INVEST IN YOU | I DID & LOOK


Little Black Dress worn to Frances 50th Birthday

JOANNA HOPE BLACK SHEER YOKE SHIFT DRESS

Welcome to 2019. The procrastination factor has been broken. On Sunday 10 February I will be months into my get-up-and-go, exercise, inch loss routine and the photographic results displayed in my previous posts/blog confirm that exercise is what body needs. It never fails to surprise me the joy I feel when I fit into clothes I haven’t been able to wear for years. I have a clear vision of what I want to achieve in my health & wellness, relationship, friendships, finances, faith, etc. This year I hope to get both mentally and physically stronger so that whatever 2019 throws at me I will be in a better position to deal with it.

The best ideas can pop up into my brain at the strangest times but at my age, they tend not to stay in my head for long. So in order to capture them before they are gone forever, I have to write/type them down. Now my New Year’s Resolutions with you elevates them from being just a thought and gives them life, so to speak. My written/shared goals will act as a reference guide which I will use to keep me on the right track. The snowball of getting into shape began rolling on Sunday 9th September 2018 and avalanched into me consistently going to the gym 3 times a week with everything but the kitchen sink in tow. I made a conscious decision from the outset not to stress about how I was going to achieve everything, confident it would simply be a matter of “tweaking” the details as I went along.

When I was younger working out was about aspiring to look a certain way. Now for this soon to be 57 year old, it is all about a healthy mind and body. Most women over 50 who are going through and/or have gone through the menopause have belly fat issues because our mid-section thickens. This menopausal thickening can result in our stomachs being disproportionate to our bodies and for me poses an unflattering “muffin top” side view! Despite this inherent affliction, I see this as the ideal opportunity to revisit, relearn and rework those quintessential classic items in my closet that due to ill-health and/or weight gain I have been unable to wear.

Over the years I have instinctively clung on to key plus size pieces that I knew would not come along again in my lifetime and this plus size Little Black Dress featured at the helm of this blog is my latest acquisition. I posted on my BFF FB Page “A LBD that is a cut above the rest. The sheer neckline and sleeves, detailing on the décolleté screams timeless chic…” This bodycon dress with a jewel neckline, is made out of a soft Ponte Roma jersey that tantalisingly skims the waist and hips. It is further enhanced by a subtle ladder detail effect to the front of the dress. Originally £140 reduced to £95 on 29.01.19 JDWilliams.

Another timeless classic is this Black Knitted Dress with Nude neckline and nude pleated hem. Purchased from Freemans on-line 29.02.2012 last worn 02.12.2014 until 15.01.2019. Moments like these are a “positivity bolster” and serve to catapult me onwards and upwards towards realising my dreams.

Although it is claimed that certain styles are great for plus sized women and help to create that fantastic hourglass silhouette, many plus size women shy away from dresses either because they think they are for the "skinny girls" or because they are not prepared to battle with the most uncompromising of leg garments, yes you know what I am talking about - TIGHTS. A flattering dress allows you to show off your curves in a way that no other piece of clothing can.

New Year’s Eve 2019: This is what is known as a shark bite hem dress. The asymmetrical hemline makes this type of dress line very flattering for my body because it creates a diagonal, which not only gives me a waist but also draws the eye away from my stomach giving the illusion that I am slimmer. When buying a dress be sure to try different styles on, to see what works on your particular body.

MOTIVATION: Achieving small goals means unforgettable eureka moments of triumph and momentum. The proverb "success generates success" really is true. Having successfully taken tiny steps and achieved such outstanding results in 20 weeks, I am driven to continue taking positive steps towards my goal.

This year, many of my girlfriends are opting for birthdays abroad this year so not only is there a lot to look forward to but another challenge is to get this soon to be 57 year old body (dare I say it) BEACH READY!! I can’t promise that I will feel confident enough to wear a bikini but would settle to look “Pamela Andersonesque” in a full bathing suit when photographed. Alright, alright settle down with the giggling and wise cracks. That reminds me I must go through that “out of sight out of mind” chester drawer my youngest daughter is always going through before jetting off and pull out the costumes/bikinis that have been sitting there brand new in the plastic bag since February 2016 if there are indeed any left!!!!

UPDATE: The hunt for a beach towel is off. I can now wrap my body in the white bath towel my fiancé bought for me. What can be nicer than knowing that when I step out of a hot bath on our Valentines weekend away I can fully cover up my body in the warm fluffy towels provided.

LAYERING: With weight loss, comes the added bonus of being able to layer your clothing without adding bulk while keeping warm. Layering is a really essential and important part of our winter dressing. My base layer is a black short-sleeved thermal vest from Matalan, lightweight and fitted to my body at a cost of £6 each. My basic outer layer was my long sleeved black roll neck, a piece that could stand alone should I get warm and need to strip off.

