Thursday, August 28, 2008

Long Weekend in the Real World

I'm going to take my own advice and call a self-imposed blogger-free long weekend. Work has been a trip and I'm feeling like I need to give my brain cells a few days off :-) No doubt I'll be reading - how can I tear myself away from all of my interesting sites? (You all are like my soap operas, really!)

Pull out all your whites and have a fab Labour Day!

K xo

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Style Is Eternal

My daughter, M, considering the mysteries of the universe:

Channeling her inner movie star:

Working out a sugar-high (circa 2004):

And playing the modern pre-raphaelite:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What I Wore

In an attempt to show you stuff I already own, this was last Wednesday's outfit:

The pants are from my (recently defunct!?!) best-kept secret. They are some Italian house brand I've never heard of but they cost me $80.00 (down from $500.00). The reason you can barely see them is because I cropped the shit out of these photos on account of the fact I've decided them pants is too small. They fit me just as they did the day I bought them but, when I bought them I didn't have a lens trained on my ass. That's why you should shop with a butt checker, I guess. I don't know how I'll ever be able to wear them again, to be honest.

The T is H&M Trend (thanks to Yulanda for advising me that the front section of H&M Eaton Centre is dedicated to the Trend line...). It was some reasonable price like $24.99. The jacket is made by hand at Ewanika (see sidebar). I got it on mega-sale, and it still wasn't cheap ($250.00, if I remember correctly). But it was made by someone who was actually paid for her skill and labour which makes me feel good. You can't tell from these shots, but the the waist is beautifully tailored with silk-covered elastic gathers. And the outer arms are seamed with flat silk ribbon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

No It's Not Done Yet*

*aka the name of the opening number of K's Reno Isn't Fucking Funny Anymore, The Musical.

I haven't forgotten to update you about the new bathroom. I've been desperately hoping that I might do it, happily, at the natural conclusion of the project but, as far as I'm concerned, that time line has been and gone. So, at 3 a.m., woken by angry renovation dreams, I bring you the brief tale in playbill format...
  • Act One opens with the musings of a silly, naive girl who's excited by the idea that she might soon have - if she spends all kinds of borrowed money - a new bathroom to love.
  • Act Two climaxes with the duet (sung by our protagonist and her world-weary mother, formerly an interior designer), Six Weeks Is How Long it Takes (Before You Want To Hurt Somone)
  • Third Act Tear Jerker: For Someone So Vain, Where's My (Custom) Vanity
And here's a little snippet of the real showstopper, Porcelain Goddess:

I suppose I should be grateful, you're the only thing complete.
And I do love your efficiency, your designer lidded seat.
But fuck, if I'm not miserable at this specific junction.
You shouldn't be the only thing in the entire room to function.

My daughter, recent graduate of Triple Threat summer camp, will star in this little stage mother vehicle, whether she wants to or not.

Oh, and the costumes: freakin' awesome.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cherry Ice Cream Smile...

If you recognize the allusion in that title, you are pretty freakin' old :-)

It's one of the lines in Rio, by Duran Duran, that cult classic after which I like to imagine this Freya set was named:

Oooh, lacy delicious goodness and I managed to find the whole thing (plus another style of undies) for $145.00 all in. (For those of you choking right now, let me assure you that finding gorgeous bras that actually defy gravity takes flare with the Visa.)

Here's the thing. I'd love to talk up Secrets from your Sister right now. (That's the shop where I bought these babies, fyi...) But I can't in all good conscience recommend you go there. Honestly, I have spent thousands of dollars in this place over the years, sent countless other sassy lingeristas (who have also spent thousands of dollars) and I find store policy to be so tediously officious that I want to hurt someone. Or, at very least find somewhere else to spend my money.

Problem is, to be quite truthful, it offers the best selection out there and the salespeople really know what the hell they're doing. But the woman who owns the place seems to be running it without any recognition that there are occasional clients (with whom you can play the officious rule game) and really fucking good clients (with whom it behooves you to be a bit more relaxed).

To wit: I have this logoed canvas bag they gave me when my mother and I spent a flat out exorbitant sum between us, one crazy shopping extravaganza day. The bag entitles you to 10% off all future purchases at regular price. Now on this day, in addition to the red undies on sale (above), I intended to purchase a seamless basic, one I've bought from SFYS probably 10x before. Keep in mind, I walked into the store on the spur of the moment, unaware that I might be in the neighbourhood and, regrettably, I'd forgotten said canvas bag.

Of course, the SAs know me by name. They know I am in possession of a coveted bag. However, they politely refused to give me the 10% off the $100.00 seamless basic because I'd neglected to bring the canvas with me. Even though I use the frickin' bag 3x a week just to cart crap around while graciously advertising on their behalf.

So I said thanks and left without the bra. Yesterday I went back for it, with the bag (grudgingly mind you) and saved $11.50. Call me tacky but it's the principle of the thing. And the day I find a better alternative, well that's the day I will be outta there like a shot.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What I Wore

Here's what I wore on Tuesday:

Man, it was chilly. Gorgeous, sunny, crisp and clear!

That's a skirt you've seen before ($28.00, vintage from Apt. 909). The top is from Loehmanns. It cost about 20 bucks, if I remember correctly. It was a few years ago. The belt is one of the oldest things in my wardrobe. It's at least 10 years old and I can't remember where I got it, but somehow I remember it cost $19.99. You can't see the black quilted flats from Century21 (I got them for $30.00 when I was in NY last summer. And no tax in Manhattan!)

