Thursday, December 31, 2009

out like a lamb (lyn)

Last day of the year.  Wake up with a headache (took NyQuil last night) but feel better as soon as I see it’s snowing out.  Though the snow doesn’t last long, it’s nice to end the year with a little white fluff. 

Alexander and I were going to return some clothes he’d gotten at Bloomingdales, but he decides to postpone that activity until tomorrow.  Instead I get a much-needed manicure and pedicure, and eat non-stop, or so it feels.  I start with some hot tea, then have yogurt and blueberries.  Good so far.  But then by mid-day I am starving, so I eat the last of the nova in my fridge and make a small salad.  But I’m still hungry.  So then I eat two chocolates, which I never do.  My cold is still knocking me out, and my runny eyes make my head feel heavy; so I decide to have an early dinner, thinking that maybe some food will wake me.  I make dinner.  A turkey burger on a Brioche roll with fat-free Pringles and a slice of angel food cake with chocolate icing. It’s only seven pm.  And I still feel sleepy. 

Robyn comes over to watch a movie with Alexander and me.  We turn on the DVD, and about an hour into it, I can’t keep my eyes open, and the movie is good.  So I excuse myself (Robyn is a good enough friend that I’m sure she’ll understand), and go into my room.  So now I’m about to fall asleep at 9:15 on New Year’s Eve.  Typical of the year I’m leaving. Comfortable and quiet. 

how'd that happen? (m)

Weighed in....down one pound.

Got out of "Dodge" as fast as I could!

the jury is out (m)

Weigh in today at 11:30.  The verdict will be in soon.

Like some criminal, I reflect back to the events which led me to this moment and wonder what my sentence will be.  Will I be set back a few weeks of progress?

 Highlights of this holiday season include:

* Patty's eggplant on Christmas Eve.  Sat in my stomach like a brick.
* Three drinks on Christmas Day...raspberry margherita, wine, champagne.  You know I don't drink, but with 16 people relying upon me for a huge Christmas Dinner, it was either alcohol or Valium.
* My mother's sugar cookies.  A huge assortment of them.  I had one...then another.  I stopped at three.
* V's nuts.  My friend roasts her own nuts.  My family said they were good.  I tried one, which led to a small handful.  I had to send the remainder home with someone.

I allowed myself a two-pound gain.  If I could limit the damage to that, I'd only have lost one week.

I don't dare get on my scale.  We'll see what Elaine has to say when I go to Weight Watchers.

I hate this.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

big effort for small result (lyn)

Again this week, I do everything right.  Eat within plan, barely touch my bonus points, and fill up on fruits and vegetables.  I’m so excited to weigh-in this morning that I go to bed like a child on Christmas Eve.  I step on the official WW’s scale and with much delight Marianne (Robin is on vacation) proclaims, “One point two pounds.  That’s fantastic, especially during the holidays.”  I smile, knowing in my heart that it’s better to have lost than not, but even so, I am frustrated.

In the past four weeks, I have lost 4.6 pounds, compared to 6.8 pounds in the four prior weeks, and 8.8 pounds in the four weeks prior to that.  I know that I am working off a smaller frame, and that’s good.  I’m even told by one member that I shouldn’t lose any more weight or I’ll look gaunt  (I think I have a long way to go before I have to worry about that).  The group even discusses my frustration (because it’s a small group this week and I bring it up), saying that (a) I look great; (b) I should be more delighted about the fact that I am down two sizes than what the scale says, and (c) I should acknowledge that losing anywhere between .5 and 1.5 pounds a week is a realistic expectation---more than that is not the norm.

Steve says that we shouldn’t “performance eat.” He adds, “eating for the scale is a diet mentality and that’s the wrong way to approach what should be a lifestyle change.”  I know he’s right.  And yes, I am still very proud of the fact that I’ve lost 23 pounds since September 16 (not quite my goal of 24 pounds, but close).

When I look at all the clothes in my closet that I can now wear, and how much healthier I feel and look, I can’t help but smile. 

I’d love to lose another 10 to 15 pounds, but I should realize that it’s going to take longer than the first 15, and not be as noticeable.  Going from chunky to normal gets a lot more acknowledgement than going from normal to thin.  But that’s okay.

I am going into 2010 with the confidence and will power I didn’t have a year ago.  At least in regards to food, I’m able to make smarter choices.  And that alone is reason to celebrate.  I’d say, “bring out the champagne,” but a glass wouldn’t be worth the three and a half points, not when I could eat six ounces of cooked lobster meat for the same point value. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

plateau (m)

Went to PT this morning.  I have been doing this twice per week for about 5 weeks.

Rode the bike, stretched the hamstrings, strapped the weights on my ankles and did leg lifts, then the leg press, followed by lunges, squats, leg extender and leg curl.  Ended with the balance board.

After an hour of this, I lie down for my treat....a 10-minute ice pack. 

I'm almost falling asleep when Tara announces that, because I'm still experiencing significant pain, she wants me to see the surgeon.  She thinks we've hit a plateau and that the only way to break through is to have the surgery.  I am bummed, but know she's right. 

The inflammation is persistent, the pain is constant, and the limitations on my knee are preventing me from exercising the way I should be to move this weight loss program along.

