Fat Jo’s Guide to Bra-Shopping

I know, I know: ladies who have worn bras since puberty are already familiar with bra-shopping. There’s already a plethora of guides to ensure the best fit, and for those willing to fork out the money for it, Third Love wants to reinvent bras to be truly customized and comfortable.

And doubtless everyone’s got their own approach, their own tricks, their own methods to make this hellish task slightly less hellish. By all means, carry on with your favored approach!

I just had a particularly and surprisingly smooth bra-shopping trip, and wanted to share the things that made the day a success. Here are a few tips to keep your sanity and good humor in the fitting room and thereafter!

– Schedule it well.

I mean this in two senses. The obvious sense is to hit the shop when it’s less busy, when you’re not already exhausted, when you aren’t pressed for time.

The less obvious sense was a particular breakthrough for this fat girl. I’d been using Lose It! for about a week when I went shopping.  At that particular point in time, I had a week of very modest workouts under my belt and had lost a (comparatively) tiny amount of weight – but I had not yet hit a plateauMy body hadn’t really changed much, but the mental benefits were profound. Going into a fitting room armed with your own self-improvement is like going into battle with sound armor and a sturdy shield.  My roommate was amazed that I came home smiling, and this was probably the primary reason for that.

– Eat before you go.

Trying on clothing with an empty stomach and low blood sugar? Such a bad idea.  Don’t do it.

– Check your band size at home.

Some shops might be better than others at measurements, but the most comfortable option as far as I’m concerned is to get your own measuring tape and wrap it around. The band size is the measurement directly beneath the breasts; the bust size is measuring the breasts at their widest point.  I missed this distinction for years and wondered why I was a 36C (back in the day) when my bust size was closer to 40.

– Check your old bra.

I don’t know about you, but usually I find one bra that works and buy it in several colors. And, typically, the size and cup change, but the brand doesn’t.  Vanity Fair continues to work for me (or Warner’s, or whatever); Maidenform and Playtex continue not to.

– Remember your priorities.

Do you need a particular color? Because buying a red bra is not going to help when you really wanted a black bra to go under your black choral gown.  Need something sporty?  Do you need two, three, or more hooks in back?  How wide do the straps need to be to distribute the weight as painlessly as possible?

– Go early.

I already said to go at a time that works for you, which is obviously the most important thing. If you can, though, try to arrange for that time to be earlier rather than later.  The earlier the hour, the fewer people around; the nicer the displays; the emptier the fitting rooms.  You’ll feel less weird about doing jumping jacks in a sports bra.  You’ll have less guilt over how long it takes to put the things back on those weird clippy hangers.  You’ll probably feel a bit less awkward.

So there you have it. Good luck and Godspeed!


Smaller Steps

I’ve been afraid to publish this post.  I was even afraid to write this post.  I drafted it and then scheduled it to sit for two weeks, because I was scared that I’d write about my current weight-loss efforts only to stop them.  [ETA:  and boy, is it tempting 3 weeks in…]

The thing about this blog is that it records in stark detail how I’ve tried to lose weight for 4.5 years, and now weigh 20 pounds more than I did back in September 2012 (back before J and E’s wedding, before W and K’s wedding, before H and D’s wedding, before P and M’s wedding…so much for the idea that wanting to look as good as possible in a bridesmaid dress will ever make any difference).

(also: holy shit, I am fucking sick of wearing bridesmaid dresses.)

…anyway.  I weigh 20 pounds more than I did in 2012, and 10 pounds more than I did from 2014-2015, and I’ve seen too many people rejoice over being “back in ONEderland!!” to let myself get any further into the 200+ range.


The other thing this blog records in stark detail is how much work it always was.  Looking at the Excel spreadsheets I put together myself, calculating every single serving’s nutritional data, is exhausting all on its own.  I can’t believe I ever made it through four weeks of that, much less expected to go longer.

So.  Here I am, back again, trying to get in better shape.  But this time around?  I am taking as many shortcuts and small steps as possible.  This is hard enough WITH them, after all.

1.5 years into living at my apartment complex, and I’ve figured out how to access the weight room when the office is closed.

I’ve finally gotten a smartphone, and, 9 months into owning it, have added the Lose It! app.  Lose It! has a free version, and a premium version you can buy.  I opted to use the free version for at least a month before spending money on it; why buy something before I’ve proven I use it?

The free version lets you put in your current weight and your goal weight; has a spot to put in your weight each day; and has the means to put in all your daily food and exercise.  The beauty of it is that so many users have added in particular foods that I can just pick from the available options; no tedious calorie calculating for me!  The app has different choices for units (number of servings/cups/tablespoons/ounces of food, or duration/reps of exercise), so it handles that aspect of calculation too.

If you exercise, or take a certain number of steps (tracked by the phone’s pedometer feature), the app notes how many calories you’ve burned – and, by extension, how many you’ve earned under your daily allotment.