PROTECT YOUR KNEES: Do not do what I did – I got so caught up in the beat to the music blaring through my earphones and unsuspectingly sacrificed the correct form/technique when walking on a treadmill. Leaning forward, as is often seen with both walkers and runners, can throw your posture off and make you move with improper form. A straight back and torso centred over your pelvis eliminates stress on your knees. My incorrect form caused swelling and pain to my left knee resulting in week out of training from 21-25 January 2019.

Think “Strictly Come Dancing“where the judges go on and on about “your posture and/or frame.” I had to learn to elongate my spine, slightly lift my chest while pushing my shoulder blades down away from my ears and keep my abdominal muscles sucked in. Take short strides so that your foot hits the ground directly under your body. Taking longer strides or extending your leg too far forward can throw your body alignment off causing your foot to land in front of your hips, which again can also place greater stress on your knees.

LOUNGEWEAR: The increasingly hectic pace of modern living means that when I have some downtime I want nothing more than to unwind in clothing that doesn’t pinch or make me feel fat, switch off and enjoy those few cherished hours at home. The ever-growing demand for luxe-looking loungewear means that lounging around in a paint-stained holey t-shirt and a worn-out pair of your favourite leggings is no longer considered “YouTube Cute”. What we wear has a direct impact on how we feel and I still want to look “Cute” and feel good when I am relaxing.

A popular street style trend of late means that the boundaries between formal and casual dressing have become blurred. Savvy designers have embraced this movement and created ultimate luxury loungewear using high-quality fabrics in plenty of styles and sizes to suit our every need that we look can look and feel great in.

Even trainers, once the guilty secret of the career woman who reluctantly slipped on her heels when she got to the office, have made appearances on the feet of stars and catwalks alike and is now a fashion status symbol.

Plus Mink Satin Button Front Shirt - Pretty Little Thing

PLUS MINK SATIN BUTTON FRONT SHIRT

This Pretty Little Thing Plus Mink Satin Button Front Shirt (Size 26) £23.00 is a clear sign that modern loungewear is no longer a guilty pleasure only to be worn in the privacy of our own homes. This shirt can be tucked effortlessly into a pair of jeans at a moment’s notice and worn straight out of the door to meet a friend for a coffee without anyone batting an eyelid.

With my Valentine weekend away fast approaching and realising loungewear designers have mastered the delicate balance of relaxed luxury or that my idea of “posh pyjamas” is no longer limited to the Ladybird brand mum used to buy from Woolworths, I have been on the hunt for sumptuous affordable loungewear from online retailers such as Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing, Freemans and Kaleidoscope. I need to pull together some truly cosy, comfy and cute lazy Valentine Weekend away Outfits.

Mauve Leah Pants from Fashion Nova

Cream Ribbed Crop Top from Pretty Little Thing

I dipped into my treasure trove and pulled out these wide-legged, high-waisted Mauve Leah pants from Fashion Nova (purchased on 22.06.2017 $16.10 USD with a discount code - Size 2X). The weight of this material means that it does not cling to your body but hangs and flows beautifully. Pretty little thing provided this Plus Cream Knitted Roll Neck Crop £12 (Size 26) that is more fitted and refined and balances out the volume of my loose/relaxed pant silhouette.

Oatmeal High Neck Ribbed Detail Jumper from FashionWorld

I purchased this classic Oatmeal High Neck Ribbed Detail Jumper from FashionWorld in Size: L(24-28) 4/28 and had to send it back as it was TOO BIG. I saw 24, gave no thought to my inch/weight loss and ordered it. The bonus was not only that I had to order a smaller Size: M(18-22) but earlier that day an additional 20% discount code arrived in the post which I applied against my re-order taking the cost from £35.00 to £28.00.

Ivory Soft Touch Jumper Size: 24/26 £28.00 initially ordered 20/22 but it didn’t give me that slouchy comfortable look that I wanted when paired with my black relaxed trouser below. So I sent it back and upsized.

Freemans 2 Pack Soft Trousers

The wide-legged casual trouser has graduated from dowdy and frumpy to a must-have in your loungewear collection. The relaxed trouser has never been so chic and these soft, super comfy bootcut Leggings can be paired with almost any fleeced lined hoody, oversized jumper or button down. Freemans Pack of 2 (1 Brown/ 1 Black) Leggings £28.Cotton, 5% Elastane £28 Soft, hard wearing and super comfy, 31.01.2019

WINTER COLOURS: During these bleak winter months many of us shy away from wearing colour

Neon Pink Oversized Jumper

either because they get dirty more quickly and the cold weather makes it difficult to get things dry. Personally, I think now would be a good time to exploit the insight of those who know you best and inject some colour into your winter wardrobe. The “less than reserved” nature of my girlfriend Valerie, has navigated me away from “cosy” and “boring” and the catalyst to wearing more flamboyant colours! FashionWorld - Neon Pink V Neck Jumper Size: L(24-28) (upsized to give an oversized comfortable look) £14.00.