I left PT dejected.  I was so hopeful.

do more than just see something (lyn)

Since 2003, The Metropolitan Transit Authority has been running a series of ads with the tagline, “If you see something, say something.”  These ads, spotted regularly in subways and busses, are intended to provoke people to act who might otherwise be afraid.  Living in New York, the potential for terrorism is never far from our subconscious, and the simple act of reporting something strange or unusual could make a huge difference.

I decide today that my son should heed a version of this tagline at home.  “If you see something, do something,” as in:

      If you happen by the water cooler and see that it is empty, put a new 3-gallon bottle on

      If you find there is no more room to add another empty bottle or can to the re-cycling bag on our counter, take them downstairs to the basement where they will re-cycled

      If you see the paper towels are almost gone, get a new roll

      If you notice there is no liquid soap left in the dispenser, refill it

      If you use all but the last sheet of toilet paper, still replace it

      If you take the last cold bottle of Poland Spring water, open a new case and put it in the refrigerator

      If you have to move around dishes to squeeze the last one into the dishwasher, add some Cascade and run a load

      And most importantly, if you eat my last Vitamuffin, tell me so I won’t be disappointed.

Monday, December 28, 2009

bob (lyn)

Our relationship began with food, of sorts. 

It was February 13, 1970.  A cold winter’s night.  I was with some friends at Tufts.  I don’t remember exactly how our conversation started (though I do remember that it ended in his dorm room), but I met Bob as he was buying  ice cream from one of those traveling ice cream trucks.

At 19, Bob was tall and lean.  An ex star quarterback of his high school football team, Bob’s athleticism was obvious.  What began that chilly night in February, expanded and contracted for many years after.  Bob was my college love.  He was smart, handsome, fun, and a real guy’s guy.  I admired his decisiveness and his unbending sense of right and wrong. 

Over the years, Bob and I have stayed in touch.  He now lives in California, is married, and has two grown kids.  We see each other rarely as his job never takes him East, and I never go West.  He’s invited me to his home but it’s unlikely I’ll go.  I like to be surrounded by people and buildings and am afraid to stay in a house by myself.  Bob lives in a breathtakingly beautiful, but isolated, area of Napa Valley.  His nearest neighbor is miles away.  In fact, were I to visit, I would stay in a little cottage on his property about a mile from where he and his wife live.  As if that weren’t scary enough, he tells me that he’s killed (with his shotgun yet) rattlesnakes that he’s found in his garage (and in his neighbor’s kitchen).  I am too much of a city girl to be able to spend a night in a remote cottage where rattlesnakes lurk.

The last time I saw Bob was in November 2001 when he came to New York and together we went to a surprise 50th birthday for a mutual friend of ours from college.  It was also with Bob that I went to ground zero, as prior to that, I hadn’t felt strong enough.  

Bob is the same person he was when I met him so many years ago.  

Today he calls.  We speak every four or five months or so, but it’s always comfortable.  In discussing what’s new, I tell him about my weight loss.  Bob has only known me as thin, so I ponder telling him about the weight I had gained, as I am embarrassed, especially knowing how disciplined he is.  From pictures, I can see that his 58-year old body looks similar to his 19 year-old one.  Bob runs, eats well, and would never be overweight.  But he and I have never held back with each other, so I tell him about my last three months on Weight Watchers. 

And then he tells me that his sister, who I also remember as being tall and lean, is a Weight Watchers instructor in California.  It makes me think that maybe that’s something I can do too.  Or even more.  I'll write to Weight Watchers in the beginning of the year.  That's one of my New Year's resolutions.

In so many ways Bob is the perfect male.  Hard-working.  Intelligent.  Smart.  Strong. Handsome.  Interesting.  Funny.  Thoughtful.  If only he weren’t a Republican!

bobby (m)

Bobby is the chef at the skating club.  He is short, round and bald.  His soups are to die for and, knowing how much cream, butter and salt is in there, you probably will die from eating them.  If you ask Bobby for a sample of a new soup item, he will give you a bowl of it. His quesadillas are enormous and are served with generous dollops of guacamole and sour cream.  Even I-- pre-WW-- couldn't finish them.

The coaches...human equivalents of greyhounds... plead with Bobby to put healthy items on the menu ostensibly for the skaters who are in training, but also for them since this is where they go for breakfast, lunch and sometimes, dinner.  In response, Bobby has added "fat-free" yogurt parfaits.  Probably 10 oz of yogurt, 2  heaping tbs of honey, a whole banana or cup of strawberries and 1/2 cup of his homemade granola.  You need two hands to carry the bowl to the table.

I saw the financial statement for the club recently.  The kitchen's revenues are down versus the previous year.  Some board members chalked it up to the bad economy.  But most of us know it's because Bobby--who is supposed to keep tabs on what people purchase on credit--is "not much for the numbers".  Also, he has his "favorites" whom he doesn't always charge.  I think he doesn't even attempt to write down our purchases even though we insist he does. "Ya, ya, I write 'em down", he says, waving his hand dismissively.

