Wardrobe Planning Part Two: How I Sorted My Color Palette with David Zyla

This post is part wardrobe analysis, and part book review.   Please note, I do not receive any compensation for this review, monetary or otherwise.

Last December, I found this wonderful book, Color Your Style:   How To Wear Your True Colors.     I first learned about this book in a FB style group I belong to.   People were posting pictures of their personalized color palettes, and the results were incredible.

I bought a digital copy the day after Christmas, and pored over it obsessively.   To call this book a game-changer, is an understatement.     David Zyla has put together a system that allows you to identify your best wardrobe and makeup colors, based on the color palette that is your own self:  the colors in your wrist, your hand, your eyes, and your natural haircolors.

For the past year, I've been working through this book.   It is still a work in-progress.   Here is what I have accomplished so far:

Here is an unretouched photo, taken by Erik Bello.  I am wearing my dramatic + energy colors, with black underneath.

I have warm undertones, and warm blue eyes.   
Working through the book, I identified myself as a "Tawny Spring".   Amy Adams, Ginger Rogers, and Carol Burnett are considered Tawny Springs, in the Zyla system.

There are eight 'true colors' that we all have in our bodies.   These are mine:

1)  My Essence Color: taken from the palm of my hand, include blush pinks, light coral pinks and peaches, pale golden pink-beiges, pinky-pearls and creamy whites.   Seashell colors.   I like all of these colors, but I've found I generally wear them as tops or accessories

Blush, Pink, pale peach

2)  My Romantic Color:   Also taken from the palm of the hand and pinching my fingertips:  darker coral-pinks, sour red wine colors, and bright clear reds.   I found, over the course of the year, that I look flushed and feverish - but not in a sexy way - when I wear darker coral pinks.   However, a bright clear red, or a sour wine color really resonates with me.

Romantic ColorRomantic Color:  Clear Red

3)  My Dramatic Color:   Taken from the veins inside my wrists.   My veins are green-based, and my dramatic shades include peacock green, teal green, and dark turquoise.   I've found that my preference in this category, is on the brighter end of this spectrum - where the color looks as if direct sunlight is striking it.

I've noticed that what I consider my 'energy' colors, also appears in my dramatic color.  I haven't quite sorted out how that works, except that I know I feel calmer and more centered in my energy color.


4)  Energy Color:  This is taken from the color in the darkest part of my iris (not the ring).   The color that I keep returning to, has been a light-to-mid aqua blue or green, depending on the amount of light around me, and possibly mood.

Energy ColorSilvery blue + pale aqua

5)  Tranquil Color:   This is taken from the lightest part of my iris, closest to the pupil.  I found two distinct color families here:  a tawny gold color, and a distinctly copper-orange color.   I've had a difficult time pinning down the tawny gold color.   I find that trying on peachy corals and light tangerine colors seem to fit the bill, although I haven't found any clothing items that have wowed me in these shades.

Poppy, tawny spring/ the maverick

 6) First Base (Formal; my version of 'black'):  This was taken from the darkest color in the ring around my eyes.   I'm still working on this, because I notice that green-based navy blue, gunmetal blue, and dark teal all seem represented in my iris ring.

Black with peacock, blueOxford navy blue Jeweltone Summer base color

7) Second Base (Less Formal, my version of 'brown'):  This is taken from the darkest color of my hair or eyebrows.   I found two colors here:  black, and a very dark brown that is almost black.
Base Two: My "brown"Base Two: My "brown"

8)  Third Base (my version of 'khaki'):   Taken from the lightest color of my hair or eyebrows.   This was a delightful surprise to me - I have a good bit of grey in varying shades.   I thought my lightest and brightest grey was the silver-white that I see.  As it turns out, I have silvery-white, and the fairest gold color in my grey.    For neutral clothes, I would tend to pick either bright white, or pale gold or tan.   And pale silvery or golden metallics for tops.

gray and bronzeTranquil Color

As you go through the book, Zyla explains the best psychological contexts in which to wear your true colors.   It's really fascinating - and it's proven very accurate for me, so far.   I've noticed I can tweak how people respond to me, based on the colors I choose.  It's a very powerful thing.

I want to wrap this up with some headshot photos I had taken recently.   These are mostly untouched photos.   I selected the colors I wore, based on the research I've done with this book. 

