Friday, January 30, 2009

Casual Friday - Denim Dress

It's been a while since I wore this:
I found this dress about a year and a half ago while on holiday visiting the in-laws. It was around $20 in one of those semi-cheapy stores (Ricki's/Bootlegger) on the clearance rack. I love the cut of it and it goes with tons of stuff, although looking back, I seem to wear it with brown a lot! Can it really be that I haven't worn this since May? Also, in April. Wow, I'm really surprised that it's been that long.

Boots and jewelry:
Mom's 70s choker, and my faux wood/metal necklace wrapped around my wrist 4 times as a bracelet. Love those boots, man!

Dress (Ricki's), cami (not visible, InWear), belt (Aldo), tights (Hue), boots (Miz Mooz), choker (Mom's, vintage), necklace (can't remember), big gold hoop earrings (gift from L).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's Like It's My Birthday...But It's Not

Almost everything in today's outfit is a gift from someone:
Got this new-to-me suede jacket for $7 while on holiday, using my Christmas money from my mother-in-law. I think it might be a bit big to wear over a blouse - it feels like more of a light outdoor jacket for spring. I'll probably wear it as outwear once the weather gets better.

Second wear of the Heather Skirt, a gift from my lovely coworker.

And two Fluevogs in a row? Yes! My "Listen Up" (forgot the model name, some movie star) gladiators, my 41st birthday present to myself last year.
The earrings are a gift from my friend Elaine and the necklace was a handmade gift from my friend Cat.

I didn't even think of that when I picked out today's outfit. How weird is that? People must like me or something, ha!

Jacket (B.U.M. Equipment, thrift, $7.50), blouse (Do & Bee), cami (Esprit), skirt (Suzy Shier, gift from Heather), tights (Hue), shoes (Fluevog), earrings (H&M, gift from Elaine), necklace (handmade, gift from Cat).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Meeting Attire - Mrs. Business

I knew I had a 3+ hour meeting scheduled today with a couple of lawyers from another office. Since they've never met me before in person, I wanted to show a bit of personality but still look very professional and corporate.

Heh, this is my interpretation of business:
Black dress pants, tweedy jacket, pretty satin blouse, and cami. The jacket is new-to-me, picked up on my consignment shop with Mom a few weeks ago. It has purple satin lining!

My kickass shoes:
Are those not the most kickasstastic of shoes? Of course they are. They are my beloved Fluevog "Listen Up, Harlow" shoes, which I have had for about 3 years. They are super comfortable and tres chic.

The necklace is vintage (no marks, though) smoked crystals - a gift from L about 8 years ago.

Bonus picture! An Othello spotting in the corner of the photo pre-cropping:
Mr. Crankypants wants his dinner.

Jacket (Jacob, consignment), blouse (Tristan), sequined cami (Esprit), suit pants (Studio Max), shoes (Fluevog), necklace (gift from L), crystal stud earrings.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I may have mentioned before that I walk to and from work Monday to Thursday...this means that by the time I take my picture, I've had to change out of my work clothes, into my walking clothes, and then back into my work clothes for the photo. It's a bit of a pain - and I really look forward to Friday or special occasions when I have fresh hair and makeup!

If I look a little rumpled, especially in the winter when it's rainy/snowy/windy/freakin' cold, it's because this is what I look like mere minutes before:
Ah! It's Crazy Walking Lady! Believe me, no one messes with me when I'm in transit.

Toque to keep my ears warm, hooded child's snowboard parka with kazillions of pockets, lined weatherproof pants to keep the rain off my legs (and absorb splash from the cars), scarf, gloves, and hoodie and t-shirt underneath it all. Plus, my Zen Creative mp3 player for tunes, and of course, my backpack (complete with reflective stickers so I don't get hit by a car when it's dark out.). The strange bulge on my body is the container from my baby carrots - it is not my boob.

This is what's in the backpack (I've removed my Ginormous Lunch Bag):
Bag o' shoes and bag o' clothes:
The bags are waterproof in case it rains. This is why I try not to buy fabrics that wrinkle.