I am one of Bobby's favorites ("You give me ride to Registry of Motor Vehicles  I don't forget that.")  Bobby used to ply me with free samples, and I was happy to oblige.  Until September.  Until WW.

All I get from Bobby these days is a cup of tea, usually Earl Grey.  I've explained WW to Bobby and how I must stick with it.  He sighs and nods.  He's lost one of his best customers, but we are still friends.

Today, I walked into the club to pick up Harrison.  Bobby sees me and all but jumps over the counter.  "M! M! M!", he calls. 

I know he's just come back from North Carolina, visiting his two beautiful daughters and his "wife" (we still don't know if he is/was married to her).  I assume he wants to tell me about his Christmas with them.

Yes, Bobby?

" wife...she do Weight Watchers...she lose 70 pounds...they give her ring"

A ring?  There's a ring?  I've got the necklace pendant and the key chain.  I didn't know about the ring.

How does she look, Bobby?

"She look good.  Real good.  I think maybe I do Weight Watchers, too."

A lightbulb goes off in my head.  Bobby, if I give you some recipes, will you cook Weight Watchers' dinners for the club?  Here, in your kitchen?

"Ya, no problem.  Coaches will be happy.  We all get skinny this year."

This could be a great start to the new year.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

too much on the plate (m)

This season breaks me.

Decorating, shopping, wrapping, delivering, writing cards, cooking meals, entertaining, cleaning.  That's the core list.  This year, I had to add something else: in avoiding foods to eat.

I was not successful.

My guess is that I am up 3 pounds.  Part of this was deliberate.  I set out to celebrate and not diet every day.  Let's say that accounts for 2 pounds.  The other part is that I was too busy to set aside the time required to stay on the program.

Here's what I've learned:

1. WW is going to be a way of life for me the rest of my life.  Given this, I must be realistic that there are going to be times when the temptation is high and my resistance is low.  I've been great for three months.  However, I found it extremely difficult to stay on plan this week. 

2. Being on a diet takes alot of time and energy.  Planning the meals, shopping for the right foods, cooking them and then eating them.  I did not make the time to do that this week with everything else going on.  Some days, I didn't eat until dinnertime.

3. To be successful on this diet, you need to put yourself first.  It is not in my nature to do that.  I tend to put others first, especially my family.

4. You need to be able to forgive yourself if you slip up.  This, I can do.

5.  Going off WW for a day and then saying you'll get back on tomorrow is not realistic.  Like an alcoholic having "just one drink", one slip-up can derail you.

6. I am far from "cured".  It was scary how easy it was to slip back into my old habits.

7. I have a long, long way to go and cannot afford these little "breaks".

an uneventful day (lyn)

My apartment is so hot.

Last night I ran the AC, and probably will again tonight.  I removed all the radiators from my home several years ago, but because it’s an old building with a boiler, and because I live directly two floors above it, there is nothing that can be done, so says the Super.  Better that Alexander and I should live in a sauna (“You can always open a window,” I’m told) than that the people on the higher floors should be too cold.  Love the either-or assertion vs. looking for a real solution.

After two days of rain, the sun finally comes out today and Alexander returns home.  I feel the beginnings of an annoying cold:  running nose, scratchy throat, and exhaustion for no reason.  I shop (but buy nothing), read (but retain little), and eat (without enjoyment).  All I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep in my ridiculously warm (80 degree) room, while Alexander and his friends watch football.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

not today (lyn)

Usually I love when it rains.  I find the sound of rain calming, and it’s a great excuse to stay in without guilt.   But not today.  Shari calls from Florida and it’s beautiful there.  Today I miss sunshine.

When Alexander is out I enjoy having the apartment to myself.  I can sit in the living room free of his orders to leave.  “Please go in the other room, I need to read and I can’t concentrate with you in here.”  Or, “Please watch TV in your room.  I really need to watch last night’s football game that I DVR’ed.”  Or, “I need to finish playing Madden.  I’m in the middle of a game.  I promise.  I’ll be done soon,” (which of course he isn’t).  But not today. Today I miss my son’s noise.

I like staying in.  My apartment, even though it’s not nearly as large as I’d like, is comfortable and convenient. I can usually find endless things to do in it.  I read, organize my 500+ digital photos from 2009 so I can make them into a year-end hard-covered book (I do this every year), re-arrange some of the cabinets in the kitchen, and talk on the phone with a few friends.  But I am not content staying in. Today I feel restless. 

One of my favorite activities is eating out with friends.  Carol suggests we go out for dinner.  Eating out complicates tracking.  Plus, there are too many temptations.  I’m still hoping to make my goal of losing 24 pounds by year-end, though that achievement looks doubtful.  So I decline Carol’s offer.  I’d love to have a nice juicy burger and well-done fries, something that’s been absent from my diet since starting on Weight Watchers.  

Just not today.

Friday, December 25, 2009

a quiet, rainy Christmas (lyn)

Despite celebrating Hanukkah, going to Hebrew School, and even being Bat Mitzvahed, Santa still came to our house every Christmas morning until I had outgrown my belief in him.

