The Hot Yoga Report:

Cats and Cows I can do... after that things get a lot trickier.

Cats and Cows I can do… after that, things get a lot dicier. (Since none of these people look drenched, this is obviously not a hot yoga class.) 

I think I am in a rare group – I am completely ambivalent about hot yoga. It seems like there are two camps – those that love it, and those that think it is one of the levels of hell in Dante’s Inferno, (the level for those especially bendy.)

I don’t mind the heat as much as I thought I would. It’s over 95 degrees in there and they really work you. (This is not the soft-voice-pose-and-hold yoga that I took 10 years ago.) The sweat pours off you in buckets making the matt so slick it’s hard to even hold a downward facing dog without ending up on your face. When we are done, we all look like we just got out of the pool – our hair is soaked, our yoga clothes are dripping and beads of sweat cover our arms. It sounds fairly gross, but it isn’t. Everyone is in the same damp, drippy, humid boat.

Yoga is hard for me. I am definitely not bendy. For forty years I lived completely in my head, it’s only in the last year I have even attempted anything physical. I don’t know my body. What I do know is that I am stiff. I can hold a plank like anyone’s business, but when it comes to tying up in a pretzel knot, my limbs resist. The heat helps with that, of course, but there is only so much it can do. (Seriously, I struggle with siting flat on the floor with my legs straight out in front of me. As for being able to touch my toes… not happening.)

There is, however, a release in being really bad at something. The fact that my triangle looks more like an octagon doesn’t bother me. There is no competition, and if there was, I know where I’d rank. I am totally okay with that. That doesn’t mean I don’t try, I try really hard. But the beauty of being at the bottom is that there is so much room for improvement. If I can get “my sit bones a little higher” or “turn my heart in” a bit more, I’m happy.

What I love about yoga is being with my sister. We crack jokes beforehand and afterwards when she gives me a ride home. (I walk there, but there is no way Ms. Drippy Mc Dripperson is going to walk her sweaty butt home.) We text about it during the week. We’ve had 3 classes so far, and we were both sad when we realized our Groupon only had 2 more classes left on it. (We’ve already talked about finding another studio offering a beginner’s special – this place is too expensive for regular practice.)

If my sister wasn’t going with me, or I didn’t have a good deal through Groupon – would I go? Probably not. I like learning the yoga, but there are a lot of other options, even right in my neighborhood, that are more in my price range. The heat doesn’t bother me, but I’m not in love with it either. So, we’ll finish up these two next classes over the next two weeks and then see what other fitness adventure we can explore!

 

Photo credit: GoToVan on flickr

I Signed Up For What?!?

Fitness classes.st Michael's

I’ve never thought of myself as a fitness class kind of gal. Art classes? Love them. College courses? You bet. Online courses in Archival Study and Genealogy? Been there, done that. But those kinds of classes are all in your head. You might be learning with others, but it’s basically a solitary experience. (As you might guess, the idea of “group work” makes my teeth curl. In my real world, hoity-toity job, we work solo, not in groups.)

I have several friends who love classes, but I’m a DIY loner kind of gal. That’s why I like the exercise I like – biking, kayaking, weight lifting, walking, and running. Sure you can do them with other people, but you don’t have to. (And I don’t.) When I think of fitness classes I think of activities I don’t enjoy, namely: sports. I know that isn’t true, I took yoga for a little while some odd years ago. While we were all in the same room together, we didn’t work together, and yet, I still equate fitness with high school gym classes. And I equate high school gym classes with hell.

Yet, here I am – signed up for a whole bunch of classes. Well, maybe a “whole bunch” is an exaggeration… I am signed up for 4. Four whole classes. (Which feels like a whole bunch to me!)

