December 22, 2011

SWAP of the TnT: Pick 7, make 11

Swap is back.  It may not (yet) have prizes, but it has the most important aspect of all--the foundations of a good solid wardrobe that you will wear and wear and wear. 

This year's swap concept is definitely a winner.  It started a while ago with a discussion about patterns and needing good basics that could be changed around and used in so many ways.  Then there were a few of us who wanted to fit some good basics, and were going to do this during the last three months before Swap as we waited for the challenge.  And now--fitting good basics is the challenge aspect of swap!

DragonLady posted the rules for SWAP2012, and said don't overthink, just do:

This year, our SWAP will focus on fitting, and making tried-and-true patterns: testing and fitting paper patterns, muslins, and fashion garments that will help lower the overall sewing failure rates,  result in fabulous clothing to be proud of, and (hopefully) give every contestant a pattern or two that works every time it is used.

Choose any seven garments from this list:

Button Down Shirt w/Collar         
Blouse or shirt   (collar is optional)               
Shorts or Capri Pants     
Jacket (jean jacket, windbreaker, hoodie, etc.)                   
Coat  (suit or sport coat)
Overcoat or Raincoat   
Bathing Suit & Coverup

From those seven, choose four to make twice for a total of 11 garments that will work together.   Those four may either be repeated garments from the same pattern, or one each from two different patterns.

It doesn't matter what styles you choose, but *do* keep in mind these should be patterns you will be using over and over in the future, so keep 'em simple with lots of room for future alterations, changes and embellishments.  You will probably want to make a test muslin of each pattern, so that any fitting issues can be addressed early on.

If you already have a full set of basic patterns, this is your opportunity to expand a bit.  You may have all the coats and coat patterns you'll ever need, so you can skip that and make two skirts instead.

For those of you who rarely wear pants, I'm allowing you to choose  another skirt or dress to substitute for a pants-type bottom.  This is only to prevent you from having to make a garment that will rarely or never be worn just for the sake of this contest, and only because the main idea of this year's contest is to make patterns that will be used over and over.  If pants (or shorts or jeans or whatever) are regular part of your wardrobe, you should make pants instead.  If you are using this option to make an extra skirt or dress, remember that you will get more mileage if you use seperate patterns that use different construction techniques or are fitted differently (i.e. one woven, and one knit).
In other words: Pick 7; make 11.   

Here I am looking at the list and trying to actually narrow it down to just 7 patterns, lol: 

Button Down Shirt w/Collar         
1. Blouse or shirt   (collar is optional) ** absolutely                
T-Shirt  (hmm, I have a good pattern for this, and I wear these all the time, maybe/maybe not)    
2. Dress--Sheath dress, here I come            
3. Jeans--Jalie jeans, dress jeans

4. Trousers  ** work pants!       
Shorts or Capri Pants     
Skirt  (hmm, I have two patterns already, and I mostly don't wear skirts)
5. Jacket (jean jacket, windbreaker, hoodie, etc.)  **casual jacket block, and a panel jacket block           

Coat  (suit or sport coat)
Overcoat or Raincoat--maybe?    
Bathing Suit & Coverup

Looks like I'm still thinking about this one...

December 20, 2011

What have I been up to?

Well, for the last 9 weeks or so, I've been sick. I'm still teaching, and moderating part of the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup, and all those things I'm supposed to do, like sing at concerts and direct concerts.  But, wow, am I ever tired.

At first it was a cold.  Then it was bronchitis, that just didn't go away.  Then, when I finally went to the doctor after 5 weeks, she put me on inhalers, maintenance inhalers and antibiotics, and I was better for a while, but I've been really tired. (Her comment?  Well, if you aren't getting enough oxygen, you are going to be tired!)  But, she's ordered some tests, which I will do between Christmas and New Years. Then, week 9 of this ridiculous something,  I was grouchy.  Grouchy is normal for teachers heading into the Christmas season, but this seemed a little odd.  Friday, when I woke up sounding like a bass, I thought--oh, not again!  I don't have time for this. I have a concert to sing on Sunday.  I need to deal with the Christmas tree.  I need to get presents.  The present stash?  Oh it is empty!  So, I ignored it, and trudged on. 

Saturday, I got up, croaked a bit, and hubbie made me go back to bed.  I slept for 20 hours.  Sunday I was up for 1 hour and went back to bed.  Monday, I was up all day, but every time I got up to walk around or I laugh, I start hacking up a lung.  Today, I am officially tired of being sick, which must mean I am finally getting better.  I have enough energy to be tired of being sick.

