Monday, September 27, 2010

Laryngitis Lynnie

My son-in-law loves me, even though he insists on calling me Lynnie every chance he gets.

“Goodbye, Laryngitis Lynnie!” he said yesterday as I was leaving Pittsburgh, big grin on his face.

Love you, too, Matt. *eyeroll*

It happens every couple of years, this laryngitis nonsense that always eventually makes sense. I felt it coming on Saturday afternoon, and sure enough by midnight, my voice was toast. I talked (actually I whispered) a little too much early yesterday which made it worse before I got smart and shut the heck up. For 28 hours I’ve been silent and must remain silent for at least another 24-48. Doctor’s orders.

I’m relegated to texting, emailing and hand-writing people I’d normally just talk to. I may have no vocal chords to speak of right now, but I still have a lot to say. Too much, perhaps. Just ask my massage therapist. A normal person with laryngitis would go in and write, “I have laryngitis and cannot talk” and just enjoy a silent massage.

Not me.

My massage therapist doubles as my shrink. I brought my note pad and pen into the room today and wrote to her while she worked the kinks out of my neck and knee. Only when I was on my stomach was I rendered speechless, so to speak, but it was then that I truly relaxed and heard that voice in my head say, “Chillax, woman.”

It’s not like I yammer on constantly. In fact, my days are usually filled with a lot of silence. But it’s silence born from being alone, not from an inability to talk. On silent days, I have the option of picking up the phone and calling someone. I can chat with the mailman. Say hello to my neighbor or the person who makes my latte. This self-imposed silence takes concentration. Mindfulness.

The reality is that right now, I can’t talk. It hurts. And when something hurts, you take care of it, right? Isn’t that what you do?

Probably not always, is my guess. How often do we put ourselves first, even when necessary? We’re busy, we have things we absolutely have to do, and we tell ourselves it’s OK – maybe even preferred – to care about everyone else, but not ourselves. We have too little time, we’re not that important, and so we suffer in silence instead of appreciate or welcome silence.

I thought it was funny (not “ha ha” funny, but funny) that it is this silence – this “I can’t talk even if I wanted to” silence – that showed me that I fill my vocally-able times with a whole lot of bullsh*t. Sorry for the expletive, but it’s the truth. How many times do we say exactly what we want to, with no preludes, no great big explanations and no apologies? How often do we just get to the point? Say what we need?

I’m certainly not the queen of succinct talking, especially when I have to ask for something. I hem. I haw. I try to read the other person to see if I have the right to ask what it is I want to ask. It comes down to self-esteem and self-worth, and I waste a lot of words winding my way through that maze. That was my MO when I was 300 pounds, that’s for sure. I hardly ever stuck up for myself or asserted what I needed unless I was sure I’d get it. My self-esteem was minus zero back then. Glad to say it’s on the plus side now, but still could use some improvement. I’m working on it.

It’s “helps,” if you will, to get laryngitis. I’m beholden to a pen and a piece of paper. A phone with 100 characters of texting capability. I have to be very succinct when I convey what I need. No BS, no fluff stuff that rarely belongs in a conversation.

“Will U buy me Vit C?” I wrote to Larry before he went to work. If I could talk, I’d have said my doctor said I should take vitamin C while I’m sick, then had a big long debate with him about whether vitamin C really does any good and maybe I shouldn’t waste my time and money, when in the end I know I’d have asked him to buy it for me anyway. So I bypassed the BS and simply “said,” will you buy me vitamin C? And he said, “Yes.” That’s all. Just, “Yes. 100 tabs OK?”

I wish it didn’t take such a drastic condition for me to wake up and appreciate silences; to knock off the BS and get to the heart of what I want to say. I’m sure it will be a few more laryngitis episodes before I learn that lesson completely.

My voice is toast. I just tried to say something and notta. I can’t even laugh. I even sneeze in silence. So there will be a lot of time in the upcoming day or two for silent thought and reflection. I’m not going to waste it. Because like the women in the Loreal commercial, I’m worth it. I’m worth this silent time. I just hope deep down I absorb it, believe it, and speak more mindfully when my voice returns.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Joy vs. Drudgery: Weight Loss and Hopping

Every time I see Claire lately, we have the same conversation:

Claire: Grammy, your boo boo all better?
Me: Almost.
Claire: You can hop wiff me?
Me: Not yet, honey. Soon.

