Progress Report

It has been a while since I’ve done a progress post. That’s mostly due to the fact that I haven’t made much progress. Well, so I thought. January was a bit rough on the diet and exercise front, with the mister and I fluctuating up and down quite a bit. But we broke out the tape measure this past weekend. Lo and behold, we were making progress without realizing we were.

Measurements trump the scale

I see it a lot, that the scale is not always the best indicator of where you are. But we never really believe that, do we?

Progress

We want to believe that that horrible, mocking number on the device of doom somehow is our end all and be all. Which is why we put so much stock in it. A good number can make you feel on top of the world, while a bad number can send you spiraling into depression.

The Clothes Test

After several weeks of the mister not going down at all, and my own numbers barely budging (or worse, creeping upward), I knew we had to get the measuring tape out. Neither of us were dealing with clothes that were too tight. In fact, hubby just bought a shirt in a size large! And the size 24’s that I bought just a little too tight to be comfortable are now fitting as nicely as my now loose 26’s did. So what gives?!

Had Anything Changed?

We weren’t eating any differently. If anything, we’ve been more diligent on the low-carb front since the discovery of Fathead dough. But we have increased the weights we use for our daily workouts. I went from 1lb dumbells to 5lb. The mister went from 2lb to 8lb dumbells. That’s a big change. I knew we had to be dealing with some muscle increase, but there might have been more going on.

So I did Some Research…

Turns out, part of the issue could have been the muscle gain, sure. But more likely, what we’ve been dealing with is muscle inflammation. It seems that we’ve been seeing the scale go up the more we work out with the heavier weights. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop working out. It just means we need a few more weeks for our bodies to adjust.

Still, I’m pretty certain that most of the issue was actual muscle gain, due to the measurements we took after our last disappointing step on the scale.

Oh wow.

The last time we did measurements was in November. At that point, the mister was at his lowest weight of 229.1 with a body fat percentage of 19.5. This week, his weight was at 237.3 with a body fat percentage of 19.4. Yeah, you can see where this is going right? Higher weight, lower body fat? He lost a total of 4.25″ off his body measurements that we track. A full inch of that was off his belly! He now has a healthy waist measurement!

But what about my progress?

Well, despite having stalled out around 275 (274.7 to be exact) my measurements dropped dramatically. I went from 279.2 with 55.5% body fat in November to 274.7 with 53.5% body fat. So I lost 4.5 lbs, and lost 2% of my body fat. Oh…and 15.5″ off my measurements.

Progress

Of course, there is a downside to that. 3″ of that loss came off my boobs. At least I have plenty to spare in that department! But that was also 2″ from around my ribs, and 1.5″ off my waist and hips. And by the way, squats kick ass. I lost an inch and a half off each of my thighs. EACH.

Not a Bad Start

The year is still just beginning and I have a long row to hoe to hit my goals, but I’m going to get there. If I don’t hit my goal of 250 by our anniversary, I’m hoping to at least get into a size 22. That would be a size smaller than I was on our honeymoon.


Daily Dose of Music

 

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions

I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

Personally, I feel resolutions are pretty ridiculous. Not only do you never stick to them, they are usually vague, meaningless platitudes we tell ourselves to make us feel better.

Resolutions

Do you know how much gym memberships soar in January? New memberships spike in January. Between 12-50% of all new gym memberships (depending on the gym) are created in January each year. Guess how many of those new memberships last past the first week in February. It’s dismal folks. Only 20% of those people have enough resolve to stick it out a whole month. This article in the Greeley Tribune says that number is actually as low as 8%. This is just an example of how easy it is to fail in your resolutions.

New Year, New Me?

Resolutions

I hate that phrase so much! Guess what? You don’t get to wake up tomorrow and be a whole new person. It doesn’t work that way. No matter how well-meaning your resolution is, you’re not going to change everything about yourself after one alcohol-soaked night.

No Goals?

Does that mean that you shouldn’t make goals for the new year if they are just destined for failure? Absolutely not! There is a HUGE difference between a New Year’s resolution and a goal. Let me illustrate:

Resolution: I’m going to quit smoking.

Goal: I’m going to quit smoking. First, I’m going to join a smoking cessation support forum tonight. On the 2nd, I’m going to call and make an appointment with my doctor to talk about different ways I can quit. My quit day is going to be February 1st.

Resolution: I’m going to start eating healthy.

Goal: This week I’m going to research some healthy recipes that are at my level of skill. Next week, I’m going to try out one of those recipes. The following week, I’m going to try out two of those recipes. Each week, I’ll add one more recipe or remake the ones I enjoy.

Resolution: I’m going to lose 100lbs!

Goal: I’m going to lose 5 lbs by February 1st. I will check my weight each week to make sure I’m on track. I will make it easier by making a MyFitnessPal account and tracking what I eat. I’ll add 1000 steps a week until I’m doing 15k a day.

See the difference?

