Sunday, May 16, 2010


A few weeks ago I was home with the kids on one of their many days off from school. I decided to take them to the mall to get some spring shopping done. We were about to go someplace warm for spring break and they needed some clothes that fit. I was feeling really run-down from a nasty, but certainly not out of the ordinary combination of viral and bacterial infections. I had my hair in a particularly severe and unflattering half-pulled up, kind of position. I was dragging myself through the mall, propped up on unhealthy doses of Advil, sporting an oversized black t-shirt and yoga pants.

Natasha, on the other hand, was at her youthful, uber-confident, excited best. I tried to recreate the image above, but she looked even sassier with the Gap sunglasses - the ones above are mine, and more sedated. She had picked out a sleeveless black dress with silver adornments, and was wearing it already while we were looking for bathing suits. I was ok with the black, but vetoed a leather jacket and she was of course angry with me about that. She found some sunglasses and put them on too. In the dressing room she looked at herself in the mirror, instinctively pulled the neckline into a stylish mock turtleneck. She conveyed an image of pure confidence and style. We all stared in the mirror. There we were, a contrast in everything. She looking beautiful, vibrant and diva-ish...much more mature than 7. Me looking old, haggard and a shambles. I did not look fat. But that was little consolation. Alex was just goofing around and admiring his cool sister.

I decided to get my act together: go to the doctor, get some antibiotics, insist upon some rest, and pull myself together by showering, styling my hair, and putting on half-decent clothes. And I vowed to treat myself to a pre-vacation pedicure.

I don't really have a larger point to this post. It was just one of those out of body moments where you realize life is imitating art. It really was a stereotypical movie-like moment. The contrast between young and old, the odd camera angle of the fitting-room mirror. The no-words-are-necessary turning-point image that speaks 1000 words. The image staring back at me in the mirror is seared into my brain. I was really pretty shocked with my appearance. And it didn't matter that I'm massively fit and at a great weight. A person still needs a comb and some make-up and to get out of the jog bra sometimes! I don't always look like that. Today I'm healthy, my hair is clean, I'm wearing a nice bright colors, my outfit is coordinated and even, shockingly for me, well accessorized.

And as for Natasha, I wonder how many more years of bathing suit shopping we have before she starts over-criticizing every part of her body. Currently she is only interested in the pattern and cut of the suit, the skimpier and flashier the better. I had to veto a black and pink leopard-print bikini at Lord and Taylor. When will she imagine fat thighs and a big booty? She may always be happy with her body, as she does a lot of exercise and her self-confidence is remarkable. But that would be the rare exception and I don't expect it. I don't think she'll hit the 9-yr-old self-confidence dip that is so well documented. But you never know. If she does, I will imagine that diva image of her in the Gap dressing room throughout her tween and teenage years and hope it returns when she hits the more reasonable age of post-adolescence. By then I'll be old and just wanting grand kids.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Some random helpful links....

Just some stuff I've come across...

Back to the granola discussion...this recipe actually does not have much added sugar or fat - pretty ingenious making a banana into a binder for granola. Still has a fair amount of calories, but much better. And why not get your calories from a banana and walnuts, which have so many nutrients, as opposed to canola oil and sugar.

An article about meal planning and coupons
I found it interesting, even though it's obviously not for me. I'm way too lazy for all this planning.

Finally - for all the iPhone geeks - a timely roundup of recipe apps.

Monday, May 10, 2010

At goal weight...