Claire’s a hopper. And a jumper and a skipper and a runner and a tricylcer. But mostly she’s a hopper. It’s in her blood.
Mommy Cassie hopping
Auntie Carly hopping

I introduced Claire to hopscotch last year. I drew a great big hopscotch grid on the driveway, and while she didn’t understand the rules, the grid gave her hopping a focus. Now she hops up a curb, she hops down a curb. She hops over cracks in the sidewalk, hops up stairs, and hops from one brick to another on a cobblestone street. When we went camping in August, she found two logs she could hop between. In parking lots, she hops between the concrete parking guides.

We think of hopping as fundamentally easy, but if you watch a child hop, you’ll see much more than carefree fun. Hopping is serious business. In the year that she’s been hopping, Claire’s fallen enough times to know hopping requires her full attention. Before she hops, even if it’s a split second, she concentrates, calculates how much oomph she’ll need in regard to distance, and executes her move with precision.

A lot of people think of weight loss as fundamentally easy, too. The formula – eat less, move more – is simple enough, right? So why is it so damn hard to lose and even harder to keep it off?

I think it’s because we forget that weight loss and maintenance can be fun

Watching Claire hopping yesterday, I saw fun within her determination and concentration. She knows hopping takes a lot of energy, but she also elicits a great deal of joy from it, and it’s that joy that makes it worth all the effort.

In my last blog, I wrote about finding balance in how we lose weight, incorporating healthy eating into our everyday routine rather than viewing it as temporary, like it’s some kind of injury (see “Lynn’s ‘Balance Plan’”). In a comment, Ruth wrote: “…the reason for such high recidivism in 'dieting’…(is) the view that it is a restriction, not a choice.”

Weight loss – or any big change toward the positive we make in our lives – is tough, but it can be fun, too. Maybe not circus fun or theme park fun. But fun is knowing you won’t be so full that you’ll have heartburn every day. Fun is knowing your body is running more efficiently. Fun is dropping a pants size. Fun is learning to work parts of your body you’d ignored for years. Fun is waking up in the morning fresh, knowing any “falls” you might have had the day or week or month before are all in the past.

I can’t wait to hop with Claire again, to not be on the sidelines or on the outside looking in at total joy. The same was true with weight loss. Almost six years ago I got off the sidelines and allowed weight loss to become the joy I’d been looking in at for so many years.

So…how are you having fun with weight loss or maintenance?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lynn's "Balance Plan"

I’ve been reading over some of my writing as I research an upcoming Refuse To Regain blog about an aha! moment I had recently regarding exercise and weight maintenance. I came across this blog, “Lynn’s ‘Balance Plan,’” written in June 2008 for RTR, and I thought how, more than two years later, it still represents how I feel about weight loss and maintenance. I wanted to share it with you in hopes maybe you’d relate to some of it yourself. I’d love to hear from you if it does, and even if it doesn't, and why.

Have you seen or perhaps even used a balance board? It’s basically a 2-foot by 1-foot wooden board with a rollerball underneath. The idea is to stand on it while performing other exercises such as lifting free weights. The goal is to teach the body how to balance itself, to be more stable.

The first time I got on one of those suckers, I felt like I was on an amusement park ride. I was all over the place! Wobbling here, wobbling there. I could barely stay on the thing, let alone lift weights at the same time.

Over time, however, my body adjusted to the subtle movement of the rollerball and I learned to trust my instincts – to feel the rocking back and forth and to stay stable – as I concentrated on lifting weights. I found the balance.

And so it is with weight loss/weight maintenance. As reader/fellow maintainer Susan said in a comment posted to Barbara’s recent blog (see “Let’s Get Specific”), “Perfection is not the key to maintenance. It is finding balance you can live with.”

In response to Barbara’s challenge that we name and explain our “lifestyle change” plan that works for us, I offer “The Balance Plan” (or as I’ve nicknamed it: “How Lynn Walks and Chews Gum at the Same Time”).

The Balance Plan incorporates everything in my life. I blog, I answer email, work out, feed the birds, water the plants, babysit my granddaughter, eat, sleep, shower, go to parties, and go on vacation and all the while, maintenance buzzes in the background. It’s always with me, around me, and in me. It is me.