Be Smart

Resolutions

Goals are specific, they form a plan, and they have a time frame. If you ever want to know how to form goals, just remember to make them SMART.  They are easy to track because they have steps. It’s really easy to say you’re going to lose 50 lbs this year, but if you don’t have a plan in place and a way to gauge your progress you will not succeed.

I have goals!

I have a lot of goals for this coming year. Some are big, some are small, but they all have a plan. Want to see my plan?

Yeah, that’s the planner for 2018. It’s a lot of meal plans, calendars (personal and blog), cleaning checklists, medical info, etc. You see, my biggest goal for this year is to get more organized. This binder is my lifeline to becoming more organized. I’ve been working on it for about a month, getting it ready for the coming year.

What about weight loss?

Yes, that is still a major priority for me this year. I’m halfway to my goal of 250lbs. No, that’s not the end weight I have in mind, but it’s a milestone. The ultimate goal is 140, but that’s at least two years away. So I break it down into 50lb increments. And then further into 25lb chunks. Right now, I’m 25 lbs away from that 250 mark. My goal is to hit it before we go on vacation for our anniversary in April.

So that’s why I choose to make goals, rather than resolutions. Remember, you don’t have to wait for a new year to start making goals. If you want to do something, it’s important to start right away, at least with the planning.

By The Way

Before I close today, I wanted to apologize for my recent disappearance! Right before my birthday, our desktop computer died. We had to take it in to get a new hard drive installed. We didn’t get it back until Friday night! I was a bit lost on my blog without my giant screen and fast graphics capabilities on here. This computer is my baby!  The holidays are always a little bit hectic anyway, so I decided to take a break until we got it back.

But don’t worry, I have a calendar full of post ideas for January ready to go! I also have a parting gift for you. Here is the new art challenge for January! Or should I say….Manuary? That’s right, January’s art challenge is all about drawing the male form!

31 Days of Manuary


Daily Dose of Music

Friday Favorites

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. That’s right, the holidays are upon us! In just a few short weeks, we’ll be tearing into presents, lamenting the fact that we have to spend time with people who love us, judge us, and drive us insane, and eating far too many cookies for our own good. So what does that have to do with my Friday Favorites? I thought today, I might make a list of my all-time favorite holiday music.

holiday music

Holiday music huh?

Now, before you get on my case about not saying Christmas songs, I don’t have any issue with saying Merry Christmas, but I also don’t have a problem with any other holiday that people celebrate this time of year.

Personally, I’m all for celebrating the winter solstice, but since my family celebrates Christmas, I spend time with them and give them gifts because I love them. Most of the songs on my list have to do with Christmas, but some of them are just about winter in general. I consider them holiday songs, so that’s what I call them.

Music is Life

I really love holiday music. To me, it’s all about being festive and nostalgic. It awakens warm fuzzy feelings from when my son was small and still believed in Santa. It reminds me of cold, snowy Christmas eve’s as a kid, having hot chocolate and waiting for Santa (aka my orthodontist) to stop by with candy canes and tell us to be good and get to bed before he came back with our presents.

I REFUSE to listen to a single note of holiday music before December 1st. However, as soon as December arrives, you bet I’m listening to it. A lot.

The following ten songs can be found on my holiday playlist to be listened to while I wrap presents, draw, work, take a shower, or anything else I might do while listening to music. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

10. White Christmas

Oh, the feels! I was a bizarre child. I had a thing for Bing Crosby. Despite the fact that most of his movies were older than my mom, I loved to watch them. And his voice, so wow, much swoon. I really love the Drifter’s version of this song as well, but this song just says childhood to me.

9. Winter Wonderland

While any version of this song is okay by me, Amy Grant’s rendition is my favorite. I can’t even tell you why. I don’t even like Amy Grant. But I love the way she sings this song. This one has been a favorite since I was a kid. I learned the words and tune when I was about 10 years old and I’ve been singing it throughout the winter ever since.

8. Silver Bells

Yes, another rendition by good ol’ Bing. I can’t resist that crooner. But it’s not just Mr. Crosby that makes this song so good. Carol Richards lends her voice to this one and makes it that much richer in harmony. This will always be one of my favorites.

7.  White Wine in the Sun

As the heathen I am, Tim Minchin is one of my favorite comedians. And this song, though not exactly a funny song, gets me right in the feels. This, to me, is exactly what Christmas is about. When you aren’t religious, it’s still a wonderful time to celebrate and enjoy those you love.

6.  Santa Baby

Eartha Kitt’s purr is just perfect for this song. I’ve never heard anyone quite match it. It’s such a sassy song, and I’m all about sassy. This song always lifts my spirits.

5. Carol of the Bells

The first time I heard this song was when I watched Home Alone. I immediately fell in love with it, and I’ve enjoyed listening to it ever since. I’ve never actually heard a bad version of it. But this one by Lindsey Stirling just blows me away. She’s amazing.

4. Baby, It’s Cold Outside

There is a lot of controversy these days over this song, and I just don’t get it. I hear this song and think winter romance. It has been and will remain toward the top of my list of favorite holiday songs. This version by Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer is the best I have found. I enjoy the classic sound.

