New Hair Ideas

I’m pretty lucky that my new job is very accepting of my current look, which is a little more “me” and a little less the preppy look that I was trying to pull off for a few years, there. In February, I got an undercut and dyed my hair a metallic silvery-blue color, which looked really nice for about a month. Eventually though, the blue started to wash out and my roots started to grow in, and now my hair is a weird light blue/yellow/gray mix. It actually doesn’t look terrible, but it’s not really where I’d like it to be. Since I need to go in and get it trimmed a bit, anyway, it’s time for me to pick a new color! I’m thinking a pastel, and have been mulling over a few options:

Bubblegum Pink, like Kelly’s amazing ‘do from Pinterest:

Pink Hair

Icy Purple, which doesn’t look that different from my hair right now, except that it would have purple tones instead of yellowish gray ones.

Purple Hair

Of course, my very favorite is Unicorn Hair, which has a bunch of different interpretations online. This is probably the closest to how I’d like it to look, though:

Unicorn Hair

What do you guys think? I’m probably going to wait until the day of the appointment to make my final decision, so if you’ve got any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them! No green, though, and I’m not really feeling dark colors right now.

Shifting Into Gear

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A tiny, glowing part of the Chewbacchus parade, my favorite thing about Mardi Gras. Image via NOLA.com.

It’s Mardi Gras weekend here in the Big Easy, and most people are out at the parades or attending various parties. I’ll be heading to a couple of grand events later in the weekend, but for the moment I’m enjoying one last dose of quiet before diving headfirst into the celebration.

For the last week or so, I’ve been gathering up everything I have that’s worth anything and posting it on Amazon or Ebay. My goal is really to pare down my belongings to the point where my house doesn’t feel full of stuff, but rather full of possibility. As the piles of junk start to disappear and the surfaces clear off, I’ve found that my creativity is returning bit by bit. I’ve been able to come up with some creative storage solutions that managed to elude me for almost two years, and I figured out how to afford the new computer I so desperately need without putting myself in further debt. Several sewing projects have been attempted and completed successfully, I learned a new origami pattern, and I had a cool idea about how to make my closet work better for me last night that I intend to work on as soon as Mardi Gras has passed.

Another thing that’s going to change with the season is my health. I’ve actually been taking good care of myself. I’m on medication for my anxiety and depression, am attending therapy regularly, and walk/work out daily. After much thought, however, I made the hard decision to quit my gym for the year to save money. I realized that though I love lifting weights and hanging out with the people at the gym, my finances (and emotional state) are never going to improve if I keep spending that obscene amount of money on working out each month. In fact, after doing the math, I realized that I could easily afford to enroll in a Fitocracy program online, WITH my boyfriend, and still save enough money to buy a month’s worth of healthy groceries. I loved that gym, and maybe I’ll make enough money in the future to return, but for now it’s more important to focus my attention on my financial fitness. I’m actually very excited about the Fitocracy program – it’s called Hormonal Fat Loss. If you’re interested in checking out any of the training programs at Fitocracy, here’s a COUPON CODE FOR $20 OFF. Even better for me, when you use the code, I get $20 off, too!

Maybe most exciting of all is that I recently made the decision to start dressing like the me that’s been inside, hiding, all this time. Tomorrow I’m headed to get a new haircut that’s sure to give my parents a heart attack. I want it to look something like this:

shaved-side-hairstyles

Not sure if the stylist is going to have the time for the color, but I know the cut is going to look amazing. Really looking forward to making a splash at the Orpheus Ball on Monday night. I found this beautiful dress on Rent the Runway that’s right up my alley – a little more tech while still being glam:

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Image via Nordstrom.com, because I’m too lazy to find it on Rent the Runway right now.

And I got the most beautiful vintage earrings on Ebay to complete the ensemble:

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Check out these bad boys…

Welcome to 2016. It’s going to be my year, but I’m happy to share it if you’re nice:-)

This Body

I had something really strange happen today. I found myself, for just a few seconds, actually appreciating my body. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I loved my physical self. And it was a strong burst of love, strong enough to throw me off guard. It was like living in a place where it’s been raining heavily every day for as long as anyone can remember, and then one day the sun punches through a tiny spot in the clouds for just a second or two, and shines so incredibly hard that the person who was standing right where the sun happened to touch is now sporting a George Hamilton-level tan.