And here I am, all dressed in today's outfit:
Strangely, my coworker Nicole wore nearly the identical outfit to this yesterday. I don't love this look on me, but I like playing around with the menswear look. Plus, I adore these pants...hmmm, my legs look very muscly in these too.

The accessories & the boot:
I love this necklace, the unevenness of the two sides, the thick chain, the black suede half. I talked a friend into buying it because I loved it so much (and thought it would look great on her), but she never wore it and eventually gave it to me. So nice - thanks, Cindy!

I'm not listing my outerwear brands. If you want to know, ask.

Shirt (Bianca Nygard), vest (Oxmo), pants (Club Monaco, consignment), boots (eh, some cheapy brand), necklace (Nine West, gift from Cindy), crytal stud earrings.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Red and Plaid - Not Feeling It

I was just not feeling this outfit today. Maybe it's the blouse, which is kind of baggy in the midsection. Maybe it's the jacket - too short/too cropped? Maybe it's the skirt, which is sitting lower on the waist and is all wrinkled from sitting all day and looks like it's tight across my muscly (haha) thighs.
Could also be the hose, which snagged like a spiderweb on anything that I looked at. Or the shoes, which are a smidge too big, so I kept stepping out of them.

My Calvin Kleins:
Oooh, ahhhh. A lovely classic black suede pump. These are probably the most boring shoes I own, but I recognize the need to own a Plain Black Pump.
The skirt is new-to-me. I like the red stripe in it.

Jacket (Vero Moda), blouse (Vero Moda), skirt (Jacob, consignment), shoes (Calvin Klein), belt (Bianca Nygard), bracelet (Le Chateau), earrings (Plum), hose (Hue).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Special Occasion - Whisky Fest

Every year since it started, L and I have gone to the Whisky Fest. Dozens and dozens of whiskies from Scotland, Ireland, Canada, the US, and even India and France! And all there for the tasting - yum!

As I'm in the small percentage of women who attend this, I like to glam it up. Hell, why not?
This year, I decided to go with my leopard skirt. It's not really work appropriate, so I don't get the chance to wear it too often. I always keep it simple with a black turtleneck, but thought I'd add some interest with the red tights (to go with my bright red lipstick), brown boots and the faux fur stole, decorated with Grandma J's brooch, of course:
We walked down, so I knew I'd be freezing, and this lovely stole (and the matching faux fur-trimmed gloves) kept me nice and snuggly in the cold weather.

I had many drunken people petting me and purring at me. Haha!

Turtleneck (Smart Set), skirt (Le Chateau, consignment), boots (Roberto Vianni), stole (Parkhurst), tights (Hue), brooch (Grandma J, Pastelli (stamped)), crystal stud earrings.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Casual Friday - Dress & Jeans Virgin No More!

Okay, so I have been reading fashion blogs for a year now, and I've admired people like Jane who wear a dress with jeans. Until now, I've been chicken to do it myself.
I felt so...daring. I found this great dress in a thrift shop while visiting my in-laws a few weeks ago - I know it's a dress (as opposed to a tunic) because I actually used to own this same dress in purple! I bought it new about 10 years ago when I was heavier. I love the rich dark red and the cut and length just seemed right with these jeans.

I felt great in it this look all day and got lots of compliments.

No close-up of the accessories, since I kept them to a dull roar today. Just plain black ankle booties, the groovy necklace and plain white gold hoops.

A little surprise was hiding in the corner of my picture when I went to crop:
Aw! Kitty!
Have a great weekend!

Dress (Le Chateau, thrift, $7.50), jeans (Esprit), booties (Rinaldi), necklace (Caracol), earrings (gift from L).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Old Lady Sunshine

Whenever I wear yellow, I feel happy. After yesterday's dark, I really wanted to be lighter inside as well as outside.

This is such a nice outfit: I love the shape of the cardigan and the little kick-pleat at the back of the skirt. The skirt is a green silk and wood tweed - so warm! And after a long spell of heels, time for some flats:
Well, flats for me - they're a kitten heel. I really love all the details in this outfit: the glitzy shoes (zebra, green piping, crown badge, oh my!), the mink vintage brooch, the leaf-themed charm bracelet, and the vintage cocktail ring.

