Tips for feeling like a badass when you're temporarily not at your best?
March 23, 2013 2:57 PM   Subscribe

I am just coming off a very long period of hardcore work crunch. Before I can get myself physically back on track, I am going to spend a short period of time meeting a lot of people and rocking the connections I've made. I know that attitude is 90% of people's impressions of you, but I just don't feel confident these days from the short-term toll the stress has taken on my looks. I need some tips!

My project is just ending, and I am about to take some time off to recharge. I feel great about the work that I've done, and it's clear that the work is paying off in terms of great opportunities, but i do not feel good about the way I look right now. I've gained nearly 30 lbs from long hours and a lack of the time to do my regular exercise routine.

I am very excited to pick my workout and eating routines back up, and I am not despairing. I know that getting back on track, once I have rested a bit, will not be terribly difficult, and for the most part, I have a solid plan (it will solidify more once I get my brain back).

I am in a great place professionally: The project I am just completing appears like it will be very successful, and I have made some great contacts that I believe can push me forward to where I really want to be in the next 5-10 years.

I know it's foolish to think that my looks matter, but impressions do matter, and if I feel frumpy, I will seem frumpy.

I got a haircut recently, new glasses, new makeup, and have clothes I don't feel miserable in.

All of those things though, aren't totally doing the job for me. I need as many tips as you can give me. STAT!
posted by pazazygeek to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (27 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: One addition: I am talking about things I can do to feel better RIGHT now. I will start hitting the gym, but next week, I am doing a lot of networking, and I obviously am not going to get my groove back by tomorrow afternoon!
posted by pazazygeek at 2:59 PM on March 23, 2013

I've suggested this on here before. It's weird how it can change the tide of a bad day for me.

1. Take out your phone or a watch, put it on the floor.
2. Go into a high push up position (or plank, if you will). Keep your body as straight as possible
3. Stay like this for a minute, using your timer. You will start to shake and wobble. This is OK. Try and keep your body straight. (You can do it!)
4. Stand up and feel better!

Over the course of a few weeks, try to work up to being able to hold plank for 3 minutes. It is surprisingly easy if you do it every day.
posted by dobie at 3:04 PM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

You're talking about specifically feeling better, right? Not doing anything, because it sounds like you've already really got it covered. The only thing I might add is to get a book, or even better, a trilogy, some genre thing--nothing important. Some purely fun reading. You already know that it's going to take some time and it sounds like you've spent a lot of time in a thorough state of stress, so it probably would be nice to be able to organically check out and blissfully waste a little time.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:14 PM on March 23, 2013

Get up and work out first thing in the morning. Breaking a sweat early in the day makes me feel so great for the rest of the day, it's transformative. There is something really therapeutic about breaking a sweat, at least for me. Also, it helps one sleep better, which is all to the good for feeling good.
posted by ambrosia at 3:21 PM on March 23, 2013

Ooh, this sounds familiar. Are you caught up on sleep? If not, I'd start with that. My Sunday restoration routine involves: drinking a ton of water, using a face mask or a fine exfoliator, deep-conditioning my hair, spending some time on grooming (shaving, shaping nails, eyebrows etc), moisturising myself really well after a shower, and eating light, tasty things like miso soup. If it's possible, I'll avoid wearing make-up for the day too. It's totally possible that none of these things make a difference from the outside, but they feel like I've smoothed and prepared myself for the world.

If there's time, a good walk or swimming or anything that feels immersive and energising will always help to lift my mood (on previous, A Terrible Llama's book suggestion fits too!), but sometimes a couple of hours spent just getting life in order via laundry is enough to make me feel more accomplished and in control, and that definitely shows.

Good luck!
posted by carbide at 3:21 PM on March 23, 2013 [7 favorites]

Music is your friend. Pick something that says "I'm such a total badass that you're going to wish I wasn't such a badass" to you and listen to it just before you're going to call or meet the new connections you've made. Instant epic feeling.
posted by peteyjlawson at 3:23 PM on March 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

Since you've got a plan for nutrition & exercise, and you've covered the costuming part, will just suggest getting a really good facial. (By 'good' I mean 'effective at sloughing things off or digging them out', not 'pleasant' - i.e., exfoliation & extraction. There might be a laser or chemical peel that achieves the same effect with fewer tears, I don't know.) And then, some nice serums. And a couple of good nights' sleep can actually do a lot.
posted by nelljie at 3:24 PM on March 23, 2013

Eat well and don't look in the mirror. Fruit, vegetables and nothing microwaved,
posted by mani at 3:25 PM on March 23, 2013

Nothing makes you look more frumpy and unconfident like poor posture. Yoga and pilates are said to be good for fixing this, but just checking your posture periodically and reminding yourself to stand up straight will help.

