Kat’s Favorite “News” Stories

how-to-buy-a-great-blazerThese aren’t top news stories, per se, but they are the stories that I’ve thought about over and over throughout the year.  Readers, which were your favorite news stories of the year?  List ’em here.

  • Real Simple told us how to assess quality in blazers.
  • Angie at YouLookFab knew the secret to scrunched sleeves.
  • Funny, funny: the WSJ heralded the “triumphant return of the skirt suit,” wherein the author began with the sentence, “The last time any fashionable woman took a skirt suit seriously, Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver were clobbering one another for corner-office rights in the 1988 film ‘Working Girl.’”
  • Extra Petite researched how to prevent “bag sag” so you don’t have to.
  • I liked this amusing essay at Jezebel from a woman tired of being told she “doesn’t have to dress up” for work.  Also amusing: Above the Law shared a fun Clifford Chance memo to their women attorneys, offering tips such as don’t giggle, don’t show cleavage, and “think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe.”
  • The Washington Post wrote about the red sneaker effect; a study found that a business woman wearing red sneakers with her suit was thought to have higher rates than a business woman wearing regular shoes.  Very interesting — I’ve written before about my theory about “the eccentric genius” personality, but I’ve often thought it’s much harder for women to rock.
  • Above the Law reported on a judge who reprimands women for showing elbows.  Meanwhile, SF Gate reported on a CEO’s tweet where he correlated IQ with heel height.
  • Slate had an interesting article about women breadwinners, with survey results from many couples where the woman makes more.
  • This is actually a really important (but long) read — the NYT covered Harvard Business School’s recent drastic efforts for gender equity — I was shocked that this was 2011, that HBS women were so hesitant and intimidated by the boys’ club mentality, and that the school found that these efforts actually made a change.  Stunning.
  • Erin Callan wrote in the NYT about her regret for letting her job take over her life (and her child-bearing years). Scientific American had an interesting guest blog with one of Harvard’s youngest faculty members advising women on work/life balance (lots of great tips, even if you’re not interested in becoming an academic). Meanwhile, the NYT looked at how “the opt-out generation wants back in.”
  • This was a great article from Working Mother about how you should be in the “business of the business” if you want to be an executive (instead of a “support” role like finance, accounting, HR, marketing, etc).
  • Vivia Chen at The Careerist examined how to find a career coach.
  • Hunched in front of your computer all day?  Lifehacker told you how to fix your aching back.
  • The Atlantic had an interesting article about alcohol as an escape from perfectionism — a sobering read for all us Type As who enjoy a glass (or 3) of wine a night. Lisa at Privilege has some fantastic advice for how to cut back when your beloved glass of wine a night may have turned into a tumbler of wine.
  • Finally, you must check out this Buzzfeed collection of pictures and .gifs from the 2013 Running of the Interns.

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  1. Whoah. Just learned that a good friend of mine is filing for divorce after barely 4yrs of marriage to her STBX. She volunteered a lot of info; no way would I pry about stuff while the wound is still fresh but it got me wondering: For anyone on this site that’s had a long-term relationship (marriage or not) fall apart, what were the warning signs that were hints if not all out red flags in the early part of the relationship that presaged its demise? I’m thinking there’s a lot of Hive wisdom here that could save others a lot of heartache.

    Me: a serious boyfriend and I broke up when I got sick of his having a spine-ectomy and having no self-respect. His company was taking advantage of him, and instead of asking them to reimburse him like they should have; he tried to cadge money off my parents. What was the red flag? His roommate treated him like crap and he just sat there taking it with a smile. Saw this early on and didn’t run for the hills, which was my mistake. But at least I got out after 2yrs.

    • Red Flags :

      Some red flags you see, and others you don’t. Mine were:

      1. Husband of 5 years stopped wanting to have LGPs. Claimed it was because I had gained weight and gotten out of shape. This was during second year of law school. I had gained some weight, but I was not unhealthy and I graduated Coif, which was important to me (ego) and to our finances (it was during the early 1990s recession and this helped me get a BigLaw job).

      I did not see this as a red flag. I thought I had gotten so disgusting that it made sense he did not want to garden with me. Turns out, he had already begun an affair that ended up ending our marriage about a year later.

      2. BF of 1 year never liked the kind of LGPs that involve the man nibbling flowers. (That’s a horrible euphemism, but I hope you understand.) At about the one year mark, he suggested that LGPs only involve actual planting and no tilling the soil first. That was the last straw for me, so I ended it.

      Please don’t get the impression that I am a LGP-addict. But having now written this, perhaps the gusto with which one’s partner approaches gardening with you says something about the health of the relationship?

