Ch-ch-ch-changes. The power of working out

Losing weight differently through exercise

If you’ve been following my journey to a healthier lifestyle, you know that I’ve made many changes this year. Here’s the basic roadmap:

  • I started watching what I ate in early February. Frankly, I was tired of feeling lumpy, uncomfortable and unattractive. At first, I simply employed portion control combined with self control. The pounds started to fall away.
  • In May, I decided it was time to start working out, something I’d avoided for many years. To be honest, I hate feeling hot and sweaty. Still, I knew it was time to get moving. My husband and I celebrated our anniversary in June and he was shocked when my gift request was a treadmill. I started slowly: 1.5 miles at 2 miles per hour. Today, I do between 3 and 4 miles at 3.2 to 3.5 miles per hour at a slight incline. For some people, that’s weak. It works for me.
  • In July, it was time to formally start tracking my exercise and healthy-eating efforts. I purchased a Misfit Shine 2 to count my steps and began using the Lose It! app to track nutrition and calories. I also started taking two adult dance classes per week: ballet/stretch and tap. For me, dance is a fun way to get exercise.
  • Last week, I decided it was time to work on my arms and core. I began using the Smart Wonder Core, a compact gadget that has two foam-covered tension bars. Depending upon how it’s positioned, it is used to create resistance for arm exercises, leg exercises, sit ups and more. I also began using the Simply Fit Board, a skateboard-type item with a rounded bottom. Basically, you balance yourself on the board and it twists back and forth as you twist from the waist. (I usually hop on the board during television commercials. I also twisted to the performances during last night’s Video Music Awards.) My goal is strengthening my abdominal muscles and whittling my waist.

I’ve dieted and lost weight before, but I always did it without exercise. This time, I realized that I would never get the ass I want while sitting on it! Two things have happened:

1. I’ve started to actually enjoy my workouts. I feel better physically and mentally when I don’t skip them.  They’ve become a habit.

2. I’m losing weight differently. I’ve always been pear-shaped and unable to wear certain styles of clothing. For example, the column dress in the photo accompanying this blog would have been disastrous on my body just a few months ago, because my top and bottom halves were disproportionate. By getting up and moving my body, I’m losing inches more uniformly.

As of this morning, I’d lost 57 pounds. My original goal was 65 pounds. However, after assessing my body and mental determination, I’ve decided to go for 23 more, for a total of 80 pounds. At that point, I’ll decide whether it’s time to switch to a maintenance plan or lose a bit more.

If you’re thinking about making a lifestyle change, go for it. If I can lose weigh with diet and exercise, you can too. I believe the key is getting yourself into a certain hell-for-leather mindset. I’ve tried and failed to lose weight before, but when I look back I realize I didn’t have the steely, determined attitude needed for the long haul. The right attitude will get you where you want to go. – Ronda

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Truth or dare: Answering your questions

L’Oreal Color Riche Lipstick in Wisteria Rose

As I get older, I’m both more and less forthcoming. I’ve learned that some things are better left unsaid, while some that were formerly too humiliating to talk about I now share freely. I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people who follow me on Instagram and I thought I’d answer them here. Some are about makeup, others are about my weight loss, and still more touch on personal topics. Here we go:

Q. If you could look like any woman in history, dead or alive, who would it be?

A. At one time, I would have said Grace Kelly because she was true perfection. Now I’d choose someone else — someone sultrier and sexier. That’s because I’ve never considered my appearance sexy. Everything about me screams “girl next door” and always has. And although I love makeup, I have one of those faces that looks silly in a large wing or dramatically smoked-out eyes. For these reasons, I’d choose to see what it would be like to ooze sex appeal, like Ava Gardner or Elizabeth Taylor.

Q. If you were going out for the evening and could take only one makeup item, what would it be?

A. I used to say mascara, but I finally found a mascara that doesn’t disappear on me in Benefit’s They’re Real. I’d go with concealer because I detest dark under eyes and they always eventually peep out, no matter what I do.

Q. What was your most disappointing makeup purchase?

A. Recently it was two mascaras — the new Charlotte Tilbury and Marc Jacobs ones. They smeared and had no staying power on me, although I’m a big fan of both brands. My most expensive mistake was the Temptu Airbrush System.  You have to wear the foundation that comes in their pods and it wasn’t for me.

Q. Do you have a favorite foundation?

A. I always seem to go back to Koh Gen Do’s Aqua Foundation. It gives me a nice, natural, realistic glow. I’m currently trying out the new Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation and the Hourglass Vanish Seamless Foundation Stick. So far, I prefer the better staying power of the Urban Decay. I’m always looking for the latest, greatest foundation. I can make my foundation look almost perfect, but it only lasts for a few hours. Two recent foundations that didn’t work for me? Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Foundation and Too Faced Born This Way.

Q. What’s your favorite lipstick?

A. I have several: L’Oreal Color Riche Lipstick in Wisteria Rose, Marc Jacobs’ Le Marc Lip Cream in Clara and Melted Strawberry by Too Faced. They’re all fairly bright and I prefer brights with my skin tone. (My favorite non-bright is Tom Ford’s Spanish Pink.)

