Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Case Against Lipstick

Anne Curtis, original flavor:

Anne Curtis, at the recent Star Magic ball:

Okay, Anne - I know that you don't always have good taste, and sometimes you just don't get the "dressy" thing right all of the time. But... well, you don't look like yourself here. It's as if you've decided to dress up as Lea Michele playing the Bride of Frankenstein in a very special Goth-themed episode of Glee.

This, my dear, is a fine example of how even a gorgeous ball gown can be ruined by less-than-perfect styling from the clavicle upwards.

Maybe it would be a good idea for you (and your stylists in charge) to step away from the full-coverage lipstick once in a while? I'd suggest starting here and here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pump and Lift, Episode 19: Carbs and Veggies

Above: How to eat a la Gwen Stefani. 

I'm not the kind of person who can afford to get sanctimonious when it comes to diet advice. In fact, I don't even recommend the exact diet that I'm on right now, because I'm also on doctor's orders to watch my risk of arthritis and gout due to hyperuricemia. No red meat, no peanut butter, not even a little bit of whole wheat bread or oatmeal. I wouldn't wish that kind of diet on anyone at all.

What I can recommend, though, is a battle plan that addresses carbohydrates and vegetables.

Let me put it to you this way: I'm not a fan of the low-carb diet. I can't think without carbs. In fact, I can't even start a decent day without a single carbohydrate. Back in college, it was bagels and brown rice; in my working years, I switched to cereal and granola bars. Now, more than ever, carbohydrates have become very important in keeping myself from spacing out in class.

It all boils down to a single concept: Carbohydrate front-loading.

Let's say that you've got a stressful morning ahead of you. You could truly use the energy to forge ahead with the rest of your day, and you can't do that with just sugar and caffeine.

So what do you do? You front-load by eating two to three servings of carbs for breakfast. 

Yes, it sounds crazy, but consider: According to the American Cancer Society, the average 4-inch supermarket bagel constitutes three full servings of carbohydrates. You don't even have to eat it dry to make the most of all that energy - I get around it by spreading only 1 tbsp. of cream cheese and 1 tsp. of strawberry jam, which is half of what a normal serving should be. Then, to make sure that I'm still full, I would follow up that bagel with, say, a handful of papaya cubes (1 cup), or any other high-fiber fruit.

This leads us to our next topic: High fiber fruits and vegetables are your friends. 

I'm not usually a big fan of papaya, but I'm the kind of person who likes to eat mindlessly... and papaya always fits the bill, since my parents already have it on the table every morning. If I'm already carbed out during my regular meals, I will stop and eat whatever form of protein I have on my plate with some salad leaves. That doesn't mean I love my vegetables - there are just some things that I won't eat for no discernible reason - but the vegetables that I do eat, like steamed fresh spinach leaves (lemon juice and no sauce) and grilled eggplant, are always a deliberate choice for me at every meal.

Of course, this leads to the inevitable discussion of salads, and whether or not vegetables are your friends when they're slathered in olive oil. I'm on the fence vis-a-vis olive oil - it's a good fat, but still a fat - but I can say for sure that Mediterranean restaurants no longer have the monopoly on salads; in fact, most ethnic restaurants that I've tried in this country will always have a form of salad at one point or another.  In most Filipino restaurants - or at least the ones here in the Philippines - you can always get mangoes and tomatoes with rock salt and the occasional hard-boiled duck egg. If you're eating Korean food, your bulgogi comes with lettuce leaves to wrap around your meat with a dab of hot sauce and a little rice. And then there's the cuisine of Thailand and Vietnam: summer rolls, banh mi, and even pho come with tons of fresh vegetable accompaniments, so there's barely a single excuse to "pig out" and stay unhealthy.

It's easy for me to talk about vegetables now, seeing as I've naturally switched to eating by season - along with corn soup with moringa leaves (seriously, people: canned corn + chicken broth + leaves from your neighbor's malunggay plant = gold) and fuss-free detoxification through steamed greens. But like I've said, you have to take the risk of trying a new vegetable or fruit once in a while, just to see if it works for you.

(NOTE: I do have another upcoming entry that might end up contradicting all the diet-related Zen meditations that I've expounded on here. It won't be part of Pump and Lift, but it will deal with other body issues related to food and nutrition... and depending on the craziness that comes with the rest of my schedule, that rant essay should be up by Saturday at the latest.) 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pump and Lift, Episode 18: 38C

Yes, you read that right: We have a new bra size! Ding ding ding ding ding!

And judging by this chart, it looks like I'll be able to buy locally-manufactured undies pretty soon. You see, I've been trying to avoid the lingerie sections at the local department stores because I've always thought that it would be impossible for me to get a non-ugly bra that fits me well. In fact, the only place where I have purchased decent undies in Manila were at Marks and Spencer... and even then, it was still impossible for me to get a nice boob-wrangler that doesn't cost an arm and a leg by Pinoy standards.