Ok, enough whining!  What have I been working on?  Stash reduction.  Getting ready for another term as a student in the House Cup.  Dealing with whinging parents, and preparations for another year of VEX robotics competitions, along with Lego robotics competitions.  Planning on how to reduce the ridiculously large stash of yarn that is currently invading our house. 

 One of the things I am going to make this year for our anniversary is a blanket for our bed.  More specifically, this:

Which will, I hope, become this:
  Only bigger!  Much bigger! The pictured blanket is the original Mitered Crosses Blanket for Japan, by Kay Gardiner.  You can purchase the pattern here, on Ravelry.  Each of the squares is roughly 8".   My squares are 19" across. 

On a conservative estimate, I will be making either 18 or 23 squares, to make a blanket that will cover our bed, and drape over the sides.  But the layout, and the look will be like the blanket above, either four across or five across, and five rows down.    I'm not using Noro Silk Garden, which although beautiful is definitely not husband proof.   Well, not my husband anyway.  I'm using stash yarn.  Specifically the Red Heart Super Saver, and other worsted weight acrylics from the stash that are currently exploding out of our basement and invading the living room.

The scary thing is that I think the blanket will only make a little dent in the stash.  

Must tame the stash.  Must get it back to something more reasonable. 

August 8, 2011


I was poking around for inspiration for my 6 pack (well, given my sewing habits, I would say my 6 pack will end up being more like a 6 pack plus 3), and found this jacket on Madeline.  This online shop is a vintage shop that is wonderful fun to poke through--the best of the best of designer clothing.  If you are into decades, there is something here for you. 

And I think this jacket just might end up as the inspiration piece for my 6 pack.  I can see this one being made from Loes Hinse Bolero's Multiples pattern, in a nice brown wool, lined with bemburg.  The belt would be inserted into the waist of the the inset collar.  With interesting buttons, and a belt piece, this would be a really fun jacket.  Off to plot in the aging stash!  

Line drawing for the Boleros Multiples Jacket; View C in the shorted length

August 4, 2011

Faye Skirt--Style Arc Patterns

I've been spending money on patterns.  One of the companies I wanted to try out, based on their positive reviews at Sewing Pattern review are  Style Arc patterns.

I measure exactly their 16 on the bottom, and their 12 on the top.  Pretty unusual.  What I really like about these patterns is that they give you a really great set of measurements for their blocks, including the shoulder width measurements, which is what I usually use to pick an upper body pattern.  So I splurged, and purchased 3 patterns: a shirt, a pair of pull on pants, and a tshirt pattern.  The bonus was the Faye skirt pattern. When they arrived today, I just had to try out the skirt pattern. Based on this one, I'm giving these patterns a two thumbs up rating.  Give them a try. 

Faye Skirt, Style Arc
pull on elastic waist skirt, intended to be made out of stretch jersey

Pattern Sizing:  Style arc patterns come one size.  I used a  16, exactly as measured, with no modifications to pattern

Fabric and Notions:
1.5 m black cotton lycra jersey
34" 1/2" elastic
I have no idea when I purchased this fabric, but I think it is at least 10 years old. 

Garment photo: goes here when the photographer finally gets around to it.

Pattern alterations or design changes: This was my first try with these patterns, so I left everything well enough alone.  I wanted to see how this block fit, and I figured that if the pattern didn't fit, the fabric was so old that it didn't matter if it was a wader.  Good thing I like the fabric I used though, because it fits perfectly. 

Does it look like the pattern photo? Oh yeah, it does.  It is quite long on me, but it looks like the picture. 

Likes or Dislikes about the garment? Other than the fact that it is long by a couple of inches (not unexpected; I am only 5'1" and I'm sure these are drafted for someone around 5'6"), I love the skirt.  It is comfortable and stretchy.  I will make it again, for sure, but I will shorten the pattern by taking out a 2" pleat at the hemline notch mark, to make it my perfect length.

Comments about the pattern:
Style Arc patterns are industrial patterns.  They are printed with whole front and whole back pieces, instead of expecting you to cut something out on the fold.  They have industrial standards for seam allowances and hems, in this case 1cm.   They come in sleeve protectors, which I really like since I store my traced off patterns in sleeve protectors in binders, with the image of the garment, the suggested amounts to purchase,  a small sample of the suggested fabric, and really basic sewing instructions.   

