damn dress better fit

The Damn Dress Better Fit! – A personal journey becomes a business lesson

The Damn Dress Better Fit! 

My personal journey becomes a business lesson.

Hi. My name is Tina, and I am addicted to sugar.

[Disclaimer: I am not a health professional! This is not a recommendation and should only be viewed as my personal story. Consult your own physician/medical practitioner for weight/health/fitness advice and/or counseling.]

[Disclaimer: Some profanity is used.]

damn dress better fit

I just really came to this realization recently that I have been addicted to sugar for as long as I can remember – even as a little girl. But, when I was little, it didn’t seem to be as big of an issue as it is definitely an issue now, as I’m in my 40s, and I have accumulated far too much belly fat.

My story probably isn’t very unique in that I have changed in size–smaller to bigger, bigger to smaller, smaller to bigger–several times. I’ve never REALLY taken eating healthy seriously. I mean I’ve counted calories before, but if I restricted myself to 1,200 calories a day and it consists of cookies, sugared cereals, and potato chips, that’s still not eating healthy. I’ve also tried diet pills, Atkins, weight loss “competitions,” and other crazy things, but nothing I did was really “healthy.”   So, I decided I needed to force myself.   I needed some way to trick my brain into actually taking this seriously–this time–and maybe even making a change for the long haul.

My son and his fiancée had been planning, for many months, a wedding in April of this year. Come January 30th, I went ahead and, online, ordered a dress for myself – a mother-of-the-groom dress, very fancy.   I looked up the sizes and, according to the measurement chart, I was about a size 12 in the bust, a size 14 in the hips, and my gut, my stomach, my waist was about a size 16. Well, I ordered a 10!! That’s right – I ordered a size 10!

You might be thinking the same thing my cousin asked me: What are you going to do if that dress does not fit? Well, I told her, I’m fucked.   In reality, if that dress doesn’t fit come the day (the wedding day in April), I am S.O.L. (shit out of luck) because there will be no time to get something else, and I will get stuck wearing some old thing out of the closet that is far from a formal gown.

And so begins my journey of getting that stomach fat off: #TheDamnDressBetterFit

The first thing I started to do was just climb stairs. I’d already been drinking about half my body weight in ounces (2 to 3 liters) of water and just getting more mobile and cutting out all candy/junk food really was starting to help. I had already stopped drinking soda (almost completely – 99%) because it had been causing me to get UTIs, and I went from drinking two to four cups of coffee a day to one to two cups a week. I saw a couple pounds off, but it just seemed like the process was too slow and not very effective.

As I stated already, I ordered my dress on the 30th of January. It was set to ship on the 26th of February. I got a notice on the 24th that it had been shipped! I was very excited to see how it would look because I ordered it in chocolate brown and there hadn’t been a photo online of what the dress would look like in that color. I was also a bit nervous because I had never ordered from JJ’s House before and, if the dress was made poorly or was the wrong color, I’d have to do a return, which would likely take me another month to get a replacement. Butterflies ensued!

The dress was shipped well.   Interestingly enough, it came inside out, which I’m guessing kept it from wrinkling. It was beautiful! Wow!   I couldn’t find a single thing wrong with it. It looked just like the picture online, aside from the color, and the chocolate brown was “yummy” – pun intended. I certainly was not disappointed in my choice of dress. The style was formal and elegant. Perfect for a mother-of-the-groom.

[Click HERE to see the full video review of the dress.]

Of course, after snapping a few photos of the dress, I had to try it on. Honestly, I was not at all surprised that it didn’t fit, but my heart sank a little and I was sorely disappointed… in myself. It was just too tight. Close, but close isn’t good enough.

My husband was trying to zip up the back and said that if he tried too hard, it might ruin the seams.   Bummer! But he was very encouraging about it and told me to just wait, that I was almost there and had plenty of time. He reassured me that come mid April, it would fit – no problem.   Don’t give up.

All right, time to step up my game. It was time to reassess my efforts and make some improvements. That’s when I realized I rarely eat vegetables. In fact, I can go days and never eat a vegetable, so I started to follow the guidelines and eat two cups of fruits each day and three cups of vegetables each day. Who would have guessed I’d be eating spinach in my salads? Not me!

Because I’ve seen postings online that said eating fruit is healthier than drinking fruit juice, I even replaced my morning cup of orange juice with eating an orange along with, of course, my Honey Nut Cheerios (with milk), which I’ve had for breakfast since I was a little girl. That is my go-to breakfast every single morning, and I am not sick of it yet.