Now the lingerie cost a living fortune, but the rest of my outfit comes in under $100.00!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My 2 Cents about 798 Pages...

  • It is a crime against nature to read September's Vogue. Whatever woodland creature is the patron saint of trees is going to bite your ass in retaliation if it has even the slightest opportunity. So stay out of the forest for a while.

  • Was Coco Rocha the only model free when they were putting this thing together? I mean, I think she's gorgeous and I love how she's not quite as emaciated as your regular "girl", but really. It got boring.

  • If I have to read about one more landscape architect cum regular fashion contributor talking about redefining gardens for offensively rich people (even if they are splendid gardens) while carting around her 10 week old in an eco-sustainable papoose affixed to her already back to practically skeletal frame - I am going to flat out lose it. Are you aware, gentle reader, that it's in rather poor taste now to bling yourself out in this emerging recession era? Really. If you wear more than one new "statement" piece (at approximately 3K) at a time, you're simply low. So stock up on those cheapies at Banana Republic and Club Monaco and Top Shop. (You heard it here last.)
  • I'm thrilled to tell you - as are the trees - that there's not one thing, not one trend, that I saw in this issue which I hadn't already come across in the blogs. Is that because you are setting them, my lovelies? I vote for yes. And thank you.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What I Wore

Here's what I wore on Monday:

I got the dress at Jacob, like, 8 years ago. It's this weird kind of denim one rarely sees. Sort of sheeny. At this point, I've worn it so many times, on cost per wearing, it's paying me.

The belt and cardigan are two purchases from this season. The belt was bought at Joe Fresh for $2.99 (admittedly on sale). The cardi cost $12.50 at Urban Planet.

Look Vogue, a chic work look and not one piece cost 3 grand!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tell Me There Isn't A Limit!

Sincere thanks to one of my favourite bloggers, Hammie from HammiesBlog, who has given me this great award. Needless to say, she doesn't know what gold covered plastic does to me! :-)

Hammie is both a supermom and a beloved advocate for "auties" (those on the spectrum of autism). I have learned so much - and been so entertained - in the brief time I've been reading her blog. You should definitely add her to your daily reading now.

So, I am to forward this honour on to 5 bloggers - 4 that I know, and one that's new to me.

Here goes...

Enc really needs to go shopping now!
Diana at Please Sir can spend on home furnishings...
The newly returned Bronwyn from FashionAbility might need some end of winter items.
Diana from Hot Chocolate and Mint deserves a million bucks for her genuine and unique style!

And, to the super stylin' Thom from The Sunday Best - my new great find!

Thoughts or Feelings?

So, I may have been all talking up health and wellness, but rest assured I was still shopping.

Here are a few shots of a trench-inspired jacket I bought at H&M last weekend:

I first saw this piece a couple of weeks ago at the H&M at Dufferin Mall. I didn't buy it, though it appeared to be the last one, because I just couldn't make up my mind. A week later, unable to stop thinking about it, I found myself back there and, lo, it was actually / miraculously still around, beckoning from a dusty corner, looking for a good home.

(Note: I happened to have gone briefly into the Dundas H&M the day before, with our special blogger friend, Yulanda, and she very patiently scavenged the store with me in search of it at this location. It was gone, of course, which is why I scooped it up the following day at Dufferin Mall, with scarcely a second thought.)

OK, here's the question: It was $39.99 for an indoor-outdoor jacket (reworking a style that is always in style), so price is not the main factor. Alas, it's another purchase requiring another hanger and another spot in the tediously small closet - and it's not exactly like I don't own enough jackets already. Mind you, jackets are the thing I do find challenging to buy (re: tits) and this one both fit and the price was right. In light of these factors, do I keep it or return it?

I realize, in order to answer you probably need to see it on - and I just wasn't up to it this weekend. Pls. stay tuned for a picture post of me wearing this soon. Though any interim feedback would be appreciated...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Inching Towards Autumn

Is there a blogger out there who isn't talking about how over the summer is and how ready for the crisp, fashion-friendly days of autumn (s)he happens to be?

You know, until I started blogging, I didn't realize that the entire civilized world (with the exception of some crazy summer-centric beach bunnies - you know who you are) longs for the technicolor, azure skies of early September; the crunchy, orange/grey-hued smokiness of late November.

In the spirit of transition, here's an outfit I hope to get some real use out of over the next month:

Please note that these were taken during the fateful "every picture looked weird and sort of awful" shoot of last week, so I can't say they really show this cute dress off to its best advantage. The shoes are the ones I bought online from HQ in Montreal.

Oh, and the dress is from the(vaguely famous if you live in TO) Joe Fresh - a cool and exceedingly inexpensive chain started by Joe Mimran (former owner of Club Monaco). The deal is that the stores are carved out of retail space in the big box food chain Loblaws. Yes, you go shopping for your spinach and diapers and pick up a pair of shoes while you're at it. Shoes that cost 20 bucks.

That dress is so flammable, it is believably vintage and it was on sale for $11.00. Yes - eleven. And, can't vouch for the conditions of the garment workers, but the item is so well made it will last through the next ice-age.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Take a Closer Look

Study after study reveals that, were you to discover that your system of regular exercise did not lead to weight loss or the maintenance of your desired weight, you would be very unlikely to persist with it. Which is terrible really, because study after study shows that regular exercise promotes so many health benefits, it's literally insane.

It's also far from optimal, as new research (somewhat contested research, I should mention, but potentially accurate) indicates that diet is far more implicated in weight loss and maintenance than exercise ever will be. That exercise, muscle-building fabulousness notwithstanding, is inadequate to the task of regulating weight without the moderating influence of good (which is to say not high-calorie) diet and genes.

