Wednesday, March 31, 2010

i love your donuts (m)

Had a consult with the orthopedic surgeon today.  McDreamy is back from Haiti.  I've been exercising daily (walking and/or biking) but this right knee is killing me.  Recall that it is the left knee that has the large tear in the meniscus.  The diagnosis on the right knee was patellar tendonitis.  Rest, ice, gentle exercise should have done the trick.  I even watched a doctor on YouTube show at-home physical therapy (she looked like she died and they heated her up for the expression, no personality....but I digress).

Get into the office and McDreamy comes in, resplendant in royal blue scrubs.  He reads the MRI films and asks me a few questions.  I tell him the pain is not abating.  "Well....that's because you have a tear in that knee in addition to the patellar tendonitis."  Beautiful.  The radiologist missed it when he read the films.

He tells me I have two now or see if with additional weight loss and exercise I can avoid surgery.  Then he says, "I love your donuts".  What??? He points to the circular rings on my necklace...the 25 and 50 pound "donut" rings. 

I ask him when I should make an appointment to see him again.

"Come back as soon as you get your next donut."

It's a date.

a new definition (lyn)

Get to weight watchers.  Step on the scale. I warn Robin that I know I've gained this week.  She looks at the scale reading, and then smiles (she always smiles), and says sweetly, "only a smidge."  Before I can feel too good about Robin's word choice, she says, "Only 1.2 pounds."   I thought I knew what the word smidge means, but obviously I've been very wrong.

crisis management (m)

Record rainfall pelted Massachusetts yesterday.  Water levels in rivers and streams--already at peak from the storm two weeks ago-- have not even begun to crest from this latest rainfall.  The Governor has declared a state of emergency.  President Obama has declared it a federal disaster area.

My brother Phil was on high alert yesterday, watching his basement for signs of flooding. The basement had just been gutted, drained and sanitized after the last storm.  The new hot water heater is still sporting its tags from the store.  Everyone who knows my brother and his family called to offer help if a flood transpires.  We each had our assignments.  I was assigned to provide shelter and to take the dog (aka "the %$#@ cat").  I loaded up at PETCO and was braced.

Around 6 p.m., I get the call: "Please come and get Charlie....the water is coming in!"  I had just dropped H off at the skating rink.  I get to my brother's  home and the Fire Department is there, pumping them out.  Water is gushing out of a basement window whose glass was smashed in order to get the firehose through to the outside.

Cars of relatives are pulling up.  Bob and Marie brought an extra sump pump.  Someone else brought an extra long hose.  The phone in the house is ringing off the hook.  Neighbors call to me from their front door, asking how the situation looks and offer their help (although, I imagine they will get whacked at some point, too).

In the midst of this chaos, my cell phone rings.  Cousin Patty.  "I heard your brother is having another flood.  I made minestrone soup and banana bread."

Hey, we may be drowning in our basements, but with Patty in charge, we'll go down with our stomachs full.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

new version of an old ad (lyn)

Tonight 14 of us meet at the home of Valerie’s sister-in law, Jill, for the second night of Passover.  We are all close, so it’s always comfortable. 

There are supposed to be 15 people, but unfortunately my sister will not be coming as she is at home moving stuff out of her basement and using a sump pump (living in an apartment, I had no idea that home owners in the northeast actually own such things).  The heavy rain we've been having has finally entered her home.  Despite protests from my parents, her mother-in-law, her kids, and her husband, my sister (a very hard worker) is not comfortable leaving her home.  She needs  to prepare it for the water-removal professionals who will be coming in the morning.  

Last night I ate a fairly controlled dinner (matzoh ball soup, turkey, stuffing, gravy, asparagus, cauliflower soufflé, and cranberry sauce totaling 16-points).  I was perfect for dessert as I ate none (and this was not easy as I love the 7-layer chocolate cake my sister always serves).  But the appetizers killed me (9 points on saltine crackers, chopped liver, and creamed herring).

I need a strategy for tonight as tomorrow is weigh-in.  I’m thinking I’ll skip the appetizers (except for maybe some crudités), skip the 3-point matzoh in the matzoh ball soup, have the amazing filet roast Jill always serves, and then maybe have one slice of the 7-layer cake.

Last night 7 of us met at Penn Station to go to Long Island.  Tonight the same 7 are meeting at Grand Central to go to WestchesterIncluded in this group is Jared, a tall, slim 26 year old with a wry sense of humor.  His passion outside of work is basketball.  He is not a chit-chatty kind of guy. Before meeting everyone Alexander makes the following suggestion.   “Hey, I’m sure Jared would be interested in hearing the details of your weight loss.  You can tell him all about it on the train ride out.”  In other words, you don’t have to discuss this with every single person; most don’t care!

I get to Jill’s and am fairly good about the appetizers.  No creamed herring and no chopped liver, but lots of red peppers and cucumbers, with a dip.  And then some gefilte fish from a kosher butcher that was so much better than any I’ve ever had before.  For dinner, I only eat the spinach soufflé and filet, but certainly more than any health organization's recommended portions.  Dessert was fruit and two small pieces of the seven-layer cake.

