Here’s to the Future

I need to tell you about someone who’s incredibly important to me. Someone to whom I am fiercely loyal. It’s not my husband. It’s someone I call Future Me.

That’s right, I’m talking about my future self. I think about her a lot—the me I’ll be tomorrow or in a month or in a year. I think about her because my choices now affect her. I can make Future Me’s life harder or easier by my decisions today.

It’s an odd way to think, I’ll admit. But when you start shifting your mindset to think about your future self, it changes a lot, let me tell you.

I recently got my 23andMe ancestry and health results, and there’s a lot of information there. But probably most pertinent to me right now is one particular health result. See, according to their assessment, I’m predisposed to weigh 7% more than average.

When I dug into my raw data (yes, I’m that person) I could see what markers factored into that assessment. I have fat genes, ya’ll. So many risk factors associated with obesity.

That’s no surprise to me. I have always had to work hard to lose weight and stay at a healthy weight. My metabolism has never been great. You wouldn’t know it to look at me now, though. I’m about a size 4, presently. Some people call me skinny, although I don’t consider myself that. (Also, can we stop with the skinny vs fat labels? Honestly. Let’s not with that. It’s not helpful to anyone.)

A lot of people, especially women, look at me and think I’m just this size naturally. They make snarky comments about how I can’t possibly understand their struggle. They would be wrong. I fight genetics every single day. I do that for Future Me. I want her to be as healthy as possible.

The thing is, choices like what we eat and our level of activity don’t have immediate results. Imagine how different things would be if the consequences were instant, if the moment I ate that slice of cake my thighs grew a quarter inch. Man, it would be so much easier to say no, am I right?

But our bodies don’t work like that. Which is why I have to think of Future Me. The consequences of my actions might not land on Present Me but Future Me will have to deal with them. So I exercise even when I don’t feel like it. And I choose healthy options when it comes to food. And I try to get adequate sleep every night. And drink plenty of water. And do all those things we know lead to better health.

As I get older, my metabolism is going to slow down even more and it’ll get harder to maintain good health. I know that. And that’s why I try to do everything I can now. That doesn’t mean I don’t indulge occasionally. Emphasis on occasionally, though. Because Future Me can’t afford the consequences of a life of indulgence.

I’ve got a lot of genetic risk factors to deal with. But what’s truly wonderful is that most health risks can be reduced through a good diet and regular exercise. How awesome is that? Something I have complete control over can help Future Me live a better life. I have the power now to make Future Me’s life better or worse.

So yeah, I’m fiercely loyal to Future Me. I’m going to look out for her and fight for her chance to live well. I’ve always been willing to fight for those I care about. And I’m finally including myself in that list.


Word Nerd Wednesday: No Need

Happy Word Nerd Wednesday! Today’s word story involves a unique superpower. Well, it may not be a superpower to most people. But it is to me.

A group of people are waiting in the front of a restaurant where Coral is working as a hostess. They assume she’ll ask how many people are in their party, but she doesn’t. She simply glances at them and says, “Right this way,” leading them to a table for eight, the exact number of their party even though not everyone has arrived yet.

Baffled, one man asks Coral how she could have possibly known how many people were in their group.

She smiles and explains how she determined the correct number. There were five people waiting. One man was holding two coats, his and a woman’s. Everyone else was still wearing their coats, so Carol assumed the man’s friend or date was in the restroom. One woman, with a wedding ring, kept glancing at the doors every time they opened, presumably waiting for her spouse to arrive or maybe a friend. And one man was holding a purse like it was going to infect him, so clearly it wasn’t his bag, but possibly belonged to the woman just outside the doors who was on the phone.

“Five plus three, obviously eight,” Coral says with a smile, leaving them all impressed with her attention to detail.

“Obviously eight” = obviate (OB-vee-ate), meaning to anticipate and prevent or make unnecessary. In this story, Coral obviates the need to ask the number of people in the group, instead using her own deductive skills to guess the correct number.

It’s a special power, the ability to anticipate someone’s needs. It requires attention to detail and the skill to connect the pieces in a meaningful way. It combines knowledge with application, a powerful fusion that, when handled correctly, can make an incredible difference.

In this situation, Coral simply obviates the need to ask a question. But her skills are broad, allowing her to anticipate potential difficulties and be prepared with a solution before it’s even necessary.

Being able to anticipate a need and address it is basically a superpower in my book, although it doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It’s a quiet skill, not flashy or noisy. But the truth is, people like Coral can make life a lot easier for the rest of us, obviating problems we didn’t even see coming like the superheroes they are. They just do it without capes.


Work It Out

Today I found myself pondering what I wanted to blog about. What was on my mind? Nothing specific was pushing to the forefront and I needed to work out anyway, so I put on my new leggings. That’s when I realized, mid-shimmy into my new leggings: workout clothes. Workout clothes are on my mind.