The ring and the brooch are new, from a consignment store and an antique shop, respectively. When I was about 8, my grandmother gave me an old brooch of hers - it was a mink poodle with a cream velvet body and little black beady eyes. I loved it, it was so soft. But it went through the wash by accident and it was gone. I've never seen another mink brooch since.

This is my noisy bracelet - it chimes and rattles while I walk around the office.

Cardigan (no label, consignment), cami (Esprit), skirt (Precis Petite), shoes (Hale Bob), bracelet (can't remember), earrings (Avon), brooch (vintage, $7.50) and ring (Sarah Coventry, vintage, $20).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fake It Till You Feel It - Little Black Dress

I whacked my shoulder at aikido on Monday night and I slept poorly for the last two nights. All that caught up with me this morning: I was achy, tired and crabby about the whole thing. Seeing as Crankypants McGee was in the house, I did what I always do: I fake it till I feel it.

The best thing to do when you're not on your game is to throw on an easy dress and at look good to the outside world. Change your mood from the outside in, I say! By the end of the day, I felt much better. My shoulder is still stiff, and I'm going to have a nap, but generally I feel like my sunny ol' self again.

One of my "go-to" Bad Day dresses did the trick:
This was my 40th birthday dress - I wore it for my big bash that I had (with silver shoes).

Soft thick jersey, full sleeves, a generous cut (but still with a bit of shape), a great neckline and perfect for showing off footwear and jewelry. So much easier than a cami, a shirt, a jacket, a skirt/pants, hose, shoes and jewelry - that's just too much stuff when you're crabby.

The accessories:
My Shi Studio necklace and earrings that Mom gave me for Christmas this year - the first wearing of them - and my $9.99 green faux croc boots. Some simple fishnets and I am done.


Dress (Max Studio), fishnet tights (Hue), boots (some cheap brand, I don't know), necklace/earrings (Shi Studio).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Odd Sheila

Okay, so I am a little odd - and I'm perfectly fine with that, thank you - but today's post title is just playing off my new skirt, which is by Odd Molly. I've never heard of this brand before - apparently, it's Swedish - but when I saw this skirt in a consignment store last week, I had to have it, especially since it was only $36 (plus 20% off). The white part at the bottom is actually a full lining/underskirt, and the whole thing is silk. The quality is lovely and the pattern is gorgeous.

I pulled colours from the skirt to put the outfit together: navy long-sleeved t-shirt, grey jacket (the white pattern has grey in it), and the white/grey/burgundy/navy of my Christmas shoes.

A close-up of the pattern, and my accessories:
Good golly, Miss Molly, I love those shoes.

One of the necklaces is just a cheapo junker that I bought on sale, but the other one is a vintage 50s crystal necklace (these were de riguer with those little cardigans with the beads, I'm told by my mother-in-law, who generously gave me this several years ago). The earrings are a Christmas gift from my friend Elaine.

Blazer (RW & Co.), shirt (Zara Woman, consignment), skirt (Odd Molly, consignment), shoes (Poetic Licence), white stone/silver necklace (Plum), crystal necklace (stamped "aomi", vintage, gift from MIL).

Special extra: I was "tagged" by Kate at Fatally Blonde to post the 4th picture in the 4th folder:

My paintbrushes that I use for painting my miniatures.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Modern Vintage

I'm gradually working through some of the new (Pre-Resolution and new-to-me) stuff that I've bought in the last month or so. I love taking a single item and building an outfit around it. That's actually my usual method for special occasions: what's the main piece I want to wear? Is it a certain pair of shoes? A particular piece of jewelry?

In this case, it's my new vintage top:
I do love me some shiny! This is probably late 60s or early 70s (metal zipper, lurex thread, the shaping of it) - I got it for about $20 in a vintage shop. It's in excellent condition.

