More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

  • What are the defining aesthetic categories of our age?

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/stone-links-beauty-in-our-time/

  • What do Cleopatra and modern women have in common?

http://www.groundreport.com/Health_and_Science/Ancient-Beauty-Secrets-What-Cleopatra-and-the-Mode/2949144

  • Science says beautiful people are more concerned with conformity & self-promotion than tolerance & independence … one person’s response

http://www.thefrisky.com/2012-11-05/science-says-beauty-is-boring-and-what-the-hell-is-beauty-anyway/

  • Voluptuous women are entering the elite spaces of skinny chicks: Vogue

http://www.eonline.com/news/358352/bombshell-beauty-kate-upton-covers-vogue-italia?cmpid=rss-000000-rssfeed-365-topstories&utm_source=eonline&utm_medium=rssfeeds&utm_campaign=rss_topstories

Any more stories to add?  Tweet or comment @Beautyskew

30in30: Put a Pin in it

A friend of mine recently said she loves Pinterest because it makes her feel creative. Mind you, she is not talking about all the cool, creative projects she makes after cruising the site, rather, the act of pinning interesting and creative “someday” projects makes her feel creative. I know how she feels. I created a “30in30” pinboard and have to admit, the mere act of pinning made me feel more positive about my weight loss efforts.

Here is a link to my board for your own inspiration. Pin away!

 

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Karen Propp is an artsy-fartsy digital geek who sees beauty in a different way. She chronicles the pursuit of happiness and  her weight loss project, 30lbs in 30 weeks, in a weekly feature. You can read the introduction here and follow her journey here. You can also follow Karen on twitter @karen_propp.

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30IN30 WEEK 17: If you don’t have anything nice to say…

After noticing that I didn’t post last week, Abby emailed me and asked if I was quitting my 30 in 30 project. She was joking, but not that far form the truth. I wasn’t quitting, but I was failing. What better way to deal with my weight gain than complete denial?

 I was ignoring the problem to avoid feeling bad about it . I quit taking my weight,  quit restricting my calories, and quit trying. I almost convinced myself that my clothes were too tight because the dryer was too hot. And I am not alone. Search “weight gain” and “denial” and you find medical studies and blog posts on the subject.  But I knew, and it felt rotten. It is hard enough to look in the mirror, let alone put my issues into writing.

It’s not that I am entirely unwilling to face facts. I have tried to dissect and analyze why I fail, why I don’t want to talk about it. Do I have trouble taking ownership of my situation? Maybe. Have I take full accountability for my health? Maybe not. But the truth is, I really just don’t want to dwell on the negative. I am just not the boo hoo type and can’t stand hearing someone else do it. I mean, I love my Facebook friends, and I do care if you have a bad day, I just don’t want to read about it. I don’t want to hear you are tired, or hate Mondays. So, just as my mother taught me, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

So, this “failure” I keep referring to is the fact that I now weigh more than I have ever weighed. EVER. And, for the past three weeks, I have not had a job. I could have gone to the gym and cooked healthy meals, but I didn’t. Instead, I treated myself to lunches and dinners with drink(s) and indulged in my more sedentary hobbies. I realize, you can’t succeed without a plan. I am very good about this in other areas of my life. I make lists, schedules, goals. I make rules and think carefully before breaking them. I need to do the same for this.

Today, I spent the day thinking about what that plan is. I start a new job tomorrow, and it is going to be more difficult to find the time to work out and cook. I started by thinking of the questions I need to be able to answer.

  • What kind of exercise will you do? At home or gym? How often?
  • What will you eat? What do you need to buy/prepare in order to eat right?
  • Will you drink? How much and when?

Tonight I will answer these questions and schedule fitness, shopping and cooking the same way I schedule meetings. I will write down my “rules” and hopefully, be reporting next week that I have a clear way forward and am sticking to it. I was off to a good start today with an intense workout.

On another note, I stumbled on a blog of a woman who is charting her own journey to a healthier weight. She is inspiring and a much better writer than myself. I highly recommend checking her out at Skinny Emmie. I commend her for having the guts to be completely open. If she struggles with denial, it doesn’t show. And, she has been able to do something I haven’t – post photos. I always figured I’d show a “before” once I am at my “after,” but I just can’t bring myself to do it now. Go Emmie!

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Karen Propp is an artsy-fartsy digital geek who sees beauty in a different way. She chronicles the pursuit of happiness and  her weight loss project, 30lbs in 30 weeks, in a weekly feature. You can read the introduction here and follow her journey here. You can also follow Karen on twitter @karen_propp.

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30IN30 WEEK 15: I Made a Video!

Week 15: 30lbs in 30 Weeks on @BeautySkew from Karen Propp on Vimeo.

Karen makes her first video post for www.beautyskew.com.

