Thursday, August 28, 2008

Finding the Right Jeans for Your Body

In the old days, blue jeans came in one style. But modern blue jeans are more than just the standard denim pant. There are so many options - color, rise, cut - that you might have to try on ten, twenty or thirty pairs before finding one that works for your body shape.

However, you can short-cut the process a bit by knowing which jeans are likely to look best on your body. Here's a simple guide:

Are you short?
If possible, choose a petite length jean so you don't need to get them hemmed. A cuff at the bottom will only make you look shorter. And, depending on your body type, you may want to avoid the boot cut jean. Not only are they harder to hem, they can make your legs appear shorter. Try straight leg jeans for a longer, leaner appearance.
Tip: Wear pointy-toed shoes with your jeans to make your legs seem longer.

Are you bottom heavy?
Avoid any major decoration on the back pockets of your jeans, like excessive stitching, buttons or little flaps. They'll just draw attention to your rearview. The same is true about any type of fading or bleaching. A white or light area on your backside will only spotlight what you're trying to hide! Smaller pockets are your best bet.
Tip: Balance a wider midsection with boot leg jeans.

Are you tall?
Lucky you! You can wear many different styles of jeans, although you may have problems finding an inseam that fits. Fortunately, jean companies seem to be adding extra length to their clothing these days. If there's a brand that never worked for you in the past, you may want to give them another try.
Tip: If you must get your jeans tailored, take them to a professional.

Do you have wide hips?
A boot cut jean will balance your body, making you appear slimmer overall. You can also wear flare leg jeans with success. To minimize your hips, avoid excessive pockets. Look for chop pockets in the front instead of the standard hip pocket, which can add bulk to that part of your body.
Tip: Too tight jeans will only make you look pear-shaped. Look for ones that skim without constricting.

Do you have a small bottom?
We aren't all blessed with Jessica Simpson's "Dukes of Hazzard" booty! If you want to create a rounder bottom, look for jeans with some embellishment on the backside. Flap pockets or bright stitching is a good choice.
Tip: You may be able to wear jeans without pockets if they fit snugly.

The most important part of finding the right jeans: Try them on! Just because they appear to fit doesn't mean they'll work for your body. Try on many different styles and brands of jeans until you find a pair that makes you look your best.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Find your perfect weight: Setting a healthy & achievable weight loss goal ((snag))

You know that you want to lose weight. But how do you pick a goal weight that's right for you? Do you find a celebrity, or even a friend, whose body you like and try to reach the same weight as him? Do you aim for a previous weight of your own, like what you weighed when you wore that junior prom dress 25 years ago?

Unfortunately, neither of these are good ways to set a weight loss goal. Finding your best weight isn't as simple as plugging your height, age, and gender into a formula and getting a number spit back at you. Your body is unique to you, and so is your ideal weight. Because it involves factors that are both objective (like your health risks) and subjective (like your personal satisfaction with your appearance), your ideal body weight is much more than a number on the scale: it's more like a state of being.

You're at your ideal body weight when:

  • Your weight isn't causing (or putting you at risk for) any health problems
  • Your weight doesn't limit you from living the life you want
  • You can accept your body as it is, without feeling uncomfortably self-conscious
  • You can enjoy being in your own skin, without worrying too much about how you compare to others (or cultural ideals)

There are charts and formulas that can help you determine what the number on the scale tells you about your risk for health problems, and give you a general weight range to shoot for to decrease your risk. There are other standards and measures that can help you fine tune this big picture and focus in on optimal fitness and body composition. This article, part 1 in a 3-part series, will look strictly at these kinds of numbers—a great place to start when determining your weight loss goals.

How Body Weight Affects Health

In the best of all possible worlds, this business of picking a good weight loss goal wouldn't be a problem. In fact, bathroom scales wouldn't even exist. If you think about it, what does the number on your scale really have to do with any of the reasons you want to lose weight? Whether you want to look a certain way, be more attractive or popular, manage or avoid health problems, get back into all those smaller clothes you've got in your closet, improve your athletic performance, recapture the glories of your youth, or simply feel a little more comfortable in your own body, the number on the scale is not what determines your success or failure. There are much better ways than scale-watching to assess your progress along the way.