I remember being very young, and hurrying downstairs with my two sisters to check in front of the fireplace to see what Santa had brought us.  One Christmas we each received a three-foot tall Patti Playpal doll.  One survived and still lives in my parent’s home on the Cape, although she is missing a leg and looks more like Chucky from those 1980’s horror flicks than a companion for a three-year old, as she was meant to be. 

On those Christmases so many years ago, my father would record our excitement on a very large reel-to-reel tape recorder.  I believe those tapes still exist somewhere, but even if we were to find them, I have no idea how we’d play them.  Not too different, I guess, from the many VCR tapes I have of Alexander that I still need to convert to DVD’s.

Christmas today is nothing like it was growing up.  I typically spend it with friends watching movies, while my son celebrates the holiday with his grandparents in the Hamptons. 

Today, Carol and Robyn come over and we watch a couple of movies.  During the first movie, we snack on popcorn (I eat the 94% fat-free-butter-100-calorie unexciting version while my friends have the better tasting with-butter version) and candy (I eat none).   When the movie ends, we leave and walk over to the local pizza place where I have one and a half slices and a salad.  We then come back to my apartment and watch a second movie, this time with no snacks.

Not a lot of food today, not a lot of excitement.  But still, it is very nice being with good friends, sharing stories of our pasts and surprising each other with new revelations. 

I love the sound of falling rain, though tonight I wish it were the silent fall of snow.

new traditions (m)

My favorite day of the entire year.  It's all about the anticipation which reaches a crescendo around midnight.

Growing up in the Italian tradition, this was the night where it all came together.  Christmas Day was the denouement. 

The Italian women cooked up a storm, serving seven different kinds of fishes.  To a kid, this was food hell seeing dried cod (baccala) hanging in the stores like something from a horror movie and then finding out they put it in the gravy (tomato sauce).  The lobster looked equally creepy, but I usually settled on some baked haddock.  So, it was less about eating and more about having all the relatives under one roof.

At midnight, we would go to Mass.  This was a special treat, to be able to stay up late and hear beautiful music (instead of that shrill witch from the choir who played the kid's mass at 7:45 a.m. every Sunday).  O Come All Ye Faithful was the closing song, accompanied by trumpets.  Magic.

My grandparents lived across the street from the Church, so we would visit them after Midnight Mass.  The cousins (about 17 kids) each got to open one gift and then we settled down to watch A Christmas Carol in black and white (of course), waiting for Santa's footsteps on the roof.  While the other kids were dozing off, I was sneaking the Torrone candy from the display dish.  Those are the little boxes of nougats that come in three flavors.  I pretended the top layer was Communion (so, what, it had to be good for me?).  Each year, I would rank the, then vanilla, then lemon.  I made myself sick.

The grandparents are long gone, as are almost all the aunts and uncles.  The cousins have dispersed for the most part, having moved away or created their own traditions with their own nuclear families.

All is not lost as we have two new traditions:  Cousin Patty's Christmas Eve and my brother Phil's.

Picture a cruise ship's midnight buffet.  That was Patty's house.  An obscene amount of food, covering every countertop and tabletop of the first floor in her house.  All homemade.  The quantity and variety were astonishing...far surpassing the aunt's birthday party in October.  She had been on hyperdrive, cooking like she was in some contest on reality tv.  People pour into the house, declaring this event to be "what we've been waiting for all year."  Patty looks energized and pleased.

Patty notices my weight loss..."You've lost a lot of weight.  You go "in" now, she gestures a narrowing of the waist.  I am eating a wedge of her eggplant parmesan as she is telling me this.  Bad timing.  Who cares?  I'd take the electric chair for her eggplant.

I confessed I was on WW (though not that day).  Right after that, she says she has a New Year's resolution.  Have I inspired her to go to WW, I wonder?  "I'm going to learn to make my own calzone."  That was the resolution.

We reluctantly leave Patty's to go to Mass, and then Phil's house.  An elegant affair.  He and his wife, Betsy, made Turkey Ballotine from the Gourmet cookbook.  The house is exquisite, candlelight everywhere.  Friends from NYC are in, bringing pastries from the bakery that was Jackie Kennedy's favorite.  I resist everything but the turkey.  I am guilt-ridden about the eggplant.

We get home around 11:30, put the boys' gifts out for Christmas morning.

I hop into bed at midnight.  Something's missing.

This is the first year I didn't buy Torrone candy for myself.

I missed it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

100 days (lyn)

In 1979 or so, I worked for a man named Don.  His most memorable characteristic was his smallness.  Both in stature and mentality. 

My co-workers and I used to laugh about him behind his back.  Not because he was so short, but because he was so simple-minded in his approach to everything.  All his advice seemed to come directly from textbooks that we were sure he studied every night.  And, if something was done well, he had only one response:  Super.  Every good deed was rewarded with a “That’s super.”  We all came to hate that word.

He wrote daily in a diary and told us about it.  He wrote only for the first 100 days of his employment.  Of all his employments.   He told us he set goals for his first 100 days, and then evaluated himself against these goals.  We thought this was ridiculous, not so much the idea, but more because our division accomplished so little.  Looking back, I honestly don’t even remember what our division was supposed to do.  We wondered how Don could even consider awarding himself a commendation of Super.

But I think I can.

