Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Accessorize Your Life

1. Have at least 1 statement piece but not more than three.

2. Shoes are an accessory and can make or break your outfit.

3. Accessorize your purse by adding pins, flowers, or a scarf.

4. Belts can change the look of an outfit. Wear them over a dress or over a long shirt and skinny jeans.

5. Layer your necklaces. Having more necklaces can create a more glam look.

6. Wear a Brooch - 5 Ways to wear a Brooch: Attach to a fabric headband. You can add to a scarf or a necklace to create a focal point. Compliment a hat or a winter coat. Intensify a hairdo by adding one with a bun or classy and elegant with a low ponytail.

7. When in doubt, you can always wear a simple pair of gold or silver hoop earrings. You can never go wrong.
8. Fragrance is an accessory and people will remember you by it. Make sure you are not using too much and get others opinions of a new scent you would like to wear.

9. Do not sleep, sweat, or shower in your jewelry. I have some earrings that are specifically for "swimming". I don't care if I lose them or they get ruined, but in the meantime I know they look good.

10. Don't be afraid to try something that you wouldn't "normally" wear.

~Suzy Hicks
Co Director, Columbus Chapter

Saturday, March 23, 2013

In The Spotlight - Shawna Lee

Member spotlights have quickly become a favorite on the LBDC blog! We are so happy to honor some of the women who have made the Little Black Dress Club a success. This time we are sharing a bit about 42-year-old Shawna Lee from the newly formed East Bay, California chapter.
Married with a daughter, Shawna works for Contra Costa County Health Services. Filling her time off with modeling, seeing a good movie or spending time with her mother and daughter, she also enjoys a good workout at the gym.
While Shawna is anxiously planning vacations to Vegas and Hawaii, she has really enjoyed her first month as a LBDC member.
When LBDC East Bay director Gwen Ford introduced Shawna to the club, she says it was a no brainer. “I joined the LBDC, because I was getting so tired of the same old routine; work, gym, home and a weekend of the same lounges with the same people”, said Shawna.  “I was ready to just shake it up and meet new women, find new places, and just step outside my box of BORRRRING!”
Shawna loves the club because it allows her to interact with a lot of amazing women. All educated, funny, beautiful, and really just full of personality, Shawna says it has been a very empowering experience for her. “I’ve already been to a couple of places I’ve never been, and love them. Not to mention the few women I’ve reconnected with after a good 10 years or better. This is a great idea, and I’m just so excited to be a part of it. I can’t wait till my daughter is of age so she too can be a member. Thank you so much for letting me be a part of such a fantastic group.”
Gwen is very grateful to Shawna for the dynamic energy she brings to their chapter. Always seeing the positive side of things, Shawna has been a major contributor to the success thus far of the East Bay Club. “She is the first one to step up and volunteer to help with anything I need”, says Gwen. She's one of the most beautiful women I know, both inside and out yet, she's amazingly humble about all that she does.  I'm so proud to have her as part of LBDC!”
We are proud to have you both! Thanks for being in our member spotlight this week, Shawna!
~ Shay Ashcraft
National Director, LBDC

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chicken and Waffles, Anyone?

Rhonda Watson has gotten the DC chapter off to a great start! Having just hosted her second event, Rhonda is actively searching out the best venues, tastiest meals, and most exciting activities for the LBDC ladies of DC.
On a recent and cold Sunday morning, a small group from the Washington chapter got together for some enjoyable conversation and a more than filling meal. Rhonda, Sonya, LaJuan, Clarinda and Sonja, shared a mimosa toast and welcomed the beginning of a new day while focusing on some great conversation and the smell of delicious contemporary cuisine at  Chef Geoff’s in Rockville, MD.  

Chef Geoff’s Sunday specials consisted of Belgian waffles, fried chicken, crab cakes, and biscuits. The entire meal was simply delicious, the service was great, and the ladies quickly decided Chef Geoff’s is a great place to return!
Rhonda has several more great events lined up for the Washington, DC chapter. If you are in the area and are looking to meet new girlfriends, get out of the house on occasion or  just have some fun, make sure you contact Rhonda here and ask how you can join the club! In the meantime, make sure and “like” this fun chapter on Facebook page by clicking here.

~Shay Ashcraft
National Director, LBDC

Monday, March 18, 2013

Weight Watchers ActiveLink Review

I'm a veteran Weight Watcher. I started about 15 years ago in the late 90s, when I was
26.  I lost 30 pounds. Over the years, I gained ten here, took off five there, and basically settled about five pounds over my lowest point. I've been happy with that (I love my wine and I gave up on having an 18 year old body years ago!). Then, I turned 40 and it all went downhill. I had put on 12 pounds over my comfortable weight and it just
wouldn't come off! Last spring, I was diligent about tracking points for three weeks and didn't lose an ounce! Talk about a motivation killer! I hiked all summer, five or six days a week for at least two hours - NOTHING!