The only real reason to even think in terms of a "normal" or "ideal" body weight is because there is a statistical correlation between your weight and your risk of having certain health problems that can lead to premature death or disability. Although your weight may or may not be the cause of these health problems, it's clear that people who weigh more—or less—than "normal" are more likely to have these problems.

Experts who study these things have come up with several different methods of estimating your health risks based on your weight and size, as well as a set of calculations that are routinely used to determine whether your weight/size is in the normal range or not. Here are three of the most commonly used calculations:

Body Mass Index (BMI) is simply the number you get when you divide your weight (in kilograms) by your height squared (in centimeters). According to years of health research, the further your BMI deviates from the normal range (whether above or below), the higher your risk for obesity-related health problems (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, heart disease, and bone/joint disorders). Calculate your BMI here. Similarly, you can calculate your goal weight and see if it fits in with these ranges. If not, then your expectations might be unrealistic.

Height/Weight Charts, such as the HANWI formula (below), have been around since the 1950's. BMI has pretty much replaced the older height/weight charts as the most common way to assess health risks related to weight. But variations of these charts are still used today as quick and simple ways to estimate the normal weight range for your height. Here's a simple formula you can use:

  1. Women: Allow 100 pounds for the first 60 inches of height, plus 5 pounds for each additional inch (i.e. 130 pounds for someone that is 66 inches tall). Men: Allow 106 pounds for the first 60 inches of height, plus 6 pounds for each additional inch (i.e. 154 for someone that is 68 inches tall).
  2. The number you get above is the midpoint of the normal range; subtract or add 10% to get the low and high ends (117-143 pounds for the female above, 139-169 pounds for the man).
  3. People of average frame size should weigh close to the midpoint number, while those with large or small frames should be closer to the high or low end of the range. To determine whether you are large, small, or average frame, make a circle around the wrist of your dominant hand at the widest point (over the bones that protrude) with the thumb and middle finger of your opposite hand. If your thumb and finger don't touch, you are large framed; if they just barely touch, you are medium, and if they overlap you are small framed.
  4. Does your goal weight fit well within these ranges? If not, you might want to adjust it.

One potential problem with both the BMI and height/weight tables is that neither formula distinguishes between fat weight and lean tissue (muscle) weight. BMI, for example, may incorrectly put people with unusually large amounts of muscle weight in the overweight category (even when their level of body fat might be normal), and people with poor muscle tone into the normal category (even when their level of body fat might be excessive). Another drawback to these formulas is that they don't take into account where you store your fat. That's where this next formula comes in.

Waist-to-Hip Ratio is an important measure to use along with BMI and height/weight charts when considering your weight. Research shows that where you store body fat may be even more important than how much you have. Fat stored in the abdominal area, especially under the muscle and inside the abdominal cavity, is a lot more dangerous than fat stored in the hips and thighs, for example. One good way to make sure you aren't overlooking a problem is to calculate your waist-to-hip ratio. Your ideal measurements should also fit into the ranges of a healthy waist-to-hip ratio. Similarly, even if you're at a "healthy" weight now according to your BMI or Height/Weight table, you might want to consider losing some extra weight if your current waist-to-hip ratio is unhealthy.

All the methods above will give you a good starting point for setting a goal weight that is reasonable (and healthy) for your height, gender, and age. However, not everyone will fit well within these ranges, and there's no guarantee that a normal weight will mean good health everyone (or that being above normal automatically means you'll have health problems, for that matter). Your state of health depends on other factors as well, including the quality of your diet and your exercise routine. But if the goal weight or measurements you're hoping to achieve are very far outside the ranges you get from these methods, that's a good indication that you may need to think twice about how realistic your goal is. To make changes to your goal weight, based on what you've learned here, click here to go to your Start Page. Once there, you can "Change" your weight loss goal by using the link in your myTools column under the heading "My SparkDiet."