I’m adopting as my credo something my friend Sondra wrote in a comment: “I choose to stand my ground that I will put what is best for me first.”


To maintain my weight loss, I’m learning to rely on my instinct and what “feels” right, in the same way I trust my body will keep me balanced on a wobble board. I also eat whole foods as close to their natural state, most of the time. I allow for chocolate and pudding and vices such as that, but always, always in moderation. I still use, as a tool, the Points system to help me gauge my overall food intake, but even that is becoming more “natural” for me to determine. My goal is to one day eat in total accordance to my body’s needs.

I’ve always said there’s a reason why pregnancy is supposed to take 9 months. We need time to prepare. There’s a reason why weight loss isn’t overnight. We need time to prepare for maintenance. Whether you lost weight through diet and exercise alone or with some kind of surgery, how you lost the weight is only a preparatory class for maintenance and forever, and as Sondra said, you have to change your lifestyle to get to goal.

It's frustrating to read posts on my favorite Weight Watchers discussion board from people returning from vacation bragging about how much food they ate and how “off plan” they were. They were on a “food vacation,” happy and content to stuff themselves with all their old favorites.

In real life – in real weight loss and in real maintenance – there are no such “food vacations.” Yes, there are times when we might indulge in some particular food, but we know it can’t be all the time and we know that to continue our maintenance balance, we must plan for such splurges. And as Susan reminds us, “…the most important thing is getting right back to good/clean eating after a couple of not so great meals.”

When these people return from their food vacations, the often post that they are are sad to get “back on plan.” They miss their old lifestyle. They see the new lifestyle they must embrace and resist it, like it’s their enemy.

On the Balance Plan, I understand that I have to be a friend to my body, to my food choices, and my exercise regimen, and to stand on the same side as my “lifestyle change,” to be fully immersed in it and not leave it at home when I go on vacation or out with friends or to a party or on a picnic. I take it with me at all times because it’s who I am, just as sure as I am a 44-year-old female.

The Balance Plan is open to new ideas and research. I educate myself and question “authority.” I ask lots of questions, try new foods and various approaches to obtaining the right nutrients. As I said earlier, I trust my instinct. I trust there’s a balance.

If I fall of the balance board, I get right back on. Not getting back on is not an option just as I can’t choose to not be 5’5” tall. The Balance Plan is innate so its “rules” change from person to person. But in the end, it’s about being your own best friend – walking and chewing gum at the same time, so to speak.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Crazy. Busy. Avoiding the Second Arrow

I don’t get too busy too often, and when I do, it’s usually not for more than a day, maybe two. This last week, though, has been non-stop busy, and it’s given me a huge appreciation for those of you who’ve told me how hard it is to plan your menu for a day, let alone a week, because your schedules are so hectic. I kind of get that now.

I forgot to eat dinner on Thursday night and ate a bowl of Grape-Nuts when I woke up very hungry at 2 a.m. I slammed down a Subway Veggie Delite on my way home from Pittsburgh late Friday night and it sat in my stomach like a lead balloon. (For the record, I love Subway’s veggie sandwich, but the bread was overkill after a day saturated with simple carbs.)

Saturday I was up early, went to a bridal shower, had lunch with my daughter, came home, showered and went out again…another missed dinner. When I got home at midnight, I had a PB2 sandwich and a Hershey Bliss. Granted, that’s a far cry from the days of grilled Spam and Velvetta sandwiches or 3-egg ham and cheese omelets, but still…chocolate and peanut butter at midnight?

It’s not easy to be prepared for everything and all circumstances, but I had advanced warning for several of the things that made me busy. But rather than plan my food like I usually do, I flew by the seat of my pants. Not my most stellar move.

The crazy business of the week involves many things: Mathilda’s death (we put her down last Tuesday, poor girl’s legs just weren’t going to work anymore), my knee, the lack of hard-core aerobic exercise, and, without boring you with details, a kinda sorta messy personal life. When it rains it pours.

It’s rained like this before when I’ve lost weight and…surprise, surprise…I was unable to maintain my weight loss. The culprit was always eating whatever whenever and not giving any thought to my body and what it needed. The things that were falling apart around me superseded that and I sought comfort in food rather than a fully alive and functioning body.