Today is my 100th day on Weight Watchers, and I definitely feel that I’ve accomplished a lot.  So here’s what I am proud of:

       I’ve lost 21.8 pounds
       I’ve lost any trace of a double chin
       I feel great, and think I look better than I have in a very long time
       All my sweaters and tops fit again
       I’m no longer embarrassed to bump into people I haven’t seen in a while
       I’m committed to writing this blog with M, and enjoy doing it
       I set a goal and accomplished it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

my gift to me (m)

December 23rd.  Red letter day on my calendar.  Time for my annual exam with my primary care physician.

The alarm goes off at 6 a.m..  I jump out of bed, remembering I have to bring the SUV in to have snowtires put on.  The place opens at 7 a.m. and there's a line by the time we get there.  Ugh.  They promise they will "do their best" to get the car done today.

Get home by 7:30 and put a laundry in and make my bed.  Time for breakfast but I'm more tired than hungry since I stayed up past midnight making cookies for the skaters.  They all decided last minute to exchange gifts, but only if they are homemade.  Sixteen kids, sixteen little gift bags.  I made Harrison do it, but I was up with him.

So...I went back to bed.  My mother wakes me out of a sound sleep to tell me one of my cousins has been arrested.  I can't go back to sleep.  I shower, change and get the car loaded for the day.

Drop H off at the rink and just make my appointment at the doctor's office.  I'm feeling a little stressed by the activities and news of the day thus far.

The nurse takes my vitals.  "You don't have a fever", she says after taking my temperature.  I explain I'm here for a physical exam, not a sick visit.  "Oh", she seems disappointed.  "Well, your blood pressure is 110 over 68" she exclaims.  I'm surprised.  I thought it would be through the roof.

My doctor, a slim, blonde-haired Boston Brahmin comes in all decked out.  As in deck the halls.  Her bracelet makes a tinkling sound because the charms are little bells.  She's wearing Christmas socks with a holly design on them, a red turtleck and an enormous bell necklace.  She has the results of my recent blood test.  I wonder for a second if she knows in advance what they are and if she would be dressed so festively if she had bad news to impart.  Two years ago, one of the test results was bad and I was misdiagnosed as having a disease.  Turned out to be a fluke, but I've been on pins and needles since.

"Everything looks great", she says. 

I decide this is my Christmas gift.

She notices the weight loss and tells me to keep it up.  She says she can't wait to see me next year.

Me neither.

A for effort, C for result (lyn)

This week I ate out twice:  dinner at Shari’s on Friday, and a holiday party on Sunday.  Even so, I thought I’d done a good job of staying on program.  I ate within my 18 allotted points.  I tracked everything that went into my mouth. I made, and ate, the zero point vegetable soup.  I calculated higher than needed when I didn’t know the point value of a piece of food.  I even had leftover bonus points at the end of the week.  And, I felt skinnier.  Even squeezed into, and bought, a size 6 GAP jean (they must run big) to replace the jeans I was wearing and that were literally falling off my hips.

I get to Weight Watchers this morning optimistic.  I am now picky about scales, and always step on Robin’s scale.  She smiles, as she always does, and proudly says, “Good for you.  You’ve lost again. Point two pounds.”  I think I’ve heard wrong.  “Point two?”  “Yes,” she responds, with the same level of exuberance she has shown when I’ve lost one point eight pounds.  I almost feel like crying.  I know it’s stupid, but I feel so deflated.  Before I have time to think about point two for very long, Robin tells me to remember how good I look, how far I’ve come, and on and on.  I am barely listening.  I know she is right, but still.  I look forward to my Wednesday report cards, and like in school so many years ago, I still want that A.

my christmas list (m)

"What can we get you for Christmas?  What would you like?", the kids ask.  "We know you have so much and get whatever you want, so we're stuck.   We need your list."

Want to know my list?  It gets shorter and more difficult every year.  Here is my list for 2009.

1. I want my friend, A, to get dramatically better.  I want her January scan to show signs of significant improvement. 
2. I want to lose 50 more pounds by June 30th, 2010.
3. I want not to gain more than 2 pounds this week.
4. I want help setting up for the big Christmas dinner we are hosting.
5. I want help cleaning up afterwards.
6. I want the tree not to fall down as it does every year.

That's my list this year.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

life choices (m)

I have a friend I haven't seen in about 10 months.  He used to weigh over 300 pounds.  Still, he was always viewed as attractive probably because he is so charismatic and intelligent.  He also could be the funniest human I have ever met. 

I used to work with him.  He handled all the public relations for my company.  One day, he had a call from the media to appear on televison.  He asked his administrative assistant for the nearest barber shop so he could get a quick trim.  She sent him to the one in her neighborhood which serves an inner-city, street-tough African-American clientele.   He isn't.  It was clear from the result that they did not know what to do with his kind of hair.  It was hideous.  I think they carved his initials in the back of his head.

There are photos of him judging a women's beauty contest to see who had the best pair of legs.  He is smiling broadly, wearing khaki shorts, bigger than life.  He is a piece of work.

One day last year, he called me to say he had undergone gastric bypass surgery.  This came as a shock to me as I didn't know he was even considering it.