But exercise is a vital variable in the health equation, to be sure.

For what it's worth, I walk approximately 15000 steps a day (that takes a couple of hours), 5 or 6 days a week. I also aim to do 3 sessions of yoga, in my home studio, of approximately 1 hour in length each.

Here's why I do it:
  • Meditative movement keeps me sane - and I'm not being glib.
  • I enjoy being alone (an outcome which exercise sometimes affords) and being with others (another outcome which exercise sometimes affords).
  • I love to walk and think. My imagination keeps me company.
  • I need to get from one place to another and I get a secret thrill knowing it's my own body that gets me there.
  • I believe it sets a good example for my daughter.
  • I appreciate symmetry in all things - especially bodies. Yoga aligns my body in such a way that it looks, and feels, even and balanced.
  • I like being strong.
  • I really like being flexible.
  • I love inverting (headstands, handstands, shoulderstands etc.). There's nothing like flipping upside down to make an upside down world seem right side up. Exercise gives me perspective.
  • It feeds my exhibitionist nature. (What? I have a blog, don't I?)
  • It helps me look better in clothing. (See above)
  • It's likely lowering my blood pressure, improving my sex drive, staving off pre-diabetes, preventing cancer, increasing my lifespan and enabling me to eat that ice cream cone without feeling chubby.
Why do you?

(Oh, theme week over and out... Frivolity will return with the next post!)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

All Paths Are One

The only forms of exercise I know anything about are walking and yoga.

But thankfully, through years of practice, I know rather a lot about both.

In fact, when I first considered starting a blog, I could hardly decide which of my dearest interests - fashion or yoga - would make the best subject. I went with fashion by determining that it's more democratic. Not everyone does yoga (and when (s)he does, it's not necessarily at a masterclass level). Everyone, however, wears clothes and is thereby invested, pun intended. So it won on that basis. But I'm as passionate about yoga as I am about style. Lucky y'all. :-)

I find myself in the dubious position of writing first about yoga to a great group of fashion lovers who perhaps care nothing about it, go figure. And in as much as it's relevant to this theme week, I'm here to discuss it solely as a method of fitness. Now let me explain. Yoga - while it can kick your ass into gorgeous submission - is not an art and science dedicated to the ridging of your abs.

We who "do" yoga in a serious way, practice an ancient system devised to bring about meditative (actually post-meditative, but let's not get bogged down) consciousness. The road to consciousness begins in the body, this shell we inhabit and, as such, must master - or at least befriend! How can one meditate for hours at a time if one's body is impinged upon by inflexibility, weakness or misalignment?

OK, that's well and good, but isn't the universe a fine place, that we can shoot for consciousness and find fitness all at the same time? And beauty, I might add. Cuz a fit body is a strong, symmetrical and healthy one. And strength and health are very lovely.

I'm going to speak in broad terms about yoga as a method of fitness because, I imagine, this is the context in which it will appeal to the widest audience. If you'd like to chat metaphysics :-), I'm more than happy to engage, however. You know the drill: Pls. just email and we'll take it from there.

I've been practicing Iyengar yoga for 20 years, and have been certified to teach for about 15. I taught for over a decade, although (by strictest rules) one is not encouraged to train to teach the method until one is in one's thirties (the idea being that one isn't really mature enough to embrace the more punishing transformative elements of the two-year teacher training program until early middle age). In hindsight, I'm inclined to agree. Though I'm truly grateful for the path that brought me yoga - and teaching - wacky time lines notwithstanding.

For what it's worth, at eighteen, I had one of those unlikely, meditative, alchemical experiences during my very first class. One which, on the one hand, motivated me to continue learning forever but which, on the other, was not repeated by a long shot for many years to come. By now though, I think you get it. When I'm in, I'm in. Long haul be damned.

The Iyengar method, the one in which I was trained, and which I did exclusively for many years, is not the only method I know something about. I've also done a lot of Ashtanga (which is much better represented on wikipedia than Iyengar, I'm intrigued to note), some Bikram and many hybrid methods (style mashups that the Iyengar camp tends to mistrust).

Of course, in as much as one can find peace and alignment with the Iyengar method, all yogas are one. So by all means, do whichever appeals. But, if you're thinking about starting up and you want to know my thoughts about what's best to try, I strongly advise Iyengar because it's all about fostering alignment (through the use of props and very specific teaching) and anatomical awareness before you get into all the pretzely stuff.

And while you might be after yoga simply cuz you want to do the pretzely stuff, it's actually rather dangerous to fall into an extremely complex system of movement as if you are an advanced practitioner if you are, in fact, a beginner. If you happen to have spent years in dance training then, by all means, lead with Ashtanga if that's what flips your switch. But if you are too stiff to touch your toes for 5 minutes with pin straight legs and a long spine, not yet strong enough to jump from push up to push up for up to 20 minutes at a go, or unable to balance on your head, you might want to start with another school and progress. Oh, and BTW, the Iyengar system teaches all the same 87,000 poses - so you get your soooooper challenging / pretzel quotient - you just learn in a more progressive, and I feel safer, format.

Now's as good a time as any to say that I believe all systems of exercise can be meditative, and at their best they are. If you do Pilates or kick boxing or walking to get to and from work, you are as entitled to - and capable of, natch - finding the consciousness most often referenced by yogis. (So, maybe, spinning is your bliss of choice. In the same way I can find buffness with my yoga practice, spinner gals can find the meditation in their ass-kicking classes. Esp. if they learn with Enc!)

