Weighty Matters

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Reshaping Old Truths

Each of us carries with us truths.  There are things that we believe to be true about life, the world, about ourselves.  The truths we believe about ourselves are the ones I’m thinking about today.

I have a bunch of them that formed for different reasons from various sources.  Experience.  Listening to other people.  Coming up with them in my own head.  Mis-learned lessons.  The thing is, not all of these truths are really true, but I call them truths because they appear true to me — I believe them.

Sometimes we, or at least I, hold onto these things with tight grips.  We believe them so strongly that they shape our reactions and actions.  They sculpt the way we feel about ourselves.  They can shore up our confidence, or weaken our foundations.  Once we’ve integrated them into ourselves — our hearts, minds, emotions — they are really difficult to reshape or let go of.

Some of my truths have been big whopping lies, or at least horrible misconceptions.  A few examples from my life?  Thinking my father wasn’t proud of me, that I was a failure.  Believing that nothing I did was ever good enough.  Believing that I would never successfully lose weight and keep it off.  Those are just a few.

There are others that less corrosive to the spirit and psyche.  For example, even though I sang in glee club and choir when I was younger, I don’ think I have a good singing voice.  I sing when I’m alone but don’t like singing in front of other people.  Unless I’m at a concert where it’s so loud that other people can’t hear me.  I think I formed that opinion after I asked someone if I had a nice voice and they told me no.  What’s actually true is that I’m definitely an alto and I don’t have a grand range.  I think I probably sing better than I think I do.  I sometimes wonder what would have developed if I’d stayed with singing groups/clubs.  My control would most like be better than it is and maybe I would have improved my range.  I honestly don’t know, but the truth that’s in my head is, no doubt, far apart from what’s reality.

I have also always believed that I have no artistic talent.  I’m not good at crafts with the exception of needlework/needlepoint and working with sequins and beads.  I have a good eye for finished marketing materials like ads, flyers, and brochures but am not effective at designing them myself.

But let’s get back to the deep, emotional but potentially destructive truths because, man oh man, those are the ones that definitely need to be reshaped and we should give them the highest priority.   Thinking my father wasn’t proud of me weakened my self-confidence for years.  Thankfully, we resolved that issue a few years before he died.  I’d been so ashamed for so long that I was afraid to ever bring it up to him.  When I did, he almost cried.  A lot of pain got washed away and we both changed for the better in our interactions and connection to each other.

The whole believing I’m not good enough thing was always the heart of my eating disorder.   Even though I know that I’m more than good enough, knowing it doesn’t resolve the eating disorder.  That carries a certain degree of suckitude, but it is what it is.  At least the more positive belief helps remove some of the emotional underpinning.  It keeps that leg of the stool more balanced and secure.  That’s so important.  I can work on the physical aspects and, as discussed in the earlier post, the spiritual leg of the stool too.

Speaking of the physical, not ever believing that I could successfully lose weight and maintain it meant that I always felt that I was doomed to fail.  When you don’t really believe you can do something, you’re already setting yourself up for an ultimately negative outcome.  Sometimes I still want to fall back into that belief, so I’m working really hard to reshape that false “truth”.  I have successfully lost a good chunk of weight and, even though stalled, I’m maintaining the weight loss — far longer than I have ever done before.  I’m also maintaining the physical fitness effort.  (Rode my bike 14 miles today and did a one hour Tai Chi class.  Booyah!)  In so doing these things, I’m stacking up evidence for my own eyes and heart that a negative truth can be changed.  We can come to believe differently about ourselves.  That, my friends, is vital to my continued recovery.  Let me tell you, it is definitely the priority!

Now back to that artistic talent thing.  Remember the post on pottery and the class I took?  I’m ready to reveal the end results of my very first experience with “throwing” clay on a wheel.