      • Nothing you wrote suggested in any way that you are a LGP addict. Anybody who suggests that is a timewarp Puritan who’s both afraid of women’s s#xuality and whose cat must have peed in his cornflakes this morning. :-)

        • Red Flags :

          Thanks. That was my initial assessment (after I took his request very seriously and respectfully, declined, and then discussed ad nauseam with girlfriends). Now I think he might not realize that that reason he does not like women’s bodies is that he prefers men’s bodies.

      • Ex-husband was a different person when he drank. At first it was only sometimes. Then all the time. (And not to be indelicate, my lady garden was a favourite target of his Mr. Hyde.) What I didn’t know until well after we were married was how much he drank. (He hid it from me for as long as he could.) Given that I was raised by occasionally violent alcoholics (and he knew that), the big red flag I should have heeded was to avoid someone who drank as frequently as he did.

    • I feel pretty safe saying that a good, lasting relationship should be easy and totally uncomplicated in the early stages. (Of course you have to be honest with yourself while completely infatuated in order to see when this isn’t the case, so there’s an obvious pitfall.) I just think that generating drama and hurt is the job of life outside your relationship, and your partner should provide the refuge. I can’t think of any happy long term couples I know who “got off to a rocky start–” generally the beginning has accurately forecast the rest.

      • This is a good point. A friend of mine is going through a pretty nasty divorce right now and it took a lot of effort to get that relationship to a commitment and the rest of the time it was a big juggle to keep it going. If it’s not easy when it’s supposed to be, it’s going to be that much harder to get through the hard times.

        Another thing that I’ve always noticed is that if a person doesn’t care if your friends like him/her, there’s a good chance that there’ll be conflict ahead.

      • Senior Attorney :

        YES! My new motto is “relationships should be easy, and it your relationship isn’t easy it isn’t the right relationship.”

        If there is something about your SO that you don’t like or feel comfortable about early on, it will not get better over time. It will get worse.

        Relationships? Should be easy.

        • I think it really depends on where the conflict is coming from. If the relationship is “rocky” because you’re fighting from the beginning, then I agree, big red flag. If it’s because of external factors – long distance, one of you becomes ill, family problems, etc. – then it might not be “easy” but I think your SO’s reaction can say a lot about who he/she is and can bring you closer.

          Also, later on relationships aren’t always “easy.” When you’re in a long-term relationship, it takes work to stay monogamous (and/or navigate the degree of openness that you have mutually agreed upon) and to communicate about your mutual goals and desires.

          • As I said, problems should come from outside the relationship. These are all examples of that.

          • I don’t think a categorical “the relationship should be easy” works down the road. People grow and change, and there can be growing pains in relationships as you become different people than the people you started as. The relationship needs to grow with both of you, but I don’t think that all conflict comes from external problems – some conflict is natural.

            But that’s different than being the “couple that fights hard and loves hard” right from the start.

          • Senior Attorney :

            I recognize that this is simplistic. But having come out of a long marriage that was wickedly difficult from the get-go, I continue to maintain that relationships most definitely should be easy in the early stages, and that “easiness” will help you when thing inevitably get challenging later on. So I definitely think “this is hard” is a HUGE red flag in the early years.

        • I’m going to take this motto (and philosophy) with me into the new year and beyond! No more trying to force relationships because I feel like I should like someone or being the only person trying to make things work.

      • Baconpancakes :

        This is depressing for me, since the relationships that started out pretty rocky were the ones that lasted longest, and the ones that started blissfully crashed and burned within weeks/months. I’m extremely critical about my relationships, and I haven’t gone ga-ga over a guy for eight years, partially because I’m so very aware about not letting myself get blindsided by mushy feelings. I have a hard time believing I’ll ever have an easy relationship.

        I’m allergic to cats, so old lady with a lot of dogs spinsterhood, here I come!

        • The only relationships that have worked for me, interestingly enough, were ones where I “for sure knew that this one wasn’t going to be serious.” Either guy was completely not my type or I met him in a time/place where there was “no way” we were getting serious, whatever, but I think sometimes it helps to not have any expectations of what something/someone should be and to just experience them as a person. Every time I “dated” and tried to get serious with someone intentionally, it was a disaster.

          Of course, I know tons of people who sort of just decided “now is the time to settle down,” went on Match dot com or JDate and found a mate who had the same life goals, but that kind of logical thinking never worked for me.

          • Your second paragraph basically sums up my problem with online dating — I met several guys who seemed so focused on the goal of Getting a Girlfriend that they wanted to dispense with the whole business of getting to know each other and seeing how things evolve over time. Not cool.