My dad, who is very reserved with compliments, looks at me across the table and mouths, “You look beautiful.”  I almost cry.

I weigh myself when I get home and am shocked.  Can two consecutive big meals really add this much weight?  And tomorrow is weigh-in.  I don’t even want to go, but will. 

Before getting into bed,  I remember an old ad, and think of it with a new spin:

Passover dinner one.  25 points.  Passover dinner two.  30.5 points. Dinner with family.  Priceless.  

legacy gifts (m)

My brother Joe came over my house on Sunday with a check--the last distribution from my aunt's estate.  It's not a huge amount of money, but it's from her and it has meaning to me.  I know how hard she worked for that money.

I decided that I should give half to each of my two sons.  I called my financial planner, Hans, and told him what I wanted to do and asked for his advice as to the best use of the money.  One suggestion he had was to apply it towards their tuition costs.

I explained to Hans that I wanted it to be "visible" to the boys.  I want it to be put in a place where they can see it and, hopefully, watch it grow.  Someday, when they really, really need it, it will be there for them and they will remember my aunt, the woman who was like a second mother to them and took care of them while I worked.

Hans understood.  He went a step further and suggested I write a note to each of the boys explaining that it was from Auntie El and reminding them of who she was in their lives, how she cared for them and loved them.  Perfect, I thought.  Hans called the note a "legacy" note and said he would send me some examples, not that I needed other people's words to guide me.

I've known Hans for years.  He is tall, thin, intelligent and preppie.  He knows my struggle with my even affected my insurance premium.  He knows everything.  Hans was thrilled when I started Weight Watchers and, unbeknownst to me, does it himself to keep trim.  As a financial planner, he loves the precision of the "points system."

Hans then asked how I was doing on the program and I told him I was down 50.8 pounds.  He was thrilled.  Then he got quiet and said "This will be your legacy to your sons."

What do you mean?, I said.

"You will be leaving them a work ethic.  You are self-made and have met some incredible challenges in your professional career.  Now you are meeting your biggest challenge and succeeding.  They will have different challenges in their lives, but seeing you do this will give them the fortitude to meet their own challenges."

I never thought about it that way, but it was the shot in the arm I needed to press on.

I put down the second VitaMuffin and went on the exercise bike.

Monday, March 29, 2010

the first night of passover (lyn)

The morning does not start well.

Had planned to walk with Karen.  Get up at 6:30 and see it is raining.  Text Karen and get no reply.  It really is more drizzly than rainy.  Get dressed and wait.  Text Karen again.  This time she calls (she’s very reliable).  Apparently she had texted me to say that because it was raining, she was passing.  The text she sends at 6:30am arrives at noon.  So much for the reliability of my iPhone.  I walk anyway.

Come home, shower, and attempt to make a cup of coffee on my Keurig.  Forget to put the cup underneath so the coffee goes all over my counter.  Clean the counter, wipe up the spilled hot coffee, and begin again.  Make the exact same mistake a second time.  Can one actually be this stupid twice?

Take Alexander to his pediatrician for his annual check-up.  Then have my hair colored and nails polished.  Come home and put on a pair of charcoal wool pants that I last wore in 2006.  Need to look good for tonight’s Passover dinner at Valerie’s.

I measure time passing now in terms of weight lost.  I last saw my parents at Thanksgiving, 15 pounds ago;  I last saw some of the other people there in September, or, 35 pounds ago.

We arrive around six, and most everyone is already there.  I take off my coat, and really, I think my mother actually gasps.  “You are so thin, I can’t believe it.”  I also hear, “You look great.  Have you been working out a lot?”  and, “You’re not going to lose anymore weight are you?  You’re perfect now.”  But the best comment was from my dad.  “Well, you can’t lose anymore weight to look better so maybe you should consider dying your hair blond.  Everyone looks better as a blond.  Even a monkey.”  Though I can’t be 100% sure, I think he means it as a compliment.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

chicken parmigiana (lyn)

Today is dedicated to completing an application to QuestBridge, “a non-profit program that links bright, motivated low-income students with educational and scholarship opportunities at some of the nation's best colleges.” The due date is tomorrow.  The long application requires several essays of varying lengths, as well as informational stuff.  Alexander’s been working on it for the past two days.  I decide to make a nice dinner in celebration of our submitting this baby on time.

I scour the weight watchers web site for chicken recipes, and settle on one that sounds good for Chicken Parmigiana.  I buy the best ingredients.  Not just chicken, but Murray’s organic chicken.  And not just a can of Hunt’s tomato sauce.  But Rao’s tomato sauce, which I heard was great.  I want this to be especially delicious, since Passover begins tomorrow.

I decide to cook the chicken in the morning so I don’t’ lose my motivation to make a big meal by evening. 

Around 4, Alexander asks what’s for dinner.  “Chicken, “ I say. That’s not answer enough.  “What kind of chicken?”  I don’t dare tell him it’s from a ww recipe, so I say, “Chicken Parmigiana.”  “Wait, isn’t that the one with tomato sauce?  No!!!!  You know I hate tomato sauce.”  You do? I think.  Since when?