Here’s the first pot.  You can see it’s uneven both in shape and in thickness.  The glazing’s uneven too.  Still, I gaze on it fondly, even in its imperfections.  I love the sweet little starfish that I added to the inside and the speckled sandy glaze inside the pot.  I now have this little thing in my bathroom.  It’s perfect for holding my earrings, necklace and ring when I take them off at night.

Pot-purplePot-Purpleinside

For the second pot, I achieved a little control which resulted in a more even pot.  I’m not happy with the glazing.  Detailed brush work is a challenge and it was hard to assess whether I’d evenly applied the glaze.  I like the shells that I affixed.  Overall, while it’s clearly not something that anybody would try to sell in a gift shop, I like it enough that I put it in the hall bathroom.  I may add some small soaps.  Whatever the case, I’m not hiding it away where nobody but me will see it!

Pot-aqua

My last, and best pot, surprised even me!  I can’t believe I achieved the overall shape.  On the second trip, when we learned to smooth and “trim”, I even managed to do that in more symmetrical fashion.  I loved playing with the deeper blue speckled glaze on the outside.  I think I achieved a nice, rich color.  Inside, I used a lighter speckled glaze and centered a single piece of sea glass in the bottom.  I love this little bowl!

Pot-bluePot-Blue-Glass

I don’t pretend that I am a  gifted potter after a single foray, but again, I’m not embarrassed to show this bowl.  I, who have always believed myself to not have any artistic ability at this kind of thing, got a life lesson.   I have enough artistic ability to have created three pots with enough success that I’m inspired to try additional things. Working with the clay, shaping it into different pots, helped me reshape another old “truth”.

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Laboring Weekend

I’m about to go soak my weary body in a warm bathtub. Not that I need the justification, but I earned the relaxation and my muscles will appreciate the treatment. I definitely put the labor in Labor Day Weekend today.  It began with Tai Chi class for about 90 minutes this morning. I then made a circuit through town to do errands. Here’s my list:

  • Drive to veterinarian’s office to pick up the heartworm preventive treatment for Nat & Pxyi
  • Get gas and fill car tires with air
  • At little neighborhood hardware store pick up new trash can, new recycling bin, picture hangers and those little felt things you put on the bottom of chair legs
  • Stop at the post office
  • Go to pet store and tote out big bag of food, also for Nat & Pyxi
  • Since it was right next door, run into florist and pick up half a dozen sunflowers just because I wanted them
  • Go to health food store and check out coconut palm sugar (Ever since I found out that most stevia products still have junky stuff in them, I’ve been on a quest for a lower calorie but more natural sweetener for my tea. A friend suggested coconut palm sugar at 10 calories a teaspoon.  Will let you know if I like it after I try it.)
  • Realizing I was hungry, I had lunch at the health food store — a salad of zucchini, beets, carrots and cabbage, spiral cut so that the veggies looked like spaghetti, served with warm quinoa. Delicious and I brought half of it home to eat tomorrow
  • Go to Home Depot’s garden section to get new herbs and flowering plants

That was all by 1 o’clock!  Once I got home and unloaded everything, I got to work on removing the old/straggly/dead plants from my various planters and replacing them with the new items.  I love the instant satisfaction of seeing new, pretty flowers and greenery!

I moved inside to do some work.  The construction work on my dining room and living room is complete! (Except for a few touch-ups that will be completed next week.  I have a short punch list for my contractor.)   I at least got the floors “broom clean” today and can do more tomorrow.   It’s also important that I move some stuff that I was storing in the guest bedroom out of that room because a friend is coming to visit at the end of next week.  So that was more of my labor today.

With that complete, I took a little break during which I debated with myself about whether I’d done enough physical activity with my chores and Tai Chi to qualify as exercise.  Thankfully, my higher minded self won the debate.  I turned on the DVD player and did the entire 30 minute routine that was scheduled for the day and then took Nat & Pyxi for a walk.

But I still wasn’t done!