            In general, though, from observation if not personal experience, I do think the relationships that work don’t involve a lot of conflict/drama at the beginning over things like whether the couple should even be dating, for example.

    • Just this month signed the final documents ending my marriage of 17 years. (Whoa.)

      Red flags I should have attended to: significant mental illness that he was unwilling to address in therapy, and a constant combative relationship with therapists. Generally jerky behavior toward me in front of his (few, no longer around) friends. General unwillingness to seek an equitable relationship in terms of parenting/housework division of labor. Finally, all those “jokes” about his retiring after I was done with graduate school [made while he was in his early thirties]? Were precursors to his years of voluntary unemployment once I was well-employed.

      So yes, I have the house and the kids and the child support and I’m not yet forty and am looking forward to the rest of my child-rearing and my forties without him in the picture except for his can’t-always-take-it visitation time.

    • For me, I should have seen all of the things that added up to a lack of passion in my now ex-H. Wimpy about LGPs, no passion about his career (kept losing jobs, constantly being disgruntled with management, wanting to switch careers, etc.), no passion about hobbies, or much of anything other than food. It was really sad. And I think he was jealous of the fact that I live so passionately. I love what I do, I have avocations that I am good at and that keep me happy with my life, and, above all, I am passionate about the man I love. As a result, I saw him as increasingly pathetic.

  2. Anon for this one :

    A good friend introduced me to her SO this weekend. He is a horticulturist. With all the Lady Garden Party and Gardener references on this site it was like a little private joke running in my head that made me smile. Some day I might share it with her….unless she posts here then she will already know. But I thought I better post anon for this one just in case.

    • Anonymous :

      I don’t think that euphemism originated here. I’ve seen it used other places.

    • SoCalAtty :

      It IS pretty hysterical. I was explaining a poster’s situation to my husband a few weeks ago, and his comment was “hmm. Not a great euphemism. It sounds like having people over to help get your lady garden ready for, like, Hawaii, or something.”

    • I would love to find a good horticulturalist, but to do so, I know I must remain meticulously fresh if I want a man to go South for a LGP. An untended garden is not going to incent a guy to want to head downstairs, for even a nibble, let alone the type of tongue-lapping irrigation my garden truly craves.

  3. Wildkitten :

    Has anyone had a good experience with a career coach? Most them seem to be for switching careers, not succeeding/excelling in the career you already have.

    • I’ve had a number of experiences with a coach. The single most useful one was recommended by my boss when I had just taken on new management responsibilities, including oversight of a business line which is not typically known for being woman-friendly, and in which the recommended coach had a lot of experience both as a revenue-producer and a manager. A lot of the material I covered with him was pretty specific to our business, particularly on how to handle conflicts between my staff, their business partners, compliance and risk folks, regulators etc. Credibly dealing with these had the extra benefit of establishing my credibility with my staff, and it turned out that I could successfully manage them with only small adaptations of my own existing supervisory style.

      My other coaching experiences have been less useful. The selection was less personal, typically by HR folks whom I didn’t deal with day-to-day, and the quality of the coaches was shockingly variable. There were definitely some time- and money-wasting sessions here with folks who had limited direct experience of my business, let alone the specific areas where I was keen to improve. The useful insights from these sessions tend to be about personal interaction, particularly on techniques for dealing more effectively with different personality types.

      I think the reason you may have the impression that coaches focus on career switches is because this is a person’s likely objective when she hires her own coach ? All my coaching has been paid for by my employer at the time – I think many large organizations have some kind of programme in place for their promising managers – and the objective is always ‘development’ of some sort.

  4. I am the person who posted about depression and anti-depressants a few weeks ago. I went back to my doctor and asked for a blood test just to rule out anything else, and even though she said it was unnecessary because we wouldn’t find anything, I insisted on getting one. And, it turns out I’m pretty badly Vitamin D deficient. It just shows you that you have to be your own advocate. I’m off to get some fatty salmon and supplements now….

    Note – I know this isn’t the only problem and cause of my depression, and I still have a long way to go, but it’s so nice to have something physical to focus on fixing.

    • IT Chick in MN :

      Oh the vitamin D can make a HUGE difference in mood stability. For me, I was on anti-depressants and still struggling. My deficiency took about 6 months to fully resolve, and I need to maintain fairly high levels of supplementation. But I noticed differences in my energy levels and sleep quality within a week! I have trouble with my stomach not liking the supplements, so I take them at night.

      If your doctor remains dismissive of the deficiency, I would suggest trying for a second opinion.

      I’ve also had excellent luck with taking B12/B complex supplements. It has significantly upped my morning energy. Warning – do not take these at night – you will struggle with sleep! It seems to have a very rapid effect on your body’s energy levels.