One of those classes is Intro to Boxing, of course. I met with a trainer at that gym yesterday. They have a deal for new customers where they will sit down with you and “help you figure out your fitness goals.” I knew what my goals were, so it turned out to be more of an informational session on the different classes: what they are, and which ones might fit my needs. It was helpful, she suggested one or two I wouldn’t have thought of taking. I am still mostly interested in their boxing classes, but I might try out some of the others too. We’ll see. Those aren’t the other classes I am signed up for though –

The other three are the fault of my sister. She wants to go to Hot Yoga. The idea of getting all hot and sweaty in a room packed with other people while trying to pull off yoga poses… it sounds terrible.

Then I asked her what she wanted for her birthday. She said, “To take Hot Yoga classes with you.” I laughed. I got her makeup instead.

I asked her what my brother-in-law wanted for his birthday. She said, “For you to take a Hot Yoga class with me.” I threw something at her.

I mentioned that her anniversary was coming up. She said, “You know what would be great? Hot Yoga passes for you and I.” grrrrr…..

Then two days later there was a Groupon for Hot Yoga at the place everyone in town raves about, which is also conveniently located right by my house. And the deal? It was a really good one. $30 for 5 classes, which is a savings of $70. I sent her the email and said, “Let’s do it.”

Why did I say yes? Well, most importantly because my sister wants to hang out with me. I love her so much, but we are both busy women and I don’t get to see her as much as I would like. I look forward to any opportunity to spend time with her, even if it means sweating my butt off while doing it. And that’s the other thing – when I was heavier I hated sweating. I hated anything that made me sweat – exercise, summer, warm rooms – anything like that. It made me feel gross. Now that I am exercising, and running on hot summer days, the sweat doesn’t bother me quite as much. I also like heat more than I used to. A couple of years ago I would get out of work and climb into my black car and immediately roll all the windows down while swearing like a sailor. Now, I leave them up and think, “Actually, that feels kind of nice.” Nowadays I am chilled in air conditioning, so heat actually feels… good. That’s something I thought I would never say.

So, we poured through our schedules and class offerings and picked 3 different classes at wildly different times. Her suggestion was that we try a little of everything and see what we like, then we can pick the next two classes.

Hot Yoga. I still can’t believe I said yes.

…I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

Photo credit: Charlie Dave on flickr

Feeling Grateful

album-gratitudeI have two journals. This one, and a physical blank book I write in at home over breakfast. The home journal is for stream of consciousness writing, mostly centered around weight loss, diet, exercise and so forth. It’s my little space to get all the thoughts in my head out and onto the page. Honestly, it is pretty repetitive and occasionally seriously whiney, and having it helps me not bore you all with it!

However, there is one aspect of that journal that I really love. In addition to all the stuff about fitness and whatnot, I also try to include things I am grateful for and the good things I am doing for myself; things like spending time with people I love, reading good books, trying something new, and connecting with old friends.

Today I thought I would share a few things that I am deeply grateful for. In no particular order: 

  • My amazing sister. She has been such a cheerleader through my journey. We don’t always talk or see each other as much as I would like, but we’re working on it. And I love the friendship that keeps growing between us.
  • The lovely lady over at Owls and Orchids who nominated me recently for an award. Those of you that read this little blog and take a moment to comment or say hello make my day. I am grateful for your support.
  • Your blogs. I have learned from you all, laughed with you, and have been inspired so much by all of you. I honestly think that I’ve felt more confident in getting out there and trying new things because I see all that you are doing. You guys awe, inspire and motivate me!
  • My friends. They are rock stars! Some times we see each other a lot, other times hardly at all, but I know they are always there for me and always want the best for me. I know not everyone has a network of supportive friends and that I am lucky, lucky gal.
  • Technology. I keep saying this phrase: I love living in the future! Sure, I know that there are a lot of negatives to all the screen time we have nowadays, but when used well, technology is amazing. It has helped me to lose weight, start running, connect with friends (old and new), meditate, make healthy meals, find running and biking trails… the list goes on and on.
  • My health. I know I talk about it a lot, but I feel so different from I did. I have more energy and more zest for the everyday. …of course, I also have a lot more aches and pains. (Thanks, strength training!!) Still, now that I have been focusing on it, I am all the more grateful for what I have. So many folks struggle with health issues – my heart goes out to them. I may not be exactly where I want to be fitness-wise, but I am healthy and feeling good. It is something to be thankful for.
  • My guy. Julian and I have been together a little over 3 years now and things just keep getting better and better. How great is that?