Photo compliments of Erik Bello.

Photo compliments of Erik Bello.

Anyway, I encourage you to check out this book.   The Kindle edition on Amazon is $4.99 as of this writing.    Again, I receive no compensation for saying this - I just truly believe this is a book that is worth your time!

Wardrobe Planning, Part One: Planning For Climate....

....or, Why I'm Skipping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale...

Recently, a chance remark made me re-assess my wardrobe...   

An online acquaintance commented that, while she lives in the South, which is warm most of the year, she is always buying clothing for cooler climates.   The result is that she has a lot of clothing, but nothing to wear.

Mind = BLOWN.   I do this.

I buy suede shoes and fabric handbags - unless there is a drought, 100% of my life is spent places with heavy rain or snow.   It is above 65F most of the year, but I have more black wool jackets and leather bombers than I can count.   I don't work in a corporate environment, but I have business suits.   I have a collection of leather skirts that would make a stylish Domme sigh in admiration.

And then there is special-occasion wear - but that's a conversation for another day.   

Today, I want to talk about how climate and weather affect my wardrobe planning.  

Last Christmas, our holiday travels took us from Toronto to South Florida.   The two climates could not have been any different, but the feeling was the same:   I was disappointed with what I was wearing.  At a very festive time of year, I didn't feel very festive.   I didn't feel cute, sleek, elegant, sophisticated, or dapper, all of which I aspire to. 

I felt bland and invisible.

What went wrong?   Well... my closet and my choices did not reflect my needs.  I did not take into account climate, weather, or the wisdom of tried-and-true.

In Toronto...

Instead of sticking to my beloved black-based palette, which always makes me feel sleek and elegant, I decided to lighten things up.   I packed uninspiring neutrals, mostly grays and browns, to wear with my dark blue jeans.   I included pops of cobalt, which I have since realized is a washout color for me.

Lesson #1:  stick to the script, and wear what you already know works for you.

I also realized, that, despite having a lot of "fall" clothes... I do not have good outerwear for very cold, snowy city weather.   Sure, my fur-lined bomber is toasty-warm, and adorable in Atlanta when it's 20F out, but it rides up and shifts around when dragging a suitcase and carry-on through snow.   

I also packed one pair of boots, some ballerina flats, and a pair of high-heeled pumps.   Guess what I wore the entire, snowy-slushy week?   That's right, just the boots.   Which I quickly tired of, and didn't really like with skirts.

Lessons #2:  Don't be unrealistic in your choices.   Four-inch heels in snow?   No no no.  

Lesson #3:  Try on and photograph your outfits before you pack, so that you know your shoes will go with your outfits.

Another mistake: packing a lot of heavy turtleneck sweaters, aka, 'crumbcatchers'.   I dislike most turtlenecks, and I don't wear them very often.   I prefer just about any other neckline.   If my neck is cold, I add a scarf.   The turtlenecks fit under the shifting furry jacket, but overall, I felt bulky and somehow stifled.

Lesson #4  Why would you pack a bunch of something that you already know you dislike?  PACK THE STUFF YOU LIKE.

We don't go to Toronto every Christmas season, but I noticed we have wound up there four times in the past five years, and we're usually there 7-10 days.  

And then... Florida....

We had a one-day stopover home, between Toronto and Florida.   Go figure, I packed a lot of black - because I had missed it in Toronto.   I didn't pack shorts.   One pair of shorts (non-black) would have made all the difference.   I've been back to Florida a couple of times since Christmas, and I realized that a black t-shirt + any other color skirt or shorts = me feeling very happy.  Same with black shorts paired with a white or color top.

I have been down to Florida five times in less than a year, and I'm planning another visit soon.    My visits are usually 7-10 days, before my family drives me nuts.  (Just kidding, family!  I love you guys!)

January-July in the South

It was cold in January-February, but never as cold as Toronto, and no snow.   I got to wear my 'cool-weather' clothes, but there simply weren't enough days and occasions to wear everything I have.  Most weekdays this year, I have had dance class, acting class (requiring physical movement), or rehearsals for a show, which means that button-down blouses, delicate silks, tailored clothing, and brocade jackets are kind of pointless.   By mid-March, I had switched to lightweight zip cardigans as outerwear, skinny jeans and ponte stretch pants, and stretch skirts.

