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Friday, April 22, 2011

Dressing for How You Look RIGHT NOW

I found an article a couple weeks ago from Woman's Day about self-love, and I guess I was just waiting for the right burst of inspiration to post it. Well, as the seams on my clothes are bursting with pregnancy expansion (okay, they're not literally bursting, but you know I love wordplay!), the right burst of inspiration came. :)

Something that I keep running across in scads of places that talk about self-love is: 


So what I'm presenting isn't actually anything new, or maybe for some of you, it is...but I thought I'd share my own experience with it. (And please forgive me if it seems like I'm not crediting the wonderful writers who've discussed some of this stuff before; I should've taken notes on what I read and where, but instead, I have to just regurgitate the main points that stuck out to me as I read various articles. If you've blogged about this before, I encourage you to say so in a comment!) While pregnancy weight isn't the same as "regular weight," the fact remains that your body gets bigger, and it's not always just your belly - for me, it definitely isn't! These changes can sometimes require a mental adjustment, especially when you're in the in-between stage when you don't look pregnant so much as just having gained weight. 

For weeks now, the only clothes that felt comfortable on my bloated body were T-shirts and cotton knit pants. And as time went on, most of my T-shirts MUST have been shrinking in the dryer ;) because suddenly they seemed shorter and too tight across the chest and upper arms. All the books say you won't need maternity clothes til your first trimester is over - well, books are just a guide. They can be very helpful, but truthfully, I wish I had gotten maternity clothes much earlier instead of waiting it out in the name of expectations. Pregnancy affects every woman differently, so what holds true for one woman from a book may not hold true for another. While I struggled through in my cotton pants, getting more and more tired of them every day and feeling like I looked huger than I actually did from the baggy pants and tees that didn't really fit well, I could've been wearing clothes that were much more flattering to my changing body shape and that were just as comfy. Clothes aren’t the most important thing in life, but they sure do have the power sometimes to transform how you look and, consequently, how you feel.

Last Sunday night, I felt just good enough to ask my husband if he'd take me to Old Navy to look at maternity clothes. One of the kiddo's grandmas had offered to take me maternity shopping when I felt up to it, but I found that most of the cute stuff is online, so I thought I'd just try some stuff on and see how the sizing went and what felt good on before we sat down to shop online together. I thought I might walk out with one outfit. Well...most of y'all are just as excited about clothes and shopping as I am, so you can predict what actually happened. I walked out with a pair of jeans, some cropped jeans, some cropped khaki cargos, three shirts, and a dress! lol As I tried on all the clothes in the fitting room, I couldn't believe how awesome I felt! They look like normal clothes but fit so comfortably. Maternity tops are longer, so no unwanted "belly peek," and the pants have elastic waists that fit under my belly, but the waist is higher in the back and on the sides and lower in the front for a flattering fit. I don't have to look like I'm wearing pajamas all the time anymore! When I walked out of the fitting room where my husband was waiting, I was literally almost in tears over the relief. I really liked how my body looked in them because they're contoured to my shape. I felt like I looked pregnant and more slouchy, baggy pants or tees that squeeze. 

Here are a couple shots I took in the dressing room. Old Navy's sizes run notoriously big, and so do their dressing room mirrors, unfortunately!! So, seriously, when you try stuff on there, take your mirror image with a grain of salt. When I looked at some of the pics I'd taken, I admit I was taken down several notches temporarily in how good I felt I looked in these clothes! I won't even lie; I'm only showing you the best of them. lol 

I really love this cute sundress and how my belly looks in it. I wore it with a white cardigan the other day.
When the weather gets cooler, I think it will look cute with a cardigan and tall boots.
Ahhh, JEANS again!!! Hooray! Remember how excited I was about my elastic-waisted jeggings - yeah, they don't fit anymore,
but these are the same principle. And the ruching on the sides of this top will only be more flattering as I get bigger.
From the front, the ruffled cap sleeves are extra cute.
And here's one I took today at home in my more realistic mirror. ;) This is me at 13, almost 14 weeks.
Shirt is actually from Target and not maternity, but it's nice and long!
These are the Old Navy cargo pants...I like them because you can wear them cargo length,
or unsnap at the bottoms to make them full-length pants.
 To quote from the Woman's Day article, 

We often hang onto clothes from when we were thinner so we’ll be inspired to one day fit into them again. But Dr. Zeckhausen says, “Instead of keeping skinny clothes as ‘thinspiration,’ donate too-tight or outdated items…buy clothes that fit your body now so you are less self-conscious. You deserve to feel pretty at your current weight.”