A couple of months ago, a friend was visiting me and mentioned a few activity trackers that are on the market - Body Bugg, FitBit, and ActiveLink - the Weight Watchers competitor. She is an avid Weight Watcher too and really pushed that (although she didn't have one at the time) because "it's what we know" - meaning we understand how to count Weight Watchers Points to lose weight. After researching the three, I was leaning toward the FitBit, but I took her *Point* to heart and decided to try ActiveLink first. At $40 (and $5 a month web fee), if I decided I really didn't like it, I wouldn't be out a whole bunch of money. FitBit comes in around $100 (no web fee) and Body Bugg is about $150 (with an added web fee of $10 a month).

Before I continue with my story, I'll tell you a few things about how the ActiveLink works. If you are new to Weight Watchers, I suggest reading up on it here (http://www.weightwatchers.com/plan/index.aspx). ActiveLink operates on a Wii technology, which means that it's picking up on the movement of your body. You wear it around all day, and it calculates Activity Points for you, based on how much you move. There is an indicator on the device which will give you an idea of your progress toward your Activity Point goal during the day. However, you can only see how many Points you've earned by plugging it in to the computer. From there, you have the option of labeling periods of activity (aerobics, running, swimming, etc). For some exercises, like aerobics or running, it seems to be pretty accurate. By accurate, I mean that if you label the activity, the number isn't going to go up. For other activities (swimming, elliptical, skiing, etc), you HAVE to label the activity to get a number because these activities involve resistance, but not enough movement for it to work properly.

Another important thing to know is that Weight Watchers (and I suspect other diet
programs) expect you to use a baseline of calories every day. That means you will NOT get any Activity Points until the baseline is met. I've read a number of reviews where people indicate they did 30 minutes of some exercise and they know they burned 300 calories, but didn't get credit for it. Well, they did, but if you do that exercise first thing in the morning, it's getting credited to your baseline. You won't get any Points until you've hit the minimum. At the end of the day, you'll have an accurate count. This may seem like a flaw, but at the end of the day, I want results and miscalculating my Activity Points wasn't getting me there! The baseline WILL NOT be met by sitting at a computer or in front of the TV all day. I've found that 45 minutes of walking first thing in the morning gets me to about 50 or 60% of my baseline. About an hour and a half of skiing will get me to 100%.

I was so excited to get my ActiveLink, but my hopes were immediately dashed when I
realized the first week is an assessment period. The assessment is intended to
determine how active you are and set a 12 week goal. During the assessment, you can't add Activity Points to your online tracker, nor will it let you label your activities or give you any results. You can skip the assessment and do it at a later time (I didn't realize this when I started). The first week felt like a complete waste of time. I skied about 18 hours, which in hindsight might've been a problem if I had been able to label the activity because my goal would've been nearly unattainable. However, I wasn't going to give up a week of great skiing for a piece of technology! Since I couldn't manually track anything, I was completely in the dark and ended the week ready to pitch the thing out the window and give the folks at Weight Watchers an earful!

I began week two frustrated, but determined to give it at least a month before chucking it. My goal turned out to be three Points per day. As it turns out, I'm INCREDIBLY sedentary when I'm not exercising, so attaining those three points on days when I'm not out skiing is actually an effort! I suddenly realized I had to figure out ways of moving around just to get to my baseline! I work from home and if the weather is really bad (single digits, freezing rain, etc), I don't leave the house unless I absolutely have to. So, I started walking around the room when I'm on the phone or watching TV and climbing the stairs during commercials. One day I did 30 minutes of step aerobics, 30 minutes of upper body weight lifting and 30 minutes of a ballet barre video and got ONE point for the whole day! I know you are thinking that can't be right, but keep in mind that I was sitting around on the computer the rest of the day! At the end of week two, I had lost 2.4 pounds! I was at my lowest weight in over a year! FINALLY! I'm getting results!

I've been using the ActiveLink for several weeks now and I'm happy to say I've lost 13
pounds! I consistently lose each week, so I'm incredibly motivated! Because of my snafu with the assessment period, I quickly got to the stage where the site asked me if I would like to increase my 12 week goal of three activity points to five. I did, but bumped it up to six a few days later. I think of myself as an active person who wants to lose weight and keep it off. That is the recommended activity level for keeping off weight, so it seems like a logical, long term goal. I'm generally feeling better physically because I'm moving around more, as an added benefit.