I pretend not to hear him and hope that the melted cheese on top will dispel his new-found dislike for tomato sauce.

Around 3, Alexander says, “I’m just going to take a lunch break.  I’m almost done.”  His almost done translates to  “Just a few more hours left.”  And, given that he arose from bed at 11:45, his breakfast was eaten around 12:30.  So breaking for lunch two and half hours later is not okay.   

Finally, around 8, we submit the application electronically.  It’s give us a taste of the college application process.  Not fun.

Ignoring Alexander’s earlier plea, I layer the chicken between the tomato sauce and top with part-skim shredded mozzarella.  I bake at 350 for 30 minutes and remove from the oven.  It looks great and is.  We both love it. 

You would never know this is a weight watchers recipe.  It’s that good.   

opening day (m)

Palm Sunday.  My mother and husband head to Mass.  I arrived later as I had to drop Harrison off at a friend's house first.  My mother already has her palms in her hands.  I got mine after the Mass and offered to give mine to her.  "No.  Those weren't blessed by the priest.  Mine were.  I don't want those."

I took my heathen palms with me.  Later on, while driving my mother home, she asks me to take her to the cemetery where my father and her sister and brother are buried.  She wants to put the palms on their graves....a tradition among many Italian Catholics (they even sold palms at Costco this year, braided into the shape of a crucifix).

As we approach the cemetery, my mother shrieks "It's open!"  I look up.  The local Dairy Maid, maker of her favorite soft serve ice cream, has just opened for the season.  It's almost 6 p.m.  I told her we had to go to the cemetery first because it would spook me to be there after dark.

I noticed she rushed through her duties at the cemetery but wasn't sure why.  I told her my palms may have gotten mixed with hers.

"Who cares?...hurry up....I want to get to Dairy Maid before it closes."

wendy (m)

Back in 1999, I started going to a new hairstylist named Wendy.  Wendy had a rock star personna and always gave me a great look.  Several of her clients were women in my office, all of whom were incredibly stylish and fun.  Sometimes, we would cut out mid-day and run into each other at Wendy's.  The salon where she worked was a quick 6 minute walk from the office.

A few years later, Wendy decided to leave the shop and set up her own place in a penthouse on Newbury Street.  Okay.....same street as before but several more blocks away.  Summers were tough when the humidity was high in Boston.  I would trudge over there and back.  I hated the "commute."

Once, I had to pass construction workers.  I dreaded it.  One made a nasty comment about my weight. I was traumatized.  That's when I stopped going to her salon.

For the past several years, I've been going to a man named K.  He does a fabulous job but I've been wanting a change.   A friend told me Wendy moved back to the original salon.

I made an appointment to see Wendy.  By my calculations, I was thirty plus pounds heavier when she last cut my hair.  I walked into the salon and took a seat in the waiting area.  I sensed Wendy's presence before I saw her.  Then I heard: "M!!!!  You look fabulous.  You've lost weight, your skin looks great, you look less stressed, you look younger even."

I love the haircut, but honestly, Wendy could have shaved my head and I would have left happy after the nice comments.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

shrinkage (m)

I think I'm losing weight in my feet.  I don't know if that's possible, but how else to explain the fact that several of my shoes are getting big for me?

I brought six pairs into the cobbler before I left for Florida.  Today, I picked them up...they were beautifully cleaned, repaired (as needed) and liners put in to take up the slack.

I tried them on and they all fit perfectly now.

How odd.

downsizing (lyn)

Whenever I need something tailored, I go to Ros.  Despite the English-sounding name, Ros is a Russian Jew with a thick accent, and a big personality.  His location is inconvenient, his prices are high, but he’s the best.  Ros’s shop is small and crowded, but hanging everywhere are beautiful, high-end designer clothes.  Today I take Robyn with me.  Like Valerie, she has impeccable taste, and also like Valerie, she has strong opinions that she’ll share (but only if asked).  Today I am asking.

I bring in six items.

The first two are easy:  The two pair of Theory pants I bought the other day.  They fit perfectly except for the length. 

Next I put on a pair of black pants I bought last summer and had taken in for Thanksgiving.  These are now too big again.   Only this time they are unfixable.  To be wearable, the entire pant would have to be taken apart, at a cost of about $65.  Robyn does not think it’s worth the investment.  I agree.

Next I try on a pair of black Piazza Sempione pants I brought last June and have never worn; the tags are still on them (too bad they are not from J. Jill).  Although they will cost $80 to re-size, Robyn and I both feel they are worth it.  (And that’s still $10 less than Ros's original quote).

The remaining two items are both from lululemon.  One is a pair of beige shorts that I bought on sale last summer, size 10.  These literally fall right off my hips.  To fix them would ruin the look of the shorts.  These I’ll give away.  The other is a ¾ length hip-hop crop.  These were my favorite throw-on pants from last summer.  Again, we all decide they are not worth re-sizing.

Last time I went to Ros with any significant tailoring was in 2006, when I’d lost about 10 pounds without trying.  Soon after, I gained the 10 pounds back plus another 25. 