Please stay tuned for one more post about why I exercise - why we all should - coming up demain!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Every time I finish one of these Health and Lifestyle posts, I'm struck by how much I've left out. It's like I'm not even scratching the surface of these huge, critical subjects - not in terms of my own experience of a particular modality, and (sure as hell) not in terms of the modalities themselves.

And let me tell you, constructing this week's posts has been sort of tortuous. What's non-negotiably imperative? What's gratuitous? Have I disclaimed adequately? You get the idea. So, let me put it out there now: If you'd like to know more about any particular subset of any of these epic posts, please email me...

OK, let's talk about supplements. As mentioned, this is one of the cornerstones of my own personal wellness critical path. And when I use the term supplement, I am referring to:

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Herbs
  • Other (i.e. glandulars, enzymes, hormones)
Each of these substances is found within the human body. Most of them are produced, through good diet and adequate environment, by the body. Many of them are in the common vocabulary. That Other category is more complicated, less mainstream, and I'm not really going to get into it. Because, if you want to know more about those sorts of supplements (and which kinds of challenges they address), there are tons of fantastic books out there, and knowledgeable health professionals to speak with.

Again, I'm going to say - and I am very sincere - if you want to experiment with supplements, you have my full endorsement. But, unless you are a GP, nutritionist or naturopath, chances are you don't know enough about the topic to be self-supplementing. While supplements are natural, and in most cases food derivatives, they may interact with your body chemistry suboptimally - especially if you don't know enough about the body chemistry you're actively supplementing. Of course, I'm not talking about a drug store multivit (though techinically this disclaimer applies as much to that supplement as any other), but I urge you to be critical.

Having said that, let's talk about me. I have a high tolerance for pill-taking. Given my all-or-nothing mind frame, if I'm going to bother with that multivitamin, I might as well take dozens of things a day. Strange but true.

I swill approximately 50 supplements daily (many of these are the same thing over 3 doses to promote maximum absorption and to minimize tummy hurting). I take them in 4 batches (morning, noon, evening, bedtime). I aportion them out like some crazy old lady - using one of those pill organizers from the drug store. Each day gets its own pill organizer. I refill the organizers once a week, to make sure everything is good to go and I'll only need to think once. It is not sexy.

My own naturopath is somewhat amazed by my willingness to do this. Apparently, she doesn't get a lot of uptake on this strategy (even when it's indicated) and she generally works with the preferences and lifestyles of her clients to find maximal benefit with minimal inconvenience.

But, you know, if this is the best way to get the best result in the shortest time frame, I'm in. And I have found taking supplements to be incredibly effective. (Note that I didn't just start taking a whack of things. First off, I did a lot of testing to determine what specific imbalances I needed to address. And then I added things slowly in a phased approach. Sometimes, a supplement serves its needs and then it's discontinued. Sometimes, we discover that a supplement isn't optimal for me and so we scrap it. It's an iterative process that I've undertaken with a person whose credentials and experience I trust. I continue to see my naturopath every 6 - 8 weeks to review the status quo.)

I'm not going to talk in depth about what I take or why. It's not relevant in the minutiae and, in the words of my husband, you care about having readers, right?

But I will say that, on a daily basis I take supplements to specifically support my immune system, to promote optimal working of my thyroid gland, and to help me manage the myriad systemic stressors of being a full-time working mother, householder, human being.

An Obligatory Word about Adrenal Fatigue (Just to make this post longer):

All you gorgeous 20-something go-getters, who drink a few drinks a few times a week, who eat a lot of fast food, who work your asses off to get ahead: Of course you are doing exactly what you must to make a way for yourself in today's crazy world. However, by the time you are 35, the impact of mediocre diet, extreme life stress and lack of sleep might just be impaired adrenal function.

The allopathic (regular, western) medical community, while its view is slowly changing, does not recognize progressive "adrenal fatigue", only "adrenal insufficiency" (a critical failure of the adrenal glands, occurring by genetic predisposition or due to very extreme environmental conditions). Needless to say, back in the day, extreme environmental triggers were a rare thing, when people weren't inculturated with going for broke ,24/7, all one's life long, and these day's it's not so uncommon to be running those adrenals 80% into the ground while unawarely clinging to their slowly disappearing functionality.

The symptoms of adrenal fatigue, that disputed condition which I (and many other more qualified individuals) have little doubt exists, are extreme anxiety, wretched run-downness, sleeplessness, weight-gain in the abdominal area, cravings for salt, among others. There are some great books on the subject - it's very alternative de rigeur these days - so please do some reputable reading if this resonates...

One more word about adrenal fatigue (aka cortisol running wild): It is often accompanied by thryoid problems, because increased cortisol levels and decreased thyroid function work via the same channel (that being the endocrine system).

So Here We Go with an Obligatory Word About Subclinical Thyroid Disorder:

I would urge all women, especially those in their mid-thirties and older - or those with family history, to pay careful attention to thyroid function along with potentially elevated cortisol levels (see above). When unbalanced, these are indicators that one's body is losing ground in the struggle against stress and lifestyle and, while both are correctable, the longer one muddles through with one of these challenges, the harder it is to rebound.

