Giving Up (More) for Lent

So, every year I give up something for Lent. I’m not Catholic, so maybe it’s a throwback to my Catholic school days. Mostly, I do it to curb some bad behavior. Or to get back on track ūüôā

I got my Mardi Gras fun in this weekend, with no vodka soda left behind. I didn’t manage to get a pic with both my beads and my mask, but at least I made it home with both! Such a fabulous time at the Krewe de Roux ball. Plus, I got to wear sparkles.

IMG_1374

IMG_1337

I have a few hours left of Fat Tuesday to decide, but I’m pretty sure I’m giving up booze again. Crazy in a year that I’ve already given up gluten, dairy, soy, wine (save a glass or two), coffee (mostly), beer, Mom’s pie, stuffing, blueberries, ginger, honey, etc. etc. etc.

Seriously, what’s left to give up? Why am I even considering this madness?

Well, here are the facts. Alcohol is a big fat inflammatory, and I’m really supposed to reduce my consumption. I’ve done a good job on that front since October, but fabulous Dallas patio weather has definitely increased my boozy treat time. Plus a super fun new drinking buddy. Bad, Christina.

Secondly, my weight loss has stalled. I’ve only lost about six pounds since Christmas, and that’s despite staying pretty steady at 1600-1800 calories a day. Sure, I have a desk job, but I should still be dropping at least a pound a week. Maybe even two. Especially since I’ve also stepped up my game at the gym.

I like what I see when I look in the mirror, certainly more than I have for the past couple of years, but there’s still a way to go before I feel back to myself. Good, bad, otherwise, I don’t feel like me. I don’t feel strong, and there are still days I don’t feel pretty. And that’s not a good way to be.

Besides, alcohol is a depressant, and combining this cold and nasty weather with booze just adds to the dreariness. My wise friend Erin told me back in college after a night of boozing, “Alcohol is a depressant, yo.” Words of wisdom. So when I’m trying to shake off the depression and shake off some pounds, the booze gotta go.

Crap, now I have Taylor Swift stuck in my head. “Shake it off! Shake it off!”

I will reserve the right to have bubbles for two occasions. The St. Patrick’s Day parade, if we go, and if I close on a house before April 5. My lease is up at the end of April, and I’ve been looking!

So here’s to the next 40 days and 40 nights. And mimosas on Easter Sunday. Perhaps a smaller sized Easter dress, too. That’s right – those are Easter eggs labeling the mixers. As God intended.

IMG_1373

Cleaning Closets and Selling the Shoe Hoard

Ah, spring. ¬†Well, not really, but it’s been in the 70’s the last few days in Dallas so I¬†figure it’s a great time for spring cleaning. ¬†There is nothing I love more than an organized closet. ¬†Well, besides a five pound drop on the scale. ¬†That’s better. ¬†Whenever I have a chance to get my hands on someone’s closet, particularly my mom’s, I’m a happy girl. ¬†Even just grouping like items together and organizing by color pleases me.

Sidebar – Colleen, move back to the States so I can clean out yours again! ¬†Saudi won’t let me have a visa for organizational purposes. ¬†Rude. ¬†If I could make a living doing closet organization, I totally would. ¬†Unfortunately, you can’t make someone you don’t know very well strip and try on that one piece of clothing that they just can’t get rid of like you can your mom and your best friend. ¬†Sometimes they just need to see that ten year old shirt in the mirror.

Anyhoot, I currently have six totes of unwearable clothes in my closet, plus mom and I have a pretty solid hoard at her house. ¬†We’ve been a lot of sizes in the last five years, and we learned the hard way to keep the good stuff and donate the rest. ¬†This goes for lingerie, swimwear, happy pants and workout gear too! ¬†That’s why I have so many totes – my bras simply just take up a lot of space. ¬†It’s not because I’m a hoarder. ¬†Really.

