop any regular, friendly person from glancing over and asking me what I was reading.

The first time this happened, I was on an airplane when the woman sitting next to me asked. My first thought was, "Just tell her you are reading To Kill a Mockingbird, or something." But what if she inquired because she just saw the full page detailed illustration of a vagina? (not joking!!) More than a couple of seconds passed as I contemplated. I was a few chapters into the book, and I knew that if I didn't share this with her, I would have rejected all the lessons the book had taught me so far. So, I leaned over in an eerily silent airplane—the one time there was no crying baby on board to off set what I was about to say—and I whispered to the woman, "It's called......Pussy. It's about reclaiming your feminine power." I expected her to give me a strange look, laugh, and go about her business, but instead, she insisted that I tell her more. So I did.

I just finished this book last week, and I am already planning to re-read it. I was so inspired that I bought a couple of copies of the book and sent it to all of the women close to me in my life—even my mother, who I know will cringe at the title. And I don't blame her, because I did, too. But this book is about confronting that feeling we get when we talk about "pussy," and why it is that so many women still feel uncomfortable discussing and learning more about where their feminine power comes from.

When I picked up this book, I felt that I needed to look a little deeper within myself to solve problems and obstacles in my career, relationships, and day-to-day life. I needed this book just like everyone needs a little wake up call or reality check every once and a while. But that's not to say that I was prepared for the reality check this book was about to give me.
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Pussy explores how living in a patriarchal culture and society forces women to suppress their power, emotions, and divinity. The suppression of the "feminine" holds us back from our true potential, and our world is also paying for it, too.

"When the feminine in a culture is repressed, the consequences are tragic. We end up with violence in schools, mass shootings, a mercenary corporate culture, and an environment on the brink of collapse. The game becomes power and profit, rather than humanity. We are passing the responsibility for feeling our pain own to our children and grandchildren, who will have to live with the consequences of our unwillingness to do so." 

It's impossible to cover and share everything with you that I learned, but simply put: This book is a roadmap to reclaiming your feminine power, radiance, and joy. Regena Thomashauer, the author of Pussy, is also the founder of The School of Womanly Arts, a program that teaches women to turn on their innate feminine power to create a life they love—you could say that she is quite the expert on this topic.

Regena says: "Pussy is your call to tune in, turn on, and live more richly and fully than you ever thought you could. It’s a reclamation of what has always been your birthright as a woman. Because your voice needs to be heard. Because it’s time for you to live your truth, no matter what. Because your desires and your dreams want to be lived, in this lifetime."

I don't really make New Year's resolutions, but in 2017, I am taking the lessons from this book and applying it to my life. New year, new Goddess!

Here are a couple of quotes from the book that I love: 

"The feminine is the feeling part of us, our deepest intuition, our sense of community and connection. Additionally, it is a sense of spiritual morality and consciousness. The feminine is life. It may shock you to hear that she does not care about production, accomplishment, domination, assertiveness, or winning. Those are masculine values. On the contrary, she favors enjoyment, inclusion, surrender, and sustainability." - 

"Everything you want matters. It matters deeply—not just to you, but to everyone. We are all impacted, influenced, and shaped for the better by the radiant power of a woman’s desire. It’s terrifying to surrender, and terrifying to become greater. Far more terrifying than staying small. It is the ultimate hair-raising adventure to toss your saddle astride the unknown and gallop in the direction of your desire. But there is no more spiritually alive way to live." 

"When in truth, there is nothing more important than feeling radiant. Nothing. Sounds crazy, I know. But when we feel radiant, we get everything we have always wanted. We feel powerful, confident, and in control. Like the courtesans in whose lineage we are walking, we know who we are in time and space. We know we are not victims, but the heroines of our own lives. The stars of our show. Walking hand in hand with our divinity"

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