Sunday, December 30, 2012

33 for '13! (my project 333: phase 3)

Size 14 to Size 4 months!!
Since I have been somewhat remiss in my postings, I have a bit of catching up to do, for the record. In my last diet-related post, I had reported a weight loss of 19.6 pounds. (Boy, how out-dated that number is!) It's about five months later, and to date I have lost a total of 42.6 pounds! WOW! And while I am super pleased with my progress, I have 11 pounds to go to meet my initial weight loss goal.

(Incidentally, my goal weight was a somewhat arbitrary number that fell within my normal BMI range. Although, I have to admit that I have my doubts that I will be happy at that goal weight. I've never seen my body at this weight before, and I fear that much lighter will just be too skinny for me. But I'm not sure I want to give up before reaching the goal I set either. So, my plan is to hold steady my course, and just keep at it until my goal is reached. If I need to gain back any pounds, I'm sure that won't be a problem!)

During this period of weight loss, my Project 333 has been put completely on hold. With a steady drop in sizes, selecting a core 33 proved to be a nearly impossible challenge for me. I was trying to keep track of my wardrobe in my mind, and stick to a minimalist approach, but I'm afraid I did not do a very good job. You see, in all honesty it's pretty fun to buy clothes in the smallest size you've ever worn, and then dress up a body that is brand new to you. Initially, I was trying to thrift new pieces as my sizes were diminishing, since the clothing inside my armoire was nothing short of transient. But it hasn't always worked out that way. I'm afraid my emotions got the best of me, and I might have strayed from some of the P333 philosophies I truly endorse.

And so with a New Year right around the corner (and along with it, a spending moratorium in our house!)...the party's over and it's time to get my minimalist wardrobe back on track. Not to mention that my size fluctuation has just about tapered off. So it's the right time to crack down on my 33 for '13!

I have my preliminary list of those 33 items that will carry me through the first three months of 2013. Unfortunately, it is coming in at about 39 items, which means I need to shave off 6 things! Ugh! This is the truly difficult part. I'll be ironing that out over the next few days and will post my Project 333, Phase 3 list soon. I also have to reiterate what a lovely surprise it has been, having so many people check-in with me on my P333 status over the past few months. I'm always surprised at how genuinely interested people seem to be with this endeavor. This is a great project, with a strong message, and I appreciate the interest and support it generates.

. . . until 2013, everyone!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

i like bees.

I just got a new tattoo! It's been a few weeks now, but she is all healed up and looking just lovely.

She is Apis Mellifera Ligustica.

You might know her as Italian Honeybee, which has been the most common honeybee in the western hemisphere since the colonial settlers first brought them across the ocean. This particular design, on which my tattoo is based, was taken directly from a 1910 Encyclopedia Britannica woodblock print.

"Why a bee?", you might be asking. This is a question I've heard more times than I care to count over these past few weeks.

I could ramble on about the deep-rooted symbolism of honeybees; how in cultures all around the world, they represent industry, harmony and loyalty. Or I could link this lovely beauty on my forearm to divine feminine energy (most of the bees that run a bustling hive are female, after all). I could also go on and on about how important honey bees are to agriculture and how crucial they are in feeding all of humanity. Or I could advise the curious folks to simply look around at state flags, town seals, common house adornments...even the Hindu Krishna, to find for themselves the significance of bees in this land of "milk and honey".

But I will most likely do none of this. A while back, I read an interesting article written by a famous tattoo artist which spoke to the symbolism of tattoos. The basic observation was that people often over-analyze their own tattoos and even tend to romanticize and embelish their meaning; I'm guessing in an effort to justifying the ink (either to themselves or to others..who knows!).

I, however, do not feel the need to do this. And while I may have just touched on some of the fundamental reasons for my love of the honeybee, I think that when it comes to tattoos, sometimes a bee is just a bee. And if you happen to ask me, "Why a bee?", I will likely respond with the most simple, direct and honest answer I can think of: "I like bees."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weight Loss, Safety Pins & Thrift Shops

I am writing this blog post, wearing jeans secured with a safety pin.

Left unbuttoned, I can wrap the fabric over on itself and secure tightly with a pin. Throw a longer shirt or a dress on top, and nobody will even know. These used to be my skinny jeans, but now they fall off me. Very good news for a dieter, indeed.