Now, please don't tie in my pregnancy talk with the term "curvy," because you know I'm not trying to compare the two. But if you're a curvier gal, you might feel like you have to hide behind baggier clothes. But in all honesty, those clothes can often make you look (and FEEL) bigger. You don't have to wear tight clothes either; you just have to learn which clothes will flatter your particular body shape and show off your figure in all the right places. You might be afraid that if you allow yourself to buy clothes the next size up, it will mean you've given up on losing weight and that you might never go back down. Actually, I believe quite the opposite is true. If losing weight is something you want to do - preferably for health reasons alone - I think when you find clothes that flatter your body as it is RIGHT NOW, you'll feel so much more confident and comfortable, which will in turn motivate you that much more in your journey. And, hey, even if it doesn't, at least you get to look and feel better in the present, so why not?! Don't punish yourself by wearing too-tight or too-loose clothes because you hate your body. The kinder you treat your body, the kinder you will start to feel toward it, and the better it will be to you in return.

I hope you will read the whole article (, because there are some other really good tips in there on learning to love your body and increasing your self-love. But "dressing for right now" is what I wanted to focus on today. I may very well come back at a later time and zero in on the other points.

One last thing I'll leave you with. I've mentioned the blog Bright Side Dweller on here a couple times before, and that's because it's one of my favorite fashion blogs! Chelsea is an example of a beautiful gal who truly knows how to dress to flatter her gorgeous shape. I think she could totally be a pinup model. She puts together some really great outfits that work for everyday without being boring in the slightest. I absolutely love her confidence and the fact that she obviously loves her bod. She's the perfect example of dressing to flatter your personal shape. So check her out!

I mean, just look how happy she is when she poses...not to mention, that skirt is to die for!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Daily Outfit Chooser + More Avetts + Ultrasound!

Hi there, fellow narcissists! Still struggling with pretty severe pregnancy nausea, which sorta leaves my portion of the blog on the backburner. It's terribly hard to come up with things to write about when you're just doing whatever you can to feel better. So this post is gonna be a hodgepodge of sorts.

That's my babeh!!! See its sweet nose and little hand up by its face?

I got my first ultrasound last week, and just seeing my baby for the very first time just makes everything better!! I may not feel better physically, but now I have pictures to cling to! It's so beautiful, and you can already see its sweet little nose. Feels like forever until May when we find out if we're having a boy or girl. The feeling of watching it moving was like nothing else in the whole world...I can barely even put it into words except to say that I'd do and go through anything for this sweet baby, and no matter how awful I feel on any given day, all that matters is that's my baby! The tears started streaming immediately, and my husband and I looked at each other, and I said, "We made that!" Wow...I'm still overwhelmed by all the emotion!

Next, a friend emailed me something today that I thought was pretty cool, so I wanted to share it with you. It's a guide on how to make a daily outfit chooser - a little booklet you make with pictures of yourself wearing various clothes where you can mix and match the pieces! I'd love to have time for a little project like this. Instructions are here.

If any of you end up making one, we would sure love to see the results! Think you'll try it?

Finally, on Sunday, my hubs and I went to the Braves game (thank you, God, for giving us seats in the shade because pregnancy makes me hot hot hot all the time), which was followed by a free Avett Brothers concert!! So my second Avetts concert in just a two-week span (never enough)! Both shows were the only real times I've felt totally nausea-free for any length of time, so I think it's safe to say we've got a fan in the making! Our seats weren't very close, but here are some shots I got. I read there were something like 25,000 people in attendance! If you're a fan and familiar with the 1-2-3 hand count for "I and Love and You," it was pretty neat seeing people all across the stadium doing it.

That's all for now...wish me luck in feeling better as I'm now entering my second trimester! :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Guest Post - Living My Authentic Life: No Strings Attached

As promised, here is our return guest post from Mirror Health: Looking in the Mirror! Thank you so much, Melanee, for swapping with us!

Listening to your heart is not simple. Finding out who you are
is not simple. It takes a lot of hard work and courage
to get to know who you are and what you want. 
~Sue Bender

I have been on a journey to figure out who I truly am. Not only that, but to like that person. I'm a people liker. I get along with all types of people. I always have. Yet I have struggled for years to grant that same acceptance to myself. I have struggled to make myself into something I am not. For example:

This is a picture of my dear friend Lizzy (in white) and myself a few years ago. We were in Germany. We had Eurorail passes with a couple of other girls. We were all just 20, touring Europe, and having the time of our lives. Notice the way I am dressed. Notice the way Lizzy is dressed. I borrowed a long sleeve shirt from her and tied it around my waist, just like her. I also turned up my jeans, just the way Lizzy did. To give myself some credit, it was sometimes cold and having a long sleeve shirt to throw on at all times was nice, but this was not my style. I was only dressed like this because I desperately wanted to be Lizzy. I adore Lizzy. I always have. But learning that I don't have to be Lizzy, well that has been a different matter altogether.