3. Good King Wenceslas

This song is such an excellent reminder of why it is important to be charitable not just at this time of year, but always. This rendition by Blackmore’s Night suits the song so well, giving it a slightly medieval flare. So pretty!

2. The Christmas Song

Who doesn’t love this song? It’s so…Christmas! And the classic, smooth voice of Nat King Cole? I just have no words for how much I love this song. It’s everything a Christmas song should be. I actually didn’t like this song at all when I was younger. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I found an appreciation for it, and now I can’t imagine having it missing from my holiday playlist.

1. Feliz Navidad

Surprised? I know, it seems a strange choice for my number one favorite holiday song of all-time. But I cannot listen to this song without getting happy and in a festive mood. It’s the Gangnam Style of holiday music. I have to dance along with it whenever I hear it. So, thank you to Jose’ Feliciano for such a fantastic number. It’s catchy, it’s easy to learn, and I challenge you to not tap your toes when you listen to it. Go on. I’ll wait.

goodluck

What is your favorite holiday/Christmas song? Share it in the comments! And remember, if you need help getting past all those Christmas cookies, you can check out my Holiday Survival Guide.


Daily Dose of Music

There’s more? Yep! From now until December 26th, you can expect a new holiday song in this section.

Friday Favorites

It’s Black Friday, which for most people means they are out storming the stores. Luckily, I have most of my Christmas shopping already completed. So that means I get to stay home, relax, go get my nails done around noon, and then come home and play games for the rest of the day. Maybe we’ll even pop in one of my all-time favorite movies!

Since I talked about books last week I decided to make a return to movies this week. But instead of discussing series, I thought I would take a look at stand-alone movies. A few might be part of series or franchise, but you could watch any one of them and not be confused by their plot on its own.

meme

 

Special Mentions: Little Shop of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Picture Show

These two movies are both fantastic, but they do not make my list of favorites. Instead, they are the mister’s all-time favorite movies. He couldn’t decide between them. I love that my husband enjoys musicals as much as I do!

A great many songs on our playlists come from movies that we both enjoy. And yes, we have songs from both of these soundtracks. Favorite songs from these include Time Warp and Dentist!

5. Moana

Favorite Movies

This movie also made my list of movies we saw in 2016. It is a fantastically made tale of a Polynesian princess who must return the stolen heart of a goddess in order to save her people. I’ve noticed that there is a shift lately. A lot of movies coming out are relying more on their story than a forced love story. This is SO encouraging. So many of the love stories out there feel contrived. Not having a romance in this movie made it that much more enjoyable. Other movies that have done this lately are Thor: Ragnarok and Sing. If you really think about it, it is very difficult to find a movie out there that doesn’t have some kind of romance angle.

Moana doesn’t just make me happy with its lack of a romance. Its visuals are stunning, and the music. Oh, the music! Some of the best songs from a Disney movie I’ve ever heard.

4. The Princess Bride

Favorite Movies

Who doesn’t love The Princess Bride? Seriously, tell me, because I’ve never met anyone who didn’t. We recently went to see this movie in the theater for its 30th Anniversary. Damn does that make me feel old. I remember when it came out in theaters the first time!

It was so neat to watch it on the big screen with a bunch of other people who could recite it line for line. You know we were all chanting along to “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya..”

True love, sword fights, giants, betrayal, miracles, and RoUS’s. What more could you want in a movie?

3.  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Favorite Movies

Another movie from the 2016 list. What can I say? 2016 was a great year for movies! You all know by now that I have an obsession with the Harry Potter universe. So it goes without saying that I would want to see Fantastic Beasts. What I didn’t expect was to have it become one of my favorite movies ever. I know that it will eventually be a part of a series, but for the moment, it remains a stand-alone movie, so I don’t mind including it here.

The scenes in the suitcase where you get to see all the animals are just amazing, and  Jacob is such a sweet, and tragic figure. I always cry my eyes out during the umbrella scene!

2. Wonder Woman

Favorite Movies

OMG. Wonder Woman. This movie took my breath away! It very nearly displaced my all-time favorite movie. The only thing keeping my number one in its spot is nostalgia, I think. Because this movie just crushed it. And to see Robin Wright (from Princess Bride above) again was really cool. I loved that they put in an easter egg regarding Chief. Look it up! This movie renewed my love of comic book movies and made me excited for Justice League. I really hope she gets a sequel.

1. The Fifth Element

Favorite Movies

I can’t believe this movie turned 20 this year. I watch it a lot, and it has held up really well over the years. A space epic set in a future where we finally have flying cars, but also immense amounts of pollution and incredibly tall buildings, the story follows a retired military man who is pulled back into service to save the world by rescuing a set of stones. The cast is phenomenal, and it is both action-packed and hilarious.

This is one of Bruce Willis’ finest films. As for the writer and director, Luc Besson, this was definitely his best work in my opinion. I had such high hopes for Valerian after finding out he was the writer and director, only to be severely disappointed (I actually fell asleep at one point during that movie. In the theater.) Still, The Fifth Element stands head and shoulders above any other movie for me, excepting the other four on this list.

