The Girdle Chronicles
It happened again. It's nearly June and the 15 pounds I've been trying to lose since my son was born (he is now nine), is still attached to my thighs, hips and posterior and now I'm headed into the most self conscious time of the year...summer.
Summer, the season for short shorts, mini skirts and dare I say, bikinis. Summer when women with really nice legs get to flaunt them and women with really bad legs search high and low for a great sarong that will cover them from head to toe.
Summer is the time for barbecues, great fruit, and fruity drinks with incredibly high caloric content that do nothing to help you as you attempt to lose weight. So here I am, thisclose to June 1st vowing yet again that I will be happy with the way I look this season. Despite the fact that I'm not fitting into the size I'd like to be, I am determined to do some form of exercise every day. In fact, I recently invested in a hers and hers bike. What's that, you ask? Simple. When you go to a bike store with your daughter to get yourself a bike and she likes it so much that she begs you to get her one too, you acquiesce and voila, you now both have the exact same bicycles.
Tonight, we actually took our very first family bike ride of the season, complete with visiting friends in the neighborhood - I even turned down a piece of pie with whipped cream - what's the point of riding a book and burning some calories only to slap them back on your body by inhaling a slice of raspberry pie. Instead, we left our friends' house and rode some more until the sun set. We then headed home and I inhaled a few scoops of Edy's low fat Fudge Tracks while watching summer re-runs.
Here's hoping that by Independence Day, my newfound desire to get in shape will not just be a passing phase. I remember one July 4th getting so depressed after seeing the size of my butt in a store window. Well I say, this year that's not going to happen. I'm going to eat right, exercise, drink a lot of water, ride my bike and maybe even jog. Maybe I'll even try yoga and pilates. So check back with me in a month - I'll share my progress and hopefully by then I'll be a few pounds lighter. Either that, or I'll be the one avoiding store windows.
I know - I shouldn't say I'm dieting again. Instead, I'm eating what I want but less of it. Either way, it's January and that it means it's time to focus on downsizing. Which is why I love this video from The Today Show featuring inspirational weight loss stories from real people - not celebrities who only seem to look slightly plump if they're pregnant and then slim down to the size of a spaghetti strand.
Check out their stories and get ready to hear mine. I'm going to lose 15 pounds by June - really I am. You heard it here first and this time, I really, really mean it.
For more of my New Year's resolutions, check me out in Lifetime Moms.
3 Tips for Avoiding Weight Gain Over the Holidays
By Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D.,
Author of Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals
The holidays are a difficult time for those of us who both enjoy eating and worry about our waistlines. Chances are good that if you overindulged a bit at Thanksgiving, you are now looking ahead to the month of December with a wary eye - - only too aware of the minefield of cookie platters, holiday parties, family dinners, and gift baskets that you will have to somehow navigate.
You know from experience that you cannot get through these trying times on willpower alone. So here are three very simple and proven-effective motivational strategies for ending up in your current pant size on January 1st.
Tip 1: Acknowledge That You Probably Can't Have Just One. According to the laws of physics, bodies in motion tend to stay in motion, unless something acts to stop them. Well, the same thing can be said about human behavior, too - - including eating.
Your actions have a kind of inertia - - once you start doing something, it often takes more self-control to stop than it does to just avoid doing it in the first place. And it gets harder to stop the longer the behavior goes on. So it's easier to be abstinent if you stop at the first kiss, rather than letting things get hot and heavy. And it's a lot easier to pass on the potato chips entirely, rather than just eat one or two.
Stopping before you start is an excellent strategy to keep your need for willpower to a minimum. Consider cutting out all between-meal snacking over the holidays. The fewer times you start eating each day, the less you'll have to worry about stopping.
Tip 2: Set VERY Specific Limits. Before you get anywhere near the cookie platter, the fruit cake, or the cheese plate, think about how much you can afford to eat without over-indulging. Decide, in advance, exactly how much of any particular holiday treat you will allow yourself for dessert, or at the Christmas party.
The problem with most plans, including diet plans, is that they are not nearly specific enough. We plan to "be good," or "not eat too much," but what does that mean, exactly? When will I know if I've had too much? When you are staring at a table overflowing with delicious snacks, you are not going to be a good judge of what "too much" is.
An effective plan is one that is made before you stare temptation in the face, and that allows no wiggle room. Studies show that when people plan out exactly what they will do when temptation arises (e.g., I will have no more than 3 cookies and nothing else), are 2-3 times more likely to achieve their dietary goals.
Tip 3: Savor. Savoring is a way of increasing and prolonging our positive experiences. Taking time to experience the subtle flavors in a piece of dark chocolate, the pungency of a full-flavored cheese, the buttery goodness of a Christmas cookie - - these are all acts of savoring, and they help us to squeeze every bit of joy out of the good things that happen to us.
Avoid eating anything in one bite - - you get all the calories, but only a fraction of the taste. Also, try not to eat while you are socializing. When you are focused on conversation, odds are good that you will barely even register what you are putting in your mouth.
