Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rocking the Socks (good things take time)

After months of ownership, and a few too many tryings-on and takings-off again, I finally got around to wearing my over-the-knee socks.
Not only has the cold weather hampered my stepping out in the long socks, but as always I’ve been keeping an eye on the streets and so far it seemed that this was a fast-fashion trend for the young. Maybe I was right, and it is one for the youth, but I think done right it can add a bit of sexy prep and it oozes fashionability.

I had wondered for some time if the answer was to wear them over stockings – not black of course as that would defeat the purpose (the socks are black). So finally, after thinking I had the perfect outfit and opportunity to wear them, and subsequently taking them off again, I thought “No! Persevere!” so I tried them on over a pair of silver/grey patterned tights that I rarely wear.

It totally worked. I instantly felt less slutty and more fashion-forward. Plus the vagueness of the grey tights did well to give the there-but-not-there feeling I wanted. The almost-dowdiness of the stockings also took me away from looking a bit “too FASHION” considering the environment to which I was heading. I do like my friends to think of me as a bit of a trend ambassador, someone who’s willing to try out something new, when it comes to clothing. But there’s a difference between “tryer” and try-hard. So a win on all fronts.

I had considered trying them over my fire-truck red tights, but then I think perhaps the “look at me” slutty feeling I was trying to avoid could have become heightened. It would also mean sticking to a black dress on top (because what else can you wear with red that doesn’t clash or compete?) and the particular black dress I had initially wanted to wear turned out to be a bit too long.

There’s a certain type of dress you need to work the socks without feeling like the high-school skank. It has to be short enough to emphasise the sock. It can’t detract from the sock as the feature of the outfit. And it’s not definitely not tight. The tight on bottom loose up top rule prevails. Socks or stockings are equal to pants, and they are exceptionally tight pants at that. A tight dress with those bad boys is a crime against both fashion and good decency!

Next step, exchange the brogues for a heel. That’s right. Open heels with socks. Shock horror! I know that too was once a fashion crime, we’ve even discussed it right here, but the times they are a changing. But search the window displays – even better, search the runways – and there you will find the socks with heels trend firmly set on the fashion-forward foot.

nailed it!

I was once a terrible nail-biter. Perhaps I still am, in the same way that teetotallers are just on-the-wagon alcoholics. I still have bouts of nervous or boredom-induced biting, but I have managed to find relief in nail polish.

It’s the simplest of answers, but it was not easy to get started. When you have stumpy, ragged fingernails from years of biting, the last thing you want to do is draw attention to them by painting them in brilliant hues. I suppose you could ease your way in by starting with clear or a neutral colour but I have never been one to do things by halves. I was also somewhat bullied into fixing my habit by the bf, who thinks nail biting is a filthy habit and took it upon himself to smack my fingers away from my mouth. (Not in an abusive way – more like how you might swipe a cat’s paws away from your newly upholstered couch.)

So I started buying more nail polish and it opened up a fabulous world for me. Cheaper than clothing and make up, nail polish is a quick fix for my other habit – fulfilment via purchase. There are a million shades to suit your mood, outfit, skintone – whatever – and it’s easily interchangeable provided you have about an hour in which to sit still.

This is probably the hardest part for me. I’m a bit of a fidget. Or someone will pull out a bag of chips and however delicately I try to remove a tasty treat I’ll always end up smudging colour across the bag or studding my fresh nails with chippy crumbs. I have also been known to make the fatal mistake of doing my nails to close to going out, in a last-minute ditch for perfection, in which case you promptly smear or scuff one as you perform the outfit-change frenzy dance. But the worst scenario is the sudden need to go to the toilet 5 minutes after you’ve finished. Guaranteed destruction of at least one hand, no matter how delicately you pull up your pants. It might humour you to know I once called for bf to come and do it for me. Ahhh couple life. Nothing is sacred.

I must say I take a lot more notice of people’s nails these days. There is this woman who gets on my bus who is one of those “not particularly attractive but makes up for it with a perfectly preened appearance” types you sometimes have to admire. But then she was standing and holding on to the seat in front of me and I noticed her nails! They were bitten down so far past her fingertips the skin appeared to actually be growing over the top of the nail. Disgusting! My opinion of her quickly changed. She might be able to keep up the charade up top, but as soon as you caught a glimpse of her hands any admiration was out the door. How vile! I thought. And then I realised that once (albeit to a lesser extent) that could have been me.

