Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Horoscope Said I'm Perfect

If you read along with me, then you know I am in  a period of growth and discovery right now. Sometimes I think it happens when you are in a difficult period, and I've certainly been through some of that in the past year... and I definitely learned and grew from it. However, right now I am in one of the happiest times of my life, and I have to tell you, I am learning so much more.

I am thriving in my day to day life, my relationship with my husband, my friendships, my career, my curiosity, my self-esteem, and my health and fitness. And probably a lot of other areas I'm not thinking of. 

My horoscope today said: You don't have to change a hair to rediscover yourself. You're perfect as is! Treat yourself as well as you'd treat anyone else you love -- you deserve the best, too! It's a great day to make an example of yourself by showing the world how they could be living if they wanted to.

I have to be honest and tell you that I don't really know what it is, if anything, that has me in this state of bliss. It could be that "you reap what you sow" theory and I'm reaping the benefits tenfold of what I'm trying to create. It could be that I've been working towards creating a level of community and stability in my life and it's all coming together. It could be that I'm more discriminating about the type of people and energies that I let into my life. Or it could just be the attitude.... you know the one that says:

 "You're perfect. You deserve the best. Go shopping!"*

*This is my horoscope through the QueenB filter.

Monday, July 26, 2010

QueenB's Ways to Stay Motivated

I'm excited to share with you on my very first GUEST BLOG post

There are so many reasons to work out: weight loss, long term health, bone strength, endurance, keeps you younger, allows you to eat things you want, you feel better, you look better, it's fun.  The most compelling reasons I have seen came from a book called "Younger Next Year". I highly recommend this book to learn about what we can do now to age better in the future.  Here are a few quotes:
  • You may well live into your nineties , whether you like it or not. But how you live those years, on the other hand, is largely under your control.
  • 70 percent of premature death and aging is lifestyle-related. Heart attacks, strokes, the common cancers, diabetes, brittle bones, most falls, fractures, and serious injuries, and many more illnesses are primarily caused by the way we live. If we had the will to do it, we could eliminate more than half of all disease in women and men over fifty. Not delay it, eliminate it.
  • First Rule of this book: Excercise 6 days a week for the rest of your life.

This dude is 94 years old and still runs marathons.

And research shows what you need to do:
  • You need to do aerobic exercise 4 days a week at 70-85% of your heart rate for an hour.
  • You need to be able to do long, slow aerobics at 60-65% of your heart rate for 3 hours without getting exhausted. This is a long walk or easy hike.
  • You need to be able to do anaerobic excercise, 85-100% of your heart rate for 2 minutes.
  • You need to do strength training 2 days a week. Osteoporosis is bad, do this.

I get that it is tough to stay motivated to go workout 5-6 times a week. Arguments I hear are: there is not enough time, you have other obligations that are more important, it's boring. If you use those excuses then I'm not 100% sure I can help you... my answers to those excuses seem obvious to me: you have to schedule it, you have to make good health a priority and take care of yourself in health as you would if you had the flu, and you just haven't found the right workout.

For those of you that do enjoy it, you do feel better when you do it, and you know you look better when you do it... you just lose the drive after a few weeks, I think I may be able to help.

Lots of things can motivate me, and honestly I have to switch it around a lot to stay excited. In the past year, here are the things that I have found motivating:
  • I joined a bootcamp class. It was 6 weeks long and I loved it so much I signed up for 2 more sessions. This one kept me motivated for 18 weeks.
  • I download new music on my iPod. Just a new playlist works wonders for my energy level on a run or on cardio.
  • I worked with a nutritionist to get my diet on track.
  • I lost a few pounds. Um... huge, huge motivation. But that one will never last as long.
  • I get new gear. Just this week I finally got the Nike + iPod running chip. Cannot wait to use it this summer. Get a pedometer or a heart rate moniter for other ideas.
  • I found an awesome race I want to do. Check it out:
  • I am going to do a 14er in August. This makes me want to hike for training.
  • I signed up with a trainer for a 5 week TRX training class. This is a new type of training for me and I love it. I just signed up for another round.
  • I get new workout clothes. Just having a new sports bra plus short combo makes me feel like working out.
  • I get new shoes. Same idea as above.
  • I cut out a picture of the hottest body I've seen in a long time and put it in my workout journal. I want to look like this!