The upcoming articles in this series will examine other factors—besides numbers—that determine what kind of changes you can (and can't) achieve with diet and exercise, including the roles of your body type and genes.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A retrospective look back at all the reasons I am glad I had my WLS...

** Being that I am now just over 4 years post-op from my Open RNY, I can look back and put a lot of things into perspective on the reasons of why I did take the "drastic measure" of having WLS. I know I definitely didn't take an easy way out ((as so many people have tried to say))... It's never been a quick fix, it's been a complete lifestyle change and it continues to be so each and every day. Here are just a few of "highlights" ((LoL)) of the last 4 years... some good, some bad... each a lesson learned. Everything I've been through can be an inspiration to someone who wishes to go on the same journey. **

  • I remember the first time I was referred to as "obese"... I was so insulted! I thought it was the biggest slap in the face ever. At the time, I was 5'6 1/2" and about 252 lbs. It was noted in my medical chart that I was obese. That was about 2 1/2 to 3 years prior to my WLS and that is the point where my "dieting" got more aggressive than ever and I began looking into alternatives to weight loss. I stumbled across gastric bypass surgery one night on the internet, but the thought of "stapling my stomach" scared the crap out of me. Lord knows, that wouldn't be the last time I thought about it.
  • In retrospect, I love Dr. Neely. He was the PCP I had in 2004 who finally told me that something had to be done about my weight. I had a laundry list of medical problems, not to mention the self-esteem from hell. I was infertile. I just had issues beyond belief and I was unhappy with life. I looked at him and said what do you suggest. He said gastric bypass surgery... I said I've thought about it on and off for years so what do I have to lose. He sent me to support group, which ironically was being held that day, so I could hear stories, and told me to come back to his office at 1PM to tell him yes or no. I was so impressed with the stories and they were so real and truthful, that I came back at 1 and told him to put in the referral. I was 297 lbs at this time. He put in the referral and, within a week, Tricare called me to set up an appointment with Dr. Kenneth Warnock in Wichita Falls, Texas. Little did I know, I was being led to an angel.
  • Now Dr Warnock and I have not always seen eye to eye, but he saw someone who was determined. It didn't take long for everything to get submitted for me to have my WLS on August 3, 2004. I weighed 275 lbs on the day of surgery.
  • From the moment I got home from the hospital, I knew my life had changed. I had friends that still wanted to go to restaurants. I remember walking into McDonald's with my ex-husband about 2 weeks post-op and literally having to walk right out because the smell made me sick. I remember my first attempt at Chinese food about 5 weeks post-op. I ate about 5 bites of different meats and I was so full I could have burst. I remember how I was scared of bread and, at 5 mos out, Dr Warnock told me I could eat it. I was still afraid I would get it stuck. To this day, I'm careful with it, but I eat it in small quantities. I see how every surgeon/nutritionist is different in telling patients no bread/pasta/rice ever. I can eat all of those and have been able to for a while... I just don't eat large quantities of them. The way the different surgeons/nutritionists do things has peaked my interest even more on going into the field of nutrition to work with obese and WLS patients. I want to help people monitor their "diets". I feel that I have maintained my weight for 3 1/2 years and through 2 pregnancies... I am living proof that it can be done.
  • I still remember my friends helping me go shopping the first time I REALLY went shopping after my WLS. They were trying to get me to break out of my "plus size" comfort zone and I was so scared, I guess you could say. I kept trying to buy sizes that were too big for me. Now, it's such a completely opposite ball game, let me tell you. Shopping is my sport of choice and most of my friends don't want to go with me because they will be exhausted by the end of the day lol. When I was at my highest weight, I was a 26/28... Surgery day, I wore a 24. Today, I am 4/6 ((5/7 in juniors))/medium in shirts. My maternity clothes are all small/medium. It's a huge difference, let me tell you and I have turned into a total fashionista! I don't know if I want to get any smaller ((say a size 2)), but I am very happy where I am.
  • Before my WLS, I had Type 2 Diabetes ((Obesity related)), GERD, high blood pressure, weight-bearing joint arthritis, asthma ((still have that)), depression ((still have that, as well, but much more controlled)), sleep apnea, PCOS ((in remission)) and infertility ((obviously gone as I am about to have baby #2)), and hypothyroidism ((now I have the opposite problem with an overactive thyroid)). I took so many pills, hell, I lost count. I hardly take anything now... so many things have changed and I am so much healthier! I had tried every "diet" and weight loss drug known to man... prescription, doctor supervised, and over the counter. I had been on some kind of "diet" since I was 12 years old.
  • The biggest change of all has been my self-confidence level. It has been phenominal! I learned that I no longer had to put up with abusive relationships and I could stand on my own 2 feet. I learned that I was more than just the "fat friend" and I learned who my real friends were and got rid of those who were not my friends. It's been a lot of changing for me... Some people have been supportive, others haven't been, but that's on them. I went through divorce post-WLS. I have since remarried. I am extremely happy now... I have my beautiful daughter and I have a son who will be here very soon. I know that I would not have my babies had I not lost the weight.
  • I know that my journey is not over... I am only 4 years into it. I have the rest of my life to maintain my weight and keep up my nutrition and exercise. I intend to stay a success story forever and always be an inspiration for others, especially my children... They are most important and I never want to set a bad example for them!