Last night, he came to dinner at my house along with four other former coworkers.    He has lost 140 pounds since I last saw him.  Needless to say, the effect was dramatic.  He walked in, normal sized, dressed in navy cords, a blue shirt and a gray sweater.  He looked like Hugh Grant, the actor.  All the other guests gasped, as did my sons and husband.

I asked how he was feeling.  He said good, more energetic and that his diabetes was gone.  Then, I served dinner.  He barely touched his lobster, played with his green beans and pushed aside his baked potato.  I asked if he couldn't eat that kind of food (even though I cleared the menu with him last week).  "No, I'm just full."  He eats like a bird, and that's the way it's going to be from now on.  For the rest of his life.

I asked if it was all worth it...the gastric bypass procedure, the recovery, the new way of life.  He said, "It got rid of my diabetes."  It was a "half-full" answer and I think the words were carefully selected.

Watching him, I felt as though I was watching some infirm person who can no longer savor the pleasures of a fine meal on a special occasion.  I could not live that way.  It's not that food is so important to me.  I think it's more that life is too important to live it in tiny increments on a permanent basis.  Every now and then, it is important to live out loud.  His eating was more like a whisper.

I ate tonight.  A few appetizers, half of a baked stuff lobster and half a baked potato, some salad, green beans and a few sips of champagne and one cookie.  I would not call that being "on plan".  On the other hand, this is a far cry from what I would have done pre-WW.  Interestingly, I got no joy out of eating with abandon.  I would get no joy out of eating with such restrictions, either.

What I've learned these past three months on WW is that this program is a new way of life for me.  And, if I stay within in bounds most of the time, I will be able to savor the special moments even more than before.

my friend robyn (lyn)

A little over a year ago, I was on the subway, and began a conversation with a woman holding a playbill.  We started talking about theater, and before we came to our respective stops, we learned that we were neighbors.  The buildings we live in are on the same exact block, just two buildings over from each other.  We are both single mothers, she works full time and I wish I did, and we both love theater and movies.  We quickly became friends.

Robyn is a size zero, has a great style sense, and works out all the time.  She swims almost every day, goes to the gym often, and rides her bike to and from the soup kitchen where she volunteers every Saturday.  But the primary reason Robyn works out, as she says, is to create a diversion from shopping.  For example, after volunteering on Saturday mornings, Robyn would frequently find herself in the Loehmann’s that is near the soup kitchen.  So now she rides her bike the almost five miles each way to the soup kitchen to avoid shopping at Loehmann’s, since bikes are not allowed in the store.  

Robyn is also amazingly honest.  She’s like that Jim Carrey character in Liar Liar who, after a spell is cast on him, is incapable of telling a lie.  Robyn is incredibly gregarious and is always meeting people; men especially are drawn to her.  There’s this one guy who is pursuing her (someone is always pursuing Robyn), but she’s not interested.  So rather than say, “I’m busy tonight” when he asks her out, she asks me to ask her to do something, so she’ll have a legitimate excuse to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t.  I already have plans.”

Robyn is thoughtful and generous.  She is incapable of coming to my house empty handed.  I never give Hanukkah gifts, but she surprised me and gave me a Weight Watchers cookbook, the absolute perfect gift.  

Robyn is a great listener, is not judgmental, and will only give her opinion when asked.   She'll tell me honestly that something doesn't fit well (but again, only if I solicit her opinion), or if the boots someone gave me are too butch looking, or if a pair of "real" earrings look like costume jewelry.

Tonight Robyn came over to watch a movie.  She looked at me and said, “You really look thin.  You used to have a belly.  Now it’s just a little bump.  It’s cute.”

Cute?  I’m not sure about that, but having a little bump is certainly preferable to having a big paunch. 

As this year comes to an end, I feel fortunate that I've found a new, good friend.  

Monday, December 21, 2009

a missing-food day (lyn)

Get up.  Drink some coffee with a foamy skin milk top.  Have a lox-cream cheese -Arnolds thin sandwich.  Leave the house by 10:30.  Meet Corinne for an early screening of The White Ribbon-  a beautifully shot movie with a relentlessly disturbing plot, all of which is unresolved two and half hours later.  Leave the screening room feeling glum (a word I never use but hear it used earlier today on the bus by a 13-year old boy from South Carolina).  Come home hungry and eat my zero-point soup.  Then have popcorn.  Then eat an apple.  A few hours later, have dinner:  grilled rare tuna, tomatoes and roasted brussel sprouts.  At the same time, Alexander has a burger and fries.  Difficult to see.  Have angel food cake with lemon icing for dessert. 

Today, more than most, miss eating with abandon.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

'twas the sunday before Christmas (m)

Woke up to find my undecorated Christmas tree listing 40 degrees to the starboard side.  While the lights had been put on the tree, the extension cord ran directly in front of it.  Since the tree is in the front hall of our house, this all but guarantees that at least one guest will trip and fall.  My crew of men said I was being "fussy".  This made me want to eat.  I made a note to myself that stress is one of my triggers for overeating.

Instead, I went into the kitchen to make breakfast for everyone.  Pancakes (with and without blueberries), eggs, cheese and onion omelets.  Bagels, hot chocolate. I had Special K with strawberries.

