Gothtober

81jcXnqEdoL._SL1228_I can’t believe it’s almost November! I know that every year is the exact same length but it doesn’t somehow make it less surprising when time progresses. Also, time is relative you know? Anyway. This year has been going by quicker than normal, and we’re nearing the holidays (yes!). The nearest holiday obviously being Halloween. Obviously…

For a time, October was my go-to month for all music dark and brooding (I dubbed it Gothtober). To match the weather. This October has been pretty mild and pleasant though and I straight up forgot to listen to my old staple albums. Like, I remember so fondly and clearly the unbelievably good fall of 2009, I was just discovering all the music that would help to inform myself and since I was poor and didn’t know how to find music, I’d go cassette shopping at Cheapo in Uptown. Standing on a Beach by The Cure was pretty much a mainstay in my car’s tape deck for those colder months. THOSE WERE THE DAYS.

Lately it seems like I’ve become an Outdoors Yuppie (I’m not exactly sure what that would be, but I imagine it’s something, you know, like contacting customer support at Columbia when your Greater Rewards points aren’t showing up in your account – because you bought a lot of Omni-Heat™ clothing and you’d like the credit), but now that I’m full on corporate shill for General Mills, I’ve pushed back a little and am trying to get back to my roots. I’ve been cranking Savages and Bathory lately like my whole identity depended on it. I wear ripped jeans and Doc Martens to work like that makes me cool (it does) and next week I’m getting a pretty huge (and badass) tattoo. I shall not be assimilated into the corporate culture! (though to be honest, I am far more comfortable and far happier in a big corporate campus setting. It’s really very cozy here).

Now, Standing On A Beach obviously isn’t available on Spotify, and I would’ve recreated it as a playlist, but Spotify also doesn’t have Boys Don’t Cry, (the American version of Three Imaginary Boys) which contains “Killing an Arab”… But ughhh, I did my best. Listen to my early adult years here:

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I started working at the Star Tribune in February of 2013, after a long, almost oppressive, bout of unemployment. Boy that sure destroyed my confidence. But being hired at the Star Tribune? Turned that shit right around. Somehow I had impressed with what little experience (let that read: zero editorial design experience) I had AND it was the very company my parents had met and worked at (they still work there). A true institution in journalism. I started by designing Strib Express, which is just an advertising vessel for recycled content. Man I hate StribEx! I also started as the third and lowest level designer of Vita.mn. I figured I would rise into a position of power. The Star Trib was a place you could grow. Art Directors came and left. I rose a little. But I had major issues with my productivity after a time, and I sank. I never became Art Director like I wanted, and Vita.mn shut down, and now I’m at City Pages, always Vita.mn’s chief rival in the alt weekly game (well, for like a couple years).

Saying goodbye is hard. But, after you’ve said goodbye a few times (like to the original Star Tribune building, above, or to beloved Vita.mn) in a year, it takes the sting off a bit. My time as a visual journalist is coming to a close {for now, although I fully expect to be hired as a freelance photographer}. It’s been a short run, but I would say, not at all inconsequential. In less than 3 years, I designed covers for Vita.mn, the Star Tribune AND City Pages. I’m the only one who can say that. I love newspaper design. Doing newspaper design taught me how to be a designer in real life. I thought I knew things before that, but I had barely scratched the surface. I learned from some rad people, many of whom have long gone. I had fun, and that’s how you get to have a career out of your hobby and not get sick of it.

Here’s the collection of my best Vita.mn covers and spreads, and a few select covers from various Star Tribune sections. And my two covers at CP:

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I really covered all the bases.

Hair Today

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Making good progress on growing my hair out. Ever so gradually, I have an interesting new look every week or so. Right now I’m extremely digging my length. It’s almost a proper bob now. I feel like it’s classing up my whole look. For consistency’s sake, I woke the kitty up from a nap to take this picture. HAIR-5I’m getting haircuts on the reg every 5-6 weeks, so ensure that the bottom doesn’t get too mullet-y (like in September) and eventually matches up with the sides (yeah, who knew! Growing your hair our takes more maintenance than not). A lot of times it feels like a very 90’s bob, like Kelly MacDonald in Trainspotting, which is super cool obv. I do have this thing though where the right side likes to flip out. It did it when my hair was long, which I forgot about. Luckily, the photo booth on my iMac is a living chronicle of my style evolution for almost 10 years. Photo 741Oh so sassy, 20-year old Caroline.

5 Week Fitbit Review

FITBIT-132Ladies and Germs, receive this edict: The Fitbit is the word.

I realize it comes from ultimate depths of yuppie privilege to buy such a frivolous thing to essentially help me eat less food. But at least it comes from the deepest and most earnest desire to be healthy.

I wrote about fitness trackers back in the spring, and I expressed a concern that once I got one of these, I’d abandon it quickly like it seems most people do. Besides, I know how to lose weight. It’s the simplest equation really, that everyone should know: burn more calories than you eat. Simple! Right? Well, I’d tried MyFitnessPal for a while, and while it did help me make better food choices, I didn’t see any weight loss. And in the spring I had set a goal for myself: Lost 40 pounds. A big undertaking, but with enough determination I could definitely do it. My weight was 220 lbs, which had me admit to myself that I’d gone too far. I wanted to get to 180, which was above the BMI index’s “healthy weight” rating, but which seems plenty healthy to me (FYI, for a woman who is 5’9″, they say a healthy weight is 150 to 175 lbs, which would make me look like utterly alien).