I can see how this could happen again, but I’ve got a rock solid maintenance mentality on my side. I trust that all I’ve learned in the last four years will keep me from straying too far.

I also trust the guidance of the Buddhist teaching of the second arrow, that when we encounter pain (when we’re shot with the first arrow), we have the choice of how we handle that pain. We can blame or whine or indulge (hello chocolate cake!), trying to run away from the pain (thus shooting ourselves with the second arrow), or we can experience the pain of the original arrow and live from within that pain and work out the best course of action that will not further our suffering.

Sometimes it sucks to feel that first arrow. OK, who am I kidding? It usually ALWAYS sucks to feel the pain of the first arrow. But in maintenance, I’m going to do all I can to not further my suffering by piling on a few or 20 pounds.

This week I will do my best to stay mindful, to treat myself and my body kindly. Not eating, carbohydrate shock – these are second arrows. And god knows I’ve got enough to deal with with that first arrow than work around the emotional complications of that second one.

In terms of food and taking care of yourself, how do you deal with that first arrow?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Just Call Me Madam Curry

We were talking about our favorite spices over on Lynn’s Weigh on Facebook and I mentioned I love to cook with curries. A few folks asked what some of my favorite curry recipes are, so I’ve compiled a list of my most-made dishes with links to the recipes.

If you’re new to curry, curry isn’t a spice derived from one plant. It’s a combination of spices such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, cardamom, et al. Curry’s a bit confusing, but this explanation at Wise Geek is pretty good.

So here you go, a few of my favorite recipes that call for the spices that make up curry.

Satisfying Lentil Soup from Healthy Cooking

When I used 16 ounces of lentils the first time I made this, it was overkill. Way too thick for my taste. Next time I used 8 oz and it was perfect.

Next time I make this, I’ll use half Maharajah curry and half hot curry. I got these lovely spice combos at My Spice Sage. I love My Spice Sage. Reasonable shipping, excellent customer service, and you get a 1-ounce free spice of your choice with every order. (I have enough free bay leaves to last me the winter!) With my next order, I’ll try the Madras curry, maybe the Vindaloo.

Curried Black Bean and Sweet Potato Skillet from Dani Spies

This is, like, favorite food Nirvana to me. Spinach, black beans, sweet potatoes, quinoa all in one place. A big plate of healthy yum.

Spicy Red Lentil and Chickpea Stew from Kalyn’s Kitchen

While this and the curried squash recipe below don’t call for “curry” per se, they do include the spices of a good curry: turmeric, Garam Masala, cardamom and cumin. Same thing, just more jars in your spice cabinet. This is a good thing.

Like the Satisfying Lentil Soup, I like to cut the lentils in half for a more soup-like consistency.

Curried Squash from Kalyn’s Kitchen

I love this as an alternative to the typical sweet potato marshmallow thingy on Thanksgiving. I especially love the pop of the mustard seeds in my mouth. Food has to be fun, right? I’m all about how a particular food feels in my mouth. It isn’t all about taste.

Ridiculously Easy Curried Chickpeas and Quinoa

This is one of my absolute favorite recipes. I’m a huge fan of chickpeas. I roast them, put them on salads, love hummus… Chickpeas are the most versatile legume I use in cooking.
The last time I made this, I used ½ t hot curry, 1 t of milder curry and omitted the cayenne. Fabulous! (Said in my best Jon Stewart falsetto.)

Curried Pumpkin Soup from Taste of Home

I’ve not made this one, but I have no doubt it will be good. I’ll make this soon after I roast one of the pumpkins I got at farmer’s market last weekend.

Last, but certainly not least, is my recipe for Sun-Dried Tomato and Curry Hummus. It was originally a Weight Watchers recipe (Roasted Red Pepper Hummus), but I “made it my own,” (somewhere, Paula Abdul is clapping for me).

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained (reserve the drained liquid)
4-5 sun-dried tomato halves (not the kind in oil)
3-4 (or more) garlic cloves, peeled
2 T tahini
3 T lemon juice
1/3 C Greek yogurt
¼ t pepper
¼ to ½ t salt
1 t curry powder (I use a combo of hot and mild)
½ t cumin
½ t coriander

Put all ingredients in a food processor and process for a minute. Add a little of the reserved liquid (or if you forgot to save it, like I’ve done before, use vegetable or chicken broth or water) and process for another few minutes. Check for consistency and add more liquid if you want. Process for about 3-5 minutes, or until desired consistency.