I have lost precisely 19.6 lbs to date since I started my calorie-counting diet back in May (see my post, "Confessions of a Dieter", for more information on my weight loss agenda). Within the past couple of weeks, many of my clothes have become ridiculously big, to the point of looking silly. I've already had to retire a few items. It is a bitter-sweet feeling, and kind of a weird predicament. You see, I have about 30 lbs to go (almost four months) before I reach my weight loss goal, assuming I continue on the current trajectory. But no matter how you look at it, it's quite a long ways to go.

So what to do about my clothes in the meantime? Trust me, I want the weight to keep rolling off. I hate to put any negative energy out into the universe that might prevent that from happening. I don't want clothes to be a stumbling block (mentally or otherwise), which is why this dilemma needs resolution now.

I have participated in the Project 333 (see my post, "Project 333...Perhaps?", for more information on Project 333) for two phases. I love this Project and what it does for my life. I had planned on starting my next phase on July 1, which did not happen. I mean, how can I formulate a proper list when I have an armoire full of ill-fitting clothes? Safety pins can only take me so far....right?

About three weeks ago, the family and I headed over to the Goodwill. I actually snagged up two pairs of great summer pants that juuuuuust fit. Believe it or not, they are already getting loose on me. Not such a huge deal, since I think I paid less than $5.00 for the lot. I am typically a person who will save up for several weeks to afford a special piece of clothing. I am a firm believer that you get what you pay for, especially with clothing. So lately, especially as Fall lines are coming out, I'm having to curb myself from scouring websites and catalogs, planning what will be added to my wardrobe this coming season. But alas, I am coming to accept that this just isn't realistic and won't be happening.

My friend Beverly has gone through a similar weight loss in her life. When I asked her how she handled it, she mentioned having clothing tailored. Of course!! Why didn't I think of this before? I mean, one of the best seamstresses I know actually lives with mother! There are some things (like my skinny jeans) that just won't be ideal candidates to be "taken in". But dresses and skirts are simple to alter; darts can even be added if the alteration is drastic. I've already asked for my mother's help. When I first started shedding pounds, I purchased an adorable navy dress from Free People. (Linda, really dumb move!) I almost instantly "under-grew" the thing to the point where it looked like a tent on me. But I love that dress, with it's bias seams and black ribbon cross straps! Mom just finished the alteration, and it's 100x better. She really is the best.

And so I believe I have my plan. I will continue this course of making-do with what I have, altering those items that make sense, and even safety pinning here and there, as required. I will supplement other items as needed from the Goodwill or my local thrift shop, with minimal investment. As I get closer to my goal, probably in early fall, I will reassess how well this is still working for me, and go from there. I will also participate in Project 333. I will make my list based on the current state of my wardrobe, and allow for switches as clothing needs to be swapped out for smaller thrift shop finds (similar items swapped for similar items, of course). And I think that going the thrift shop route also preserves the integrity of Project 333, since I am simply recycling goods and not over-consuming, putting more "stuff" out into the world.

Although I must confess. Emma and I just got back from a trip to New York City. We visited several lovely clothing shops, but I held steady my course and refrained from buying. However, Urban Outfitters was having a sale on their Cigarette Fit skinny jeans. I tried on a pair in my appropriate size, and fell in love with them! With an extra discount on sale items, how could I resist? The deal was sealed!

Finally, I can retire my old skinny jeans, and say goodbye to one safety pin!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Confessions of a Dieter

Most of my friends and family know that I am in the midst of a hardcore diet*. With four weeks behind me, the scale is telling me that I've lost 9 lbs. I am pleased as punch, since my target weight loss rate is 2 lbs per week. I am slightly ahead of the game!

(*When I say “hardcore”, I mean that I view this as a challenge and am therefore pursuing it with acute attention and deliberation. When I say “diet”, I am referring to a controlled and planned manner of eating, in which the daily intake of calories is monitored and limited.)