Until yesterday.

Granted, I don't have a personal Bra Lady to do fittings for me, but I do have a fair idea of how I'm supposed to be fully supported before I shell out money on these things. (Remember this?) Which is what happened at SM Makati the other day, while trying on the Lilyette Full Support Memory Foam Underwire Bra.

Full support, yes. Foam to keep the nips under control, check. But... 40D and 40C? Really? Needless to say, the girls were not happy.

I knew that I wasn't going to get a 38D if the 40 was already ridiculously huge, so the next best bet was the 38C. And... bingo. Good bra + sale price = happy girls, and a much happier Meimei.

Now, looking at the chart (and seeing that I'm hovering close to an 85C now), I think that I can start moving around the price range a bit. M+S still carries some good deals (there's a good chance that I've seen these at the Alabang store); Wacoal and Triumph are more widely available, and may even be less expensive in case there's a sale going on. Same deal with Hanes and Jockey... and even the local "grandma" brands I've seen have been coming up with decent undies lately.

The biggest shocker of all? 85C is the biggest bra size carried and manufactured by Bench. Never mind if most of their basic bras are of the push-up kind, because I actually don't mind that for myself.

Still and all: Full support *and* no more sweaty underboob! Awesome.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Short Note

...There's a reason for this picture. 

Just wanted to check in with everyone since I've been away from this blog for a week (blame my kids). The semester's coming to an end, which means that I might not be able to follow the usual M-W-F posting schedule for this blog.

What I can say now, though, is this:

- While I am inching pretty close to my original goal of looking like Christina Hendricks (without the flaming red hair and mind-boggling cup size), my weight loss has reached the inevitable plateau due to lack of exercise and sleep these last two weeks. Still annoyed by the loss of muscle tone, though I will admit that I'm now more convinced than ever to step up those workouts. (Which begs the question: Would now be a good time for me to jump on the Jillian Michaels bandwagon? I know that everyone's into 30 Day Shred right now, but I just saw an excerpt from No More Trouble Zones, and I think I prefer the workouts in that video more.)

- There's another trip to Manila coming up in a few - which means that there might be some decent clothes shopping on the way, too. I am certainly thinking about purchasing some nice polo shirts for myself (o hai, Rhett) to give myself a break from the camp shirt-and-khakis ensembles that I've been rocking at work all semester.

- I actually had another fun post planned for this week, but I could really use more sleep right now.

Will check back with you as soon as things have cleared up. Ta for now!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pump and Lift, Episode 17: I Will Rise Up and Crush You*

...Yes, kids, that's what Sharon Cuneta looks like now. 

I mention Sharon here - and I say this as one who's equally enamored of all the Great Actresses in the Filipino movie industry - because I just found out that she will be hosting the Philippine edition of The Biggest Loser. At first I thought it was a joke - considering that a lot of people have been making fun of her weight lately, and especially since she's supposed to host her own cooking show - but it's a good thing that she herself didn't take it as an insult. 

Which brings us to where I am right now. 

Unlike Sharon Cuneta, I do not have other bloggers making passive-aggressive comments about how "believable" my weight loss really is in real life. Nor do I have actual real-life people making the same kinds of comments as well. Thank goodness for that. 

What is disheartening, however, is the fact that I had actually spent an entire week without doing a single exercise of note... which only meant that I've lost my muscle tone, my mojo, and my hard-won discipline over everything else I've worked on these last few months. 

Sure, I didn't end up going back to my old size, but I really felt like giving up on everything else, because I just felt defeated all around. 

And it took me a while... but there I was the other day, using my newly-purchased 2.5 lb weights to get through a workout and fighting for the burn that I've always missed this whole entire time. And I felt so much better, to the point where I did go back to checking those test papers, all psyched up and ready to unleash some major pwnage on it all. 

It took me a while, but I finally did find my own Sharon Moment. And this time, I'm going to make sure that it all sticks. 

*For the Tagalog-speaking readers out there, it's definitely Babangon Ako't Dudurugin Kita. You're welcome, repapips. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Case for The Basics: Sewing

At first I wanted to ask Santa for one of these:

Brother XL2600I 25-Stitch Free-Arm Sewing Machine with Multiple Stitch Functions

I'll admit that my sewing jones comes from a combination of weight loss and not missing a single post on New Dress a Day, along with the fact that it's been ages since we had a sewing machine here in the Hacienda.

(And getting a sewing machine here in the Philippines is no joke, either. Everything's a problem: voltage issues, lack of repair centers and spare parts, things like that.)

I was resigned to taking everything I owned to the tailor... but then I remembered that I actually know how to sew by hand, after several years of Home Ec in elementary school. So, with my trusty needle and a very reliable search engine (thank you, Google Chrome), I looked up the best ways to remodel the stuff I already owned with the tools I already have at hand.

Right now I'm trying to brush up on French seams using a top that has been practically falling off me, and probably needed to be remodeled anyway. It's still an ongoing project, but I'll make sure to have it up as soon as I've fixed everything.