While I'm happy to finally be losing weight, again, I'm also really angry at Weight
Watchers. I went for months using the online program and didn't lose any weight. My
fault for giving myself too many Activity Points? Maybe. But, here's the thing - when I go out skiing for an hour, I get about FOUR Activity Points (after my baseline is met). If I put an hour of snowboarding in to Weight Watchers Online (downhill skiing isn't an option and I have friends who snowboard and they spend just as much time on the lift as I do!), it gives me 12!! Twelve points is the amount I would get for an hour of HIGH INTENSITY exercise! Downhill skiing, when assessed through ActiveLink, is considered LOW! One thing I've learned from using ActiveLink is that there is basically NO SUCH THING as HIGH INTENSITY! So, why is it even an option? I read somewhere that one can
basically value an Activity Point at 80 calories. That would mean that one hour of
exercise would have to burn 960 calories to qualify! Even when I was training for the
Army Ten Miler, I wasn't burning that much. IF there is such an exercise, I'd like to know
what it is, even though I would probably die doing it! I'm not the only one that has made this observation -
http://community.weightwatchers.com/Blog/ViewPost.aspx?threadID=1727015. Remarkably, Weight Watchers seems to have ignored the post instead of addressing the issue. I suspect they realize there are a bunch of us who would like to get some money back for the time we wasted.
The bottom line is that I really like the ActiveLink and I'm getting results. In short, if you are going to try Weight Watchers Online, invest in the ActiveLink. Otherwise, in my opinion, it's a waste of time and money because you probably won't calculate your Activity Points correctly for one reason or another and the whole experience will be depressing. That said, at some point I will probably get a FitBit. I don't like paying a monthly fee, but I do like having a daily baseline of activity that I'm working to achieve. I'm goal-oriented like that!

What I don't like about it:
• You can't label activity, get any numbers, or manually add activity during the
assessment period
• There is no way to add activity manually if you are using it (what if I forget to wear it or
can't wear it? I'm still not sure if I can wear it at 100 ft while SCUBA diving)
• The monthly fee
• It's completely useless unless you are doing Weight Watchers (if you have met your
goal and just want to use it to be sure you are as active as you want to be, you'll have
to find something else)
• Even Lifetime members have to pay for it

What I LIKE about it:
• It clued me in to how sedentary I was when I wasn't exercising
• It has motivated me to do the most basic things - like walk around the room when I'm
on the phone or watching TV
• I can easily see if I've achieved my goal for the day (provided my exercise doesn't
 include one of the resistance exercises)
• I'm a Point counter, not a calorie counter, and it integrates easily with Weight Watchers
(I'm sure FitBit would work, but I would probably have to tinker with it to get it right)
• I'M LOSING WEIGHT (and who can argue with results???)

Got questions? Send me an email - christine@lbdclub.com.

**This article was written based on my experience with Weight Watchers and ActiveLink and are solely my opinion. Neither Little Black Dress Club, Inc nor I were compensated in any way to write this article.**

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Little Black Dress Club Has Arrived in East Bay, California!

After meeting Tracy, CA director, Melanie Dunniway at a Ladies Night Out event, Gwen decided the LBDC needed to be in East Bay, CA as well. “Step out onto a limb…that’s where the fruit is” she said.

“I thought about this for almost a year after meeting Melanie, I kept running across her business card and remembering how fun she was”, said Gwen. “I checked her out online and read up on LBDC.  It seemed like she was always doing something fun.  I absolutely LOVE people and socializing and I couldn’t find enough positive, fun, unique things to do in my area…many of my friends (married & single) were having the same problem so…I researched LBDC more and felt like it was exactly what I was supposed to do…not just for myself but for all the ladies in our area who work hard in and outside of the home.  Once I decided to do it, I was HOOKED on the idea, on the possibilities and it just took me over like some adrenaline fueled networking addiction.  I want to impact the local social community like a tidal wave of synergy.”

Jumping in headfirst, Gwen has already recruited several new members and is quickly filling up the calendar with fun events. Coming up soon for the East Bay ladies will be a visit to see the WORLD RENOWNED Alvin Ailey” dancers on Sunday, April 28 at the UC Berkley Campus Theater. Using all her social connections, girlfriends and event planning ideas, Gwen and the ladies of East Bay are planning lots of fabulous mixers, comedy shows, billiards, theater and movie nights, red carpet events, and benefits. The possibilities are endless. Staying in tune with the mission of the LBDC to always give back to their community, LBDC East Bay is working on a volunteer opportunity at the local battered women's shelters and a few local 10K marathons. Being close to Napa Valley, I hear a limo ride to a wine tasting is soon to be in store as well!

