Let’s Get Fit: I’m Working Out Again

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I am so happy to report that I can workout again! You have no idea how freaked out I was when my back went out at the beginning of the year, and then again, and then again. So, I want to share with you what I did to heal my back and what I learned from it.

Chiropractic — I have an amazing chiropractor (that takes walk-ins.) The morning my back “gave out,” I was suddenly unable to stand up, walk, go up or down stairs, bend over, lift anything, dress myself, drive…basically anything…without excruciating pain, I ended up driving myself to his office to get adjusted. This time wasn’t a quick fix. I went a few times before I was better. Lesson: go early, go often. 

Massage — Two weeks after the original “issue” I went to see Michelle. And then again 6 weeks later. She is amazing. More like a Doula than a masseuse. She said my back was really in bad shape, but not even in the place I was hurting. Everything was out of whack. And she was the one who started me thinking about what I realized was the root of the problem: my abs. More about that in a bit. Lesson: have a standing appointment.

Rest — This was the hardest part. I did absolutely no exercise for two weeks, then some easy yoga, then some online bootcamp-type workouts, then Jazzercise. I felt my back start to go out again and cooled it. Just walking and yoga. Then Jazzercise again and back pain again. All this time my weight was creeping up. So just yoga and walking for two weeks. Lesson: um, rest?

Yoga — I swear by yoga. I especially love the place I go and the instructors there. It’s incredibly humbling to not be able to do a class you once did. At first all I could do was the stretches my chiropractor suggested: child’s pose, cobra, and then really gentle stuff at home. When I went back to class, I had to really modify. But let me emphasis the absolute necessity of yoga. It’s where I learn about body alignment, protecting myself from injury and committing to caring for my body longterm. Lesson: make a lifetime commitment to some kind of yoga/stretching everyday.

Walking — I love walking. I love that I can walk. When you are in a lot of pain for a lot of days, walking is no longer the poor cousin to running. Walking is glorious! I recommend walking outside on a long flat trail in the sunshine. Fast or slow doesn’t matter. Talk to yourself or to The Big Guy. It heals the body, the mind and the spirit. Lesson: walking is a privilege denied to many.

Abs — If you have ever felt the muscles in the base of your spine quit on you, you may wonder what you did to cause it. People always ask, “How did you hurt your back, what did you do?” Nothing. It just happened. I’ve come to realize why. I neglected the muscles on the opposite side. The lower abs. My massage person suggested that I may still be feeling the effects of having a C-section. That area can’t be ignored. I’m working on building them back up and I try to always think about them, i.e. engage them, especially when loading the dishwasher and other tipping over movements. And coincidentally, my yoga class this week was all about awareness of those muscles. Lesson: if you make your back do all the work, it will eventually quit.

On March 5th I tried running (on the treadmill) for the first time in forever. Well, in two months. I did it for 10 minutes. I know, I’m impressed too. The next week I went back to Spin class and the following week, Jazzercise. And finally I was able to go back to my favorite level 2-3 yoga class. I have never been happier. Everyday I’m getting just a little bit fitter… and it feels amazing.

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Never Tacky in Khaki

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When I chose the pieces for my Spring capsule wardrobe I knew I wanted to include my new khaki pants. Why do I love khaki’s so much? It’s not just because I went to Prep School and literally read the Preppy Handbook as a kid. Something about this time of year makes me crave them so much. I woke up one day in March and realized I had no khakis. Past pairs were long gone and not replaced. The hunt began. Pins were pinned. I tried these, these and these. Finally I tried on these from The Gap and fell in love. They have a sort of slim cut but feel roomy, soft, comfy. Also they have a sort of casual, broken in look to them rather than that very crisp/country club vibe. And they have a nice, subtle stripe detail on the sides. I originally thought I wanted them in “iconic khaki” but “mission tan” turned out to be a much better color on me. Note: Definitely size down since they stretch out.


Oh, but that’s not the end of the story. The plot takes a tragic turn. My precious new pants got a few tiny stains, which I scrubbed with a little detergent like I usually do and ended up with bleached out blotches. I took a chance and took them back to The Gap and a lovely woman said I could return them and in the end I went home a replacement pair and some valuable advice on stain-treating khakis. Don’t use detergent, use Amodex.

I’m so happy now.

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Capsule Wardrobe

I take a lot of selfies. It’s pretty ridiculous. I do it to figure out what outfits work for me and it’s really helpful. You will see below, how taking tons of shots helped me come up with a “Spring Capsule Wardrobe” (a la Un-Fancy) My goal: get dressed quickly, feel comfortable and confident and stop buying clothes I don’t need.