In order to not look like a crazy lady in vintage clothes, I mixed it with a basic black skirt, a long boyfriend cardigan, and some very modern shoes. Add a vintage bracelet and a mixed pearl necklace and voila!

A shot of the back of the top:
I love the mix of colours (red, orange, yellow, pink on the black background) and the "painty" quality of the pattern, which has a nice modern look to it.

The accessories:
The bracelet is Trifari (it's marked), probably from the early 60s - this is another one of my mom's pieces that I nabbed from her jewelry box when I was in high school. Hi, Mom!

I love these old-school labels on vintage clothing:
Hard to tell in the main picture, but I have dark gold and black tights on.
I thought the pattern went well with the shininess of the top and all this black.

Cardigan (no label, consignment), top (Style Rite, vintage), skirt (Kensie), tights (Hue), shoes (JLo), necklace (Plum), bracelet (Trifari, Mom's, vintage), crystal stud earrings.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Special Occasion - Casual Lunch and Dinner

I like to be casual but with a bit of an edge when I go out on the weekend. We usually do lunch out on Saturday, but I generally don't take a picture since it's "just casual". Since we did dinner last night as well as lunch, and I wore the same thing both times, here's the outfit:
I wore this jacket a lot last year, but it's gone by the wayside a bit for work-wear. I love this skirt. Same tights I wore on Friday.

The accessories:
Jacket (Guess), turtleneck (Smart Set), skirt (Kensie, consignment), tights (Mondor), boots (Cougar), ring (Nine West), earrings (don't remember).

Friday, January 16, 2009

It Came From Dress Week - Grey Fog

Just 'cause it was so neat looking, this is the view from my balcony this morning:
I love fog.

How appropriate that I saved my Pre-Resolution purchase for today, my grey dress:
Nabbed it for around $26 on a clearance rack at the Bay - regular over $100. The top part of it has cables. It was so snuggly warm on a chilly day.

The jumping off point for the outfit was the tights; once I had them picked out, accessorizing the rest of it was easy. They're a nice red wine colour, so I pulled both reds and purples out of them for accents. Added the white jacket (new, Pre-Resolution) and the black accessories (both neutrals) to really finish it off. In retrospect, I would have liked the brooch on the hat instead of the coat because you can't see it with the scarf, but I didn't wear either for very long, anyway.
I got a lot of comments on these boots today, I think because I rarely wear them with a skirt. Picked them up at my favourite consignment store about a year ago - I love the cutouts.
A close-up of the jewelry:
And another fog picture - there are usually downtown buildings visible through the trees:
Dress (Mexx), jacket (Jacob), tights (Mondor), scarf (gift from Mom), boots (consignment, Zara), belt (Jacob), brooch and necklace (Plum), earrings (thrifted years ago).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It Came From Dress Week - Rust and Turquoise

Oh, God, I need to not see that Grade 8 picture of me...quickly, put a new post up!

Theme week part 2: It Came From Dress Week returns! All dresses!

This dress is proof why you should disregard sizing labels and just buy what fits you:
That's an XL dress! I've bought fitted dresses by the same brand in a Small. Thank goodness I ignored the size and looked at the dress to see how big it actually was (not very, definitely not an XL, not that there's anything wrong with XL). To really highlight the ridiculousness of sizing, the belt is an XS and the jacket is a Gap size 2 (so, like a Real Size 6, which is what I typically am).

The boots are new (pre-shopping resolution, of course), as is the faux leather belt.

At first I was going to just wear the dress, but when I was planning the outfit last night, I realized I'd freeze if I didn't have a jacket in the office. Brown was okay...meh. But when I decided to go opposite on the colour: wow!
I loooove turquoise/brown/orange together! The springboard for the turquoise (I have a turquoise cami on under the dress as well) was the gorgeous jewelry L got me for Christmas:
Okay, you may have figured out that I'm All About The Details. It's hard to see in the above picture, but if you click on it and look at the earrings, the little ball between the links of the top and bottom half actually has a teeny-tiny peace symbol on it.