Basically, it’s the best.  It’s not quite enough to make me wish I’d had a smartphone 5 years ago, buuuuuuut it’s closer than anything else.

A few other small steps I’m taking:

It’s Lent and I’m eating less meat, more beans, and more vegetables.  Chana masala and rajmah chawal for the win!  Yes please to snacking on avocado with a bit of soy sauce.  A bit of cumin makes roasted cauliflower so much more compelling!
– I am not eating foods I don’t like.  No yogurt that needs sugar to taste good, no raw carrots, no raw kale.  No stevia.  No pretending that things are meat when they aren’t.
– I’m not dropping coffee or tea.  At this particular juncture, it isn’t worth it.  If I hit a plateau, I might cut them out later.  [ETA: Lately I’ve been alternating between sweetened tea and unsweetened.]
– I did wash my Contigo bottle, so it’s easier to drink more water throughout the day.
– Instead of trying to carve out a 2-hour swath to go to the gym, change, warm up, work out, cool down, drive home, and shower…taxing my muscles to breaking point besides…I do 5-15 minutes of core work and light weights *every* morning.  I can do it in my pajamas, it wakes me up, and it makes the shower thereafter feel well-deserved.  [ETA: This worked much better before Daylight Savings Time.  I’m trying to get back into a groove, but it feels so much earlier now 😦 ]
– Each time I use the bathroom, I do 50 quick squats (logged with Lose It!, of course).
I weigh in every single day.  It actually gets me out of bed.  If the number is higher than before, it’s easier to say “tomorrow will be better!” than “…two weeks from now should be better.”  There’s more immediate feedback, and it’s less likely that my weigh-ins will be thrown off by hormonal variations throughout the month.

– I got on Lexapro a year ago, failed to keep taking it/renewing the prescription, but have since got back on it.
– I invested in a HappyLight, which is useful when the real sun fails to make an appearance.

Basically, I’m getting closer to the renowned “lifestyle change” instead of trying to diet.  I don’t know what will stick after Easter, but for right now I can say that this is a change for the better.  I feel a bit more cheerful; I’m a bit more focused at work; and while long days are still exhausting, I tend to sleep earlier instead of putzing about online for an hour or two.  I’ve lost 9 pounds [ETA:  er…5…er, 7.2], and hope for more of these positive changes.

Striving toward what is ahead

Here’s the truth about my life right now: it’s hard for me to do worse.  My life could easily be worse – there are a million blessings that I could lose – but I’ve been so lazy about work, lazy about church, lazy about choir, lazy about OTHER choir; failing to grocery shop or plan meals or work out; failing to get the water/green tea/protein/whatever that I’d planned.

Basically, any effort I put in?  It can’t make things worse.

(Unless I pull a yo-yo and binge to go the opposite direction.  I guess?  Hmmmr.)

Anyway, today has involved
– Raisin Bran and milk
– a cup of coffee and a cup of OJ
– Blood Orange 2% Fage yogurt

and will entail a frozen Luvo meal for lunch, and baked salmon + salad for dinner.  My last grocery trip landed me some ground beef, frozen green beans and edamame, eggs, red pepper, mixed spring greens, and a crown of broccoli.  Hoping to get into better eating habits this week (this month (this year)).

[mild whinging; feel free to ignore]

I’m tired and I’m sad.

I feel like I’ve been sleeping enough; I’ve been taking my Lexapro/escitalopram as directed; I’ve been eating…well, not brilliantly, but not rubbish.

Why am I so tired? Possibly buildup – we had a company party at work on Friday; thereafter I went to a wedding; it kept me up until 12:30 at least; I got up fairly early on Saturday to join the crew of people moving my pastor’s household across town; I went to bed early that night to get up around 6 on Sunday to prepare for early service; after singing at church, I drove downtown to tour the Fisher building with friends; got lunch at Woodbridge Pub; and ended up napping part of the afternoon/evening because I had a headache.

Why am I sad? Nothing big – no deaths in the family, injury, or particularly bad things. But I keep being sad that I’m single, keep being mildly dissatisfied with my job/weight/inability to Keep Up, and keep feeling like I ought to have done more by now – by this point in my life, by this point in the year, by this point in Advent.

Mum and I are doing WeightWatchers starting in January. Oldest brother’s getting married, so desperate measures etc.

…the real weight of the tiredness, I think, is that it makes me so apathetic. All I want to do is to go home and sleep. I think I’ve hit that point where my exhaustion/depression? is interfering with my work. Partly because, I mean, how much does the work matter? Why do I need to do it, and why not just take all my vacation days to rest for a bit?