Yeah, it’s cereal, but it’s not Lucky Charms! Going cold turkey on sugar is just not going to be possible for me. There’s no way I’m going to give up 100% sugar. There’s no point in trying. I have given up snacking on a few bowls of Frosted Flakes, granola bars, nutty bars, candy bars, etc. that I was eating EVERY DAY.   For me, it’s been about making improvements and “weaning” myself into better choices.

I tried that damn dress on again at the end of February. Although I pretty much already knew it wasn’t going to fit, I still wanted to picture myself in it and see if the length was going to work (once it did fit). The length seemed perfect, so that certainly wouldn’t need to be altered. I contemplated what it would take to have the dress “let out,” but quickly tried to argue with myself that that would be far too expensive, and I’d just better stick to the plan and burn off more belly fat.  

I knew it wasn’t going to be enough to eat healthier meals. As they say, it’s 80% what you eat and 20% exercise. That means exercise is still a key component, so I upped my game a little bit by running the basement stairs (down, then up) ten times.   I tried doing this at least twice a day. I also added doing some simple arm exercises, with 2-pound weights, that I’ve learned from all the VHS tapes and DVDs I’ve bought over the years.

Let me give you some background insight into why losing the belly fat has been important to me. It can be rather deceiving having low blood pressure and what’s considered a good cholesterol level. It’s difficult to deal with the constant constipation, sleepiness, “foggy brain,” lack of energy, etc. It was a bit disheartening to have to use my arms to pull myself out of the car because I can’t get out with just my legs.

Plus, when I say “sleepiness,” I mean I was tired ALL THE TIME. I didn’t want to get out of bed and, after working a couple hours, I just wanted to crawl back into bed and take a nap. One, two, three, four cups a coffee weren’t helping.

Another reason why I wanted to target my belly fat was the pressure I felt on my chest. I felt like someone was sitting on me, like there was a heaviness on my lungs, that I was constricted within my own body. The best way I can describe this is if you’ve ever gone into a public bathroom and the damn stall is so tiny that you had to straddle the seat just to shut the door. You just needed a bit more room to function. That’s how I feel: constricted, confined, hindered in my mobility.

On March 6th, I hit a pivotal moment having lost 10 pounds! It seems such a dirty thing to measure my success in pounds lost. That scale is an evil tool, but a fallback because it’s so quick to see if any progress has been made. More importantly, truly, is that inches have been lost.   My riding boots fit better. My jeans fit better. I’m feeling better! I can get out of the car with ease, and I’m not tired ALL DAY LONG.

Time to step up my game another notch. I’ve added in an abs/cardio workout. It’s only about 10 minutes, and I’ve been doing it every day after lunch. I’m seeing noticeable improvements in my waist.   A big bonus was when my teenage son said, “Mom, you look hella skinnier.” Aw! If that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is.

I only have seven more weeks to go before the big day. Am I nervous? You betcha! Will that dress fit? I hope to God so. That damn dress better fit!

Even if it doesn’t, I know that I have started on a journey that has really taken me to better health.   I can finally feel like I’m starting to breathe better. I’m not so tired, and my brain fog is starting to lift. I hope that, within the next six weeks of me continuing on this eating “cleaner” and better, and continuing to cut out the sugar, that I will not only fit into that damn dress, but I will have started on some really good habits that I can continue going forward.

I’d be lying if I said the sugar cravings have gone away. I still think about all the sugary treats I’d love to consume. It’s Girl Scout Cookie season here, and that’s a big one for me. I am having a terrible time resisting Thin Mints. I probably consumed four boxes last year. This year – one cookie.

Maybe I’d describe it as the cravings have lessoned, but my mind still thinks about the treats. It seems easier to fight the battle in my mind than it was to fight the pure cravings. Hopefully this will continue to get better as time passes. I’m not getting any younger, and getting the fat off is only getting harder.

Six weeks to go and there’s definitely the feelings of just caving and eating all the snack foods I can get my hands on. The best way I’ve found to curb the cravings is to eat a snack – one cup of vegetables.   My go-to has been baby carrots and cucumbers. Also keeping up with my water intake is helping.

Even though I had zero confidence the dress would fit–YET–I went ahead and tried it on again.   I needed a resurgence of inspiration.   The arms aren’t so snug and my hips fit into it! The only thing holding me back is my belly fat. It’s time to dig deeper and keep pushing forward. I got this!

