Inside Out Fashion

I feel like I have finally developed my own fashion sense.  I’ve reached that fantasy I chased for years where I can put together an outfit using only what I currently have in my closet, throw my hair into a style, put my make up on in 5 min., and the end result is a look I am happy with.  I love to shop for clothes, but time has taught me that it’s what’s under the clothes that makes the most difference. 

Working from the inside out, my attitude makes a huge difference in how I present myself.  Not a perpetual smile on your face so people wonder if you are a little strange type attitude (women have emotions besides happy and perky, shocking, but true), I’m talking about your attitude about yourself.  Call it confidence, self- esteem, or moxy, it is sexy and it makes you stand out in a good way.  When you like yourself, you take better care of yourself.

Which leads to the next layer:  hair, skin and teeth.  Investing in a great haircut and good haircare products made the biggest difference in my looks.  Hair is wonderfully changeable (to a point). You can’t make thin hair thick and vice-versa, but you can tame wild curls, color away your grey and get a cut that flatters your face shape and works with your type of hair.  I know I have a great cut when I can just finger comb it into place.  

Taking care of my skin was definitely a lot of trial and error.  Every woman’s magazine is full of articles and ads for ways to deal with lines and wrinkles.  But, that’s only a small part of the picture.  I don’t need spa facials (although I love them).  I keep the products I need at home and take time out, usually once a week, to do a home facial.  I claim the tv remote, pour a glass of wine and exfoliate, tone and slather on the lotion on Friday nights.  (Now you know my big plans for tonight.)  

Finally, there’s teeth.  Not something I thought much about till a book on beauty after 40 pointed out that stains from coffee, tea, and red wine can really age you. I was sold on the idea when some friends had whitening done through their dentist (beware of the mall whitening people!  Scary idea.)  The result was just subtle enough that it didn’t jump out at you, but effective enough to leave you wondering why they looked so much better.  

My Investment in Me (and Aveda)

All of this requires an investment of money and time, but in the end, you save money and time.  When I have these basics taken care of I look better in all my clothes and it takes less time to get ready when I’m in a hurry to get going. 

TFS Wednesday: The Human Trash Can

For my second Tip From the Scale Wednesday I want to look at mom weight.  There are so many reasons that mom’s tend to gain weight.  It’s harder to exercise with little ones around.  One of my favorite suggestions is “take a walk with your toddler.”  You mean three steps, look at a bug, three steps, pick up a rock, etc. Sure you walk for an hour, but you only make it around the block. 

The type of food your family will eat can be another hurdle.  I might be happy with all veggie meals sometimes, but my teenage boys would wither up and die.  I have to cook a lot of food using recipes that feature meat.  

But I think one of the least obvious ways that mom’s gain weight is that they become the human trash can.  Too often we don’t want to waste food, so we eat what our kids won’t.  When you order a kids meal for a preschooler, you get a lot of food, usually two to three times the amount of food they need or want.  So, you (or your spouse) end up finishing their meal, even when you have just finished your own.  

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you have to get used to the idea of wasting food sometimes.  I don’t like the idea, but it is a fact.  You can’t be the human trash can.  

In one of the many diet books I read the author held a get-started meeting at a buffet.  She had all the newbies go through the line and take what they wanted to eat.  As soon as they sat down she instructed them to get up and throw the entire tray of food away.  It was a dramatic, cringe-worthy way to let the dieters see how they felt about “wasting” food. 

The best way to avoid throwing away food is to plan ahead (which is an entire post for another TFS Wednesday).  Know exactly what you want to eat and stick to it.  When there is one last slice of pizza on Jr’s kiddie plate, leave it, or take it home (cause cold pizza is the breakfast of champions for my kids.)  When there is one serving left in the pot or one scoop of ice cream left in the tub, you have to make a conscious choice.  Do you want those point/calories?  Are you full already?  Can you pawn it off on someone else in the house who can afford the calories? (one big benefit to having a teenage son who plays football).  My last resort is throwing food away.  I hate to do it, but it’s better off in the trash can than in me. 

Happy Burger Day

Or is it Merry Burger Day?  Not sure.  This is my first one.  I just read that today is National Burger Day and my first thought is. . .this must be celebrated.  This is a holiday that I can really get into and believe in.  I don’t normally post on a Tuesday, but, when news is this important. 

The question is how do I best celebrate something as important in my life as a really good burger.  I’m already making Crock Pot Bolognese Sauce from the Skinnytaste blog for dinner.  So, I am using ground beef, but, that’s kind of like having a non-alcoholic beer on St. Pats.  That’s not the proper way to celebrate the holiday.  