I like the theory that you won’t climb back up the scale if you don’t have any clothes in that bigger size, but honestly, you just end up wearing too-tight clothes and feeling bad about yourself. ¬†I try to keep anything I can’t currently wear out of rotation, because there’s nothing worse than being frustrated in the morning when you are trying to get out the door. ¬†I’m proud to say I’m finally back in the middle, and an owner of two bigger size totes. ¬†¬†May I never see you again, and let’s be honest – I’ll never be able to eat the way I used to, so I really shouldn’t ever gain that weight back.

The three totes in the pic below¬†are my smallest size.¬† The tote on the right is the hoard of lingerie and hosiery, thanks to my buying office time and way too much wishful thinking on my part. ¬†That fabulous splash of coral is the swimsuit I wore for 2009’s spring break in Puerto Rico! ¬†I’ll get back in it eventually, hopefully by this summer. ¬†Note that my printer is sitting on the bottom left tote, and¬†it’ll be there for 40 more pounds. ¬†I’ve got time. ¬†Maybe I should rethink that pizza I ate for dinner.

IMG_1281_2

Garment bags are your friend for dust free too small hanging clothes and the totes on the right (tucked behind the handbags)¬†are full of clothes that are too big. ¬†That’s a great feeling! ¬†It’s the stuff I wore all last summer, so it’s been stashed for seasonal inappropriateness for a while. ¬†I’ve been adding to it over the past couple months, mostly when I try to wear a favored outfit and realize it looks sloppy. ¬†That’s mostly okay if I’m at home wearing happy pants, but truly, I prefer a fitted v-neck for those occasions too. ¬†I have my vanity.

As I tried to pull down the middle sized tote this afternoon, which I’m probably within ten pounds of easily wearing, I found myself kicking some shoes out of the way. ¬†Slippers, stray contraband J Crew flip flops (the ones that ruin floors), sneakers that are kicked off immediately after the gym, my over the knee boots, etc. ¬†No excuses, really, because look at these great shelves! ¬†Built-ins hold my sneakers, colored flats, black flats, sandals and two baskets below hold flip flops and other sandals. ¬†Heels and booties on the metal rack. ¬†Out of season shoes in yet another tote.¬† Oops.

IMG_1285IMG_1501

I know it’s a lot of shoes, but a girl needs patent and regular black pumps, plus an option for peep toes and winter. ¬†And the bright blue suede pumps were an easy gimme. ¬†It’s not that easy finding great shoes in a size 12, and some of these I’ve had for eight + years. ¬†Classics rarely go out of style, and I haven’t worn heels in about 40 pounds, so there you go. ¬†Plus I worked in fashion for over ten years. ¬†These things happen. I did manage to find a solid stash to sell on eBay. ¬†The app makes it so easy – approximately two minutes to post per pair. ¬†Love it.

My eBay store is active 2-3 times a year, and my username is caleeksu5. ¬†If you have a flipper-feet person in your life that needs some shoes, send them my way. ¬†And by person I do mean either gender, because as some of you know, about 75% of my shoe sales are shipped to men. ¬†Hey, I ain’t judging. ¬†Get your sparkle on, girls and gurls! ¬†I know I’m just one MAC eyelash strip from looking like a drag queen too.

IMG_1282_2

I’m looking forward to going through that middle sized tote tonight – snagging some smaller workout gear, smaller pajamas and drawers. ¬†I bought new lingerie this past week, and while Valentine’s Day is a great time to be shopping for such things, I know I’ve probably got plenty stashed away. ¬†Heaven forbid I miss a semi-annual sale. ¬†I’m sure there are all sorts of things with tags still on them in those totes that I fully intended to get into by the end of the month, or end of the season. I’ve stopped doing that, btw. ¬†Buy things that fit today, not that will fit tomorrow. ¬†Even if you’re doing it on deep clearance, 70% off plus an employee discount. ¬†Totally not worth the closet space! ¬†There will always be a good sale when you’re truly ready for something new ūüôā And I plan to use this eBay cash to get it.

Cheers!