It happened like this: I was walking to work this morning. Since it’s already getting hot here, I wear my workout clothes to walk to work, then change into other clothes once I get to the office, so I won’t be sweaty all day. My workout clothes are pretty basic – spandex capris always, then whatever t-shirt suits me that day. Sometimes I wear sneakers, but I can’t stand for my feet to get hot, so lately I’ve been walking to work in my hiking sandals, Tevas.

So I was walking along, feeling kind of like a stuffed sausage in my form-fitting clothes, but overall just enjoying the sensation of walking. I really love the new sandals, and they make my walk feel more like an adventure. I was within five minutes of getting to the office, just starting to cross over a busy street, and all of a sudden – whoosh! I found that I loved how strong and capable my feet and legs felt, and how easy it was to carry my (kind of heavy, actually) work backpack. And then I thought “I bet my butt’s looking really great right now with all those squats I’ve been doing at the gym” and from there I started to smile, and felt like someone really should notice me, walking across the street, looking great. Wouldn’t that be a treat for them to see a strong, happy woman going about her day? And then I realized that I’d just experienced a moment of truly liking being in my skin, and it all disappeared again.

But it was there. I felt it. I know what it’s like. So that’s a start, right?

Challenge Update: Diamonds Out, Trekking Supplies & Workout Leggings In!

Despite my inner child’s excitement over the potential of owning another pretty, shiny thing if I hit my weight loss goal by April 3rd, I think I’m going to have to change my direction re: prizes for meeting my goals. I know, I know, it’s a disappointment – so much less sparkle involved in hiking gear than diamond jewelry!

But seriously, I’ve been thinking about it over the last few days, and it would be a much better use of funds if I focused on getting my supplies for the Camino, instead of a new belly button ring. I’ll have to buy things (a pack, hiking poles, new socks, and all manner of other fun odds and ends) to go on pilgrimage, anyway. It makes more sense to reward my good behavior with supplies that will only encourage more good behavior. Also, it would be a lot less wasteful of me. Maybe I can save the bling for my next milestone.

No matter what, I’m also thinking that some new fun workout clothes are in order, whether or not I hit that 170 lb mark. Some of the ladies at my gym have been wearing these amazing workout leggings, and I’ve been coveting pretty hard for the last month or so (Sad, right? Totally going to hell over spandex. Oh well.). It wasn’t that long ago that it was hard for me to even find decent workout pants and leggings, and back then it seemed they were all gray and black and uber boring. Now I’m seeing awesome ones in a plethora of colorful patterns. I dig loud, crazy designs, so incorporating them into my gym life is definitely a big plus. Something like these…

Onzie Low Rise Leggings

Onzie Low Rise Leggings in “Copa Cabana”, at Nordstrom. (Click image to visit site.)

Onzie Capri Leggings in Prism Print from Bloomingdales. (Click through image to visit site.)

Onzie Capri Leggings in Prism Print from Bloomingdales. (Click image to visit site.)

Onzie Track Leggings in Teal Chevron at YogaOutlet.com. (Click image to visit site.)

Onzie Track Leggings in Teal Chevron at YogaOutlet.com. (Click image to visit site.)

What do you think? Do you dig going loud and crazy at the gym? If you’re a lady (or happen to know a lot about women’s gym clothes), any good workout leggings to suggest?

Starting My Own Transformation Challenge

This isn’t so much a post as a reminder to myself. If you’ve been reading along since the new year, you’ll know that from January 5th to February 13th, I was doing a transformation challenge with my gym, Iron Tribe. Long story short, I didn’t win the challenge (bummer – would have really liked that top prize!), but I’m not that upset about it. One of my nicest classmates lost over 5% body fat and ended up with the top prize. Since he has a family, that gift certificate to Whole Foods is really going to come in handy.

As for me, I ended up losing about 13 pounds and 3% body fat, and getting a lot stronger. Plus, the gym does two challenges a year, so there’s always next time. But since I don’t want to wait 6 months to work on seriously getting into shape, I figured that maybe I should take the format of the official challenge and create my own challenge to keep me motivated over the next 40 day cycle.