What are your all-time favorite movies? Comment below!


Daily Dose of Music

Friday Favorites

Woohoo! It’s Friday! Last week I talked movies, but who is ready to celebrate the arrival of the weekend with a good book? That’s right, I’m going to be talking about books today. My list of favorites this week is not just about my favorite books, it’s about my favorite fiction book series.

Book Series

What do I mean by book series?

To clarify, I consider a series to be three or more books written by the same author and following the story of the same set of characters. There are a lot of great series out there, and some truly fantastic authors. Some of the books on my list might be familiar, as they are wildly popular. Others are not as well known and might give you the chance to read something interesting and new.

Special Mention: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Book Series

Available here: http://amzn.to/2zN5t6R

I can’t talk about my favorite fiction series without including these wonderful books. They are incredibly rich in storytelling and world building. They barely miss getting onto my list of top five series. The reason for this is that they tend to be a bit dry in reading. That’s not to say they are not enjoyable! They are the epitome of high fantasy, and they will always have a place on my bookshelf.

Books in this series: The Hobbit (standalone), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. There are a few other works by J.R.R. Tolkien that pertain to the series as well, but they are companions of the world, rather than strictly part of the tale told in the series.

5. The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell

Book Series

These books follow the tale of Uthred, son of Uthred. He is a Saxon kidnapped and raised by the Danes and these books follow his life, his loves, and his battles as he tries to regain the land stolen from him by his uncle. In the telling of Uthred’s story, Bernard Cornwell also tells the story of Alfred the Great, who succeeded in uniting a previously fractured England. Classed as historical fiction, these books immerse you in a world from long ago, when pagans were clawing to retain their hold in an increasingly Christian world. Cornwell paints vivid pictures of the battles he describes and leaves his readers eager for the next story every time a book is completed.

Books in this series: The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman, The Lords of the North, Sword Song, The Burning Land, Death of Kings, The Pagan Lord, The Empty Throne, Warriors of the Storm, and The Flame Bearer

4. The Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris

Book Series

The Sookie Stackhouse Series are the books that True Blood was (loosely) based off. Well, the first season or two stayed pretty close, but the show quickly veered off the books. Not that the show wasn’t great. I did love it! But I had to treat the books as separate because they just became so different.

These books are supernatural and detective stories. They aren’t difficult reading, but they are a lot of fun. They follow the life and adventures of Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic barmaid in Lousiana, and her entanglements with vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, fairies, and witches. What’s not to love?

Books in this series: Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, Club Dead, Dead to the World, Dead as a Doornail, Definitely Dead, All Together Dead, From Dead to Worse, Dead and Gone, Dead in the Family, Dead Reckoning, Deadlocked, and Dead Ever After. There is also an alphabetically ordered farewell to all of the characters in After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse, and a guide to the universe with The Sookie Stackhouse Companion.

3.  The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

wheel-of-time-covers

I put off reading the Wheel of Time for a long time. This was mostly because I could never find all of them at any library. And I certainly wasn’t going to buy them, if I couldn’t tell if I would like them! Enter Audible.com. Instead of reading these books, I have listened to them and am still listening to them. They are just incredible. The story is difficult to describe, it is very intricate. The stories mostly follow a young farm boy and two other boys from his village, as well as several strong and stubborn women as they attempt to save the world. That was another reason I was hesitant to get into these books because no one I asked could really tell me a concrete idea of what they were about. “You just have to read them.” Well, now I understand why.

Books in this series: New Spring (Prequel), The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn, The Shadow Rising, The Fires of Heaven, Lord of Chaos, A Crown of Swords, The Path of Daggers, Winter’s Heart, Crossroads of Twilight, Knife of Dreams, The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight, and A Memory of Light.

2. The Dragoncrown War Cycle by Michael A. Stackpole

Book Series

I still remember when my brother lent me these books. I just recently got my own copies of each of them to put on my bookshelf, though I’ve read them all several times. This series is beautifully written high fantasy that invests you in all of the characters in the very first book. Like most fantasy, there is an evil villain bent on ruling the world, but this nasty character uses the reanimated dead in whole new ways to work her plans. I also really enjoyed the different take on elves that Michael Stackpole introduces with these books.

Books in this series: The Dark Glory War, Fortress Draconis, When Dragons Rage, and The Grand Crusade.

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Book Series

Oh, Harry Potter. You had to know this would be on the list. I am such a Potterhead. Always wishing that the Wizarding World was a real thing. I like to think if it was, then I would have been a witch.  Though most everyone knows the premise, in case you don’t, I’ll summarize.

This series follows young Harry Potter as he is thrust into a world of magic where he attends a school for witches and wizards, makes friends, and saves the world from He Who Must Not Be Named. I don’t care if these books are supposed to be for kids. Hate on me if you like, but I’ll never stop loving these books. Ever.

