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This Square Peg.

Happily Not Fitting In Since 1978.

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health

Blogvember #3: On Chocolate Pigs and Resets.

Real talk: since arriving in the Lone Star State in September, I’ve been ingesting sweets and junk food like a chocolate pig. I wish I were exaggerating.

If you’ve followed TSP for a while, you know that in 2015, I embarked on a gaining health lifestyle change. I changed everything: how I felt about food, how I felt about fitness, how I felt about taking care of this body of mine. A year later, things were continuing to go well. By no means was I was challenge or struggle free, but when is life challenge or struggle free? Things turned upside down, however, when I landed in this one horse town (I’ve always wanted to say that). I moved to a city with drive-through bagel places and donut shops on every corner. I became an animal. The combination of emotional eating and availability was a death knell for all the hard work I had done for a year and a half. (There’s a place here called Nothing Bundt Cakes, for heaven’s sake. Can I live? Can I live?)

But we all have our a ha moments, don’t we? Where we shutter excuses and just decide to do work? I did last week. I became resolved. As cute as chocolate pigs are, it’s high time for a life/health/fitness reset. So far, I’ve been making better choices. Last night, I also officially restarted my weekly gym routine.


That facial expression communicates everything you need to know. I took a class called BodyCombat. The name was appropriate. My body was beaten up, in combat, and so out of shape. It was like a scene in an action film when the unfortunate villain shows up in a dark alley brandishing weapons that the hero ends up using against him. Yes, I came with nunchucks that ended up around my neck. But guess what? We have setbacks and we move on. I have a class tonight and I’ll be back at it next week. Because: goals.

Have you had to make any life resets lately? Do you love donuts as much as I do?

that skin(care) thing.

By now, you get that I like when things are low key and simple, right? Low maintenance rocks my quiet world. I watched a YouTube video today about skincare products and was reminded of just that: when it comes to skincare and beauty regimens, you can imagine how utterly unfussy I am. If it takes longer than 5-10 minutes to do any of it, just no. Give me my Mac Studio Fix and my Ruby Woo. Give me my Neutrogena face scrub, a moisturizer, and let’s be done with it. Words like toner and serum might as well rhyme with binomial and integer: they mean nothing to me. (Big ups to all my Math side eye people–uninterested and confused, one fraction at a time.) The word regimen itself makes me tired.

But a girl gets older and the acne from 10th grade wants its home back, right on my forehead. Or a girl gets her face waxed and the pores become hotels who always have a vacancy. Or weird blemishes pop up and have me wondering what happened to all those superhero African juices that, post-puberty, combated whatever pimple tried to disturb the peace. And when This Square Peg realizes that her status quo must change…she reluctantly realizes that she must change it.

My current “regimen” for skincare:

  1. Wake up.
  2. Consider calling out sick. 
  3. Wonder if a murderer or serial killer is also waking up at the same time as you, being that it’s 5 something in the morning and that hour is reserved for killers.
  4. Trudge to the loo.
  5. Pull out your Neutrogena Oil-free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub and apply a dab to your brand new Vanity Planet facial brush. (You’ve used your hands to wash your face for, oh, 23 years, up until a month ago. But you saw a YouTube video and the wallet was close by and there was a discount, so…) Start cleaning. 
  6. Finish, wipe face.
  7. Apply light moisturizer. Store brand or Equate.
  8. Crawl back into bed. Kidding. Maybe.

That’s all, folks. No face masks, serums, toners, brighteners, prayers to the good skin gods. But the blemishes keep coming. Not every day, but they pop up here and there. Might be the stress from all the changes I’ve gone through these past few months. Might be the reactions to said stress, which typically involve carbs and liquids that aren’t water. I’ve long known that skincare has a lot to do with diet and nutrition and not necessarily just superhero African juices. Anyway, I’ve used Neutrogena for years, and decidedly the acne combating brands, since, as stated above, pimples were my main issue since age 15. The clusters have long gone, but one likes to decorate the center of my head every now and then. But perhaps it’s time to find something different, a new product.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it (and you will, because you love me):

  1. Tell me what skincare products work for you. 
  2. Do you sometimes battle a blemish here and there? Acne?
  3. If you understand what toner is and its point, please: share with the class. Convince me. Remember that I’m still doubtful on whether fractions mean anything in real life. (Says the woman who can’t figure out the difference between 1/2 and 1/3.)
  4. Do you have a–gulp–skincare regimen? If so, please share that with the class in the comments.

All for research purposes. My forehead thanks you. 

p.s.: I’ve recently discovered Melanglow, an awesome place to get beauty and skin advice and recommendations for us brown girls. So yay for that. Check it out. 

because I’m petty.

No other way to say it.

I just am.

Anywho, I wrote this brief essay/diatribe. Happy Tuesday.