Basically, I am calorie counting, which I openly acknowledge has its flaws. But I am naturally a fairly healthy vegetarian eater, drawn to mainly vegetables, fruits and whole grains. So, personally, I'm not too concerned, but those with a penchant for junk food might want to proceed with caution I would imagine. But what do I know? I mean, after all, I have never been on "a diet" before this one. Never, ever! In fact, other than the occasional visit to the doctor's office, I had never stepped on a scale before this venture. (Darren actually had to give me a tutorial on how to use our digital scale before my first weight-in.)

With a BMI that has always been just too high, it's been preying on my mind that perhaps my usual maintenance routine of keeping a somewhat active lifestyle, just wasn't going to be enough to bring the numbers down to where they ought to be. Darren and I both decided it was time to shed some real pounds, so we started this diet together four weeks ago. Having a diet partner has made all the difference in the world! I might go so far as to say that in many ways, this is a bonding experience for us. We not only share in the daily experiences of dieting and cheer each other on as the pounds come off, but together, we also look for new healthy recipe ideas, then plan and cook our strategic lo-cal meals. It really has been surprisingly fun.

We are utilizing the iPhone app "Lose It!" to track out daily calories and weight loss. The app generates your weight loss plan and daily calorie allowance based on your gender, weight, height and goals. Right now, she's giving me around 1,100 calories a day, but this gets a bit lower every week when I record a new weight. I suppose fewer calories are required to sustain less body mass, so this will be a continuing trend that I will have to contend with.

I find the whole idea of a controlled calorie intake interesting. Especially relative to my own behavior and reaction to it. In my mind, the bottom line, and the reason so many people dislike diets, is because it is a loss of freedom to do (eat) whatever we please. My personal confession, as unhealthy of a behavior as this may be, is that I seem to be a calorie hoarder. Although I am never hungry and I don't think I've ever eaten all my allotted calories in a given day, my measly 1,100 calories just doesn't seem enough in my mind. I continue to reserve quite a few calories over the course of the day, so that I am left with a nice little buffer at the end... just in case.

Humans are such curious creatures.

Besides observing my own behavior, I am also learning about the mechanics of dieting. Sure I watch and study the caloric values of the various foods I eat, but I am also researching how the body loses weight, when it loses weight and where the weight goes. I find the science and chemistry of it all so fascinating. Some might say I am obsessing. That is what I do.

Darren and I will be tracking our diet clear through August. I am committed to stick to it and eat within my Lose It! guidelines. We'll just have to wait and see what happens with my weight. I imagine it will keep going down, but i have been readings about plateaus, which I am ready to deal with, if and when the time comes. I do have some pretty lofty goals (somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 lb!), so if all keeps to this current trajectory, I will be continuing well past the end of summer.

Wow...9 lbs! That really was easy.

It's amazing what a huge motivator a little success can be.


(On a side note, there is a friendly little wager in our house over who will lose the most percentage of body weight by our milestone date of August 31; whoever drops the most weight will be getting a brand new tattoo!)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Project 333: Phase 3... Let's Get Started Already!!

Lately, a few people have been asking me if outfits I am wearing are part of my Project 333. The simple answer is "no". But I do find it interesting that other people have actually taken a genuine interest in my Project 333. (Click here, to learn more about Project 333.) And even more intriguing is the fact that these people have been mostly men. Who would have thought?

It is full-on spring in Connecticut. Lots of rain, and lots of temperature swings. A couple months ago when an unseasonable wave of early warm weather hit, I packed away my hardcore winter stuff - goodbye wool, corduroy and boots! I retained the lighter things that could work for me in early spring - tee shirts, lightweight cardigans and get to stay! But as time is marching on and I have yet to lay down my plan for Phase 3, I find myself engaging in acts of complete desperation. I am pilfering my stash of clothes in the basement like nobody's business. As my mantra becomes "I have nothing to wear", I am grabbing random articles left and right, trying to hobble together a decent outfit. The worst part is that these items are taking up permanent residence in my armoire, and it's getting pretty crowded in there!

I know exactly what is going on. I am lost. When I am between phases, I have no direction. I feel sloppy, and I am simply a confused mess (mentally and otherwise). I have said it before, and I will say it again: Project 333 gives me structure. It forces me to actually plan a wardrobe, and my style, such as it is, comes off more cohesive.