That sounds shallow, I know. But let me tell you, it’s no easy thing to find workout clothes as a woman. Well, finding any well-fitting clothes as a woman basically involves magic and math and the sacrifice of a dozen goats.

I’m a relatively small person (through careful eating and regular exercise; believe me, it doesn’t just happen), but finding leggings takes quite a bit of work because I’m curvy. I have thick, dancer’s thighs and a small waist (not even kidding: my thighs are only a few inches smaller than my waist. I’ll admit that seems like a strange thing to know, but I find checking my measurements even more useful than stepping on the scale). Up until a few years ago, I just worked out in a basic tee shirt and stretchy athletic pants. Newsflash: leggings make workouts so much better. They do. They support in the best ways and stretch as much as you do. They help me work out harder.

Well. The right ones do, anyway. I’ve invested some time to find the right ones for me. And since I like to save women from doing all the same work I did, I thought I’d share my favorite workout clothes. Since my workouts involve dancing or walking, I tend to need pieces that are both flexible and supportive. And because I don’t exercise outside, they all need to be breathable. No extra warmth required.

Let’s start with leggings. The very first kind of leggings I found that worked for me were Champion leggings from Target. I wish I could tell you what styles they are, but Champion recently revamped their line and now I have no idea what’s what. But I have three different pairs and they’re all great. So if you like to try things on first, consider adding a stop by the activewear department to your Target run.

My most recent addition that I was trying out today is a pair of Marika leggings. I kept seeing them on Zulily and since I have a super comfortable yoga bra from Marika’s Balance collection (perfect for traveling/loungewear), I decided to take the risk. When I find things I like, I’m remarkably brand-loyal.

Here’s what I settled on:

So how’d they work out? I know you’re dying to know. Pretty well, actually. The fabric is right in the middle between thick and thin, and they’re relatively soft. The only negative I found is that the fabric at the top, in the “tummy control” area (side note: can we not call it “stomach”? What’s next, “boo boo treatment”? Honestly, people.) is sort of mesh on the inside so it’s not the softest. It didn’t bother me too much but I imagine it could be problematic if you were running or doing some other repetitive movement that could make it rub against your waist. Also probably easily fixed by tucking in a shirt but who does that?

Here’s the most important thing about these leggings: I didn’t have trouble fitting my thighs in them. They stretch well and they’re lightly supportive. No contortion necessary to get them on and they didn’t feel like a Chinese finger trap on my legs (I’m looking at you, Fabletics). From what I can tell, they run true to size. Since this is the first time I’ve worn them, I can’t speak to their durability but so far they’re a solid contender to be my favorite pair.

I need to add one more thing to this leggings discussion: laundry detergent. I think half the battle with leggings is treating them right. So I wash them with my delicates in a special lingerie detergent called Forever New. I can’t tell you how much of the softness of my leggings is due to the fabric versus the detergent, but either way, I absolutely recommend washing your leggings in a special detergent. I like this one because it’s not super perfume-y (slightly floral, although they do have a fragrance free variety) and it really does make everything soft. And it probably makes delicate clothes last longer. (I haven’t done a controlled study on that.)

Moving on to shirts. You wouldn’t think shirts would be a big deal. Turns out, they are. Remember how I said I have a small waist? Well I have big arms, so I often end up with shirts that are baggy all the way around or too tight in the arms/shoulders. And here’s something I discovered: some shirts are more breathable than others. Who knew.

I have a random assortment of workout tops but there are two that are easily my first choices.

This shirt is fantastic. It’s not particularly fitted but it’s not massive and there’s room for my big arms. As in, I can move my arms and the whole shirt doesn’t move with them. More than that, though, the fabric is both breathable and soft. It’s not the weird nylon texture of most activewear tops. It feels kind of satiny but it’s still breathable, somehow. The only thing I’d change is the seam in the back. It’s not a major deal but it could be bothersome depending on how the shirt fits.

The other shirt I love is no longer in stock but it’s Tek Gear brand and very similar to this style. The “Dry Tek” fabric is also soft but breathable. It’s actually quite similar to the Champion tees but maybe slightly less silky.

Okay, we’ve gotta have a word about sports bras. I dance, people. I also spend some time on the treadmill. That requires two different levels of support and I wear a rare size, so I’ve tried a lot of different sports bras. I’ve got two favorites.

For dancing, running bras work best. So if you run, you may want to check out the Shock Absorber Ultimate Gym bra. It’s not the most comfortable thing ever, but I don’t think it can be. However, if you want support, that’s got it. The band is definitely snug so if you’re between sizes, get the larger size (but then make sure you size down in the cup. Oh the joys of bra math.). Their Ultimate Run bra is also great, but over time, the racerback clasp at the top starts to unclasp and then reclasp every time you move your arms a certain way. It doesn’t affect the functionality, but the clicking noise bothered me enough that I retired that bra.

