Worst Compliment, Ever

So, I wore my new fancy clothes to work today.

My fashionista coworker called in sick.

My weight loss guru coworker was in a foul and grumpy mood and refused to talk to anyone all day.

The only comment was from one of my male coworkers, who said:

“Did you lose more weigh… oh no, you are just wearing a black shirt. Never mind.”

You gotta laugh!


The New Wardrobe

Shop by Steve SnodgrassI have so many blog ideas floating around in my head right now that it’s hard to know where to start. Let’s kick off with a weekend update, since that is the most time sensitive. Once again, it was great. Even though I hate the month of March, I’ve actually had some wonderful weekends of late. (March in the Midwest is one big tease. One day it is 40 degrees, dark and rainy, but with spring shoots popping up and snow melting everywhere and you think, “Okay, spring is nearly here, I can do this.” Then the next day you walk outside and there is an inch of snow, dashing all your spring dreams. March sucks.)

This weekend I was able to spend time with two great friends, get in some long walks with the dog, make some delicious food, read, nap, drink a little wine, spend time with my boyfriend and his kids, and even get a few things done around the house. On top of all that, I got to go shopping with my sister!

She and I have had a little competition going on the weight loss. Since we both hit our goals – it was time to reap the rewards. New makeup for both of us! Then we hit the discount store to find a few new clothes for me. The idea was to pick out a few pairs of pants and a couple of tops. My clothes are getting pretty big, (I am down 18 lbs. now,) and I have two trade shows coming up. Em (which is what I am going to call her, since calling her “my sister” is getting a little awkward,) was determined to get me some “cute” clothes. She felt that I shouldn’t feel frumpy while losing weight; that it would be more motivating to be in clothes that actually fit me.

Well, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure at first. I’ve been getting some preverse pleasure out of wearing baggy clothes. It’s been proof to myself of how much I’ve lost. I knew I needed pants, (I couldn’t belt things much more than I was,) but I figured the tops would be okay. Em had other ideas. When we hit the pants rack, I went to the size 12s – she went right to the 10s. She warned me that she was picking things out that weren’t what I usually wore, (I think by that she meant things that were actually in style for this decade*.) I told her I’d be open to anything, Em always looks fabulous, and I decided to just trust her.

Turns out she was right – on several levels. First, I actually ended up buying size 10 pants! I haven’t worn size 10s since high school… Freshman year! She also selected a number of tops for me, size Large. That’s another size I haven’t worn in a couple of decades. I let her pick out nearly everything, peppered with lots of questions from me: Now how do I wear this again? What should I wear under it? How do I wear that?

I ended up getting more than just a couple things – I’ve practically got a whole new wardrobe! Not only did we get tops and pants, but also tanks, leggings, new bras and even running clothes. And she’s right, it is more motivating. It feels great to look in a mirror now and think, “That’s me!” Plus, everything she picked out will transition well into spring, and much of it into summer. That’s perfect because as much as I love the season of spring, I never seem to have spring clothes. I spent more than I anticipated, but I feel absolutely no guilt.

Believe me, I know that happiness is not about material things. I got some new clothes, but I wasn’t looking at designer labels, I was shopping in discount stores and a few other spots where things were on sale. I’ve never paid much attention to how I look, because once I reached a certain size, it was easier not to care than to fight a society that doesn’t cater to larger women. Now I’m having fun, playing dress up and trying out a new look. It’s exciting, and as I said to my boyfriend last night, I am going to look far better at 40 than I ever did at 30! I love it!

Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass

* She’s got me in skinny pants. Skinny. Pants.

Lovely Thought

From the terrific blog Speak Happiness:flower and butterfly by jojo nicado

Happy Quote Sunday
Posted on March 10, 2013 by speakhappiness

If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have paradise in a few years.
— Bertrand Russell

This was a quote she posted last weekend that I wanted to share on my own blog. What a wonderful thought! Head over to Speak Happiness for more weekend quote goodness.

Photo credit: jojo nicado

Wine Over Chocolate

Wine, chocolate and coffee by Rob Qld

If all be true that I do think,
There are five good reasons we should drink:
Good wine – a friend – or being dry –
Or lest we should be by and by –
Or any other reason why.

Henry Aldrich, Five Reasons for Drinking, c. 1700

Here’s an odd thing – I have discovered I care more about wine than chocolate.

I mentioned yesterday that since losing weight, I’ve noticed a lot of changes in my thinking. This is definitely one of them. Before hopping on the journey to Smaller Pantsville, I would have told you that chocolate was my drug of choice – especially dark chocolate paired with mint. I don’t have a big sweet tooth for cakes and pastries, but mini Peppermint Patties rock my world.