      I’m honestly not much of a “vitamins/herbs fix everything!” person, but both of these have had a very real effect on my day to day life.

      • Interesting. Do you have D and B12/B supplements that you would recommend?

        • FWIW I take 10,000 IU/day – 2 pills

        • Coach Laura :

          For B12/B-complex, sub-lingual tablets that dissolve under your tongue are best: If you are deficient, it would take much longer to increase your levels if you supplement with a swallowed pill. I swear by the Trader Joe’s brand. They have plain B12 and a B6/folic/B12 combo.

          For D, I take 1 or 2 5000 IU gel-caps a day. I can’t remember the name of the brand.

        • Deva Vegan Vitamins Sublingual B12, Tablets
          Deva Vegan Vitamin D

          Obvs I am vegan, so B12 is a must. I probably should have started taking the Vitamin D again since it is winter and I am not getting my sunshine walks like I was in the summer. (Smacks head.)

      • I’d be interested to know too if you have any supplements to recommend. It seems that they vary a lot in quality. How many IUs per day did you take? I’m finding a lot of conflicting information about the dosage. My doctor just told me to take supplements, not at what dosage.

    • Abby Lockhart :

      Thank you for posting this. It reminds me that my recent fatigue might be due to Vitamin D deficiency, and I am going to take action and start taking my supplements again! It really made a difference before, and I hope it works for you, too.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Good for you standing up for yourself! It’s even more impressive to do while feeling depressed! Advocating for myself was probably the last thing I’d be able to do when I was depressed. Is it possible for you to change doctors if you feel like you want to? When I was originally put on antidepressants the first thing my doctor did was a bunch of blood work. She thought I might have a thyroid issue but I got the feeling it was a fairly standard practice when beginning antidepressants. I hope that working on addressing the deficiency as well as the other things you are doing for treatment are helpful.

      • Yeah, thinking about it now, I wonder why I was on the antidepressants for a year before the blood test (and I only got the blood work done because I was insisting on it). I hope the Vit D supplements will eventually give me enough energy to drag my ass back to therapy, which I have been neglecting due to extremely low energy. Baby steps…

  5. Erin Callan, not Callahan. My acquaintance went to law school with her and was quite envious of her perceived success; the NYT article was illuminating.

    • egads, and i got something else fairly major wrong (misspelling). oi vay.

      • Was it “per say”? (Now fixed). I saw it but figured maybe lawyers had a collective agreement to do it this way now or something!

  6. Miss Behaved :

    I know Kat is talking about fashion and other news stories pertaining to women, but I have to say some of my favorite news stories of the year have to do with Rob Ford. I’m partial to stupid politician stories. I hope he stays in office until next October.

    Jon Stewart is my tv boyfriend. It’s nice to come home to him 4 nights a week. What news stories have you enjoyed this year?

    • Anthony Weiner’s mayoral campaign was funny.

    • Rob Ford was my favorite lollercoaster news story of 2013. The one where he talks about having plenty to eat at home…lol lol lol lol.

  7. Clementine :

    I’ve decided to play a game today called ‘how many out of office replies am I going to get to my emails’.

    Current count is 5. The only people I have not received these from are people within my immediate office.

    Anyone else having a day like this??

    • Tiger is currently dashing through the snow, riding and singing a sleighing song. She will reply to you when she is back in the office.


    • I *WISH*. Sadly I have the misfortune that all my clients and opp counsel are sitting by their phones/computers ready to reply/argue/ask the same question repeatedly/generally make my life difficult….and the courts only close on actual holidays so I am rushing around to get things in for 12/30/13, 1/2/14, etc. : (

      Grass is always greener, I guess!

      • That is the suck. So so sorry to hear that! Hopefully that means you might be able to take a break in Jan/Feb, though? Good luck!!!!!

    • I’ve had 2, and I’ve made the executive decision that I’m leaving at 11:30. Some of my architects are here today, but nothing is happening other than me having to sign off on some AIA documents, which I already did.

    • I have at least 5 people leaving me as their out-of-office contact. Nice.

  8. We had a judge speak to our class in law school (first year, I think) about dressing appropriately. Her opinion was “No collarbones and no wrists showing, ever”.

    Seriously? COLLARBONES are risqué now??

    • Ummm, yeaaahhhhh…. did this judge just step out of a time machine from Victorian times!?! I don’t even know how you find clothes that cover your wrists and collarbone in 2013… only turtlenecks??? 1940s suits that button up to the top and a man’s style tie? this person is banana pants…

    • Ummm, what? I think we can vote me as most conservatively dressed and my wrists show. Every day.

    • Ha! One of my grad school professors suggested that we should all have red leather minis and wear them proudly.