Around Memorial Day Weekend, all layers were gone.   My wardrobe is lightweight top + lightweight bottom + Shoes That Don't Make My Feet Feel Hot.

What I need:

  • A Very Cold/Snowy Weather Capsule Wardrobe for 7-10 days
  • A Very Hot & Humid Weather Capsule Wardrobe for 30 days
  • A Seasonless Wardrobe that allows for eight months of temperate weather, and three months of cool weather.

What I don't need anymore of:

  • Fall jackets
  • Suede Anything (it rains or snows regularly everywhere I go)
  • Fabric bags or Shoes (see the previous)
  • Half-way shoes - i.e., booties, or shooties.  If it's warm enough for shooties, it's too hot for shooties.  And I would rather wear pumps than booties.
This is why I'm skipping the NAS - I have more than enough 'fall' clothes.   I need clothing for High Summer.

My Cold-Weather Capsule Checklist:

  • Allows for 7-10 days in snow and slush, at temperatures from below zero F, to the teens
  • Makes me feel sleek and fabulous
  • Includes a longer winter coat
  • Includes a pair of low-heeled dressy leather boots that look great with skirts and dresses 
  • Includes slim-fitting underwear and layering tops that aren't bulky and fit closely to the body
  • Lined leather gloves
  • Warm hat
  • Soft scarves

My Hot & Humid Weather Capsule Checklist:

  • Several pairs of shorts in black, white, and tan.   Cotton and linen are preferred
  • Basic short-sleeve tees that fit closely to the body without being too clingy.   In black, I like cotton, viscose, or linen-blend.   In white, viscose or cotton.
  • Slim-fitting skirts in black, denim, or khaki
  • Makes me feel sleek, cool, and happy.  And not over-exposed.
  • Wedge sandals in nude, beige, or light-brown leather, that can be dressy-casual with skirts, or very casual with shorts
  • Shoes That Don't Make My Feet Feel Hot.   My litmus test is EPCOT.   If I can wear the same shoes all day at EPCOT without whimpering, they're summer keepers.

In summary, I have most of the things on these checklists already.   There are some things I anticipate I will be refreshing every year:  shoes for the hot and cold capsules, and tees and shorts for the hot weather capsule.

For the rest, I am going to experiment with a no-shop until Labor Day Weekend, and see where it gets me.

So on to you... do you plan your wardrobe according to your climate?  

Learning the Charleston, or, How I Work With a Dance Tutorial

I'm currently in rehearsal for Agape Player's production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie", which opens at the end of this month.

In the show, I play two roles:   Miss Flannery, the grouchy office manager, and a 20's flapper in the ensemble.  I whimsically decided to name my flapper character 'Buffy Vanderslut' (pronounced van-dehr-SLOOT).

I am in several dance numbers.  My process in all of the choreography is that I break it down, and practice in chunks.   I work on hitting my marks and poses, I work on having relaxed and fluid arms.   I came to dance later in life, so I try not to leave anything to chance, or improv - because when I do, my dancing looks very weak.  

In the title song, Thoroughly Modern Millie, I've spent a lot of time cleaning up my movement, and trying to work in that 1920s devil-may-care, Jazz-Age attitude.    In this number, we do a Charleston step.   It's not for very long - maybe four bars.   But watching other cast members, I quickly realized, there are Charleston steps, and there are The Charleston Steps.

I really want to do a proper Charleston.   So, I searched on YouTube, and found several great tutorials, but this is the one I keep referring back to...

The thing is, it's only a couple of minutes long.   How do you learn and drill a dance step to a tempo that is faster than a tutorial?   This is my current break-down, to learn and practice...

1.  After I stretch, I watch the video a couple of times and mark the movements.   The first time, I just watch.   The next few times, I try to mark just the feet.  By 'mark', I mean, I just sort of imitate the movement.   I do this a couple of times.   Then I watch the video a couple more times, and try to mark the arm placement.    This usually takes me about 5-8 minutes.

2.   Then I break this video down into chunks.  

00 - 0:44    This is the basic step.    I spend maybe 5-6 minutes on this part of the video.   I do the movement along with the video, then I pause it, do the step repetitively on my own, a few times, and add the arms, which are pretty simple.   Then I do the movement with the video again, making sure the arms are correct.   I also practice keeping my head up, looking through the wall, and smiling, so that I can connect with the audience when we actually perform.