I didn’t lose the weight, and I slipped back into excessive habits over the summer. I don’t necessarily lament that loss in momentum, because I had a great time! But, I gained 10 pounds. Now, getting to 180 meant losing 50 pounds. Ugh. So, back in September I purchased the Fitbit Flex on a whim at a routine Target run. I’d done the research before, I was 99% sure I was going with this model. The Fitbit has widely been reviewed as the most sophisticated fitness tracker out there. The Flex is the least expensive wrist wearable and has the most straight-forward, no goof-around features (like, the Fitbit Surge has caller ID. Who gives a shit!). It sets goals for you based on how active you are, and what you hope to achieve.

In my case, I’ve decided to set 40 lbs for now, as that seems more reasonable and achievable than 50. To do so at a zippy pace, I need to lose at least 1.5 lbs a week. The fitbit app sets for me a number of calories to burn and how many I can eat, with a deficit already factored in. So all I need to do is just stay under target, or “in the zone” for calorie consumption, and I’m golden.

And the dashboard gives super in-depth statistics.

And the dashboard gives super in-depth statistics.

The most surprising thing I learn from the fitbit is how much certain kinds of exercise are worth. I found out that yoga wasn’t the burner I was hoping for, and walking is my number 1 best friend when it comes to weight loss. Because I am #blessed with a flexible schedule, I’m able to get in a pretty decent walk every morning (or sometimes in the evening, or both if I’m feeling motivated!). The fitbit lets me know approximately (they’re not 100% accurate) how many calories I’m actually burning, and this is information I never knew before. It also highlighted to me how inactive I really was. So say it’s 10:50pm (like it is at the time of writing this), and I still have 200 steps to go, and 300 calories, I might start walking around my basement with the TV on to get one last burn.

It’s either motivation, or a very effective form of shame.

The fitbit also allows me to see just how damaging certain treats will be to my overall goal. Like, holy shit, that can of coke ate up a lot of my afternoon snacking. Whoops. And I love snacks. Probably a little too much. Now, I need to be a little more considerate of what I’m putting in my body. That’s not just the shaming of a wearable though, that’s plain getting older.

That’s not to say I’m eating anything “diet” or “low fat”, I’ve actually managed to find a good balance of foods I like (I can still get Chipotle 1-2 times a week), and healthy stuff (I’ve devised a super tasty and simple smoothie recipe), and walk enough that at the end of the day, I’m still sitting pretty. (Generally. There are always days that are less active than others, and days where I just would really like a Salted Caramel Mocha from S-bux. But non-fat, no whip, you know? White girls).

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My “active minutes” for October 22. Alan and I took a 30 minute walk before dinner. 30 minutes is all you need.

So how well does it work?  Since September 17, I have lost 14 pounds. Does that make the Fitbit Flex a miracle weight loss device, like no other? Not necessarily. Almost 7 years ago, I had a fitness blog where I recorded every food and exercise I did, and I lost ~25 pounds in about 3 months. That was just good old fashioned perseverance. But I also didn’t have a job then, and barely went to school. I had a ton of time to sit around and do bullshit like that.

Not only does it tell me how many calories I’m burning (saving me the effort to log exercise into MyFitnessPal and hoping the calories are accurate), but it gives me guidelines on how many steps I should take, and how much water to drink. I’m probably healthier and better hydrated than I’ve been in years.

The Bottom Line
Why the fitbit flex is great: 
It helps me visualize the amount of food I eat, the calories I burn, and motivates me to meet goals in steps, hydration and calories. With its help, I have stayed focused and on track of my weight loss goal and I’m already 14 lbs in, with 26 more to go (And 26 sounds way less scary than 40). Plus, it has a super integrated app and online dashboard. When I meet my calories burned goal for the day, the wristband does a little happy vibrate dance.

Could be better: It would be great if I didn’t have to log every single thing I ate, and it just KNEW, you know? I’m not sure I totally trust it to accurately track calories burned for activities that aren’t walking, running or hiking (e.g. I did some moderate yoga for about 40 minutes one day and the tracker barely made a blip). Some people I’ve talked to about fitness trackers say they’re only interested in the sleep tracking capabilities. I’m here to tell you right now that while yes, it’s interesting to see how much you actually sleep at night, there is very little, I’ve found, you can do with that information. The fitbit offers no help on how to help you get a deeper sleep. You may find you have uses for that information that I do not.

Do I recommend it? Yep, if you’re someone like me who has struggled to maintain a fitness routine, or watch your calories, or lose weight or whatever, this might be the device for you. But, like all things that are difficult in life, you have to put in the work, you know? Be diligent about logging calories and find the time to do some exercise (at least 30 minutes every day), even if it’s walking around the block 5 times. If you are already pretty active (i.e. you ride your bike to work or take regular breaks to walk through the skyways) I’d say skip it, unless you’re curious. Knock yourself out.

It does help to have basic handle on good nutrition. I’m just saying. Stop eating foods designed specifically for dieters, and obviously fatty foods with no nutritional value. You can eat real, rich, flavorful food and still lose weight, but the key is portion control and everything in moderation. Weight loss is intimidating but at its essence it’s extremely simple.

And hey: You can do it.

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If I can do it, anybody can.

KV Crimes

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A quick post today. I went to Mill City Nights (formerly The Brick) last night to shoot Kurt Vile for City Pages. The Brick (as I’m calling it from now on) is kind of an unpopular venue, though that’s putting it lightly. The sound is awful. I couldn’t hear sweet Kurt’s angelic voice at all. I also tend to hate venues that are long rectangles where the only way to get up front is to fight your way through a hundred people. They feel like fire hazards, and I get claustrophobic. I greatly prefer a more open layout like First Avenue. But that’s like saying I prefer going on vacation to getting sick.

Anyway. You can see my little slideshow (including some shots of Waxahatchee, a cool indie folk band) right over here.

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