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Karen Propp is an artsy-fartsy digital geek who sees beauty in a different way. She chronicles the pursuit of happiness and  her weight loss project, 30lbs in 30 weeks, in a weekly feature. You can read the introduction here and follow her journey here. You can also follow Karen on twitter @karen_propp.

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30IN30 WEEK 13: The post where I ask a lot of questions

Week 13 of 30lbs in 30 weeks. +2 lbs  // -4lbs total

I almost forgot to post today. It’s not that this isn’t important to me, it’s just that I have so many projects right now. It is hard to prioritize.

The coming month is one I have been eagerly anticipating and dreading for months. I have known for awhile now that my current employment situation would be coming to an end at the end of February. This past year I have been working at a large traditional advertising agency. The job got very stressful and many of the things I like to do for personal and professional development fell very low on the list of priorities. Prior to my entre into the agency world, I was the co-owner of a boutique web development and online marketing firm. I loved what I did, and transitioning to a traditional job was a big and difficult decision.

I now find myself facing another difficult decision. Do I look for full time employment? And if so, what exactly do I want to be doing? Or, do I try to strike out on my own? Obviously, both decisions come with advantages and pitfalls, and neither feels entirely in my control. Will I find the job that is a good fit for my skills and background and will they want me? Can I make enough money quickly enough on my own steam? This is all compounded with certain aspects of my personal life. Are kids in my future? Will I be able to find a good work-life balance? And don’t even get my started on the issues with my dog.

I have been looking forward to March because I have SO many projects and no time. I am working on the job search and my own business ideas concurrently. I have also been looking forward to have time to exercise, go to the doctor, the dentist, have lunch with friends, travel, go to SXSW(!), do my home improvement projects, write letters, make art, genealogy … the list goes on. To be honest, it is the unpredictability of the next few weeks (months?) that is driving me bananas. I feel in a rush to accomplish things, but I am not working with any hard deadlines. I am going to have to be very disciplined about dividing my time and making very clear goals for myself. I have been described as a straight arrow; I just need to know where I am pointing the bow.

The good news is, I should have more time to shop for the right foods. Time to cook and prepare them. And, time to go to the gym.

Anybody out there dealt with a period of unemployment or a major change in their life. Do you have any tips to help keep me focused and give me a little direction?

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Karen Propp is an artsy-fartsy digital geek who sees beauty in a different way. She chronicles the pursuit of happiness and  her weight loss project, 30lbs in 30 weeks, in a weekly feature. You can read the introduction here and follow her journey here. You can also follow Karen on twitter @karen_propp.

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30IN30 WEEK 12: Husbands vs Girlfriends

Week 12 of 30lbs in 30 weeks. – 1.5 lbs  // -6lbs total

My husband, Dave, will kill me for talking about him here, but here goes. I am so excited about my recent weight loss and the steps that got me there. I have lost 6lbs in the past week and a half and 1 1/2 inches around my waist. I know it likely doesn’t show yet, but it feels great. I made the mistake the other day of asking Dave if my stomach looked any smaller. I should have known better. I couldn’t help it. I have always been someone who thrived on praise. I want the gold star. There is a Hallmark commercial out now where different people tell the camera what they need to hear. Mine would be, “Tell me you’re proud of me.”

Well, Dave’s style is much different. He is very cautious. He’s a “don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched” kind of guy. And then after they hatch, he might say, “well let’s see how long they survive” and “don’t get your hopes up, they might not produce eggs.” For him, this isn’t negativity. Rather, he is managing his expectations. This helps him avoid disappointment. It also serves as a motivation for him; that the goal is still something to strive for. In the case of a goal like mine, progress is good, but don’t assume that means that the end is in sight; don’t think you can just coast. So, his response to my question, “Does my stomach look any smaller?” is “You still have a ways to go.” This seemingly insensitive statement is really his way of saying “You go girl! You’re on your way. Keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll get there.”

I know he was telling me he is proud of me, he believes in me, in his own weird way, and I am glad I have his support. It would have been nice to get an “Oh my god, yes! You look amazing,” but I don’t really wish he’d lie and say he sees something he doesn’t. I guess I just wish the change in my size looked as dramatic as the change I feel inside.

Next time I ask that question, it will be to a girlfriend. I know she may be lying, but it will be just what I needed to hear.

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Karen Propp is an artsy-fartsy digital geek who sees beauty in a different way. She chronicles the pursuit of happiness and  her weight loss project, 30lbs in 30 weeks, in a weekly feature. You can read the introduction here and follow her journey here. You can also follow Karen on twitter @karen_propp.

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30IN30 WEEK 11: Make Me Proud!

Week 11 of 30lbs in 30 weeks. – 4.5 lbs

Make me proud - drakeI don’t know if you noticed at the top of this post, but I lost almost 5lbs this week! Actually, I’ve lost almost 5lbs since Sunday! I stepped in the scale Saturday and I’d hit an all time high. I couldn’t believe it. I’d had enough. I sat down and wrote out my menu and shopping list for the next week. I am using The Fat Flush Program, which is a pretty strict and regimented program.