The other kind I like, which I use for walking on the treadmill, is the Endurance bra by Moving Comfort. It looks like it might be discontinued but I’ve had several of their bras and they’re all good quality. Just stay away from the Rebounder bra unless you’re happy to nearly dislocate one or both shoulders to get into it. Oh, and if you know what size you wear, try checking EBay. Plenty of new stuff with tags just sitting there, waiting to save you money. (Also a good place to find discontinued favorites.)

No workout attire discussion would be complete without a word about shoes. I don’t wear shoes when I dance but they’re super important when I’m on the treadmill. I used to be content with my Nikes but then one day, one lovely wonderful day, I tried on a pair of Ryka shoes.

Ryka Grafik cross-trainers

What’s so different about those shoes, you ask? Well, instead of designing shoes for men and then just making them smaller and a little narrower for women, Ryka shoes are made specifically for women. I don’t know how they do it. These shoes incredibly light but still supportive. It’s like a strong hug for your feet. I had no idea what I was missing. I will never go back. (Note: these shoes also often end up on Zulily and you can find them at places like DSW, so hold out for a good deal.)

So there you go. Now you know all my favorite activewear pieces that help me stay strong and fit. Questions? Comments? Recommendations to add? Leave them below!


No Thanks, Wizard

It’s funny how our perception of things changes as we get older. We can read the exact same book we read as a kid and come away with a completely different assessment. The characters we found delightful now seem annoying. The characters we thought were terrible now seem reasonable. As we grow up, our maturing standards provide a different lens through which to view the world.

That’s what happened with me and Gandalf. (Yes, I’m still thinking about that Hobbit/LotR movie marathon. It was a lot of hours, folks. So much walking, so many battles.) I first saw the LotR movies when I was in high school, and I viewed Gandalf the way most people probably did—a wise wizard, a sage guide.

Now, as an adult, I have a bit of a different view. As we watched the movies, I saw him being, quite frankly, remarkably unhelpful. Maybe it’s all that pipe-weed he enjoys. Maybe it’s because he’s basically ancient so the others look like toddlers to him (and who explains their plans to toddlers?).

I don’t know. I can only speculate. But it seems to adult me that Gandalf loves to make cryptic statements before vanishing. Like, “hey guys, danger will come when you least expect it. Try not to die. Gotta go. Be back later.”

Yes, I know. He has important wizard-y business to attend to, fighting evil in his own way. But a great communicator he is not.

To start with, he invites people to Bilbo’s home, without his permission, where they eat all his food. Let’s be honest, that alone would be grounds for banishment from my life. Call me Southern, but those are some seriously poor manners right there.

And at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo tries to give the ring to Gandalf. The wizard responds by practically yelling at him, telling the hobbit not to tempt him with the ring.

Like. Yo, Gandalf. You’ve literally just told Frodo about the ring. He’s brand new to all this great-evil-linked-to-a-piece-of-jewelry stuff. Maybe give it a minute before you yell at him for showing trust in you?

But the scene that fully elicited my “say what now?” face (if you know me, you’ve no doubt seen that face before) happens before a battle, when one of the comic relief hobbits (Pippin) tells Gandalf, “I didn’t think it would end like this.”

Guys. He’s a scared little Shireling. He’s facing a major battle against powerful evil. He’s looking for reassurance, for encouragement. What does Gandalf say to him? Well, it basically amounts to “don’t worry, Pippin. Death isn’t the end. It’s just another path.”

Ya’ll. That is not the encouragement anyone wants when they’re going into battle. They don’t want to hear philosophical musings about the afterlife. They want to hear, “We’ll show those foul creatures the sharp end of the blade. I’m with you. We’re in this together.” But the truth is, Gandalf isn’t with anyone. He is not a team player.

It’s not something I really noticed before. But this time, both my husband and I were less than impressed with the eccentric wizard. Yes sure, sometimes he graces us with a quotable gem, but most of the time, Gandalf is not reliable and is off free-styling while the rest of the group is struggling to survive.

I’ve always been independent. I can appreciate freedom and autonomy more than most. I adore poetic, quotable statements. But I guess in my thirties I’ve come to value kindness and consideration more than fancy words. I’ve learned to treasure people who can be relied upon, the ones you know will have your back.

Maybe it’s silly to value kindness and honesty in the midst of a desperate war against evil. After all, Gandalf fights with great power and he saves their lives many times. But even Gandalf points out, “It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” An interesting comment from someone who isn’t exactly skilled at those small acts of kindness.

All I know is, if I needed someone, if I was in trouble and could call on someone to help me or just give me a pep talk . . . yeah, it wouldn’t be Gandalf.