 

Miss Petty Boots 2016

You don’t recognize me, do you? You’re doing that I’m trying to place that face squint with the head tilt to the side, as if the re-positioning of your head and narrowing of your eyes will somehow ignite the memory corner of your brain. Don’t sweat it. I know exactly who you are.

What was it: about three years ago?

We all have preferences and you exercised your preferential right not to be attracted to me. So you told our Yenta that you’d rather not and I said all right and we all moved on with our lives.

But who is this woman standing a few feet away from me? The face is somewhat familiar, but…the woman from three years ago was a bit…chubbier? The face was a bit fuller? The physique a bit more zaftig? (Let’s be real; you’d never use that word.) But this woman is really svelte. The face: thinner. But I know that face, don’t I? But this woman is different. I can’t stop pretending not to stare at her. Hope she doesn’t notice.

Oh, I notice. I see you pretending.

I’m going to be Miss Petty Boots 2016 for a second: it’s because I’m hotter than you remember. I worked on my health and my fitness, and one of the pay-offs is a leaner version of the confident woman you preferentially chose to not pursue three years ago. Back then, sure, I was low-key excited at the suggestion from our Yenta that she could introduce us. After all, you smiled at me, so… (what it took back then for me to be intrigued by a fellow: a smile. *Le sigh.) And yes, my active imagination plotted our entire courtship from initial meeting to wedding day. So when our Yenta informed me shortly thereafter that you weren’t interested, it was disappointing. Not hurling myself dramatically off a nearby bridge disappointing, but disappointing nonetheless. But I moved on. You moved on. And now here we are. Don’t worry, though. I’m only Miss Petty Boots in print. I’m not the kind of woman that will saunter up to you and publicly remind you of the past.

I’m the kind of woman that will continue her conversation with her friends and peripherally remain aware of your fixed regard and leave it all there. (Still about 75% petty boots, though.)whitpetty

*A smile may be lovely, but it’s just rows of meaningless teeth. Be prepared to impress me. 

So keep narrowing your eyes and tilting your head.

Maybe you’ll figure it out.

things i currently need #8: swimsuit edition

I will preface by telling you that This Square Peg is perfectly fine in her swimming trunks, a tankini top, and a cover-up. Because she’s quite comfortable with being comfortable–including at the beach. And as much as I adore the beach for being the great body unifier (in other words, no matter what you feel about how you look, the beach will teach you about the variety in bodies, shapes, and sizes, so accept your temple and move on), I simply prefer keeping this African chocolate temple covered up, by and large. However. Sometimes a girl works hard on her health, and the physical incentives suddenly don’t feel like being covered up that much. So here are some ideas I have to interrupt that cover-up life, courtesy of Pinterest. (I plan on being about that sand and ocean life this summer, by the way.)

Love love love the retro vintagey look anyway, but I especially  love seeing it in swimwear. Super cute, fashionable, and finally allows some of us to live out our Annette Funicello beach movie dreams and fantasies. (I’m not the only one, am I?)

A retro top + high-waisted bottom for a two-piece swimsuit? Golden. Golden.

Whoever came up with peplum swim tops must know how much I love peplum. Right? Because I love peplum. And I adore that I can wear it as swimwear.

That’s all she wrote, folks. May summertime greet us with sandy beaches and re-enactments of scenes from Beach, Blanket, Bingo. Onwards, upwards, and beachwards…

Before and After.

Happy to let y’all know that I contributed a piece for my good friend AB’s new blog. I also hold the privilege of being the very first contributor for her new baby, which is awesome when you consider how much I love supporting my friends, especially when it comes to writing/blogging.

Check it out here, please. I talk about my once tenuous relationship with “Before and After” photos and their impact on my gaining health/weight loss journey.

And kindly follow her blog, won’t you?

Pictorials.

Or shall we say Fit-torials? Anyway, fantastic workout last night, folks. Let’s walk through it, shall we?

Fitness5

First: the requisite sweaty, social media shot. (Done for Snapchat, in case you’re wondering. And no, I have no idea how it works.)

Fitness1

A bit of a smug smirk, no? And yet that’s the face you make when you’re murdering a treadmill, folks.

Fitness2

“This hurts. And you’re not smiling or smirking anymore, are you?”

Fitness3

Tiny guns growing in them arms. Also, since you see my trusty earbuds, the following artists are great for a workout:

  • Justin Bieber (I’m serious. He’s annoying, but the little boy is talented. We’ll discuss further in another post. Kindly withhold the hurling of tomatoes in this direction.)
  • Anything from the 90s. Last night, I rocked Ini Kamoze and Born Jamericans, great blasts from my past, and they had me literally running in rhythm on the treadmill.
  • Whatever floats your fitness boat, really. I’ve also rocked Carly Simon and Anita Baker in my ears while exercising, so to me, it’s whatever you prefer.