Allopathic medicine doesn't really address these concerns very effectively. Don't take my word for it, of course, please do your own research and let me know if you disagree... Allopathic thyroid function testing has been shown recently to be pretty ineffective. Apparently, the test doesn't reveal emerging thyroid dysfunction (what's happening to many super-stressed people in their thirties, esp. those with a couple of kids had in close succession) - also know as subclinical thyroid disorder. (This is analagous to the technically unrecognized adrenal fatigue scenario above.) If one works with vitamins and minerals to correct a subclinical problem, one can often reverse damage and obviate having one's thyroid conk out all together.

In my own case, I have family history working against me: My father dealt with near adrenal insufficiency in his (stressed out) twenties. My mother's thyroid stopped working when she was in her early thirties. While my blood work, tested routinely for thyroid function allopathically, repeatedly came back normal, additional testing revealed some evidence of serious thyroid function decay. In using supplements to address this, I have lost weight, regained energy, increased my basal body temperature by about a degree (this is a long story but I've been taking my temp for 10 years so I have years of data to support this), improved the tone of my skin and hair dramatically and I feel way less crazy.

This was NOT a quick fix and it took total commitment, on my part, to the many-pronged approach including supplements. But it's an achievable outcome.

Having fun yet?? Is your head spinning as much as mine? Worry not, a light-hearted piece about exercise is yet to come!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Having Your Cake and Eating Half of It

I'm sure you've heard this pithy maxim before: You can change your diet but a diet won't work.

And, having read a zillion books and websites, watched a bunch of Oprahs, done some ad hoc interviews of healthy, trim peeps and lived a yogic lifestyle, I can tell you that IMO it's gospel.

I didn't need a naturopath to advise me I was eating hundreds of empty calories each day. But I did need her to remind me that a food diary - something I'd maintained on and off for 10 years - was the key to my rediscovered attention. Remember my goal was multifaceted. I wasn't switching up the diet to get skinny. Rather, I was desperate not to succumb to the next bug my child brought home from daycare, optimistic that my pallid skin might show some underlying pinkness - the sign of improved health. (Mind you, if skinny was the side-effect, I sure as hell wasn't going to knock it.)

To reiterate: If you change everything about the way you eat restrictively and with a sole aim of weight loss, you are setting yourself up to fail. Reason: You're not going to be able to live on bean sprouts forever. Just ask Oprah.

On the topic of modifying my personal eating habits, here's what I did for the first 6 months:
  • Cut out sugar - only moderate amounts of fruit sugar*
  • Cut out all refined foods
  • Moderated carb intake (though not in a crazy way)
  • Ate various amounts of fat and protein to determine what combination of food building blocks suits my body chemistry best (energy levels / over all good feeling)**
  • Reduced the number of calories I ate per day (I set a reasonable upper limit and did not exceed it.) The goal was to make all the calories I did eat nutritionally dense.
  • Bought a scale and stepped on it once a week
  • Determined how certain foods made me feel (physically, mentally) and increased or decreased them
  • Ate lots of veggies (I always had and still do), nuts and seeds
  • Didn't drink more than one coffee and one 5 oz glass of wine per day
  • Recorded everything in a food diary***
And you know what I do now? Everything I did for the first 6 months with the slightest smidge of leniency: I'll admit that these days I do eat sugar in moderation (though I really try to stay away from refined food) and I've been known to have 1.5 or 2 glasses of wine with dinner instead of one. And, when I go out to eat and there's beautiful dessert, I'm going to order it delightedly, relishing its delicious texture and taste. This means that I may forego something else later on (not spinach, natch), but the tradeoff is more than worth it. And it's sustainable.

At this point I feel it's obligatory to say that I'm not writing this to suggest you go out and try my methodology. I did a lot of research and made decisions based on my own informed perspective. It seems to have worked well for me. But we are all different and bring different bodies and health concerns and experiences to the table. If you're a person who's struggled with an eating disorder, keeping a food diary may not be the best idea. If you've got certain circulatory challenges, a diet high in fat (even good fat) may be contraindicated.

Not to mention that, in subtext, we all eat for different reasons and with unique appetite. I'll disclose that I do not go hungry but, given how much I exercise - and how much I'd consume unchecked, I rarely eat unconsciously or with abandon. Mind you, I've made it a mantra to enjoy every morsel of food that I do ingest.

A while ago I read a fascinating book (The Secrets of Skinny Chicks by Karen Bridson). In it, the author interviewed a bunch of women (none "thin by body-type") of various ages, careers, lifestyles, heights and weights, and relates (in detail) what each of them does to stay "on the thin end of healthy". And let me tell you, it's a trip. They all exercise upwards of 1-2 hours a day and eat, almost to a one, under 1800 calories. And they know exactly how to support their end goals within the parameters of their own body chemistries. Now, they do all eat healthfully and their diets are nutritionally balanced (though I question whether the book promotes over-exercise). But each one takes pains to clarify that thinness takes constant vigilance for her, and it's a choice. Much like eating a piece of cake is a choice.

For a trashy read, it really reframed a lot of my opinions. We're used to hearing hypnotically thin women in popular media decry food restriction. Apparently, they all hike in canyons and do Pilates 3x a week. And while we've long - and openly - suspected it isn't true, it's strangely empowering to read about this overclass exposed.

But never mind that book, if you're only gonna read one. Because, if that's the case, I strongly advise you make it Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. This tome, authored by an award-winning science journalist, who merely presents findings of FDA studies done over the past hundred years or so, makes a scary compelling case about the dearth in value in the modern North American diet. And about the evilness of the FDA. And about the relevancy of controlling your consumption of sugar for some pretty good reasons. He doesn't suggest you live any particular way - this is not a diet book - but he does want to throw out substantiate facts and explain why your current views about nutrition may not be accurate. Oh, keep your first year bio text handy. This is not a light read.