I’m thinking it’s Slider Inn for lunch (yes that’s a crude pun, the whole place is punny).  The place just screams celebration.  They have a really big deck and if you get lucky you can score one of their premium parking spaces.  

It’s also all yummy.  I love slider burgers because, as we used to say at Weight Watchers, order the size you want to be.  (Gi-normous burger = gi-normous me)  I want to be cute lil slider size.  If I sub a salad for the fries I am good to go.  (because it’s not National French Fry day.  I’ll let you know when that comes up.) 

I also want to point out to my international readers that, although this looks like an American holiday, you can and should celebrate too.   Cheers!

Blatant Pandering

Everyday I check the statistics on Blogger to see how many people have visited my blog. (Sometimes, it’s more like every few minutes.)  I’m thrilled and fascinated by my audience. I can see that most of my readers are from the U.S. and probably from Facebook, but as of last week I had readers in Germany, France, Romania, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Russia and Venezuela.  I’m not sure how I got readers all over the world, how they found me, but I am thrilled about it.  
My blog has been growing steadily, which is great, but it’s time I put my businesswoman outfit on and do some marketing. (For the sake of argument, let’s pretend I’m wearing this fabulous Vivienne Westwood suit and not a pair of shorts and a tee shirt.)

In the month that I have been creating this blog I have discovered a few things about my audience  (And so much more about myself).  My readers are a discerning group who use social media, but not like people in their 30’s, 20’s or younger.  Time has taught me, and evidently many of you, the value of word of mouth.  You probably have your group of trusted friends who you know will steer you in the right direction for bargains, movies, books, etc.  

You are probably also have a Facebook account (which you might check once or twice a day), a Twitter account, and you occasionally find a few hours of your life missing after falling into a Pintrest black hole.  

So, in my really cool suit, I am humbly asking you to help me spread the word about my blog.

 Your friends value your opinion, so sharing on Facebook would probably have the most impact, but any social media or word of mouth would be appreciated.  Tweet me, Instagram me, Like me, Share me, link me (why is this starting to sound kinky?)

For my part, I will try to not let you or your friends down.  I will keep writing and posting.  I will try to entertain and inform you, make you think and make you laugh.  

I would love to hear from you too, any of you, all of you.  Tell me how you found me, what posts you like, anything you didn’t like.  I have opened up the comment feature so you do not have to link to an account to reply so that should make things easier.  

Whether you share or not, I want to sign off with a HUGE thank you to all my readers.  I know how busy you all are, so I truly appreciate it when you take a few minutes out of your day to read my post.  

Leaning Into Letting Go

I hesitated to write on this topic.  Not a lot of Joie in letting go.  But letting go has been all around me lately, so I feel like it is important enough to include in my blog.  It’s part of midlife, so it’s part of what brings us together on this blog. 

Facebook has had a rash of postings from friends who are sending their last baby off to college.  The pictures of dorm room decorating and suitcases and packed cars are all bitter sweet.  It is exciting to see your kids head off in a positive direction, as much as it hurts to let them go.  I am years away from this event (with high hopes that it will happen), but I empathize with them.  My boys pull away from me a little more every year, like they are supposed to. 

A close friend lost a parent recently.  We all feel her loss.  Logically we know our parents are not going to live forever, but that does nothing to reduce the sting when it happens. The grieving process from losing one of the most important people in our lives can take years.  Birthdays, holidays and other special events can set off a fresh round of tears and memories. 

This post was also inspired by my own letting go.  My father’s death three years ago started a chain reaction of mourning for me; for the relationship we didn’t have, the one we did, and all the hurt in between.  Most days I don’t think much about it.  I have enough on my plate to keep me busy and I consciously lean toward joy.  But sometimes, I’ll hear a song, or read something in a book and be hit with a flood of memories.  That’s when I need to set aside time to grieve, to let go.  

My favorite life-lesson guru, Danielle LaPorte, tells me to start each day asking how I want to feel that day, then what actions I can take to feel that way.  This plan is fantastic till I come up against a day of letting go.  I don’t want to feel sad or lost, but I do, and there is no getting around it.  So I decided to lean into it, just dive right in.  If I was going to cry, I would really let go; take some time, curl up with my son’s teddy bear, put on a sad song, open a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, and really have a good cry.  Those days are just as important to me as the ones where I accomplish 15 things before noon.  They clear the dark places out of my soul.  

As I said, not a happy topic for a Friday morning, but an important one.  Some days that’s just the way it is; not much joie, but a whole lot of vivre. 

Tips From the Scale (TFS) Wednesday

I’ve already mentioned a few times in my blog that I worked at Weight Watchers for a little over five years.  It was a fantastic learning experience.  I learned the basics of how to lose weight and healthy eating from Weight Watchers, but I learned the subtle ins and outs, the tricks and tips, what really works and what doesn’t from the clients.  

