Sunday, 15 July 2018

Hitting a Shopping Home Run

Shopping can be a lot like baseball, you know. Sometimes you strike out. And sometimes you hit a home run. And sometimes you hit that home run without even trying. To do that takes one talented shopper. Or a very lucky one. Or one who has a secret, or maybe not-so-secret, batting technique, if you'll excuse the strangled metaphor. 

If I am very lucky in my shopping ventures, it's usually due to hard slog: lots of preparation, wardrobe assessment, research, and then tramping around to a million stores to find out what I want. Or... it's because I arrange to go visit my friend Liz, for lunch or coffee at Nordstrom, and she says she has something to show me that I might like. And I do, and it comes home with me. Wham. Home run without even trying. 

That's what happened the other day.  

woman in navy skirt and jacket, white tee, and white sneakers. Posing in front of white hydrangeas.
What I wore on my lunch date aka accidental shopping adventure.
Veronica Beard jacket, Burberry denim skirt, Vince tee, Michael Kors bag, Stan Smith Adidas.
I met Liz for lunch at Nordstrom, and she said there was something she wanted to show me, after we'd eaten. A jacket she'd pulled for me from the summer sale rack. No pressure. But it was on sale at a great price, and she thought it might be something I'd like. Ha. I did. I loved it. She knows me so well. And she knows my wardrobe. 

And. And this is the really great part. She said it would probably be marked down again. So we waited. And, in the final analysis, it was on sale for more than 50% off. And I went in again to pick it up. Yah! That was the easiest shopping home run I've ever hit. 

Eventually I came home with this gorgeous navy Moncler baseball jacket. Hence the baseball metaphor. Actually, Moncler calls this the "Maglia cardigan." But it looks like a baseball jacket, with a zippered front closure and zippered pockets.  

woman in white jeans, red loafers, and a navy, red and white baseball jacket, standing in front of white hydrangeas
The sleeves are nice and long, but I like them pushed up anyway. 
I love my new jacket with my white Frame straight leg jeans, my white and red message tee from Zara, and my red Earth brand loafers. It also looks good with a striped tee, a navy tee, a red tee, or a plain white tee. If I were wearing blue jeans with the jacket, I'd probably wear the plain white tee, or the red one, and sneakers. The jacket also looks great with my Burberry denim skirt, and a tee shirt and sneakers, the same outfit I wore to shop that day, except with my new jacket instead of my Veronica Beard blazer. I plan to try it with my newly refurbished Max Mara wide-leg pants, as well. 

The jacket is the perfect length to cover what needs to be covered. The sleeves are long enough for me, which is not always the case. You can see the line of the back here in this shot. It's not puffy like jackets of this style can sometimes be. Trust me, I do NOT need any more puff around the middle.

woman in white jeans, red loafers, and a navy, red and white baseball jacket, standing in front of white hydrangeas
I like the fit and the cut of this jacket. I'm wearing a size large.
And it's really easy to style. An outfit home run every time without even trying. I think the red loafers and the red and white striped trim on the jacket do all the heavy lifting when it comes to accessorizing. So I'd probably not even bother to carry a bag with this outfit. The jacket has roomy enough pockets for my car keys, a credit card and my phone. 

I didn't go looking for this jacket. In fact, it wasn't even on my radar. But, it fits so perfectly into my wardrobe, with my jeans, and skirts, and dress pants, and with my loafers and sneakers, it works so well with all of my navy pieces, and with the red accents I've been wearing this spring and summer, that I consider buying it a wise shopping move. 

woman in white jeans, red loafers, and a navy, red and white baseball jacket, sitting in a red Adirondack chair
I'm pretty pleased with my home run, I must say.
If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know that I have a  very defined shopping philosophy. All about knowing what looks good on me, knowing exactly what I already own, and what I need to fit in with what I already own. I wrote about my "shopping rules" over at Brenda's blog 1010 Park Place last week. You can read that post here if you're interested. One of my rules is all about getting good advice. 

two women in a coffee bar.
Having coffee with Liz at Nordstrom e-bar the other day. 
As I've said many times here, my friend Liz is the personal shopper at Nordstrom. With her knowledge of fashion and of her merchandise, her understanding of me, my style, and my wardrobe, she is my secret shopping weapon. 

I don't understand why more women don't take advantage of some of the talented people who work in retail. By that I mean seeking out a shopping advisor, like Liz. Seriously, you should get out there and find your own Liz, wherever you live. Whether they are a personal shopper, or a skilled sales clerk, they need to be someone who knows clothes, knows their merchandise, and is willing to build a relationship with their clients. It might take a few tries until you find someone who suits you, but it is sooo worth the effort. 

Now I have to go and do my fall shopping research. It feels a bit scandalous to be thinking of shopping again, after so recent a purchase. But the Anniversary Sale is coming up, and my sister and I will be charging into the melee, hoping to see something we love on sale for fall.

I'll be looking for travel pieces. And maybe a skirt. I don't own any fall skirts. Maybe knee high boots, if I find a skirt. But, ultimately, it will depend on what's on offer. We'll see if we hit any home runs. Or strike out altogether, and just go for lunch. I'm happy either way. I've learned that navigating the Anniversary Sale is all about not having too many expectations. 