*If the thought of doing this makes you want to poke at your eye with a stick, chances are you are an addict. And abusing sugar for the long term can bring on some pretty nasty results from tooth decay to weight gain to lowered immune response to insulin resistance to diabetes. OK, lecture over and out.

**Note: For me - and this is not an endorsement of any particular style of eating - I am much calmer and more sated on a diet that is higher in fat and protein than the AMA suggests. I average 40% fat and 30% protein but these are from high quality and healthy food sources - except the gelato :-).

*** I can't say enough about my love of the food diary. In truth, I'm a list-maker by nature, so it's a fun activity as far as I'm concerned. But it's so edifying! You'd be amazed by how much of something you actually eat (once you start paying attention) or how often you go after a certain food. Or what time of day you tend to eat crap. Or how much you aren't drinking water. I particularly recommend Diet Detective, an online food diary which provides a huge database of foods and forms of exercise, and many other features to assist you in being conscious about food consumption.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Master Plan

Where was I?

Oh yes, lying in the sick bed, formulating the tactics. I had that broad mandate, of course:

  • Restoring balance: mind
  • Restoring balance: body
  • Restoring balance: ego
And I knew - don't we all? - that it all worked interdependently. I knew I wasn't going to get gorgeous before getting healthy. I knew I wasn't going to feel calm until I sorted out my physical health. I realized that the problem stemmed from my loss of equilibrium. The homeostasis that had formerly kept me well was no longer operational. How would I rediscover it?

First off, I determined which of my current lifestyle habits might be useful to retain:

  • Walking
  • Yoga
  • Curiosity (The urge to learn and change)
  • Acupuncture (which I've done intermittently since my teens)
Moreover, I knew, intuitively, what resource I required immediately. I needed an adviser. For me, this would take the form of a naturopath. Not only do I buy into the idea of intelligent natural medicine, but I wanted someone who would be an ally in my push toward health by a) determining what kind of systemic imbalances I might be working with b) reviewing my diet with an eye to improving it c) nutritionally supplementing that diet and those imbalances to correct them and d) educating me about viable holistic methods I might not have considered. Oh, and I wanted a practioner who worked specifically with women.

So, from my bed, I researched and found my naturopath, a doctor whom I've recommended a thousand times since, and got the ball rolling. I'll spare you the details - is that possible at this point??? - save mentioning that she (via 2 hour-long intake interviews and numerous blood and other tests) corroborated that I had nutritional and hormonal imbalances (including thyroid), a virtually non-existent immune system, a crappy diet and a seriously stressed out body.

To combat these, she recommended, based on my preferred activities and resources:

Balanced Mind Tactics:

  • About a zillion vitamins and supplements, to be discussed
  • Yoga (about which I already knew quite a bit, happily)
  • Acupuncture (Ditto)
  • Walking (Ditto)
(Hey, that I had 3 of the 4 down was pretty good for starters!)

Balanced Body Tactics:

  • All of the above PLUS:
  • Actual healthful diet, one major premise of which was...
  • ...Cutting out sugar and refined foods(what a nightmare)
  • Maintaining a food diary
  • Getting more sleep
Note: I'd already kept a food diary on and off for years and - while I wasn't eating well - I knew what eating well is. Of course, more insanely exciting info about this to come...

Reader, please note: When I go for something I don't fuck around. I followed every recommendation the good doc suggested, to the letter of the law, and I slowly noticed measurable improvement.

It was not a quick fix, but over the next few months, not only did I feel much less anxious, I stopped being sick all the time, became more svelte, my skin and hair improved, my energy levels increased. All of which went miles to improve my sense of self!

See, all you need to do is have a huge psycho emotional transformation, research an improvement methodology, take tons of tests, change your diet, sleep patterns and exercise habits, swill vitamins up the yin-yang, spend a reasonable wad of cash, wait out the transformation and it's easy as 123! :-)

Oh, and you can never really let up on the tactics. Did I mention that?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Critical Path

Where to begin with the huge subject of Health and Lifestyle? Whole talk shows manage to make this the cornerstone of their daily episodes. Celebrities the land over bombard us with new "plans". Reputable scientists and doctors - and those of questionable credit, moreover - churn out book after book.

I'm feeling sort of overwhelmed.

So I thought I'd start at the start - give you the personal preamble (honest but not so brief, to be honest), the reason I turned my mind to this monstrous topic in the first place:

I was in pretty good shape during my 20s. What does that mean exactly? Well, I was a vegetarian for a number of years, I walked miles a day (always have), did upwards of 10 hours of yoga a week (I was an Iyengar teacher throughout my 20s), got a lot of sleep and my weight was stable. I was also addicted to sugar and rather stressed, but then what self-respecting 20-something isn't?

I had a baby just before I turned 30. It was a turning point and, in brief, it was a destabilizing experience for me. My introduction to parenthood was by my own standards hideously stressful. I went through labour drug-free (yes, I am an idiot); there were complications. Then there were initial, post-natal concerns about my daughter's health. I am so grateful to say she's a healthy, happy, thriving girl. But the first couple of weeks of motherhood were traumatizing and they escalated my already keen levels of anxiety. The three years that followed were a haze of sleep-deprived misery. I did not enjoy motherhood. I feared it. (Never mind that I was also working full time, trying to co-manage a household, maintain a marriage and reclaim some small sliver of my former self...)