Get your eyebrows professionally done. It makes a surprising amount of improvement for the small amount of effort and money it takes.

Invest in some great accessories. You can use eye-catching jewelry, scarves, belts, shoes, etc. to draw attention to your best features and away from your problem areas.

This excellent thread has a lot of good tips on perking up your looks when you feel blah.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:34 PM on March 23, 2013 [5 favorites]

I was just popping back into say what Serene Empress Dork said -- get your eyebrows professionally done. It really makes a difference and it's a high profile improvement.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:39 PM on March 23, 2013

Oh and agree with carbide, around makeup. If you have to put something on, keep foundation to a minimum - use a light touch with concealer just for bags/darkness around the eyes or discolouration elsewhere on the face, and otherwise just mascara, a bit of blush, maybe something light on the lips.
posted by nelljie at 3:52 PM on March 23, 2013

Go take a sauna bath (if you like that sort of thing, of course). Make sure not to skip the cold bath. That always makes me feel like I'm ready to take on the whole world.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:07 PM on March 23, 2013

What always helps me to feel badass is to put on a badass song and dance around my apartment wearing something that makes me look awesome. And usually sunglasses.

Only the sincere desire to help led to me to admit that publicly :-).
posted by luciernaga at 4:08 PM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seconding what peteyjlawson said about music.

I also have a pair of shoes that make me feel AWESOME. No matter how I feel, those shoes trick me into feeling like I'm taking over the world. The heels make a satisfying click as I stride down the hall.
posted by rakaidan at 4:11 PM on March 23, 2013

Do some pushups. Seriously. I can't do many (or any, depending on the last time I went through the routines) but nothing NOTHING makes me feel as epic as having done one/some. Plus bulking the muscle while using it can make a difference to how you look. Add some squats, maybe some spanx or something and I feel taut and tight instead of flabby. Add in one of my favourite outfits, fierce sunglasses and my hair done how I like (for me that's pulled up in a bun, weirdly enough) and I feel accomplished and ready.

If I've got the time I try and eat light, and no sugar/processed stuff. Miso soup is GREAT, nuts are good, yoghurt, that sort of thing.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:18 PM on March 23, 2013

Get upside down.

If you do yoga, something like headstand or shoulderstand. Or hang down from the waist, trying to touch your toes. Or just lie down and put your feet as high as you can up a wall.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 4:21 PM on March 23, 2013

Did your new clothes include a new bra? I rediscover every year or so what a HUGE difference a new, good bra makes.

Also n'thing music; I'm going through a rough patch at work right now and burned a "kick ass and take names" mix-CD which I listen to on my way in. So, so silly, but it helps a lot!
posted by smirkette at 4:47 PM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

This sounds like a perfect moment for you to watch Amy Cuddy's excellent TED talk – How your body language shapes who are you.

Our start-up team has been using it and we're having wonderful results thus far. Best part about it is that it takes two minutes to practice and you can start right now.

Happy power-posing!
posted by nickrussell at 5:15 PM on March 23, 2013 [8 favorites]

Oh, and silly socks help me sometimes, but I don't know if that's viable for your situation.
posted by smirkette at 6:05 PM on March 23, 2013

We can be so much more critical of ourselves than we are of other people. Perhaps you might feel inspired by following fashion blogs, tumblrs, etc. from/of women who are stylish and confident despite not falling into the narrowly defined constraints of "ideal beauty." I think it's an invaluable counterpoint to the images we're bombarded with in the media.