30-day shred

30 Day Shred with Jillian Michaels – that’s my interpretation of taking it to the next level.   Today is going to be Day 11, and I will be moving up to Level 2. There are three levels and it’s suggested that you move up when you’re “ready,” but I decided to split them up by ten days each. I’ve completed ten days and, in those ten days, I did not walk the stairs or do the 10-minute ab routine from YouTube.

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any weight loss in these past 11 days. But, as I said before, I think the scale and measuring progress in terms of weight/weight loss is a HORRIBLE idea. It’s just not a full reflection of what’s happening with my body. As a matter of fact, it’s obvious that fat has come off because not only do I see it in the mirror, but my clothes feel a bit more loose. Yet, I succumb to its allure of the potential to show me some type of instant gratification.  

Lessons learned so far doing this workout video: One, do not workout without tennis shoes on. Two, do my own extra stretching before working out.   Unfortunately, straight up on day one, I did not do any stretching before working out and also was not wearing any tennis shoes. I hurt my calf muscle and it’s been a struggle ever since. I’ve been using an Ace bandage, and that is helping a lot.  

Another lesson learned is that I am really glad I didn’t start a difficult workout video day one of trying to get into shape. I know that I would have just been pushed way too far past my limits and given up.   Having done some exercises a few weeks beforehand prepared me for the physical strains. The first few days of the 30 Day Shred were extremely difficult, and I still can’t do all the exercises at “expert level,” but they are starting to get “easier,” if I could even use that term. Even though I’m still struggling at Level 1, I’m going to give Level 2 a shot.

Another lesson learned is that I didn’t epically fail by taking one day off. I took a rest day in between day four and five, one, because I started menstruating and I hate working out during this time and, two, because it would also give my calf a chance to heal up a bit. Quite honestly, I did think about taking a second rest day (the day after the first rest day), but I’m really glad I pressed on and didn’t do that because that’s been a big problem for me in the past is stopping working out during my entire menstruation (approximately five days) and then just never getting back into the workout routine.

Confessions: Yes, I have cheated at times and eaten some candy. It was just sitting there on the table calling my name. Seriously, I could hear it saying, “Eat me!   Don’t you like marshmallow chocolate eggs? Of course you do!”   Although I haven’t been buying any candy and have yet to buy an Easter candy for my kids, I do not live alone and, well, if they don’t hide their stash, it just might be gone when they get home.

Some days are better than others when it comes to junk food and sugar cravings and mindset.   “Oh, I want a snack. I’ll grab a nutty bar or a granola bar.   Maybe some sugary cereal.”   Then I have to redirect myself for something like baby carrots, cucumbers, or even a spoonful of peanut butter. It’s definitely continues to be a mind shift.

Inspiration: Needing to feel like I’m on the right track, I let myself try on my dress again!! The hips are still a bit snug, but I’m able to slip into that part. The zipper is a bit tricky, and I was able to assume it’s going to be pinched tight enough to get around my bodice. Oh, it was so close; I really wanted to see if it was going to fit. Darn, I wished my husband was home to zip it up for me.   I sucked it in, struggled, reached behind me with awkward arms and… It zipped up – all the way!! YES! Success!   It fits. It’s close and TIGHT, but the damn dress fits!!   Whoop-whoop!

Okay, this fight is not over. I’ve got about four weeks before we leave for this destination wedding ceremony, and I am not about to quit now! If I fall back into old habits, this dress will easily become too tight and too small. Let’s do this! Level 2, Day 11, BRING IT!

Day 21, Level 3, of 30-Day Shred. UGH! I’ve taken way too many “rest days” and have been on a junk food binge. I don’t know if it’s nerves because the ceremony is fast approaching or just PMS. The dress is fitting, but VERY tight. I can’t slip now! I’ve got to stay the course.

On a side note about Level 3, I started it at Day 21 even though I was nowhere close to “expert level” on the exercises. Level 3 was some serious workout, and I did the best I could. I didn’t like the “jumping” and stuck to the lower impact versions, but overall I really did like the higher intensity and the use of the weights incorporated into the various exercises.

I’ve also been walking/jogging on the treadmill for a little over a week now. I’m up to about 1.65 miles in 30 minutes. Sounds pathetic, but, hey, as the saying goes, I’m still running laps around those who haven’t gotten off the couch, right?