From March:
Most women have a variety of sizes in their closets. They have "fat" jeans and "skinny" jeans. I really don't have that any more. I waited as long as possible before buying winter clothes, to see if I could maintain the weight I'd reached in the summer. But it got cold quickly this year, in October, and I was freezing. So now I have two sizes of clothes, but only a few items in each. I have found it frustrating to try and remain exactly at the smaller size (size 4, 137 lbs). When I bought the bigger pants (6) I was going to have them tapered at the waist. Basically my thighs are a bigger size than my stomach. But I didn't out of fear, and thank goodness for that because now I need the room.
So I have decided to stop being so adamant about staying at one particular size. It's too difficult. I gained a few pounds (5), mainly due to my refusal to be hungry any more, and to a very sedentary winter. I still do my morning exercise, but after that it's butt to minivan, desk chair, a couple hours in kitchen, and then relaxing in bed. In the warmer, lighter months I'm likely to take a walk at work in the afternoon, take a walk in the evening after work, etc.  I did start doing stairs again in the afternoons with some colleagues, so that should help, but winter is just a more sedentary time than fall, spring and summer.
I wrote the above post a couple months ago, but didn't post it as it seemed kind of bordering on obsessive to me. I think the reason it seemed slightly not-so-healthy mentally is that I wasn't really there yet and was typing the words to convince myself. Now rereading it, it doesn't seem so bad. I believe the difference is that a) I lost a couple pounds due to the increased spring activity I predicted and b) I've just come to terms more with the fact that I had reached a pretty unsustainable place. When I wrote the above I still felt a little like I should get back to a 4. I was irritated that I had wasted money on some size 4 clothes, especially since I had stayed there for a good 5 months or so. I didn't like the love handles Natasha so helpfully noticed had come back (I wasn't just imagining them). But a loose size 6 for someone who is almost 5' 8" is plenty thin. And truth be told my face and neck looked too chicken-like at a 4. And I can do a boat-load of military-style push-ups!

So now I feel I've really made it - not just physically, but mentally too. You know how reformed alcoholics or smokers or gamblers will say that they are still addicts, but just in remission, or whatever term they use? I don't feel like that. Getting there mentally wasn't too much of a challenge, luckily enough. I never had an eating disorder, and I wasn't an emotional eater. But now I really feel very comfortable around food. Parties and other social events don't stress me out. When I overeat I know I'll get back on track. I still loosely track but I don't get tense if I can't determine how many points my soup is. I don't have lots of pernicious cravings. I hate feeling overly full. I love working out (although not to the level of I-want-to-throw-up, like my husband). I'm not intimidated by physical challenges. I don't expect that I will put the weight back on. Maybe I really did turn into "one of those skinny girls who can eat whatever she wants".

I didn't really start out with a goal weight. I just kept at my regimen until I stopped losing and plateaued. Then I went back up a bit, after deciding I would no longer accept being hungry, and because it was winter. Now I have, and am at, a goal weight, of 140 lbs. I truly don't want to weigh less than this, and that is a good feeling.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The more I learn the more I follow Jackie

I have a pretty good rotation of DVDs, as well as jogging, kickboxing, running up my hill, etc. Here is what I have come to believe. Let's assume you're eating an appropriate amount...say 1300-1600 calories a day depending on your goals and situation. To compliment that, in terms of exercise, I believe Jackie Warner is the best, in terms of getting a toned muscular body. Jillian/Bob/Biggest Loser in general are good at burning calories. I like to mix things up as much as possible. But I do make sure to do the intense but short JW upper and core to make sure to keep those muscles very defined. I think it's her "the right function, with perfect form, working to almost complete fatigue" motto that works so well. Even almost a year later, I kind of like listening to her narrate when doing the DVDs.

Lately I'm even more of a Jackie cult member. Last week I saw Jackie on the Joy Behar Show (a very embarrassing sentence for so many reasons) and she and some other doctors were discussing Jillian's comment about never wanting to put her body through pregnancy. Jackie said this. "It's simple, if you exercise before you get pregnant, eat properly and exercise while you are pregnant and exercise after you have the baby you will take the weight off" Now she didn't say your boobs won't sink and sag and your skin won't be stretched out, but she had a good point. One I REALLY wish I had followed!!! But I am where I am, saggy boobs and all-Bra-llelujah by Spanx helps a lot!

She also admitted that after a certain age, really lean people do tend to wrinkle more in the face and she even noted that her grandmother told her that at a certain point you need to choose between your face and your body. Joy quipped that we have Botox for that, implying it's better to stay thin.

OK so this whole post is a little Hollywood but it was timely because I had been assessing the differences between the various workout approaches, and all in all, I do think Jackie is the fastest way to the best results.