Black Triumph Doreen Cotton Bra

BLACK TRIUMPH DOREEN COTTON BRA

This pre-valentine week has been a “TRIUMPH” for me in more ways than one.

TRIUMPH BRA: Ladies Triumph came through for me yet again. Triumph is an excellent example of a “name brand”. In my day if you wanted a good supportive bra you purchased one from either Triumph or Playtex.

My determination paid off when after trolling the internet I finally sourced a bra to hold my girls high and proud. Ambrose Wilson Black Triumph Doreen Cotton Bra Size: 44DD £34.00. What was even more reassuring was that I instantly recognised the cardboard packaging as being exactly the same as when mum took me to be fitted for my first bra. If I had a penny for everyone who has asked me today (07.02.19) how my “girls” look so perky I would be a millionaire. Following my frontal and side photo post which resulted in numerous “I didn’t know Triumph still existed” comments I can confirm many on-line orders have been placed.

FIRST PHOTO TAKEN 09.12.18 SECOND PHOTO 11.01.19

VALENTINES WEEKEND AWAY TARGET - Although I feel my hard work is paying off and I am not convinced that I am on track to wear this red bodycon dress next week! One thing that I am certain of is that I need to get some serious waist snatching going on if I am going to wear the hell out of dress on valentines night. This Red Lipstick Boutique Plus Spaghetti Strap Lace Detail Bodycon Dress - from ASOS (£24 Size 24) that has hung in my wardrobe since 17.01.2015 has to embrace my curves, raise his temperature and turn heads as the maître d leads the way to our table.

Like so many women - why oh why does my stomach always seem to look her worst when I need to look my best. I know that the minute I pull on this straight bodycon dress that is the time my stomach is going to want to “hang out with me” (excuse the pun), and sabotage my look. Having found the perfect Valentines dress that hugs me in all the right places and shows every curve all I longed for now was a body shaper that could smooth me out without squeezing, pinching, prodding or overheating my menopausal body.

Most shapewear I have tried on have proved ineffective in that they only shift my stomach fat somewhere else giving me additional lines, indentations, lumps or bumps that I did not have in the first place. When I began writing this blog the only shapewear I had that made my silhouette look a tad smoother was my tried and tested Spanx. Initially wearing 2XL when I returned to the gym in September 2018 I have gradually downsize to 1XL, and now XL. My only issue with Spanx is that comfort does not always mean “guaranteed” support.

I recall watching my mother get dressed and grew up convinced that being fashionable demands a certain level of suffering! First came the longline Triumph or Playtex Bra, a corset pulled up to meet the bra, a vest came next on top of that and let’s not forget the tights. Then as no self-respecting woman went out without a slip, she stepped into one of those and ALL BEFORE she even put on her outfit. Phew, I am hot and bothered just thinking about it. The week before Valentines was a “TRIUMPH” for me in more ways than one.

FREEMANS SHAPERBODY

A BODYSHAPER THAT DELIVERS: There’s no hiding the fact that we could all use a little confidence boost every now and again. My second confidence booster of the week came in the form of this Freemans Shaper Body £30 (Size 24). The unassuming description is as follows:

“Shaper body with side boning for a smoother silhouette as it sculpts your tums and waist, and has a hook/eyelet gusset fastening.”

The celebs will be the first to tell you “there is no shame in wearing body shapers” because we all need to tuck in or smooth out different areas of our bodies, and for different reasons. If like me your problem area is your stomach then this Shaper Body is for you. This Shaper Body carved, shaped, moulded, fashioned and chiselled my silhouette. In short it delivered!!!! Having been let down by so many body shapers in the past and believing that a smaller size would do even more tucking and lifting I downsized. DON’T!! This body shaper is powerful enough on its own in your correct size. Although purchased from Freemans it is a “Bon Prix” product and is graded as medium support well I would certainly not have been able to “stomach” excuse the pun a smaller size or “firm” control. My correct size arrived today 09.02.19 and is very comfortable underneath my clothes. This shapewear takes curve smoothing to the next level by providing support and tucking to specific target areas. You can forget sucking in all night sit back and let this bodyshaper take the strain.

Five Month Back In The Gym Compare Photos

FIVE MONTH ANNIVERSARY BACK IN THE GYM PHOTO

CONCLUSION: Whether you have opted for having a low-key night in enjoying just a simple cuddle on the couch sharing some funny jokes, a romantic dinner for two at a fancy restaurant or at home alone - remember that whatever you decide as being the best option for YOU is always going to be way more fun than any other option. I posted this blog just on the cuff of my 5 month back in the gym anniversary and wanted to share my progress with you. First photo 10.09.18 V Second photo 11.02.19. See you on the other side of Valentines, hopefully having completed my challenge and wearing that red with black lace bodycon dress.

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