To anyone out there thinking about WLS, I say you should go for it~ It's been life changing for me, as you can see! If you are trying to lose the weight on your own and want support in doing that, I am here for you as well on that. I want to help anyone on any type of weight loss journey... nutrition is important to me, as you can tell.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My "Ideal Weight"

5'6" tall female adult~

Your ideal weight is between 114.9 and 154.6 pounds.

If you're active and in good health, it doesn't hurt to be a little outside these ranges. Also, weight alone doesn't give the whole picture -- you need to consider if a lot of your weight comes from fat or from muscle. A woman's ideal body fat percentage is between 21 and 35, depending on her age (it's okay to have a little more fat if you're older). If you don't know yours, you can have it checked at a gym or sports medicine clinic, or try our calculator.

Our ideal weight ranges are derived from standard tables of body mass index (BMI), a score you get by factoring your weight and height. According to government guidelines, an ideal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, and this range is the same for men and women. To find out your actual BMI or learn more about BMI ranges, try our BMI calculator.

The fine print
Our ideal weight ranges assume you're an adult with an average build and activity level, and are based on standard BMI ranges. These ranges aren't relevant for children, pregnant women, very muscular people, or professional athletes.

Here's a Bud Light to You: Ms. Worst Fashion Offender!

Here's a compilation of the worst fashion trends in history for y'all... enjoy!

We've all done it.

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who has not fallen under the spell of a fashion trend that, in hindsight, was the worst faux pas ever.

We've compiled the best of the worst for your amusement — and, perhaps, horror. And while this collection of trends is undeniably awful, keep in mind this advice from Nicole Fischelis, Macy's vice president and fashion director: "Even [a] good trend worn on the wrong person is a bad trend." So beware!

Mega Shoulder Pads
In the 1980s, there was a sense that everything bigger had to be better. The result was a lot of out-of-proportion fashion, and mega shoulder pads were right out there in front. "I have to say that the mega shoulder pads weren't the most attractive," says Stephanie Solomon, Bloomingdale's vice president for fashion direction. However, Marylou Luther, editor of the International Fashion Syndicate, makes a great point: "Women loved, and continue to love, them because they made their hips look smaller." But that doesn't exactly justify sporting two miniature pillows on your shoulders.

They've come and gone with the seasons. Yet they just don't make anyone look chic but rail-thin runway models. "I think ponchos look ridiculous. They make people look like a tent," says Bloomingdale's Solomon. Cruelly, they can always be found in maternity stores, but should be banished except for use as rain gear.