What can I say? Though sometimes I get overwhelmed and frustrated, I have to say, life is good. I am very, very fortunate. It’s good to look back and remember all that.

Success – My First Official 2 Mile Run!

Glouster Geen-Oxford by kamshots Mission accomplished:

I ran 2 Miles. (and a bit more!)

I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to make it at first. I went after work in the neighborhoods around my office. I prefer to run in parks, but I had a post run date that night with my 3 year old niece (who hereafter shall be known as Little Fish,) and there aren’t any good parks for running between my office and my sister’s house. I thought there was one, but when I drove over on my lunch hour on a scouting mission, it turned out to have a boat ramp, softball and soccer fields, but no walking or running trails. So, I hit the sidewalks instead.

I know these neighborhoods a little bit. I’ve walked them on my lunch hour several times. However, the distance you can go when walking versus running are pretty different. I was heading a bit into uncharted waters.

The run started poorly. I had drank a bit too much water at work, and was really feeling it at first. On top of that, my music went awry. After reading that Haruki Maruakmi prefers classic rock for his runs, I thought I would give it a try. I’ve been listening to CCR, which went really well. Credence tends to have song that get me moving, and I know them so well I can listen to them without losing focus. Next I thought I would try the Rolling Stones. The problem was that, unlike Credence’s “Chronicle”, I didn’t vet my Stones album nearly enough. On my last run I hit “Angie,” and while I love that song, it is not good for running. On this run I hit “Fool to Cry.” Not only is “Fool to Cry” one of the slowest paced songs, it is also one I just loath. So, here I am, trying to run but just getting angrier and angrier at the voices in my head! When my little RunKeeper lady announced my pace, I found out that my anger was killing my pace. Fortunately even bad, slow songs have to end eventually.

Once that evened out, so did my body. I started finding my pace. I had set RunKeeper to update me every four minutes, which seemed really long. I had gotten used to announcements every minute, (since that’s how I track intervals,) and four minutes seemed like eternity, but I suspect it is better for me in the long run.*

I ran roughly a mile and a quarter one way and then looped back. I gave myself a little extra distance since I have been known to pick up the pace at the end, resulting in me running out of loop too soon. That didn’t happen this time. I hit 2 miles with still roughly a quarter to go. When RunKeeper announced that 2 miles, I slowed to a walk and fist pumped the air in glee.

Then I looked up. The last quarter mile left to me was all downhill and completely shaded. “Rock and a Hard Place” just started up. I knew I had no excuse to walk. After a second or two, I picked my feet back up and ran the rest of the way!

First two mile run, done! I can now cross that off my list!

After the run, I drove over to my sister’s house and got to have my swim date with Little Fish. We had so much fun in the pool – and I can’t even tell you how great that water felt. Honestly, it was one of the best workout nights ever.

I do have a new goal for running – to run 100 miles by December 1st. I am 14 miles in on that goal. With the number of weeks remaining until then, I have to do about 5 miles a week to hit it. It’s going to be a bit of a stretch goal for me, but very doable. I know there will be weeks where I won’t be able to run, and that’s going to make it tough. However, I am getting faster (hit my fastest time ever on this last run) and should be up to 3 miles soon. That should help offset any busy weeks. I’m tracking it, of course, and I will let you know how it goes!

 

Photo credit: kamshots on flickr

* HA! I love puns.

I Used to Hate the Sun

The road near my cabin... so much sun.

The road near my cabin… so much sun.