I’m certain that will not happen this time.  

let's talk turkey (m)

My husband is a very frugal New England Yankee.  Once, he tried to tell me that I should be taking "Navy Showers."  You get wet (ideally with cold water) then soap your body (with the water turned off) and then quickly rinse (again, with cold water).  I told him my father was in the Army and to leave me alone.

When Harrison went to Turkey with his class, I insisted he bring my Blackberry because it gets service globally (Sam once called me when we were in South Africa to ask where I kept the postage stamps).  Harrison saw it as a sign of weakness, or perhaps an extended umbilical cord, and wanted no part of it.  I begged him to take it.

Halfway through his trip, when we were in Florida, the phone rings.  I look and see it's my Blackberry number.  Uh, oh.  By my calculation, it was 2 a.m. in Turkey.  My heart springs out of my chest. 

Me:  H.  Are you okay?  What's wrong?
H: Ugh.  My stomach.  I think it was the Turkish Delights I ate tonight.
Me: Okay, do you need to throw up?
H:  (breathing heavily).  Oh...I don't know...I feel awful.  Just stay with me on the phone.  Please.
Me:  Okay, honey.  Just relax.  If you have to barf, it's okay.  You'll feel better.
H: (almost on cue, sounds of barfing) Oh...this is awful...I feel terrible.  Oh, why did I come here?
My husband:  Hey!  What are we doing here?  It costs $2.29 a minute to call from Turkey!

And the next day, I got the $108 lobster tail from Australia.

full house (m)

For the past eleven days, my brother Phil, his wife, two sons and puppy stayed at our home while they dealt with a flood in their basement.  Five feet of water-including raw sewage-burst into the basement of their home during the flood.  They lost the entire contents of that area which included major appliances (hot water heater, washing machine, dryer) as well as an exercise room, den, and full bathroom.  Also ruined was a lovingly restored antique buffet which was over 100 years old.   Large objects like sofas were floating on their backs in the dark water.  One of my nieces went to videotape the mess.  She said it looked like the Titanic wreckage.  Eerie.

The fire department in their town had to come and shut down the heat and electricity so there would be no fire hazard.  While the family was being evacuated, my skinny sister-in-law--a former beauty pageant contestant--was running around the house looking for her Miracle Shaper--a Spanx-like garment that holds you in like a suit of armour.  She wouldn't leave without it.

My house, on the other hand, looked like a shelter during Hurricane Katrina....people in every room, piles of clothes everywhere including the dining room table; the washer and dryer running continuously.The puppy added to the craziness as he bites people's ankles.  My mother came over one day and he pulled at her pants until they fell.  She told me to "put that x@#$% cat back in his cage".

Sam and Harrison came home from Florida and Turkey, respectively, on Wednesday night.  More people...more bags...more laundry...more laughter.  It was a giant, extended pajama party.

Food-wise, we were on overload.  Cousin Patty--with her tremendous food empathy--immediately called to offer her services.  She made a tray of eggplant parmesan and a large banana bread.  "I'm concerned about you.  You just got home from Florida and have to cook for all those people."   As usual, Patty was way ahead of me as I hadn't given food a moment's thought.

My mother bought blueberry muffins for my sister in law's breakfast.  My sister in law only eats fat-free muffins.  These were not.  "Are you trying to fatten her up?" I asked my mother.  "No...these were on sale.  The fat-free ones were not.  Help me get the label off before she gets home."

During the week, we had homemade chicken pot pie, gnocchi al fredo, penne with meatballs and sauce.  Last night I made an insalata caprese and a cucumber salad to go along with pasta.   There was fresh baked bread and lots of desserts.

I made a rainbow cake and chocolate chip cookies  for the kids; someone brought a blueberry pie.  There was a cinnamon coffee cake and my leftover birthday cake.  Phil brought a box of pastries last night.

Sounds like a Weight Watchers accident waiting to happen, right?

You'd think so, but for some reason, it wasn't.

I don't know if it's the fact that I was so busy with people, laundry, dog walking etc, but I did not feel tempted to overindulge.  When I had a little bit of something "bad", I counted the points.

Late yesterday afternoon, my brother called to say his heat and electricity were back on.  They would be going home.

We had a big dinner with everyone to celebrate the last night and then watched The Blind Side together.

It was a a memorable and fun evening and the boys...16 years to 26 years...had a blast.  They get along like brothers.

When it was over, I packed up leftovers for them to take home.  Unfortunately, they didn't want the desserts.  I covered them up and put them away.

Today, I spent an hour cleaning out the refrigerators and cupboards, throwing out everything that was fattening.  It felt great squishing the cake with my hands and washing it down the drain.  I never realized how much butter was in buttercream frosting until I washed it off my hands.  Imagine what it does to one's arteries.

And then it hit me.  Six months ago, I would have kept this stuff and eaten most of it.  Now, all I wanted to do was get rid of it.  I wasn't afraid of the desserts...I just wasn't interested in them.  I saw them as impediments to my progress.  I don't want to go backwards.....only forwards.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I'm good at counting (lyn)

Get an email from a friend in Chicago who is starting Weight Watchers.  She writes to me with questions.  I’ve become a weight loss evangelist, and I love imparting advice.  I can already picture my friend getting excited as she watches the pounds melt away.  Ridiculous as it may sound, I’m nostalgic for those early days.