I am only 3 days in and I am already amazed at the results. Not just the weight (which is awesome), but at the things I am learning. One reason I believe this program is working so well for me is because of the rituals. For example, every morning on waking, you are supposed to drink 8oz of hot water with lemon. This may seem trivial, but I find I enjoy making the drink and sitting down to the morning news while I sip away. It has replaced my former ritual of drinking a Diet Coke straight out of bed.

Some things have been easier to give up than others. I have been a Diet Coke addict for years. I really thought this was going to be one of my biggest challenge. Oddly enough, I have not been at all tempted to have a soda. I think in part, drinking soda was habit. I always had a glass at my desk and constantly drank it whenever thirsty. I have never really been a fan of water, but this diet requires you to drink a lot of it. I keep a bottle with me at all times and realized that I do like and that I am drinking a TON of it. I wish I had done that much sooner.

I notice most of my “cravings” are linked to things that are part of my routine. For example, I don’t really think about coffee much except when walking past a Starbucks. I have a sudden and intense urge to go in. I walk on by, and the desire immediately disappears. At night, when I get home and settle in with my dinner, I crave a beer or glass of wine. It has been challenging to avoid these, but again, new routines and rituals have helped. I come home from work and spend most of the night cooking dinner, prepping my meals for the next day and cleaning up the mess I make in the kitchen. By the time I am done, I can easily tell myself that the day is almost over and I can make it without a drink for a couple more hours.

Another thing I have noticed is that it helps to have something to look forward to. If I were to follow the diet to the letter, I am not allowed to eat bread (or any carbs for that matter), sugar, caffeine or alcohol for at least two weeks straight. However, I have certain events in the near future that I can look forward to. Tomorrow, we are going out to dinner with friends. I will allow myself to order from the menu and enjoy a couple glasses of wine. Knowing that I have that treat to look forward to, helps me stick to the diet in the meantime.

Lastly, success is a HUGE motivator. In several areas of my life, I have been feeling some frustration. My career is in transition and it is hard to keep motivated when things don’t seem to be moving in a positive direction. I really needed a win. I feel so proud of myself! Proud of my restraint, my resolve and the results. I really hope next week I will be reporting even more great progress (despite my two planned “cheat” nights).

I am having a BIG party when I hit my 30lbs goal and this is the song I will be making entrance to.

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Karen Propp is an artsy-fartsy digital geek who sees beauty in a different way. She chronicles the pursuit of happiness and  her weight loss project, 30lbs in 30 weeks, in a weekly feature. You can read the introduction here and follow her journey here. You can also follow Karen on twitter @karen_propp.

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30IN30 WEEK 10: Imperfect Pear

Week 10 of 30lbs in 30 weeks. – .1 lbs
Ten weeks into 30lbs in 30 weeks and weight-wise, I am pretty much in the same place I started. Although, I am 10lbs behind on the weight goal, other things are going well. I do feel more energetic and have been prioritizing exercise and wiser eating decisions. Even as I am making bad decisions or just repairing old habits, I am more conscious of what I am doing.
I realize it may be awhile before I hit my goal and in the meantime, I need to work with what I’ve got. Recently, I spent sometime online shopping for new clothes. I want a few things that I feel good in when I go out as well as a couple interview appropriate items. I have a hard time shopping online. It is hard for me to envision what things will look like on me. Especially when they have models so tiny that anything would look good on them. Does this drape-y dress/shirt look as cute in a size 10 or I am going to look like I am wearing a muumuu? One thing I find helpful is knowing your shape. I am a pear.
While looking for clothes with this in mind, I ran into some articles that suggest there is scientific evidence to support the idea that different shapes should approach diet and exercise differently. The bad news is that it can be harder for us pears to lose weight, especially that ugly, dimply fat around our hips. The good news is that we tend to be at a lower risk for many of the health issues an apple shape might encounter.
I have avoided it up to this point, but I feel ready to take on more of a diet and exercise regimen. Diets recommended for pears are low in fat. Some of the recommendations are “clean” diets or “fat flushing” diets. I have a few diets in mind, including The Fat Flush, that I will evaluate this week and report back next week with which one I decide to proceed with.
Have you tried dieting with you shape in mind? I’d love to hear about your experiences and any lessons learned.
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Karen Propp is an artsy-fartsy digital geek who sees beauty in a different way. She chronicles the pursuit of happiness and  her weight loss project, 30lbs in 30 weeks, in a weekly feature. You can read the introduction here and follow her journey here. You can also follow Karen on twitter @karen_propp.
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30in30 Week 9: Shake that Body

