Presto change-o: An easy way to expand your wardrobe

One outfit, two looks

Some of you know that I’m on a journey to improved health. A year ago, I weighed 65 pounds more than I weigh today and had both Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Today, I have neither of those conditions and feel better and more energetic than I’ve felt in a long time.

In addition to more energy, I have a brand-new wardrobe. With the exception of a few one-size-fits-all wraps, nothing from my “before” closet works anymore. It’s fun to have more clothing options, but buying all-new outfits is pricy. I do a lot of shopping for basics at Nordstrom Rack, Steinmart, Marshall’s and other stores offering bargain prices. Then,  I and mix and match the things I’ve found with more unique items from stores like Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Free People.

I wanted to share these two looks because they demonstrate how easily one piece can transform an outfit. At left, I’m wearing my favorite Joe’s Jeans with a top from the Thalia Sodi Collection, which is sold at Macy’s. At right, I’m wearing the same sweater and jeans but they have a whole different attitude thanks to the Cullen cashmere capelet I picked up at Nordstrom Rack.

If you’re on a journey to health and are finding it expensive to literally downsize your wardrobe, focus on separates you can mix and match to create several outfits. And don’t forget that accessories can make a big difference too. Changing your necklace, earrings, belt or handbag is another way to stretch your wardrobe without shrinking your bank account. – Ronda

Advertisements

Confessions of a sunglasses junkie

Looking for a quick way to jazz up an outfit? Reach for a great pair for of sunglasses!

I have to confess that I’m somewhat of a sunglasses addict. I have pairs stashed in drawers and nooks throughout my house and car. And we’re not talking ZZ Top “Cheap Sunglasses.” I get the good stuff, and I usually persuade my dear husband to add to my collection on special occasions. I prefer sunglasses to rings and other baubles and consider them “jewelry for the face.”

When did my sunglasses habit begin? At Myrtle Beach, circa 1992. We took a family trip to the shore and the combination of light-sensitive eyes, contact lenses and inexpensive, non-polarized shades led to months of pain. You’ve heard the term “snow blind?” Well, I was “sand blind.” Somehow the sun’s reflection off the sand burned my eyes. It hurt just to keep my eyes open in the weakest of light for months on end. I was under a doctor’s care and on steroids and all sorts of other medication until my vision normalized. Since then, it’s been all sunglasses, all the time. (Side benefit: My dermatologist says my dedication to tinted eyewear cuts down on wrinkles, as it reduces squinting. She advises women never to go into the sun — even if it’s just to check the mailbox — without sunglasses.)

Right now, I’m contemplating what pair of sunglasses will be on my list for Santa. In the meantime, I’m enjoying my most recent scores: a jazzy, Hollywood-glam pair of Kate Spades that I picked up while post-Thanksgiving outlet shopping with my mom and sister and an ultra-elegant Versace pair that is a souvenir from a girls’ trip — coincidentally to Myrtle Beach — with college friends. In fact, here’s a photo of three of us modeling our finds. That’s Jeannean on the left in Versaces, me in the center, and Jill in Michael Kors.

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.

Loving my aging skin with Rodan+Fields 

Let’s face it, I’m no ingenue. In fact, I recently attended my 40th high school reunion. It’s shocking, sometimes, to realize that I’m 57 years old. I certainly don’t feel that age on the inside. Do I look like I’m nearing 60 on the outside? Wait! Don’t answer that. All I can do is hope that genetics and a good skin-care routine will keep my face reasonably wrinkle-free for awhile longer. It’s worth noting, though, that I don’t want to look 25 0r even 35. I just … well, I suppose I wouldn’t be happy if someone actually guessed that I’m nearing 60. Closer to 50 is fine.

All of this is to say that I’ve been very pleased with my skin of late, and I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on it too. As many of you know, I’m somewhat of a skin-care fanatic and I try a lot of products. For the past month I’ve been sampling items from Rodan+Fields. Some of those products I purchased myself and others were sent to me by my friend Kim Leible, an executive consultant for Rodan+Fields.

Overall, I’m highly impressed — much more impressed than I expected to be, in fact. That’s probably because I hate to jump on bandwagons and, frankly, everyone I know seemed to be jumping on the  Rodan+Fields bandwagon. That made me drag my feet a bit. But I finally got on board and here’s what I’ve been using:

  • AMP MD System — This is my favorite of the products I’ve tried and the one I’m confident I’ll continue using. What is it? It’s a four-item set consisting of a micro-exfoliating roller, a vial for cleaning the roller, cleaning tablets, and 60 capsules containing a night-renewing serum.  The roller is covered with dozens of tiny, fine needles and I roll it over my face about three times per week. It might sound medieval, but it’s painless and the punctures are invisible. The objective is to trick the skin into renewing itself, which can increase collagen production and reduce wrinkles. I particularly love the Night Renewing Serum. It nourishes, smooths and plumps the skin and has been a real game-changer for me.
  • Redefine Lip Renewing Serum — Do you have chapped lips, dry lips or lip lines? This is a lovely product that works wonders by restoring moisture and plumping out lip wrinkles. My sister, who has drier lips than I do, swears by this item.
  • Redefine Acute Care — Acute Care patches can be applied to problem areas that need special attention. They’re infused with hyaluronic acid, which targets wrinkles and smooths and plumps them out for a younger-looking appearance. I use these before special occasions to make sure I look my best. (Tip: Always look for skin-care products containing hyaluronic acid. It really is a miracle-worker.)
  • Essentials Foaming Sunless Tan — This is a hugely popular product and one that’s often out of stock. However, I’m on the fence about it. Unlike many other self-tanners, it provides a natural, non-orange hue. However, don’t expect a lot of color payoff in one use. I had to apply it several times to get much in the way of noticeable color, and my skin is very pale. I’ve heard that other users didn’t experience this issue, so perhaps it didn’t work with my skin chemistry? I’ve never had this problem with any other brand of self-tanner, so I’m not sure what the issue was.

All in all, I must say I’m very impressed by Rodan+Fields. While the self-tanner wasn’t a home run, the skin-care products were winners and that’s what matters to me. The Night Renewing Serum and Acute Care patches are on my reorder list and I’m hearing great things about the new eyelash-growth serum.

If you’re interested in trying Rodan+Fields, you can reach Kim’s R+F page here.

False alarm and feeling sunny

 Phew! Some of y’all know I’ve been down in the dumps and fighting insomnia. I never sleep well when things are bothering me. My poor pillow knows. He’s been punched, pummeled, pounded and cried upon.

Anyway, the past month has been an ick-fest: My son was in a serious car wreck, I felt abandoned by a good friend who happens to be the best boss ever, and I found a lump under my right armpit — the same side on which I had breast cancer.

Did you know that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer? I, like my grandmother before me, was one of those eight. I found the lump at age 40 during an at-home breast check. I had a mastectomy with reconstruction followed by six months of chemotherapy. For 16 years, I was cancer-free. When I found a new lump, I immediately assumed the worst due to my medical history. And though it was probably a mistake, I kept the news to myself because I didn’t want anyone to worry. I confided only in my poor, afore-mentioned pillow.

The good news? I learned today that the lump was merely a small, harmless cyst. The other good news? If it had been cancer, I would have caught it early because I do regular self-exams. So, please do me — and the people who love you — a big favor and start doing breast checks today.

Oh, and the other good news? My son is going to be just fine. And I’ve decided that as much as I hate losing the best boss ever, Robie and I can be better friends without the boss part getting in the way.

Summation? All is great in my world. I hope things are great in your world too. But seriously, do your breast self-check. Like right now.