After dinner (Leftovers from last night. I’d made balsamic glazed brussel sprouts and grilled skirt steak.  The meal was even yummier tonight.) I put together the last two new dining room chairs that I bought.  When that task was complete and the chairs were arranged around the new table, I decided that I’d done enough for one day.   I flopped into my chair and watched the rest of the Phillies game.

I’m whipped, but also feel terrific for having accomplished so much.  I feel even better that I actually can accomplish so much in a single day.  The fact that I’m tired and my muscles feel the effects of the work has nothing to do with obesity.  I think anyone on the planet would feel the same after such a busy, filled day.  More than the tiredness, I feel grateful for the energy and endurance that helped me achieve the day’s chores.

Better yet, I know the same energy and endurance will be with me tomorrow when I finish putting my guest room to rights, clean the swimming pool, and hang some art.  Labor ensues!

How are you spending the three day weekend?

 

 

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Concourse Death March

Miami Airport appears huge to me. No matter where I park in proximity to my terminal it seems to take forever to get to the check-in counter. Not well organized, one then must trundle to the TSA line before going down a concourse that feels endless.

Seriously. It took Dorothy less skipping down the yellow brick road to arrive at Oz. Being extremely overweight and completely out of shape made navigating this airport a painful struggle. It equated to a death march or Moses leading the chosen people out of Egypt in my mind as I sweated, huffed and puffed my way to the gate.

Today, I’m bopping down the long, long concourse with a downright spring in my step. Distance? Bring it on and let the steps add up on my FitBit. No pain. No gasping for air. No problem.

Booyah!

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Feeling It

When I lived in a state of morbid obesity or super obesity, I only felt the ill effects of too much eating, or of eating too much crappy food after a binge. It really took stuffing myself with massive quantities of food for my body to complain. My spirit, my head, my emotions suffered, but I was so physically conditioned to eating a lot that lesser amounts didn’t make an impact. Even if my lesser amounts would have caused gastric distress in a “normal-sized” person, they didn’t register.

Now that I’ve lost more than 180 pounds, my body is much more sensitive and aware. This is beyond my surgically altered stomach. I’m not talking about how packing too much food in at one time triggers me to throw it back up. I truly notice physical reactions if I eat too much in a given day — even spread out over several meals — or if I indulge too often in crappy or not-as-healthy-for-me food.

This past week was a perfect example of this new awareness. As I’ve shared, I was incredibly busy at work with three days of media filming that required longer days, largely spent outside. My schedule of eating was thrown off and it was more challenging for me to find time to sit down and eat one of my normally healthy meals. Add in the stress and, let’s face it, I ate more crappy food than I usually would in a month. Ok, ok, the occasional small serving of french fries alone wouldn’t kill me, but when combined with other food items that have too much salt, too much fat, or too many carbs over a few days, my body sent clear messages. Eat crap = feel crappy. I bloated, I ached, I felt sluggish so I had to work harder to muster the energy I needed for the job. I’m sure this all made me feel even more tired at night. Overall, I was just off.

Sorting through all of this, crystallizing the realization, and processing the experience helped me take action to feel better. I ate unhealthy for so many years. Now that I’ve made it a practice to make healthy choices — not only in quantity and selection but in the quality of the food selections, I know how much better healthy feels.

Yesterday and today I’ve consumed mostly vegetables, fruits, and yogurt while also raising my hydration level. I haven’t had overly processed foods, nor anything that salty. It’s amazing to me how much better I feel, and in how short a time. I just took the dogs out for a long walk and felt really connected to my energy again. Honestly, I could have gone longer but Pyxi is still building back up after her mild injury. I may pop in an exercise DVD just for the hell of it.

I’m psyched that I’m more in touch with how and what I eat affects me. I’ll take it as another sign of my ever developing recovery. I like that, for the first time in my life, I’m aware of my body’s signals rather than being numb and oblivious.

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No Pain!