As for wine, I like it; I am also quite fond of port, but I don’t drink it all that often. I might have have an open bottle of red on the counter and a bottle of port in the bar, but I don’t drink it every day. In fact, weeks can go by between one bottle’s demise and when I decide to open a new one. This is very different to how I feel about chocolate – if a bottle of wine is there at the end of the night, I might have a glass, but probably won’t. If there is an open box of Andes mints on my counter, those suckers are going down!

That was, until now. Since I have started calorie counting, chocolate has lost its pull. Usually I see it and think “Nah, not worth it.” Here’s what happens – it’s getting towards the end of the day. I think, “Hey, you’ve had a great day today. Why don’t you walk the dog for a few extra minutes, and tonight then have some chocolate?” I picture curling up on the couch with a glass of milk and a mini Patty or two and then… Nah. It isn’t worth it. I decide on a cup of herbal tea instead.

On other nights, I’ll get home and think, “Hey, it’s been a long day, but you are good on your goals. Why don’t you walk the dog for a few extra minutes, and tonight then have a glass of wine?” I picture curling up on the couch with a book and a glass of wine, and I think, “Totally. Let’s go pooch!”

Prior to this, I rarely turned down chocolate – of any kind. I probably had some every day since there is almost always some kind of candy around the office, but now it just doesn’t interest me. My coworker has a big bowl of malted Easter eggs on her desk and another one of Hershey’s miniatures, and they hold no temptation for me whatsoever. Even though I can actually have anything I want, (in limited quantities of course,) I haven’t walked by her desk.

I think there are two things going on here. The first is that a glass of wine means relaxation to me. I usually have it with friends or as a celebration, or even just to shake off a bad day. It is more than just fermented fruit juice. I still don’t want it every day but when I do want it, it’s usually for a reason. I can’t say the same about chocolate. The other thing is that the more plant based foods I eat, the less I want white sugar. I still like chocolate, but I don’t like what it does to my body. I don’t like the “sugar high” feeling I get. Also, the less of it that I eat, the more the sweetness seems far too intense. It’s just too much for my palate  Give me a bowl of strawberries or an orange instead.

Of course I am not giving up chocolate all together. I still have some Peppermint Patties from Christmas squirreled away. (What? That’s only a couple of months ago. Don’t judge.) And I suspect there will be special events and other reasons when chocolate sounds enticing. In the meantime, I like that my way of thinking has shifted a bit. It feels healthier. It also feels like I am in a place to make deliberate choices about what I really want – which is a great place to be.

Photo credit: Rob Qld

Strange New Thoughts

running by kekkaSince I have been losing weight, I have noticed an interesting phenomenon – the way I think is changing. There have been a bunch of different changes, and I’ve been talking about it with my weight loss pals, so I thought I would write about it too. The biggest change? I am actually considering taking up running.

Let me give you a little background about me and why this is completely ridiculous and crazy:

Growing up, my family was fairly sedentary. We were never the types to go out and play games outside or do a lot of physical activity. Nor were my parents sport fans, so I didn’t even grow up watching other people do physical activity. I was a pretty awkward introverted kid who far preferred running around in the woods and building campsites than playing with other kids. On top of it, I have exercise induced asthma – and this was well before there was decent asthma medication. So, I was pretty good at finding a great tree to climb and sit in and read a book, but I never got into those neighborhood games like capture the flag.

As for school, I hated gym class. I was a pretty good student in everything else, but I was a wreck in PE. All my other classmates had older siblings or other family that introduced them to sports. Let’s face it, if you understand the basics of one sport, the others aren’t that hard to figure out. If you get baseball, you understand kickball. If you watch football, you can figure out field hockey and soccer. None of them made any sense to me whatsoever. I used my asthma as an excuse as often as possible (and I really did have a doctor’s note which made it all the easier.) Of course, the less you play games, the less they make sense.

Let me add a little more: I have always had a bit of a phobia about things being thrown at me; especially at eye level. Games like volleyball and dodgeball scared the crap out of me. I think it is something that I probably would have gotten over if I played catch or anything regularly, but since I didn’t, the fear intensified. I am also so uncoordinated that they practically kicked me out of my early dance classes.  So I was slow, ignorant of how to play, and uncoordinated.  My only saving grace? I did get picked for teams before the kid with two leg braces… usually.

So, as I got older I got out of PE however I could. I took Health class in high school instead, and then also ended up taking additional classes outside of my school. That meant I only had 3 classes on the campus – and I wasn’t going to waste them on a stupid gym classes. Obviously I never played a sport, and the only reason I knew when to cheer and clap at high school football games was that I usually wound up sitting by the band. The folks in the marching band always know what’s going on.

