New Year musings and makeup

Happy New Year!

I had a subdued New Year’s Eve, just hanging around the house with my cats, Otis and Bea. We jazzed things up around midnight with peach bellinis (for me) and new catnip toys (for them), but that was about the extent of the celebrations. I’d planned to stay in on New Years’s Day — it was dreary, rainy and cold — but caved to superstition and went out for the southern tradition of collard greens and blacked-eyed peas. We believe eating collard greens on Jan. 1 brings financial security and black-eyed peas bring good luck. My 2016 was pretty miserable and I didn’t want to risk more of the same in 2017, so I ate every bite of those collard greens, even though I find them bitter to the taste.

Speaking of lousy 2016s, it appears I’m not alone. Many of my friends and relatives shared equally crummy years and are hoping for clean slates and improved fortune this year. My life is about to change, for sure. After years of doing the long-distance thing, my husband took early retirement from his job as a newspaper editor in Texas and will join me in South Carolina in February. Loneliness hit its peak in 2016, and I’m looking forward to his company and cooking. My cats Otis and Bea? Not so much, but he’ll grow on them. I hope.

I was good about sticking to my healthy-eating plan over the holidays. I treated myself a bit but didn’t go hog wild. I gained two pounds but have worked them off since I returned from Texas on Wednesday. Now it’s time to lose a little more weight (as long as it doesn’t show in my face, making me look older) and tone up before our June vacation in St. Kitts.

Did you add to your beauty arsenal over the holidays? I picked up some of the sweet peach products, which I love. The hype around them can be tiresome, but I like the sheen they give my skin — it’s just enough to make my skin look alive and healthy without exaggerating fine lines. I do think Too Faced would be wise to move to another fruit that’s suited to women with deeper skin tones, as the peach is best for fair complexions. Plum, strawberry, watermelon … they could keep things going for awhile and be more inclusive, particularly in terms of the blush. Here’s a look at my sweet peach haul (I already had the eyeshadow palette, and I like it very much):

Too Faced Sweet Peach Creamy Lip Oils and Peach Glow Highlighting Palette

Here I am wearing the bronzer, blush and highlighter from the Peach Glow Highlighting Palette, along with the Creamy Lip Oil in Poppin’ Peach:


Lastly, I wanted to share a few new makeup products, as well as two of my favorite Christmas gifts. The first gift, pictured at the far left, is a box lined in velvet that was a present from my father. He’s a woodworker, so he makes something special each year. Sometimes the gifts are big (hope chests or standing jewelry chests) and other times they’re smaller. I just love this box with the purple wood insets. The other special present  is the little sled, which is actually a gift tag made by my sister. It’s a tiny cross-stitched elf and I love it!

As for the makeup, clockwise from top right, Urban Decay’s Moondust Palette and Heavy Metal Liner in Glam Rock, Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops in Moonlight, Maybelline Master Contour and Dior Diorific Matte Fluid Lip & Cheek Velvet Colour in Luxury.

In closing, I want to wish you all the best in 2017 and leave you with this thought:

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I got tired of being the ‘fat friend’ 

October, last week, today …

I’m fresh from a trip to the doctor — actually a nurse practitioner I like very much — where, in addition to blood tests and a flu shot, I had my latest official weigh-in. I’m sticking to my diet, but as I near my goal the pounds aren’t falling off as quickly. Still, I’ve lost 64 pounds, which is a success in my book.

Over on Instagram, where you can find me under makeup_plus_50, several people have asked for an update on my weight-loss strategy, so here it is in Q & A form:

Q. How much weight have you lost and how long has it taken?

A. As I mentioned above, I’ve lost 64 pounds. I started my journey in late January/early February and have been pretty committed.

Q. What prompted your lifestyle change?

A. I half-joke that I got tired of being the “fat friend,” but in reality I wasn’t feeling good about what I was seeing in the mirror. Plus, as I aged, the extra weight was starting to make me feel tired and run down.

