Week in Review: 7/15-7/21

Me Practically Melting in This Week's Heat!

A packed (and hot!) week for us…here’s what got us excited:

Why can’t the medical community finally figure out how to help us all get to a healthy weight?! Weekend Observations: Medica Community, What Gives?!

How can you not love a commute like mine when you can walk hrough an outdoor gallery with paintings like this everyday? Pic of the Week: What My Commute Looks Like

Kudos to YouTube celebrity Lauren Luke for her new, powerful campaign Disturbing But Awesome

More great beauty reading pulled from the headlines More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

A bit cooler for our New Yorkers, eh?  Enjoy the weekend!

Weekend Observations: Medical Community, what Gives?!

Within the span of one week, The New York Times published two articles about weight loss.  No matter how you feel politically about the paper, the NY Times isn’t going to publish rubbish.  So when a news article comes out about new scientific evidence regarding weight loss, I sit up and take notice.

According to article number 1: Which Diet Works by Mark Bitton, evidence shows that a calorie isn’t JUST a calorie; and that calories from highly processed carbohydrates are WORSE than others because they lead us to retain fat.  Got it.  Stop eating lots of bread, taters and sugary cereals.

But don’t start spring cleaning your cupboards for starchy foods just yet.

A few days later, the same publication published an article refuting this!  According to Dr. Jules Hirsch of the Rockefeller University, a calorie is just that: a calorie (In Dieting, Magic Isn’t A Substitute for Science).  Hirsch says: “To lower fat content — reduce obesity — one must reduce calories taken in, or increase the output by increasing activity, or both. This is true whether calories come from pumpkins or peanuts or pâté de foie gras.”  Oh well.  No magic bullet.

It’s frustrating.  It feels like we’re all being sold snake oil.

Good thing my father, Dr. Gerald Kolodny, and his colleagues are going in a whole new direction.  Rather than focusing on eating and food, he is discovering ways to change our physiology by triggering brown fat (for a more comprehensive explanation, see our post from a year ago, You May Never Be Fat Again Thanks to My Dad!).

While my dad’s research is being ironed out, I still think we can benefit from all the different diet debates.  How? First, if you believe the human body can be affected by what we DO and what THINK (mindfulness ring a bell?) than the the diet we BELIEVE makes a difference may actually be somewhat more beneficial to us.  Second, if certain diets “work” for us and others don’t — either because we don’t care for bread or just don’t like meat — than go for it, regardless of the scientific/medical jostling that goes on.

Or maybe we should just stop worrying and take a nice long jog!


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!



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.


Weekend Observations: Who Are We Trying to Look Good For Anyway?

Whenever I read in some magazine or blog, “I like to look good for myself” or “I don’t subscribe to one look or another, I don’t care what anyone else thinks” I have to call “bullshit.”

OK, maybe not all of us are slaves to trends or others’ views of us, but if any of you have taken a social science course in college, you’d know that we’re ALL a product of the surroundings/culture in which we were raised, including how we think; our perceptions of right and wrong; our beliefs, and, yes, even our notions of beauty.  When we get up in the morning, get dressed, primp ourselves and spritz some scent on our skin, we’re subscribing to some socially accepted views of what it means to look right for the world outside. We do have the ability to choose one look over another, so, in that sense, we have some agency.

“What’s with the diatribe?”  you may be asking.  Well, the holidays are over and my marathon travels are due to cease soon, which means I’m about to return to some sense of normalcy.  And that means it’s time to get back into “fighting shape.”  For me, “fighting shape” translates to being a good 10 lbs less.

Interestingly, though, my husband kind of likes my body the way it is.  With extra pounds I have a bigger booty and boobs (along with cellulite and a muffin top, but he chooses to ignore those 🙂 ).  He doesn’t mind me a bit thinner but can’t stand the “Madonna look” i.e. scrawny and overly muscular — a look common with 40+ how-powered, intense NYC women.

I, however, think I look better thinner.  My clothes drape nicely, my face looks more structured, and my legs look more defined.  Also, I can admit it, I’m a product of our “thin-is-in” culture.   Sure, I could say, “who cares what anyone else thinks, it’s all about what I want.”  But what I want is to appeal to others — my husband and my “world.”

I’m betwixt between.  Perhaps I’ll compromise.  8 lbs instead 10?


Week in Review: 3/25-3/31

My Mom!

Let’s review all the juicy beauty discussions we had this week:

Come on Hollywood, the beauties of the silver screen don’t get uglier as they age! Weekend Observations: They Don’t Get Uglier

When objects of death become sculptures of beauty Pic of the Week: Beauty Created from Objects of Death

Karen has a new gig …yay!  But its been tough for her to post so we’ll hear from her another week.

To read or not to read?  That is the question.  What do we do with Fairy Tales and our girls? Should we Ban Fairy Tales?  Our Perspective

Check out more perspective on beauty More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

Happy Birthday mommy!

Weekend Observations: Getting into My Groove

It’s been 3 months since I started my new job and a change has washed over me.

On the positive side, I’m starting to get into my groove at work.  While I still feel new (i.e., trying to get the hang of certain technologies, processes and people), I don’t feel as in-over-my-head as I had at the outset.

On the negative side, I have the time to sit back and take a long hard look at myself, and I’m not happy with what I see.  While I refuse to step on the scale (out of fear, not for some “philosophical” reason), I know I’ve gained a bit (well, more than a bit) of weight.  I’m also not sleeping enough so I ALWAYS look tired.  And, to top it off, I’m doing that dang Retin-A program so my skin looks scaly.  As I said to my husband today, “I feel downright ugly.”

Why have I gained so much weight so quickly?  Well, not only do I have amazing free meals as a perk, but our mini kitchens in the office are always stocked with TONS of goodies.  And boy do I partake!

But there’s something else going on here too.  Feeling overwhelmed and a bit out of control at work, distracts me from caring too much about how and what I eat.  I’m more concerned with my work than my body.

Last year I wrote a post all about the notion that our bodies are a reflection of our emotional health.  That is, when we feel like shit our bodies tend to look it too.  I’m living that now!

But, the good news is that at the 3 month mark, this realization of my body’s changes has made me take control again.  I’m trying my best not to eat the snacks (or at least fewer of them 🙂 ) and trying to stay away from the types of foods I like to eat when I’m stressed.

It’s going to take a lot of willpower to keep this up but I feel good that I have regained a sense of control in both my professional and beauty lives.

So Karen, you have a partner in crime now!

Oh, yeah, and it helps to know that I’ll be in Cannes mid-June to motivate me further 😉

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.
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.

Week in Review: 1/1-1/7

Need to Bundle Up These Days

Ah, we survived the first week of 2012.  So what did we discuss on Beautyskew?  Take a look…
I shared all the beautiful reinventing my family and I experienced over the course of the year Weekend Observations: The Beauty of Reinvention
Adding to the list of creepy but beautiful art exhibits that I admire, our Pic of the Week shared photos of Susie MacMurrays’ weird but cool show of art made from mundane objects Pic of the Week: An Eerie Look at the Human Condition
Karen shares her progress in week 6 of her 30 week weight loss plan, and urges herself to turn her good intentions into action in 30in30: Showing Up
Is it bad taste for head hunters to encourage their candidates to make over their appearance along with their resumes? Should Make-Overs Be Encouraged Before Job Interviews?
Add to your weekend reading list with these fascinating beauty-in-culture stories we found this week  More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

Have a fantastic weekend!