So now it’s a part of my regular routine. I have a cupboard full of colours (many of them ridiculously similar in shade, as I am often drawn to the same colours but seem to think if it’s a different brand it might somehow be different). The other end of the routine however is to pick it all off a few days later. Usually while bored at work. If you get enough layers you can just about peel the whole nail off in one piece and it is OH SO satisfying. Probably not the best for the integrity of the nail, but I soon get it covered up with the next shade. God forbid that I do not fix things up within the next 24 hours, because a bare nail is prone to inspection, picking, and eventual biting.

This season’s colours are essentially springy, mostly pastel shades and with quite a matte finish. It certainly stands out. I’m normally one for a darker colour, but I have found a fondness for bright oranges – perhaps because it is a colour I wouldn’t wear in any other case. It’s all brightness and fun and spring/summer ready, so leave the winter hues behind and make a splash in pastel!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

reality bites

I don’t usually like to talk too much about my endeavours to lose weight because it’s a subject that can be offensive to some and seen as self-indulgent to others.
I’ve been struggling around the 60kg mark for a few years now. The problem was first discovered in my Brougham Street flat in 2005, I was no longer 55kg. I had never been on a diet. I had never used scales before until curiosity got the better of me and there happened to be some in the bathroom – a remnant from a flatmate passed, probably completely off-balance, but they quietly informed me I weighed 57kg.

I promptly joined the gym.

I had been dancing since I was 6 years old, the equivalent of two-thirds of my life at the time, and I had never watched what passed through my lips. A massive fan of McDonalds, sweets, and positively mad for bread, I am prime candidate for what the Americans call the Freshman 5. I left dance behind in my hometown and started uni - a life of late nights and drinking, strangely scheduled bain marie meals and an endless supply of lollies at the hotel where I worked night shifts, and a habit causing late-night baking binges and trips to the dairy. I gave in to every craving that momentarily popped into my head.

Aside from the burgers (walking past KFC on the way home for 4 years didn’t help – I swear they actively pump the smell out the vents to lead people zombie-like into their lair), I have, for the most part, eaten healthily. I don’t eat red meat and I knew how to cook, so it’s not like I was living off steaks or 2-minute noodles. But the accumulation of lifestyle, lack of will power, and social influences brought me to the 2kg over what I knew as my ideal weight. I thought if I can just lose that 2kg and get back to 55, I will be happy. A great lover of food, I wasn’t going to actively diet, I just started working out 4-5 times a week.

You’d think that would work. That’s more than some people would work out in a month. But as that ‘lover of food’ I think I compensated and the ‘just work out’ method has never done anything for me. Still, I carried on that line for a few years. I have never seen the needle stop at 55kg since.

The next milestone was about 2 years into a long-term relationship. I now had a good job and expendable income and a partner to halve the guilt of poor choices. The long-term relationship is also widely blamed for putting on weight. We exercised together, which made it easier to get along to the gym, but we also indulged together. The other problem of having someone who loves you and thinks you are desirable is having them tell you that. I hit 60kg. I wanted to lose weight. But my wonderful man kept telling me I didn’t need to, he thought I was sexy, to stop being silly. As nice as that is, it wasn’t helpful. I would be better off if he was agreeing, saying yes, you could lose a little, because it is very easy to take the compliment and continue on your path.

This is where things get tricky. At this point, some of you are pissed off, thinking 60kg, what is this bitch on about? So let me be clear. I am in no way saying 60kg is “overweight”. I am not about to starve myself. Your weight is a totally personal thing which is relevant only to yourself. I made the mistake of explaining why I wasn’t going to have any fries with a drink after work the other night in front of someone who is a lot bigger than me. It offends people because the instant reaction is “if you think you need to lose weight, you must think I’m a fucking pig”. But it’s really not like that. I’m talking in terms of MY ideal 55. I couldn’t care less if my friends are big or small – it’s not my place to judge or interfere. If people are happy let them be happy. If they want to do something about their weight I am not the kind of person that says “Noooo, you’re perfect the way you are.” If that’s the way they feel then let them have it. Unless they’re just digging for compliments, in which case my reaction will come as a shock, if a person genuinely thinks they need to lose weight they probably have a good reason for feeling so. So I said to this person “you don’t see me naked, so you’re opinion doesn’t count”.

As good a comeback as that was, it was something of a lie. It’s not the naked me that has me worried. It’s that my clothes don’t look as good as they used to. I spend so much longer trying on my wardrobe full of lovely fitting dresses for a night out and finally resort to my trusty black skinny jeans. There was the shoe-throwing incident earlier in the year. When your clothes aren’t fitting right, it’s time to do something about it – and not just start buying a larger size. I did that when I went from an 8 to 10, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to start buying size 12s on a regular basis.

