Monday, June 17, 2013

F#17: Fashion

I am not destined to be a fashion icon.  Most of (read: all) of my clothes are covered in cat hair.  I don't buy things that say "dry clean only".  While I own an iron and ironing board, my fiance uses them much more than I do.  I believe clothes should be easy to wear, easy to care for, and not expensive.

I like pretty things, but I don't always find them comfortable or practical to wear.  My Pintrest "Clothing Dreams" board is filled with ballgowns, dresses, and skirts that I adore.  But then I think to myself "Would you really wear that to work?" and I answer myself "No."  For one, my place of employment is always vaguely dirty; black pants never come home black.  For another, I frequently have to climb over book bags, work boots, and desks; these are not the ideal conditions for Mad Men-esque styles.  I would love to wear cute pumps, but has anyone ever REALLY found heels they could wear all day?  If so, please let me know.

So, where am I going with this?  I cannot find clothes to wear.  Or rather, I can't find the clothes I'm looking for.  Two summers ago, it was cotton sundresses that weren't at c-level (my father's phrase).  Yes, I could find sundresses, but they were rayon/polyester; or if they were cotton, they were far too short for a woman in her thirties to decently wear, regardless of how her legs look.  (Mine are rather nice, but I have my limits.)  I finally found a few items that more or less met my criteria, but I'm still having trouble with "breathing" pretty summer numbers.

A few weeks ago, it was jeans shorts.  Five or so years ago, when Bermuda shorts for women came in to style, I found a pair at Banana Republic that I loved.  Almost to the knee, but fitted, they fit below the belly button but above the underwear.  Of course, I wear them whenever I go out, so they've begun to fray.  They aren't bouncing back quite as tightly in the dryer as they used to.  So when I went shopping with my mother a few weeks ago, I was in search of just one more pair.

Obviously, I tried BR first.  They did have some of the longer shorts I was looking for, but the 8s were too tight around the belly and the 10s were too lose.  I also found them to be too tight around the knee, giving my ample thighs a lovely bulging look.  The next five or six stores we went to lost my business on several fronts: wrong color, wrong length, wrong material.  If I could find jean/denim shorts, they were either colored (red, yellow, green) or came to the wrong spot on my thighs.  Alternately, they came up over the belly button, where I do not like to wear my shorts, or were too tight around "the pooch" and I had a delightful muffin top as a result.

I found a pair that was close-enough at Calvin Klein, but they're still a little too baggy by the end of the day.  I just hope they don't look like Mom jeans.

I don't know if it's my age or my temperament that makes clothing so difficult to find.  The juniors section varies between whorish and ridiculous on a thirty-year-old body; the women's section reminds me of something an elementary school teacher in her seventies would wear and something my mother would pick out for herself.  Not that my mother has poor taste in clothing, but she's a mature woman so she wants different things out of her clothing than I do.  (Incidentally, my mother is really good at picking out clothes for me: some of my most-complimented shirts were birthday or Christmas gifts from here.)  And so I mostly wander clothing stores helplessly, wishing I could find a balance between floozy and fuddy-duddy.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

F#16: Fake Food

In the interest of full disclosure, I should make it quite clear that I am not a "perfect" eater.  I like potato chips and cookies and cakes and can easily eat an entire pizza by myself without so much as a by your leave.

That being said, I am trying to eat "clean" (the new buzzword) or at least clean-er.  I look for products that have short lists of ingredients, and are more or less pronounceable.  This is far more complicated than one might imagine, and yucky things are hidden.

For example, I went to buy Greek yogurt, and had a coupon for Yoplait 100.  Now, I've learned my lesson that things labeled "lite" usually have artificial sweetener in them, so I did check the label, but obviously not closely enough.  When I went to make a smoothie the next morning, I had a little yogurt left on my spoon and I licked it off.  Something tasted...wrong.  I checked the label again and there, buried in the relatively short ingredient list, was Sucralose.  How depressed was I?  Normally, there is some sort of label on "lite" products that states clearly it has artificial sweetner.  But because Sucralose is supposedly made of sugar, I guess they didn't have to.  Guess what I'm not buying again?  Back to the more expensive, but more natural, Chobani.

Another example was when I tried to buy rolls, or English muffins, or whatever.  I gravitated toward the whole wheat and multi-grain products, as I've been told to do.  Little did I realize how many of these also have Sucralose as well.  I finally found a brand (Nature's Own, as well as Arnold) that didn't have it.  Super frustrating.

This is like when I first started trying to cut High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Reading labels, wanting to throw things at the shelves because anything that was reasonably priced for my  tight budget was highly processed, even if I didn't think it was.

So why do it to myself?  Well, I read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, and learned a whole lot more about food production than I necessarily wanted to know.  But the gist of it, which makes sense, is that the more processed a food is, the less of it the human body recognizes as food, and all that "extra" has to go somewhere.  Now, in order to keep prices down, additives/preservatives were placed in food, and when people started getting calorie-conscious, sugar was replaced with corn syrup.  But the human body really isn't supposed to process corn that way and, as a result, we are getting fat.  The corn syrup is turned into sugars and then just sort of...sits there.  The body doesn't know what to do, so it becomes fat.  One of the many reasons we have seen expanding waist lines, especially in the USA.

Also, a dear friend of mine had some serious health complications arise in her family, and the doctors were either pessimistic about chances of recovery, or quick to prescribe medication.  This friend of mine chose a different path, and began to eat cleaner, but also  looked into ethnic eating--as in, what did their ancestors eat, and what didn't they eat.  By looking into the food heredity, she was able to change her and her husband's eating and improve their collective health.

As I said earlier, I am not a perfect eater.  I will eat fast food, and I don't think too hard about what goes into the food at restaurants when I eat out.  But I try to manage what comes in to the house, to try to keep down the unnatural items we put into our systems.