My Phase 2 ran for about 5 months, beginning last November. I selected items that could carry me through an entire New England winter, and I included only items that did not require ironing. This really worked out wonderfully for me. I had an exceptionally difficult schedule this winter. On many mornings I had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to get myself out the door. Um, 4:30 a.m.?? I can't even see straight at 4:30 a.m., never mind get myself dressed! My 33 were seriously a lifesaver this winter. And I had worked in enough flexible options so I was able to mix things up and not get bored; I really did a great job strategically selecting my pieces for Phase 2.

As I start my Phase 3 list, I am entertaining the idea of bringing back items that require ironing. I am finding that a no-iron restriction really limits me, since I tend to gravitate toward structured pieces, most of which require ironing. For this Phase, my mind is turning to bright, clean colours, set off against a base of navy blue and khaki. Navy and khaki might sounds boring to some, but...ooh how classic and preppy! I can't resist. I will be "shopping" my reserve of clothing, tucked away in the basement over the next week. How cool is it that you can put something away in a box, and when you revisit it after a year, it's somehow full of new life and potential!

I am also planning a few new purchases. My KEEN Irving bag has finally bit the dust, so I am in the market for a rugged waxed canvas tote to replace the old girl. And then there are shoes. Last summer's work shoes were limited to the Goldenrod Fluevog Viardots and the Crimson Dansko Sissy Sandals. But I have my eyes on two other potential lovelies for Summer 2012: Kork-Ease Avas in Natural and a classic pair of Bloch Ballet Slippers (color to be determined). Shoe selection will be contingent on clothes selection, so I'll have to just wait and see what makes the cut.

I have much to work through. I'm hoping to iron out a list (pardon the pun) over the next stay tuned!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother Mary & Local Radio

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am not a religious person. But the notion of religion has always fascinated me. A couple years back I was listening to the local Christian radio station. It was right around Mother's Day and they were airing a segment on the blessed Virgin Mary; really, one of the most interesting pieces I've ever heard on radio. These ideas I was hearing about Mother Mary may be commonplace to the Christians, but they really got me to thinking.

Of course Mary embodies the potential good in all mothers, but there was more to what I was hearing than just that. Sure we all associate the motherly traits of compassion and selflessness with Mother Mary. Born to be a vessel for birth, Mary gave up herself and her inherently selfish being for the mere existence of her offspring, as all mothers do, to varying degrees. The Mother Mary comforts, she loves, she is the figure of eternal hope and mercy, and she is mother to all. But Mary not only represents the ideal earthly mother that we are all born through, she also represents the mother that exists in each and every one of us, regardless of age, religion or gender.

On this Mother's Day, as we pay reverence to our mothers, wherever they may be, let's not forget our Mother Mary. Let's be sure to celebrate her very qualities that are in some way, within each and every one of us: the mother, the non-mother, the woman, the man, the child, the Christian and even the Agnostic.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Utah Memoirs.

Little Cottonwood Canyon
Little Cottonwood Canyon
Darren and I just returned from an amazing trip to Salt Lake City, Utah last week! The intent was to partake in some spring skiing, explore the area, and just take in the general vibe of the city. Well, I will start by saying that the attempt at skiing was pretty much a debacle. We had designated the first few days for exploration and to take care of some planned business. But with a forecast that predicted sunny and 60 for the duration of our trip...this would leave the latter half of the visit free and clear for the slopes! As it turned out, Mother Nature had other plans. With a last minute change of weather, we were left to deal with downpours of rain on our remaining ski days. And that is all I will say about that.

Utah is beautiful. The Wasatch Mountains are incredible. Unfortunately, I was hard-pressed to view them outside the context of an over-developed, over-populated Wasatch Front, which is literally busting at the seams and is now sprawling up many a mountainside. I have, in my naturalist mind, a hard time reconciling this. But get up in those mountains and you truly leave the world behind. The Cottonwood Canyons are awe-inspiring, and our many drives through them, are etched in my memory.

A delish plate of raw food at Omar's:
Curry Rice & Dandelion Greens Salad
As for the city itself, Salt Lake City and it's suburbs, are far-reaching, to say the least. It's breadth was wide beyond my expectations. The city itself is clean, and current with the times. The restaurants are great, if you can weed through the sea of chain venues. In fact, it seems Salt Lake City has a growing Vegan/Raw Food movement. We dined at Omar's Rawtopia (, in the south end of the city. A fabulous restaurant with delicious organic Raw Food options! I wish we had something like this in Connecticut.