At one, I am scheduled to take a test to see if I am sufficiently intelligent to be a part-time census worker.  The pay is about 10% of what I used to earn, but 100% more than what I earn currently.

I arrive thirty minutes early, as I’ve been instructed to do.  I’m there before the people from the Census Bureau even show up.  When they finally arrive, I follow them to the test-taking room.  There I sit and wait for 45 minutes until everyone else arrives.  I’m restless as I think of all the other things I could be doing (helping Alexander with a scholarship application; continuing an argument over a recent bill with Dollar Rent-a-Car; organizing the computer, printer, and phone wires under my computer; trying to remove some leftover glue on my bedroom rug from a mouse trap; replacing a gel seat on my Humanscale desk chair; etc).  So many exciting things to do in the greatest city in the world, and instead, I’m sitting on the 3rd floor of a NYC public library, waiting to take a 30-minute test to be a census taker.

Finally, little booklets are distributed.  The class of eight collectively completes two sample questions.  We are then told we can open our booklets and begin.  It’s like taking the SAT.  Well, sort-of.  I haven’t taken a test of any kind in over 20 years, and it’s not as easy as I had thought it would be.  In fact, when the proctor calls out, “Fifteen minutes to go,” I’m not quite half done.  I pick up my pace and come across question 24 which I think is so poorly worded that two possible answers could qualify for a correct one.  I want to point this out to the proctor, but we are not allowed to ask questions once the test has begun.

The proctor yells time, and we immediately have to put down our pencils.  The tests are corrected one by one, and I am the first name called.  “Congratulations,” I’m told.   I got a 97%; 70% is passing.  I want to discuss question number 24 but instead I’m dismissed.

So now I go into a pool and IF there is a need in my neighborhood for a census worker and IF there aren’t enough Vets who qualify and IF all the people who speak a second language have been hired, then maybe, just maybe, I’ll get a call that qualifies me to work for maybe 7 weeks or so, including nights and weekends, at a job that pays slightly more than minimum wage.  

I walk home thinking of that Peggy Lee song, Is that All There Is?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

to diane and carol (m)

Thank you for the nice words of support on my fifty pound weight loss.

It's comments like this from you and my other friends that keep me going.

If it weren't for all of you, I'd have ditched this program long ago.



the wake (m)

Went to a wake tonight for an elderly man whom I've never met. I had to escort my mother and aunt as neither of them drive.  Anyway, the deceased was the father of one of the friends of my brother, Phil.  I barely know Phil's friend and here I am at the friend's father's wake.  All I know about the man is that he was over 90 years old and recently begged his doctor to prescribe Viagra for him.

I didn't dare ask the cause of death.

Get in the room and, not surprisingly, don't see anyone I know other than the friend and the friend's wife.  Express my condolences.  Just as we're heading out the door (in/out in under 10 minutes...not bad), my mother stops and talks to someone.  It's "Aunt M"...the aunt of the friend.  I've met Aunt M once or twice.  Ironically, the last time I saw her was at the living wake for Phil's previous dog, Boomer.

Aunt M stares at me and says:  "You've lost a lot of weight.  I almost didn't  recognize you."

Karma, I thought.  I did a good deed and something good came to me.

We exit the funeral parlor and my mother turns to me and says "You know, she can't see for sh..t.  She has that macular degeneration.  Very bad."

shopping with valerie (lyn)

My sister calls this morning.  “Hi, I’m in the city.  Want to meet me at Bloomingdales?  They are having Friends and Family (meaning most everything is 20% off).   ” Sure,” I say.  “I can be there in a half hour.”  Karen and I had walked earlier in the morning, so I was already showered and dressed. 

I think I have a pretty good sense of fashion, but when I’m with my sister I feel like I have none.  She is always perfectly groomed and dressed.  Valerie was born with style.

We meet in the Theory department and already she is working with Eliot to find some new basic clothes for me.  The first thing she says when I arrive is, “How can you can go out with your hair looking the way it does?”  I admit, it does look pretty bad.  I need to get it colored and the bangs are a mess. Her hair always looks gorgeous.

Valerie and Eliot are a good team.  My sister is very charming and Eliot is clearly smitten with her.  Together they have collected a fitting room full of basic black pants for me to try on.  They are all a size 8.  I tell Valerie that I think the pants she and Eliot have selected for me may be too big.  She is doubtful.  Last time I tried on Theory pants with her I couldn’t find any that fit.  But that was 34 pounds ago. 

I try on the first pair.  Enormous.  Eliot gets me a 6.  Still too big.  Finally we discover that I’m a size 4 in Theory (but not in every brand).  It’s fun to go shopping when it’s easy to find things that fit.

I try on a pair of very slimming black jeans.  Perfect.  “You also need a good pair of black pants.  You can’t wear jeans for the holidays”  (referring to Passover next week).  I don't argue.  Eliot brings in a nice pair of classic black pants.  As I’m trying them on, Valerie looks at the socks I am wearing (blue, brown and orange striped) and says, “Those are horrible.  You should throw them out.  Take them off as I can’t even be objective about the pants when I look at those socks.” 