I didn’t always hate the sun. When I was a kid during the summer, sunshine meant days I could go out and play: run around the woods behind our house, build forts, climb trees. My neighbors had a pool I could use, so sunshine meant days of swimming and making up games in the water.

I think I started hating the sun in Junior High, those terrible preteen years. That’s when we started paying attention to our bodies and our appearance back then. (I know it starts much younger now.) I’m old enough that tanning was still popular. Girls I knew started “laying out” to get that perfect summer tan. I tried it a time or two. I hated it.

My family weren’t beach goers, so laying out, if it was to happen, was going to happen at home. As I mentioned, our back yard was in the woods, so it was shaded and full of bugs. That meant one had to lay out in the (very exposed) front yard, something I was far from comfortable with in those awkward years. On top of that, it was dead boring, uncomfortable, and the minute I found a good position, it felt like an ant was crawling on my exposed skin. (Sometimes they were, sometimes it was my brain playing tricks.) I’m also pretty darn pale by nature, and of course, I had no idea what I was doing, so I inevitably got burned, and burned bad. Sunblock had a long, long way to go… and back then I knew girls who swore by tinfoil shields and cooking oil to get even darker.

So, I gave it up. I never did tan properly. It didn’t help that when I turned sixteen I got a car, thereby removing the last reason I would willingly ride my bike. Most of the popular girls, the ones who came to school sun-kissed and gorgeous, also played sports or were in summer cheerleading programs. If they didn’t have those, they had access to tanning beds, cottages or beaches. That wasn’t me. I was happier curled up in the shade with a good book, or in my later teen years, spending my spare hours working inside at my job.

It wasn’t just my pale hue that kept me from fitting in with the popular crowd. I was always too bookish, too artsy, too… odd. I had friends, but they were all like me, second or third tier odd ducks that were all funny, smart and great to be with, but also frequently socially awkward or a little too unfashionable to really fit in. At the same time I was meeting and spending time with a group of kids with dyed hair, white skin, and thick black make up. This post punk precursor to the goth movement defied the sun by only going out at night. My other friends, a bunch of theatre geeks, were too busy running from school to rehearsal to worry about things like getting sun, or “a little color” as my Mom always called it. (“You’d look nice with a little color.” she’d say.) All of this sort of snowballed into an extreme dislike of the sun.

Oddly, it wasn’t people who were tan that I didn’t like. My sister has that perfect skin that tans beautifully, my Dad did too. I knew plenty of people who worked outside or played sports that were tan and I didn’t think twice about it, but personally, I started to deeply hate the sun. Then all the findings started coming out relating sun exposure and skin cancer, and it cemented it for me. The sun and me – we just didn’t get along.

There are other factors as well. I‘ve mentioned before that because my legs have always been fairly thin, (despite me being larger everywhere else,) that I didn’t wear clothing that showed them off. The end result? From my freshman year of high school (when it was mandatory for gym class) until this May, I did not own or wear a pair of shorts. In the summer I wore jeans or skirts… long skirts. I didn’t even like capri pants much. Also, thanks to my fair skin, when I went out in the sun I covered up, either with clothing or super sunblock – the higher the spf, the better. (My sister called my sunblock “sweater in a bottle.”) Also, I didn’t “gleam” or “glimmer”, I sweated, a lot. Essentially, summer sucked – and it was all the fault of the sun.

I never got as bad as my mother, who (out of a fear of cancer) avoids the sun so completely that her doctor had to put her on Vitamin D supplements. I like nature and being outside – I just like it in the shade of a big tree, or in the spring or fall when it isn’t so stinking hot.

Then something happened…. I started running.

I started in the spring when it was still cold outside, but of course, that only lasted for so long. Then one day last month I went for a run in the middle of the day. I had appointments in the morning and plans in the evening, so I went out around noon. It was hot. The sun was high in the sky and there were no clouds. As I sat in the parking lot of the park, I realized that I hadn’t packed sunblock. I decided to go anyway.

