Monday, December 26, 2011

I'm Dreaming of an Embroidered Denim Christmas

...Just like the vests I used to know.

Last year, my roommate and I donned bad Christmas vests and created an album called "Christmas Vesticles." This year, we opted for a classier, more put together look with embroidered denim Christmas shirts and turtlenecks in our latest collection, "Oh, Holy... Night..."

Enjoy these before & afters bad-Christmas style, and laugh to your heart's content.  The old ones are just so much funnier with all my extra fluff!  My, what a difference a year makes!

Here's to happy holidays, and me wishing your Christmas was as wonderfully awkward as this.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Older = Bolder

I may be less than half this woman's age, but I still find the first thing she says to be more and more true, lately.  The older I get, the more comfortable with I become with my style, and fashion becomes a little less apologetic.

If you haven't already gotten wind of the blog Advanced Style, it is about time you did.  For years, the author Ari Seth Cohen has been celebrating our elders' fashion in picture.  This is a clip of him speaking to Rita Hammer about her style.

If my tendency to want to raid my mother's closet is a sign of what's to come for me, I'm in good shape.  Here's to freedom with your style, and I sincerely hope I'm half as fantastic as these women when I get to be their age.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

30’s, Here I Come: Gained a year, and lost 90lbs.

This has been a big year.  It hasn’t been all roses, but the cumulative average of greatness this year is pretty darn high.  I set myself a goal on September 19th of losing 30 more pounds by the time I turned 30 on December 19th, which would bring me to a total of 90lbs lost since March. I’m delighted to tell you that I have, in fact, lost 93. 

A dream in size large.  I love this dress!
I really couldn’t decide what I wanted to do for my 30th birthday.  Apparently, even facebook advertising knew this and kept suggesting I go to Vegas with a bunch of poorly dressed women.  The only things I knew for certain were that I wanted an outfit that made me feel invincibly gorgeous, and to have fun.  And to DJ.

And that I did.

Thanksgiving weekend, my Mom and I stopped in to a boutique during Small Business Saturday and I saw a dress that was just so remarkable I had to try it on.  It was a “normal people” size large.  I really didn’t think it would, but for some reason it fit amazing.  It fit so amazingly that my Mom texted all of “the girls” to show them how neat I looked in the dress.  As much as I loved the dress, it was definitely out of my price range.  I’m not one to pine very much over things I can’t afford, so I decided to enjoy the fact that a gorgeous dress in a regular store had fit me like a dream.

Last week, my Aunt and Cousin came to visit, and some of the closest and most important ladies in my life and I went to dinner, then to see Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.  At dinner, my Mom handed me a lovely gift bag that was really reminiscent of “the” dress, and I thought it was really nice that she’d gotten a bag that reminded us of that dress. 


I moved the tissue paper to the side, had the most ridiculous, excited, America’s funniest home videos face, and there was the dress.  I cried.  I was honestly stunned.  They’d all chipped in and bought me the dress. 

Saturday was a lovely day.  I slept in, worked out, then was lucky enough to have my friend (and hairdresser) Erika style my hair.  I donned my gorgeous, new frock and headed out for dinner and music with a bunch of my favorite people.  I danced the night away at my favorite dance party, and even DJed for the first time in seven years – a shamefully long time.  It was a fantastic night, and I genuinely felt the most awesome I have in so long that I can’t remember.  I looked and felt fantastic.

T. Rex, Iggy Pop, Beatles, Jimi...  Happy Birthday to me.
A part of me dreaded turning 30.  In your 20’s, it’s so easy to think of all the ways you’ll have failed at life if you haven’t succeeded before they’re over.  I mean, life is practically over at 30.  So if you haven’t made something of yourself by then, you’re doomed.  Really.  Completely and utterly doomed.

I was sorely, wonderfully mistaken. 

My twenties were a time where I found my worth and my confidence in what I did, and when what I did wasn’t very cool anymore, I lost myself.  My 29th year was a time of preparation for what was to come.  While I may not have made a lot of tangible, visible, or measurable progress, my mind was going through a lot of things that gave way to the amazing changes this year brought.  I’ve been working on taking control of the things that I can and should control, and forcing myself to remember to have a little faith about the things that I just can’t control. 

I am in love.  Not with anyone or anything in particular, but with life and people and everything that could and will happen.  Things seem to really be coming together.  I keep having this feeling that something is just ‘round the corner, but I don’t know what.  Or why…  Or when, even.  I just know that I’m ready for it.

I have a feeling my 30’s are going to be mighty fine.

Owning 30.
Turning 28, dreading 29...

Turning 29, appalled at accomplishing so little at nearly 30...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This is how we do it. Part 2 - Log your food!

I'm a bit disappointed with my lack of creativity for the title of this "episode," if you will.  It is a very important episode, nonetheless!

I am convinced that it is not possible to conquer the formidable beast that is weight-loss until you've been very, very honest with yourself about your real eating habits.  They may not seem terrible, but you will be amazed at how quickly things add up, and how it causes you to reevaluate how and why you do things.

MyFitnessPal's smartphone app.
I started using MyFitnessPal's website and smart phone app on my iPod Touch about a year and a half ago as an occasional calorie calculator, but started using it as my food journal this March.  Maybe you're more constantly aware of what you're eating than I was, but starting to take stock of every little thing you consume during the day is interesting.  And sometimes disconcerting...  And sometimes challenging...  One thing it most definitely is, is enlightening.