I'll let you know how we get on. 

D'uh. Of course, you knew that already. 

Now, how about you my friends? Have you hit any shopping home runs lately? 

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Why I Am Not On A Diet

Let's get this straight, I am NOT on a diet. I don't believe diets work in the long-run. And most experts who aren't trying to sell you a diet plan will agree. 

But. And here's the kicker. Despite the fact that I exercise most days, and even though Hubby and I have made numerous healthy changes in our diet since his heart surgery... I've gained five pounds in the last three years. Now, how the heck did that happen? I was shocked when I stepped on the scale a couple of weeks ago, even though it only confirmed what I'd suspected. I had gained weight. My jeans and my mid-section had been telling me the whole sad story for a while. 

woman in blue pants suit and red loafers. White sweater, sneakers and black pants. Black dress, sandals and jean jacket.
Looks that hide what I want to hide  
Now don't go all preachy on me, people. Or try to talk me out of the idea that I need to drop a couple of pounds. I know what I look like when I step out of the bath, and you don't. Thank goodness. Ha. I also know what I look like in my jeans before I don that artfully draped scarf, or the loose tee that falls to just the right place to hide what needs to be hidden and not hide what I'm still happy to show the world. 

And here's the other thing. Those artfully draped scarves and tees weren't always doing the job anymore. This, in part, contributed to the confidence-sapping moment that day a few weeks ago when I caught sight of my profile in a store window. 

Once my suspicions about my burgeoning middle were confirmed, I thought I knew the reason why. 

Despite daily exercise, I move a whole lot less than when I was working. Teaching burns calories. Talking to a room full of teenagers, animatedly waving my hands around, moving up and down the room, up and down the halls, and up and down the stairs at school all day helped me stave off what I call "slippage." That slippery slope of weight gain that creeps up on most of us in middle age. I wrote several posts about slippage a while ago, starting with this one

So what can one do? I guess I could go back to work. That would be simple, right? Ha. But not feasible, even if I were so inclined. Should I stop doing whatever I'm doing that keeps me sitting in my chair more than I should? Like reading, or writing this blog. That's not going to happen. I'm not going to give up what I love in order to shed a few pounds. So... should I go on a diet?

The answer to that question is a resounding NO, according to my sources. Especially if that diet includes making drastic changes to my eating habits, changes that will be insupportable in the long run. Like the "boiled egg diet" which seems to be making the rounds of Facebook these days, claiming to help you lose 20 lbs in 14 days. Just for fun, I checked it out and it prescribes as many as four eggs a day! Four eggs a day! With nary a warning to people who might have cholesterol issues. If Hubby's cardiologist read that, he'd have... well... a coronary. I'm also not going to go on the South Beach, or the Sonoma, or the Beverly Hills diet. I won't be climbing onto the Wheat Belly bandwagon, which the dietitian at the Ottawa Heart Institute completely debunked at a workshop we attended a couple of years ago. Nor am I going caveman with the paleo diet, or the ketogenic one. I'm sure all of these plans would make me drop those five pounds in a few weeks. But what then? 

In this article, Jennifer Kuk from York University says, if I diet, my body's "resting energy expenditure" will drop, and when I stop dieting I may be one of the fifty percent of the population for whom this will be permanent. Which means I will gain back the weight and more because, just by living, I now burn fewer calories than I did before I started dieting. Apparently something called the "Biggest Loser Study" says that "six years after the show ended, the contestants in Season 8 found that their metabolism was still down an average of 499 calories a day." 

The idea of rebound weight gain is nothing new. We've all heard about it. But now scientists are finding the data to support what we've really always known, but rarely admit. Neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt, in her Ted Talk "Why dieting doesn't usually work," says that people who lose 10% or more of their body weight find that their "resting energy expenditure" drops, and they will need on average 200-400 fewer calories a day to simply maintain their set point, the weight at which our body seems most comfortable with itself. She adds that successful dieting does not lower one's set point because, unfortunately, our bodies work hard no matter what we do to keep our weight stable. She does add that our set point is not a specific weight, but a range of usually 10-15 pounds. And that it's conceivable that we can "use lifestyle choices to move our weight up and down within that range." But outside of the range... it's a losing battle against biology, hormones, and our brains. 

So what am I doing about those five pesky pounds? Well, while I've not been on a diet for the past couple of weeks, I have been on a fact finding mission. 

I'm using a free on-line food tracker to record what I've been eating and how much exercise I've been doing. I always track my exercise, partly because I love numbers, and partly because I work best if I have specific, measurable goals for myself. For the past year I've been trying for 300 minutes of cardio a week. This on-line program helps me to see how many calories all that cardio actually burns. And how many calories I'm consuming daily. I know it's not just about the calories, but seeing the numbers always helps me... because for all my airy-fairy tendencies, deep down I'm a numbers person. I want to see the numbers generated by my food choices. 