Week 9 of 30lbs in 30 weeks. – .5 lbs
I am on a high. THIS is the kind of good feeling that is supposed to come out of this 30in30 experiment. What is the source of this high, you ask? Did I finally make excellent food choices all week? Did I go to the gym everyday? Did I lose a bunch of weight or do some good in the world? No and no.
What I did do was dance. For the past few days I have been coming home from work, pulling up some Zumba on YouTube, and shaking my toosh. I look ridiculous, I can’t do all the moves, and I can’t always keep up, but I am having a blast.
The first day I had a serious case of endorphins. I know we’ve all heard it and I know exercise feels good, but this feeling is truly addictive. It was better than any high I ever got at the gym.
Day 2 I couldn’t wait to get home and hear those Latin beats. I have supplemented the cardio with various arm, ab and leg exercises. It is amazing how much can be found for free on YouTube.

When I started 30in30, I said I didn’t want to lose weight by charting out a restrictive diet and exercise regimen. I wanted to find and do things that make me happy, that feel good, knowing that should lead to a healthier life. This is a great example. I love to move but just don’t like the gym. It is hard to motivate myself to go. The dance is easy. I look forward to it.
I have seen several friends lose weight and find a new obsession with yoga or biking or running or tennis. I believe they were sucessful because they found something they love. Something that becomes part of who they are. I know more that one couch potato transformed into a yoga instructor or marathon runner.
Watch out. In a few months, you just might be watching me Zumba on YouTube. I have to get that booty shake down first.
My lesson for the week:
Forget the prescriptive measures from friends and magazines. Try something new. You just might love it (and it just might work!)
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Karen Propp is an artsy-fartsy digital geek who sees beauty in a different way. She chronicles the pursuit of happiness and  her weight loss project, 30lbs in 30 weeks, in a weekly feature. You can read the introduction here and follow her journey here. You can also follow Karen on twitter @karen_propp.
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30IN30 WEEK 8: Embrace Your Blues

Week 8 of 30lbs in 30 weeks. +1 lbs
It is already another week and time for another post. As you may recall, I was a bit down last week. If pounds lost is the indicator of success or failure, then, so far, 30in30 has been a giant failure.
Negative thinking puts me in a terrible, awful mood and does not engender positive behavior. In fact, there is science behind that (via LifeHacker).

“Some psychologists believe a bad mood originates due to ego depletion.”

Uh – yeah.

“This idea,founded by researcher Roy Baumeister, suggests when people use up their willpower to avoid temptation they drain cognitive resources. In effect, if you’re withholding something, say, food because you’re on a diet, or yelling at someone because they gave you poor customer service, it drains your brain and makes you irritated. Essentially, the harder you push your mind to avoid something, the more likely you are to get irritated.”

Since this is not a cycle I am interested in getting stuck in, I decided to take the advice in the article and “Embrace it” or change it by focusing instead on viewing the triggers through a positive lens. When I set out on this journey, I wanted to find a way to improve my life, get healthier and lose weight, without sacrificing who I am and the things I love.
This past weekend, one of my favorite people in the world came to visit me with her two friends. We hit the town, ate at some great restaurants and drank. It was wonderful to do some female bonding and reconnect with an old friend. Was this worth an extra pound or two? I’d say yes.
Remember my promise last week to “get organized”? Well, I did work on that. One of the efforts was to document everything I put into my body. In order to make it super simple and ensure I would actually do it, I simply snapped a photo with the “Food” app from Evernote. The app automatically records the date and time. I tried to include the packaging and nutrition label in the shot when possible or add a quick description. The goal was less about tracking calories, and more about being conscious about what I ate. I learned two things from the experiment:

  1. I found that I did make better decisions knowing that I would have to document what I ate. The other day I was driving somewhere and I was running late. It was pouring rain and I had not had a chance to eat. I rarely eat fast food, but I was very tempted to go to the golden arches drive through. The only reason I didn’t was because I didn’t want to have to document that I went there. Essentially, it made me think twice about the decisions I was making.
  2. I was less diligent in the evenings. I tend to drink in the evenings (a habit I am trying to curtail) and I can see a direct link between the drinking and the attention I pay to my goals. I eat larger portions, I lose track of what I am eating/drinking, and I even pretend it never happened by not documenting it. Not to mention the tasks that I put off doing and the exercise that never happens.

Rather than dwell on the fact that I missed documenting many items, I am focusing on what I learned. Shining a light on my weaknesses and the areas where my resolve deteriorates is a big step in helping me move forward and re-focus my goals to be more productive.
What I ate this week
To learn more about my project, 30lbs in 30 weeks, follow my weekly posts here.
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Karen Propp is an artsy-fartsy digital geek who sees beauty in a different way. She chronicles the pursuit of happiness and  her weight loss project, 30lbs in 30 weeks, in a weekly feature. You can read the introduction here and follow her journey here. You can also follow Karen on twitter @karen_propp.
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