Q. What, exactly, do you eat in a day?

A. For breakfast, I have a fruit smoothie or cereal with low-fat milk — often Raisin Bran, which is my favorite. Lunch is usually a fruit plate with cottage cheese or a salad. For dinner, I have a chicken breast, salmon or five-ounce steak with a vegetable. I love ice cream, but have replaced it with a nightly bowl of sherbet. The menu isn’t exciting, but it’s the choice I’ve made to control my weight and live a healthier lifestyle.

Q. Do you exercise?

A. Yes, at least five days per week. I usually walk four to five miles on the treadmill or cycle 10 miles on a stationary bike. I also take tap-dancing classes for fun. The exercise element is what helps me continue to lose weight.

Q. How much more do you plan to lose?

A. About 25 pounds. But the key thing to remember is that I can never go back to my old way of eating and my old behaviors.  I’m going to have to exercise and watch my calorie intake for the rest of my life. My body wants to be heavier; I can’t give it the opportunity to go there.

Q. Is your husband thrilled?

A. I think he’s more happy that I’m healthy than he is about the change in my figure, if that makes sense. He doesn’t really comment on the weight loss often, other than to say he loves me and thinks I’m beautiful no matter what my weight.

Q. What has been the best thing about losing weight?

A. Cuter clothes, of course. And better skin. I’ve always had good skin, but it’s clearer and brighter. I thought it might sag — a lot of people get loose skin when they lose weight — but I’ve been lucky and that didn’t happen. Increased energy, stamina and flexibility have been pluses too.

Q. How will you handle the holidays?

A. Fortunately, I’m not one to gorge at the holiday table. Call it sacrilege but I don’t like Thanksgiving food. Turkey is just OK, but I never eat stuffing/dressing (wet bread –yuck), cranberry sauce is a no and I don’t care for pumpkin pie. Green bean casserole? I’m pretty sure that has damp bread in it too.  I’ll eat some turkey, a bit of mac and cheese, and a little of this and that. It’s all about portion control!

Q. What’s my advice for people who want to lose weight?

A. At this point, it might be better to wait until after the holidays. Early success is motivating and important. Also, remember that weight loss is a marathon and not a sprint. And don’t start until you’re really ready and motivated. I’ve started and failed a zillion diets because I wasn’t in the zone –and there’s nothing worse for your mind and body than yo-yo dieting. Finally, know that if I can lose weight, anyone can lose weight. Just make up your mind to do it. You can and you will.

Weight loss: Dirty little secrets

Current status: 15 or 20 pounds to go

Losing weight — and by losing weight, I mean changing your lifestyle — isn’t easy. But when you finally get into the groove, start eating right and make exercise a habit, the rewards are worth the effort. Trust me, I know.

After years of losing a little and gaining more back, I got tired of being embarrassed about my body, of being the fat friend, of being the non-MILF, of being the one with “the pretty face but …”

I decided early this year that I was going to do it: I was going to lose weight, once and for all. I told a friend in February that I was going to drop 50 pounds by November. The response? “There’s no way you can do that.” Well, I did that friend one (or 10) better. I’ve lost 60 pounds and intend to reach my goal of losing another 15 or 20 by the end of November.

My journey isn’t over. In fact, it will never be over. But here are five kind of good, kind of bad, kind of odd things I’ve learned:

  1. A new wardrobe is not as fun as you think it will be because it’s so expensive, even if you shop for bargains. Just ask my thrifty husband. (Confession: He is kind of right. I overspend.)
  2. Even rings need to be resized. A very nice one fell off my finger the other day. Fortunately, it slid into my purse and I later found it. On the good side, I have a lot of necklaces on short chains that no longer look like chokers.
  3. Shapewear no longer shapes. I like shapewear because it smooths me out under my clothing. And even though there’s less of me to suck in, I still like to suck it in a little more. I have already purchased all-new panties, but I need new camisoles, bras, waist shapers … Sigh. Those things are expensive and no one even sees them under my clothing.
  4. My balance is improved and I feel much more comfortable in my body, except for one spot: my tailbone. I still have plenty of junk in the trunk — it’s just the way I’m built — but for some reason, my tailbone hurts like heck in airplane and movie-theater seats.
  5. Some people will cheer you on, but some surprising others will not. Gore Vidal once said, “Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.” When it comes to weight loss and improvements to your physical appearance, people get weird. It manifests itself in small and sometimes passive-aggressive ways: They won’t “like” your new, thinner Facebook photo. They’ll say, “Have you lost weight? I hadn’t noticed.” They’ll invite you to their homes for dinner and serve absolutely nothing you can eat, even though they know you’re being cautious. In fact, they’ll go out of their way to put the most calorie-laden foods possible on the table.