It felt crazy and a little risky, but as I ran, I thought “How bad can it be?” It’s true, I was only out for a half hour and roughly half of that was under trees, so I don’t think I got any “color” at all. It was on that run that I started thinking about my relationship to the sun. For so long I fought for my pale skin that I had turned it into a point of pride. I considered the whole lot – athletics, tanning, shorts, exercise, sports, summer – all of it, as something that wasn’t me. The fact that I avoided it proved that I was different, and I embraced that difference.

But then I started running and it all changed. Later that day I stopped at the store to pick up some sunblock for my running bag. I went straight to the “sport” shelf. I ended up buying a small bottle spf 30 lotion for my face, but a spray on can of spf 15 for the rest of me. I have never in my adult life bought a spf below 45.

A few days later, I bought my first pair of running shorts.

Today, I’m sort of tan. Not dark tan by any means, but you can tell I spend time outside. (Admittedly, usually at 6:30 AM and 6:30PM, so we aren’t talking about a ton of exposure here.) I have three pairs of shorts and three pairs of outdoor walk/running capri pants and one pair of jean capris. Considering I own probably less than 5 pairs of pants, this has become a high proportion of my wardrobe. The sun doesn’t bother me now, and frankly, neither does the heat. I’ve mentioned that I have been running on days in the high 80s with 100 degree heat indices. I’m okay with all of it.

Running, and losing weight, first brought me to a place where I felt more comfortable taking risks. By taking those risks, I’ve started challenging my own long-held beliefs. Not just about the sun, but about how I dress, how I look, what I do – and don’t do. I know the fact I bought, own and wear shorts doesn’t seem like a big thing, but you have to realize that the last time I owned a pair it was 1986. It is a big deal.

We have these personal manifestos of all things “me” and “not me.” They are the very definition what we like, what we do, even who we are. They serve as mental shortcuts. When something new comes up we can check it against the list – is this me? Will I like this My taking up running is challenging, and changing, that manifesto. At first it happened subtly, but now I see it, and I embrace the change. When a friend recently suggested a climbing gym, “the old me” instantly started to demur, but I caught myself, and instead I said, “tell me more – where is it located again?” 

I’m not throwing away every long-held belief about myself, but I am holding them up to the light. I’ve decided to let the sun shine through.

 

Dear Longview Hill…

The Letter, c. 1906, oil on canvas by Pierre Bonnard

The Letter, c. 1906, oil on canvas by Pierre Bonnard

This post is not written for you, dear reader, instead it is a note to my future self. I’m at that point in my weight loss where people are noticing and starting to give me quite a few compliments. It’s wonderfully nice, of course, but it also makes it really real. I did this. After all the years of thinking about it and trying different things – this is it. This is the start of a new me.

But I’ll be really honest, the more real it is, the more scared I am of gaining the weight back on again.

It isn’t a health thing; in December my physician told me that though I was over the weight she’d like me to be at, I was in excellent health. It has a little more to do with the physical looks, but just a little bit. After all, I haven’t gotten rid of all my old clothes yet! Mostly, it has to do with the fact that it is just so darn easy to fall back into old habits. That I know that while I have been at this for a few months now, I am not in a place of permanence yet. So, I thought I would write this post to myself if I ever found myself struggling again. I wanted to write down what has been working for me, so if I ever fell lost, I would know where to turn.

I should say, dear reader, that is not necessarily what you should do. This just my own personal weight loss code.


Dear Long View Hill,

Sounds like you are going through a rough patch. You and I knew this might happen. We’ve known each other all our lives, we know these things can happen. So this is a letter to you – my future me – from your past. If you are ever stuck, or feeling stressed and having a hard time staying on track. Here’s what we know what works for us:

#1. Walk the Dog.