The advantage of the pattern is that it fits exactly the way it says it is going to fit, if you use the suggested fabric.  The disadvantage is that you need to have a pretty good idea of how to sew things together, since some of the terms used in the instructions aren't common ones in the North American home sewing market.   Instructions are often overrated, so fit is way more important to me than instructions, but I would have liked a better instruction on how to put the elastic inside the skirt so that the elastic doesn't show, as in the picture.  My elastic shows; it isn't bad, but it isn't the cute hidden elastic in the pattern.

July 28, 2011

French Chic, and the essential list

I've been reading The Vivienne Files which are awesome.  Her idea of appropriate fabrics doesn't work with my wash and wear lifestyle, but I love her concepts.  If I was going to distill her words down, they would be these:  choose your best colours and stick to them, buy the best you can afford to take care of, make sure that every piece says something about your essential style, and no fluff.  She does a two things I really agree with: limits the colours to two or three that work together, and mixes the level of 'formal' in the wardrobe so there is more flex for real life planning than a lot of other planning suggestions I have seen. 

Her list of the 15 essential garments was summarized from a book I have never gotten my hands on.  In her words (July 8 blog post, for those interested):

One of the things about the book French Chic (Susan Sommers) which intrigued me was the list of garments which included "The seven essentials no well-dressed Frenchwoman would be without".
That list included:
  1. A black straight skirt
  2. a V-neck or cardigan sweater
  3. a suit
  4. a pair of jeans
  5. a silk shirt
  6. a couple of white tee-shirts
  7. an Hermes scarf
The idea of a list of essential clothing fascinates me; in a world that tries to compel me to over-consume, that finite-ness of a list like this, in which I could have some discipline and some structure, seems heaven-sent. 

She adds more here, and finishes with another list:

But of course, the French wardrobe is not limited to just the above.  French Chic counsels us that there are eight other garments which will round out the wardrobe.  And this still is not the end of a French wardrobe - they do indeed own more than 16 pieces of clothing, but it does make up the core.

"The eight extras in a well-dressed wardrobe":
  1. A white cotton shirt
  2. a pullover sweater
  3. a full or pleated skirt
  4. pleated trousers
  5. a simple sweater dress
  6. a trenchcoat
  7. a black leather blouson
  8. a heavy coat

I think it is a great foundation list.  It reminds me of Tim Gunn's ten essentials list, and a few others I could name, like the Eileen Fisher's style lists. 

I know me, so there are things I definitely would do differently in my own life.   I don't wear pleated pants, for example, so I would include a fuller leg, dressy pant instead.  Sweater dress with my thighs isn't going to happen but I will wear a sheath dress or a classic 50's style dress.   Scarves are out; I don't wear things around my neck because they are a safety hazard.  I love the concept of starting with an inspiration piece, and the scarf with its many colours is a good example of working from inspiration to limit colours.     

If I was going to summarize this list down to some essential pattern basics for someone who truely wanted to sew their wardrobe, it would go like this:

Three really good pants patterns: 
  • a good basic trouser pattern--nice dress pants, or good chinos, depending on your fabric
  • a jeans pattern
  • a pleated pants pattern, or a fuller leg dressy pattern
Two really good skirt patterns:
  • a slim skirt pattern--for me, this is the classic knee length straight skirt, but I think the style depends on your personal preferences
  • a fuller skirt pattern; for me this is a 12 gore skirt, but I could see a pleated skirt here too
One, or two really good dress patterns
  • a good classic dress up or down dress; for me this is a sheath or dress without a waist seam
  • a more casual dress with a waist seam; for me, this is the 50s style dress, with a skirt
Several tops patterns, which can be changed to go up or down in formality, depending on fabrics and styling
  • a twin set pattern, which included a shell and sweater--my preference would be a vneck sweater and sleevelss shell with a scoop neck, but I can see tastes varying for this
  • a really good tshirt
  • a blouse pattern--button down the front, good styling, that can be made from cotton or silk to be formal or casual
  • some form of pullover sweater pattern; for me, this is a  v-neck classic style (although, I would be more likely to knit this than sew this garment
  • a jacket pattern, classic styling for a suit, but with some definite style.  
And, over it all layer patterns
  • a trench coat, rain coat, or all weather coat
  • a leather jacket or dressier all weather coat
  • a decent heavy coat
What she doesn't include in her list at all is gym wear, which in the French tradition is worn strictly in the gym, not for every day wear in the street.  If you are exercising 3 to 5 days a week you need gym clothes.  I would add to her list two more items to her list of essentials: decent gym pants (yoga pants, or capri pants or shorts) and some kind of warm up jacket.