Fitness4

Closeup of the facial sheen. (I love to see myself sweating.)

 

That’s it for the pictorials. As far as last night’s regimen:

-30 minutes of cardio on the ‘mill

-30 minutes of the following: squats, Russian twists, bicycle crunches, weight lifting (again, trying to birth some guns), and my very favorite, planks. I tried to do multiple reps of each.

-At least several minutes of stretching

You read about my winter struggle to find motivation. Since then, I’ve been really pleased with the turnaround and getting back to my routine, so I wanted to share.

Tell me: if you’re a gym rat or just enjoy exercising/being active, what are some of your favorite things to do?

Rallying.

In high school, I loved pep rallies. There was something electric about all of us gathered in the gym, screaming for the basketball team or the football team and the loud music and the cheerleaders and all of that. Never mind that in four years of high school (and college, too), I never attended one single sporting event. Not one. (Are you kidding me? Leave home and miss a showing of Beverly Hills, 90210? No, thank you.) But, boy, did I love those rallies. I thought about those pep rallies this past weekend, particularly the rallying part. Those gatherings were meant to push us to action, to come to the game and root for the home team, to be energized and excited. Despite the amusing reminder that I was far more interested in the pre-hoopla than the games/events they were meant for, I was reminded of just much how much I needed that energy this past weekend when I was supposed to get my hind parts off my bed and head to the gym to work out.

You, dear reader, know about my gaining health journey. You know that regular exercise is part of that. But if you live on Planet Earth, dear reader, you also understand the weight of winter. The desire for carbohydrates. The laziness. The doldrums. The inertia. Due to all of those things and quite honestly, having reached a weight that I find mostly satisfying, my visits to the gym have been sporadic, at best. And I can’t accept that. Sporadic for me means eventual oblivion, the disappearance of this routine I’ve built for almost a year. And since my goal is to be healthy and maintain the strides I’ve made so far, sitting on my bed and bemoaning the interruption to my sleep is just not an option.

But I couldn’t rally. I couldn’t. On Saturday, I woke up when the alarm

bosses
But this boss did.

dinged and lay there, gaping at the ceiling. Eventually, I rolled myself out of bed. Since I go to bed with my gym clothes on for mornings that I plan to work out (yep, you read that right), I slowly pulled on my shoes. I sat down. I told myself to stop playing and to get going. I stood up. I sat down again. After several minutes of this silly back and forth, I stumbled into the bathroom, brushed my teeth, bid a hasty goodbye to my mother, and went to the gym. It was a fantastic workout. On Sunday, the same things happened. This time, however, I walked in and out of the house three times before I abandoned my efforts and returned to the couch on the living room, muttering to myself that I was late anyway and didn’t have time. No workout happened.

What happened, y’all? Particularly on Sunday? Why couldn’t I walk to my car and just turn it on and go? Why did my motivation, already tattered, essentially give out until I found myself on the couch, chewing on a health bar and berating my lack of energy? Could be an assortment of answers. But like a pair of dangling, ignored gym shoes on a Sunday morning, I will leave them unanswered.

Today, I have my gym clothes here at work. When I’m done for the day, I’ll change and head to my exercise class this evening. The rest of my exercise schedule this week is planned, and I hope to see all those plans through. Realistically, this may or may not happen. But I intend on sticking to my schedule, and I intend on sticking like glue.

Even if I have to call upon my inner 15 year-old, sitting in a gym with gleaming eyes and a giddily racing heart, excited beyond measure, I will rally.

Reader, have you had mornings like this? How did you push yourself? Tell me in the comments, won’t you?

On Visuals and Inspiration.

The most popular question I get as I continue on this gaining health journey: what inspired you to want to lose weight in the first place? I don’t mind the question; to me, it’s natural that people want to know. And so I tell them: I was making very unhealthy choices in my life and it was beginning to affect my well-being. So I needed to make significant changes. Admittedly, however, there was another reason I was inspired: pure cosmetics.

Let’s be real about it: an enjoyable part of weight loss/health gain is how good you look in clothes. Sure, I’m still working on the whole not wearing baggy clothes thing (it’s all mental; we’ll talk about that in another post), but I can easily say that getting dressed has become far more enjoyable than it has been in the past. Of course, you know that beginning at age 30, my body and I became besties. I accepted this house in all its glory and that will never change, weight loss or not. But to dress it up in outfits I’m not used to wearing is certainly a treat. That said, I recently realized that even before I embarked on this journey, I had a lot of visual inspirations along the way; women that had transformed before my eyes and looked great and caught my attention. Seriously, I was stalking them on Pinterest and finally figured out why. Here are a few:

America Ferrera.

america america2
Can I tell you, first, how much I adore this actress? I saw her in Real Women have Curves and absolutely thought she was amazing (see it if you haven’t); to me, she was the heart of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (no shame; see it and you’ll agree that it’s a terrific movie); and come on, Ugly Betty. So, being a fan, I certainly noticed a few years ago that the chubby girl on Ugly Betty was chubby no more. She was sleek, elegant, more confident. I remember thinking that I wanted the same thing if I ever slimmed down: still looking entirely like myself, stylish, real. An inspiration, for sure.