Spandex Pants
Olivia Newton-John brought down the house in the finale of "Grease" wearing a second skin of spandex. Disco divas everywhere adopted the look in the 1970s. The pitfalls of wearing spandex pants that were styled like jeans, but fit like leggings, were numerous. Among them: visible cellulite, potential camel toe, and, for those over 100 pounds, looking simply enormous. With all that, it's amazing that they're returning. "I'm baffled by why shiny leggings are coming back," says Patricia Mears, deputy director for The Museum at FIT (the Fashion Institute of Technology). "You see them at American Apparel in bronze or orange, and I wonder, 'Who looks good in that?' Show me the one woman who looks good in that. I think we've lost it."

Midi Skirts
Each season, designers dictate skirt length. Women either wear what they say or risk looking dowdy — a boon for retailers who therefore enjoy a steady stream of sales from season to season. For example, in the 1960s, the mini skirt caused a sensation. "Minis meant that women could stride along and were no longer encumbered by hemlines. That was very liberating and inventive," explains Marylou Luther of the International Fashion Syndicate.

Then, in 1967, came midi skirts. They fall unflatteringly to the middle of a woman's calves. John Fairchild, the editor of Women's Wear Daily who had great sway when it came to fashion trends, pushed the midi as the next big thing . "John Fairchild forcing the midi in 1967 hurt the fashion world," Luther says. "Who wanted those hobbling lengths after a decade of liberation?"

Big Hair
There is nothing more comical than looking at pictures or music videos from the 1980s and seeing hair that defied gravity. Whatever would have possessed stylists across the nation to take a cue from spiky-haired punk rockers and tease the hair of regular women (and men) to impossible heights? Pray this one never comes back.

Stirrup Pants
First, there were elastic clips you put on the bottom of your pants to keep them smoothly in your boots. Then manufacturers had the bright idea to make them part of your pants. The problem was that women didn't exclusively wear stirrup pants with boots. Wearing them with flats seemed to make everyone's legs look shorter, and it all started to go pear-shaped from there. Simply put, pants are not meant to be attached to your feet — ever.

Visible Thongs
Two words — Monica Lewinsky. The fact that the mere sight of an intern's exposed designer thong could shake the American presidency to its foundation proves this trend is all wrong. A hint of lace peeking out from under a blouse is one thing, but this interpretation of "underwear as outerwear" is unacceptable. Trust us — no one wants to see it.

It's two haircuts for the price of one — short and tidy in the front and long and flowing in the back. Billy Ray Cyrus and Michael Bolton fell under the mystical spell of the mullet and America sadly followed suit. Any way you cut it, it's a bad look. Remember, coming or going, you only have one head on your shoulders. Strive for one style.

This strange look took hold several years ago and it was puzzling. Was it a tie-front sweater, a bolero jacket, or, in extreme cases, simply arm warmers attached in back? Designed to keep your shoulders warm and hide your arms, the look was just all wrong. Either wear a wrap, commit to a cardigan sweater, or go bare.

Harem Pants
Overly pleated and hanging low in the crotch, harem pants, popularized by M. C. Hammer and adopted by everyone during his heyday, are just not a good look for anyone, really. Sure, they look good while twirling on a dance floor, but in the office or on the street, they're just all wrong. Unfortunately, a comeback may be in the works; recent YSL ads feature Naomi Campbell in a sparkly pair.

Acid Wash Jeans
Back to the need for jeans makers to keep sales rolling. They once thought it was cool to wash jeans in an acid bath, which gave them a frosty, whitewashed look. Blue jeans are meant to be solid blue (or, under duress, we can accept white or black). Jeans should not be acid washed, dip-dyed, highlighted or spot-worn. Period. End of story.

Low-Rise Jeans
Just about everybody wears denim. Despite the popularity of jeans, their durability can mean low sales for manufacturers. To keep the public coming back for more, designers are constantly tweaking their denim designs.
One such retooling resulted in low-rise jeans which exposed parts of the body we're sure should not be seen — even for those who wax diligently. Unfortunately for us, the only person who looked good in low-rise jeans was the teenaged Britney Spears (clearly no arbiter of good taste). Bergdorf Goodman fashion director Linda Fargo says, "Without a doubt, the ultra low-rise jean with the belly-baring cropped midriff tank-top is the worst look ever." ((ETA: this means the ones that are ULTRA low rise, not the typical ones you buy in the store))