Good Hair and My Beyonce Moment

So I’m about 20 pounds away from hitting the 75 pound mark – nice!¬† Somehow losing 75 pounds in a year sounds so much more exciting to me than 50. ¬†If I’m pinning down an exact time, I weighed my highest (ever and all time) somewhere between the end of last February and first of March. ¬†I think I initially lost a bit just getting rid of the salt bloat from February Fashion Week, but it found its way back by March.¬†It’s hard to forget the number on the scale at the casting office for Extreme Makeover:¬† Weight Loss Edition.¬† That was a life-changing trip to LA in so many ways!

But back to my original point (focus, Christina!) – 75 pounds!¬† I decided when I hit that mark, likely in the next couple of months if I’m a good girl and eat my veggies and keep hitting the gym, I’m finally going to cut this hair!

The bigger I am, the bigger I want my hair to be – I feel like it balances things out.¬† And let’s be honest – I’ve lived 90% of my life in a Southern state, and we love our high hair.¬† Closer to God, you see. ¬†#BigHairDontCare as my friend MAM would say. ¬†My hair is REALLY long right now, and maybe the longest it’s ever been. ¬†I’ve realized in the last decade that I have really good hair. ¬†It took¬†a few¬†disastrous haircuts in the 90’s, but I’ve figured out a few things. ¬†I can’t go too short, I’m lazy with a blow dryer and I can never have bangs. ¬†Please see the photo evidence below. ¬†These were the only two I could scrounge up, as the rest have been burned. ¬†I do love this Glamour Shots, though. ¬†So funny.¬† Worst cuts of my life were when I was 16 and when I went through rush at Kansas State. ¬†Short is a fail, but it might have a slight edge on bangs. ¬†Woo.

1928237_56095756283_864648_n1929034_56841023585_7121543_n

I can work a bob like no one’s business, though, and I’ve been pulling it off since I was three. ¬†See? ¬†I couldn’t take my eyes away from Guiliana Rancic’s bob during last week’s Fashion Police, and I think I have my next cut!

1927608_53188121283_2128_n10847478_10152830836564191_1165366848562461029_o

So back to this Beyonce moment. ¬†The fabulous Lindsey Parnell has been doing my hair at least five years, including any chance I could snag her while in town from Seattle. ¬†I was so happy to be reunited with her when I moved back to Dallas, and my red¬†has been restored! ¬†(Surprise! ¬†It’s not natural. ¬†Oh, you already knew that? ¬†Well anyway, apparently as I’ve aged, my natural color is dark blonde. ¬†Not that you’ll ever see it.) ¬†She’s absolutely worth the drive to The Shops at Legacy in Plano, because she’s both a lovely person and kickass with color.

Anyone¬†who has ever done my hair will tell you that blowing out my hair is¬†a¬†whip, though no one whined as much as Brannon back in the day. ¬†And he had giant muscular arms! ¬†Wuss. ¬†There’s a reason I wear so many ponytails, and it’s because I hate blow drying my hair. ¬†Well let me tell all of you fine people – if you haven’t had two people blow drying your hair at once, you are missing out. ¬†It is so glorious! ¬†Lindsey set me up with such a nice treat!! ¬†I love having my hair played with anyway, and then you want to double up? ¬†Adam (the gent in the pic) asked me if I felt like Beyonce, and I totally did. ¬†When I win the lotto, I’m going to set up a dressing room Kardashian style and have two people in to blow dry my hair always.

IMG_1108 IMG_1111

Happy Blue Friday, everyone! ¬†#GoHawks ūüôā

Adventures in Dermatology

I think I might have found the best dermatologist in the world.¬† Well, my friend Rachel found her for me, but still.¬† She’s amazing.¬† Several years ago, I started getting bi-yearly body scans to check my four million moles for skin cancer.¬† Nothing beats stripping down to your undies (just undies) in a freezing cold doctor’s office while a person you hardly know takes a magnifying glass to every square inch of your body while a nurse jots down notes.¬† I would almost rather go to the gyno.¬† Seriously.¬† At least it’s quick.