 Looks like a pretty good list of clothing to start with.  Now, off to plan.  

July 27, 2011

Summertime Blues Wardrobe: Finally, some pictures...

Finally, some of the promised pictures.  It all started with this blue ruffled sweater, and just grew.  This is both my Spring and Summer capsules, with a few extras.  I ended up with two sweaters, a jacket, two dresses, three skirts, five tops, as well as a pair of pants, a pair of black capris, and a pair of black city.  No pictures of the pants, yet. 

All of it goes with what I already own, which is black.  Some of it, like the sweaters, are more transitional than summer weight, but when you consider that I started this whole wardrobe in April, that makes sense. 

The ever present Simplicity 2603 drape sweater, made from a ruffled sofa throw.  I had about 9" square left.  No center back seam, and all the edges were preruffled from the throw.

Top: Ballet top, self drafted, cut as a double layered reversible top, edged with serger ruffling.  Skirt is self drafted, and gathered using the ruffler foot on my new serger at a 2:1 ratio.

Top: Simplicity 3566, cut with a 12 for shoulder and length, and a 16 through the body. Finished with a full back facing instead of the turn and topstitch suggested in the pattern.  Skirt: self drafted 12 gore, exterior seaming detail. Fabric was a neat cotton print gauze remnant found at a second hand store.

Dress:  Self drafted Ballet dress, sleeveless.  Fabric is printed rayon jersey; it doesn't have a lot of body, but it breathes.

Dress: Self drafted Ballet dress, sleeveless, with full facing to finish edges.  Fabric is a linen cotton blend that relaxes with wear.  Comfortable, as long as it doesn't get stuffed into the dryer by hubbie, because then it shrinks until it has been worn for a couple of hours.

Jacket: Loes Hinse Bolero, longer length.  Cut XS shoulders and medium body (notice a pattern here); sleeves shortened about 4".  This came out way way more formal than I expected, but it is definitely sharp. 

Top: Sleeveless tie neck blouse, cotton knit of unknown age.  PMB draft, taken in about 4" total because of the stretch of the knit.  Comfortable, but dressier than I expected.

Top: yet another version of the Simplicity top. Lightweight white double knit.  Great pattern. 

Top: yes, another Simplicity top.  Black cotton single knit, of unknown age. 

Skirt: Self drafted 12 gore pull on skirt.  I used all kinds of remnants of bits from the black clothes I have been making for the last 6 months including striped/sheer knit, cut in several directions, rayon poly-lycra crepe, rayon poly lycra stripes, black stretch baby corderoy, black single knit, black rpl double knit, and at least one mystery piece.

Top: white scoop necked tank cut from the ballet dress pattern, double layer on front with cotton stretch lace.  The edging didn't work as well.  I may redo this edge again.

Sweater: Another Simplicity 2603 drape sweater.  This one is white cotton double knit for the front and the sleeves, and white stretch lace for the back.  I finished it with the serger ruffle edging, but I may just take that off again, because it feels like too much on. 

Back of the sweater, shown over the white tank top.  The back is sheer, just the lace.  I thought it was a fun detail; the teenage fashion commentator was not convinced. 

July 26, 2011

Look Chic but Wash and Wear like Iron!

For the last two weeks, I've been looking over all the information about swap, sewing with a plan, capsule planning, small wardrobes, and packing with a weight limit, and I have one thought I keep coming back to when I try to take these concepts back to my own life: I have to sew for reality!  Sewing to reflect reality means making choices in fabrics and styles that reflect my own every day life. My reality is this:  my clothes must look chic, but wash and wear like iron.