Even the backs of the earrings are amazing (the necklace also has a filigree back): they say "Love" in scrolly writing:
A close-up of the belt and boots as well. Are those not fab boots? They were only $69 on sale - real leather! I wanted a pair of brown sort of riding boots, and the next closest boots that I liked were over $300. Glad I kept looking!

Dress (Le Chateau), cami (InWear), jacket (Gap, consignment), belt (Le Chateau), boots (Miz Mooz), jewelry (Lucky Brand, gift from L).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Request #4 - Leigh-Anna - How Did I Transition from Being a Metal-Chick?

Question from Leigh-Anna: How did you transition from a metalhead of yore to the stylish fashionista you are today? What was the catalyst for your change? Do you ever regret changing or wish you could go back?

Short answer: I didn't.

Grade 8 (1980-81).

Nice perm! Big glasses, non-pierced ears, no make-up and dig that plaid shirt. Dude!

Long answer: Firstly, I'll apologize for not having pictures of my metal bad-ass self from way back in the day, but my photo albums are in storage. My lovely annual pictures will have to slake your thirst for old pictures of me.

A bit of background. In the 90s, I lived with a dude who was in a thrash metal band (think Metallica before the black album, very fast, loud metal), so as most people do when they live together, I picked up a lot of his tastes in music. However, as much of a metal chick as I was in my musical tastes, I did not dress like a metal chick.

Grade 9 (1981-82).

Got that nice sausage curl going down either side of my face, and the groovy new aviator glasses. Strange obsession with boucle turtlenecks begins.

You see, I have the smartest mom ever.

When I was about 16 (way back in 1983, oy), I started to experiment with my look. I'd rummage through Mom's (and Dad's) closets for whatever I could wear. This is the period when I snagged a bunch of Mom's jewelry (Hi, Mom!). My mom, seeing that I was about to go all crazy with my clothing, gave me 2 rules:

1. No black nail polish.

2. Never, ever get stuck in a rut. Wear whatever you want, but change it up every day.

Grade 10 (1982-83).

The obsession with boucle turtlenecks continues. Make-up is discovered. Feathered hair is in! Discovering I wanted to be crazy was a breaking point. Schrader was the algebra teacher. Yes, I was into rainbows. And unicorns.

And now that I think of it, I never did wear black nail polish. I dunno, it just doesn't rock my world. I'd rather wear midnight blue or a deep burgundy.

But it was Rule #2 that really hit home for me.

Did I want to be labeled like so many of the other kids? Did I want to be a prep? A stoner? A jock? Hell, which one of "The Breakfast Club" was I?? [Okay, I wanted to be Molly Ringwald, duh, dumb question].

Once I started really playing with my look (oh, how I wish I had some pictures of some of my high school outfits to show you), I realized I could play with how people perceived me. Did I want them to think I was smart? Wear a preppy outfit! Did I want them to think I was a rich eccentric? Wear Mom's fur-trimmed coat with elbow-length gloves and a long skirt (yes, I wore this to high school)!

Grade 11 (high school, 1983-84).

Return of the perm. Contacts are acquired. Rockin' the green ruffled-front cotton blouse (man, that was a pain to iron).

When I figured that out - the whole perceptions thing - then I started to see how I could really have fun messing with people. Do you know how fun it is to be dressed very English Lady in tweed and pumps, and then reveal that you had various fake bodily fluids sprayed on you at a Gwar concert? Oh, the looks you get!

I still like to bring out bits of the headbanger in my clothes: I have a chainmail necklace, a black and silver grommet belt, and a couple of other accessories, but I never did the full-on metal chick in my clothing. It was way more fun to go to gigs and NOT look like everyone else there.
Grade 12 (1984-85).

I discover mousse, and am sporting a double "tail". If I weren't covered up by the stupid grad gown, you'd see some wacky 80s clothes "fer shur!"

I've never dressed to follow fashion - I firmly believe that fashion is there for picking and choosing what looks good on you, to help you develop your own style.

And remember Mom's Rule: Change what you wear every day! Don't get stuck in a rut!



PS - Back to the regular daily wear posts tomorrow! It's been a slice - thanks for all the great questions!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Request #3 - My Shenanigans - How Did I Lose Weight and Manage to Keep it Off?