    • Okay, I consider myself on the very modest end of the conservative spectrum and I am okay with 4 finger’s width below collar bone and 3/4 – 7/8 length sleeves in the summer. That judge is puritanical.

  9. Baconpancakes :

    Gender bending expectations: I’m firmly in the camp of dressing professionally and according to office culture, but how much expectation does gender play into this? A new manager joined my company, and she wears 3 piece suits, crisp button-downs, pressed khakis, and patent loafers or polished dress shoes every day – and she looks fantastic, in-charge, and extremely competent. Her dress is decidedly masculine, but sleek, tailored, and professional, and I love it. I prefer more feminine looks for myself, but her clothes make me question the wisdom of more feminine dress being required in the professional world – judges who require skirt suits on female lawyers, for example. Has anyone else known a professional woman who wears almost exclusively “masculine” professional clothes with extreme professional success, or does breaking gender boundaries tend to hurt you professionally, even in 2013/2014?

    • I think it can hurt you, but because people are judgmental and narrowminded, but for me, I think the only really sound position we can take is that if something is professional for one gender, it’s professional for everyone. Employers shouldn’t be in the business of policing people’s gender.

    • Isn’t the most formal professional clothing “masculine” to a large degree? The whole concept of the suit as professional is because that’s what men wore to work when women were entering the workplace, right?

      The person you are describing sounds more fashion forward (menswear inspired) than gender bending. Her clothes are tailor and sleek – she’s not trying to hide the fact that she’s a women, right? She’s just working the menswear angle.

      I think women actually have more leeway here – they can more easily take on menswear, then men could ever take on the feminine. I mean, how long did it take for pink shirts to become even remotely acceptable for a guy to wear?

      • Baconpancakes :

        They’re tailored, but they fit the way men’s suits fit – with a drape directly down instead of a curve. For example, most women’s dress shirts button to 2-3 inches down the breastbone, while men’s button all the way up – hers button all the way up. Shoes are a big difference – no heels ever for her, no pointed flats, just laced men’s style dress shoes or high-cut loafers without any risk of toe cleavage, which I’ve noticed more and more women’s loafers have. Her jackets fit her well, but don’t nip in at the waist the way women’s suits usually do, and they’re cut generously for ease of movement around the shoulders. It probably helps that she’s not particularly curvy to begin with, and she has a very short haircut.

        Suits are mostly masculine, but not entirely. Women wore suits even before they entered the main workforce, in the early 1900’s and 1910’s, but women’s suits are cut to display femininity, not masculinity. Mostly it’s how you accessorize a suit that turns it towards one gender or another – wearing a silk shell, pearls, and heels with a skirt suit gives a very different impression than a starched, striped button down with cufflinks and oxford dress shoes with no jewelry, no makeup, and a short-cropped haircut.

        And I absolutely agree on the men’s side double standard. I loved the Swiss train conductors who wore skirts when their option to wear shorts on un-air-conditioned trains was taken away, and I think skirts should be a menswear option, if they wanted (call it a kilt if it would make them feel better).

        • Baconpancakes :

          Sorry, not Swiss, Swedish. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dr-gridlock/wp/2013/06/11/male-swedish-train-conductors-wear-skirts-to-protest-dress-code/

    • Kat’s posting about red high tops has me thinking very differently about this. Granted I still wear skirts almost every day and when I do wear pants it is on casual days only, but I have been amassing a small high tops wardrobe. They are currently all black, but I feel a green pair is looming on the horizon.

      Being pretty masculine by nature, I purposely avoid rocking the butch look because it is already there. I am keeping my hair long and wearing skirts and plan to branch out into dresses this coming year.

      Isn’t dressing up like an adult fun?

    • Yes, most of the women leaders at my Fortune 100 company. The ones that dress more feminine tend to wear hideous, frumpy suits. Maybe it’s because we’re not lawyers, but no one genuinely cares. I’m usually the only person to wear a skirt suit, when the occasion arises, and even then I only have one because it tends to fit better than pants if I gain or lose weight.

      • Anonymous :

        Awesome! Good to know! All the female managers at my research company wear frumpy suits or cute pencil skirts and sheath dresses. Very feminine.

  10. If we work together (you know who you are) and you’re working today, all I’m saying is: come to my floor. We have whiskey. And I found a ukulele Christmas album on Spotify.

    • I did 2 things today:
      1. Convey the contents of a voicemail message to another coworker to address.
      2. Print out a letter and give to my supervisor to sign.

      Can’t wait for #3.
      3. Sign out.

    • Ohh, I am jealous, especially since it turns out the rumors I heard that there would be champagne in the office today were decidedly FALSE.