This is really good right away or after a few hours in the fridge. It’s got a nice bite, especially if you add some kick. Serve with baked pita chips (cut up pita, put on a cookie sheet, spray with a little Pam, bake at 375 degrees for 7-10 minutes). I also spread this on Flatouts or on bagels.

So there you have it. If you have a curry recipe you’d like to share, please post it or the link in the comments!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Is Being Ready Enough? Someone Needs Your Advice

I love getting email from Lynn’s Weigh readers. I really do. And I try to answer it as best I can and in a timely manner. But this week I have so much on my plate – out of the ordinary things that are consuming my thoughts – and I wouldn’t be able to answer the following email in a thoughtful way.

So I need your help. Can you, particularly the veteran weight-loss folks, answer this email I received today from Stacey? When I get a chance I’ll refer her to what I’ve written in the past, but I know we each have our individual answer to the questions she poses.

Variety being the spice of life, your answer may be just what Stacey needs to hear to get her on the path of permanent weight loss.

Here’s her email:

“I am looking for advice. How did you stick with it at first? I have a very hard time getting motivated to do it. I know it is pure laziness on my part. I loved WW in the past when I have tried it. When seeing results I get excited and all that but as soon as I fall off the wagon or have a bad day it is all over and I'm back to square one.

I am 36 and at 290. I am so ready for a life change. Any help you can give would be wonderful.”

Leave a comment or send me an email to and I’ll be sure to forward it to Stacey. Thanks a ton, you guys.

A quick update on Mathilda. She’s not doing well. Her back legs just aren’t working. We may need to put her down this week. The only saving grace is that we got that second chance, that extra time to spend with her. And we’ve been savoring every moment.

Thank you again for all your kind comments and well wishes. I know so many of you have been down this road before. It’s never easy.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Weight Maintenance: A Second Chance For Vigilance

As you know from my last blog (see “Mathilda”), our dog Mathilda woke up lame in her hind legs on Wednesday. After our vet treated her conservatively (because of her age…she’s 10) with large doses of steroids, we took her home from the animal hospital on Friday. She’s still a little wobbly, but she can walk short distances fairly well and can go down the front stairs with a little help from us supporting her with a beach towel around her middle.

(Mathilda enjoying her nightly treat last night.)

I feel like I've been given a second chance to appreciate Mathilda. While it’s never easy to put a pet down, I wasn’t “ready” to do it right now. Not that I’ll ever be ready, but at least I’ll have more peace with it when it comes because I was given a second chance.

Second chances don’t come around every day, and often when we’re offered one, we don’t recognize it as such. We take so much for granted, or we allow things to happen to us without fighting back – a sort of “Oh well” approach to life – which leaves us blind to those second-chance opportunities.

Since reaching my goal weight in 2007, I recognized this time (because I’d been to “goal” before) as a second (or more accurately, a tenth) chance to figure out the right way to maintain my weight and appreciate my body unlike I’d done before. But just how does one maintain? What are the emotional mechanics involved? Lori at Finding Radiance (she’s maintaining a 100-pound weight loss) got me thinking about this in her blog last week about our impulse to eat (see “Deep Thoughts On Will Power”).

Here's a portion of what she wrote (the emphasis is mine): “There are still those days where I feel driven to eat – absolutely driven, even if I am not hungry. It’s not really emotional, either. The thoughts pop up while I am working, or watching TV, or while biking. That’s just not what genetically ‘normal weight’ people are like. It takes an enormous amount of control to not chow my way through a box of cereal or use a spoon in the nut butter jar. Sometimes I give in. I wonder why is it that I have control over this impulse (at least for now) that not a lot of people have. And how long will I have it? Will it just get to be too tiring after a while, like it does for the majority of people who lose weight? The vigilance can really be tiring at times as it is 24/7/365.”

There are a LOT of great responses on her post, so I urge you to read it in its entirety. But what about those questions: Why is it some people who are losing weight or in maintenance have control over that eating impulse and some do not? Is vigilance the key (and if so, what else is involved)? Or does vigilance stand in the way and get tiring after awhile?

As I commented on Lori’s blog, what makes one person more likely to maintain than another is like pondering the beginnings of the universe. There are so many possibilities, and the combination of success-inducing factors for each individual is endless.