0:45-1:13   This is the swivel movement that I'm trying to work into the steps.   I do the movement along with the video, then pause, and drill the swivels for maybe 5 minutes, stopping for periodic calf stretches.   Then I move on to the next part... which is where the real struggle begins.

1:14-1:22    This eight seconds requires more time and effort than the previous two chunks put together.   I try to mark the movement with the video, then I pause and drill.   I usually get progressively worse over the course of 3-4 minutes, and when that happens, I intersperse the movement in the previous segment (just the swivels), with this movement (one leg moving up and down)

1:24-1:27   This is seriously the mindf*ck part for me.   I work this into the previous drill:  swivels for 16 counts; switch to right leg for 8 counts, switch to left leg for 8 counts, and then this segment, which I find hideously tricksy, switching back and forth between the right and left legs.

1:28-2:38    The rest of the video...   I am still working through this.   I cannot do it up to the tempo she does it at (which I think is slower than the tempo for the show).    How I am working on/will eventually work on these movements:

Do a basic Charleston (as seen at the beginning of the video) for 16 counts
Do swivels for 16 counts
Do same-leg swivels for 16 counts
Do alternating leg swivels for 16 counts
Do a basic Charleston again
Work the swivel into the basic Charleston.

Repeat all of the above, adding the arm movements.

Once I get the step consistently, I will work with a metronome, using the advance-two-speeds, lower-one speed method.

I am finding that for this particular dance, 30 minutes of practice is about my limit, before my hips flexors tell me to go find something else to work on. 

At this writing (three days into the learning process), I can do the footwork, but not fast, and not for more than about 16 counts.   I only need about 16 counts, but I want to build up to 64 counts of really solid, stylish, swivelling Charleston, so that the stamina is there.

So... that's how I learn dance steps, using video references.

How I Improve A Skillset

Photo compliments of Calo Gitano Flamenco Academy
JC went golfing on the Fourth of July.  I asked how it went.   “Gee got frustrated, and left early”.

I was very surprised at this – not at the frustration - I know our friend is often frustrated – but that he left the course, before he had even finished the front nine.   JC and his friends love to golf; they live for the times they spend out there on the greens. 

Gee has taken lessons with a pro, and he's upgraded his gear.  When they play, he constantly tries new things, to figure out how to improve his game.   JC says that his game has actually gotten worse.

To love something that much, and to feel like you’re not getting anywhere with it, is one of the worst feelings in the world.

I can certainly relate.

See that picture above?  It was taken last month, at the end of a Bata da Cola flamenco class I’m taking this summer.   I’m the red-headed woman on the right.   See my expression?   Perhaps it looks determined to you, but actually, I was very angry and frustrated with myself.

The Bata da Cola skirt is very heavy and unwieldy, with a long train.   The dancer flips the skirt around gracefully around herself as she dances.   There are too many niceties and technical points to outline here – suffice to say, this requires doing the most awkward rond de jambes in attitude, while keeping your foot flexed at bizarre angles, so that you can catch the ruffled underlayers at the right point, to successfully bring the skirt around, without catching your foot in layers of fabric, tripping, or slipping.    It's hard on the hip flexors, to the point of exhaustion.    And that's not adding in the arm movements, the floreos of the hands, and body positions.

After every class, I’ve been furious with my failure to consistently get these movements - usually to the point of tears.   It was only recently that I realized that I was not putting in adequate work, outside of class.   

My process for improving a skillset:

This is the process that I use, to learn and practice, in order to perform - as an actor, a dancer, or a musician.  I think this process could be adapted for just about anything - studying, learning a language, playing a sport.   

1.  I assemble my tools.   For dance:  dance shoes, practice clothing, a metronome,  videos I’ve taken in class or at rehearsal.  I also scour YouTube for tutorial ideas.    For music:  the score, a recording if possible, a metronome, and a sharp pencil with a clean eraser.  For acting:  the script, a folding chair, a table, and a pencil.

I always have a timer, and I work in 15-minute increments.

2.       I do a warm-up.   For dance:  stretching.   For acting:  relaxation and sense memory exercises.   For music:  vocal or piano exercises.   Whatever the activity, I warm-up for 15-30 minutes, which helps get my mind 'right'.