While many of my workdays are mostly spent at my desk and computer, I have some days when I am outside and on my feet for most of the eight or more hours. I clearly remember in the pre-weight loss time of my life when a media day outside absolutely beat me up. By the time I finished and practically crawled home, my entire body — particularly my joints, feet and back — nearly cried from the pain. As soon as I walked in the house, I’d gulp down 800 mgs of ibuprofen, grab an ice pack for my right knee which always hurt the most, and collapse in a chair. At the time, I didn’t have the luxury of a warm bath because I was afraid of being so big that I’d get stuck in the bathtub.

Today was one of those all-day outside media days. I got to work at 7:30 a.m. and didn’t leave until after 4:30 p.m. I possibly sat down for a total of two hours, maybe, in that time span but never more than 15 minutes at a time. Was it a really active day for me? You bet. Just to give you an idea, I took the dogs out for a short walk this morning and again this evening, but neither was one of my 45 minute fitness walks that helps build up the step count on my FitBit. Still and all, I was on my feet so much, walking around, that I still racked up 11,500 steps which means I walked almost five miles.

Best of all. My joints are not weeping for mercy. My back doesn’t ache. I didn’t need to take any OTC pain relievers. I’m considering a good, warm bath but I love doing that anyway and I’m not doing it to soak away any pains.

All I can say is that the difference between me tonight and how I would have been after a similar day a few years ago is astounding. It’s always good for me to hold this experience close and remember it so that I can use it to positively reinforce my overall effort. I feel incredibly grateful and blessed.

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Good New Days

The good news about tough times is that they don’t have to continue forever. Each day is an opportunity to do better than the day before, to make healthier choices, to reframe our mindset, and rebalance our emotions. It’s another chance to reconnect spiritually with whomever or whatever we decide is our Higher Power.

Today wasn’t perfect for me, but it was so much better than the last week. I’m relieved and, trust me, when i went to bed last night I anticipated a complete suckfest. As tired as I was, I could not shut off the mind chatter. Situations, worries, and drama kept repeating in my head. I believe that’s what psychiatrists call “inefficient worrying”. Whatever the name, I experienced it to the point where it took two hours and a change of scenery for me to go to sleep.

Change of scenery sounds weird, but sometimes when I can’t fall asleep in my bed I get up and go out in the living room to my recliner. For some reason, when I do that I can then drop off. My sleep in the chair usually only lasts for an hour to an hour and a half, but when I sort of wake up and return to my bed, I immediately fall asleep again and go through until morning.

Despite only getting about five hours of sleep, my mind was clear when my alarm went off. I spent some time connecting with my spirit. I said the Serenity Prayer. I mused on the things that I need to disconnect from and let go, then made the conscious choice to turn them over. With a calm mindset and a serene spirit, I actually experienced some good energy — like I’d relieved myself of things dragging at me. So I went out, jumped on my bike, and rode eight miles before breakfast. I rode to the beach and had the pleasure of seeing bright brush strokes of lavender, rose, and gold sweep across the sky. It was glorious.

The positive state of being remained throughout the work day and when I got home. Situations that last week threw me completely off of my game, today rolled off me without causing me difficulty. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that my food and eating through the day were also on point. I feel off some tonight and that’s my bad. I didn’t make my house “clean”, meaning I still had some junk food around

That’s one of the worse aspects of being a compulsive eater. I don’t have to be in a poor state in order to eat off plan. Sometimes I eat compulsively just because the food’s present. Anyway, it’s gone now. With my new found balance and positive, healthy attitude, I can withstand bringing any of it back into the house. that will help pad the likelihood of stacking up some successful days.

My takeaway reminder lesson from all this is to remember that no matter how far off I slip, it is always possible to climb back up, shore up my defenses, and reconnect with what I need to do in order to not only survive but thrive. I will never lose hope.