In my case, I didn’t keep weight off in the past because I hadn’t learned or accepted that the way I eat during and after losing weight MUST be different than before, and it must stay that way forever and ever. I credit stubbornness and my teenager-like positive response to reverse psychology for being able to maintain. If you tell me that 95 percent of people who lose weight will gain it back, therefore I probably will, too, I’ll tell you, “No way. Not me.”

It’s a quasi-obsession, and not such a bad one to have as long as I stay mindful of what is realistically possible – for instance, maintaining around 130 rather than 125, and being open to changes in my body that might take my weight a little higher due to circumstances beyond my control.

I am also convinced that at some point, the kind of vigilance to my food environment and impulses that I’ve adopted will become second nature, like knowing intuitively that in order to walk I must put one foot in front of the other.

I know this tide of change is well under way because of how I responded to food after my knee surgery in June. I was sad and frustrated many times (still am on occasion) and could have chosen to comfort myself with all my old favorites, but that didn’t occur to me. I just kept on eating the way I always had, adding a few more calories when I was hungry (healing from an injury, I’m convinced, revved up my metabolism).

Sometimes those extra calories came from adding a whole egg to my otherwise egg-white omelet or throwing a tablespoon of mini chocolate chips into a dish of fat-free strawberry ice cream. A far cry from dollops of butter on a half a loaf of French bread or a chocolate chip cookie and a not non-fat latte from Starbucks, as per the other times I’d made “goal” because I felt that somehow I was “safe” to eat whatever I wanted.

Recovering from this surgery, I didn’t stray from my normal food plan, partly because my stomach simply can’t handle the calorie load anymore, but mostly because I never want to feel that kind of fullness that I experienced after third helpings of dinner when I was 300 pounds. This time, there was no reaching for Tums or regrets the next morning over any of my choices the day before. Thanks to this vigilance-turned-second-nature, the scale has held steady and my clothes still fit.

Now I find comfort not so much in the food but in my food plan. It’s like the towel we wrap around Mathilda’s hind quarters to support her when she goes down stairs.

Can everyone who loses weight adopt this kind of vigilance? I really don’t know. Everyone’s physical and psychological makeup is different. Stubbornness isn’t something you learn and obsession isn’t something everyone sees as a positive attribute. Succeeding in maintenance requires each of us to find our own way to that second nature. But we won’t get there without first seeing it as the second chance that it is.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I know everything that lives eventually dies – people, plants…dogs. But in a perfect world, we’d get to say when. And right now, I do not say when for my dog Mathilda. I need more time.

Don’t we all.

Ten-year-old Mathilda woke up this morning paralyzed in her hind legs. This afternoon she was sedated, x-rayed and examined thoroughly by our vet, and now she’s spending the night at the animal hospital, being fed morphine and steroids in hopes that tomorrow she’ll walk again like the lame man at Bethesada.

Mathilda is a little of this and a little of that, an odd-looking creature with floppy ears and a freakishly strong tail that will leave bruises on your shins when you scratch her back. Her nickname is Princess Rolls in S*it because she’s all about smells. The more disgusting, the better. She even rolled on a frozen dead fish once.

She joined our family when I went to the animal shelter in search of a companion for our Golden Retriever, Jake – a perpetual puppy until his last breath in December. Her original name was “Whimsy,” and she’d obviously been obtained on a whim by her former owners because their excuse for leaving her at the shelter was, “Didn’t have enough time for her.” Poor thing was shaking in her crate, and it was three months later before she barked. Surprised the heck out of all of us, and we praised her like she’d thrown the winning pass in the Super Bowl. (In the photo: Jake, Mathilda and Cooper)

There is so much I could write about Mathilda, but the words I want are disconnected and free floating in my head and making no sense. I’m sad and I’m nervous and am pretty sure I will not sleep much tonight. Mathilda’s fate is in the hands of some very powerful drugs, and I can only hope and pray tomorrow morning she will walk.