I love the whole idea of The very tiny closet, and French Chic, but I don't work in an office or corporate environment.  Three really high quality mix and match suits are not part of my lifestyle options. I work in an elementary school.  I love 3 ply silk  and wool and silk twills with the best of them, but my lifestyle is more along the lines of LL Bean and  Eileen Fisher fabrics.  High quality rayon poly-lycra fabrics will survive, but wool and silk twill probably won't in my glue and glitter, 7 year old filled world.  I have to be able to get dressed in a very short amount of time, and look put together and trustworthy and thoughtful, no matter who walks through my classroom door.  I need to look appropriately presentable even when the Governor General's representative, along with about 6 secret service people, walk in the door of the gym unexpectedly, or I meet the Education Minister of India.  Suits are probably not going to be high on my must invest in list of clothing, but outfits that work together and look put together no matter who I am talking to while I'm helping program robots are really high on the list.  Scarves that drag into the glue really aren't, even if they are beautiful. I have a couple of very nice straight black skirts that I don't wear, because I can't get  down on the floor to play when I am wearing them.  A 12 gore swing skirt is more appropriate to my life than a lovely straight skirt, much as I like them. 

I'm also really not an avant garde kind of clothing woman.  I have less height and more curves than most of those patterns, which are mostly appropriate to the straight and statuesque figures.  As much as I like the ideas and thought and executions of some of the more interesting vogue patterns, I know I'm not going to wear them.  My hems needs to be level.   I'm not going to colour block with exposed edges; they don't feel trust worthy or appropriately put together to me, even if I do like the concept.  There has got to be a little more polish in my clothes than fraying tshirt edgings.

My sewing for my fall capsule wardrobe needs to reflect these ideas: 'put together,  approachable, thoughtful, chic, wears like iron'.

Facts, and facing the sewing room...

Has anyone else here found, after looking for a pattern, that they had more than one copy of the same pattern in the same size?  Or, since they can't actually find the pattern, given up and gone out and purchased another one, only to find it on the shelf above the cutting table, ready to trace?  Well, yeah.  This happened in the last two weeks.  Both of these things.  Combined with the 'I cannot sit down anywhere because of the piles of stuff' and I don't want to sew because of the piles of stuff, I have come to two realizations: I have too much, and it is time to thin. 

I hate thinning stuff, but it has to be done because if I don't,  I won't sew.  I refuse to think of it as 'wasted money' (it will bless someone else, I am sure), but it is frustrating to take bags and bags of stuff away from your space that you will never use or sew.  Tastes change over time.  Mine certainly have.  More to the point, my children's tastes, and sizes have changed.  I have thinned five full garbage bags of things like patterns that no longer fit anyone in our house, and are not classic enough to keep for the grandchildren or friends' children sewing, dated books or magazines that really no longer are worth their shelf space.  These will bless someone else, Even fabric got thinned: fabric that is for babies,  or is too small a piece for anyone to use  except a toddler, or simply isn't going to get made by us any time soon.  There are three sewers in my house now, so when a fabric really doesn't make that cut, it needs to go out.  I had three copies of Kwik Sew's sewing for babies; really? I need one copy.  Someone else will enjoy the others, because they are good books. 

(There should be a picture of many boxes and black bags here, destined for our local second hand shop, but I will spare you).

On the sewing front, I have been working on bits and pieces that go together, for my summer blues wardrobe.  I've been trying to do some versions of a pattern for the Sewing Pattern Review One Pattern, Many Looks.  I've been playing with the Silouettes Three Piece Yoga pant pattern, for this.  Some versions are much better than others, lol.  The denim yoga shorts went from my body into the black bag.  They were cool, but just didn't work, even with the fun pockets.  Just not comfortable.  But, I am wearing the black knit city shorts version right now, and they totally work.  From that pattern I have made two pairs of shorts, two pairs of capri pants  and a pair of pants.  I'm going to add a pair of stretch denim pants and a pair of stretch denim city shorts, and then post a review.  But, I am still in picture challenged mode.  Hopefully tonight. 

July 2, 2011

Working on the summer capsule....

Does anyone ever stick to a plan more than a weekend?  Since this has gone on so long now, I changed a few things, but that always happens.   I decided I would combine some ideas from Sewingplum's blog which has really great line drawings of shapes that will work for me with a little bit of tweaking of my tnt patterns, with the skeleton of ideas from  Dr. E's Sewing 6 pack.  

About 3/4 of the spring capsule is sewn.  I've settled out on steel blue, plum and white between the two wardrobes.  All those colours will work with my black basics from last summer, and I can extend them to grey if I need to add another deep coloured basic, but I'm trying to lighten things up this summer.  

SPRING: A touch of the blues:
This is a more casual wardrobe that can be dressed up or down, depending on the circumstances.  This means layers, light, washable, and mostly knits. 