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Food Associations

I treated myself to some new technology at home in the form of an AppleTV gizmo. I also signed up for a subscription to MLB.TV. Together, these things allow me to watch Phillies games on my television. I’m a big fan of baseball and the Phillies are my team. All of the years that I lived up home in SoJersey, we watched baseball games on television all season long. Before the time that they broadcast the games on the tube, we used to listen to them on the radio. I’ve missed that practice in the years that I’ve lived in Florida when the only times I could see the Phillies were when they played the FL Marlins or the occasional game on ESPN or Fox.

Tonight’s game is on while I type this. I was thinking about the years when we also had season tickets to Veterans Stadium for 16 games each season. I always wanted a ball park hot dog at those games. That was a strong association of a particular food with a particular activity. Each of us probably has countless associations that we make like popcorn at the movie theater, cake on a birthday, or turkey at Thanksgiving. Many of us can also add family traditions, like my family’s practice of making Pizza frita (fried dough) on Christmas morning. I have friends who never go out fishing without picking up fried chicken from a particular convenience store.

There used to be a great little family-owned Cuban restaurant in town. For years I ordered the same meal whenever I went to this restaurant — pork chunks with yellow rice, black beans and fried plantains. It got to be funny because I’d go with my mom and say that I really should try something else sometime, but the favorite tradition always won out.

I’ve noticed that I also have food and eating behaviors associated with certain places, activities and other things. Cookies in the kitchen at work are a guaranteed trigger for me. It’s like I have to eat one (or two).

I don’t think that the food associations are necessarily bad, except when they are. 🙂 By that I mean that if I’m aware of the association and make the food or eating choice mindfully with full awareness — and incorporate it into my overall eating plan, it can be a positive activity. If I don’t use the associations as a trigger to overeat, or eat compulsively, then it’s not automatically unhealthy. The key is being mindful and aware.

Eating by rote just because of the ingrained, often long term, association can be a dangerous, slippery slope. One needs to be aware of the association or habit in order to effect positive change, or counteract the trigger. For example, I used to automatically throw a candy bar onto the belt at the supermarket checkout. There’s a reason they put those rows of candy bars in that location! It didn’t matter if I wanted the chocolate before I got to the store or not. Most of the time, I hadn’t even thought about it on my way to the supermarket. When I hit the checkout line, I had associated the experience with also buying and later consuming, the chocolate bar.

I’m mindful about it now. I still want it most times, but I can resist the trigger of the association and choose a different behavior — ignoring the chocolate, completing checkout, and leaving the store.

This reminds me of something the coaches warned us about when I went through a smoking cessation program more than 27 years ago. We learned that smokers frequently lit up cigarettes because of the place or situation and not because they had an urge to smoke right at that particular moment. I rapidly noticed that I automatically lit a cigarette whenever I got into my car or sat down at my desk. (Back in the early 80s, most offices still permitted smoking.) When I went out to a rock club with friends, invariably I’d have a drink in one hand and a cigarette in another. Once I was made aware of the practice, I became adept at identifying the “association moments”. Eventually I learned to counter them, much like I’ve learned with the checkout candy bar rack.

Not sure if I’ll have the same success in other situations. Movie popcorn is a powerful lure. I can only try and do my best, or at the very least, take a look at my plan for the day and adjust so that I can enjoy the treat. Either action — resisting or working it into the plan – requires awareness and conscious thought. Those things can trump the automatic reaction because of long term association. I can work with that.

Do you have any food associations? Care to share?

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A Really Big Shew (Shoe)

When people imitated the late, great Ed Sullivan, they always emphasized the way that he said “Show” as if he pronounced it “Shew”, as in shoe.

Me, I know about really big shoes. I needz them. I wear a 10 EE. I think I have since I was quite young. Let me tell you, that was pure torture when I was younger because nobody made cute wide-width shoes for kids or teens back then. Other than sneakers or flip flops or absolute basics, shoe styles were hideous — or at least designed for much, much, much older people with foot problems. I so hated back-to-school shoe shopping in late summer. Not only were my feet long, but I spent most of the summer months running around barefoot, going to the beach, etc. I’m sure that this contributed to the growing width of my feet.