My actions: work out 5 times a week at Iron Tribe, walk at least 15,000 steps a day, stick to my paleo diet, take PAGG and vitamins/supplements, avoid alcohol and pointless snacking, and keep a detailed daily nutrition/exercise diary.

My goal: Get to 170 pounds, and cut body fat by another 3%

My incentive: A diamond belly button ring that I’ve been eyeing for years now. If I get to 170, I get the ring. If I don’t get to 170, I don’t. If I somehow magically get to the 160’s, I’ll reconsider my decision – maybe I deserve something even nicer, who knows😀

Starting point(s): The challenge started on Monday, February 23rd, and will last until Friday, April 3rd. My weight has been fluctuating a little bit based on eating everything that came within arm’s reach all last week, but as of today I was 185.7 pounds. I’m thinking I’ll be back to around 182 or so by the weekend, putting me back to where I ended up with the last challenge. Then it’s just staying focused from there!

Belly Button Lent

Can you tell that I like horrible jokes? I’m as corny as they come. Last night, in fact, I spent the better part of an hour reading a website for The Potato Rock Museum, an online collection of rocks that look like potatoes, with arguments that these rocks might actually have been potatoes at some point. I laughed over some of the images until there were tears streaming down my face. I mean, seriously – you can’t possibly tell me this isn’t one of the most amusing things you’ve seen today:

Yum, what a lovely baked potato! Wait a minute, that’s no spud – that’s a ROCK!

Whatever, I thought it was hilarious.

Anyway, I’m just writing this little post because it’s the first day of Lent, and I felt like it deserved some attention. Not for any religious reasons, mind you. I’m decidedly not Catholic. I’m not even celebrating Lent in any official capacity. But since the first day of Lent happens to mark the end of the Mardi Gras season, it’s a useful demarcation for me in other ways.

I didn’t get too crazy over Mardi Gras. In all, I had eight drinks over two weeks. I ate a tiny sliver of king cake, a huge BLT poboy, a slice of pizza, and a decent enough helping of fried foods and snacky things, as is my custom during the season of debauchery. Overall, though, this was a very tame holiday season for me. I didn’t even leave the house on Fat Tuesday. I’m getting old, and as it turns out, I really enjoy being sober and healthy.

That being the case, I’ve decided that this Lent I’m going to go for it. No drinking for the next 40 days. I’m also going back to eating paleo, and even though the Iron Tribe transformation challenge is over, I’m going to keep working out four to five days a week. Right now my loose goal is to get to around 170 lbs by Easter.

Now here’s the kicker. If I can get to my next goal mark of 170 within the next 40 days, I’m going to buy myself the present I’ve wanted for a few years now. I’ve had my eye on this ridiculously trashy diamond belly button ring.

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I’m currently wearing a sterling silver one with swarovski crystals, but if I can keep up the good work, I think I deserve to get something lovely and silly for my good work – a genuine white gold and diamond ring for my naval, perfect for accenting my prized lint collection.

Too bad I can’t find one with potato rock accents…

The First 10 Pounds

Road Map to Weight Loss

If by “diet” you mean “paleo”, then yes, we’re in business.

Today I hit 184.8 lbs. A couple of years ago, had you told me that I’d be this heavy, I would have been appalled. But today, I’m happy. I’m happy because 19 days ago I was 194.8 lbs., and yesterday I fit into jeans I haven’t been able to wear for a few months. Ten easy pounds down – 40 much harder ones to go.

First off, let’s just get this out of the way – weight loss is not magical. Weight loss is not something to be done quickly. It’s totally possible to take diet pills and starve yourself and get skinny (I know this because I’ve done it in the past), but that shit catches up with you in the end (see 1st paragraph). The full extent of my “magic formula” thus far is lifting weights and doing high intensity interval training five days a week, 45 minutes a day, walking between 5 and 8 miles a day, eating paleo, staying hydrated (aiming for my body weight in oz. of water), taking fish oil and PAGG supplements, and keeping track of everything in a food/exercise journal.