To compensate - well, I did many things to compensate, but the ones that are most germane to this discussion are these:
  • I ate. Like a lot. Like bags of cookies and chips. In stress-induced fits after prime time.
  • I abused sugar and caffeine. (That did wonders for my personality.)
  • I elevated anxious behaviours to an artform.
  • I walked compulsively.
  • I did a lot of yoga in the middle of the night.
  • I didn't go to bed until fatigue overwhelmed me, so as to avoid being woken by that curdling nighttime cry that tiny children come out with, only during the depths of their parents' sleep cycle.
By the time my child was 6, I'd burned the candle to the extent that it was a nub of string and a mushy goo. I was unwell constantly. I had gained weight. I had other intriguing physical symptoms (the indicators of extreme stress and an immune system that was all but shot). I got really sick and had to take 2 weeks off from work on doctor's orders. I spent that entire 2 weeks in a crush of sickness. It was enough time to seriously consider the impact of my lifestyle on my health for the long term. And then I realized: it really had to change.

Bear with me, I know this post is a behemoth.

Being the kind of girl I am, and under the influence of those OTC medications that cause me to hallucinate, I developed a sort of strategic plan for wellness expressing the mandate to restore balance of mind, body and ego (that's the lose weight and pallor part, in case it's not clear) by whatever means necessary. And being the kind of girl I am, I hit this sucker over the head with 87 tactics simultaneously, simply to increase the odds of my success.

BTW, I mention all of this, not to overshare, but to contextualize what comes next. I am very fortunate in that I started from a position of health (in my 20s) and that I was holistically-minded. Very fortunate that I am educated about diet, nutrition, exercise (specifically yoga) and other modalities to restore wellness. Very fortunate that I made the choice to change and that I am willing and able to incur the ongoing (and occasionally steep) costs ($$$ - but also discipline) of my "transformation".

Tomorrow, I'll talk more about the mandate and those high-level tactics. (Now I bet you're really starting to wonder about what kind of crazy ass day job I have :-))

Remember, You Agreed?

Later today I'll start posting the first of the outrageously long and rambling series known as Health and Lifestyle Theme Week. My apologies in advance to any hardcore fashion readers for whom diet and exercise do not provide over-the-top excitement. If you fall into that camp, be assured that we'll be back to regular programming in just a few days. For everyone else, please stand by.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Way to Get Ahead

My husband who, for years, has been threatening to shave his head, disappeared this morning into the basement and, 20 minutes later, reemerged looking like a cross between Mr. Clean and this dealer who lives up the block.

My daughter, on seeing him, screamed from shock, started crying and ran to her room. That was 15 minutes ago.

Did I mention no one's made me coffee yet? This should be an interesting day...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tat(tle) Tale

A couple of days ago, while walking to work, I spied an urban mom out with her urban kid having one of those hideous, no-win arguments that are so de rigeur with the under 5 set. I discreetly observed the proceedings from a few feet away, smiling empathetically natch, when something fantastic caught my eye: This woman, dressed unobtrusively for a hot summer day (black tank, shorts and flip flops) was the canvass for a most elegant tattoo. A garland of beautifully rendered tea roses encircled her neck asymmetrically, winding from the collarbone up as if she were a trellis. If only that wretched child had let up slightly on the freak out, no doubt I would have asked her all about it and reported back.

At any rate, this really got me thinking re: tattoos. Though I am endlessly fascinated - and often delighted - by body art, for the following reasons I don't have any (and probably never will):

  • I'm a bit north of the age-span for which tattoo getting is a regular rite of passage. (When I was young, we misspent our youth on dangerous sexual practices...) Furthermore, I was raised conservatively (as far as personal presentation is concerned) and tattoos were considered somewhat blue-collar (forgive the pun). While I don't buy that hype now, it did influence my decisions 20 years ago.
  • In the words of my friend Nicole "What if I don't like it 3 years from now?" Style may be eternal, but I am fickle, and I have serious concerns that the K who chooses something now could be lamenting it later. What can I say; it's the Gemini in me...
  • The process of obtaining said tatoo kind of creeps me out. Don't get me wrong, I've been getting acupuncture regularly since my teens, but those needles are as thin as thread and are not laced with ink. Oh, and they go in once and then you're done. I'm very squeamish about having something pumped into my skin. Something painful. This doesn't bode well for the Botox years :-)
  • And finally (and probably most relevantly), I'm not sure I want to see my body age through the prism of a tattoo. I'm old enough now to see how skin changes, how gravity works. And while I'm optimistic that it's never going to impact me horrendously (what with my defying age and all :-)), the bet-hedger in me is concerned about putting it to the test with indelible ink.

I know that many of you have gorgeous tattoos. I've read about them and seen photos of them and admired them from afar. So today's question is: What do you think of body art (feel free to include piercing if you like)? Do you have some? If no, why not? If yes, what made you choose the design(s) you have. Are you addicted? So intrigued to hear your answers...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The One Kind of Shopping I Don't Do...

I've been reading lately about how some people touch up their photos in Photoshop, which is a fascinating practice IMO. I mean, if it works for Heidi, why shouldn't it work for you? And the technology is so available it's practically democratic!

Of course, it won't shock you to know that I don't do this. Naturally, if I did, my arms would look more like Cindy Crawford's and my boobs like Laetitia Casta's and my stomach like Gisele's and my legs - no, actually I'm keeping the legs as is. You get the point.

And knowing me, if I touched up my pictures, I'd go way overboard - like a US Vogue cover - and you wouldn't even know me to bump into me on the streetcar. Which isn't exactly genuine.