Trousers (neutral)--blue yoga pants, tnt pants with a modification of elastic in a bound waistband

1 blouse to match--v neck tie neck shell, done
1 complementary blouse: reversible lace/knit shell with ruffle edges, in layers
1 complementary blouse: still thinking about this one, maybe it will be a pink shell
1 Layering top/cardigan (to match skirt/trousers)-blue ruffled swing style jacket
Jacket (co-ordinating neutral)- zipper jacket, to match the yoga pants, still working on this one
 Additional pieces:
Dress--pull on knit dress with big blue flowered print--done and awesome
Pants--blue, straight leg capri style
Skirt in matching blue knit--Eileen Fisher style, with fold over waistband

Dress--another pull on knit dress, of some description, maybe grey?
Skirt (accent colour)--plum skirt, using the slim skirt style of Eileen fisher, with the foldable waist band to vary length
1 blouse to match skirt--plum knit blouse with draping sides
1 blouse to complement skirt--draped front neck shell, simplicity pattern tnt
1 blouse to complement skirt--white shell, lined lace front with plain white back, tnt pattern
1 light layering top/cardigan--white cardigan, with lace back matches the lace on the shell

Planned bonus pieces:
leggings in black and blue, from the newest Ottobre Woman Magazine
capri pants in grey, plum and steel blue

June 14, 2011

Long time, no chat

Wow!  I have been away a long time.  It is report card evening, and I am procrastinating.  Back to sewing, and I will also chat a little about my knitting.

On the sewing front--I'm going to do a Spring and a Summer 6 pack in the next couple of weeks.  For those who don't know, the original idea is here.  I love the idea, and the basics are great.  I've been wearing the pieces I made at Christmas every day. On the great side for this system of wardrobing: I can get dressed in 5 minutes.  On the not so great side--everything I currently wear is black or dark brown.

I really need to lighten everything up for summer.  I am tired of black and brown.  For this round, my base colours are black, bright blue, stone, and white.  The summer wardrobe will include some lemon yellow, and plums and pinks, just because I like them.  I need summer basics of all kinds, badly.  I currently own one pair of black capris, one pair of denim shorts that are far too short to wear to teach in at school, and one black sleeveless tie shell.  I need to fill out some warm weather work clothes, and some warm weather casual clothes. 

Trousers (neutral)--pull on yoga pants, in cotton lycra/spandex blend, in my blue base.
Blouse/top to match--sleeveless tie shell, in matching blue cotton knit
Blouse/top to complement--vogue cowl pattern, in wild blue/pink/plum print knit
Blouse/top to complement--printed georgette tie shell, sleeveless
1 Layering top/cardigan (to match skirt/trousers)--blue knit draped front sweater coat; made from a really cool ruffled sofa throw that exactly matches my cotton lycra blend. 
Jacket (co-ordinating neutral)--this one will be my tnt jacket, with a zipper and pockets, out of matching fabric to the pants. 
Additional pieces?
--draped neck sleeveless blouse in a printed knit. 
--dress--something in blue?  Not sure about this one
--blue capri leggings

All of these will go with all my black neutrals, and with my three pairs of denim pants.  

Dress: my tnt sheath dress in a blue stretch texture cotton
Skirt:  something swirly and blue, and cotton, and full
Top 1: a sleeveless white draped neck shell (Simplicity tnt pattern), made from the same fabric as the front of the swing jacket with the lace back
Top 2:  a sleeveless blue cotton shell, fabric to match the skirt? probably a swing style tunic length top
Top 3:  Something with the asymmetrical shoulder look (I have an old new look pattern that has this look) 

1 layering piece:  Simplicity swing jacket with a lace back, and white knit for the front.  I have seen cardigans similar to this in RTW, and love the idea.

Additional pieces:  I need capris for work, so at least three pairs of capris, with cuffs, in rayon poly lycra, black, blue.  Possibly a pair of blue, black or white leggings to go under the skirts. Since everything I own will go with any of these, I think this will be a great start.

March 12, 2011

Motivation...and a review

I've been ruminating this week about motivation.  What motivates me to get up off the couch and move?  Or sew, or knit, or create, or.. even clean?

I started going to Kaerobics in January because I knew I needed to start moving, that I wasn't dealing with my life stress well,  and I needed some social motivation to exercise.  My oldest, who was my gym buddy, went to university.  I stopped going to the gym.  I knew I needed to do something active.  Kaerobics is my social exercise time; I get to hang around with my god-son, and my husbands bff and his wife.  It is my chance to go out and socialize, after running around like a fool and sweating my brains out in a fun way.  I am learning; I am having fun, and I like it. 