Books in this series: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

What is your favorite book series? Comment below!


Daily Dose of Music

The Art of Failure

Whether it’s at losing weight, playing a game, getting a promotion or finding love, there is one thing that we all fear: Failure. That’s the eight letter word that brings the best to their knees. But here’s the thing…it happens to all of us!

fail

I’m a failure

That’s right, I’m a failure. We all are. Not all the time, of course! But we all fail at things. As I mentioned yesterday on Mimi’s Monday Menu, this past weekend I didn’t make a progress post. I didn’t feel like I’d made any progress. In fact, I’d taken a step back by gaining weight! I had failed at losing weight last week.

Now, there is something important you have to keep in mind when you fail at something. Just because you fail doesn’t mean that’s the end. If I stopped trying every time I gained a pound back, I’d have quit trying to exercise and eat better 70lbs ago.

Little change, big difference

A lot of times, the reason we fail at something is something small. Maybe last week’s mistake was a pop into Starbucks when I stopped by the grocery store. Let’s not talk about the fact that I was there to pick up creamer for the office. For my coffee…

Or it could have been the fact that we added more reps to our exercises and I was gaining muscle. Don’t judge my delusions. There was clearly something that made me gain back that pound. My trick is to watch myself more carefully and work on finding the catalyst.

It’s not just about fitness

This applies to any area where you feel like you are failing, not just fitness. In the beginning (and even now sometimes) I feel like a failure as an artist. So I practice more and work harder to get better. The important thing is to not give up because of a setback.

Failure

When you start out in any career, there are going to be failures and successes. You’ll get jobs, and you’ll lose them. Maybe you’ll interview and someone will be more qualified or more poised. Or you’ll get jobs that don’t suit you and you’ll eventually quit. It happens! Even Monster.com acknowledges that failing can be good for you.

Make Failure a Success

Use mistakes as a jumping off point! Most of the time, the second attempt at something is faster, easier and turns out better. That’s because you already know what works and what doesn’t. Remember that unless you’re skydiving, failing isn’t likely to kill you.

A little story for you: I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was thirty. Now, I’m not going to go into the why’s behind that. That’s a story for a different day. But I remember how nervous I was about taking that driving test. I’d aced the exam, and I’d been practising for weeks. I could even passably parallel park!

When we got to the DMV, I nervously got behind the wheel with my evaluator. We had to go through all the controls of the car. But no one had ever shown me how to turn on the brights or the hazards! I fumbled around for what felt like forever before I admitted that I honestly didn’t know. Now, he didn’t fail me for that, but it certainly didn’t get us off on the right foot, and I did get points taken off. So, we pull out of the parking lot, and things are going pretty well until we get to the second stoplight where I have to make a right-hand turn.

I signalled and rolled up to the now red stoplight. There was no one coming, and so after a brief pause, I turned. And just like that, I failed my driving test. I “ran a red light” according to the evaluator because I did not come to a full three second stop. Auto-fail.

Never Give Up!

Now, I could have given up. I was SO disappointed. But instead of crying and giving up, I cried and then rescheduled my test.

Go try again

When I came back to take the test a second time, a state trooper got in the car with me. He was incredibly nice, and as soon as he asked me to do a rundown of the lights and functions, I knew exactly where everything was and how it worked. We took off down the road and I aced my driving test. I did even better than I expected on the parallel parking, and I’m pretty sure it was because I spent almost every night up at the DMV practising with their cones.

Never Stop (except at red lights)

Instead of letting that failure consume me, I used it as a place to say “Okay, I did this right, I did this wrong. I can improve.” I did even better at what I was already good at. I learned things that I needed to know in order to succeed when I tried again. And I’ll tell you something: I have never failed to come to a full three-second stop when turning right at a stoplight ever since.


Daily Dose of Music

 

(Un)Natural Beauty

I always worry about getting hate when I write one of these posts about external beauty. I know there is a large (or maybe just vocal?) group of people out there who are all about looking natural and accepting yourself for who you are. But what if you don’t particularly like looking all natural?

Don’t get me wrong, I love myself! My love for myself is exactly why I am getting to a healthier state. And contrary to a lot of popular opinions, you can still love yourself and not like certain parts.

Beauty is Pain?

I had a bit of an epiphany the other day while I was on the waxing table. There is something about getting hundreds of hairs ripped out of sensitive skin brings your mind to a zen state. Or maybe it’s that moment when you start asking yourself “dear god, why did I subject myself to this torture?!”

Waxing is Beauty

But I did ask myself why. And the answer both surprised me and didn’t. I have always known that I don’t get waxed to please anyone but myself, despite the common belief that women only groom so they can be attractive to the opposite sex. Or same sex if that’s who they are attracted to. But it wasn’t just the lip service that I’ve always given when asked why.

I really wanted to have it done to please myself.

Beauty, to me, is not having giant caterpillars above my eyes. I feel self-conscious about the dark hair on my upper lip that miraculously appeared after having my son. I like to look in the mirror and be content with what I see.

