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.

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Gee, your skin smells delicious

When my son was little, he once told me I always smelled like a delicious dessert. I was delighted, given that his pronouncements weren’t always so flattering. (He also once said I was built like a T-Rex, with a big body and short arms.) But I digress …

I’m not an avid Bath & Body Works customer until November rolls around. That’s because while I’m not an aficionado of their summer scents, I’m an avid fan of the holiday sugar scrubs and of Vanilla Bean Noel in particular.

A couple of weeks ago, the scrubs were on a buy three, get two free special.  After an initial panic ( the salesperson incorrectly told me there were no VBNs to be had), I purchased three and completed my five-scrub haul with a Winter Candy Apple and a Twisted Peppermint. Speaking of twisted, there’s a new twist on the Bath & Body Works scrubs: the addition of skin-softening shea oil. That’s a welcome change, but there’s another difference I’m less fond of, and that’s a change in my beloved Vanilla Bean Noel’s appearance. Last year, it was snowy white with a pretty glitter effect. This year, it’s brown. It still smells nice, though.

While I was at B&BW, I naturally had to pick up a few other items. One was C.O. Bigelow’s Lemon Cream Body Wash, a longtime favorite, and another was an owl-shaped fragrance-melt warmer to replace a warmer broken in a move awhile back. Of course, a fragrance warmer requires fragrances, so in the lead up to Christmas our home will smell like Marshmallow Fireside, Sparkling Icicles, Champagne Toast, Merry Cookie and, of course, Vanilla Bean Noel.

Running on empties: Will I reorder? 

If there’s one thing I love, it’s bath and body products that smell beautiful. Even better are products with scents that linger on my skin and perfume my bathroom long after bath time is over. 

Sometimes it seems that I run out of a passel of products all at once, and so it’s seemed in recent weeks. Here’s what I squeezed the final squeeze on, as well as my take on whether they’re worth squeezing again: 

  • Perlier Honey Miel Shower Cream — This product is one of my personal favorites, largely because I’m partial to honey scents. It smells lovely and is highly moisturizing with a luxurious lather. My favorite honey-scented bath product of all time was L’Occitane’s Honey & Lemon Body Scrub, which was cruelly discontinued.  I hoarded my final two jars like they were gold. The Perlier is the closest dupe I’ve found. I’ve reordered, but this time I’m trying the honey and orange version in hopes it will be even closer to my beloved honey-lemon scrub. 
  • The Seven Deadly Skins Melon Body Scrub by Anatomicals — This is a very scrubby scrub — one that does a good job of sloughing off dead skin. I won’t repurchase, though, because it’s quite drying and while it smells good, the scent dissipates almost instantaneously. 
  • Vitabath Luscious Lemon Creme Body Wash — I almost always have a Vitabath body wash of one scent or another in my shower because they’re high-performing, inexpensive and — in most cases — lovely smelling. I’m working my way through the wide variety of scents. So far, my favorites are Lemon Creme and Pomegranate & Blood Orange. I’m not as enamoured with the Cucumber & White Tea and the Beach Blossom. 
  •  Sol de Janeiro Brazilian 4-Play Moisturizing Shower Cream-Gel — If you read this blog even semi-regularly, you know I love this product. I ordered a replacement as soon as I started to run low. This is my hands-down, ride-or-die shower gel, just as the company’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream (pronounced Boom Boom) is my holy grail moisturizer. The  pistachio-caramel scent is heaven and it lasts and lasts. People always want to know what scent I’m wearing. 
  • Hempz Sweet Pineapple & Honey Melon Smoothing Creamy Herbal Body Wash — I bought this on a whim because pineapple and honey melon seemed like a lovely summertime scent. I was not disappointed. This body wash smells wonderful, lingers and is ultra-moisturizing. Will I repurchase? Yes, but I’ll wait for warmer weather. It’s about time to make a trip to Bath & Body Works for the cold-weather scent that’s my annual sensory delight: Sparkling Vanilla Bean Noel

Facial cleanser empties 

I also recently ran out of two of my favorite facial cleansers and have already replaced them. In the morning, I wash my face in the shower, alternating between Chantecaille Rice & Geranium Foaming Cleanser and Skyn Iceland Glacial Face Wash. My skin loves rice cleansers and Chantecaille’s replaces L’Occitane’s (again) discontinued Riz Rice. The Chantecaille version is luxurious and highly moisturizing and you need to use only the tiniest amount. I’ve been working on the same tube since early August. The a.m. product I replaced is the Glacial Face Wash, which is for stressed skin. Switching back and forth between the two morning cleansers works for me, keeping my skin both clear and moisturized. 

