Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I'm back from our Mexico vacation! We had a nice time, but it was much more hot, humid and rainy than in past years. We were isolated from the storms in the Atlantic, though. We had no idea there was a hurricane going on in the East Coast!
Our major excursion was visiting the ancient Mayan city of Coba. We have visited Chichen Itze and Tulum on prior trips. Whenever we visit these ruins, my imagination always goes to Indiana Jones. I block out everyone else, and imagine I'm on an Indiana Jones type excavation, seeing these ruins for the first time. Well, sans Nazis and boulder traps, of course.
Coba is the last pyramid in Mexico that can still be climbed. I'm not a fan of heights, but I was determined to get to the top. I knew I would regret it if I didn't. This temple was 120 stairs, and 135ft tall.
From the top, we could see miles and miles of tropical jungle.
Back on the ground, we rented bikes so we could see more of the ruins. Coba is still largely unexcavated, one of the more primitive sites we've visited. There are ruins that have not yet been dug up. The jungle and time has buried most of the city.
This is the Mayan calendar. The stone on the upper right is the one representing "2012". There is nothing ominous about 2012. The Mayans did not predict the end of the world. That was simply when they stopped "printing" calendar dates. They had a marvelous understanding of astronomy, and their calendars were based on cycles. This is the "Long Count" calendar. I wish I had taken a close up of "2012".
So what does this predict? Despite the dire predictions of apocalypse, the Mayans never predicted anything bad would happen. It is modern superstition, not ancient, that turned 2012 into something ominous. My desk calendar runs out on December 31, 2011. Very suspicious!
We have just one more major Mayan pyramid to visit in the Yucatan peninsula.
We did some explorations near our hotel, too. We discovered a small little beach not too far away.
A small Mayan ruin nearby. Looks like the Mayans appreciated beach front property, too!
Beautiful coastal features.
We spent most of the trip relaxing by the pool. We didn't get too much sun this time. There were a lot of storms in the area, but not too bad. They came and passed quickly. Due to the moisture, though, we had a very tough time with mosquitoes. They were even biting us during the day, which was bizarre. The dampness also seemed to affect our health in other ways. I ended up with a bad case of "Montezuma's Revenge" or "Traveler's Diarrhea". I have never had this problem before. I am always careful to brush my teeth with bottled water. But this time, I got hit. Upon coming home, I discovered that Mexican papayas may be contaminated with salmonella at the moment, which makes the most sense to me. Papayas aren't my favorite tropical fruit, but I did try some. My fiance and his family didn't get hit like I did, and they didn't have any papayas. So that is the only thing I can identify as a culprit. Fortunately, since I don't really like papayas, I didn't eat a lot of it. But just a little was enough to cause problems!
Despite going to an all inclusive resort, I didn't go overboard on food and drink. I drank mostly sangrias and wine, with an occasional splurge on a pina colada. We got plenty of activity with the tours, walking along the surf, and swimming in the pool. I tried to do several laps in the pool every day, in addition to lounging. I used SPF 70 sunblock and hats - I still got a tan, but no sunburn!
I didn't really try to avoid anything. I ate burgers, chips, more salsa than you can shake a stick at, fajitas, carnitas - pretty much anything I wanted. I took it easy on the breads, rice and pastas - for the most part. I ate a single slice of french toast with bacon and eggs. I ate a small bread roll with butter with dinner. Paella is my favorite Spanish cuisine, and I had plenty of it. I even enjoyed small portions of desserts.
For the people following my low carb transition, here is my observation I have discovered about low carb, high carb, and exercise. If you are a very active person, then the amount of carbs you eat matters less. On tour days, I ate whatever I wanted - french toast, bread, rice, bananas - didn't matter. I needed all that energy, and I used it. On easy going days, I limited my carbs to vegetables and fruit. I have gained no weight, despite eating deceptively an endless supply of food and beverages.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Few weeks ago, I mentioned a few projects I was working on. I was hoping to have a couple of dresses and jewelry to take on vacation with me.
So how have things been going? Well, not good. I'm leaving on Friday and I don't have anything finished! I'm planning on beading during my lunch today so I have at least one thing done!
I've lost some of my confidence on my sewing. Putting together a dress is a lot more complicated than the trinket crafty projects I have sewn. I had some difficulty with a pattern, so I decided to do a really 'easy' apron project, just so I had something done and build up my confidence. While I was trying to work on it, the fiance and the cats kept distracting me. SO wanted me to do this that and the other, and I was in a bad mood. The cats wanted to sit on my stuff.