I decide to get both pair of pants.  “Make sure you have the right shoes to wear with them,” Valerie says, as she looks at my hideous Merrell boots that are comfortable but very unfashionable.

I think I do need a fashion makeover.  Maybe I can convince my sister to make house calls.

common bonds (lyn)

What do these things have in common?
  • $200 in quarters
  • a large bag of dog food
  • an old 25 inch CRT colored TV
  • 6 gallons of water
  • a siberian husky
  • an average 6-year old child
  • maximum weight of checked luggage in the U.S.
They all weigh about 50 pounds.

Now, imagine swallowing any one of these items and then losing them.

Congratulations, m!  You're well on your way to thin.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

finally fifty! (m)

Got up, looked in the mirror.  Face looked thinner than I've seen it in years.  I had forgotten that my face shape is oval versus round.  I remember her, I said to myself as I looked at my reflection.

Went to Weight Watchers.  Today is not my day to weigh in, but I didn't want to wait until Friday since I was away last week.

Get there and it's a totally different crowd...even the people behind the counter are new to me.  Where's Elaine?  This could be my milestone weigh-in and my buddy Elaine is not here!

Step on the scale and the woman--we'll call Sue (real name)--looks at all the cross-outs in my book and has the most puzzled expression on her face as in "what the hell is this?"  I explain to her that we don't show me the weight, just the change.  "Oh," she says, slowly.  I'm not convinced she understands.

She looks up and says "you've lost weight."  Yes, yes, I say, but did I break fifty pounds?

She looks down for a long time.  Clearly, math was not her major.  "Yes," she says, unceremoniously.  I lost 1.8 pounds last week.  I'm down a total of 50.8 pounds.

I stared at her.  My big moment.  No fanfare.  Well, do I get a charm for my necklace? I asked like a second-grader.

"Oh, yes, of course," says Sue.  She looks for a few minutes and can't find the bag of charms.  Where did they get this chick?  She's so off the ball.  I look around...the line is getting longer.  Hey, people, I'm not leaving until I get my tacky jewelry, I want to say.  Even if I have to rip it off someone else's neck.

The class leader comes over and finds the bag and pulls out a copper thing.  Looks like one of those pennies you put in those machines at amusement parks.  Ew.  Just then something catches my  What's that? I say.  "Oh, that's for when you lose 100 pounds," Sue says.

Now I'm dreaming of gold.

celebrating a slight gain (lyn)

I get to weight watchers and the regulars are already there.  As I’ve said before, this is a group of smart, opinionated, spirited and supportive woman.  I like going.  I see Eileen and take a seat next to her, before weighing in.  She asks how my trip was and I tell her.  I add that I’ll be happy if I only gained half a pound.  She surprises me and says, “You’ve come a long way.  When you first started you would have been so upset if you gained any weight at all.  Really, your acceptance of some weight gain on some weeks is a big accomplishment.”  I know she’s right.

I step on the scale and Marianne says, “Not bad.  You’re only up .2 pounds.”  I think I’m happier than I was when I lost two pounds in a week.

In the past eight days, I have eaten five dinners out: two major birthday celebrations including a 3-pound lobster and a big steak; grilled trout at a sketchy restaurant; an entire rack of pork ribs; and a beautifully prepared duck dinner.  But I was always conscious of what I was eating.  My choices were never accidental.  I skipped french fries, grabbing only a couple off of Alexander's plate.  I ate smart breakfasts.  I had healthy lunches.  And I didn’t snack foolishly in-between.

Point two points up and I feel great.

wait, there's more (m)

JUST got another email from J. Jill....another credit.  $80.  They apologized for taking a while on this.  It was for the blouse I bought in 2008 so it took them some time to look it up.  Wow.

Grand total of all credits: $475.

That was some closet cleaning.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

touring emory and home (lyn)

The day begins cold and damp.  We eat a disappointing free breakfast at the hotel.  Missing are English muffins, yogurt, fruit, and whole wheat bread.  Present are Danish, bagels, and biscuits.  I eat half a bagel with cream cheese and a cup of coffee.  Zelia eats nothing.

We take the hotel van over to Emory.  It’s a big school.  Pretty.  Impressive academic program.  Nice mix of kids.  Near a large city.  Maybe it’s the weather, or maybe it’s the weak presentation, but none of us have that warm and fuzzy feeling we’ve felt at other schools.  

After the information session and tour we end up at the bookstore and student union.  Lunch here is an all-you-can-eat buffet.  I eat wisely and well.  A salad and vegetables prepared in a large wok.  It’s filling and healthy.

We drive to the airport and fly home.  It’s all uneventful, just as flying should be.