3.   I break down what I want to learn, into manageable 'chunks'.   I set my timer for 15 minutes.   I divide music into 32- or 64-bar passages.   If I’m singing, I learn the melody and rhythm first, then add in the lyrics.  For piano, I might even work one hand at a time.   I find the lowest common denominator of the dance step or choreography I’m working on, and gradually build on that I learn the monologue in chunks.  

4.  When the timer goes off, I move on to the next chunk of material, even if the previous chunk isn't perfect.   Alternatively... if I have gone through all of the chunks, I start over, doing clean-up and adding to what I've learned.

5.  I work for 45 minutes, followed by a 15-minute break.   This is so important.   It keeps me sane, and it keeps me from hitting a point where nothing makes sense anymore.

If I reach the “this makes no sense” point early, I revert to an easier form of what I’m working on, and try to break down the material into simpler terms, until that 15 minutes is up.   Then I move on to the next chunk.

 6.   For metronome work (dance and piano).... I start on a slow setting and make sure I can correctly execute the material three or four times.  I drill individual passages, and I try to sweep through the entire chunk of material, as a whole.   Then I advance the metronome two markings, and try to do it at the elevated tempo three or four times.   If you try this, expect to blunder here - you're just training the body and the brain to react more quickly.  Then I lower the metronome speed by one marking.

I keep doing this:  up two, down one, until I reach a tempo that is a little faster than the speed I want to perform at.

Some general thoughts about improving at any skill:

 You have to accept being uncomfortable, mentally or physically.   Don't let this discourage you - being uncomfortable is how you improve and grow.   Caveat:  if you are experiencing actual physical pain, STOP AND RE-ASSESS WHAT YOU ARE DOING.

A good teacher or coach can make all the difference in the world.   Find someone whose work you greatly admire, and ask them who they study with.   Or if they teach!   Or look online, read reviews, try and find videos of performers who have used a particular teacher or coach.

Remember that your teacher or coach can only guide you so far.   You have to put in the work.  

Also realize… you may eventually outgrow your teacher or coach, or you may find that they’re not the right fit.   Give it a fair shake – but if you’re putting in the work, and you’re not seeing improvement in three months, it may be time to find a new instructor.

*Gee is not our friend's real name, obvs.

My Weekend, In Shoes

(This post did not get published Monday as planned, for want of a cable.)  

Here is how I spent this past weekend...

Friday and Saturday...

Friday:  Black Ferragamo Boots.  
Saturday:  Ferragamo "My Muse" in New Bisque, and Begona Cervera "Barroco" Flamenco Shoes.    Black Crossbody by Tod's

Saturday Night:

Saturday Night:   We went to see Dita von Teese at the Tabernacle!

Naturally, I wore my Louboutins, as an homage to the Goddess of Burlesque!   Patent leather bag by Orla Kiely.

The show was fabulous!


Sunday Brunch!  Vintage Gianni Versace boots, and a fun little vintage Bosca bag.

I keep saying I want to buy the One Bag To Rule Them All, but I haven't found it yet.

This is probably 1/8 of my current shoe wardrobe, including dance shoes.

The nails in the flamenco shoes.   

A Day In The Life - The Dentist.

Recently, an old filling came out of a back tooth, and the Kraken was released...   
I girded my loins for a root canal.  

Happily, my dentist discerned that re-doing the filling would (hopefully) take care of the pain, and that (hopefully) a root canal was altogether unnecessary (for now).  

My guy is a genius.   Some artists paint, some sculpt in clay.   His medium is assorted clove-scented polymers and space-age tools, used to craft air-tight fillings and crowns resembling real, beautiful teeth. 

Here is my normal dental procedure:  I sit in the chair, and am administered 7-13 shots of novacaine before the tooth is numb.   The actual number is determined by trial and error... 

"<tapping>  Do you feel this?  No?  Good."  <drilling commences>

<after about 8 seconds>  "I CAN FEEL IT."   These words are accompanied by a body arc normally indicative of demonic possession.     The drill is set down, and the needlegun o' magic makes a reappearance. 

Lather, rinse, repeat.

This is how dental work has been handled my entire adult life, spanning several decades, and both sides of the globe.  It works.  For that reason, I never ask them to deviate from the script.

Today, lauging gas - nitrous oxide - re-entered the anesthetic equation.  