The bottom line is that despite the cost, the irritation and the effort, losing weight and becoming more healthy is something you do for yourself and yourself alone. I’d rather have five “thinner me” outfits than 50 of my old size. Ring sizing can wait. Damn my tailbone, I’ll sit on a pillow. And as for friends who aren’t completely supportive of the smaller me? They’ll get used to it. Or not.

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

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. 

The (s)ex files: weight loss and body image


As almost anyone who’s overweight will tell you, feeling fat often puts the brakes on sex. It’s a body image thing: You don’t feel sexy and that affects your behavior in the bedroom (or the kitchen, or the shower, or …. let your imagination run wild). Oh, sure, there are some super-confident women who embrace their curves and feel sexy at any size, but for most of us it’s an issue.

As some readers of my blog already know, I embarked on a lifestyle change in February. Through a combination of healthy eating and exercise, I’ve been able to lose 48 pounds and want to lose about 30 more. I realize that’s a lot of weight, but in the scheme of things it’s not an incredible amount: I read stories almost every day about women who’ve lost two or three times as much.

Still, the nearly 50 pounds I’ve lost has had positive effects, both physically and mentally. Physically, I’m more comfortable than I’ve been in years. Why? Because in the past, I’ve lost weight with diet alone. This time, I added exercise to the effort. I walk three to five miles on a treadmill five days per week. Last night, I set the speed at 3.5 miles per hour and put in four miles. Now that might not impress some people, but consider that I was a non-exerciser. At first, 1.5 miles at two miles per hour was an effort. Now that seems like a cakewalk.

There’s another element to my exercise routine: Two nights per week, I take an adult dance class. On Tuesdays, it’s a ballet barre/stretch class. On Wednesdays, it’s tap — sometimes one class, sometimes two. I took 17 years of ballet and tap when I was young and love to dance, so the classes are a treat. Ballet and stretching elongate the muscles, while tap strengthens my leg muscles and my mind, the latter because of the long and intricate combinations of steps we learn on the spot.

The weight loss, dance classes and treadmill hours have transformed my body. I’m fortunate –some people who lose weight, particularly at my age — replace their concerns about fat with concerns about loose skin. I don’t have that issue; my skin has reacted well and seems to have retained much of its elasticity. Of course, I’m keeping it moisturized with bath and post-bath products that help.

Though my weight loss journey isn’t over, I feel stronger, more flexible and more sinuous. I move more easily. My body is less cumbersome, less clumsy. It’s easier to bend, flex, contort. And when I run my hands down my body, there’s a new sleekness.

That leads me to the sex part: I feel good. My body feels good. My skin — rid of sugar, preservatives and other toxins — is soft, smooth and glowing. I can feel my ribs, my pelvic bones, the muscles beneath my skin. I’m a breast cancer survivor who had double mastectomies with reconstructive surgery. When I gained weight, my stomach got bigger but my breasts didn’t. It gave me an odd, pregnant-looking profile. Frankly, my breasts look great with my flat stomach (thank you, Dr. Alfredo Villarreal Rios).

All of these things combine to make me more aware of my body, in a positive way. The new physical me has affected the mental me. Result: I feel sexy. I’m good with the way I look naked, and that’s something I haven’t experienced in years. A heightened sense of my own desirability and confidence in my sexuality are welcome side effects of weight loss I didn’t anticipate. I’m not saying that every woman who’s overweight should lose pounds to feel sexual — as I said, heavier women who feel hot can be incredibly sexy. But for me, losing the equivalent of two toddlers has done wonders for my sexual confidence and desire.