The result was, I screwed up the apron. Since I kept getting distracted, I didn't think properly on how to add the trim. I thought a quick apron project wouldn't require much sizing, but I was wrong. Who knew an apron had a bust size?
See how it pulls off the top? ARG.
Not happy with it at all. I'm going to have to remake it, and I was so frustrated with the process, I haven't been bothered to go back to it.
So then I tried going back to another dress style. My problem with patterns is how much altering I have to do to them. The standard patterns do not fit me. Even if I match the bust measurement, it still doesn't fit. The patterns are designed for a B cup. So I have to spend a lot of time fixing it. The pattern shell that I made does help, but I still have to figure out how to adjust the fashion pattern to fit.
I fixed the top on the pattern. It was hard for me to visualize sizing because of the gathers and pleats the pattern added. I removed them. I got a finished halter top, which took 3 or 4 evenings, including all the alterations. I started working on the skirt, which I thought would be easy. Well, it was, except the gathers on it were not flattering. Gathers at the waist make me look pregnant.
I'm finding that fitted patterns are better for me, and to avoid anything that adds bulk at the waist, like gathers, pleats and ruffles. I've done all this work to shrink my waist, I don't want to add more bulk! Pleats at the shoulder/neck line seems ok.
Soooo. I decided I just needed an easier pattern with less modification. I found a pattern that had a 'match your cup size bodice' - which was MUCH easier. The only modification I really had to do in pattern and fabric was raising the hemline.
I snapped it together last night in a cheap, checkered test fabric. I was feeling relatively pleased that I finally got something finished.
Then the fiance came in and said how much he hated it. He made jokes about going to a hoe-down. I told him that this was a PROTOTYPE, and to look past the lame fabric, the fact that the seams are unfinished, and there is no trim. But he's useless.
So now my confidence is shot.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Now that I've figured out how to shed bodyfat, I realize I have done this before.
I was not overweight as a kid, teenager, or early twenties. I was raised in a meat eating family. Meat, veg, and rice or potatoes. We ate oversized portions of beef. I pretty much ate as much meat as I wanted. I used to order 6" Subway subs with double meat because I liked more meat on my sandwiches. And I stayed slim. I never paid much attention to what the dietary experts said about losing weight because I never needed to lose much weight.
I gained a lot of weight when I was 26 because I started eating oversized portions of chain restaurant foods. Chilis, Applebees, and Cheesecake Factory took the place of mom's home cooked meals. I became overweight, then obese, for the first time in my life. I figured it was 'slowing metabolism'. I started paying attention to the dietary guidelines, which said excess fatty foods makes us gain weight. So I cut back my protein portions and started a low fat diet.
I tried skim milk for the first time ever. Tasted like water. I switched to low fat milk and low fat cheese. I ate less meat. I did not lose any weight.
When I moved to Seattle right before my 29th birthday, I weighed 160lbs. I think my bodyfat was about 40%. Obese.
Once I got settled in Seattle with a new job, I decided that I was going to learn more about diet and nutrition. I learned about portion sizes, and how to properly prepare a meal. I made a few modifications to the dietary guidelines. I wasn't going to eat low fat cheese anymore. I was only going to eat REAL food. Whole veggies, whole meats, whole cheeses. I was going to control my portions.
I had success with this. I lost 30lbs. But I could lose no more. I stalled. Baffled, I again blamed too much meat and fat. I went "flexitarian", eating meat only for dinner.
The result? My weight stayed exactly the same, but I lost muscle and gained fat. I got fatter.
It turned out that I was eating too many grains and too little protein. Once I flipped that ratio - more protein, less grains - the fat is just melting off.
I eat 4-6oz portions of beef, chicken, or pork at almost every meal. Cheeses, eggs, and nuts for snacks. Plenty of veggies and salads. Fruit once or twice a day. Grain or starch zero or one meal a day. If I eat a sandwich, I order a half size with double meat. Exactly what I did in college.
I'm also doing exactly what the dietary guidelines say I should not be doing. I read an article on the CDC today about how the obesity problem is not an easy or quick fix. Well, if I had know all I had to do was cut back on bread, rice, and potatoes 10 years ago, I certainly would have done it with a lot less agony then suffering through skim/low fat milk and self esteem problems due to being overweight. 10 years of eating low fat diet with no success, versus 4 months on a low grain diet.