My previous history with nitrous oxide:   I breathe it in.   The procedure is done.   An hour later, I start barfing.   The barfing ends anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours after that.   

On occasion, I am (still) reminded that my mom had to trade in a new car when I was in tenth grade, thanks to nitrous oxide.   I am in my mid-forties now, and the Chrysler-Barfgate scandal just. won't. go. away.

On one memorable occasion, nitrous oxide made me see imaginary people dancing on the ceiling.

So when that dainty little mask came out today, I explained (argued, pled) my barfing situation.  My implacable dentist noted this happens when someone administers too high a dosage.   There would still be novacaine, just a lot less.  

He somehow sold me on this idea.   My breakfast smoothie was a banana and three eggs.  I figured if that was going to come back up, it wouldn't burn too badly.   So I agreed.

I put on my Beatles playlist, and the little clear mask was slipped over my face.  

Eight bars into "Here Comes the Sun", I could feel the tension in my legs and shoulders giving way.

At sixteen bars, I experienced a momentary panic as the dentist and the tech stepped out.   What if I couldn't tell them that the gas was too much? 

I mean, what if THIS happens?

By eighteen bars into the song, I was drumming along with Ringo, my fingers tapping on the arms of the chair.   I realized I miss playing drums.   I remembered my old pair of ProMark hickory 5AL Ringo Starr drumsticks that I used when I was learning to play.   I still have them.  I had a moment of indulgent nostalgia about using those sticks.

About two seconds after drum-nostalgia, I noticed the TV.   They have them in every room, to distract the patients.   I gazed, rapt, at what was obviously a slow news day.   Nitrous oxide gives you the most delightful ADD.   You're aware that your attention span is short, and you don't care.   It's funny.  It's fun. 

This must be what a golden lab feels like every. single. day.

My legs, abs and shoulder muscles - where I carry most of my tension - all felt incredibly relaxed.

The next song - "Come Together" - cued up, and we were off.   Shots were administered, stuff was drilled.   A smell not unlike burning hair and metal filled the air.   I kept my eyes closed for the most part, just grooving, "one thing I can tell you is you got to be free"....  When I opened my eyes, I could see smoky clouds coming out of my mouth.   I didn't care.

At some point I was amused to see an ad on TV, for a different dentist, while I was at this dentist's office.   I wanted to laugh, but couldn't, as my mouth was full of equipment.

"Blackbird" came and went, fleeting and swift, as it always is.   The next song - "A Little Help From My Friends" was just starting, when the procedure was finished.   The mask came off.   I turned off the music, stashed phone and earbuds in my bag.   The over-relaxation went away.   I was aware of lingering silliness, but managed to keep it to myself.

By the time I got downstairs to my car, all systems were back to normal.   Gravity returned.   All my everyday muscle tension restored.  Ten minutes into my drive, the little bit of novacaine in my face wore off.   My jaw and gums feel tender, but the pain is mostly gone.

Fingers crossed.

"Here Comes The Sun" is on my must-learn, music-bucket list.

ETA:  Twelve hours after this procedure, I am happy to say there has been no barfing.   In case you wondered.

Whole30: The Halfway Point

Please note that I receive no compensation, monetary or otherwise, from Whole30 or any affiliates. 

I had intended to check in here every few days, but a few things happened...

1)   Thinking about Whole30 is wearying after awhile.   I think about what I'm going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.   I think about the shopping I need to do.   I think about how on Earth I'm going to locate those three elusive ingredients that I can't seem to locate across a variety of stores - without paying $$$ ordering online.  (Those three ingredients rotate.   One thing is located, then I need something else.  It's always something that is key to an entire meal, OF COURSE).

I think about how I'm going to socialize with friends, without being seriously tempted to stray off this plan.  

2)   I'm pretty sure everyone around me is sick of hearing me talk about Whole30.

3)   Also, I'm tired of thinking constantly about Whole30.   Did I mention that?

Happily, Whole30 is becoming more habitual for me.  It's becoming more automatic, and I worry about it less - thank goodness!

Today is Day 17 - I am more than halfway through my experiment!   I feel like I'm in a good place with everything.