I know death is part of pet ownership. But death seems forever away when you’re waiting for baby Rover to pee for the first time outside or when you’re throwing a yarn ball at Kitty. In 8, 10, or 15 years, you have to play God, and while I’ve made “that” decision before, I make a really lousy God.
Cooper, the late Bungee the Cat (Mathilda's best friend) and Mathilda

Monday, September 6, 2010


I got my nose repierced last Tuesday, this time on the right side because of the scar tissue at the original site on the left. The hole closed because I couldn’t get the plastic plug in correctly before surgery and metal is a no-no in the operating room. Ergo, it shut up tighter than a lid on Limburger.

Why do it again, you ask? Because the original piercing was an expression of a quasi youthful rebellion that had been banging around inside this arthritic, old-feeling body of mine the last year or so. A nose ring, to me, says, “Hey, I’m fun!” and god knows I haven’t been a barrel of laughs these days. The nose ring is a good reminder.

Almost 3-year-old Claire spent the night Thursday, and on Friday morning she watched me clean my nose ring. The ritual is ridiculously funny – swab soap on the site, sniff salted water up your nose, blow out, suck water, blow, suck water, blow. Swab antibiotic liquid on the site, sniff salted water up your nose, blow out, suck water, blow, suck water, blow.

Claire watched intently, then she laughed and said, “You look like a cow!”

She’d probably seen a photo like this somewhere:

But what I heard wasn’t a 3-year-old observing water coming out of my nose. What I heard were the two boys across the street from where I used to live in 1986 when I weighed 250 pounds the first time. (Yes, I’ve been down that 100-pound weight-loss road before.) I was knocking on my neighbor’s door, happy about something or other, when they yelled out, “Mooo! What a cow!”

Boom, just like that, the happiness was gone. My stomach hurt like they’d physically punched me. I’d been called names before, but “cow” seemed to hurt more than the others. And when Claire said I looked like a cow, for a split second I was self-conscious…again. Fat and therefore should be invisible…again.

Even after all this time thin, after all the work of keeping my body and emotions in sync and healthy, that old feeling of worthlessness lies dormant until it is awakened by a word: cow.

I don’t tell you this to be Debby Downer. I tell you this because it’s reason 593 why losing weight is not the cure for all ills. Losing weight can make us healthier, it can be a real boost to self-esteem, but sometimes it doesn’t matter how good you feel about yourself in the moment. An old sickly feeling can spring up at the most surprising times, fresh as a weed you thought you’d killed last week. Running away from it won’t work. Eating a jelly donut won’t do the trick, either. Facing it, labeling it, and not judging it or myself are the three best tools I’ve found to use when it happens.

I acknowledged the 250-pound me knocking on my neighbor’s door, gave her some loving kindness, and then kissed Claire on the head.

“Grammy DOES look like a cow!” I said. “And what do cows say?”

“Moooo!!” she said.
Giveaway reminder! If you’d like to win Billy Blanks Jr. “Dance With Me Cardio Fit” DVD, jump over to Friday’s blog (click here) and leave a comment to throw your name in the hat. I’ll draw a winner on Wednesday.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

DVD Giveaway! Billy Blank Jr.’s “Dance With Me Cardio Fit”

Since stationary biking and physical therapy are all the workouts I’m getting these days, and my “regular” DVD reviewer (daughter Cassie) is currently brewing grandbaby number 3 (due in early February), daughter Carlene has stepped up to the plate and will be muscling her way through the backlog of workout videos Lynn’s Weigh has agreed to review and give away.

Carlene is my oldest daughter. She just moved out of her teeny tiny graduate apartment (seriously, it was the size of a toaster with only one window that measured maybe 18 by 24 inches) after graduating with her masters degree in history. Now she’s living in a real apartment with real (and, unfortunately, buck naked) neighbors and off-street parking. The place is big enough to work out in, so I handed her five videos the other day and said, “Knock yourself out, kid!” I just hope she doesn't take me literally.

If you’d like to throw your name in the hat to win this DVD, leave a comment below or send an email to I’ll draw a winner on Wednesday, September 8.

Now without further ado, I give you Carlene’s review of Billy Blanks Jr.’s “Dance With Me Cardio Fit”:

I’m not a dancer. Not even a little bit. When I try to move my arms and legs at the same time to some sort of rhythm, it typically ends in failure and embarrassment. In fact, I was a dance school drop-out before age 5. So when my mom forced…er…I mean asked me to review Billy Blanks Jr.’s “Dance With Me Cardio Fit,” I had to put on my big girl panties and do it, no matter how ridiculous I looked.