Yesterday was the First day of March break, and I decided I was going to be lazy, sit around, watch tv and drink a glass of wine instead of going to Kaerobics.  I wanted to leave school early for once, not sit around until it was time to go to class on the last day before March break. This morning, my body is explaining to me pretty clearly that I need to get up off the couch and move.  Other times I've missed class, I've been sick, and didn't want to infect anyone.  This time--I can tell that I needed to get up and move and my body is whining. It wants some motion and some go.  That, my friends, is new.  I have energy, and my body wants exercise.  

A friend at work mentioned the Body for Life challenge, where people take a challenge and totally change their bodies in 12 weeks; the pictures are pretty amazing.  I found a copy of Body for Life for Women at the bookstore last night on the clearance shelf.  She wants to do it again.

The challenge seriously tempts me. The whole book reminds me very much of the No Excuses Work Out System,  which I already own but do not used consistently.  12 week challenges, do interval based exercise combined with weights, change your diet.  Yep.  All in NEWO. Personal training component--available in NEWO (at a cost).   I've got NEWO.  I know it will work for me if I do it.  My current excuse is that I don't have a heart rate monitor (yes, it is an excuse.  Probably one that I will change today).  So why am I looking at another system instead of using the one I have? 

I seriously think I'm being ineffective with NEWO because I don't have a target goal and the personal motivation that will keep me focused for the short time.  There is nothing wrong with NEWO; I know it will work in the long run.  In fact, I intend to stay with it for the long term. The issue is with me and my own personal motivation for the short term.  The Body-for-life for Women book actually expressed this really well for me, in the form of questions.  What is going to be my pm motivator?  What will get me to the gym on that really bad day when I feel like going home and having diet coke and potato chips for supper? How am I going to deal with my toxic stress?

In the past, I've exercised to deal with the stress of change.  I exercised a lot after going to University and being transferred to a new school.  Exercise helped me tremendously at that point.  It dealt with my depression, and left me able to cope, and my body liked being a size 6-8.  It felt good.  I've been dealing with serious toxic stress in the last four years. On top of dealing with developing life threatening allergies and physical limitations and chronic pain, well--you get the picture-- my oldest has left home, I'm working at a brand new school, and I'm dealing with chronic pain. I'm not trying to make excuses.  This is my reality.  But, I need to do something to change how I'm dealing with my reality because I don't like the flabby body I've got right now.  If I can change my body to be something I like to hang around with in 12 weeks, then I am going to seriously think about it.  And, I know from the last time I went through this kind of thing in University, once my body gets to that nice space, it likes to stay there.  So, 12 weeks means June, and I can stay focused for 12 weeks. 

My personal challenge has to do with the diet.  Most of the diets suggested in these exercise programs fail me.  I am anaphylactically allergic to low fat foods (fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, nuts) along with melons and mangoes.  Almost every protein supplement depends on eggs or albumin produced from eggs, nuts or fish components to be effective.  All of the above will kill me, which rules out the 'supplement portion' of the body for life challenge, I think.  I have to check ingredients to be certain.  I can only eat red meat.  So, I can't just take a diet program that uses low fat as the basis of change in diet and use it.  NEWO was no exception.  But both of them suggest water, which I am trying to do consistently.  Healthy balanced portions, more veggies, more frequent meals.  So, it will take some thinking and planning to get this to work for me. 

So working through some of my reasons for starting to focus on changing my body. 

Why do I want to exercise?  What do I want out of the whole thing?
  • To avoid the wheel chair, and the high blood pressure medication in the long run.
  • To have some personal balance in my life, and develop some stress resiliance.
  • To feel better. 
  • To like what I see in the mirror.  
Going a little deeper:
  • I want to be around for my kids in 30 years, not in a wheel chair, but up and playing with my grandbabies.  
  • I want to be able to play pick-up basket ball and soccer this year.  My hips hurt today, which means that the exercise is making a difference, because they didn't hurt last week.  I want to be able to run without huffing or hurting myself.  I want to not hurt when I lift a full size basket ball.  I want to make the baskets, not struggle to lift the ball.
  • I want to look good, not jiggly or fat, in a fairy costume in June when Faeryfest comes around.  Enough said. 
Going a little deeper:  Kaerobics has made me realize that I am worth spending time on, and I am worth spending time with.  I am worth taking care of, so I can take care.