The scale was like a confessional.  That was my one-on-one time with each client when they would see their results for the week then talk to me about what went right or wrong, what worked for them and what didn’t.  They confessed, I listened, I made mental notes.  I knew I was getting good stuff and I wanted to pass it along. 

So, here is my chance.  Today I am starting Tips From the Scale Wednesdays.  I have enough material to keep this going for almost a year already, and since food is one of my favorite topics, I’m sure I’ll find more along the way.  The great thing is, you don’t have to do any specific program to use these tips.  They are generic and healthy.

Today’s topic:  Make Minimal Waves

This was advice I always gave during my intro to the program speech because it was some of the best advice I got from my leader when I started.  

She advised me not to make sweeping changes starting day one of my diet.  But, you say, if I don’t change how I eat, I’m going to weigh the same, or keep gaining.  You are going to need to make some changes, but make them as subtle as possible.  For example, if your family always has pizza on Friday nights, or your group at work eats at the Chinese buffet on Wednesdays, keep doing those things, just figure out better choices for yourself in each situation.  

Eating is social and emotional.  A diet or just healthier eating will not stick if you must make sweeping social changes in order to follow it.  You have family pizza night because it brings the people you love together.  Keep the pizza, plan to eat less of it, with veggie toppings and a large side salad and fruit for dessert.  Going out with your coworkers is more about office gossip than what’s on your plate.  So change that.  Start with a bowl of egg drop soup (no putting fried crunchy things in it).  Then make a plate of mostly veggies with a little of the not so healthy stuff.  

Every family has favorite foods.  Don’t suddenly stop making those.  (And don’t go on a clean-all-bad-foods-out-of-our-house rampage).  Your family will support you more if you don’t torture them in the process.  Gradually, you can substitute ingredients and stock the pantry with healthier foods.  In the mean time, plan to eat less of high calorie (or high point) foods.  

I once worked for another (nameless) diet company.  Their plan required that you eat their prepackaged meals, which was fine, as long as you were eating at home.  If you were going to eat out they suggested that you bring your little frozen dinner along and ask the restaurant to heat it up for you.  I had to hold a straight face and tell clients that they should bring the food to a business dinner and ask the chef at Chez Pricey to nuke it for them.  (I still wonder how many people actually did that).  The drop out rate on that program was high. 

One final note, this is not the fast way to lose weight.  It is the slow, steady, realistic, keep-it-off way.  It’s a way you can live with. 

I hope you enjoyed my first TFS Wednesday.  If you did, let me know.  I revised the comment process, so it should be much easier for anyone to comment now.  Please take a sec and give it a try. 

Guinness and Donuts

Saturday was the season opener of EPL (English Premier League) Soccer – better known as pub season at our house.  From now through May its Saturday or Sunday mornings with the rest of the Arsenal fans at the Brass Door in downtown Memphis.  It’s Guinness and donuts season again (Woo Hoo!)

I have never been a sports fan.  When my parents visited me in college my dad asked how our football team was doing.  I didn’t know we had one. (I found out we did have a team when they threw a party, however, after some big guys pushed me out of line for the keg, any interest I had in the team was over.)

So how and why did I become a dedicated soccer (football to the rest of the world) fan?  Let me see if I can explain using a visual aid:

The 2010 World Cup got my attention.  I liked that it is a world-wide phenomenon.  In my other (paying) job I work with people from all over the world so it gave me an easy ice breaker with almost anyone.  I liked the fans.  They were all crazy for their teams, but the fans from the more passionate countries (Italy especially) were hysterical to watch.  When their team scored you would think they had just witnessed the birth of a child and when they lost, they looked like they might throw themselves on a sword to end their agony.  Even the usually staid Brits really let loose at soccer matches.  The Irish, who are not know for winning lately, take celebration to a whole new level when they do win.  And I liked . . . 

. . . the fact that you could see the players. Unlike American football with its protective, but fugly uniforms, you can actually see the players which in this case, is a good thing (a very good thing).  The field is huge, the periods are long and these beautiful athletes are in amazing shape because they are running almost the entire time.

If I’ve got your attention and you’d like to see more, now is a great time to start following the sport.  Not only is it the beginning of a new season, but the world (literally) is gearing up for the World Cup in 2014.  Our hometown boys, Team USA, is currently leading their division and should qualify to play in Brazil next summer.  NBC is carrying all the EPL games on U.S. TV.  So choose a team (Arsenal for me, so much eye candy), find a pub showing the games, pick up and box of donuts and join me for  . . . 

I just couldn’t resist throwing in a few more pics.