    • Me and my box of Viennese truffles will be with you in spirit. I am being good and nbot breaking out the wine, namely because I forgot the corkscrew at home. XD

    • phillygirlruns :

      not going to lie, if i’d read this two days ago i would have taken the time to walk around every single floor of my office juuuuuuust in case, because whiskey + ukelele christmas = we need to be friends.

  11. Kind of a random TJ…maybe not, considering the new year is coming. Despite my diligence at eating well and going to the gym, my scale numbers are not budging. They just aren’t. My general doc and my GI both suggested I see an endocrinologist to rule out hormone/thyroid issues. I saw her yesterday, and because of my serious family history of type II diabetes, she is going to do a test for insulin resistance, as well as cortisol levels, some hormone “stuff,” and a few other things.

    For my frame (I’m 5′ tall), she re-confirmed that I can really only eat 1200 calories a day, even at my activity level (spin 3X/week, riding lesson 2x week), to lose weight. She suggested I try the weight watchers online thing, and I kind of rolled my eyes at it because I’ve never been a diet plan joiner. But, since my “old” method of eating really healthy and losing weight is no longer working, I’m willing to give it a shot.

    Does anyone have any feedback, good/bad on the online program? I’m not about to start cooking tons of meals, but I do have a Blue Apron delivery that takes care of 3 dinners per week, and I can figure something out for the others. I’m definitely a list-making, tracker type person if that makes a difference. TIA! (The good news is…because of all of my hard work in the gym, my “bad” cholesterol is now well within normal range, and my “good” cholesterol is up. So yay to that! Just have to work on that scale #)

    • Just to add to that – she is testing for PCOS as well. I’ve always been on BC and spironolactone for acne, so the theory is that I could have PCOS causing insulin resistance, over production of testosterone, etc. but never know it because I’m already on 2 of the treatments that could be used for PCOS. But that could be a factor hindering weight loss. Hopefully that’s not it, but it might make sense.

      • If you have insulin-resistance, you may need to eat a diabetes-friendly diet (even if you don’t have diabetes) in order to lose weight. You could get a cookbook like the Low GI cookbook, but honestly I get a lot of frozen stuff at Trader Joe’s when I’m too lazy to cook.

    • I did WW online a few years ago and I really liked it. I like having the structure they provide, with just the right amount of flexibility. You didn’t mention your age, but I find that with each passing decade it gets harder and harder to lose weight. I am now in my 50’s and have to be super strict with my diet if I want to lose weight. I am about your height and what your doc says is true, we don’t get many calories if we want to lose.

    • Bankratty :

      No experience with the online program but–Ug. 1200 calories a day is brutal. I’m just a bit taller than you (5’2) and I cannot sustain a moderate-serious exercise plan on so few calories. Have you considered adding resistance training (ie, weight lifting) to your exercise routine? Lifting completely transformed my body. Muscle gains mean your body burns more calories even in a resting state. I’m not a medical professional and I don’t know you, but in your position, I might try changing up my fitness plan before turning to restrictive eating plans.

      • Another K in Transition :

        There is absolutely no way you can survive on 1200 calories a day.

        • +1. Not long term. You can do it for a while and feel awesome, but ultimately you’re hungry and will need to compensate (or overcompensate). This is why diets end with weight returning to the previous level or actually going up.

        • I debated this in a thread a few weeks ago, but actually, yes, for some people, 1200 cals a day is plenty. Everyone has different metabolisms, and at only 5′ and a moderate activity level, 1200 can be plenty. Just because you might be starving on that diet doesn’t mean someone else would.

    • No advice, but I hope you will keep regularly posting and I will support you as I am in a similar boat. And yes, I did look at WW online but chickened out. From experience, I found that anything below 1,400 cals a day for me causes me to stop losing weight but I am almost 4′” taller than you are.

      Oh wait, I do have one bit of advice: muscle burns way more calories at rest than fat does. So do weight training of some kind. Cardio can only do so much. (Google fast twitch verses slow twitch muscle fibers if you want.) I like body weight exercises – they are quite effective – but not too taxing on my post 50 year old joints. Body weight exercises I indulge in include the ballet barre type exercise routines, You Are Your Own Gym, Yoga, and Pilates.

      Best of luck. I am rooting for you!

    • I did the in-person WW meetings and I liked it when I did go. It really works when you actually follow the program. I recently signed in to myfitnesspal. That was a bad Monday.

    • I like WW. And from tracking on it, I know that Blue Apron meals are much too high cal for me to lose weight on. If your current diet and exercise aren’t working, you’re probably going to need to be open to changing to cooking more for yourself. It doesn’t have to be hard!