This is probably why I never developed that feminine fixation on great, sexy, high design shoes. I vaguely remember circa 1980 owning a cute pair of Candy slides in a light plum suede, but that’s it for me in the cute shoe department

Thankfully, designers caught on over the years and began to create more stylish footwear for the wide-width market, but that didn’t make them easy to find in small town, NJ. In the 80s, I wrote radio copy for a wide-width shoe specialty store. The owner was an obnoxious man and I hated shopping there when he was in the store. His wife was much nicer. I could occasionally find shoes that didn’t make me feel humiliated when I wore them there at the rare other establishment, thank goodness, but it’s always been an uncomfortable area for me.

The Internet and some catalog really opened up the opportunities, but that’s really when my weight interfered. In addition to my feet flattening over the years from my obesity, I have a higher instep. Plus, let’s face it, one can gain weight in one’s feet which only adds to the size challenge. (It’s also possible to wear a 10 EE and not be fat.) So, by the time that I could more easily find stylish shoes, I wasn’t physically comfortable wearing most of them. If something didn’t cut across the top, then the angle of heels hurt my knees or my feet looked like they were hanging over the sides.

It always killed me that drag queens always managed to find and wear hot shoes — even if they had a football player-type body packed inside their outfits. Oprah wears a size 10 and she has great shoes.

*indulging in a temporary, suffering, whine-sigh*

Moving to Florida and working for a marine mammal facility was a boon. Flip flops are normal. Crocs rubber flip flops are particularly popular with their range of colors and styles. Yes, yes, you fashionistas, I can hear you decrying Crocs as style and design disasters. A friend who is a fashion and style maven recently declared in her newspaper column that friends shouldn’t let friends wear them. She calls it Croc-blocking. We serve together on a Board. The day of the last meeting I warned her in the afternoon not to look at my feet later on, lest she be horrified. My sister-in-law loathes Crocs, too, but I think her antipathy might focus more on the closed toe-clogs with the holes in them.

I listen not to the naysayers. I believe I currently have six pairs of Crocs flip flops in white, bright blue, black with pink footbeds, charcoal gray, navy, black.

However, even I know that there are many occasions where these flip flops are not appropriate foot attire. I own some nicer leather sandals. I also have nice black leather slingbacks with closed toes, some pumps, and a cute pair of black peau de soie evening sandals with bling on them and kitten heels. Very comfortable.

Remember when I bought the dresses last week? I could wear the nice sandals with either one of them, but when I was at checkout, the woman next to me looked at the fun, flirty, gray-pink-black dress and proclaimed that I needed pink shoes.

The thought kindled a new, alien feeling of shoe lust. I knew from a year ago that I’d lost weight in my feet. Maybe, just maybe, I would now be able to find truly stylish shoes that I could also comfortably wear. I might even be able to try, dare I hope, something more than the shortest heel. Was it possible? I had to look.

I hit my favorite go-to online store that very night — Zappos.com. Not only does Zappos have a gazillion shoe styles in a huge range of sizes but they also offer free shipping both ways! I first searched for pink shoes in my size. I found a couple, but didn’t like any of them enough to add to my shopping cart. I plan to wear that flirty dress one night in New Orleans when we’re doing a walking party evening. I needed cute, stylish and also comfortable. Not wanting to fall back on black, I began searching out silver and gray. Before long, I found some pewter, peep toe slingbacks in sort of a mock-woven leather pattern with a wedge heel. Click! I added them to my Shopping Cart.

Next up, I searched through navy dress shoes and soon found an elegant pair in either peau de soie or brushed satin — also peep toe slingbacks, but with three lovely bedazzle jewels on the top of each. Click! I bought those as well.