Zip forward to college – something else had happened in the intervening years to make me even less likely to run: I developed. I mentioned in another post that I am a busty gal, and my physique definitely contributed to my lack of enthusiasm about sports. My junior college required a year of PE for an Associates degree. Again, I took Health for a semester, but I refused to take a gym class. They had plenty of easy classes, and I was encouraged to take Bowling or Badminton, but I refused on principle. After all: how could these classes prepare me for my career in business? What good could it do me? Help me make baskets in the wastepaper basket? Allow me to tackle coworkers on the way to the lunchroom?

So instead of completing my Associates degree at the junior college, I transferred to a business college. At the time, the closest they had to a physical class was typing. That’s where I got my Bachelor’s Degree, and I never did get my Associates. That’s right, I changed colleges to avoid PE*.

I’m not afraid of hard work. For many years I volunteered backstage at our local community theatres and I was always the first to volunteer to move the heavy set pieces. Some shows worked my butt off, but whenever the subject of running for sport would come up I would say, “The only way I’ll run is if something is chasing me – and it better be serious about it.”

Two weeks ago I checked out a book on running from the library.

Why? Because now that I am losing weight, I love how I feel. My body feels good and I have tons of extra energy. Currently I exercise by walking my dog, and it’s great, but there is a limit to how much I can do. Already we walk over an hour a day and we go as fast as he’ll let us. (Interesting trees and rocks frequently bring an abrupt halt to our progress!) So, if I am going to keep getting stronger and feeling fit, I am going to have to up the game a little.**

I know that the hardest part of losing weight is maintenance. I’ve read the studies about how easy it is for people who have lost weight to gain it back – you probably have too. I figure if I can find some ways to regularly build muscle and burn calories, it will help me keep feeling good. Plus I am loving the way I look. Did you know that there is a bone on your chest, right in the middle, just a bit lower than your collarbones?  There is!!  I have just seen it for the first time since I was a kid. It’s amazing.

Recently, I was talking with a coworker who runs marathons. I mentioned my hour plus dog walks and how I am thinking of taking up running. He said, “Oh yeah, in a 75 minute workout, I can easily burn 1,600 calories.” Do you know how much pasta I could eat if I had that going for me?? (Although to be fair, he has the longest legs ever and runs 8 minute miles. I’m thinking a steady jog is more my style.) He directed me to a marathon website that has a really nice easy training guide, so I downloaded it.

Right now I am still in the research phase. I’m going to wait until it is a little warmer to get started since there is still a lot of ice and snow out there. Then, I’m going to need to get shoes and a serious sports bra before I even think about taking my first jog. I have to get clothes too, I don’t think I even own a pair of shorts!

But the point is, that losing weight is changing me, and it is changing what I thought was possible for myself. That is a very exciting feeling. I can’t wait to see where it leads!

Photo credit: kekka

* Okay, that wasn’t the only reason. I spent 3.5 years at my junior college trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. It was time for me to move on. When you run into instructors in the hall that say, “Hey! You’re back again!” it is time to go.

** Look at me – already using sports references!

A Wonderful Weekend

dinner table art by danehavI had a wonderful weekend. It was relaxing, calm, productive and fun – what more can you ask for? It was a lazy sort of weekend, with plenty of time to kick back and read a book, but also some really nice time with friends. Plus, I got to do those little things around the house that make me feel good: laundry, cleaning, working out, and preparing food for the upcoming week, that kind of thing.

One of the great moments was having a long talk with my boyfriend about my goals. He is so supportive. He immediately volunteered to help with my Jump Fund goals. So this weekend, we ate in. We made our meals together – pulling things out of his ‘fridge and mine. In fact, the only money either of us spent on meals for the weekend was picking up some broccoli from the local organic market.

We both love to go out to eat, but honestly, both of us have really changed our diets of late, and eating out can be tricky. Eating in, however, was pretty simple. So, it turned out to be less hassle, more fun, healthier and less expensive. Awesome!

I am not cutting out dining out all together – not by any means. In fact, we went out one night to celebrate a friend’s birthday, but we had dinner at home first, and then just had a couple of drinks at the restaurant. I think that is how I would like treat eating out – as an occasion. I want to go out to for a reason – to try someplace new, celebrate with a friend, or enjoy a special event. What I don’t want to do is go out just because I can. That means means meeting friends for lunch, but packing my own when I am not. Since I have been tracking calories I haven’t gone out that much, but before this, I would regularly go out somewhere on my own. I like solo dining, and I like getting out of the office, but there are better ways for me to do that.

All this fits really neatly into my Health and Wealth goals. I want to treat myself better, but that doesn’t always mean buying something. Just as often as not, it means eating quality food, prepared with someone I love. It means taking a long walk on my lunch hour to get out of the office, rather than fleeing to a restaurant. And when I go out? Really making it about sharing time with people I care about.