Here are the things I have experienced in the past two weeks, since my last post:

  • My sleep is so much better.   I fall asleep easily, and I wake up more easily than I used to. 
  • My skin is clearer, brighter, less prone to dryness.
  • There are no mid-morning hunger pangs, or mid-afternoon slumps.   NONE.   It's amazing.
  • I have cut back on coffee drastically - usually I have 1-2 cups in the morning, and then I'm good for the rest of the day.
  • Cravings go away quickly.   My cravings have been entirely sight-related.   If I don't see the chocolate, the cheese, the chips and salsa, I don't miss them.   When I do see them, I calmly remind myself these items will be around in mid-September, and the desire subsides.
         My Sugar Dragon has calmed the f*ck down... for now.

          Although... sitting in a kitchen while my friend made arepas very nearly unhinged my mind.

It hasn't all been gravy, so to speak.   Workouts have been hugely challenging, up until the two-week mark.   I was feeling unmotivated to do Tracy Anderson Metamophosis, or go to dance class, or swim.   I was also feeling a bit winded when swimming, but things are getting easier again.  My body is learning to work in a different way, a way that isn't sugar-carb-fuelled, and less reliant on caffeine for energy or motivation.

Doing Whole30 has made me aware of something else...

I've really struggled with body image these past few weeks, in a way that I didn't know would happen.   I obsessed almost constantly about my weight and appearance - until I did this program.   Even now, I still do.   This is an issue that is always on a low-heat burner at the back of my brain.  So automatic, I didn't know it was even there.   Background noise nearly every waking moment.

The scale and the measuring tape have been my cravings, in a way that chocolate or a nice glass of wine have not.

I have not weighed myself since I started, or measured myself.   I want to so badly.   Up until this past Friday (Day 14), I felt frustrated because it didn't seem as if I'd lost any weight.

On Saturday (Day 15), I glanced at the mirror and was surprised to see how much slimmer my arms looked.

Yesterday (Day 16), I thought a lot about this obsession of mine.  I decided that a productive exercise would be to empty my closet, and try on everything, and get rid of that background noise.   Only things that fit right now, and look good right now, would go back in the closet.

I got to work, and quickly discovered... my posterior does not seem to have shifted in weight or size.   Perhaps a little, but not significantly.   My waist and hips seem a little smaller.

On the other hand... my stomach is almost flat!   I have not had a flat belly since I was 17.   Several skirts that have not fit well in over a year, went on smoothly.    I could not get over this - particularly because, when I look down, I don't see a flat belly.   Again, there is this idea in my own mind... 

I want to let go of that idea.

For this reason... I intend to continue Whole30 on a slightly relaxed basis, once this experiment is over.    If we go out to dinner, or dine with friends, I won't worry if the meat was cooked in a seed-based oil.   I won't obsess that there might be a little sugar in something.  Inasmuch as possible, I will make Whole30 compliant choices when dining out, or visiting friends.

And if my friend makes arepas, I'm going to have some!   At home, I will stick with the program.

I should also note, that I am doing this plan for 28 days.   I looked at a calendar, and realized that thirty days ends very close to our trip to EPCOT, for the Food and Wine Festival.   We went a few years ago - this may be one of my very favorite things I have ever experienced at Disney World, and I want to be able to enjoy it - within reason - without being sick.   

So my plan is:   finish Whole30 on Day 28 (Friday, September 9).   Reintroduce dairy (cheese, half-and-half in coffe) on Saturday, see how I feel.   Go back to Whole30 on Sunday.   Reintroduce non-gluten grains (rice and corn among others) on Monday.   Whole30 on Tuesday.   

If you're thinking about trying Whole30, let me make some recommendations:

Read "It Starts With Food" and "The Whole30" first.   Do your research.   It's easier to walk away from cravings and temptations, if you know the 'why' of why you are cutting these things out of your diet for a month.

Inasmuch as you possibly can, plan and prep your meals in advance.  Especially breakfasts and lunches.   Google recipes that are Whole30 compliant.   One of the trickiest parts of this plan is having a breakfast you can get quickly on a busy morning, or packing something portable for the office or the gym.   Meat can be cooked and frozen, some fruits and vegetables can be chopped up and refrigerated in advance.

And as you find things in the grocery store, make a note somewhere that you found 'Item X' at this store, and 'Item Y' at this other store.   In my experience, just committing it to memory doesn't stick.  There is no frustration quite like driving out of your way to a specialty store, and then forgetting a key ingredient that makes your buffalo chicken recipe legit.

Do your research, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask!  

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