  • I focus on a number. It has been my weight, number of consecutive pushups, how fast I can run a mile, and how long I can hold a wall sit.
  • I download a new cardio workout plan. Here is a great example of some you can try.
  • I compete with someone. I would always try to push myself as hard as Luis in bootcamp and it became so much fun to see who would do more reps or go faster or longer.

I want to look like this.

When these motivations aren't enough, I plan to try P90X and get a work group together to do lunch runs to kick start it again.

Steal my ideas and please tell me the ones that work for you! But only if you really do them yourself...

...QueenB Says

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What is Fair?

"Treating everyone the same is not fair. Each member of your team should get what they earn and deserve." - Coach John Wooden
A friend of mine posted this brilliant quote. It caused a bit of a discussion between me and an amazing women who I respect and admire immensely, and got me to thinking about fairness vs. equality.

Equality's definition is the state or quality of being equal; correspondence in quantity, degree, value, rank, or ability.  Fairness is defined as free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice.

Here's how I think it works. If I am equal to another person in a certain scenario then I expect to be treated equally. If I am better or worse than another person in a certain scenario then my treatment should correspond to that. THAT is fair.

Every year in junior high and high school I tried out for cheerleading. Tryouts consisted of learning some sort of cheer and dance routine throughout the week that culminated with a judged performance on Friday. I practiced year round, but especially leading up to tryouts. My mom still has video tapes of me recording myself to see how I looked and where I could improve. I practiced with friends and at clinics and at a cheer gym. I was pretty good, but it was because I worked at it. One year in junior high, as they were announcing who made the squad we were told that EVERYONE made it.

I was devastated. All of my hard work didn't matter because people who just signed up without practicing made it too. All of my hard work didn't matter because no matter how much we practiced as a squad there were still going to be people that weren't good enough. All of my hard work didn't matter because we were only going to be as good as our least competent squad member and that, frankly, was not good enough for me. That was a lesson for me in equality and fairness. Someone truly thought they were treating us equally and that was fair, when in fact treating us equally was grossly unfair and demotivating. For everyone.

Equality is important, I do not want to diminish that in any way. I fully expect to be paid as much as my male counterparts if I am equal in experience and competence, I expect to pay the same as other people for equal goods or services, etc. But don't treat everyone the same and call it fairness, because in many cases it is not. Thank you Coach...

...QueenB Says

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ask QueenB

Seems we always want to revamp our wardrobe a bit in the summer. The weather is nice and we wear less layered looks so our accessories become a huge part of our outfits. Here are a couple of great questions in this spirit.

Hey QueenB, what is the story with scarves in the spring/summer?

Let's start with the pashmina. In most climates this is never going to be brought out in the summer, but in Colorado this can been a nice addition to the cooler summer nights in place of a jacket. The nice cashmere ones are the best, but you'll drop $200-300 on a good one. The less expensive versions are okay for the occasional wearer.

I found this great picture of several ways to wear a pashmina.

This is the more trendy way to wear one.

The square silk scarf has been around forever. It's a little dated to wear around your neck, but I can see it coming back at some point. If you have any of those lying around then tying them around your purse handles is a fun way to get some use out of it right now.

The longer, rectangle shaped silk scarf is much more versatile in my opinion. I love the the look of either open or tied around the neck. And wearing it as a belt is a great way to add something different to your outfit. I have a few that I wear as belts fairly often.

Any advice on shoes for the summer?

I have one word for you: wedge. I know some people are scared of a very high heel, but a wedge is the most comfortable heel you'll ever wear. Please go try a pair on. They go with pants, jeans, shorts, skirts, dresses, swimsuits... basically everything. And they are everywhere right now. A wedge is feminine, fun, fashionable, and freaking awesome.  Here are a variety of styles I love.

Have fun accessorizing. It's the icing on the cupcake...

...QueenB Says

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Your Life on a Diet

If I asked you, “Are you on a diet?” in general you would assume I was referring to what you are NOT eating. And I have been known to say, “If you want to lose weight quit worrying about what you ARE eating and focus more on what you are NOT eating”, and I truly believe that. You figure out how many calories a day you need to eat and the rule is don’t eat anything more than that.