Only an hour away from the State Capital, San Francisco, Berkley, and Oakland, Gwen says her city is such a diverse and central location, perfect for a new LBDC chapter. They are far enough  away to enjoy suburbia, yet close enough to slip into a LBD and hit the town!

A huge fan of Marianne Williamson, Gwen sometimes uses her quote “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Gwen relates to Marianne feeling that it is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  "We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be", asks Gwen.

Gwen feels that true friendship between women incorporates appreciating what is beautiful about other women and embracing that beauty vs. being envious of it.  We all have something beautiful about us…when we recognize and appreciate that, we are able to build stronger, deeper connections amongst each other, which is important for all of us as women.   

In her spare time, Gwen enjoys jogging with her girlfriends and running her small home-based accessory business. She is a mom, a former US Marine and finds her deepest joy in spending time with her grandchildren. Having served for 4 years in the US Navy and having been in law enforcement for the last 16 years, Gwen loves volunteering and mentoring the youth in her community.  But on the occasional lazy Sunday, Gwen often finds herself watching LMN with her friends and several bottles of great wine!

Sounds like East Bay, California is going to be a great new home for the Little Black Dress Club! If you would like more information on this chapter, have an event idea to suggest to Gwen or would like more information on joining the club, Gwen would love to hear from you all! Email her here and make sure to stop in and say hello on the East Bay Facebook page.

~Shay Ashcraft
National Director, LBDC

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir

I discovered Jenny Lawson the way many of her fans discovered her: through her blog post about a giant metal chicken named BeyoncĂ© (Blog Post Titled: And that’s why you should learn to pick your battles.). That single blog post turned me into a Bloggess fan, and I patiently waited several months for the release of her first book. Luckily she blogs regularly, so there was rarely a dull moment in the land of The Bloggess. I read her book in just a couple of days, with laughter and tears.

The book reads like her blog and contains a few of her blog posts (the infamous post about BeyoncĂ© is included) but only a small part of the book is from her blog. You get all sorts of childhood and early year’s stories that make you see how Jenny turned out to be the woman she is today.  You also get more of a glimpse into the life that she shares with her husband, Victor, the only man in this world who could ever be her husband.

Through Jenny’s battle with anxiety and depression, you learn that hiding behind your illnesses benefits no one and that there are some days that you have to hit them head on and other days that you just need to withdraw for a while. I have also learned that humor and sarcasm are both much needed forms of art that can turn a bad situation into something better and that ethical taxidermy could possibly brighten your day.

Rarely do I read books more than once, but this one is definitely one that I will probably read annually. Jenny has a second book in the works for 2014, and I am already looking forward to reading it. For now, you can find her at http://thebloggess.com.
~Reviewed by Tonya Overstreet
Nashville Member, LBDC

Saturday, March 9, 2013

LBDC Welcomes Mary Murdock!

After reading about the Little Black Dress Club in “Whats Up”, a local magazine in Annapolis, MD, Mary Murdock decided she wanted in on the most exclusive social networking club in her area.

Volunteering, cooking, hiking, and biking in her spare time, Mary is very involved with the Social Services Dept in her county. Volunteering as a mentor for At-Risk children, she says that it is one of the best hobbies that she has and finds it to be very rewarding. Being the go to person for the Annapolis region who plans the meetings, luncheons, and holiday get togethers for her company, Mary felt like she had a head start in event planning and would make a great new Director for the Annapolis Chapter in Maryland.

A tentative date of Wednesday March 20th has been set for Marys first event. Hosting a wine and cheese meet and greet, offering a few raffle prizes, and bringing together her LBDC members is a top priority for Mary. She is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to meet with these ladies, get to know them, and plan more events for 2013.

Mary says, “Annapolis has so much to offer: the Chesapeake Bay, and a great history. It is a small town, but there are a lot of different cultures and people who live here that make it exciting.” Sounds like finding local venues, unknown restaurants, and exciting and hidden treasures in Annapolis is going to be lots of fun for this LBDC Chapter.

Mary’s philosophy on life has always been to live a life with no regrets. Getting started as the new Director for the Little Black Dress Club has given her a great opportunity to live life with fun and adventure, and no regrets. As Maya Angelou once said, “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you.” Mary loves this quote and can relate to it on many levels.
Mary believes it is so important to have friendship and bonds between women.  She says, “We provide the strength to each other when we least expect it.  The knowledge and different experiences that so many women have, is exciting and can be shared between us.”