A little random: Beauty finds and a flop

What do the items in the photo above have in common? They’re impulse buys — products I just happened upon when out shopping and decided to give a try. For the most part, these purchases were serendipitous and I’d actually buy them again. Mixed among them, though, are one bust and a fence-sitter. Let’s sort the wheat from the chaff, going clockwise from the candle:

  • I always find the neatest little items when I pop into Nadeau’s, which is a very cool store featuring (mostly) hand-crafted wooden furniture at great prices. I have several large pieces from Nadeau in my home and each has a cool, quirky vibe. In addition to furniture, Nadeau has interesting little decorative items, like the candleholder pictured. I love the contrast of its white lattice exterior with its vibrant orange interior. Inside is a deliciously scented candle I purchased at Marshalls. It smells like pomegranate and sweet pea and is very relaxing. I picked up several scents at $2.99 each, including honey, which is my favorite.
  • The tall, hot-pink cylinder is an Oggi stainless steel water bottle I discovered at Marshalls. I love the fact that its contents stay cold for 24 hours without refrigeration. That’s really helpful when you’re committed to drinking a lot of water and you don’t like it lukewarm.
  • I’d never tried the Hempz brand until I picked up the Sweet Pineapple and Honey Melon cream body wash. I love having clean, moisturized skin and also want to smell lovely. When he was about 8, my son told me I always smelled like a “delicious dessert.” High praise from a third-grader!
  • Here’s the surprising bust: Pacifica Coconut Micellar Water Cleansing Tonic. It smells coconutty and Pacifica’s products are usually nice, but here’s the problem: It doesn’t perform. I double wash nightly, first using a micellar water to remove surface makeup and dirt, including my eye makeup, and next with a moisturizing cleansing balm.  I usually use Bioderma’s micellar water, which takes off my mascara and liner with no problem. Not so with Pacifica’s version.
  • Sjal Energy Tonic is a refreshing spray that provides moisture as needed and can also be used to set or refresh makeup. I use it as part of my skin care routine, after acid toning and before applying my serum. This lovely, rose-scented spray is infused with minerals: gold, silver and rose quartz.
  • Skyn Iceland Glacial Face Wash is a staple of my morning shower routine. It has done wonders by eliminating the tiny, under-the-skin whiteheads that plagued my chin when I was stressed. It’s choc-a-block full of good stuff. According to the Sjal website, it “removes impurities from your skin with oat and amino acid-based surfactants. White willow bark purifies pores and soothes irritation to prevent breakouts while revitalizing Icelandic kelp detoxifies and cools inflammation. Cylindrica seed oil repairs the lipid barrier to prevent dryness and neutralizes free radicals.”
  • Here’s the product I’m on the fence about: Korres Golden Crocus Ageless Saffron Elixer Serum.  It purports to use”the antioxidant power of one-day fresh Greek saffron to universally correct all visible signs of aging.” Well, OK. But at nearly $100, I was expecting more transformational results. May Coop’s Raw Sauce is similar in performance, but it uses maple tree sap to impart a healthy glow. It’s just $48.
  • As I’ve mentioned, I love bath and skin products that make my skin beautiful to touch and smell. I love Lush bath bombs, but they’re pricey and there’s no Lush store nearby. I’ve used a few bath fizzies by Fizz and Bubble from Ulta. They come in a variety of scents for $6 each. I plan to try the rainbow sherbet tomorrow.

“One Lovely Blog” award

Hello, everyone! I’m so honored that the talented Laura of the blog Looking Joli Good nominated me for the “One Lovely Blog” award. Please be sure to check out Laura’s blog — she’s always posting new and intriguing content. She’s much more disciplined about it than I am.

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Here are the “One Lovely Blog” rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to them.
  • Share 7-15 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 9-15 bloggers you admire and contact them to let them know.