But, if you are limited to 1800 calories a day, you can’t eat 1800 calories of bacon or chocolate cake and call it good (well, maybe once in a blue moon you can). You have to use those calories wisely. So in reality, the word diet should also be about what you ARE eating. It needs to be balanced, flavorful, good for you, high quality, well prepared, occasionally indulgent, and it needs to give you energy.

To use the diet example, here’s a way that I both cut and added to create the perfect QueenB scenario:

  • I cut my calories to 1800. That was the perfect number that got me to my goal weight and has kept me right around there. I rarely cheat and if I do I eat less the next day or I do extra cardio to burn it off. I still eat what I love- fruit, sandwiches, salads, tacos, pasta, etc. It just stays under the magic number. Food I eat, in the quantities I eat it, gives me balance, it tastes good, of course it’s high quality, well prepared, quite indulgent, and it gives me energy.
  • I initially incorporated a no dairy rule into my diet last year. But you know what? I love cheese. Good cheese, like an Irish cheddar or sage derby or dill havarti. So I brought it back. And another thing? We just got a Glacier Ice Cream near the house and they make Banana Caramel Crunch, the best ice cream on the planet, and my husband likes to take me to get it. So I go. Only once a week. But I go. These two foods give me balance, they taste good, they are high quality, they are well prepared, of course they are indulgent, and they give me energy… of the emotional kind mostly. So dairy is back!
I’ve been thinking about this concept of diet being what you add and take away a lot lately, but not about food. Try this on: diet is not just about what you eat, but also about everything else in your life. Your job, friends, family, health, activities.

What if everything in your life took the diet rules into consideration: is it balanced, flavorful, good for you, high quality, well prepared, occasionally indulgent, and does it give you energy? What would you lose? What would you gain?

Here are some questions you could ponder:

• Are their friendships that don’t bring you value anymore?

• Are their groups you want to be more involved in because they elevate you in some way?

• Can you do something different with your diet or exercise routine that would make you better?

• Are there new ways of approaching your job that can make you more valuable or make you enjoy it more?

• Are their aspects of your relationship with your spouse that don’t work that you can let go of? Or you can add?

• Does your family get the best of you and in turn fulfill you?

What questions would you add?

...QueenB Says

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ask QueenB

I've been gathering some Ask QueenB questions in the fashion category. It always comes down to finding the best basics and knowing how to wear trends... is that everyone's struggle? It's certainly mine!

QueenB, what are your favorite stores to shop at and do you have certain brands that you prefer due to fit, cut/styling, comfort, etc?

For work basics I have a couple of go-to stores. Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor's younger sister, The Loft, are great for this. My wardrobe is filled with their suits, cardigan sets, skirts, & pants. Ann Taylor is great for dressier items and The Loft is great for flashier and more casual options. 

Perfect example of what you can get at Ann Taylor.

This is at The Loft. More casual and fun. I actually have this jacket!

I've also found that Express, yes... that store that sells gaudy sequin crap for the most part, has a new higher end line. It's typically found in the back of the store near the register. They have a great pencil skirt line that changes regularly in color and detail. I've bough about 5 of them in different colors. They are fabulous to pair with plain or fun tops.

See? Classic. Fashionable. Attractive.

Tahari makes a great suit and I love the way they fit. Nordstrom and online is where I have found them. And I always buy them at a huge discount at the end of the season. I still have to get them tailored, but just assume you will always have to get a suit and pants tailored.

This is a Tahari suit I found at Macy's for under $200.

My casual and more fun pieces tend to come from Anthropologie. They can blend in nicely with my work wardrobe and add flair. But Anthropologie also makes great "going out" clothes.

One last piece of advice: get good jeans. Spend over $100 and get them tailored to fit you. I have to get the waist and length taken in every time. And it is worth it. Ill fitting jeans are the easiest way to look like you don't know how to dress. When you get them tailored take the heel height of shoes that you will most likely wear with that pair of jeans. The jeans that you wear with flats cannot be the same jeans you wear with heels. Sorry, that's just the way it is.

What's QueenB's take on the return of the 1977 one-piece jumpsuit? Just saw a purple one and was tempted to try it on.