Q. Have you had a nose job and, if so, who was your doctor?

A. This is a surprising one that I’ve received several times. No, no nose job. It’s my original nose.

Q. How much weight have you lost? How did you do it?

A. I’ve lost 54 pounds and think I’ll switch to maintenance after another 30. I did not have weight-loss surgery, but would have if my insurance company covered it. I eat healthfully and never go over 1,200 calories per day. I walk 3-4 miles daily on a treadmill and take adult dance classes twice weekly. I also use two products by Hum Nutrition: Flatter Me, which reduces bloating, and Skinny Bird, which purports to reduce stress eating, boost metabolism, curb appetite and control blood sugar. Since losing weight, I no longer have high blood pressure or diabetes.

Q. What does your husband say about your weight loss?

A. Honestly? He doesn’t mention it often, other than to say I look nice. He’s not particularly effusive and never has been. He has mentioned several times that he’d love me at any weight, which is incredibly sweet.

Q. How is your son?

A. My son, James, was involved in a serious head-on collision a month ago. He was in a coma for awhile and there was concern about brain trauma, but we were fortunate. He does have numerous contusions and cuts, as well as broken ribs on both sides. He is healing well, but is in lots of pain. He has been a difficult patient because he suffers from severe anxiety and depression. We will get through it all together.

Q. What makeup trend do you dislike?

A. Instabrows — the large, overdone brows that have been in for awhile. This is partially because I’m a little sensitive about my own brows. I don’t have any, because they didn’t grow back after I had chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. I have tattoos and it looks ridiculous if I try to draw in bigger brows on top of them. I’m also not huge on a lot of highlighter. I just don’t think it’s particularly flattering on older skin. I try to use it judiciously.

Q. Are there any new products you’d like to try?

A. The new Anastasia Beverly Hills Stick Foundation. And some of the new Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks. Her mascara and foundation didn’t work for me, but her lipsticks are spectacular, as are her eye products and blushes.

Q. You’ve added quotes and poems to your Instagram page. Do you have a favorite?

A. I’ve gotten incredibly good feedback — and a lot of new subscribers — since adding quotes and outfit of the day photos. I try to choose quotes and poems a lot of people identify with, and most of us have either been in love or been hurt in love. I also like inspirational quotes, as well as sharing the poems of talented Instagrammers. Here are a couple items that got great response, followed by my favorite. I hope they inspire you. 

Curls, curls, curls: A step-by-step guide

From short and straight to longer and curly

Hair is a peculiar thing. We’re never happy with what we have. It’s too thin or too thick, too straight or too curly. Too wavy or not wavy enough. Some of us never come to terms with our hair, while others find workable solutions. It took me almost 50 years — half a century — to realize that I actually love my natural hair, which I’d describe as on the curly side of wavy.

My issues with hair started with my mother. She was forever fussing with my hair and I was the unlucky recipient of several misbegotten home perms. In fact, Mom administered one on the eve of second-grade school photo day. Let’s just say that very few of the resulting pictures survived and I refused to participate in the annual rite of photo-swapping with my classmates. Even in second grade, I was appalled.

You’d think I’d have learned my lesson, but I’m hard-headed. Instead of trying and failing once,  I’ll try something six or seven times just to make sure it doesn’t work. This led to a frizzy mess my freshman year of high school and a disastrous attempt at bouncy curls in college. After that, perming techniques improved and I spent part of the 80s with a half-perm many of my friends copied but that in retrospect was absolutely hideous.

Here’s the way my hair works: When it’s short, I can train it to dry straight with the help of a vented brush and a blow dryer. Let it grow just a bit, though, and the waves start to take over. I kept my hair short for years because I just couldn’t cope with the unkempt, unpolished growing-out stage. Then, a first: A new hairstylist asked if I’d ever tried “scrunching.” And lo, a miracle transpired. Those perms? Not needed. All that was required to take my hair from annoyingly wavy to cutely curly was a can of mousse, some styling products and hands to perform the scrunch. How does the scrunch work? Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • First, wash your hair with products specially designed to enhance curls, not weigh them down. I sometimes use Bumble & Bumble’s “Surf” products, but when I want curlier curls I stick to products by DevaCurl. In particular, I use the company’s “Decadence” line, which includes a no-poo shampoo and weightless conditioner.
  • When you step out of the shower and grab a towel, make sure you don’t break up the curls or create frizz by rubbing the towel through your hair. Instead, blot and squeeze your hair through the towel to remove the bulk of the moisture.
  • Never comb through your hair, either with a comb or your fingers. Doing so will separate the natural waves or ringlets that have started to form. Instead, spray your damp hair with Frizz Ease Beyond Smooth Primer, then use your hands to “scrunch” sections of hair up toward your scalp.
  • It’s time for mousse. Any brand will do but I prefer either Aussie Sprunch Mousse or DevaCurl’s Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam. Again, scrunch your hair with your hands, pushing it up toward your scalp.
  • If your hair needs coaxing to curl, there are quite a few styling products you can add to damp hair before drying. I sometimes use DevaCurl’s Coconut Curl Styler or Briogeo’s Curl Charisma Defining Cream.
  • At this point, you have a choice, and you should try all three to see what works best for you: Either dry your hair immediately with a scrunching motion and a diffuser, let it dry naturally, or let it get almost dry before using the scrunching-with-diffuser method. I prefer the latter because my curls seem to set better while drying naturally, while finishing up with the blow dryer gives them bounce and life. I use the Curly Pop dryer/diffuser that’s made by Bed Head. Again, don’t brush or comb your hair: Doing so will either pull out the curl or leave your hair frizzy.

Voila! Easy, sexy, bouncy curls that last all day and through the night.