Question from My Shenanigans: I was wondering how you lost so much weight, but more importantly how you've managed to keep it off.

Short answer: Yeah, right. If I had a short answer, I'd be rich!

Long answer: It was a lot of work.

Two and a half years ago I was close to 200 pounds - on a 5'4" small frame, that is a lot of weight! My dad died at the age of 55 of a heart attack, so I was aware of high cholestrol and heart problems in my family. Dad was an ultra-marathoner (30+ miles per race, up to 100 miles in a go), but he didn't eat properly.

I've always been okay with dressing my body no matter what shape it was (and I was skinny as a kid, but had problems with my weight starting in my 20s). But my poor husband would often find me crying in my closet before a special occasion: I felt horrible in everything I owned, I hated myself for letting me get to this point. I didn't love my body.

June 2006: And believe me, I am sucking in everything possible in this picture (sorry it's fuzzy, I'm taking pictures of pictures). That's a size 14 dress I have squeezed myself into.

A coworker was on Weight Watchers and I watched her lose a couple of pounds each week. I asked her a lot of questions about the program and how workable it was (I'm supremely lazy and unmotivated). I thought, "Gosh, that doesn't seem too bad. I think I could do that."

In August 2006, my work organized a "Weight Watchers at Work" program and I signed up. I bought a treadmill so that I could walk without anyone seeing me (the only workout clothes that fit me were men's). I lost really slowly, never more than 2 pounds in a week, but I stuck to it and I started to notice my clothes were getting large. I was fitting into some of my old clothes!

End of September, 2006:It had been 2 years since I'd fit into this dress! I was ecstatic! That's a size 12! I was starting to feel better about myself, but I still hadn't set a weight goal. My goal was to walk into Dots (a local chain that sells off sample sizes, mostly size 8s) and be able to buy the sample sizes.

By this time, I was going great on the treadmill, but it was So Boring. One day, I wondered how long it would take me to walk to work. I normally took the bus: leave the house at 7:55am, get to work at 8:25am. So I packed my shoes and hoofed it all the way to work. I left at 7:50 and I arrived at...8:30! Only 10 more minutes and I get 40 minutes of exercise? I'm in!

I started walking to work Monday to Thursday (Friday has always been No Exercise Day, because I need a day off), which is my main workout, even now. I get 80+ minutes 4 days a week, then do a 1-hour walk on Saturdays. Sometimes on Sundays I go for a walk, depends. Sometimes I go shopping! That counts as exercise!

Christmas 2006:
I bought this lovely dress in late October - it was the smallest size I could barely zip up: a size 10. By Christmas, as you can see, it was too big. Thank goodness for the straps! I wouldn't have stayed up on its own!

I was feeling pretty good at this weight, a lot more like myself, but I felt like I was not quite there yet. I started thinking about the marathon in October 2007. One of my personal goals had always been "Do a Marathon Before I'm 40". In October 2007, I would turn 40. Could I do it?

February 2007: Valentine's Day, actually. I'm dressed up for night out with my sweetie. I have to say, my husband was my staunchest supported all through this. He never complained about our new dinners (gone were the days of Mac & Cheese, or heavily processed packaged frozen dinners), the salads, the stir-frys. He continuously complimented me, and reminded me why I was losing weight: for myself. He wanted me to be happier, and to feel better about my health.

Anyway, the clothes in the above picture are too big! I was frantically trying to buy cheap and inexpensive clothes to fill the massive holes in my wardrobe. Even dropping from a 16 to a 10 meant that most of my clothes were falling off me. Literally: I was walking to the bus stop one day (on a day when I didn't walk to work), and my skirt fell around my ankles! So embarassing!

Around this time, I decided on my goal weight: I would lose 50 pounds total (okay, I wanted the magnet that WW gave you then).

Late March 2007: My goal weight picture! I felt so amazing...but then, Maintenance! I was in heavy training for the marathon by this time, putting in lots of hours walking and working on my technique (I race-walk). I went into the maintenance phase of WW (yay! More food!) and shopped to fill up my wardrobe. Oh, those were heady days!