Marsha Ambrosius.

Marsha

Oh, Marsha. That hair that gives me life on a daily basis. Anyway. If you don’t know, Marsha is the other half of the soulful duo Floetry and an accomplished solo artist in her own right. Other than drooling over her gorgeous natural curls, what appealed to me was Marsha’s style. I loved how her style seemed to evolve along with her slim-down. Google her and see what I mean. Her sense of style is everything.

Jordin Sparks.

jordin

What I love about Jordin? She talked about her journey. She talked about loving Zumba (and I learned that she took classes with my instructors!), she talked about watching her portions, she discussed the joy of wearing a dress without a bone-crushing instrument holding her together underneath. (Tell us how you really feel, huh, Ms. Square Peg?) I loved her transparency. Each time I saw her photo or happened to read an article about Jordin, I remember noting how impressed I was by her openness. Went a long way with me.

Real Women. There no photos of these women. But to me, they’re far more important than the bold names listed above. Some are my friends. Some are strangers. And yet whether I’ve watched their journeys occur right in front of me or talked to them about it, I have been and continue to be inspired by them. There’s a woman here at the office who, for years, I’ve watched transform before my eyes. When I see her now, I marvel. There are friends who are dedicated and so forthcoming about their continuing journeys to better health. Wholly inspired by them, too, even more so.

So, my dears, if you’re currently on a journey, whatever it is, what’s your inspiration?

Honesty.

You’ve read about my goal to improve my lifestyle. (Herehere, and here.) This afternoon, while the snow falls down yet again in Somewheres, VA, I’m sitting on the couch and reflecting about said goals. Quite simply, I can honestly say that this lifestyle change process has been the most honest I’ve been with myself. What do I mean?

First of all, like most women, I’ve struggled with weight since I was a pre-teen. It’s life. You either struggle with it or you don’t. And I have. I’ve tried everything in combating this struggle. Diet pills, diet shakes, medication prescribed by my doctor, Weight Watchers, the list goes on. It came to a point, I think, when I decided to simply stop trying. I would eat well when I could, and I would exercise when I could. Needless to say, no one saying “when I can” when it comes to eating right and exercising means to find any kind of success. Fatty foods taste great. They are easy to obtain. So, sure, I would go to an aerobics class here and there and find some vegetables, but largely, everything I was doing was still pretty toxic.

But a decision had to be made. My health was spiraling. In the end, I was allowing a quick, fatty bite of food to take over my quality of life. It came to a point when I woke up one day and decided to stop giving these objects rein over my life. I didn’t want to conform to my whims. And I’m the oldest child, so you know the lack of control in these things was kind of killing me, right? (We firsts like control.) Serious changes had to be made. I began the journey.

Three months later, I’m continuing to gain health, not merely lose weight or inches. And I’m doing it my way. That’s where the honesty comes in. There is no conduit to this gaining health. No pills, no shakes, no counting points. It’s all just me. Do I believe that my fellow weight strugglers are somehow not being honest with themselves and their processes if they take pills or shakes or count points? Absolutely not. My point is that those things didn’t work for me. I would never condemn things that work for other people. But for me, I used those things as crutches to continue my toxic behavior. I ate Whoppers whenever I wanted because I knew I would take a pill the next day. You get my drift. Now, I’m simply working hard on my own. Dreaming of big mounds of bread and choosing spinach instead. Watching my portions. Waking up and exercising when every fiber of my being wants to stay in bed. Suffering when I make a bad choice (because this is by no means a perfect process, but it’s very real, very hard, and quite realistically, subject to failure here and there). With the ups and downs, the good and bad, I just feel honest and real with myself.

I told my bestie one evening that I didn’t want this to be a flash in the pan, an impulsive and quixotic quest for health that would be abandoned in a few months or so. Because it’s happened before. I know myself. I get into a groove and then I abandon it. Her advice? Baby steps. And that’s it. I won’t do anything perfectly. But I’ll take these tiny steps as best as I can and one day at a time. Falling down will stink when it happens, but it’s OK, because I will do my very best to get up and move forward. In other words I accept wholeheartedly that I’m a baby again. (My mother will tell you that I never stopped being one.)

So to all of you who are enduring and going through this process day by day: good job, baby.

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