Maybe I’ve just expected too much in too quick of time, plus didn’t comprehend just how much work I was going to have to put into this. Also, I think I’ve been a little too hard on myself. I’ve seen a significant improvement in my legs, arms, hips, and butt.   What’s still getting me down is so much abdominal fat. I should be celebrating my successes, but keep focusing on what aren’t even really failures, but successes not yet achieved.

Tomorrow marks 2 weeks before the ceremony, 14 days. Honestly, using this dress as a motivator has been the smartest thing I’ve done because, quite frankly, I otherwise would have given up a long time ago. It’s the glass half empty instead of glass half full viewpoint, and that shit has got to stop!

I made it through 30 completed days of the 30-Day Shred. Yes, it took me longer than 30 days to do it, but completing it was truly a win for me. My calf is still giving me some trouble, so I’m going to rest up the last couple of days before leaving for Tennessee. I’ve come so far, and am very happy with my progress.

damn dress better fit

The Damn Dress Fit!!   Sure, if I had been able to get into the dress sooner, I would have realized it was a bit too long and had time to get it altered, but it really wasn’t a big deal. The ceremony in Tennessee was so beautiful. We had an amazing time! I felt very beautiful and proud that I took on the challenge of getting into a size 10 and WON!

The journey has just begun!   I am very happy with my progress, but I have already picked out another dress I want to get into (#thedamndressbetterfit2)! I’ve worked so hard to get this far and, as the quote that I love read something like: It should be about making a lifestyle change, not a life sentence. And so, I am going to embrace this journey and enjoy every moment of it!!



Now, you might be thinking, “Why are you posting this to a blog on a transcription website?”   Well, for myself, I work from home, and I know many of my clients do as well. It can be very difficult when you’re working within a very close proximity to all the food in your house.

It also can be difficult to get regular exercise, as I am putting my kids, my spouse, my pet, my house, my business, everything else first before myself. And so, taking that time out, carving that out for myself has really also been a mind shift for me.

Top 3 Things I Learned That Can Be Used In Business

ONE: Set a deliverable.

What if ordering a dress in a smaller size could equate to announcing a launch of a book, a webinar series, or training modules? For me, the dress is forcing me to create a mind shift and strive to achieve a goal that is already preset. The same can be said if an announcement and/or sign-ups were in place for a book, a webinar series, training modules, etc. EVEN IF they hadn’t been completed yet!

It might sound like putting the cart before the horse, but isn’t that what you do when you plan a wedding? Oftentimes the date is set and venue booked, and THEN the dresses are bought, food and cake is sorted out, decorations made, etc. Setting the deliverable up front can definitely make that mind shift from “I want to….” to “I am going to….”

TWO: Create a game plan.

Now that you’ve got your deliverable already decided upon and possibly even a date set, it’s time to start planning. Map out on a calendar deadlines for items that need to be completed and work on that to-do list. Enlist the help of others if need be, delegating tasks, etc.

THREE: Don’t sweat it.

When your deliverable date is upon you and you haven’t been able to check everything off the to-do list, don’t sweat it. Ask yourself just how important are those items.

For instance, maybe it was something in a book or webinar that you wanted to cover in greater detail, but didn’t get all the data together. If it’s not going to gravely affect the overall message, leave it out.   You can always use that information at a later time in a revised edition. Your audience will likely not even know anything was left out, as you likely delivered quite a bit of useful and important information in your deliverable.

If the items not completed off the to-do list by the deliverable date are imperative to the overall project, allow yourself the time to get those tasks completed. Pushing back a deliverable date is likely not going to be as horrific as you might thing. Take a deep breath, make adjustments as necessary, and release that book, webinar, project, etc. when you feel you are ready.

What is Your Deliverable?

Do you have a project that you’ve thinking of doing, but haven’t gotten off the ground? Maybe you’ve thought about getting that book published, or webinar series or training modules launched. Have you considered tricking your brain into doing the work because the final product has already been announced or even begun accepting sign-ups for? This is a tactic that may just work for you – or maybe it already has. Please share your thoughts and any success stories in the comments below.  

My Deliverables.

In my personal life, I have already established The Damn Dress Better Fit Part 2. In my business life, I no longer “want to” or “wish to,” but I am going to create a low cost video series on the basics of becoming an at home transcriptionist. My delivery date is set of 2017, and I have begun my Post-It note board of information I am going to share. I look forward to sharing my progress in the upcoming months. Stay tuned!

-Tina Pham, Owner Operator of Pham Transcription Services


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