FULL QUESTION: I gained weight during the pandemic, and now that I'm returning to the office, none of my clothing fits. Any suggestions?


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


I'm not sure that I'm the best person to ask this question as I work from home. However, unlike my sister, who has mastered maintaining her weight, I sympathize with you completely because, like so many people, I've succumbed to putting on weight during the pandemic. My downfall? Comfort food. And although I've always loved that kind of home cooking, what really did me in wasn't what I prepared, but having second servings because it tasted so good.

So, I need to go back to my Weight Watchers days. I never felt like I was on a diet because I could eat anything I wanted, but developed better eating habits, including being aware of portion control and making smarter food choices. That, and kicking up my exercise routine a notch (or two or three) – whether it's morning weights, mid-day walks, and/or late afternoon bike rides.

Well, I guess I really didn't answer your question as to what you should do. But I realize that I've analyzed how I got in a similar situation and what I should do. Now I just need to do it!


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


I am not going to tell Red that she is going through the logical sequence of change, but I will say that once many of us, Red included, understand WHY we are doing something, it is easier to do something about it. Just do not be too hard on yourself. And, be realistic.

Obviously, the pandemic caused isolation and anxiety, which resulted in more eating and less activity. And being able to work from home wearing "comfy" clothes did not help. But you are not alone, which explains why weight management businesses are doing so well. For example, gym memberships are up, and digital subscriptions at WW (what Weight Watchers is now called) are significantly higher from a year ago at this time.

Even if you are not ready to make drastic changes, you can start with small adjustments. Alcohol consumption increased (no surprise there), so maybe substitute low-calorie (or no-calorie) beverages, such as fruit-infused water instead of wine and cocktails. And, keep in mind short "office-friendly exercises" can also be done at home and can make a big difference. (Think: push-ups in a standing position against a kitchen counter or office desk or if you have stairs at home, putting away items immediately instead of accumulating them to minimize trips.)

One final thought … if you have to buy new clothes, keep it to a minimum and make sure they can either be altered easily or inexpensive enough that you do not mind giving them to a charity (such as Dress for Success or CareerGear).


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

OK, before I saw this question, I had absolutely no idea what "greenwashing" was. I mean, not a clue. So Black sent me two good "overview" articles (American Scientific and UL) that helped me understand it's when a company makes an unsubstantiated claim to try and convince us that its products are environmentally "friendly" when they're not. Obviously, they're taking advantage of the fact most of us want to do whatever we can to help protect the environment and support businesses that do (although sometimes it's difficult if the products are significantly more expensive).

I'll admit, though, that once I began reading various claims about sustainability and "supposed" benefits, it became very confusing. And, in general, the topic gives me a headache, which is why I had to laugh when Black sent me a statement issued by Advil about its sustainability efforts.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

I first became aware of "greenwashing" years ago when I stayed at a hotel that asked me to help "save the planet" by not having the sheets changed daily and reusing my towels instead of tossing them on the floor after a single use. Maybe I am cynical, but my initial reaction was they wanted me to help them "save money" since they would have less laundry to do. And, as I looked around my room and the hotel, I saw numerous ways they could be "green" – but were not, thereby supporting my initial impression. (Curious how consumers react to hotels that greenwash?)

Nowadays, many companies are rebranding themselves as well as renaming and repackaging products to demonstrate their "commitment" to the environment. But, just because they make a claim does not make it so. However, determining who is green versus "greenwashing" can be done, it just takes a little time and effort.

FULL QUESTION: Given all these natural disasters, what would you grab if you had to evacuate your home?


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

Well, it really depends on how much time I have. For example, it wasn't a natural disaster, but several years ago, a gas line at my house was accidentally cut when foundation work was being done. All I did was run in, grab my daughter and dogs, the cars keys, and got the "you know what" out of there. You hear stories of people taking photos, computers, and perhaps a beloved stuffed animal, but in that moment, all I cared about was saving the lives of my loved ones.

A few years prior, when Hurricane Harvey was quickly intensifying and heading toward Texas, I had about six hours after getting a mandatory evacuation notice to get out of the house. So, at that point, I was able to not only pack my bags but gather important documents and a few sentimental items (and move things to the second floor in case the first floor flooded). Granted, it was all in an incredible rush/panic, but I still had those few precious hours. Now, copies of all my important papers are in a binder, ready to grab. And I created a master "evacuation checklist" based on this hurricane checklist (as that's the most "common" natural disaster in Texas) if I'm lucky enough to have time to pack.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

Given natural disasters do not always give you lead time, everyone should have an evacuation checklist. I based mine on this evacuation list (but, the Ready Campaign has lots of great planning tools) as well as experience, since Hurricane Harvey resulted in a mandatory evacuation of my high-rise. (The basement, where all the building's mechanical equipment is located, flooded and left the building without power and uninhabitable for almost two months.)

I have always had digital copies of key documents on my primary computer (a laptop that I would grab), but now I also have them on two portable hard drives – one in a safety deposit box and the other in my "evacuation time capsule". And, what I mean by that is … imagine you were going to lose everything in your home – determine what items would you want to "save" (whether for sentimental or practical reasons) and put them in a small piece of luggage or carry bag. The interesting thing is when you do that, you will most likely find the items you consider irreplaceable are not the most expensive ones (those become your insurance company's problem, anyway.)

We saved this question as we thought it was perfect for National TV Dinner Day. Yes, believe it or not, it's a real thing.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

Oh, yes, definitely! As a kid, I LOVED TV dinners. My favorite was the fried chicken. I remember them having four compartments – a meat, two veggies, and dessert. Usually apple cobbler. But as long as there were mashed potatoes, I was happy.

For me, the compartments were perfect because, as weird as it might sound (and as much grief as Black gives me about this), I used to have a "thing" about different food touching. Not to mention, I had a habit of eating the food on my plate one item at a time. But I have to admit, they may be called TV dinners, but I used to love to eat them at any time of day. Or night!


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


Of course, I remember them. They are an example of brilliant marketing. In 1953, frozen meals were not a new idea, they just had never gained traction. However, television was a new phenomenon. Meanwhile, Swanson, the frozen food company, had greatly overestimated demand for Thanksgiving turkeys that year, and the story goes that in desperation, they put out a call for ideas to its employees. A salesman suggested turning the turkeys into frozen dinners using three-compartment aluminum-foil trays similar to what airlines used for in-flight food service. Regardless of who came up with the idea, tying frozen meals and TV together was brilliant, and TV dinners quickly became a huge market.