I moved house at the start of the year – in with my bf and away from my gym. I didn’t go to the gym for about 3 months and I have never quite gotten the hang of serving appropriate portions for me and my partner as opposed to equal portions.

When I started back at the gym about a month ago the scales loomed. They were those big industrial and therefore accurate-looking dealies. I don’t know what I was expecting. Perhaps to still be sitting around the 60 mark. Not ideal, but I couldn’t expect too much after my sabbatical, and besides, my peers kept insisting that I look great. An enviable body. The scales told me otherwise. I did not feel enviable at around 63kg.

I usually only talk about weight and stuff with a couple of friends. Those that understand the relativity of it all, but none of them are as big as me. It’s hard when everyone around you is smaller, no matter what your size is you’ve always got someone to compare with where you come out worse off. So I was at a party and chatting to a girlfriend, telling her my woes. Anyway, this friend, bless her heart, said you me “you’re crazy, what are you like 55kgs?”.

HA! I laughed in her face! Perhaps I still looked good in my carefully chosen clothes to her, but I knew better. It also made me realise that if she guessed I was 55, and she is so much smaller than me, she must weigh around 50kg. And then I was too embarrassed to correct her.

At this point I had started back at the gym, forgetting that that hadn’t worked for me at 57, so I don’t know why I thought it was going to make a difference now. I was still indulging the slightest craving, probably eating more than ever. I had somewhere introduced another meal into my day. Morning tea had become sandwich time, and then lunch had become relatively bigger. I knew what I was doing, but the constant reassurance from my partner and friends had made me complacent. Maybe I could just do whatever I wanted and still look good in their eyes.

But it is not their eyes that count.

I knew I wasn’t happy with myself. I knew I needed to do more. And last week, after talking to the only other person who is as straight-talking as me, I decided to do it for myself.

First step: portion control. I do not need to eat as much as my partner and I do not need a whole sandwich or muffin as a “snack”. Just working out obviously doesn’t cut it for me, so I need to reduce my intake – simple as that. Second step: pace. I eat like a mad woman. I have loaded my fork before my mouthful is half chewed. I love food, yet I shovel it in without savouring. Third step: introduce coffee to my diet. Not the healthiest of options, but the morning tea rumble is now non-existant. And don’t tell me I need fuel to burn. Last week I went to the gym and played netball on respective afternoons on a piece of toast and a coffee, and rather than feeling lacklustre I felt invigorated!

So, controversial? Yes. It’s only been a week so far and I’ve already hit a couple of obstacles. On Sunday we hosted brunch. I couldn’t resist the array of delicious foods and why should I? Like I said, I’m not starving myself, I’m just being highly aware. So I decided I could have what I wanted, within reason, and just not have another meal that day. At dinner time I was a little peckish, but I seriously think the brunch could have seen me through the whole day, I was going to just have a miso soup or something similarly small and healthy but bf went out to get some takeaways. So I tagged along and got a soup from there. Healthy, yes. Too big a portion, yes. But I could save some for my lunch I told myself.

I got down to the halfway mark and sat there. Finished. But I didn’t take the crucial action of removing it from the table and hiding it away in the fridge and then, before I know it, I’m tucking in again and suddenly it’s all gone. Soon after I have a bread craving. I’ve already stuffed up, I’ve gone this far, so have your bread I thought. And I did.

The lesson is: I have very little control once I’ve let go. If I hadn’t partaken in the brunch, the soup would have been fine. But I did, and it set off the food radar like mad. If I had stuck with my original plan and had the miso for dinner, I wouldn’t have had the bread. I would have felt like I’d had my indulgence at brunch without having to worry about failing, that I had maintained control.

So, back on track today. I am not going to weigh myself yet, there’s little point in seeing no difference and getting despondent about it. I’m not trying to crash diet, so a week is nothing. I’ll let you know how I go.

Also, let me know what you think about dieting and weight issues. I try to make the blog as honest and upfront as I can because that is the way I am. I’m not seeking compliments or reassurance; I’m just letting you know how I feel and what I’m doing about it. Sometimes I think it’s harder to talk about weight when you’re in the middle – not overweight in the traditional sense, but over what you want to be. Like I say, I think I could get away with continuing on the way I was and still look good, but ‘good enough’ is not enough. I don’t want to just accept what I’ve (now) got. I strive for the best in everything else I do in life, so why should I be happy with mediocrity for this?