The blizzard dropped about 18 inches of snow around our area and the house looks like something out of a postcard.  My husband and two sons shoveled around our house and then, mercifully, drove 40 minutes to my mother's house to shovel her out (she usually stays at my house weekends but, with the forecast, high-tailed it out of here because "I don't want to get stuck at your house, God forbid.").  This left me some quiet time to finishing wrapping and preparing for my dinner guests on Monday.  My nephew is staying with us while at law school and is studying for his final exam.  He is coming down with a cold.  I made him soup and I had tea for lunch, saving my points for dinner.

At six p.m., Sam and I attended a prayer service for my friend, A., who has cancer.  A. is the mother of Sam's classmate from high school.  All the boys and their mothers were there.  The inside of the church was decorated for Christmas, candlelight was everywhere, and fresh-fallen snow completed the backdrop for a magical evening.  The service was inspiring and A. greeted each of us with her gorgeous smile.  I think she's keeping us going as much as we are helping her.

Came out of the church to find my car being towed.  Literally, jacked up.  Sam waved them down and got them to unhook the car.  Pop goes the magical mood.

Went to dinner at a great seafood restaurant.  Place was empty because of the storm.    The boys order.  The other mothers order.  I just wanted a simple piece of white fish (haddock, etc), broiled with steamed broccoli.  No dice.  The waiter barely spoke English, but that wasn't the problem.  I think it was because he was not a waitress.  The women, I find, get the whole diet thing.  Men grow impatient.  Just check the box, lady, is what I hear.  If you don't see it, don't ask for it.  I get the broiled swordfish with brocoli rabe.  I ask for less oil on the rabe.  He says it will cost extra.  More money for less oil? I ask.  My friends say..."JUST GET IT".   I did. 

Came home.  Harrison was having a party.  Kids were sledding down our hill, then into the hot tub.  They made gingerbread men.  Stuff all over the place.  My husband was watching Law and Order SVU.

I cleaned up, waited for the kids to be picked up by the parents.  The gingerbread men looked great, but I quickly wrapped them up and tucked them into a drawer in the refrigerator.

Only 5 more days till Christmas.

a holiday party (lyn)

Throughout last night, almost 11 inches of snow falls on New York City (much less than in other parts of the East Coast).  But city workers and building staff are quick to react.  By ten this morning, the streets have been plowed, the sidewalks cleared, and any traces of a major blizzard have been blown away.  There are still cars waiting to be unburied, and slushy street corners are difficult to navigate, but everything else looks pretty much under control.  The mayhem of yesterday’s monster storm has disappeared.

The idea of a cuddle-in day evaporates as the sun sneaks in and out.  I go out to buy some basic groceries after a struggle to awake Alexander so he can finish his SAT prep work before his tutor arrives at two.

For lunch, I eat the zero point Weight Watchers soup I made yesterday, so I’ll have more points available for tonight’s tree trimming party at Philip and Andre’s house.  I find the soup more palatable than M’s experience with it.  She describes it to me as “dreadful; I threw the whole thing out.”

We arrive at the party around 5:45, and already there are about 40 people there…both adults and teenagers.  The guests are all friendly and talkative, the apartment is warm and beautifully decorated for the holidays, and the food is plentiful.  I decide to eat judiciously and I’m successful.

I pass on the pigs in a blanket, knowing that I cannot eat only one.  I pass on the little cheese and spinach-stuffed hors d'oeuvres because I wouldn’t know how to account for them.  I don’t start with the chips and dips, as I know that would be too dangerous.  I even overlook all the many desserts.  I only eat sushi and pork roast (without the mini croissants), and I only drink Diet Coke. 

I leave feeling more proud of what I didn’t eat than of what I did.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

slow return of the slow cooker (lyn)

I decide to take the advice of Shari, Zelia, my mother and M.  Today I’ll return the slow cooker.  Alexander was not enthralled with its output, it takes up a lot of space, and really, how often will I use it.

So I take out the boxes it came in, print out a return label from Amazon, and arm myself with wrapping tape and scissors.  It takes awhile to squish everything back into the box, leaving some left over Styrofoam on my bedroom floor.  The packaged box looks nothing like the neat little wrapped gems you see in fed ex commercials.

I carry the 18-pound box to my Post Office, which is just around the corner.  It’s the weekend before Christmas so the line is long.  After 20 minutes, I finally get to the window, and it's Denise who helps me.

Immediately she says, “Your box is bulging.”  “That’s okay; I don’t mind,” I say, pretending to let her believe that I think her concern is for me.  She doesn’t buy it.  “I don’t care that it’s okay with you, it’s not okay with me.  You shouldn’t ship a box like this.“  I ignore her comment and proceed as if she hasn’t just said that.  No way am I re-packing this thing.

I ask for the various pricing options (2-day, priority, express mail, etc.).  She sighs making it clear that this is an inconvenience.  I mean now she has to look up some things.  The top price is $70.  I opt for the $14.25 standard shipping option and decide to add delivery confirmation for 80 cents.