Wardrobe remix is a great flickr pool, the alreadypretty blog is a great source of feel-good inspiration, and Gabi at is fun. In a lightly different (perhaps more vericose) vein, the Advanced Style blog focused on fab-looking seniors. There are bunches more out there if you find that seeing/reading "real" women who feel good about themselves--and deservedly so--helps you realize that you deserve to feel good about yourself, too!
posted by drlith at 6:30 PM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

A friend who heard me whining and stressing about how I just did't have time for workouts challenged me to start doing 3 sun salutations and 1 spinal twist every morning before leaving the house. I have mostly complied (there's a reward incentive if I do it for3 months). He said "it'll change your life." It hasn't changed my life but I tell you what, it has started my day of with more intention, connected me back to my body, given me a good stretch and oxygenated wake-up even before coffee, and made me feel like I'm doingsomething. It's a big improvement. Try it, - it takes 5 minutes.
posted by Miko at 8:09 PM on March 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh man, does a new bra make me feel like a god. Some sort of thunderbolt hurlin', virgin seducin', continent shakin' god.

I'd also suggest finding photoblogs or fashion blogs featuring kickass people with your current body type rocking being bigger. I don't know how that extra 30 pounds is sitting on you, so I'm reluctant to post anything specific, but there's a lot of plus size and fat acceptance fashion blogs out there with ladies on it I can guarantee are bigger than you are and who are seriously kicking it.

Remember, your body is a fucking miracle. That extra weight is your body processing the fuck out of every bit of junk you ate while you were working, taking out the useful bits, and storing it for later. It found value in a fucking Value Meal. That's how awesome your body is, and honey, I don't even know your body. Maybe you have a whole bunch of extra awesome stuff your body can do for you that I don't know about.

Do things that reiterate this to you. I like dancing around the house in my undies, for a start, because I like to think I'm a pretty solid dancer and revelling in that makes me feel good, but whatever works for you.
posted by Jilder at 8:19 PM on March 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

Mani-pedi, facial, brows, and then do one thing every day for a week that is new to you. Could be different route to work, new coffee place, new bookstore--act like a tourist in your own city. Always makes me feel like an explorer when I do something for the first time.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:11 PM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

In addition to the eyebrows, a good salon blow out makes me feel pretty bad ass.
posted by sweetkid at 10:51 PM on March 23, 2013

Make up and skin care for sure. Have a look here for a very effective brightening make up look. People have told me how fresh and well I looked wearing this look when I'd slept about 4 hrs the night before and worked 70 hr weeks for a couple of months. She also has a few morning after the night before looks where the key focus is to make skin look glowing and fresh and to use minimal make up to distract from common signs of tiredness...I realise you were working not partying but I find if I work really long hrs for a while I might as well be hung over in terms of how bad I look and feel.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:16 AM on March 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm trying to get a sense of your timeline here. I'm not sure if you have one networking event tomorrow afternoon or several spread out over the next week. A lot depends on how much time you actually have to carry it out and for how long you need it to be effective.

The haircut and new clothes sound like a good start. My suggestions are:

1. Get lots of sleep. Nap if you can.
2. Actually if you have access to a pool go for a swim and THEN nap.
3. Do some simple and efficient exercises. Even just 5 minutes of pushups and jumping jacks can make you feel more aware of your muscles and more .. powerful in your body, if that makes sense. Just don't work out so hard that you make yourself really sore - that's not your goal now. Get the blood moving, though.
4. If you have the time and inclination, go and do something completely different from work. Go out dancing, see a concert, take a walk in the woods ... for me things like this can reset my head when I've been in a work rut, and I come back to the office with new energy because I'm no longer just a cube warrior, I'm a cube warrior who had an AWESOME time last night.
5. Oh - sometimes getting a room in a nice hotel and getting some sleep can be pretty transformative. Especially if your home situation causes you any stress (roommates, clutter ...)
posted by bunderful at 7:41 AM on March 24, 2013

Taking a peek at your profile page, it looks as though you play guitar. I recommend plugging in, then queuing up some old favorites in iTunes or what have you and just go to town for a couple hours. Try to play "loud," meaning either actually loud or loud through headphones, and hit a few songs that are a bit challenging but not something you've never played.

On the exercise front, if you're familiar with burpees, try to do two sets of ten or whatever is just enough to make you short of breath and feel like your legs are 100 lbs. each and you want to give up, and yet you can do 2-3 more, anyway. Then, do some downward dogs and runner's stretches and what not, and let the endorphins and sense of control over your body rush in.

Alternately, if you are familiar with deadlifting, after warming up, do a set of deadlifts. Something heavy, but not near your max! 100-120 lbs., maybe? Whatever your max actually is, 100 lbs. is still a lot of weight, and you lifted it 3-5 times!

Enjoy your power.
posted by ignignokt at 10:13 AM on March 24, 2013

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