All through high school, I was 135 lbs. I ran track and ate whatever I wanted, and I had a decent enough figure. Then I went to college, in the first semester I gained 20 lbs. from sleeping in and eating as much food as a non-body-conscious 18 year old is bound to do on an unlimited meal plan. A few people told me that the weight looked good on me, and rather than take a look and decide for myself, I decided that sounded OK and just went with it. I remained at 155 lbs. throughout college and into my early 20’s, when Hurricane Katrina disrupted my life. For about 5 months after Katrina, I was too broke to eat properly, and I dropped back down to 135 again (still no exercise, just no food). Then I got back to New Orleans and gradually started gaining the weight back, plateauing at 155 until 2007, when I went through a particularly stressful period and went up to around 165. I moved to Chicago, started going to the gym a couple of hours a day, training for a marathon, and doing Bikram yoga, and quickly dropped back down to 145 again, at one point getting as low as 138 while doing a raw cleanse. When I got back to New Orleans again in 2011, I slowly started putting on more weight, passed my normal plateau point of 155, and just kept going until now.

Every single one of the drastic losses have happened as a result of either crazy exercise – hours and hours per day – and/or crazy food restrictions. None of them has been sustainable, or in the least enjoyable. Every time I’ve dieted, I’ve spent pretty much every waking hour craving whatever it was that I wasn’t supposed to be eating (and those ingredients have varied wildly, as I flitted from diet to diet). The exercise has me completely worn out all day. I’m irritable, and frequently experience dizzy spells throughout the day.

So what’s the difference now?

First off, I’ve decided that this is it. This is the heaviest I will ever be, and come hell or high water, I’m going to make the changes that are necessary to get healthy and stay that way. I’m also 19 days into a 40 day challenge period at my gym, Iron Tribe, where I’ve been given the goal of staying as paleo as possible, working out at least 5 times per week, and staying physically active throughout the rest of my day. Not only am I not craving anything (except for brownies, which I’m getting ready to fix tomorrow with this stellar paleo brownie recipe I just found tonight), I’m not feeling tired, sick, or dizzy. I feel HEALTHY. Sturdy. Capable of more if I want to push the limits. Excited to continue to push those limits after this 40 days is up. For the first time in my memory, I feel like I’m getting this weight loss thing right. And it feels so good.

So yeah, I’m still a good 40 lbs. over where I’d like to be, but I have faith that I’m going to get there. The first ten pounds are out of the way, and the rest are going to take considerably longer than 19 days to disappear. But I know that it took me years to put on this weight, and with some faith, I’ll excel in shedding it again. For good this time.

One other thing that I’m really excited about is that I haven’t had a drink in 19 days. During the last year or so of my old relationship, I was drinking a few glasses of wine most days, and sometimes more. In retrospect, I realize that this was extremely unhealthy, physically and emotionally, since I was doing it to make my life bearable. Even after moving into my own place, and transitioning into a much more healthy relationship with my current beau, I was still going out and having a few drinks a couple of days a week. I wasn’t seeing not drinking as an option (as many people here in New Orleans don’t), and to be honest, I hate social engagements when I’m sober. In general, I just don’t like being in big groups of people, or going out to loud, crowded bars or concerts. I’d much rather stay home or hang out with a few people at a time. I was drinking to make talking to people bearable, but in the end, I was experiencing many more negative side effects than positive. Mornings after were never pleasant, and my depression definitely sunk its claws in more on days after I’d had a few drinks.

It was such a relief to have this challenge pop up and, well, challenge me to give up drinking and see how I’d feel without it. I’ve cut down on going out, that’s for sure, so I’m nowhere near as social as I was trying to be. But overall, I don’t care. I don’t miss being out at all, and if knocking booze out of the picture means that I’ll be less sad and start to lose some weight, I call it a fair trade. Even though I’m not addicted to alcohol in a dire sense, I’m glad to be able to address my need to dull the pain of social interaction with substances (including scarfing down bar food to avoid talking). Whether that means I’ll be losing friends in the end still remains to be seen, but overall, everyone’s been really supportive so far.

I could just keep writing on my feelings about this drastic change. Like how excited I am to eat bacon every morning, or how weird and amazing it is to walk past the cheese aisle and not fall to my knees (mentally, at least) with the overwhelming need for a wedge of brie. But it’s time for one of the most important parts of keeping my body healthy – sleep. A glorious 8 hours of it. All mine. Damn, I’m digging being me right now.