A few years ago, my then derm found a couple of bad spots on my back, which she excised and sent in for testing, leaving me with 19 baby stitches.¬† Thankfully, those came back just fine.¬† Mom took pictures of the entire process, naturally, so maybe if we’re lucky she’ll post them in the comments section.¬† (Side bar – mom loves being around when I’m getting tortured, whether it’s my very first eyebrow waxing, hair removal, skin removal or using a laser to remove age spots.¬† She’s wicked.)¬† Aforementioned Rachel works at a place with a giant laser, which helps with the redness of my scars.¬† You can hardly see a thing!

I got out of the habit of going to the dermatologist while I was in Seattle, which is bananas for two reasons:¬† everyone in Seattle is pale and super active outdoors (hiking and skiing), likely making Seattle a market with great dermatologists.¬† Two, a friend from grad school died of skin cancer.¬† Well, maybe that’s not what got him in the end, but it’s certainly how it started.¬† Go get your moles checked, people!

Anyhoot, I’m now back in Dallas and didn’t want to go back to my old derm, who was inconveniently located and had zero bedside manner.¬† Enter Dr. Kingston.¬† Super lovely, beautiful office with fantastic views and she stocks pink polka dot dressing gowns.¬† I was so tickled that I took a selfie and sent it to my mom, who no doubt was bummed to miss the entire process.¬† I have no pride on the blog, so I’ll post for you guys to see too.¬† Don’t judge my hair – I promise I fixed it before I went to the office.¬† Plus, this was in December and I’ve lost a few pounds since then ūüôā

FullSizeRender(1)

Same process of a magnifying glass and notes being taken, but they did it section by section so I never felt exposed or awkward.¬† That’s no small thing when you have a boatload of body issues in the first place and your doctor is in Highland Park.¬† If any of you need a dermatologist, please go see Dr. Kingston and her fabulous staff.¬† Click here for her website.¬† She also does the cosmetic side of dermatology, so if you need Botox, laser resurfacing, hair removal, etc. I’m sure they are just as awesome.¬† And no, she is not paying me to say these nice things ūüôā¬† I was just so genuinely happy after leaving the office I want to let others know.¬† I should probably write a Yelp review.

I think waaaaay back in my first blog, I told you guys the quest for food allergies all started when my mom told me she didn’t like the blush I was wearing.¬† Well, I wasn’t wearing blush.¬† Turns out I have regular old rosacea. There’s a lot of info out there, but it boils down to this: Rosacea is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition which principally affects the face. It causes facial redness and produces small, red, pus-filled pustules (bumps). Rosacea worsens with time if left untreated, and is often mistaken for acne, eczema, or some other skin allergy.¬† Wow, imagine that!¬† My inflammatory problems are screwing up my face and my insides.¬† Lovely.¬† I always had perfect skin, even in high school, so having breakouts now is not okay.

Plus, it can lead to thickening of the nose, and while I’m mostly okay with my nose as is, it certainly doesn’t need to be any bigger.¬† So all those cute old men you see with giant noses?¬† They’ve probably had rosacea forever.¬† I’ve heard it called “gin nose” which would work too, since alcohol is an inflammatory and inflammatory problems cause rosacea.¬† Crazy how the human body works.

I’ve got some good medication to work with that, and between the diet change and the medicine, my skin is getting better too.¬† Hurrah!¬† I know in the grand scheme of life, my face isn’t nearly as important as getting my blood right so my heart is okay, but I might as well be pretty while I do it.

I also snagged a great sunscreen at the office, which was reasonably priced, has no weird smell and doesn’t feel sticky and gross on my skin.¬† Now that I’m back in Texas and under the sun (well, not this past couple of weeks) I have to be more diligent than ever to keep my skin covered up and protected.¬† I’ll take all the teasing anyone wants to give me about how I reapply every 30 minutes, no matter where we are on the river or how many cocktails I’ve had.¬† Skin cancer isn’t taking this girl down, and even if it tries to creep up on me, I’ll catch it early.