Just what the LBDC was created for, Mary. It sounds like the Annapolis Chapter is in good hands. Make sure to like them on Facebook and feel free to email Mary here for more information on joining the Annapolis chapter!

~Shay Ashcraft
National Director, LBDC

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Got Apps?

I always love getting a good App recommendation so I wanted to share mine with you.

Kindle: I’m sure all your book lovers already know about this one but this is one of my most used apps! You have the ability to read books, newspapers, magazines, textbooks and PDF’s and it will automatically sync to the last page you read and you’re like me and pick up reading on a different device. FREE
Audiobooks: I have to drive a lot for work trips and I love listening to books while I’m on the road.  You can listen to 5,000+ classic books for free!  They also have a wide variety of books for you to buy from as well.  If your eyes and hands have to be somewhere else but your ears are opening for listening try the Audiobooks app .FREE
Epicurious: You have access to over 30,000 recipes and can put items in your “recipe box.” You can shop on the go by saving your recipes to your shopping list and then you check the items off as you buy them on the store.  Another really nice feature is you can share recipes very easily with friends via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and more! FREE
Whole Foods Market Recipes: If you have deity preferences for yourself or family such as gluten-free, low gat and vegetarian/vegan this app is for you! This has a variety of recipes that includes nutria information and cooking instructions. An added bonus is that you can also enter items you have on hand to find recipes using those ingredients. I love that!  FREE
Tetris: This is an oldie but a goodie that I can’t get enough of! If you need some mindless activity this is the game for you! $2.99
Words Free with Friends: This is basically a digital game of scrabble that you can play with friends all over the world.  You can play up to 20 games at the same time and are even able to chat with your opponents as well. It’s a great way to stay connected with old friends. FREE
Health & Fitness:
WebMD: The Symptom Checker is awesome! Select the parts of the body that you are having trouble, select your symptoms and it will give you a list of potential conditions.  There are also first aids tips on what to use for different circumstances.  There’s even a pill identification tool if you get your medicine mixed up it can help identify your prescription drugs by shape, color and imprint.
MyFitnessPal HD: This is an easy way to count calories by just scanning or entering in your food intake and then plugging in how much activity you have done for the day. I love that it connects you with friends for motivation and accountability.
~Suzy Hicks
Co-Director, Columbus Chapter

Sunday, March 3, 2013

How to Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

Through the mighty powers of related suggestions on my Kindle, I discovered How to Be a Woman, or at least I discovered the book and not the answer. My Kindle is usually pretty good with suggestions, and it was right about this one, as well.
Overall I enjoyed the book as long as I don't pick apart each chapter. There were some chapters that I liked more than others, and a couple of chapters I didn't like at all. Admittedly, I skimmed or skipped through the couple of chapters that didn't do much for me, such as the chapter on Abortion and Role Models. Her views on Abortion don't match mine, and while I respect that we are both allowed to have different views, I felt like she was "poking fun" at people who don't have her same view. The Role Models chapter seemed to be there to solely put into words her high disdain for Katie Price.
With those two chapters out and a few soapbox moments in some other chapters, the book was pretty spot on for what I enjoy reading in a book about what women like and really bonded with Caitlin through her words. Caitlin is a mother and has a chapter on being a mother, followed by a really awesome chapter on why women shouldn't feel that they have to be mothers. Being a Not Mom myself, I gained tremendous respect for Caitlin for addressing the issue and pointing out that women who are childless (by choice or not) are not less of a woman. Caitlin was truly and properly speaking for me as a childfree woman by saying things like, "But deciding not to have children is a very, very hard decision for a woman to make: the atmosphere is worryingly inconducive to saying, “I choose not to,” or “It all sounds a bit vile, tbh.” We call these women “selfish.” The inference of the word “childless” is negative: one of lack, and loss. We think of nonmothers as rangy lone wolves—rattling around, as dangerous as teenage boys or men. We make women feel that their narrative has ground to a halt in their thirties if they don’t “finish things” properly and have children."
Caitlin presents herself well as this woman that most women would enjoy spending time with. She's like an 'every woman' representative for women who aren't and never have been perfect and perhaps identify closely with their weird side.
"How to Be a Woman"  is recommended for people who lean more left than right and understand that there are way too many facets of womanhood to attempt to explain fully in a novel. However, reading this book can help you gain a better understanding of why you are who you are and why society views you in certain ways.
~Reviewed By Tonya Overstreet
Nashville Member, LBDC