The shoes arrived today. I couldn’t wait to try them on. The pewter shoes slid on like butter. I walked around on the carpet in them for awhile and imagined being on my feet for an hour or more, strolling Bourbon Street. They’re perfect! I was more concerned about the navy, although my heart sort of smiled when I took them out of the box because they’re elegant and pretty. The heel on this pair is definitely higher than I’ve worn in many, many years. Not stiletto, skyscraper high, but an extra inch of height is an adjustment for me.

My left foot is a little bigger than my right, so I always try that shoe on first. The leather that crosses over the top of my foot was definitely a little tighter than on my right foot. I walked around in the pair for a while longer to see if it would start to hurt. It didn’t. I know that our feet swell during the day, but I didn’t try these on until after 5 p.m. I believe I’m going to be okay!

Trust me, I would not risk wearing them the first time out on a walking tour. These are heels that I still need to get used to, after all. The event where they’ll make their debut on my feet is a cocktail hour/dinner event which means I’ll have ample opportunity to sit if I need to. I predict that need won’t happen often. I know I’ll want to mix and mingle with my friends and colleagues. After all, not only will it give me a chance to socialize, but I’ll also get to show off my awesome new shoes!

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Clothing Coolness – an NSV

I have a special event coming up in a couple of weeks and needed a new dress. The beautiful dress I bought for last fall’s wedding will be too warm to wear in the Florida Keys in mid-April. Besides, I’ve worn it for a family wedding, an evening event for work, and formal night on the cruise. Double besides, I don’t really need to justify getting a new dress. 😉

I’ve already discussed the wonderful non-scale victory (NSV) of being able to go into a local women’s clothing store and find sizes that I can wear. I used to have to scour the catalogs from plus-sized clothing companies, go online, or hope that I’d have a trip somewhere where plus sized clothing stores were located. Not just any plus-sized clothing store, but ones that had plus-plus-plus sizes and, even then, I’d have to pray that I would find something that not only fit but that also had some snap and style. Something that didn’t better suit someone 30 years older than me. Something that didn’t feel made of plastic.

Anyway, I went into a nice local store today. When I shopped there before my cruise, I’d seen a really snappy black and white dress but hadn’t tried it on. They still had the dress, but in a size smaller than I thought I could wear — a straight 16, not a 16 W. I figured I’d try it anyway, but also picked out a couple of other pretty ones too. I fell instantly in adoration with a really cute, fun, playful dress with tiered light ruffles in modern splashes of pink, gray and black. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever owned before and, while I wouldn’t wear it to the event in a couple of weeks, I thought it would be perfect for my trip to New Orleans in May.

In the dressing room, I first tried on the black and white dress. This was a sleek, form fitting dress with black panels down the sides and white, skinny ruchy (is that word) sort of striping in the center of the front and back. The good news first: Even in a straight 16, the dress fit. That was cool. Looking at myself in the mirror, I knew I’d need a really good Spanx undergarment (Because of the weight loss, I now have a significant sag of skin in the belly area, so compression garments in some outfits are my friend.) The not as good, but it’s my reality right now news: The dress made my ass look humongous. Seriously. I’m not being picky or regarding myself with “fat” eyes. It really wasn’t flattering.

That happens. Not every style is good on every figure, regardless on how good that figure might be. I’m okay with that. It’s real.

I tried on the second dress, which was not form fitting but has a nice cut and swing to it. There are some vertical navy panels alternating with a pretty navy and gray print pattern. It also had a short bolero-ish/shrug jacket which covered my also-sagging upper arms. I knew immediately that this dress would be perfect for the event in a couple of weeks and I am thrilled with how it looked on me and how I look in it. Score!

Finally, I slipped on the fun/flirty dress and, oh my stars, it also looks great and just made me smile. Even though I’m losing weight, it will not be too big on me in a month and a half. I already know that I’m really going to enjoy wearing it in NOLA, for sure. If I can find some sassy pink, comfortable sandals, I’ll be set.

Bonus for the shopping excursion was the terrific spring sale. 40% off the regular priced dress and an extra $25% off of the two already-on-sale garments. Woo hoo!