I started by picking out:

5 DRESSES.

7 BOTTOMS.

14 TOPS.

5 OUTER LAYERS.

8 PAIR SHOES.

Then I mixed and matched. That help me finalize my picks. I won’t show you all the photos. We’d be here forever. I’ll just drop in a few favorites for now.

 

I picked the most comfy dresses, a combo of long sleeve and sleeveless, sort of casual but work-appropriate for me. I chose one denim skirt and one black pencil skirt and one pair of black shorts. Plus pants in cream-khaki, tan-khaki, black cropped trousers, skinny jeans. For tops I went with a black cami, a super colorful shell, a blush tank, a striped tank, an off the shoulder striped tee, a white tee, a grey tee, a black tee, a three quarter length navy tee, a long sleeve white button down, a floral blouse, a long sleeve striped top, a lightweight navy sweater and a grey cardigan. Whew! Outer layers are an oilve bomber jacket, a jean jacket, an army jacket, a faux leather jacket and a soon to arrive “coatigan.” I managed to narrow the shoe wear down to black stripy sandals, black open-toe booties, brown thong sandals, brown ankle boots, blush ballet flats, black block heel ankle strap heels, adidas sneakers and platform sandals.

As I’ve put my wardrobe to the test, some items seem destined to be swapped out. I also have become obsessed with the “perfect” long, cosy, sweater/coat.

That’s it. Let me know if you’d like to know where any of the pieces are from.

Happy Spring!

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My Free Leggings

I’ve been meaning to tell you about the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Well, after meeting my husband. And having my twins. And, like, Paris. But after that.

I heard about these free leggings through Girlfriend Collective from the blog Un-Fancy.com and paid $20 to ship a pair of leggings, which I actually needed and thought, why not? I especially liked that they claimed to be not-see-thru. That’s kind of important. So, I ordered them and then I waited.

73 days.

That’s a long time to wait. Everyday that went by, I thought, I am so dumb.

But they are amazing! The fabric is so soft, like it’s made out of kittens. (Which I hope it’s not.) But, like really strong kittens. The texture is unlike any spandex-type product I’ve ever experienced. Thick and study but with enough stretch. They are very opaque and a beautiful finish, not too shiny, not too matte. They are high waisted and flattering as hell.

And to top it all off these leggings are fair-trade, made from recycled materials. Learn more here.

So, even though the “free” leggings promo is over, check them out and just know that there are good quality products out there that you can feel good about.

Okay, I’ve got to go workout now. Bye!

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Let’s Get Fit: Recovering from Injury and Setting Reachable Goals

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I love to work out.

That’s why I am really struggling right now. My back went out at the beginning of the year and I had to take a lot of time off from exercise. Each time I start again my back says, “No.”  But I’m not giving up.

So what can you do when you’re injured? In the past, I went to the chiropractor, got adjusted and didn’t go back until I was in severe pain again. And took some motrin. But this time was different. One adjustment wasn’t enough. I went back two more times. Then I had to admit that I obviously wasn’t taking care of myself and I hadn’t for a while. In fact I had been running with this nagging glute… sprain? tear? tumor? for over a year. It was time I faced facts and found someone, anyone (other than myself) who could tell me a solution. That’s the biggest challenge. Who do I ask? Who do I trust? I had no idea where to go.

I rested for 15 days.

I got a really intense massage during that time which helped. I asked my massage person what I should do because she’s really good and my husband swears by consistent visits which have rehabbed his hip problem and got him running again. She didn’t have a magic answer though. On day 16 I did an easy yoga class. The following week I did a few PopSugar workouts which was probably not smart. Don’t do this one if you have a back injury. After that I added Jazzercise back in. I had gotten so used to not working out that work and life any all that started to come first and it was hard to motivate. I could take it or leave it. After a few weeks I got back in the groove and was doing something everyday (walking, yoga, Jazzercise) and then my back sort of went out, not all the way, just some of the way, so I tried to chill.

I waited five days then I started again.

My back sort of went out again and so I went back to the chiropractor. He warned me again of the evils of sitting with legs up or crossed. I’m limited to sitting with my knees bent and feet flat on the floor (which is ridiculous) or lying completely flat. Sleeping on my side requires I have a pillow between my knees. (Or sew pads to the insides of my knees) And he told me to do the stretches that he told me to do last time which I told him I did everyday which might have been sort of a lie. He asked me if I had a lot of stairs in my house which made me think, “Just the usually amount. I mean, I don’t live in a lighthouse…” I asked him, “How will I know that I can workout again?” He said, “I don’t know. Try it and see how it feels.” He also said, “Maybe, try acupuncture.”