I have found that figuring out just who I am can often be tricky. I've spent 27 years trying to be someone else (Lizzy, my sister, that brilliant and talented girl in my college editing classes, maybe a hippie), letting  go of the need to conform to someone else's ideals is challenging. Let me walk you through my journey.

1. I decided I was done trying to be someone else. I was done hating myself as well. I just wanted to be happy with who I was. This decision was perfectly timed with the birth of my son. Becoming a mother made me realize how desperately I wanted my son to always love himself as he is because he's perfect. But children learn by example. So I needed to change. I also gained weight after my son was born (I thought it was supposed to be the other way around). Dieting was getting me nowhere. Besides, I didn't even like myself when I was skinny. Reasoning that out I'd say losing weight wasn't going to bring the acceptance that I was looking for.

2. I started blogging about my struggles. I wanted to share the resources and things that I was finding. Since I was telling the world of my journey I felt very strongly that I had to keep going. I knew others who had journeyed to self acceptance and I used them as examples.

3. I stopped bad talking myself. I also started learning to shut down my inner critic. Learning to silence that voice has been powerful. Very powerful.

4. I gave up dieting. I started on a path of intuitive eating. This has allowed me to get in touch with my body on a very physical level. It has created trust that was missing when I was trying to force myself to be something I would never be. The trust has also been the foundation for love to grow. Love that has allowed me to take better care of myself.

5. I dove more deeply into my yoga practice. Then I took a big plunge. I have been wanting to teach yoga for some time. But remember, I had gained a lot of weight after the birth of my son. I was terrified that I would never be accepted as a teacher. But I took a bold step and have started teaching yoga. I have been accepted and have found joy in that. Waiting for a certain pant size to live our lives is a mistake, but learning to overcome our fear of rejection in a world so focused on size is difficult, but oh so worth it.

6. I stopped emotional overeating. And overeating in general. I have been learning to actually feel my emotions. I have been learning that they won't overpower or destroy me. Instead they teach me what my body needs.

7. I learned to accept the things that I like and the things I don't. Maybe I'm not as social as I always wanted to be, but that's okay. It was sometimes hard to realize that I'm not the type of person who likes this or that, but now that I know my interests I no longer have to put myself in situations that will ultimately be unpleasant for me.

8. I stopped the fat talk!

Although these are numbered, they were not really specific steps that I took. These things have evolved and each day I have to do many of them over again. And some days I fail.

Yesterday I was stressed. I knew I had to write this blog post and I wanted it to be fantastic. I wanted to write something amazing that would blow your socks off. And it's April Fool's Day, surely I have a joke or something I can share (I'm horrible at April Fool's). But I also had a million other things going on. I have a big announcement I'll be making on my blog Monday (not as big as Jen's, but who can top hers really?) and I have so so so much to do in order to be ready for that big day. I have a little group of cub scouts that I teach on Thursdays. I knew they would be coming over soon and I had to finish preparing for their activity. My house was a mess. The laundry needed folded. My sister is coming to visit this weekend, and I needed to get things in order. Then I found out that my niece and nephews are also coming for a night, lots to do to prepare. And are those my eyebrows? When was the last time I plucked? I needed to teach yoga and wanted some time to prepare for that. I needed . . .

All of a sudden my stomach yelled "STOP!" In my hand was a large handful of Goldfish crackers. I had been walking around the house stressing out and shoving handful after handful of crackers down my throat. I wasn't thinking. My stomach was too full to take another bite. Emotional eating at its finest. But when I realized what I had been doing instead of beating myself up (which would have been my go-to reaction just a year ago) I took a step back, slowed down, and allowed myself a minute to relax and learn from what just happened. I was kind to myself, and what could have been a very self deprecating moment turned into a moment of peace, kindness, and learning.

I love this quote, it sums it up nicely: 

"I wish I could tell you that spiritual and creative growth was smooth, predictable, and without pain. 'All the best transformations are accompanied by pain,' Fay Weldon tells us. 'That's the point of them.' Personal growth also comes in spasms: three steps forward, two steps back, and then a long plateau when it seems as though nothing is happening. But it's important to realize that this dormant period  always seems to precede a growth spurt."
("Simple Abundance" by Sarah Ban Breathnach)

So while this post may not knock anyone's socks off, it is me. And that is enough. Because I'm enough. Finding out who you truly are may seem like a painful process that's not worth it, but I can assure you that the pain that comes with transformation and knowing yourself is less than the pain of always trying to be someone and something that you are not. Take it in baby steps, one day at a time. You may be surprised when one day you look in the mirror and realize that you like what you see.

Melanee is the author of Mirror Health: Looking in the Mirror where she tells of her
journey to self acceptance and love. Her blog focuses on ways to repair body image issues, 
heal unhealthy food relationships, and how to ultimately find health both in body and mind.

on Melanee’s blog!