    • Flying Squirrel :

      I know there isn’t tons of science behind this yet, but I really do believe that metabolism is more than just calories in/calories out…and some people need a different balance of carbs/protein/fat than others. For myself (also 5′), going high protein and limiting carbs from grains really changed the way I looked and felt. I felt much more energetic, and I lost a lot of the pockets of pudge that I could never really budged any other way. I did this while working with a trainer. My work out routine with him was, if anything, less strenuous. But he really helped me develop an exercise plan that worked all of my muscles.

      Now if you have a hormone issue, that may explain everything. And it may not make sense to change your diet drastically until you know. But 1200 calories of higher density foods like meat and nuts mixed with very low cal veggies might be more filling than a diet that’s higher in grains.

      • I am seeing more and more research suggesting it isn’t just calories in/calories out. I also found in my own experience that it’s way more complex. During a summer of eating a very low-calorie diet with almost no carbs, running 6x/week, I actually gained weight. And not just muscle. I’m pretty sure now that my metabolism slowed way down because I wasn’t eating enough and needed far more carbs to support my activity level. When I slowed down my exercise and started eating grains again things stabilized.

        • Anyone who studies diet- and exercise-related anything–by “study” I mean “reads peer-reviewed scientific articles,” not “reads magazines”–can tell you that losing weight IS NOT a matter of calories in/calories out.

  12. Bankratty :

    Also, don’t forget that weight loss is basically (but not entirely) about: calories in vs. calories out. Perhaps a gadget that tracks your activity level (like a fitbit or other widget) would be beneficial.

  13. Highly recommend Weight Watchers. I personally had the most success going to meetings to weigh in instead of just doing it online because it kept me accountable. For me, the biggest difference was learning to think about food in terms of points rather than calories. Restricting calories is incredibly hard, but staying at 26 points a day (the WW equivalent of a 1200 calorie diet) is much easier. It helps that fruits and vegetables are 0 points under the new PointsPlus plan, and you’ll be surprised by what foods are “low point” that might be higher in calories. I work out a similar amount as you (spin several times a week, tone/yoga the rest of the time), and found that the extra weekly points and exercise points I earned allowed me to sometimes eat more than my 26 points and feel satisfied while maintaining a consistent weight loss. Good luck!

    • +1 on the weight-bearing exercise suggestion. This transformed my body – sped up my at-rest metabolism, and even improved my posture, making me look more confident.

      I have also found eatracker really useful, it lets you enter what you’ve eaten and how much you’ve exercised, giving you estimates of how many calories you have taken in/burned, and also if you have met your quota of servings for veggies, etc., for the day. Its at www dot eatracker dot ca

  14. Purplepear99 :

    Question for the Hive. Sorry this one is so long.

    I’m recently engaged and have been with my fiancé for well over 5 years now. My fiancé is very close with his family. My relationship with them is very amicable but not especially close.

    My future mother and sister in law maintain a very close friendship with my fiancé’s ex girlfriend (a serious girlfriend he dated for 3-4 years that ended with her cheating – which his family didn’t know about until years later). I don’t make an issue of their friendship with his ex because they have been friends since his sister was in grade school. My fiancé does not have a friendship with her and she is often very rude to him. I have met her once and I was not warmly received by her either.

    Because she is such a close friend to his sister and mother she has always been invited to Christmas Eve with their family (simply because her family only celebrates Christmas). In years past, she was married and brought her husband and kids along. I was never able to attend because of my work schedule. Last year, my work hours stabilized and I was able to attend. My fiancé expressed our discomfort with having her still attend Christmas Eve, especially because she was newly divorced and it added a whole new layer of awkward. After some disagreement his mother conceded to not extending an invitation to her last year.

    This year, the day before Christmas Eve, his mother let it slip that the ex girlfriend is once again invited this year. Apparently the ex asked to attend again two months ago and they agreed she could come, without ever consulting us or even letting us know she’d be there.

    My fiancé and I were very upset because of the deceit and opted to not attend Christmas Eve this year. It escalated into a big argument between my fiancé and his mother about him “ruining Christmas” and not being there for his elderly grandparents because “who knows how many Christmases they have left.”

    Today, his mother called and wished us a Merry Christmas and acted like nothing ever happened. When my fiancé broached the subject of an apology his mother did not want to talk about it and wanted to forget the whole thing.

    How can we move forward and 1. Get his mother to acknowledge our feelings and understand why we wouldn’t want an ex present and 2. Respect our boundaries in regards to this ex girlfriend in the future that seems intent on maintaining her position in his family?