6/29/15 food log

Food log
3 oz pulled pork (with whatever sauce it was cooked with)
1 English muffin, toasted
1 c coffee, creamer
1 c coffee, creamer
5 oz?  1.5 c pasta salad
3 oz pulled pork
1 English muffin, toasted
14 oz water
14 oz water
3 macarons
3 oz chocolate cake
1 c tea, cream, sugar
5 oz pulled pork
1 brioche bun
Snap pea

Did 106 squats.

Incentive & Motivation

Like I noted earlier, my Lenten bet with my brother over who could lose a greater percentage of body weight ended with me triumphant.  I’m not much slenderer, but I am $150 richer.  I figure I can use the $150 to buy new sports bras, a second (or third?) pair of workout pants, underwear, eggs, Greek yogurt, chicken, quinoa, and produce.

Upon my noting this to my brother, he replied that since he wants both of us to be slimmer and healthier, he would gladly incentivize my weight loss with shopping money if that would help.

So we have struck an agreement:

That if I lose 10% of my body weight (19.26 lbs) between now and June 1st (to reach 173.3 lbs), I shall get a reward of $300;
if I lose 10% of the new weight (17.33 lbs) within 2 months of achieving 173.34 (to reach 156 lbs), I shall get another $300;
if I carry on and lose a further 10% from there (15.6 lbs) within 90 days (to reach 140.4), I shall get another $300;
and if I manage to hit 140 pounds within 6 months (so…by this time in October), he’ll add in another $100 to make it an even thousand dollars altogether.
“You could probably manage to enjoy shopping for clothes if you had a thousand dollars,” my brother noted.
“And so much the better if I weighed 50 pounds less,” I replied.

Part of me doubts that this is safe, or even possible, but it really is nice to dream.  Fitting in a smaller bridesmaid dress in August.  Being the same weight as my high school self at the 10-year reunion in September (good Lord, I’ve become the person fretting about her 10 year reunion).  Presumably having an easier time finding cuter clothing.

So.  Incentive (related, semantically, to ‘setting the tune’ or ‘inciting,’ but also associated with incendere “to kindle”) will, I hope, set me on a path, kindle a desire in me, produce the steam to make the engine move.  Which is what motivation does: drives, impels, pushes forward.

Guess we’ll see how I do this time around.

The Minorest of Successes (4/6/15 log)

Well, I obviously had 3 or 4 wasted weeks, health and weight-loss-wise.

But by virtue of not gaining back weight to reach 197 pounds again…I won the bet!

I’m hoping to get back in the groove.  Or, well, to carve a new groove.  Therefore, here’s yesterday’s food log (unhealthy though all of it was), to get back into practice:

1 c coffee, creamer
Cinnamon roll
2 hardboiled egg whites
2 hot dogs (with bun and 2 tbsp ketchup apiece)
Handful of chips
1 c coffee, creamer
1 c coffee, creamer?
Chocolate caramel pecan egg
Car bomb cupcake
14 oz milk
1 Vitamin D gummy
2 potatoes, 1 egg, flour – fashioned into potato pancakes, fried in veg oil


Today involved taking a BEAST of a motion and brief to file it with the court.  I’m talking 30 pages plus all the attachments.  There were 61 exhibits.  This is not normal.  We probably went through 5 reams of paper by the time we’d printed out 2 copies for court, 1 for our file, and 2 for opposing counsel.

So it’s a good thing I’ve been doing strength training, because I might not have been able to carry it from my car to the courthouse otherwise!

Pasta-caprese salad
1 piece of bread
2/3 c coffee, creamer
1 c coffee, creamer
1 c water
1 c coffee, creamer?
1 c green tea
1 c water
Pasta-caprese salad
1 piece bread
String cheese
String cheese
1 piece bread
1 c tea, whipped cream
5 pieces skinny bacon
3 pieces thick bacon
1 piece quiche
Tonic water + cilantro syrup

3/11/15 food log

Today was almost suspiciously warm and sunny.  It’s like 2012 all over again.  I’m not usually one for sunshine – too bright – but it does rather make me feel like good things might be afoot.  Like I might be getting over Daylight Savings time and my period and all those emotions from the past week.  We’ll see where I’m at after Lenten service tonight.

Also: I introduced one of my co-workers to the concept of raw green beans.  My family grew them in our back garden, once upon a time, so it’s just customary to eat a handful without cooking them.  It had never occurred to her to try it, and she was pleasantly surprised by the flavor.

Fage yogurt, peach
1 c coffee, creamer
1 egg, hard-boiled
1 c coffee, creamer
4 oz chicken
1/2 c quinoa
1/2 c tomato/onion sauce
1 egg, hard-boiled
1 c tea
1 c coffee, creamer
Green beans.  Not certain how many.  40?  Raw.
2 servings pasta-caprese salad
1 serving Whole Foods couscous salad
1/2 serving green bean salad
1 serving spring mix salad
1/8 c walnuts
1/4 c raspberries
1/4 c blueberries
3 pieces bread
8 oz water
1 Samoa cookie