The delivery confirmation form has numbers on it so the product can be tracked.  She hands me back the part of the form that I will be taking home with me, and tells me that I need to complete it, by adding the address of where the package is going.  This strikes me as ludicrous.  I don't need the full address on my copy of the form, so as a reminder, I write only “Amazon- Cuisinart slow cooker.” I hand it back.  “No," Denise almost shouts, " you need to put the whole address on it.  It don't make no sense to put half an address on the form.”  “But why," I say, "since I’m the only one getting this form and I have the address at home.”  Now she’s really annoyed with me. First I make her check on a few different postal rate options, and now I’m expecting her to explain a policy that makes no sense (or at least no sense that I can see.}. “ Look, these are the rules.  It don’t matter to me what you think the rules should be."  Then she launches into a little story, assuming an entirely different voice.  The story is about a customer who one day comes to Denise's window with her delivery confirmation receipt that doesn't have an address on it.  The customer is angry at the post office for not being able to track her missing package. Denise finishes the story with the following summation,  “I don’t need no more problems than I already have.  If you just follow the rules, it makes everyone’s life easier.”

I decide not to pursue this, as she then might remember how badly packaged the box is and decide not to let me mail it at all.  The people waiting in line must love me.

preparing for battle (m)

Yesterday's WW class was packed.  One crazy soul even joined (really bad timing, I think).  Karen, our leader, is armed to the teeth with words of wisdom to help us face the days ahead.  We talked about how to recognize obstacles, work our way around them and what to do if we succumb.

Karen introduces us to a concept called Lapse, Relapse and Collapse.

Lapse-is when you eat something (like a piece of cake) that is outside of your points allocation.  Regroup and move on, she instructs.  And, forgive yourself.
Relapse-is when you go outside your points allocation a few times, but then recover.  Same instruction as above..
Collapse-is when you go back to your old ways and "blow it" completely and for a period of time. This is to be avoided at all costs.

I resolve this will not happen to me.

Then Karen shares with us some scary statistics about people who "take a break" during this time of year and never come back. 

This causes us to pause and think about it.  The room goes quiet.  I can imagine people are thinking similar thoughts.  Next week is Christmas.  We each will have at least two events to attend.  There is no class on Friday, our regularly scheduled time, because that is Christmas Day.  So, say you have a bad week.  Right behind it is New Year's...more parties, more eating, more drinking.  WW is closed on that Friday, New Year's Day.  That would bring us to two weeks of being off track.  The beginning of the slippery slope.

I think about Legally Blonde, the movie.  In it, Reese Witherspoon's character is a student at Harvard Law School. The first day of class, the professor tells each student to look to his/her left, and then look right and says, "One of you will be gone by the end of the term."

I pray this will not be me.

Karen dismisses class, tells us to be strong (and forgiving).  We clap for her and, as usual, say "good bye" to each other.

Only today, we look each other in the eye and say: "Good Luck."

that old familiar feeling (m)

Lugging a huge box of ornaments up from the basement, I get to the top of the stairs and my heart is beating fast.  It's a familiar feeling and, yet, not.  Ah, I remember.  This is how I'd feel every time I climbed even one set of stairs. 

I look at the box.  Maybe 20 pounds in there.  It's a reminder that while I've made some progress and definitely feel better, the line between where I am and where I've been is not too far.

My goal is to lift this box of ornaments next year and not feel so breathless.

Friday, December 18, 2009

dinner at shari's (lyn)

Today is the final day of school until January 5th.   To celebrate the beginning of vacation, the last night of Hanukkah and the Sabbath, we are invited to dinner at Shari and Stewart’s.  Shari is a very close friend, and she has two sons, one is a classmate and friend of Alexander’s. 

My mother has given me good advice:  don’t remind people that you are on weight watchers. My dietary needs are of little interest to others.

But Shari is a dear friend and an outstanding cook.  She tells me in advance that in deference to me, she is serving no appetizers.  I’m relieved, because it is hard to resist anything that Shari makes.

Shari serves roasted veal that is simply prepared, but better than any roast I’ve ever eaten.  The harticot vert are prepared in butter, and I’m reminded of how much better food tastes with butter in it. I’m able to resist the rice and creamed spinach, but the garlic bread, especially the way Shari makes it,  proves to be too  tempting.  At first I say no, but Shari asks me to try a piece.  I remember our WW instructor telling us that a bite is okay.  I take a bite.  I end up eating the whole slice.  I. have a little bit of wine, a small cookie, and lots of fruit.  I estimate high and use up almost all my bonus points for the week.  What am I going to do for the holiday party Alexander and I are going to on Sunday?

I’m in awe of how easily Shari moves around her kitchen.  She instinctively knows all the little tips that can turn an average meal into a masterpiece.  She also doesn’t own a slow cooker, and is surprised that I’ve just bought one.  I decide that maybe after all, I don’t need it.  The chicken cacciatore wasn’t all that good, and really, how often will I use it?    It’s not like the Nespresso Foamer that I now use almost every morning and think everyone should own.

After dinner, the boys play video games, Stewart and his younger son watch TV, and Shari and I crawl into her bed and watch the weather channel with its news of an impending snow storm.  My fingers are crossed.

I come home regretting nothing I've eaten.  I'm just happy to have Shari in my life.