Walking the dog won’t solve all your weight problems, Long View Hill. You had Hermes for over a year and were walking him for up to a couple hours a day there for awhile, and while you lost some weight, it didn’t start really paying off until the rest of the pieces of the puzzle were in place. However, getting outside is good for you. Spending time with your dog is good for you. They are good for your emotions, your sense of calm and your happiness. As a benefit, walking the pooch also burns calories, so if the reason you are gaining weight back has anything to do with stress, this is a good place to start. Hermes will love you for it.

We really should be on a walk right now.

We really should be on a walk right now.

#2. If you bite it, write it.

The moment things started to change for you is when you downloaded the My Fitness Pal app onto your phone. Trying to track calories on a computer doesn’t work for you LVH – we know, we’ve tried that. It is putting the food in your phone as close to having eaten it as possible, (without being super rude while out to dinner with friends,) that makes it work for you. You know you need that immediate feedback. There might come a time where it won’t be as important, but if you are reading this again, it is probably because you fell off the tracking wagon. Time to saddle up and get back on board.

#3. Do Not Go Over the Line

You lost your weight by sticking to the rules. Like tracking, there may be a time where you can be more relaxed with this, but again, if you are reading this, it is time to go back to square one. You know where the base is, My Fitness Pal will tell you where the max is, just stick between those two numbers. You can do it, you’ve done it before! If you get to the end of the evening and see you only have enough calories for green beans for dinner, well, it is time to do Rule #1. A 30 minute walk will buy you enough calories for a bowl of soup and a light salad! Best yet, leave some room – don’t walk the line. Leave some extra calories for the end of the day. Then, if you want a glass of wine or port before bed, you can have them. Remember Long View Hill, if you leave a cushion of unused calories, you won’t go over.

#4. Get Moving – Whatever it Takes

Well, if you are gaining weight, you might not be exercising. Figure out what it is going to take you to get back to it. Bored of running? Join a gym! Take some classes! Do something! Exercising makes you feel better, stronger and more healthier. Don’t forget to slide in a little extra exercise when you can. Keep running up the stairs at home when you do laundry, keep a smile on your face when it is time to shovel snow – and of course, keep walking that pooch!

#5. An Ounce Weighed, is a Pound Saved.

Don’t forget to measure. You don’t need that fancy scale, girl. You can use that $.50 thrift store find you used for the first 3 months of losing weight. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you have to have a fairly good idea of what is really going on. This is why you have three sets of measuring spoons and had to wash them every day. Don’t forget about that.

#6. Every Day – Weigh

Oh my!I heard the groans across the internet as I write this. We’ve all heard the countless reasons why you should never weigh yourself every day. “You’ll get depressed! You’ll quit! It doesn’t help!” The fact is, there are very few scientific studies to back “what everybody knows.” There was, however, a study with college students that showed those that weighed themselves daily were better able to lose weight and keep it off. But regardless, this is not about other people, this is about you. I’m not saying you have to do this for the rest of your life Long View, but I am saying that prevention is the best way to nip problems in the bud. Like Rule #2 and #3, this is one of those things that might change with time, but you know what works for you. If you think the scale is going up – check. Then start following these rules again.

#7. There Are No “Bad” Foods

One of the reasons we’ve been successful is that we decided not to exclude any food. You have to follow rules #2, #3 and #5, but with that in mind, nothing is off limit. I put this here, because I know us. One thing that could happen is we could get all overly into it and start restricting yourself to a particular way of eating. I can see us trying to make all the daily summary numbers on My Fitness Pal come out absolutely perfect. If we’re doing that, knock it off!  It is only a matter of time before we get all frustrated, mad and rebellious and quit everything. Don’t do that, me! Keep in mind you can eat what you want, and you will never feel like you have to eat to prove some kind of point.

#8. This is the most important one of all – Don’t Listen to Everyone Else.