In the meantime, here are links to some of the sewing books that I've liked in the past; some of them should be available at your local public library, and a few of them actually use techniques for hand-stitching in the absence of an actual sewing machine. It's also interesting to note that some of the best sewing projects I've done have been made with old T-shirts, which practically guarantees a never-ending source of material to play with when you get started.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Tough Love Comes Free

Here's the best way for me to describe my current fascination with VH1's Tough Love Couples: You know how Discovery Channel always has these shows, like I Shouldn't Be Alive and I (Almost) Got Away With It? Well, this show is almost like that. Except that it should be called I Honestly Shouldn't Be in This Relationship. Or, for that matter, I Really Should Be Prevented From Reproducing Any Spawn. 

Seriously, people, I cannot look away. This is everything I could ask for in a trashy reality show, with more questionable fashion choices than a Real Housewives franchise, more surgical enhancements than Patti Stanger's entire body, and enough hissing and clawing to fill up an entire weekend of programming on Animal Planet. Heck, this show has so much manufactured drama that it practically puts to shame every single primetime telenovela produced in the Philippines.

All that, and a host who's practically Mills Lane stuck in the doughy body of The Situation's slightly less troglodytic older cousin. (Sorry, Steve Ward, but I had to say it.)

In fact, I'd rather watch this than the fake-schmoopy "I have finally found my soooouuullll maaaate" business that we usually see on The Bachelor: not so much out of schaedenfreude as it is about showing the brutal business of making relationships work in the long run. It's not called Tough Love for nothing, after all, and even Steve admits that no amount of TV spin or matchmaking skills can help any of these people with Their Major Issues.

(Which reminds me - and don't play like you didn't think of it, either - don't you think that a great majority of  reality-show relationship dramas would have no reason to exist if most of these girls stopped concentrating on getting/ keeping a man and started working on, you know, being a better person in general? I swear, most of my friends who are in happily committed relationships would not even get to where they are now if they didn't get that notion into their head first.) 

It's just like what Candi Staton sang so many years before: "Young hearts, to yourself be true. Don't be no fool when love don't really love you."

Monday, September 06, 2010

Domesticity Recommends: Sleep

Sleep: the easiest way to stay sane. And coming from somebody who has been forgetful and bitchy for the last few days without sleep, it's the only thing that has been keeping me from biting people's heads off.

Sorry for the bluntness here, but the deprivation is killing me. Which is why I'll have to wait until Wednesday to post a few nice comments for a change.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Let the Backlash Begin

I had a big rant planned out about the girly-blogger backlash, but after several attempts to edit it down to something readable, I decided to sum it up thusly:

Blogs about fashion and beauty do seem very frivolous to some - and look like cash cows to others - but the fact remains that some of us actually have LIVES outside of blogging. All the freebies in the world can't cover up the fact that a lot of us still need to pay the bills, and our definition of "quality time" does not extend towards fighting off complete strangers who accuse us of being money-hungry whores.

We do it because our blogs and vlogs are calling cards for our writing, our creativity, our professionalism. We do it because we'd like to have a creative outlet for a change, instead of spelling out the ins and outs of our personal dramas for everyone else to see. Maybe some of us don't deserve the attention, and maybe haters do need a reason to hate. So what? Life must be pretty good if you can waste your time being such a hater.

(I call this The Pitbull Principle: The effort that it takes in hating a song is equal to the amount of effort exerted in dancing along to it. So it goes with life as well... and if you're one of those lucky people who neither hate nor enjoy "Hotel Room Service," I shall commend you for your otherworldly sense of restraint.)

We're sorry if we don't get it perfectly, but we're realistic about our priorities. No free eyeshadow or wrinkle cream will compare to the satisfaction that we get from spending more quality time (and money) with the people we love the most in our lives. We can show you how to put on mascara without looking like a hag, and we can choose not to break down a hairstyle product by product if the actual 'do ends up resembling a rat's nest. The only thing that we can't do for you, however, is guarantee your happiness... and that's something you'll have to deal with on your own.

All that we're asking of you in return is - in the words of Lily Tomlin - a little dignity and a lot of respect. We hope that you will get the same for yourself as well.


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

What's Your Fantasy: I Command You to DANCE!

I think it goes without saying that David Guetta is my DJ crush right now.

This, I also like:

And this remix, which is practically impossible to hate:

Plus he was also responsible for "Acapella," which always earns points in my book.

On the other hand, though, the man was also responsible for THIS, so make of that what you will.*

*Personal opinion: As much as I hated the cheesily-executed Oprah flash mob (and the guy from that audience who told Oprah that it was a "near-religious" experience of "oneness with God,"  blah blah Double Rainbow) "I Gotta Feeling" is not a bad song, and may even be the karaoke-party anthem of our generation for years to come. There, I said it! Stop throwing rocks at me!