I think they can be very flattering if they fit correctly. You need to have a 1 to 2 ratio in top to bottom... it may be 1 to 1.8, something like that, but you get my point. And I think the silhouette needs to be an hourglass that is equal on top and bottom. And the pants should drop straight down from the widest part of your hip. That is tough for so many body types to pull off. I'm short, so I would probably just go with the shorts version that I've been seeing around and wear with heels. If I got the pants version, I'd definitely wear them with extremely high heels to trick the eye.

The boobs are another thing to think about. With the blousy shirt and fitted waist you have a shorter torso, or perceived shorter torso. So you have to be careful that your girls don't take up too much of that "space".

I like this fit. It's 1:2 ratio and flows straight down nicely.

This jumpsuit with heels is what QueenB would wear.

I found this picture of celebs. I love the fit of the first two. But the third? See what I mean about an equal hourglass vs. a pear shape?

Next week I will answer more fashion questions in Ask QueenB on scarves and shoes. In the mean time, go shopping...

...QueenB Says

Friday, July 9, 2010

Change Your Mind

There are a lot of messages out there about knowing who you are and standing for what you believe in. I actually think there is lot to be said and learned about integrity and morality and honor and on and on and on… and there are much better people than me to speak on those topics. But here’s one that we hear less about: changing your mind.

There is a lot of apprehension around changing your mind. Mostly because it can be viewed as a sign of weakness. But I want to challenge that assumption. I honestly think it takes a lot of balls to change your mind. I’m not talking about ordering the risotto for dinner and then flagging down the waiter and telling him you decided you’d rather have the scallops, although that does take some guts… it’s annoying, but ballsy. I’m talking more about life decisions, values, and lifestyle changes. Think about it, to change your mind:

1. You have to know what you think and why you think it in the first place.

2. You have to open yourself up to learning something new.

3. You have to admit that you were wrong.

Starting with the first one, how many of us can honestly say we know WHY we believe something? In many cases we believe something just because the people around us think it or we were never exposed to another way of thinking. If you cannot explain your side AND the other side then I challenge that you really don’t know 100% of what you are talking about.

Second, learning something new takes effort. And I’m not talking about reading an article in the newspaper and being able to quote a few statistics. Although, that is a great way to begin the process. But that is just the beginning of the process. Once you are curious, LEARN more about it or DO something new.

And the third point about admitting you were wrong? Big balls. And doing it in a way that doesn’t offend, patronize or condescend is really tough.

Personally, I have a lot of respect for people who change their mind and do it in a way that is constructive. I don’t want to believe things just because I should or just because other people do. I want to understand WHY I believe those things. I also have a lot of respect for people who can say, “I haven’t made up my mind about that yet”, which is something I do often. Trust me, after years of being asked when I’m going to have a kid and sticking by my “I haven’t made up my mind about that yet” answer I can tell you… THAT also takes balls.

So change your mind. But own it. It shows you are intelligent, thoughtful, progressive, and frankly, human. As humans we change our minds; the question is, do we have the balls to admit it?

…QueenB Says

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Being Fake Is Not All Bad

Pretense - [pri-tens, pree-tens]  - noun - pretending or feigning; make-believe; a false show of something

Is pretense bad? It depends. I know, I know...that is the worst answer. But it's accurate. Of course we can all agree that pretense in many situations is horrible. I'm not going to argue that. However, there are so many scenarios where pretense is absolutely necessary. It's polite, it's social, and it's courteous. And honestly, I think as a society we are lacking that decorum more and more.

If you refuse to have any pretense in your life then you likely have very few friends, you probably get threatened with bodily harm from people regularly, and are referred to as psychotic or some other mental condition.

If you are on the end of the scale where you just abhor having to use pretense and only use it when you absolutely HAVE TO then you probably fight a lot with your family and significant other, get poor service, and wonder why so many conversations with others escalate to anger. 

Pretense, when used in proper doses, works wonders in your relationship. It makes people treat you better at a restaurant or store. It opens the door to conversation and makes people feel comfortable. It allows you to have stronger friendships and relationships with your coworkers. It gives people around you self-esteem. It makes people think you are nice, pleasant, fun, open, and approachable. 

What does the pretense that I'm referring to look like?