The clothing coolness NSV didn’t end with the shopping trip. I went off to an afternoon outdoor fundraising event for local pet rescues/shelters. When I arrived home later in the afternoon, I got my mail and flipped through it. I’d received a marketing piece from one of my favorite plus size clothing stores. We’ve never had one of the stores here in the Keys or in South Florida, but for more than 15 years I sought them out whenever I traveled. Seriously, if I knew I was going somewhere else in Florida, I went to their website’s store locator to find the nearest store. I knew where one was located in my home area in New Jersey too and always shopped there on my trips up home. This store was my mainstay for cocktail dresses, suits, sportswear — you name it and I could find it there pretty much any time. I once planned a six hour driving trip in Florida just to seek out the closest store because I needed a fancy dress for an event.

Today I pulled out the marketing flyer and suddenly realized something. A couple of weeks ago when I went to Clearwater for the spring training game, I drove right past the exit for the store that I’d gone too whenever I was up in that area. I never even gave it a thought that I should stop in and browse for clothes.

Now this is the big NSV. The store that I could not do without isn’t one that I need anymore! I’m jazzed beyond belief. Again this shows how far I’ve come and I couldn’t be happier.

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Things I Love Right Now

I have a guilty pleasure. I like to occasionally buy a little soap opera magazine. The only soap I watch is General Hospital and I’ve done so for decades. The DVR records it daily and I watch when I get home at night. I like reading about the show, the actors, the storylines, what’s coming up, etc. One of these magazines has a feature where the editors/writers name the Five Things They’re Loving Right Now about a certain show. They also name the one thing they could do without.

In the spirit of this feature, I started pondering about five things I love right now about my journey, my progress, myself. Yes, I’ll also pick the thing I could do without. Here we go, in no particular order:

Whenever I’m going on a trip, whether for a weekend or longer period, I love that I automatically pack exercise clothes, walking sneaks, and my iPod. These items are now as necessary as any other wardrobe item or my cosmetics and toiletries.

I love the I’m increasingly more open and willing to choose healthier alternatives in my food. No more turning up my nose at natural, organic peanut butter (I purposely buy without added sugar.) or fat free plain Greek yogurt. Sure, let me use spaghetti squash instead of pasta under my red sauce for an Italian food fix. I’m sampling a greater variety of less processed foods, too. A friend shared something she heard from a television or celebrity doctor — she can’t remember which one. He recommended that one strong step to eating healthier is to avoid food items that are advertised on television. Sure, as with anything there are some exceptions – like quality Greek yogurt — but think about what products you see most often in commercials.

I love that I no longer take over-the-counter pain relievers every day any more. My left knee will never be 100% but it doesn’t throb or ache at the end of every day. My whole body doesn’t hurt after a full day at work. At my heaviest, I took the equivalent of prescription-strength non-aspirin pain relievers every day, sometimes a few times a day. Now I don’t even think I take them once a month.

This one might be a little shallow, but forgive me, okay? I love that I’m no longer the heaviest person I know, the heaviest person at work, the heaviest person I see most days. When you’ve lived most of your life as the most overweight person present in any situation, it wears on the self-esteem. Having that weight off of me, literally and figuratively, lightens my spirit.

I absolutely love that I can both see and feel definition in my muscles. Sometimes I have to move around a bit for the definition to be obvious because of some remaining flab or saggy skin, but my muscles are toned! I not only feel stronger, I feel powerful. Booyah!

There are more things, of course, but these are the ones that most strike me today. Now for the thing I could do without. That would be how reactive my body is to carbs. We started this week with me annoyed because I ate a few carbs and my body decided to hold onto four faux pounds of water weight. I stayed with my plan and flushed them away, then lost an additional half pound so far. This makes me happy, but the fact that it was necessary still ticks me off.

So, my friends, what are five things about yourselves or your lives that you love? It’s okay to share the thing you could do without, too.

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