Dr. Kingston added to my collection of scars by removing two more moles, but thankfully these didn’t require stitches.¬† One came back fine and the other dysplastic, so we’ll have to keep an extra close eye on it.¬† No shock that I’m having the most issues on my back, since it’s tricky to get sunblock on there…don’t be surprised if we’re out and about and I ask you for help to reapply ūüôā¬† I also bought a sunshirt and have learned where to find the shady spots in the pool, so hopefully I’m covered.

Hopefully next time I see Dr. Kingston it’ll be for a beauty treatment and not because of my weird rashes and patches caused by inflammation.¬† That would be ideal!

Cheers!  And wear your SPF, friends.

It’s not a weight loss blog. Seriously.

Update on 1/30:¬† I’ve now moved my original post to it’s own page so it’s easy to find.

Seriously. ¬†But with great change comes great reward, so I’m sure I will post about those changes too. ¬†This all started in October, when I found out I had to cut gluten, soy and dairy from my diet. ¬†Completely. ¬†WHAT??? ¬†And don’t get me started about losing wine.

How did I even get here? ¬†I’ve always been a fairly healthy eater, trying to eat organic when I can, smaller portions, all of that good stuff. ¬†But I’ve had a rotten stomach since I was an infant – mom will happily tell you her shoulder smelled like vomit my entire first year. ¬†Sorry, mom.

Two years ago, I was living in Seattle and just feeling sluggish, run down, exhausted. ¬†My memory wasn’t as sharp as it used to be, I had constant headaches and just general blahs. ¬†I just didn’t feel smart anymore. ¬†It could have been the lack of sun, missing my friends and family, the stress of a new job, a mostly sedentary lifestyle…you name it. ¬†Maybe it was that giant student loan on top of a giant downtown Seattle rent ūüôā

Enter Dr. Vo. ¬†I signed myself up for a primary care physician who was also a naturopath, figuring trying to fix my issues without popping a ton of chemicals couldn’t hurt. ¬†I blame west coast living and too many chats about nutrition with my BFF. ¬†After a zillion page questionnaire about my life and more than a few tissues full of tears as I walked through my concerns, I was sent on my way for blood tests. ¬†Standard, right?

Let me preface – I’ve been overweight my entire life. ¬†For a child who started her life continually throwing up, I’ve always managed to gain weight. ¬†Fortunately, all of the normal things that happen to chronically overweight people never happened to me – my glucose, insulin, any diabetic factor was great. ¬†Cholesterol is fantastic. ¬†Even my liver is in fine shape, which is awesome considering how much it works. ¬†What wasn’t fine was my cardiovascular risk.

When my blood tests came back, Dr. Vo was very concerned. ¬†I’ll never forget the look on her face when she asked me, “Christina? ¬†Have you been in a car accident? ¬†Are you covered in bruises?” ¬†If you’ve known me for more than five minutes you’ve probably seen me fall, run into a door, etc. ¬†Bruises are my every day, thanks to anemia, piss poor depth perception and general clumsiness, but I didn’t have anything going on out of the ordinary for me. ¬†One of the tests Dr. Vo ran is called¬†hs CRP, which looks at cardiac risk and inflammation. ¬†Clinical acceptable range for this is 0.00 – 3.00, and I registered at 20.55. ¬†OFF THE CHARTS. ¬†No wonder she was concerned.

So if I’m not recovering from a physical injury, what’s the issue? ¬†Food. ¬†My body is trying to heal itself from a car wreck of food. ¬†Good grief. ¬†No problem, I thought. ¬†Dr. Vo gave me an anti-inflammatory elimination diet so we could get to the source. ¬†And then reality set in – I travel constantly, and I’m supposed to give up gluten, coffee (I live in Seattle!!!), dairy, soy, nightshade vegetables, all alcohol, red meat, eggs and a handful of other things I can’t remember anymore. ¬†I lasted two weeks.