Facts about me: 

  • I love backyard birds and am constantly refilling my feeders.
  • I have three lovely indoor cats and also feed a couple of feline neighborhood wanderers. After dark, a posse of raccoons visits my back deck to nibble on cat food, as does a very sweet and shy possum.
  • I recently started taking weekly tap and ballet/stretch classes. So much fun!
  • I’ve lost 46 pounds since February and want to lose 35 more.
  • When I was a reporter, I interviewed four presidents: Reagan, Ford and both Bushes. I also interviewed three first ladies: Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan and Betty Ford.
  • My husband and I worked at competing newspapers. We met at the scene of a stabbing.
  • I first got interested in makeup and skin care when I was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. Chemo makes you look tired and dries out your skin. I didn’t want to look ill.
  • I have been to 18 Rolling Stones concerts, but my first concert was the Osmond Brothers. My dad took my friend Debby Carter and me to see them at the Los Angeles Forum. He says it was one of his most generous acts of fatherhood.
  • Two places I want to go before I die: the Greek Islands and Portofino, Italy.
  • My hair has been brown, red and platinum and lots of colors in between. Golden blonde works best.
  • I’m a proud University of South Carolina Gamecock and I’m pretty sure the Chicken Curse is real, at least as far as the football team goes.
  • I was the reporter who broke the “Ozzy Osbourne Urinates on the Alamo” story. He was a hilarious interview. Sharon was intimidating.
  • I believe having a few close, loyal friends is better than having a lot of semi friends. I love my girlfriends Kelly, Nikki and Diane from high school; my sister, Allison; and my college roommate and lifetime co-conspirator, Jill.

These are some of the bloggers I enjoy, in no particular order. Check them out and give them some love:

Thanks again to Laura for nominating me. Remember: If you have a passion, blog about it!

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My ‘Misfit’ love 

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My Misfit Shine 2 Activity Tracker

This blog isn’t about a misfit romance — although I’ve had plenty of those in my life. Nope, it’s a about a different kind of love: my affection for my Misfit Shine 2 activity tracker.

Here’s a confession: I hate exercise. I took three hours of ballet and tap daily when I was in my teens. That kept me slim and trim, no matter what I ate. Although it was exercise, it felt more like fun. After I started college, I avoided anything that would make me hot and sweaty (well, anything exercise-related, anyway). You can guess what happened. The pounds began to pile up. And up. And up.

Of course, I’d go on periodic diets, some more successful than others. But, inevitably, the diet would end and I’d go back to eating normally and … you know the story.

In February of this year,  I decided enough was enough. What I needed was a lifestyle change, as opposed to a diet. I could feel my resolution building. I know you’re going to ask what diet I’m on, so I’ll tell you. It’s simple: poached eggs or a fruit smoothie for breakfast; fruit with cottage cheese or a salad for lunch; and a small portion of salmon, chicken or steak for dinner with veggies on the side. I’m an ice cream fiend, so I replaced my nightly bowl of Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate with orange, pineapple or mixed tropical sherbet. Sometimes I’ll eat string cheese for a snack, or perhaps some low-cal popcorn.

Anyway, the pounds started to fall off … 10 … 20 … 30. I purchased a treadmill and began walking every day. I currently do three to five miles. By some standards, that’s nothing. For me, it’s a big deal.

My latest gadget is my Misfit Shine 2 activity tracker. It’s a slim, rose-gold disc that looks like a watch. I wear it on my arm during the day and attached to my shoe when I’m on my treadmill. That’s because I usually walk with my hands on the treadmill bars, and because my arms aren’t swinging with each step, the Misfit can’t track my activity.

In addition to counting my steps, my Misfit Shine tells time, monitors my sleep, vibrates when I get a phone call or text message, and tracks my daily goals. A series of small lights at the edge of the dial provides me with all the info I need. Of course, a well-thought-out app also helps. I use my Misfit in conjunction with the Misfit app as well as the Lose It app, which I use to record my food consumption.

Another thing I like about my Misfit? It’s more elegant than many other types of wearable trackers. Mine is currently on my wrist in the black rubberized band that comes standard, but Swarovski makes pretty accessories. I’ve asked my husband for the gray-suede, crystal-studded slake band for my upcoming birthday. That way, I can switch out the rubber version for something more feminine.

In the meantime, I’m sticking to my lifestyle change. I’ve lost a total of 40 pounds and hope to lose 30 more by the holidays!