Archive for the ‘society’ Category

Recreating the Closet

One of the most frustrating things about changing your body (either making it bigger or smaller or more toned or less toned) is the havoc that it can wreak on your wardrobe, especially once you’ve got a wardrobe of things that you really enjoy wearing. Because let’s face it, there’s nothing worse (or more demoralizing) that standing in front of your closet, reaching for your favorite pair of jeans, skirt, or even top and have it not fit.

Now I’ve been listening to a lot of coaches who tell you that you should only be buying beautiful things – quality pieces that will make you feel beautiful. Well, I’d love to be able to go buy everything I want (whenever I want, from where ever I want), but sometimes that’s just not practical. Sometimes, however, you can find everything you want, whenever you want, from the least likely of places.

Yesterday I was having a self-pampering day. I mean, it was really extravagant. I started off with acupuncture, a nice walk down the rail trail, followed by chiropractic, then personal coaching, then belly dancing, and a group coaching call! I actually did about 10 minutes of work, sandwiched between bouts of hooping!

Between the first two “appointments” (which were about 4 blocks from each other) I had about an hour and a half on my hands. Instead of heading over the public library, which would have been another perfectly good option, I stopped in at the local community center, LISTEN. Now, I had just dropped off about three (or maybe even four) bags of perfectly decent clothes to the LISTEN center, and over the course of my time in the community, I have donated over ten or twelve times that amount, but I must admit that I have only on rare occasion gone inside to actually shop.

Wow! First of all, it was swarming with customers. And it was chock full of amazing buys. One of the nice things about living in a relatively affluent, communitarian-minded community is that people give lots of good stuff away. I found a Worthington skirt, a Woolrich shirt, a J. Jill sweater, a super nice pair of pants, and a fun summer top – all for under $3 a piece! Now some were originally $4.75, but it was actually 50% off! Seriously, I got a bag of killer clothes for less than $12.00!

Now, interestingly, these may not have been clothes that I would have bought if I had been in a normal department store – but I like them and they look great! Also, they were dirt cheap, which means that I can wear them once and if I do decide that they “don’t serve me” (whether they don’t after one wearing or they never did within the context of my life or larger wardrobe) who cares? It’s almost like renting movies, you know what I mean? It really doesn’t matter, because if I don’t like it, I can always take it back and I’ll have gotten one wearing for the cost of a cheap evening’s entertainment. It’s brilliant.

So, what does this mean in terms of recreating the closet and, indeed, recreating myself?

One, I won’t be afraid to experiment.

Two, I’ll be more likely to push my boundaries.

Three, I can upgrade or downgrade (depending on the look I’m going for).

Four, I can also start rebuilding a teaching wardrobe (or, let’s be honest) building one for very little money.

So, what does this mean for you? Well, if you’re between sizes, or if you’re bored with the contents of your closets, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, go find a community store (also known as thrift stores or, if you’re willing to spend a little more money, consignment stores). It is worth noting that I’ve been shopping in consignment stores for a while; however, I actually found better stuff in the community center (that is, the thrift store). Why? Well, I’m not totally sure, but one possibility is that the the women who are giving their clothes away – instead of waiting around for a 25% tithe – had more money to spend on clothes to begin with. Think about it.

Now if you live in a community or neighborhood that is not particularly affluent, then it might be worth finding a store in an area that is a little bit nicer than the one you live in. Just go check it out, and you may need to go more than once just to get the hang of it. And if you just have some weird thing about not buying used clothes ask yourself: where did that idea come from? After one wash, how is something that someone else has worn any different from something I’ve already worn? Isn’t it better to spend almost no money on something nice (but lightly used) than spending some money on something not nearly as nice but new? Isn’t it worth rethinking limiting ideologies that in the end might be bad not only for yourself, your wardrobe, your community, and at a more global level, the planet?

Give it a try and let me know what you come up with. You might be pleasantly surprised; I know I certainly was.

A Quasi-Sociological Take on the Causes of Obesity

Great article on obesity from Marc Ambinder (May 2010 issue of The Atlantic).

If you eat food or know anyone who does, I heartily recommend you check it out!

By 2015, four out of 10 Americans may be obese. Until last year, the author was one of them. The way he lost one-third of his weight isn’t for everyone. But unless America stops cheering The Biggest Loser and starts getting serious about preventing obesity, the country risks being overwhelmed by chronic disease and ballooning health costs. Will first lady Michelle Obama’s new plan to fight childhood obesity work, or is it just another false start in the country’s long and so far unsuccessful war against fat?

For Your Viewing Pleasure: Two On The Industrial Food Complex

If you’re at all interested in the politics behind where you get your food, you really can’t afford to miss these two videos! They’re not as graphic as Food, Inc. or King Corn, but they’re incredibly informative.

The first is Jamie Oliver at TED 2010 (21 min). And while I’m here, all of the TED talks are good. If you haven’t checked them out, you’re missing out. I’ve yet to watch one where I wasn’t completely blown away!

The second is Michael Pollen on Democracy Now (59 min). If you’re reading this blog, I assume that you know who he is, but if not, get more information about Pollen here!

I think that the thing that surprised me the most out of these two talks is their treatment of school food! Because I don’t have kids, I don’t think about school lunch programs; but if you have a kid, you can’t afford not to.

Is Obesity Contagious?

Some scholars say yes. According to recent research, having one friend become obese – even if they live a thousand miles away – nearly triples your likelihood of also becoming obese! Interesting stuff! Maybe we should start buying our friends gym memberships instead of taking them out to dinner or bringing cookies into the office!

I actually saw Dr. Christakis, professor at Harvard University, give a talk on this last year at Dartmouth. The data was quite compelling and more than a little bit frightening for those of us who like to think of ourselves as being in control of our own destinies.

Releasing the Last Ten Pounds

Like many people, I have struggled with my weight my entire life. Sometimes those struggles were merely tussles; others were all out wars. Sometimes I lost. Sometimes I won. I am currently within ten pounds of my desired goal weight.

Ironically, when I mention that I’m still trying to lose ten pounds or pass on a dessert, I typically get responses such as, “But you look great!” “That’s too thin.” “You’re too skinny.” “You don’t need to lose another ten pounds.” “X% body fat is too low.”

Hmph. Thanks for noticing, but no thanks.

There are many so-called challenges to losing the last ten pounds, not the least of which are the well-meaning concerns of friends and family.

However, the bigger culprit may be the deeply held cultural belief that the last ten are the hardest. Are they really? And more importantly, do they have to be?

This blog is dedicated to my the last, final, wonderful weeks of being above my desired goal weight. I tend to experience them fully and fondly, as I never intend to be here again. It’s not going to be hard. It’s going to be what I make it. I plan to have fun, eat well, and exercise within my means. To do otherwise would set me up for failure and failure–this time–is no longer an option.

But more importantly, what I do these last few weeks will set me up–finally–for a lifetime of sustainable health, fitness, and vitality.

And just so there is no misconception, I am on the high end of normal weight by official recommendations and/or standards and will remain “normal” after the release of 10 pounds of excess fat.