It feels good to be home.  I consider skipping my weight watchers meeting tomorrow but decide that’s cowardly.  I brazenly have a slice of pizza for dinner and about five of Alexander’s french fries.   Why not?  Tomorrow begins a new week of counting points.

credit where credit is due (m)

As part of my Spring Cleaning and preparation for my trip to Florida, I embarked upon a marathon clean-out of my closet.  While I do a general cleaning twice each year, this one was different. In the past, I would merely rotate the stock from Fall/Winter to Spring/Summer.  This time, I tried on every article of clothing and actually threw away anything that was big, ugly, or out of style.

In the process of cleaning out, I found seven items of clothing I had purchased online from J. Jill.  These clothes were purchased anywhere from last Spring to two years ago.  They were either way too big or the style was just unflattering even when they did fit.

My mother and Lyn are the Queens of Returns.  Between the two of them, I'm hard-pressed to decide which one is better at returning things as their styles are so different.  My mother will return a single orange ("it's not juicy" she'll tell the clerk) or a quart of milk that she didn't use and is now out of date.  Lyn will return the same item more than once (I'll let her explain that to you).  I, on the other hand, give things away or let them languish in my closet for years.

I looked at the seven pieces of clothes...blouses, tank tops, pants.  Dare I return these?  I checked the catalogue online...most aren't even listed anymore.  I printed out all my receipts, circled the items I was returning and packed them in a box with a note explaining I had lost alot of weight and these no longer fit.  To sweeten them up, I told them I was looking forward to buying new clothes from them in a smaller size in the near future.

I packed the receipts up with the clothes and sent them to the Returns Department and crossed my fingers.

Today, I got an email from J.Jill notifying me that they have credited my AMEX for the FULL amount of the original purchase:  $395.00!

Would they have done that for anyone or were they touched by the fact that I had lost the weight?  I envision some overweight representative in Customer Service smiling and saying "You go, girl!" as she acted on her own to issue the credit.

However it happened, I feel validated.

Now let's see if Marshall's will take back the Nicole Miller dress from three years ago...

Monday, March 22, 2010

dinner at valenza (lyn)

Atlanta feels like a big city.  After being in North Carolina and Tennessee for three days, it also feels comfortable and familiar.  Rodrigo goes online and chooses a restaurant.  We give him only two criteria:  must be in Buckhead; must be reasonably priced.  He selects Valenza, described as “a cozy, upscale, Italian eatery.”  

We get to the restaurant and the neighborhood looks deserted.  This is not the Buckhead area we had expected.  The restaurant does not stand-alone.  It’s situated next to a few other attached storefronts.  It looks dubious.

But as soon as we get inside our initial doubts evaporate.   Rodrigo has chosen well.  The restaurant is warm (both literally and figuratively) and bustling.  The menu is impressive and everyone finds something they like.  I gravitate to a pear salad that is described this way: sliced pear, percorino toscano, frisse, endive and pecans.  I know I won’t be able to adequately account for this, but it sounds great and I order it.  It is well-worth however many points it should be.  The salad is beyond good.  For an entree I order a duck breast with butternut squash.  That too, is delicious.  The desserts look great, but I just get a cappuccino. 

We all leave happy and sated.  I expect I’ve gained a pound or more from this trip, but I have no regrets.

touring vanderbilt (lyn)

Wake up and am nervous that my size 28 Paige jeans won’t fit.  I only packed two pair and the other pair are blood-spotted.  I’m relieved when I’m able to squeeze into them.

Quickly eat a breakfast of coffee and an English muffin (with jam only) and watch while Alexander partakes of the breakfast buffet.  Fortunately, it is not even tempting. 

Vanderbilt lives up to its reputation of being an impressive school.  Southern.  Pretty.  Great academics.  Strong sports teams and accompanying school spirit.  Easy access to Nashville.   Oh, and a 3:1 squirrel to person ratio (in case that’s important).

We eat lunch in the school cafeteria, as we are doing at all the schools.  The boys eat burgers and fries; Zelia and I eat salads.  We all like Vanderbilt.

After lunch, we pile back in the car and drive over four hours to Atlanta.  The afternoon starts our overcast then changes to heavy rain then becomes snow and ends up just plain dreary. We play a word game that ends badly over two contested words:  xylophonic and youtalle. We make numerous stops along the way to re-fuel the car and re-fuel our growing teen-aged boys.  They need to be fed every two hours or so.  

We arrive in Atlanta around 7 and it’s freezing.  Not quite the sunny southern weather we’d packed for.  We get in the room, turn the heat up to 80, wash our faces, and get ready for dinner.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

dinner in Nashville (lyn)

We decide to have ribs for dinner.  The concierge tells us about a great place called Jack’s.  She describes the restaurant’s history and its reputation.  "You'll love it there.  Everyone does."  I know that ribs are not something I should have, but I’m in the South, and Jack’s sounds amazing.  We are all excited to have a good meal, especially after last night's.

We get to the restaurant in downtown Nashville and there’s a sign on the door, “Closed on Sunday.”  We are all disappointed.  It’s cold.  It’s raining.  And everyone we stop on the street to ask for a recommendation is a tourist. Three British guys suggest a good sushi place.  Ya, right.  I'm in Nashville and I'm going to have sushi for dinner!  I take out my iPhone and start looking for local restaurants.  The commercials make doing this look easy.  But it takes forever for every restaurant to load.  And besides, we don't even know if a restaurant listed is anywhere near where we are.