I’m just pleasing a man…

Does my husband care if I go months without a waxing appointment? Yeah, he does. But not because he thinks hairy me is unattractive. It’s because when I skip going to my aesthetician, I end up feeling self-conscious and I start to complain about how I look. Me being unhappy with how I look makes him unhappy too.

I don’t know about you, but when I don’t feel pretty, I sure as hell don’t feel sexy. So yeah, it affects him. Does he care if I’m hairy? No, but he wants me to feel as beautiful as he thinks I am. That’s why he’ll sit in that little waiting room, or the car, or the restaurant next door and wait for me and then tell me I’m beautiful.

I’ve always thought it a little strange that I don’t look at going to get waxed as a chore or as torture. It seems to me like it’s just another part of my self-care. It’s part of my beauty routine as much as getting my hair cut and colored, getting my nails done, or exercising.

Waxing is Beauty

It’s important to recognize the things that make us feel beautiful and to do them, no matter what anyone tells we should or shouldn’t be doing. If it makes you feel good about yourself, then whatever it is, is helping you to love yourself more. Hold yourself to your own standard of beauty. It’s the only one that counts.


Daily Dose of Music

Corset Curves

Curves for Days

Today was one of those days where I woke up and decided to do something I’d been putting off for a long time. I’m a procrastinator of the worst sort at the best of times, but when there is something that I’m unsure about or dreading, I have a difficult time forcing myself to do what needs to be done. So, while I was grabbing my clothes out of the closet this morning, I decided to grab my beautiful long-line 426 corset from Orchard Corset.

Orchard Corset 426 Longline Cotton

https://www.orchardcorset.com/products/waist-training-corsets-plus-size-steel-boned-longline-underbust-cotton-corset-cs-426

Wait, what?

That’s right, I have a corset. Back before summer set in, I was well on my way to seasoning this beauty. But, as often happens when you wear the largest possible size a company offers, and it doesn’t fit quite right, I eventually stopped wearing it. It didn’t really help that the hot and sticky weather of summer showed up.

And so my lovely longline and my sexy short 426 with hip-ties (that I have yet to season) went into hibernation, draped carefully over hangers in my closet.

But isn’t wearing a corset bad for you?

I know, I know, there is some controversy surrounding whether or not corsets are healthy for you. The myths about regularly wearing corsets causing organ squishing and damage to bones are exactly that…myths.

Lucy from Lucy’s Corsetry does an excellent job of explaining more about the popular myths surrounding the wearing of corsets.

A corset is like wearing a hug

On the contrary, I have found my corset to not only give me curves for days, but it’s also surprisingly comfortable. It’s like wearing a hug! It’s one of the many things I like to do to help me love my body more. That said there are some things I cannot do in my corset. I don’t exercise in it, I don’t sleep in it (though I could), and my longline is a bit of a hassle in the restroom, so I usually end up taking it off and either going without the rest of the day or take a few minutes to relace.

But it is incredibly helpful with my posture, gives me a confidence boost, and helps control my appetite. I’m not sure if that last one is because of the corset itself, since it’s not super tight, or because I’m just more conscious of what I’m eating when I’m wearing it.

So what happened already?!

Anyway, like I said, I haven’t put on my corset in a few months. And that’s mostly because when I got it, I got the largest size I could, and I still had to pull the laces out all the way in order to clasp it. Then lacing was…well, it was an ordeal. I couldn’t get closer than the very edge of the modesty panel which gave me a 4-5″ gap between the sides. That and my lacing was very uneven.

1st wearing of Corset

First day I ever wore a corset

When you are laced up, the sides should look like this ||. Mine were more like this / \. Not good, to say the least.

When I got it out this morning, I thought, well, let’s just see if there’s any improvement. Holy Cow! I only had to loosen the laces to about 6 inches in the back to get it clasped. And then I pulled. And pulled a little more. I pulled until it was comfortably tight all the way down and then turned to look and make sure it was parallel. Not only were the laces almost perfectly parallel, the gap in the back was almost non-existent!

I can’t believe how many inches I’ve lost since I last tried it on. Talk about a non-scale victory!

Stealthing under a sweater at work today

The best part of wearing a corset?

The curves of course! I used to be an hourglass. But I’ve come to realize that I’ve become an apple. All my weight is in my tummy, and I feel like a ball most days. Having those snug laces give me a definable, noticeable waist? That’s an amazing feeling when looking in the mirror.


Daily Dose of Music

Drawing Inksanity:

This month, my blogging has taken a bit of a back seat as I’ve tried to find a bit of balance with my many hobbies. Don’t get me wrong, fitness hasn’t been on the back burner, but finding time to devote to both writing AND drawing every day has been a little more than I felt capable of.

Balance Drawing and Writing

Drawing for Inktober

At the beginning of October, I made a promise to the mister that I would participate in Inktober. If you’ve never heard of this, it is a month of drawing in ink. I found a list of drawing prompts that I felt I could tackle and since the 1st of October, I have been making the time to draw every single day.