There are lots of options out there for food journaling.  I've tried several, and have really found MyFitnessPal to be the best.  Not only can you track your calories, but you can keep regular track of your exercise, weight, measurements, and see instant progress reports.  The smartphone app is a particularly helpful tool when you're on the go, making it a little less stressful when you're out of your element at a friend's for dinner, out to eat, and so on.  It automatically syncs with whatever you do on the website, as well.  I use both the app and the website daily.  There are also these newfangled gadgets like pens and paper...  Whatever your preferred medium, keeping daily track of what you consume is essential.

Each day, I go online and I see my calorie goals, as well as a breakdown of carbs, protein, fat, sodium, and fiber.  These are just guidelines, and you can very easily change them manually if you want.  I go with what's suggested, and so far, so good.  I usually allow for more protein and a bit less carbs.  I am not an uber-advocate of low-carb eating, I just know how my body responds to things.

I'm fortunate that I already had a pretty good understanding of what's good for me and what isn't, so I look at my daily calorie allotment and figure out how I can maximize it.  If I've got 1500 calories I can consume today, I could eat a few things that aren't as good for me, or I could figure out a way to eat better food and snacks more often.

Which brings me back to the whole enlightening thing...

Logging my food has made me far more aware of what's going in, and inevitably causes me to rethink some of my choices.  Things start to add up really, really quickly.  It has also made me very aware of portion sizes.  There were many times where I'd measure something out and think, "That's IT?!"  Well, that leaves you with a few choices.  You can either work with it, find an alternative, or eliminate it altogether.

Goat cheese!
For example, I love goat cheese. A lot.  At first, a portion of it seemed like nothing.  However, 1oz of goat cheese really does go a long way.  Long enough to put it on 11 pretzel crisps for a very delicious 190 calorie appetizer or snack.  Are there other snacks with fewer calories?  Oh, yeah.  Of course.  But I want goat cheese.

So, step one to changing your relationship with food?  Start getting to know it by keeping track of it.  It has been the catalyst for all of the other amazing growth I've had in learning how to be in control and truly enjoy food more than I ever have before.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Firming Affirmation.

Lovely Generic Photo of Snap Fitness
I met someone on Thursday night.  It was all niceties and happy conversation at first, then I let them start bossing me around.  And it hurts a bit.

Yes, I had my first go-round with a personal trainer.  She set me up with a workout plan at the new Snap Fitness that popped up near where I live.


It kicked off with us having a chat about my regular workout habits, and discussing what I wanted to get out of it.  The girl who I worked with seemed to really, genuinely love doing this.  I can't remember verbatim, but when I told her how excited I was to get to do all this, she said how great it is to get to work with people who have that mindset.

She started asking me about my exercise habits and what I'd like to get out of the workout we came up with.  I told her I wanted to burn calories, get stronger, and that I'd noticed that I lost weight more when I was doing things that worked my muscles, too.  She seemed really pleased with my answer, and very happy that I understood that I needed more than cardio.  She said that it was great to have an understanding that working muscles was essential to making your body burn calories more efficiently all throughout the day.  I told her certain areas that I wanted to work on, and she happily said, "I've got you covered."   I really love how it became very apparent she'd realized the type of workouter (made up word, yes) I was by my answers to her questions.

Apparently, I'm quite strong, and she seemed happy about that, too.  She seemed very excited to have me try out some five station circuit training thing that she does on what I call "the jungle gym."  You know the thing I mean...  It's got the handles on ropes, and a pull up thingy, and dudes are always doing stuff at it grunting awkwardly loud...  I'll be on that, yep.  And, she's going to have me bench press.  Bench press!  Ha!

As for the workout, though, I basically warmed up with a bit of cardio, then she walked me through different machines that worked my arms, back, core, thighs, and glutes.  The plan is to warm up, work muscles, then get 30-50 minutes of cardio in.  It was really well-rounded, and it was very interesting to see what parts of my body are weaker than others.  It's so funny how muscles in what seems to be the same part of your body have such different strength.

Afterwards, I was a bit surprised that one of the most rewarding things about the experience was all of the affirmation I got about what I'd already been doing and my overall mindset and ideas about things.  It feels really good when someone who knows what they're doing confirms that you're on the right track.  She loved that I was the type to say, "I've just got to get in 30 minutes" but wind up doing 45.  She seemed pleased that I did the full 10 minutes of cardio when she said to warm up with 5-10.  There were quite a few things that I did during the workout that seemed to really impress her, and got her excited to find ways to push me later.  Which, of course, makes me want to push myself even more.

So, I did on Saturday morning.  My muscles were still pretty fatigued from Thursday, but I just had to get it in.  There were a few things that already seemed easier.  I was more sore while doing the exercises, but I feel less sore now than I did before I worked out.  How about that?  And it felt good, once again, to get some nice reactions from the trainer.

I have this problem with not listening to myself enough.  I hear so many different people's stories, ideas, opinions, tips, tricks, and suggestions.  And for some reason, I feel that if I don't do it, I'm somehow being ungracious or rude, even if it's something contrary to what I think or would like to do.  So it feels really, really great to get affirmation from people who are trained in things like fitness and healthy eating.  I need to listen to myself, and not be so darn afraid to stick to my guns.

And I need to work on my shoulders...  Those girls are weak.  For real.

I'm so giddy to go back again.  I can not wait.