Finally, I approach two guys who look local, and they recommend the Wildhorse Saloon.

We get there and immediately I feel like leaving.  It’s a big, cavernous room filled with lots of tables, and a stage up front where a singer is teaching a floor full of people how to line dance.  Loud country music is playing.  We sit down and everyone wants to stay.  Only because we don't know where else to go.  And it's miserable outside.

We all order ribs.  They come and they truly are the best ribs we've all ever had.  I eat almost a whole rack, and don’t feel bad.  I skip the sides of baked beans, french fries, and Texas toast that accompany the order, and just concentrate on the ribs (and the good music from the live band that plays throughout dinner).  The meat just falls off the bone.  No sauce is needed as the ribs are perfectly coated.  They aren’t even messy to eat.  

I seriously doubt I will ever find ribs that are this good again.

lessons from Rainman (m)

Doubleheader today.  Wake up to overcast skies, stiff  breezes and rapidly falling temperatures.  I could feel in my arthritic bones that rain was on the way.

We eat at the breakfast buffet at the hotel.  I have lox and bagel and some eggs, oatmeal and strawberries  Eating for two games, after all.  Besides, I can't face another egg white omelet.  Now I can't eat until dinner and only have a couple of points left.  I have it all planned out.

Get to the fields and it starts to rain.  Steadily.  I can see from where we are in the car that the team has not taken the field.  I hear thunder in the distance and spot a little bit of lightning.  There's no way this game will be played.

My husband, ever the dutiful father and fan, gets out of the car to "see what's up."  What could be up?  The rain is coming down heavily at this point.  Even if it stops soon, the fields will need to be groomed again.

I sit in the car, reading More magazine and listening to the radio.  I see a great leather tote bag featured in the magazine and order it over the phone.  This is fun.  Motown comes on the radio and I start to sing.  More fun.  Look for some lipstick in my purse and find a WW chocolate peppermint.  I eat it.  Most fun.  Now I have very few points left for the day.

I see some of the other parents from the team, scurrying out of their cars and headed to the field.  They look like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.  Rush rush rush.  I'm having fun watching them get soaked.  Lightning strikes.  Good thing they are taking "shelter" in the metal stands.

My phone's T....the game is off.  Now there's a surprise.

Sam wants to spend the afternoon with us.  We go to lunch.  I feel like Rainman, thrown off kilter by the change in schedule.  I want to block my ears and rock myself and say, "No, no. We can't eat now...I already used my points for the day.  This is an unauthorized food stop .  We already ate brunch".

Instead, I suck it up, go to Bob Evans (on the approved list of restaurants under the austerity plan).  I order a chicken quesadilla and eat one small section, have the rest wrapped up and give it to Sam to bring back to his house to share with his friends.

It is 6 pm and I am at the airport, writing this blog.  I am done eating for the day.  My plan is to finish the blog and check out the fuzzy slippers at Brookstone (made with the same material as that 3-pack of socks that I love) and then, the bookstore.  After that, we'll board the plane for Boston where I will drink water on the plane and maybe have a WW chocolate pretzel  bar.

This is not how I planned this day, food-wise, but if Rainman can adapt to life on the road, so can I.

we're not in kansas anymore (lyn)

We get up early and grab something to eat at the hotel’s free breakfast.  Zelia and I split a delicious homemade biscuit.  We see a big slow-cooker containing some kind of white mush.  We ask someone what it is.  “Y'all must not be from the South if you don’t know what that is. It’s a local dish.  A type of gravy that goes over the biscuits.  It’s made with flour and corn meal and bacon grease.”  We pass.

We leave Cherokee around 9:30, and begin a five-hour drive to Nashville.  This part of the country is so different from New York.  And it’s not just the accents.  The stores.  The signs.  The people. Everything.  We begin taking notes of the things we see along the way.

  • Pentecostal churches everywhere
  • A hotel sign that says, “Older than some, cleaner than most.”
  • A store selling bear traps
  • A muscle car museum
  • A big sign on a little store advertising, “Blow guns, Knives, and Crossbows"
  • A sign advertising rat cheese
  • Places where you can “pan fer Gold.”
  • Wedding chapels
  • Nascar speedparks
  • A beef jerky outlet

We stop for lunch at a Burger King.  Neither Zelia nor I eat.

The weather is horrible.  The further south we head, the more miserable the weather becomes.  It’s a torrential downpour.  The windows are fogging up.  The windshield wipers are making a loud, thoroughly annoying,  scraping sound. Huge semis are passing on either side.  Zelia is having an important business call in Portuguese.  Alexander is sleeping.  Rodrigo is listening to music.  And I am driving.

I pull over for one final stop so everyone can go to the bathroom.  Inside this little highway-convenience store is a sign for a shower (who would shower at a convenience store?) and a scale.  I’m tempted.  It’s been two days since I’ve stepped on one.  But I know how foolish I’d look if Zelia saw me, and besides, I don’t have a quarter…the cost to learn my current weight. 

We get back in the car and drive on to Nashville.