"You look great today!"  "We would love to!"  "Thank you so much, that was the best manchego I've had!"  "Staying home tonight sounds great, we'll watch a movie!"  "You are the power point master!"  "This is the best bakery in town!"  "It was so nice to meet you!" (I totally meant these if I've ever said them to you).

How do you know what the "proper dose" of pretense is? Try this:
  • Is it giving someone a boost or deserved compliment? If so, then say it. I give you permission to be fake! Embrace it! It will be good for you...
  • Is it detrimental to you to say or do this? If not, then say it.
  • Are there any repercussions of saying it or not saying it? If not, then say it.
  • Can you say it sincerely and nicely? If so, then say it. If not, tone it down until it sounds sincere and go back to question 1.
We can all do "pretense" better and it would make the world a nicer place to be. Now I'm curious, how do you use pretense to get along or get ahead? Just don't tell me how you use it with me...

...QueenB Says

Thursday, July 1, 2010

QueenB's Rules for Shopping

I was chatting with someone about the effect that your Style Statement could have on your life. Her statement was it's "VERY helpful to think more deliberately on these things. I'm realizing that just because I like so many things I don't have to incorporate them into 'me'."  I think that is the biggest takeaway I'm going to get out of this concept as well.

I remember a hotel I stayed at in New Orleans had the most wonderful lobby and every night they served hot chocolate and peanut butter sandwiches as a "midnight snack". The service items were ornate silver, they had delicate teacups and plates, the seats were all gold and burgundy and mahogany Victorian, men in tuxedos drifted about to ask if you needed anything. It transported me to a different world... and I loved it! But it is not my style for every day. I can enjoy it occasionally and have a lovely experience with it, without needing to bring the french-creole southern style into my space. (I could probably work men in tuxedos flitting about waiting to serve me into my style, but that's probably a different post).

Being aware of how you choose to bring different styles into your life is a fine line that I'm still figuring out. With decorating for example, the husband and I have different styles and we are still working out how to incorporate those into a suitable balance. We are getting much better at it as time goes on.

I think life experiences, like the New Orleans hotel, allow you to sample different flavors (that may change your style statement over time) and partnering with someone else is going to force you to blend your style statement with another and will take some effort to get right.  But here's where you must stick to exactly what suits you: your clothing.


How many of you have perfectly good, beautiful pieces in your closet that you NEVER wear? Either because they don't go with anything else in your closet or they just never feel comfortable or you actually grew to hate them? I do, I do. That is because they are outside of my true-to-self style statement. I have put some thought into why I buy things like that and have created a few rules for shopping:

Stupid stuff I've bought by breaking the following rules.

  • Shop with someone who knows you and does not influence your instincts too much. You want to be able to ask an opinion and get an honest answer... for you... not for them. I think that makes the perfect shopping buddy, someone who can look at something and not think of themselves. Here's an example, I would wear pastel but my mom is much more comfortable with rich, saturated colors. So when she comes out in a pretty burgundy shirt that I might choose in a pale yellow I would never say, "Why don't you try the yellow?". I can look at it from the perspective of her style and her closet and her taste and give my opinion. Yes, I just called myself the perfect shopping buddy... so?
  • Shop with care when you are having a life experience. On vacation is a great example. If you are in Miami and are shopping for a dress to wear to dinner that night you have to be careful you don't splurge on some flamenco number that you will never wear again. Another example, I know that most people don't "do the mall" like I do. If they have valet parking I use it, if they offer champagne I drink it, if they have an expert in house I talk to them as much as I can (like a shoe guy or the dress lady who has dressed the social elite for 28 years). I take my time, I try on lots of things, I make it a glamorous and enjoyable affair. This could influence some of you in a way that may take you out of your true style. My bohemian or natural or edgy friends could find themselves trying on white sailor pants with a navy striped fitted sweater if they aren't careful. I would probably be a good shopping buddy and steer you away from it, but be careful, I might encourage it and offer to buy for half price later on....
  • Try not to shop when you are emotional. This is like the rule of not cutting your hair after a break up. You make bad decisions when you are angry, sad, or struggling emotionally in some way. I have bought baseball jerseys, sarong dresses, western shirts, and other dumb purchases. Well, dumb for me. So I say that once you are in a better place, THEN go shopping, and call me...
...QueenB Says