I’m walking and doing yoga only.

I did a yoga class this morning entitled “slow gentle flow” which was as awful as it sounds. I drove home afterwards and thought, “I just spent $16 to lie on the floor. I can do that at home. For free.” But the walking feels good. I feel very accomplished when I manage to get out of the house even when it’s freezing and walk. It’s really good for my crazy head.

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I realized I’m going to have to find another way to keep the weight off.

Up until January I kind of ate whatever I wanted. I mean, I don’t go crazy. Over the years I have found what works and I maintain good habits. For the most part I “Just Eat Real Food.” Since this injury I have gained 5 pounds, on top of the 5 I gained since it got cold and dark. This week I decided to start my get-ready-for-summer diet early. I cut out sugar and cut back on bread. I eat only when I’m hungry. I drink more water. I don’t eat the food off my kids’ plates. I’m actually glad to get back to better eating. After just one day I feel so much happier and more energetic. I made this salad, which was the best salad I ever ate:

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[romaine, chick peas, albacore, goat cheese, almonds, olives, dried cranberries, olive oil-lemon-dijon dressing]

I hope you are healthy and happy these days. And if you’re not, start again. Don’t give up!

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No Regrets

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How often have you bought clothing and ended up asking yourself, “What was I thinking?”

Last week I wrote about how I realized I needed to stop buying clothes … compulsively, irresponsibly. But just how does one do that? I stopped buying clothes for the whole month of January while I worked on defining my personal style using The Curated Closet.

Should I have been concerned when February 1st rolled around, that I went straight to the mall? Was it bad that I joked with the saleswoman at LOFT that having items shipped to my house might get me in trouble with my husband and her response was, “Well, you need to have a good relationship with your…UPS man. Mine hides the packages behind the bushes.”

Hahaha. he. um…

I thought I was ready to shop again, this time the “right” way. But it seemed like I fell right back into my old habits: buying things because they are pretty and new instead of buying them because they meet all my criteria and I actually need them. I thought about how many articles of clothing I have bought and then returned (or sold or donated.) I’ve had some success with eBay but mostly I send things to Thredup or donate to the local thrift store. But, ideally I wouldn’t have such high turnover in my closet.

3 EBAY AUCTIONS (click on images to buy):

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I decided that for me to make better choices when I shop in the future I should look at the past. It’s fun to go back through all the photos on your computer. My iPhoto goes back almost 10 years. There aren’t a lot of selfies from back then. Most of my photos are of other people, but almost all the photos of me have me wearing clothes I no longer own. When I found a shot of me in something I still wear, I think, “Nice choice. Well done.” I made a little collage of the “keepers.”

I can see the brands that work for me and the colors and silhouettes that I return to over and over. In addition to the above, I’ve gotten a lot of wear out of my white button down, jean jacket, navy crew neck sweater, black v-neck tee, black tank top, and black cropped skinny jeans. (I left off shoes and outerwear, I’ll save them for another time.)

Now the challenge will be to remember this when/if I go out shopping again. I need to try to avoid the usual pitfalls: Buying things because they’re new/on sale, because the salesperson said I should or because I tried on a bunch of stuff and don’t want to leave empty-handed. I also have to admit, and this is really humbling and embarrassing, that I have bought things because Pinterest, fashion blogs and fashion magazines said they were “must-haves.” Nothing is a must-have for everyone. I learned that only certain things look good on me and only I can decide that.

I think I’m making progress. To be continued…

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I’ve Hit Bottom

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I hope.

This post is something that I’ve been thinking about for a while. I haven’t decided the best way to present it. I haven’t figured it all out. But I need to START. So I’m starting.

This post is about clothes, mostly. But, more than that, it’s about self-expression and self-acceptance. It’s probably about a lot of other things. Let’s begin:

THE CURATED CLOSET

I read, no I am reading the Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees. I’ve always been about refining my style and I thought this would help. What I didn’t realize was it would bring me face to face with the reality that I shop too much, I don’t buy quality and I don’t have any idea what I like. It pains me to admit how many mistakes I’ve made. All the items I never should have bought. Don’t get the wrong idea, the book has been really fun and helpful. I really enjoyed the various exercises: creating an inspiration file, two weeks of test outfits and then analysis, creating a mood board, then defining a style profile and color palette. I learned how to balance the types of clothes I have for the actual lifestyle that I have. (Apparently I think I go to a lot a fancy parties!) I did a lot of self-discovery and thinking. I thought I was ready to go out and start buying the right clothes for me, carefully chosen clothes that would be perfect. I had pretty much taken the month of January off from shopping. On February 1st I hit the stores. I bought five things and returned three. I felt anxious as well as empty. Something had changed. More thoughts about this to come.