Now, for me, ink drawings take twice as long as pencil drawings. That’s because I draw in pencil first and then ink over the lines and erase the mistakes. I think that is a pretty common technique, but I’m a slow drawer as it is.

How it started

I am not a “natural” artist. I have not been drawing my whole life, and I certainly have never been told I’m a fantastic artist. Now, I have no illusions that I will one day quit my day job and become a full-time artist. In fact, it was one day in July 2016, that I told my husband, “I want to learn how to draw.”

I am one of those people who claimed to mess up stick figures! But with his support, I went out and bought a book, a pad of drawing paper, and some pencils. And from there, it has snowballed. I can’t go to Barnes and Noble without coming home with a new art book. I can lose myself in the art supply aisles in Michael’s. When we go to 2nd and Charles, we take a canvas tote for the cheap reference books that will inevitably end up in my arms (by the way, if you’ve never been, this place is awesome).

Drawing books

Practice, practice, practice

I LOVE to draw. I’m not great at it, but I love it. And I’m getting better. My first drawings were…well, they were pretty awful. However, though I am my own worst critic, there are some drawings these days that make me really happy with how far I have come in a little over a year.

When I started blogging, my art books started to gather a bit of dust. I spent so much time writing, that I didn’t have time for my art anymore. But I realized that a lot of that has to do with my lack of self-discipline. If I can stick to a fitness challenge, certainly I could stick to a drawing challenge.

And I have! Inktober has given me a new appreciation for how challenges keep me on track and give me a direction that I can stick to. I have six drawings left to complete for Inktober, but I’m not going to stop there. Next month, I’ll be posting my new drawing prompt list that I will be following for the month of November!

Finding Balance

As far as my blog, I have a weekend progress post, a Monday menu, and I think I will add in an art post on Thursdays. This blog is all about improvement and bettering myself. It’s about my journey. So I’m going to chronicle this journey as well.


Daily Dose of Music

Weekend Weigh-In

Happy Weigh In! The past few weeks have seemed to just fly right by, but I’ve still managed to maintain my steps, challenge exercises and healthy diet. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it when I manage to stay on track.

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The Good

The size 24 jeans are my go-to pants right now. I wear the 26’s when I’m looking for a little extra roominess, but the smaller size is now completely comfortable. I also think that I’ve gotten down the menu thing.

The mister and I discovered that I really dislike cooking on Fridays. I get SO lazy at the end of the week. I want to come home to relax after a long week of work. We don’t want to tack on another take-out night, so I compromised with making Friday a slow-cooker night. That has made Friday’s much more bearable.

It also makes Saturday mornings a little happier, since we both tend to show a loss when we’ve eaten at home the night before Weigh Day. On the contrary, we tend to show a weight gain when we eat out on Friday evenings.

We started a new challenge on Monday, and this one has been pretty fun. Next week it will get a bit more intense since we’ll be doing two sets of everything.

The Bad

We didn’t really run into anything bad this week. I’ve been a bit tired, but I think that’s mostly because of the change of seasons and a little less sleep than normal. There is just so much to do in a day!

So, on to the measurements!

Measurements

Date: 10-21-17

Weight: 280.4 | -1.2 | Total: -69.6

Body Fat %: 55.5 | +0.1 | Total: -3.5%

BMI: 48.1 | -0.2 | Total: -12

Weigh In

All in all, I’m pretty stoked that I only have about a half pound to go until I’m out of the 280’s and hit that 70lb loss.


Daily Dose of Music

Meet the Boys

I don’t talk a whole lot about my family, but I thought it might be time to introduce you all to my little inner circle. I’ve talked a bit about the mister, and I do have one son (who is about to turn 17!) and then we have….the boys. That is how we refer to them as a group, as in: “The boys are chewing again,” “Do we need hay for the boys?” and “The boys want a treat.”

If you haven’t figured it out, “the boys” refers to our adorable, picky, gluttonous little piggies. The mister and I have three guinea pigs that might as well be children. Once upon a time (5 years ago next month) we decided to get a pet together and finally decided on a guinea pig.

Cinnamon:

So we went to PetSmart to see what kind of piggies they had. Turns out, they only had one. A single little male that was a bright reddish orange with a white spot on his head. But he was damaged. His poor little ear had been all chewed up by one of his cage mates. Since his ear was a bit chewed, they let us adopt him for free! I would have paid for him because I was already in love. We picked up a cage that came with all the necessities like shavings, a water bottle, pellets and hay and we took him home.

One of the boys - Cinnamon

Cinnamon wanted his own FaceBook profile.

Truffles:

Fast forward about 6 months and we’d switched to fleece bedding that I made myself and we decided to get another piggy as a friend for our first, whom we had named Cinnamon. And thus, we adopted baby Truffles.

One of the boys - Truffles

Baby Truffles checking out his new home.

Cinnamon and Truffles became the best of buddies and we ended up ditching the much too small (even for one) cage and got our boys a new cube and coroplast (C&C) condo.