The result? This morning I am back at my college weight.
Monday, August 08, 2011
When I first started doing low carb, I thought the idea of low carb Mexican food to be an impossibility. Tortillas, rice, beans - Mexican food is a land mine of grains and starches.
This was really distressing. I grew up in the southwest US, and southwest style cooking is one of my specialties. Bobby Flay is my favorite celebrity chef because his cooking style is right down my alley. He uses flavors and spices that I am quite familiar with.
Now that I have settled more comfortably into a 'low grain/starch' diet, I still enjoy many southwest/tex-mex meals without the tortillas or rice.
I made pulled pork carnitas. Instead of eating with a tortilla, I stuffed it inside a bell pepper, topped with cheese. Served with two types of Mexican vegetable salads. Cucumber-lime salad, and a tomato salad. The tomato salad is made with salsa ingredients, but I left it with big chunks instead of a puree.
The other night, I had a craving for tacos. I love tacos. It was one of my favorite foods as a kid. I took some ground pork and browned it with taco seasoning.
Again, stuffed it inside peppers. A bell pepper and a poblano. Topped with cheese, and baked in a 375F oven until cheese is toasted.
For a veggie side dish, I put snap peas and carrots in a baking dish with chicken stock, lime juice, oregano, cumin, rough chopped cilantro and salt and pepper. Baked this along side the peppers in the last 15 minutes.
I don't have a picture of the finished product. I was so excited to eat it, I forgot to take a picture!
So bell peppers and poblanos have mostly replaced taco shells.
I LOVE salsa. Are there any replacements for chips and salsa? Sure. Cucumber slices and celery sticks are awesome scoopers for salsa.
Do I miss tortillas and chips? Not really. I'm nearly at my goal weight, something I had almost given up on. If this was all I had to do to make this happen, it is hardly a sacrifice, in my mind. It's a matter of priorities. Fitting better in my clothes gives me longer lasting well being than the fleeting crunch of corn chips.
I can't say that I have eaten zero breads, grains or starches, however, I am a lot more measured about it. At dinner the other night, I had a single slice from a demi-baguette with butter. I left the rest of the loaf alone. It is not a test of willpower for me anymore. I've broken out of the cravings and urges. Food does not control me. I am truly able to enjoy a variety of fabulous food, without feeling guilt or remorse. I know that eating too much starchy carbs will send me spiraling into hunger and cravings. I don't like that feeling. So it is easier for me to avoid as a conscious choice.
Saturday, August 06, 2011
I finished altering and sewing my dress fitting shell.
This is roughly how a dress fitted to me should look.
The front is a little bunched up because it is pinned, not sewn. Also drapes a little differently on the dressform than it does me because while I got my shape pretty close, it is not exact. I also made an error when transferring my pattern markings. I did not mark the waist line clearly enough, so I had trouble getting the seamline right when attaching the bodice to the skirt. I'll know to make better thread markings when I make the real thing.
I made all of my adjustments for the bodice just by transferring my measurements to the pattern. When I sewed it, I got it almost perfect! Very little adjustment was needed on the fabric.
My waist/hips, on the other hand, did not go so well. It was just as I suspected - my proportions are very different than "standard". I had to let out 2 darts, and still had to fiddle quite a bit to get the waist cinched in, and hips taken out. I really admire those of you who sew without a dressfrom. Getting the waist/hip alterations made was really tricky. I don't know that I would have been able to do it without the dressform. All of the alterations had to happen in the back. It was challenging WITH the dressform. I might have got frustrated and quit.
I didn't add the sleeves because all of the dresses I plan to make are sleeveless. It is currently summer, after all! I'll work on the sleeve adjustment in the fall.
All of my adjustments are recorded on paper.
This should serve as a 'blueprint' for my form. I should be able to put this over another dress pattern and see which adjustments need to be made. The alterations were definitely the most amount of time I spent on this, especially since I deviate from the 'standard' in several ways. Hopefully these adjustments I've done ahead of time on a very basic pattern means it will shave off time on future alterations. I got to learn a lot about how to alter a fit.
I just got the gemstone for the necklace I'm planning on making, so I may switch gears to work on jewelry today.
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