Sugarpost! A Metal Art Studio we
discovered thanks to a Geocache
skillfully hidden in this gate
A light rail system and some interesting retail zones have convinced me that a good groundwork was set when this city was planned. Oh, and planned it was! Around a temple. A giant Mormon temple that sits on 10 prime acres, smack dab in the middle of the city. Literally. It certainly is an amazing piece of architecture, set in a gated square so full of fountains, sculptures and luscious garden beds, that it rivals the city squares of Europe. And as we learned from a local, the extensive street numbering system that is carried throughout all of Salt Lake City, is based on the streets' relationship to this temple (i.e. the streets are number based on how many blocks, north and south, they are from the temple at ground zero).

The Church may number the streets, but the State monopolizes the vistas. The Capitol sits high atop Capitol Hill, overlooking the downtown area in grand splendor. The main thoroughfares, wide enough to turn an ox-cart, have been laid out such that they each terminate with a magestic view of the Capitol. Quite beautiful, and quite a thing to discover over a few days' exploration.

Many mysteries and curiosities about Salt Lake City and the Wasatch Mountains were solved for me on our trip, although some remain. Like... Does the Great Salt Lake really stink? Why do all the Mormon women wear skirts in Temple Square? Is Utah powder really the greatest snow on Earth? I do not know. But I do know that Utah has not seen the last of me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Wedding Anniversary

Two years ago today, Darren and I stepped out into the cold Wyoming night and walked hand in hand across the Jackson Town Square to be married beneath a starlit sky.

Simply enchanting.

On this day, we are celebrating our anniversary on the east coast. We are skiing in Vermont. As I look out our icicle framed window and watch the snow slowly fall, I am transported back in time to Wyoming. It feels so much like the time of our wedding, at moments I am actually convinced we are 2,000 miles away! I have concluded that it is not merely a trickery of ice, snow and a ski gear littered hotel room that create this illusion. Rather, it is a trickery of the heart. The way my heart flutters when I see him, how we giggle like kids at the silliest of things, and how we love each other... just as we did two years ago. This is enough to transport me back to a different time and place.

It is crazy how much has changed in our lives since that magical evening on Jackson Town Square.

Even crazier is just how much has managed to stay the same.

wedding #RetroCamera FREE #CLBITZAPPS

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Most Delicious Cous Cous Salad!

I scour the internet constantly for new healthy eating ideas. And the iPad is the perfect tool for this job! I have been faithfully using the Meal Planner app since i got my iPad in December. This app is a do-it-all meal companion. Not only does it archive and organize my own recipes, but it also has an interface that will download recipes directly from several culinary and healthy eating websites. Did I mention the app also has a monthly meal planning feature, and a grocery list database that is linked to both your recipes and your meal plan? Seriously powerful. It has a couple kinks, but I email the developer, Alan, pretty religiously. I like to think he appreciates my feedback....but that, of course, is another story.

#RetroCamera FREE #CLBITZAPPSTypically, the recipes I conjur up are some incarnation of beans and rice (we vegetarians have to get our complete proteins wherever we can!). However, a quick look-see through the Whole Foods recipes (via the Meal Planner app) turned up something rather interesting: a Cous Cous & Nectarine salad! Today, I tried my hand at my own version of this salad, and I was blown away. The salad is a combination of cold and hot ingredients, which I love. The watercress is slightly wilted by the introduction of the hot cous cous. And those crunchy, buttery pistachios....divine! I made a few modifications to the original recipe I downloaded from the Whole Foods website, and herewith I share with you my version of the most delicious salad I've tasted in a long time:

3/4 cup Cous Cous, Whole Wheat
1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Nectarines, diced
1 bunch Watercress ... Stems and all, chopped
1 cup pistachios
1/4 cup Onion, finely diced

Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in cous cous, cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil until dressing thickens. Add couscous, nectarines, watercress, pistachios and onion to bowl and toss to combine. Serve warm.

Nutritional Info
Makes 4 servings
Per serving: 300 calories (130 from fat), 15g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 160mg sodium, 51g total carbohydrate (9g dietary fiber, 8g sugar), 12g protein