The Boys - Cinnamon & Truffles

Cinnamon and Truffles checking out their new loft.

Doodle:

And then along came our third. Snickerdoodle (the guinea pig formerly known as Spike) was rehomed to us by a co-worker of mine. He quickly integrated with our other boys and we ended up getting an even bigger cage to accommodate our growing family.

Snickerdoodle (Doodle) in his first cuddle cup (Nov 2015)

Doodle, Cinnamon, and Truffles – Best Buddies

Unfortunately, shortly after Cinnamon’s 4th adoption day, we lost him to illness. It was devastating to us. We still miss our little Cinnabutt (as we often called him). It was hard for a time to go to PetSmart to get supplies and see the new piggies there.

Newt:

But one day, a few weeks after Cinnamon passed, we walked by the guinea pig enclosure. There was a single little piggy. All alone. Just like Cinnamon had been. My heart almost broke. So we asked about the little guy. He’d just come from the vet after being treated for ringworm. All of his littermates had been sold while he was in quarantine.

He was so tiny! Cute little Newt.

And so we came home with Newt. We named him after my favorite Hufflepuff because he looks like a little badger! For a time, all three members of the new trio got along just fine.

A New Order:

At least until Newt hit his “teens” and started showing a rebellious streak. This upset the status quo with Doodle. So we enlarged and walled off the upstairs portion of the cage and moved Doodle to his deluxe apartment in the sky.

At least until Newt decided to assert his dominance with poor, easy going Truffles, who has always been a more docile member of the pig pack. So Doodle moved back into the palace with Truffles and now Newt has the high-rise.

The Boys

Yes, that bottom cage is really 4.5’x2.5′ and the top is 3.5’x2.5′. Spoiled, spoiled piggies!

So here we are with our three adorkable piggies, full of life and personality and spoiled absolutely rotten. If we get another life, I want to come back as a guinea pig whose humans give them plush couches, all the hay they could want, and soft fleece to live on in a palatial cage. That’s the life, right there.

And don’t they know it.

Are You Up for a Challenge?

Are You Up for a Challenge?

If it doesn't challenge you it doesn't change you. - Frank Devito

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

I’ve seen this quote a lot while picking through memes and pictures for my daily motivation posts on Facebook. Coined by Fred Devito, co-author of Barre Fitness, I think I want to get a poster of this quote and plaster it everywhere.

When we are going about our daily lives, we generally stick to the things that work. We get into a routine and it becomes our normal. We rarely deviate from our schedules and routines. Until we are faced with a challenge, that is.

Life is ChallengingWhat do I mean by challenge?

Challenges come in many different forms. It could be a detour on our normal way to work that forces us to deviate from our route and discover a path that might take two more minutes but it passes by a beautiful park you decide to visit come your next day off. Maybe you had a pipe burst that ruined the carpet on your first floor. After the initial anxiety and frustration wear off, you might decide to finally get that hardwood flooring you’ve always wanted to put down but you’ve been putting it off because of the time and expense.

Or it could be a test result from your doctor that puts you on a medication and motivates you to make changes in your life that will get you to a healthier state. The point is, we rarely make changes until we are forced into it. The trick is to make the best of the new situation you find yourself in.

I find it challenging to fit everything I want to do in a day into the 24 short hours that I have, and at times it is difficult to see where my priorities are, or should be. But I have one particular priority that will never change again: taking care of myself.

No matter what challenges come my way, I will never again allow myself to fall into the thinking that I can take care of myself tomorrow. Tomorrow often becomes never.

Does it have to be earth-shaking?

Now, not every challenge is life-changing, but they do change us over time, in small ways, all the time. I have begun to see the benefit of setting specific challenges for myself. Right now, I’m doing the Inktober challenge for my artwork. 31 days of ink drawings following a specific prompt. My drawing hobby was starting to fall by the wayside, and I needed to get myself going again. I get frustrated because I’m not an amazing artist, but by working at it a little each day, I’m beginning to see steady improvement in my technique.

My drawing hobby was starting to fall by the wayside, and I needed to get myself going again. I get frustrated because I’m not an amazing artist. But by working at it a little each day, I’m beginning to see steady improvement in my technique. I’ve enjoyed it so much that my hubby surprised me with a new list for November so I can keep going.

Last month, I debuted my first shot at making a few 30-day fitness challenges. The mister and I did them faithfully, every single day. And it was killer! It gave us a set number of specific exercises to do each day. We kicked ass all month and each day it was challenging to complete just one more rep than the day before.

All good things must come to an end, however, and we completed the challenge on Thursday.  So, in keeping with my topic today, I have created a new fitness challenge for the next four weeks!

Challenge Accepted Meme

4-Week Total Body Challenge

Keep in mind that you can do these exercises with weights, without weights, and modify them as you need to, including the number you do. The important thing is to do what you can and challenge your limits.

Are you ready to challenge yourself? Join me in kicking ass for the next four weeks by printing out Melting Mimi’s 4 Week Total Body Challenge.


Daily Dose of Music