October 7, 2007:
It's 5am and I am barely awake, but I did it. I did the marathon. All 26.2 miles of it, and I did it under my goal of 6 hours!

But maintaining my weight is really hard. I stay motivated by going to WW meetings every Saturday morning. It inspires me to see these women (it's mostly women) really wanting to make this change in their lives, and I hope I can inspire them by showing them: yes! You can do it! I did it and you can too! I've dropped another 8-10 pounds since I hit Goal - it varies - and I try to stay around the 60 pounds gone mark. It's where I feel most comfortable...and I still have curves!

I also get weighed every meeting (I don't own a scale), so I know when I need to smarten up and eat more veggies or walk more. I actually lost a pound over Christmas this year.

I'm also motivated clothes! I have all these clothes and I need to stay in them! No more letting the weight creep up on me.

The best thing about losing the weight has been the ripple effect it's had in other areas of my life. If I can put my mind to it and lose 50 pounds AND do a marathon, what else can I do? I now try to do things that challenge me: I joined Toastmasters last year to improve my leadership skills and my public speaking; I took an art class and do a painting drop-in; I just started aikido (oh man, it's hard!). I know there is no limit to what I can do if I really want it.

Advice if you want to lose weight:

- Do it for yourself. Do it because YOU really want to lose weight. Not because your husband/boyfriend wants you to, or because you think you "should." You will have the biggest, longest-lasting success if you do it for you. You need to reach that point where you can put yourself first (for a change, for most of us!) and say, "I deserve this, for myself." That's a huge emotional turning point.

- Whatever system or program you use, make sure it is sustainable in Real Life. You can't keep weight off if you are relying on pre-packaged, processed frozen food. It might work in the short-term, but you are going to have to re-learn how to grocery shop, how to cook, and how to treat food as a fuel, not a comfort or a reward. It is a lifestyle change that you have to make, and you cannot go back to your old life. Sometimes I really miss that...eating whatever I wanted...but then I remember how unhappy I was with myself.

- Exercise. You might be able to lose weight through diet alone, but you won't keep it off if you don't make exercise part of your life. I walked. That's all, just slow walks at first. I still walk. It's still my main exercise. It only requires good running shoes. Whatever exercise you choose, make sure you integrate it into your life; plan it into your day. The more you do it, the better you will feel. I used to deal with depression, mood swings, and insomnia. I still have my moments, but most of that is gone. No medication. Just walking and moving my body.

- Set a goal. Do you want to walk the 10K? Do you want to have the doctor be astonished next time he checks your blood pressure? Spell out your goal and the small steps it will take to get you there. It's got to be concrete (not "I want to be thin") and you have to set mini-goals that are achievable.

- Reward yourself - not with food! Every time I lost 10 pounds, I bought myself a new item of clothing (only shoes for the 1st 30 pounds). Every time I wore them, I said, "These are my 20 pound shoes!" I still have my 50 Pound Dress.

- Don't deprive yourself. If you really want chocolate, have some...a very small bit of the best chocolate you can get. I have not given up a single thing that I used to eat, including Subway, candy, pizza, alcohol, chocolate, chips/crisps. I just don't eat as much as I used to, and I don't eat them as frequently. If you cut a major food group or even a minor food group (like chocolate, ha) out of your diet, you will eventually rebound and overdo it. And then you'll feel like a failure and want to give up. And that's no good.

- Don't beat yourself up. If you are "bad" one day, start fresh the next day. One day isn't going to kill you - but beating yourself up for days, then going back to bad habits, very well might. Every Saturday is my "free day" - I can eat anything I want on Saturday (because I weigh in on Sat morning, then start my WW week on Sunday) and not feel guilty at all. I might have a bottle of wine and a bag of chips! I really look forward to it all week, but I know that as of Sunday, I'm back on track.

It took me a long time to get to the point where I could say truthfully, "I really want to lose weight and keep it off. I want to change my life."

If you want it, do it. Just do it. You deserve it.