Photo credit: danehav

Lane Bryant – I Banish Thee!

Amazing 1945 Lane Bryant Catalog - Uploaded by Jooleeah Stahkey

Amazing 1945 Lane Bryant Catalog. Uploaded to flickr by Jooleeah Stahkey

I have bought my last Lane Bryant shirt.

I declare it to be so. Not that I have anything against Lane Bryant, mind you*, but a girl has to draw a line in the sand somewhere.

See, I travel and do trade shows for work. Every couple of months or so I spend several days in a 10 foot square doing my song and dance for anyone I can convince to stop for a few moments. These are industry only shows – all fellow professionals. I typically wear the female version of a suit: blazer, button down shirt, dress pants, heels. I had been wanting some new dress shirts, but finding shirts for me is a bit tricky. I’m a busty gal, and as such, button down shirts have a tendency to gape in a most unattractive way.

Lane Bryant, which caters to us curvaceous gals, is one of the few places that I can usually find shirts that fit. A few months back, I picked up a new one in black. Sadly, however, the first time I went to iron it, my iron started making terrible crunchy-electrical-wiring-gone-wrong noises. I quickly stepped away and unplugged it in fear. The shirt ended up the in the “to do” pile.

So, when I picked up a new iron and attacked my pile of wrinkly clothes, I found the new shirt. I wore it the other day and it looked nice enough, though the thing with Lane Bryant is that they automatically assume that your hips are a good two to three times larger than your bust. Essentially, most Lane Bryant shirts look like little dresses with flares at the bottom. For those of us whose hips are actually smaller than their bust, it’s kind of ridiculous – and now that I have slimmed down considerably, it’s even more ridiculous! There was so much fabric tucked into my pants, I felt like I had a tutu shoved in there.

And that is when I decided – no more Lane Bryant shirts for me.

I’m getting closer and closer to my first weight goal. Still “overweight” by all those charts you see on the interwebs, but far lower than I have been in a couple decades. I feel great and I love the way I look. I am also smart enough to know how many people end up regaining the weight they’ve lost, though, so I am making this vow, right here and now.

Never again.

I don’t care what it takes. Lane Bryant, our days are through.



* Okay, I actually do have something against Lane Bryant. How about a little less bling, weird multicolor paisleys, and satin, hmmm? Not all of us are going to the discotheque, some of us just want a shirt that buttons properly to wear to work.

Photo credit: jooleeah_stahkey

Selling and Buying

Money by AaronPatterson“Expenditure always rises to meet income.”
– C. Northcote Parkinson (July 30, 1909 – March 9, 1993)

That’s the law of finance that I am trying to beat. It is not that I don’t believe it is true – I know it is true. My goal is to try and do something about it, and I’ve made a couple of more steps in that direction.

First the selling – In addition to trying to sell some of my clothing through consignment, I just sold a ring my ex-husband had given me. It was a cute little ring and I liked it, but there were too many memories associated with it. I took it to a jeweler that bought it for the gold. Those dollars went straight into my Jump Fund. I could have probably sold it through eBay or something like that, but this was simple and easy and I was happy with it.

Now the buying – A couple of years ago I switched most of light bulbs over to cfls. I happened to get my electrical bill last week and noticed that my electrical usage is climbing. Since doing my big change over, a few (new to me) lamps have snuck their way into my house with standard incandescent bulbs, so I popped over to the store and picked up some new bulbs.

Dryer balls

When I was at the store, I noticed these dryer balls. I’ve heard good things about these in the past, and since I am nearly out of fabric softener it seemed like a good time to try them out. Plus, if they decrease drying time, that will also help the electrical bill.

I also dusted off the old drying rack. There are certain things I really like to put through the dryer, like towels, but there are plenty of others that can air dry. Or even dry partially in the dryer and then finish up in air. The first load that I ran with the dryer balls really seemed to work well, so I feel good about that.

Of course, unlike selling that old ring, these little purchases aren’t going to let me take cash and put it directly in my Jump Fund. First they have to pay for themselves (though they were pretty inexpensive) and even then, tracking the actual change they end up making is going to be tough to do. However, my goal isn’t just to put money aside for when I decide to change my life, it is also to see if there are some simple ways I can decrease my monthly bills. The less money I am spending on day to day things like utilities, the more flexibility I will have.

My boyfriend and I were talking about this a little the other night. The truth is, I don’t know what it is that I want to do, I just know that it isn’t what I am doing now. That isn’t to say my life is bad, it isn’t! It is full of great and wonderful things. I just get the feeling there is more out there… and I am going to find it.


Photo credit: Aaron Patterson