The Skinny on why I don't use Photoshop:

  • I know I blame everything I don't do on my age but, seriously, the more likely you are to need it, the less likely you are to have it on your computer. I have access, of course, but I don't so much care to learn how to do it well. Is that terrible? Don't we all look a bit crappier for laziness?
  • While I've adapted amicably to so many of the unfathomable 21st century conventions (Brazilian wax, anyone?), I'd feel a bit artificial about photoshopping. I mean, I wouldn't bother just to get rid of some red-eye. I'd be sculpting the abs and the ass and the boobs and the shoulders and then I'd give my nose a little shaping and I'd make my hair fuller and I'd probably end up a a whole new colour. And, seriously, I like me! So where does it end?

Today, I'd like to know: Have you ever (or routinely) photoshopped yourself? Why? Do you have strong feelings about the practice?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I alluded to Montreal's Space FB in a recent post, a boutique which makes elegant items with fluid lines which belie some very reasonable prices. Esp. when you buy in the July sales.

I got a great oversized wool cardi in black - for the fall natch, the last one from last winter's collection - and this diaphanous dress that makes me feel strangely like an Alvin Ailey dancer (amazing given my body type, I realize...)

So, vaguely amusing story, I wore this, sans cami, to dinner on the Sat. night I was in Mtl. My husband and daughter had to leave the cab a few blocks from the restaurant (car sick child moment) and, given hideous traffic, I eventually opted to get out about a block from the restaurant and walk the rest of the way. As I wandered, I notice that a whack of cute guys seemed to be checking me out, like a lot, and I was feeling pretty good about being me, practically an Alvin Ailey dancer, long and strong and sexy on a Saturday night. That is until I looked down and noticed that the panel of jersey covering my left boob had completely slid out to the side and I was seriously flashing half the student population of McGill.

OK, I guess it could have been worse. I was wearing a great-looking, perfectly-fitted black bra. But when I go all out exhibitionist, I tend to like to be in on the game...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Strawberry Fields Forever

OK, so today it appears I could not take a good picture to save my life. Honestly, 60 photos turned into 5 usable shots - and they're all quite marginal (let's be blunt).

Feeling hideous is no fun but then neither is torrid hormonal flux and, when it rains peeps, it pours.

As it's going to be a while before I get in another shoot, and as I do think this dress - the one I got with Yulanda on our staycation excursion - is adorable (pron. with French accent, for extra flair), I'm posting these nonetheless:

I know the hem of the inner collar is riding up in pic #2 but I couldn't figure out how to fix it (more on my ignorance of Photoshop to come in the near future...) Oh, and while I'm bitching, seriously what is going on with my hair?? I'm having a Beatles at Shea Stadium moment. How regrettable that look has seen its day... (Well, maybe moptop loving WendyB can appreciate it :-))

Monday, August 4, 2008

Fascinating Facts, Courtesy of HQ Galerie + Boutique

As I've mentioned at some length, the HQ shopping experience in Montreal recently was truly enjoyable. Regrettably, I wasn't able to meet Angie or Tyson, but Judy and Amanda were excellent ambassadors and the shop was just delish.

Cut to update: Here are a few things I've learned from Angie and the HQ blog over the past few days...

1. My shell necklace has this exciting tale to recommend it:

To give you a bit of the provenance of the necklace, it is in fact vintage, dead-stock to be precise (ie. never worn). But to me the charm in this piece comes from the amazing place I found it. The location is of course a secret, but the elderly gentleman who owns the store speaks very little english, and I speak very little french, (yet) we manage to get along wonderfully somehow and he pulls special things out of his back storage for me. This lovely necklace was one of those things. I'm estimating it's from the late 70's.

Don't you love this??

2. That painted T I bought is by a small line called Urban Pigeon. You can see some great photos of their handiwork, and learn more about their handpainted prints here.

3. And, finally, while we're on the topic of textiles, yesterday's HQ post may be of great interest to you crafty bloggers out there. Spoonflower is this company that will print you up any fabric you design with no minimum. Gotta love this digital age, huh? I mean, Angie talks this up so well that I want to start designing textiles!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Toronto Bloggers Unite!

OK, you know how I love little thoughts. Well, I had such a delightful Saturday with its mastermind, the incomparable Yulanda, I've decided I simply must meet the rest of you :-)

We met at The Swan for eggs benedict...

Chatted about all things vintage while ambling along Crawford to Apt. 909 and other faves...

Browsed the shops with such dedication that neither of us had the wherewithal to take any pictures...

Took a well-deserved break at Fresh, over smoothies...

(I know, she's gorgeous!)

And, finalement, said our farewells on College St.

Y is truly a phenom photographer - a woman who observes her world with the eye of an artist and a camera at the ready. I was so pleased to have the chance to speak with her at length about photography and the many other artistic endeavours at which she excels.

At Apt. 909, I did get a fab new dress, which I'd show you except my staff photographer is in Oakville today. Pls. stay tuned for photos in the near future.

And, most excitingly, I spoke with Dai (co-owner) who told me - and this might be a scoop! - that he and a partner from Japan are starting a clothing line. Stupidly, I can't remember the name. It's that I was so blown away but a prototype for a jacket he showed me, everything else is a blur. Seriously, I practically begged him to sell it to me. Natch, he couldn't. But you will definitely hear more about this when the line is in the store...

I would love to get together with other bloggers in TO (or visiting) so please don't be shy. Maybe, next time Y and I go out for the day, you'd like to join us for some fun.