Turns out I didn't know the whole reason for my weight gain. What I've learned from my food journal is that I have fallen off the healthy eating train that Hubby and I boarded together five years ago. Too many treats, too many MacDonald's french fries, too many lattes, too much bread, not enough fruit and veg with breakfast and lunch, and too little portion control. So, I'm not going on a diet, I'm just going to make healthier choices more often. Putting back into play all those wise decisions that Hubby and I made about our eating habits five years ago, and which I've let slide a bit lately. I won't be making major changes, just tinkering. Just being a bit more mindful. I figure that I'm following Ms. Aamod's advice and "using lifestyle choices" to play within my set point range. 

As far as exercise goes, I'm already walking and cycling or pedaling my exercise bike as much as I can. But I'm trying to fit in more weight work-outs. I've let those slide a bit. Mostly because this time of year I prefer to get outside for my exercise, and a weight workout is definitely an indoor activity. Maybe I should move my weights to the deck? Now, that's a thought. 

I know there are other solutions that I could consider. But whatever I choose to do has to be something that I will be able to maintain, that I will want to maintain, and not something that I will dread. Like yoga classes or swimming. Both fine forms of exercise, but not for me. 

This afternoon I was discussing this post, and my research findings, with Hubby. And we were talking about health and diet and the importance of having a realistic self-image. I do realize that it would NOT be healthy to expect to ever again weigh 125 lbs. Or even 135. But it's not unrealistic to want to be a bit better than I am at the moment, whether that's three or four pounds lighter, or a bit more fit, and stronger. I think Hubby still holds a faint hope that I'll carry the canoe one day. Ha. 

As Hubby and I continued our conversation, I related to him what I'd read about all those famous diets, the boiled egg diet and the Beverly Hills diet which are so unhealthy, the South Beach and the Atkins diets which were so popular in their day, and the current keto craze. 

And it occurred to me that the problem with all those diets, even the ones that prescribe healthy foods, is not that they don't help people to lose weight, but that they do. Because according to the experts I listened to and read today... that's when the really big problems start. 

And that, folks, is primarily why I am not on a diet. 

Have a listen to Sandra Aamodt's Ted Talk for yourself. It's pretty interesting.

Now, I must run. Hubby is watching the World Cup, and I'm making dinner tonight. Yes, I am. Don't fall off your chairs in amazement. I haven't entirely forgotten how to cook. 

So, how about you my friends? Any diet or fitness challenges that you've faced lately? Any that you want to tell us about, that is? 

Linking up with Thursday Favourite Things,  #SaturdayShareLink-up, and #fakeittillyoumakeit 

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Everything is Better With Some Cows Around

Yesterday was my step-father's birthday. He would be ninety-six if he were alive, but he died ten years ago. We still miss him. Lloyd Samuel McGibbon was quite a man, you know. Kind, strong, patient. He had to be to take on us lot all those years ago. Ha.  

Lloydie on wheels. Making good use of my step-brother's old bike. Sometime in the 1980s.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Too Hot to Handle

The weather, I mean. The weather has been too hot to handle lately. And I am not good in the heat, especially when it's thirty-five degrees Celsius with a humidex in the low forties. 

To be honest, summer is not my best season. 

Everyone else adores summer, but me. I struggle. I do.

My hair frizzes, and seems to grow in volume the second I poke my nose outdoors. And when it's humid and windy, like at an event we attended the other night, well, the result is not pretty. A free-form, wind-sculpted, frizz extravaganza. I don't deal well with summer humidity. If it's very humid, outdoor exercise is a no-no for me because I'll struggle to draw a breath. The bugs love me. I puff up with insect bites, and the red lumps itch for what seems like weeks. I freckle easily and burn quickly in the sun. I don't tan. Actually I did have a rather nice tan for a few years in my thirties, when Hubby and I were golfing regularly. But years ago, probably around the time I gave up golf, I began to slather sunscreen and stopped worrying about being pale all summer. And... when it's really hot, I puff up all over, and my jeans seem to shrink. Ha. When it's not too hot to wear jeans. Or long pants in general.

Seriously, I should just stay indoors until September. But that is not an option. In fact, I can't imagine anything more depressing. So today I shoehorned myself off the couch where I've been ensconced with my book for the past day and a half, and rummaged in my closet to see if I could find something reasonably cool and comfortable to wear shopping and errand running this week. 

woman in striped skirt, white tee, white sneakers standing by blooming hydrangeas
Billowing skirts on the Rideau. 

Saturday, 30 June 2018

It's Summer... Are You Bored Yet?

Hubby and I are still away on our camping trip. So this post on summer boredom... or lack of boredom... is one from a couple of years ago. Hope you don't find it boring:)


I could be wrong, but I can remember only once in my childhood, saying, "Mu-um, I'm bored." My mother's solution, while I can't remember it exactly, had something to do with tasks that did not appeal. At all. Like cleaning my room. So I found something fun to do on my own. Problem solved. And more importantly, lesson learned.

vintage photo of bored child
Writing a post last week about boredom with my summer wardrobe started me thinking about those long, hot summers as a kid. And how we mostly relied on our own initiative to amuse ourselves. And how the possibilities of what we might do to amuse ourselves were constrained mostly by our own imaginations. And only occasionally by the fact that some things "weren't allowed." Which ...actually... to be honest... didn't always stop us. Sorry Mum.