Life goes on, and finally I hit my breaking point. ¬†After hitting a particularly low point, I listened to my friends and family, hustled myself to a chemical prescribing doctor and got myself on an antidepressant. ¬†With my family’s blessing, I was able to quit my job, take a few months of R&R, move back to Texas and take my time making a career change. ¬†Amazing what a little pill and quitting a job can do for a girl’s psyche!

The fact remained that I had gained nearly 90 pounds since I started grad school in 2009, and I didn’t have that weight to gain. ¬†The first 20 pounds came off pretty easily, thanks to daily walks, supportive roommates who like to cook and ramping down my restaurant time. ¬†After all, this girl was on a budget.

Time goes by, and I started a new job in August. ¬†I’m still not feeling like myself, but¬†things are on the upsweep. ¬†On my October visit to Seattle, I checked in with Dr. Brown and my numbers are ran again. ¬†Guess what? ¬†My inflammation is still off the charts. ¬†Instead of doing an elimination diet, I signed myself up with an allergy doctor and also had an independent lab run an ALCAT.

Food sensitivities and food allergies are not the same, though they can have similar results. ¬†You might know someone with an iGe allergy that has to carry an Epipen, avoiding shellfish or peanuts like the plague. ¬†Or maybe it’s an allergy that causes rashes or hives. ¬†I get those same reactions without an actual allergy. ¬†Lucky me! ¬†I won’t need a hospital trip if I’m exposed to shellfish, but chronic inflammation can lead to all sorts of nasty things like cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and heart issues. ¬†And on a less serious note, I’m really bitter that my skin was better as a teenager than it is now.

Countless needles later (all over my back and giant patches on each arm РI should post pics) and all kinds of blood put into vials, I come back with a mesquite allergy and a whole host of food intolerances.  For the next six months, I need to immediately avoid the following:

  • Gluten
  • Soy
  • Cow’s Milk
  • Blueberries
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Carob
  • Cottonseed
  • Cranberry (but it’s so good with champagne or vodka!)
  • Garlic
  • Grapes (WINE?????)
  • Plums
  • Spinach
  • Black Pepper
  • Broccoli
  • Cinnamon
  • Coffee
  • Ginger
  • Goat’s Milk
  • Honey

I won’t even get started on the mild intolerances, which I’m supposed to “avoid when possible.” ¬†Seriously, all that’s left is meat, eggs and a handful of fruits and veggies. ¬†Not my favorites, though. ¬†Who has an intolerance to spinach?? ¬†This girl.

The same day I got my results back, I quit. ¬†I went straight from the lab to Trader Joe’s, and started a new adventure of label reading. ¬†I cleaned out my cupboards, took my wheat based vodka and Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches to friends in my building and called it a day. ¬†I got to have one last splurge before I was tested for Celiac, since you have to have gluten in your system, but aside from a couple coffees and glasses of wine, I haven’t voluntarily touched this stuff in two months. ¬†And thankfully, I don’t have Celiac disease. ¬†I puff up and my blood hates me, but my intestines are functioning just fine.

The result? ¬†My skin looks WAY better. ¬†It’s still not perfect, but it’s on the way. ¬†I’ve lost a few inches and I’ve lost a total of 45 pounds since leaving Nordstrom in March. ¬†I still have 45 to get back to my grad school weight, but it doesn’t seem as out of touch as it once did. ¬†It’s a whole ‘nother blog post and a handful of cocktails to talk about how I found myself there in the first place, but I’m glad I’m going in the right direction.

My allergy doctor told me that the ALCAT tests can be controversial, and to focus on the major allergens to see how I feel. ¬†Dairy, wheat, soy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts are such major allergens that food companies are required to clearly label if the food contains these ingredients, which is a major help. ¬†Restaurants are really hard, because while it’s easy to avoid the obvious (bread, pasta, cheese plates) soy is EVERYWHERE. I hate being the girl that asks if chicken is seared with butter, vegetable oil or olive oil, but that’s just how I have to be. ¬†This is why you haven’t seen me in restaurants for two months.

At any rate, who loses weight during the holidays? ¬†This girl. ¬†And it’s because I had to change the way I ate. ¬†This time it finally clicked.