At night, I pre-wash my face with a micellar water — I prefer Bioderma — and follow up with a gel-to-oil cleanser if I’ve worn makeup (which is almost always). My preferred gel cleanser is Plié by Jordan Samuel Skin, which I just replaced. It cleans, lightly exfoliates and hydrates my skin, and I love its clean, gentle scent. It’s on sale right now, so I’m off to order a backup tube … 

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.

Makeup perfection: Two new favorites

Keeping makeup fresh: Slay All Day and J. One Jelly Pack

Just a quick post to tell you about two new products I’m enjoying. The first is Slay All Day, Gerard Cosmetics’ entry into the makeup-setting-mist game. Now, I’ve used a number of mists in my day, from horrible (I’m looking at you, Coola) to very nice (Skindinavia’s Dew Me). In my view, Slay All Day is the best of the bunch.

I’m using the peach scent, and people who know me well are saying, “Of course you are!” But for non-peach-lovers it also comes in green tea, jasmine, lavender and lemongrass. What does the mist do? It sets makeup, controls oil and keeps makeup in place longer. I also like to give myself a quick spritz if my makeup looks too powdery or needs fresh life. $22 from Gerard Cosmetics

Next up is a cool Korean import: J. One Jelly Pack. The bottle promises, somewhat ungrammatically, “dramatic firming skin with improved elasticity and pore-smoothing.” The instructions on the bottle are written in what I assume is Korean, but fortunately the box provides clarity. Basically, Jelly Pack alleges it can be used instead of multiple other products, including moisturizer and primer, to give skin a smooth, radiant, tightened slate on which to apply makeup. It’s also supposed to endure makeup lasts longer by helping it adhere to your skin.

Makeup application after J. One Jelly Pack

When first applied to skin with a patting motion, Jelly Pack feels sticky. However, it quickly dries down to a smooth finish that does provide a tightening sensation. The best news is that my makeup applies beautifully on top of Jelly Pack and stays fresh all day. I’ve only been using it for a few days, though, so this is an early review. I’ll post an update if my initial impression changes. $42 from Sephora (currently out of stock)

Up next: My thoughts on Rodan & Fields

Where’d she get that outfit? New website reveals all 

Like to Know It provides users with personalized shopping information

If you’re like me, you’re constantly checking out other women. Not in a sexual way (not that there’s anything wrong with it, as George and Jerry reassured themselves on “Seinfeld”). It’s other women’s outfits I’m ogling, along with their shoes, handbags, jewelry and other accessories.

Trust me, I’ve chased women down for buying information if they were wearing something my heart pinged for, but public grillings are not always appropriate or welcome. While some fashion plates are eager to share not only where they bought an item but what they paid for it, others act like they’ve been asked to divulge a state secret.

Enter a new way to play the “who, what, where and wear” game — a nifty website called Like to Know It (the address is simply LIKEtoKNOW.it). I wish I’d thought of this concept: Gather the best fashion and accessories photos on Instagram, then post them on a nicely designed internet page along with links that take viewers directly to purchase sites. As an added bonus, those who link the Like to Know It site to their Instagram accounts receive outfit details via email if they “like” an ensemble that shows up on their Instagram feeds. Their favorite outfits are also stored under a personalized tab on the Like to Know It site.

One of the best things about the service is discovering lots of little-known internet shops, many of them surprisingly affordable. I’ve placed small orders at two new-to-me online stores, ChicWish and SheIn, and I’ll give you an update on fit and quality when the items arrive.

In the meantime, check out the featured fashionistas on Like to Know It. At the very least, you’ll get a clear idea of what’s “in” this season. Hint: cold- and off-the-shoulder tops and dresses, ankle-wrap shoes, bohemian tassels and pom-poms, white lace and eyelet, stripes, and pastels.