UN-FANCY

My favorite blogger right now is Un-fancy. Caroline is a curated-closet, capsule-wardrobe prophet! I really respect bloggers like Caroline who post consistently. They show up daily. That is hard to do! I also love her photography. The ‘set’, the lighting, and her writing are so beautiful, clean and simple—reflecting the content and philosophy she embodies. Reading Un-fancy led me to The Curated Closet and the spiritual awakening I just spoke about. And then…

THE MINIMALISTS

…a few weeks ago I stumbled upon Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things on Netflix. It features The Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus who wrote the book on the subject Everything That Remains. It also features Courtney Carver of Project 333. I think I’ve always been a minimalist. It really shows in my home decor (or lack thereof). People who know me tease me about how empty my house is, about how much I hate clutter. (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was written specifically for me!) I’ve always been drawn to modernism and scandinavian style. But secretly I’ve felt like there was something weird about me. Watching this film made me feel so validated. Having a word for only keeping what you need and really love made it seem normal. It made me want to be more minimal. It feels really good to me. In my soul. But the reality is that I don’t always do what is good for my soul. A part of my soul is sick. A part of it feels scared and “not enough.”

I could tell you about my deprived childhood and my very frugal Dad who only let me get clothes from Sears and only if I really needed them. I could point to the popular girls in school who had the cool clothes that I didn’t. But that doesn’t have to define me. What I’m learning is that making a decision to acquire only what you need doesn’t need to feel like a punishment. I don’t have to feel deprived. I can make the decision that I’m enough no matter what I have or what I wear. I can also make mindful choices about having certain beautiful things. I think that’s okay.

WHAT’S NEXT?

I’m committing to not buying clothes for the rest of February. I’m going to finish the Curated Closet and continue to remix my clothes in new ways.

I’m working on some new content — on my fitness regime and on recommitting myself to eating healthy. Not bootcamp style. This year I’m looking to get in shape mindfully.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Happy New Year

It’s 2017! I actually love Januarys. They’re so… minimal. No holidays, no expectations. Sometimes bleak and snow covered. Oddly calming for me. I know it’s cliché, but they feel like a fresh start and I love to ponder how to makeover, well everything. Actually I did a lot of “pondering” back in November and then into December. By not waiting until the new year, I feel like I was better equipped to handle the holidays. Let’s just say I was better behaved than past years. By pondering, I mean journaling. I write about things that came up this year and look honestly at myself. In that way I can let go of old stuff and move on. It’s so helpful.

I came up with a few resolutions:

  1. Stop using styrofoam. This might sound strange and out of left field, but I thought about it one day and decided, no more. It’s horrible, non-recyclable, and takes 1,000 years to break down. Just no.
  2. Teach my kids what good music is. I’m not saying I’m banning all Justin Bieber and Sean Mendez, but c’mon, there’s so much more to know. It’s my job.
  3. Build a minimal, quality wardrobe. Pick clothes that are truly me. Stop the endless cycle of buying stuff I don’t need or like or wear.
  4. Learn to run a successful design business. After 10 years, it’s time to run my business like a proper business.

 

I’ve gotten a jump on a couple of these things. For one, I’m reading the curated closet.

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As soon as I heard about it, I put it on my wish list. Then my sister-in-law got if for me for my birthday. When I started reading it, I thought it wasn’t for me. Then, a few weeks ago, I realized it was utter genius. I guess you’re not ready to change until you’re ready. You may know how much I love simplifying and decluttering, how the Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up was life changing for me. I thought I was good. I thought I had the perfect curated closet. I was so wrong. I had been brainwashed into picking some of the clothes I thought were essential. I am only just beginning this process, but I feel very good about it. Most of all I am happy that I feel no need to shop right now and that relieves a lot of guilt. I am halfway through the 2 week exercise of documenting daily outfits. Here is one:

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I am also reading The Creative Truth. Life changing. Because, I started my own design business without know how to start a design business. I thought I just need to know how to design and the rest would figure itself out. Guess what, you can learn a lot from other people. That applies to everything. I’m really excited about this and it has gives me a whole new attitude toward being self-employed.