I saved this one for last because I suspect it is the one that is most likely to go wrong. Already we’ve weathered this. Remember the day that Weight Loss Guru Coworker spent 10 minutes telling you different ways to cheat? Remember how the next week she was upset because at her weigh-in she was far short of her goal?  Remember the person who sent you the article about how calorie counters don’t work because they are not perfect. Remember how much weight you lost using one?* This is the most important rule: Do What Works For You! 

There is no magic pill. Different things work for different people. Some people hate My Fitness Pal, other want specific diets. But don’t listen to them – do your own research. Look gal, I know it is fun to talk about weight loss with people, but how many of them have already given you bad advice? I bet the reason you are back here in your blog archives looking at this letter is because you listened to someone else, just because they said something with a lot of confidence. Ignore weight loss advice that conflicts with your own code. Triply ignore advice that goes against your own code that comes from anyone who is still struggling with their own weight loss.

There are three exceptions to this rule: your sister Em, your friend Cee, and your boyfriend (who shall now be known as) Julian. They love you, they know you. They know what you have been through, your history, your temperament and your struggles. They understand you and want the best for you. If you want advice, go to them. Everyone else – tell them to blow it out their ears.

This also is true for articles, blogs and even things on NPR. No matter what someone is doing, there will always be someone in the background being *helpful* saying, “you aren’t doing it right!” Don’t listen to those people. Turn off the news, only read positive blogs, and trust your gut instinct, Long View Hill.

Eat well, exercise, and be happy, Long View. I am depending on you for it!

Love,

Your Past Self.

 

 

* The article basically said that calorie counters aren’t accurate, sometimes because of the information put into them, sometimes because the manufactures make servings bigger than they claim. I say, that’s why you leave a cushion of calories.

Photo credit: cliff1066

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.

What Makes You Happy?

I ran across this question in a blog today:
question mark by Bilal Kamoon
“What if you were to write down the top ten activities that make you happy and are good for your long-term happiness and health, then start spending most of your time doing those things?”

The blog is about managing finances through a frugal lifestyle, and it interested me enough I’m going back to the beginning and reading my way through. (You’ll see if you click the link that it is from an early entry.) When I read this question it got me thinking.

I thought I would pop over to my own blog and answer it.

  • Spending time playing with my nieces.
  • Long rambling conversations with my boyfriend.
  • Talking with and spending time with my sister.
  • Hanging out with my girlfriends.
  • Preparing food – especially trying new and interesting recipes.
  • Spending a quiet weekend up at my cabin.
  • Long walks with my dog where we explore new places.
  • Spending an hour or more with a great book.
  • Writing – in this blog, in journals, wherever.
  • Being creative, working on projects, building things and making art.

Hmmm… why does it seem like these are the things I spend the least amount of time doing?

Photo credit: Bilal Kammon

Sisters

Sisters QuoteWeight Loss Update:

So, not only is my fabulous boyfriend on the weight loss journey, my sister is trying to take off a few pounds as well. Perhaps it is selfish of me to say this, but this is awesome. I have read that having a “weight loss buddy” is incredibly helpful, and now that I have two, I totally understand why.

Whenever you become focused on something, whether it’s weight loss, building a Deathstar, or urban homesteading, it’s easy to become a bit obsessed. That mental focus starts to drive you – to do research, make plans, try new things.  You are thinking about it all the time, and so, want to talk about it all the time. Having two people in my life that I can share with is wonderful. I know they will both support me and listen when I need to vent. They understand my frustrations… like when my coworkers put things like chocolate covered macadamia nuts and free pizza in the lunch room. (Seriously. Both of these in the lunchroom… which is right next to my desk!)

My boyfriend (who is doing low carb) and I (who is doing low cal) spent about an hour on our phones researching where we could go out for dinner. Neither of us got upset or bored because we were working on it together. I love that we can do that. I love that I can tell him how I am doing and where I am at, and not feel self conscious about it at all.

And as for my sister… we decided on a little competition!

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