    I do not want to cause a rift but I feel like this ex purposely wants to be a thorn in our side (for many more reasons I didn’t list here). I am fine with his mother and sister maintain a friendship but I would like them to quit including her in family celebrations.

    Any advice? I know this is a slow thread so maybe I’ll ask again tomorrow.

    • No advice except to say this is ridiculous and I’m so sorry you have to deal with it!

    • Girl you need to check yourself! This woman is friends with your hostess and you backed out on Christmas Eve with elderly relatives at the last minute because she was invited, and she ‘s the rude one? I think you are way out of line here and he owes his family an apology for creating so much drama.

      • Wildkitten :

        A really good question is how many family friends they have attend Christmas Eve. Just the one? Or everyone they know plus more?

        • Purplepear99 :

          That’s a good question. She is the only family friend invited. So it’s definitely because they consider her like family more so than a friend.

          • Well if they consider her like family then I just think you are way out of line demanding she not be invited is excessive. I think he should apologize to his mother, blaming the stress of the holidays, and you should start thinking of her as dreadful Great Auntie Gertrude- if she says [insert rude thing here], respond with an [oh that’s not very nice], but if she’s just unpleasant, play family time bingo and view it as story collection time. In all likelihood she’ll remarry and move on in a few years.

      • Anonymous :

        The ex is a friend of the mother and sister and has been for years. I don’t think the host did anything wrong in inviting her and expecting that everyone could get along and be adults for two hours. It seems like the breakup is far in the past, so I don’t see the issue here.

        • purplepear99 :

          I appreciate your point of view. I think there are a few important distinctions that need to be made though. His mother and sister did not invite her again this year. She very plainly asked to come again this year after not being invited last year with the understanding that they’d like to make it a family only event. I also do not have an issue with being around her, at say, his sister’s birthday dinner or a similar event. I respect their friendship with her and my fiance and I are not asking them to end it. We’d just like to keep family events as family events.

          • You’re really not going to like this, but you’re not family either yet and it appears you’re being difficult and controlling.

            You may have a valid point and valid reasons and I want to be on your side but I can’t. Better luck next year.

    • Wildkitten :

      Advice: Wait for next year. It’s your bf’s job to negotiate with his family – not yours. But it maybe sounds like they realized they made the wrong choice (acting like nothing happened). So, next year, he should broach the issue again. Then, if they choose her over you again for Christmas Eve, come back to the hive/therapy, for him to figure out what to do.

      • Senior Attorney :

        This. I think the “acting like nothing happened” is the best you are going to get and you demanding an apology is way, way over the line. I think you are extraordinarily fortunate that they are not digging in their heels, demanding an apology from you and your fiance.

        I think the bottom line is that the hosts get to decide whom to invite (even if some of the guests have asked for an invitation) the invitees get to decide whether to attend, and everybody is required to act like adults whether or not they can manage to all be in the same room at the same time.

    • I think #2 is more manageable for you two. I’m not sure you can make your MIL-to-be understand and respect your feelings, but she should at least understand that this is important to her son and to you. It may take some time for her to get this, but being consistent but gentle, and not engaging her in argument or getting emotional about it might help.
      FWIW, I think you and your fiancé are acting completely reasonably.

    • I also don’t have any advice, except to encourage your fiance to talk it through with his family after the holidays so everyone can have the air cleared and their feelings explained before next year!
      I also wanted to chime in and say that I think your reaction was completely reasonable. My husband was engaged before I met him (the break-up of the engagement had nothing to do with me or anyone else, just to be clear! My husband just realized that he wasn’t ready to get married, and that she was a good friend but not “the one.”) I get along well with my in-laws, but they were very, very close to his ex-fiance. I would have been very hurt and found it extremely awkward if my in-laws had done what your in-laws did in this situation. It would have been awkward to share “family time” with an ex of my husband’s — for both him and me — regardless of the fact that they still have an amicable relationship. And I don’t think it is unreasonable or unrealistic for your in-laws to recognize that this is an awkward dynamic, and to prioritize you and your fiance’s feelings during the holidays.
      Good luck!

    • purplepear99 :

      Thank you guys for your input. It really makes me feel a lot better. My fiance is going to have another chat with his mom today. I’m hopeful it will go well.

    • Honestly, I think you need to get over it. This woman has been coming to the celebration for years (decades?), is like family to them, and is having a rough year. They’re suddenly supposed to dump her because she’s divorced? It seems like she’s not making a play at your husband. If you want to control the guest list, you should host it.

  15. How about a story about random acts of kindness:


    • I’ll go:
      My (Christian) parents had no power for two days (in their Christian yet diverse area) because of the storms. The local mosque sent around volunteers to deliver hot meals and check on everyone, regardless of faith.

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