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There is much more on my mind, but in order to say, “I posted something”, I’ll wrap it up here. It was a very busy and exciting December. Santa was good to us. I have many ideas for future posts. I will work on wrangling them into something read-able.

TTFN

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How to Maintain Healthy Gut Bacteria

 — So You Can Stay Physically and Mentally Fit Through the Holidays

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That picture is from September, the last time I wore a swim suit. I don’t love it. But I wanted a picture of a belly without using stock photography. There it is.

Let’s talk about our bellies. We want them to be flat. We want to look good. But what about what’s going on inside? Everyone is talking about gut bacteria these days. It seems that it has a much bigger effect on our weight and overall health than we thought. Is it possible that staying thin is more than just cutting calories and working out every day? And, ever since I read a couple of articles about how the right amount of healthy bacteria in your stomach can even effect whether or not you’re depressed I can’t stop thinking about it.

I’m not a scientist and I’m not going to tell you anything you couldn’t just Google yourself.*

To improve your Gut Bacteria you need to:

  • Limit sugar — unless it’s dark chocolate!
  • Eat your veggies
  • Eat fiber — leafy greens, beans/legumes, nuts, bran cereal
  • Limit meat — eat more “animal fiber” when you eat meat
  • Avoid antibiotics
  • Avoid anti-bacterial cleaners, hand sanitizer
  • Get outside and get dirty—i.e., dig in the garden
  • Take probiotics/eat yogurt and kefir
  • Eat fermented foods — sauerkraut, pickles, etc.
  • Lower stress — meditate, do things you love, take a bath
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Exercise

*What I Googled:

10 Ways to Cultivate Good Gut Bacteria and Reduce Depression

16 Things That Affect Your Gut Bacteria

How Soil Microbes Make You Happy

 

Speaking of food, I did a Instagram-your-meal round-up for you which sort of looks like I live on eggs which I don’t. I try to eat a healthy balance of real foods. I do love bread so I try to eat whole grain and not too much. I eat blueberries and almonds and cashews and cheese and olives and hummus and plain greek whole fat yogurt and eggs with spinach and hot sauce. I eat pasta but also potatoes and quinoa and rice. Chicken and tuna and corn tortillas. I have a secret stash of really good chocolate. I eat too much ice cream and I love a burger and fries. If I’m hungry late at night I’ll eat raisin bran with almond milk. Oh, and in the summer lots of smoothies and salads. And Peet’s French Roast coffee. And Starbucks.

I hope you try some of these ideas and see if your belly and your mood improves.

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Greenwich: a beautiful day in the city

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Buvette

When I was in high school, my friends and I often frequented french places like Au Pied du Cochon in DC’s Georgetown. So Buvette was an obvious choice for a lunch date with my childhood friend Laura. It took us about 5 seconds to order: a croque madame for her, a salad nicsoise for me and pate to share.

Laura used to live in the Village. Sullivan & Houston, I think. “Why did I ever give up that apartment?” she lamented. “It was $900 a month.” Married now with 3 kids in a beautiful house on Long Island. “I know. You should have kept it.”

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Scotch & Soda

I had the loveliest experience at this little boutique. Not on my mental list of places I planned to go, I’d seen this brand on many a blog post and the olive-colored bomber jacket in the window called to me. The funniest thing happened when I walked in. The salesperson was really friendly. It was as if I wasn’t a tourist. He was so personable and helpful and it really paid off for him. I spent a ton there (for me). My excuse: how often am I in NY and they have some absolutely beautiful clothes. I bought a pair of black skinny jeans and an ikat blouse.

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Rag & Bone

I’ve loved this brand forever and was looking forward to seeing and touching some of their jeans and boots. I kind of ran out of time so I didn’t try anything on. I did, however score a free sample of this perfume which is so moody and delicious. All their perfumes are unisex. But, overall I didn’t lust for their clothes like I thought I would.

Sandro

This is another lesser known brand that I’ve been secretly craving. Way out of my price range but it felt so good in my soul to walk through the store and touch the velvet and sequined and brocade. Maybe someday.

Of course there’s so much more to explore in this part of New York. While I was there, just for an afternoon, I felt like a local. I even managed to navigate the subway with ease. There must be a parallel universe where I live in Greenwich Village. I have a cool apartment and I support myself painting paintings and know about all the best places to go.

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Another post about NEW YORK:

A Rainy Day in Brooklyn

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