Turns out, “Dance With Me Cardio Fit” is fun and really gets the heart (and arms and legs) moving. Blanks divides his DVD into several dance workouts, including Hip Hop, County, and Bollywood. The music is a bit too techno-popish for my taste, as I’d rather dance/workout to real music of the last 10 years, but I suppose that would cost the production company too much in royalties. My solution: learn the moves, mute the television and put it to your own soundtrack. Not only will your own music pump you up, but you’ll still have cutie-petutie Billy Blanks Jr. to ogle.

My favorite workout was Hip Hop, followed by Bollywood then Country. Because each segment is fast paced and lasts only 12 minutes, it is challenging to pick up the dance moves on the first try. I’m sure it looked more like I was convulsing than dancing, but even I, the dance school drop-out, picked them up on the most basic level.

In addition to the dance moves, each segment has a 2-minute cardio burst, aimed at revving up the pace and working your heart. While I’m not a total fitness dunce, I have to admit, by the time I got to my second cardio bursts, my butt was kicked. Unless you are some sort of fitness goddess, this will definitely make you sweat. However, because you are dancing it feels less like an aerobic workout and more like a party.

Happy dancing!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It’s A Girl Thing: TMI Inside (periods and such)

If you’re a woman and want to lose a lot of weight, there’s something I need to tell you. You might stop having your period for awhile or forever. It’s not something people tell you, but it needs to be talked about. I wrote about it on Refuse to Regain today (See “The Mystery of Aunt Flo.”)

Long story short: I got mine yesterday after a 3-year, 7-month, 2-day absence. Uffdah.

However, on the lighter side of menses, or the lack thereof, here’s a blog I wrote on ZenBagLady in March 2007 when my lack-of-period issue first became apparent.

Why, oh why, does that guy at the gym not wear pants that fit and spare himself the indignity of his pants falling down when he gets off the elliptical? I got a front-row view of butt crack this morning, and not the good kind of butt crack. It’s never the drop-dead-hunky guys in the weight room who drop their drawers.

Karma or God or Mother Nature – one of the three or maybe all three – are messing with my body in a big way. I’m in a chronic state of bloat and crabby. I’m two months into no period (and no, I’m not pregnant) and while that might seem like a blessing, it’s really a pain in the butt because I have too much of the bitch hormone and not enough of the ovulating hormone flowing through my body. I’d really feel better if I just bled.

My doctor says it’s probably a combination of increased exercise and weight loss catching up with me. Whatever.

I remember when I first learned of the menses. It was in fifth grade. One day, with no warning, our teacher, Miss Nissen, told the boys they had to go to Mr. Kennedy’s room because the girls were going to see a movie made just for them. Apparently I’d brought home a permission slip and my mother signed it, but hey, I was just doing what I was told. I never read the fine print.

That day I went from a little girl wondering if she’d play jump rope or four square at recess to a pre-pubescent vowing she’d never have children.

Talk about a delusional movie. The girl in the film looked nothing like me. She was at least 16, tall, long brown hair, perfect eyebrows, and she wore cotton dresses and smiled incessantly. I was 11 years old, wore Wranglers and still took baths with Mr. Bubble.

I was totally confused. Blood? Did they say blood? I was going to bleed from where exactly? And I was going to SMILE about it? Riiiiiight.

My friends and I gathered at the swings during recess while the boys hung around the periphery asking what the movie was about. We didn’t understand it ourselves, let alone be able to explain it to boys who still thought punching us in the arm was a sign of affection, so we stayed cloistered together, looking up only to see if a boy had infiltrated our space.

We were different now, almost women. We’d just learned the mystery of life. Well, at least part of the mystery of life. The school nurse refused to answer Wendy’s question – Where do babies come from? “Does it have something to do with the way one cow jumps on top of another?” she asked.

Lora suggested maybe our belly buttons had something to do with it. Someone else said she’d heard if a boy sticks his tongue in your mouth you’d get pregnant. The farm girls knew better, but they still hadn’t figured out the blood part. That’s what had us the most confused.

It still has me confused. From the first time I saw blood on my panties for the first time at age 14 and rolled my eyes and thought, “Oh great, here we go,” to now when I see no blood on my panties and think, “Oh great, here we go,” the “mystery of life” is still a great mystery.