Eating slowly and mindfully, taking small bites instead of swallowing that bacon-wrapped scallop or stuffed mushroom whole, not only satisfies your hunger, but actually leaves you feeling happier.
And that, ideally, is what holiday feasting is all about.
© 2010 Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D., author of Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals
Heidi Grant Halvorson, author of Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals, is a social psychologist, educational consultant, and most recently assistant professor of psychology at Lehigh University. She has received several grants from the National Science Foundation. In addition to her work as author and co-editor of the highly-regarded academic book The Psychology of Goals (Guilford, 2009), she has authored papers in her field's most prestigious journals.
Dr. Grant Halvorson is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and was recently elected to the highly selective Society for Experimental Social Psychology. She received her PhD from Columbia University working with Carol Dweck (author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success), and her BA in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.
For more information please visit http://heidigranthalvorson.com/ and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.
It's been a while since I poured my heart out and I guess it's because I've been so busy working, I haven't had a chance to rant. Well, this weekend finally gave me the drive to get back to storytelling - especially since I pretty much lost it in a car ride home from Manhattan.
You see, my hubby and I were attending a surprise party in the city and I was all excited about it. In fact, I had even gone shopping earlier in the day and used a gift card my mother in law had given me for my birthday at White House Black Market to buy something special for the evening. Even though I've been pretty depressed lately about my weight and haven't bought much at my fave stores (WHBM and Ann Taylor), I still managed to find a gorgeous fuschia satiny top with ruffles that I thought really looked amazing.
The moment I arrived home, I raced into my closet and began the excruciating task of attempting to find a pair of pants or a skirt that went with the top. Sadly, practically everything in my closet was too tight and I was stuck wearing my go to black pants that have become a staple in my wardrobe since they have a bit of stretch in them and I'm sure have expanded every time I've gained yet another pound.
When my husband came upstairs to get dressed, I asked him what he thought of my new ruffly top and like any guy who doesn't realize when his wife is pre-menstrual, he replied, "To be honest, I don't really like the ruffles." Well, if you think I went into a tailspin from that comment, you would be correct. I spent the next hour trying on every other top in my wardrobe and couldn't find a thing. And so, I told him I didn't care that he didn't like what I was wearing and stuck to my guns, paired it with my comfy black pants and away we went.
About an hour into the party I walked past a mirror and that's when it happened. I took a look at myself with my ruffly top and stretched out black pants and did not like what I saw at all. My hips and thighs looked huge and while the top did distract you from the size of my lower half, it appeared a little too festive since everyone else in the room was wearing the dress code of a typical NYC party - basic black from head to toe.
Once we left, I pretty much sulked in the car on the way home and my husband kept asking why I was so upset and then I exploded like a madwoman in need of a strait jacket. I poured my heart out - said how upset I was that now that I'm in my 40s and the weight seems to be piling on, I fear I'm going to wind up with the body of my grandmothers (both came from hearty European families and were built like tanks). The tears were streaming down my face and I had to check the glove compartment for a tissue - luckily there were napkins from a recent rest stop run to Burger King (hence the larger posterior).
When we arrived home, I made a decision that it was time to take my body back. And so, it is now Monday, December 6 and I am going to do just that. Despite the fact that the holiday season is in full swing, I am joining Weight Watchers again this Saturday and will be trying out their new Points Plus program that I just read about in the New York Times. If it's good enough for Jennifer Hudson then baby, it's good enough for chubby old me.
I'll keep you posted about my progress and hopefully, by next month, I'll be back in my semi skinny jeans. Either way, I'm making a commitment to lose weight - let's hope it works for good this time around!
It's officially July 1st, which means I can now no longer avoid shorts season. While my favorite months of the year are now a distant memory, summer has snuck up on me and as I walk the streets of New York City, all I can see for blocks on end are legs. Long legs, firm legs, scrawny legs, tan legs, sculpted calves, toned thighs and then, for a split second, I look down at my knees and want to throw on a burka.
Oh how I utterly hate the summer. Especially when some of my favorite stores have decided that this season, short shorts are back in style. Or those flouncy dresses that come up to your mid thigh - which I would never wear because even if I paired them with leggings, I'd still have to figure out how to disguise the fact that my lower half is just not cutting it lately.
I've always been a classic pear. Small on top, large on the bottom. And they even say that it's healthier to be a pear than an apple but just give me one day to swap legs with someone who has shapely calves and not cankles like me and I swear, I'd probably go on a shopping spree and buy out all the short shorts on sale at Banana Republic and J Crew combined.
Give me the chance to slip on a mini dress and gladiator sandals without feeling self conscious about my knee fat and you will find me a changed woman. I can't tell you how many times I've contemplated setting up a consult with a plastic surgeon only to have cold feet because I've never gone under anesthesia. Oh if only I were an apple and not a pear. Sure apples don't look good in a bathing suit either and a pear can cover their lower extremities with a massive sarong or beach towel, but apples can also wear a big t-shirt and shorts that show off their thin legs.
Don't have time to read? Then listen and laugh instead!
I know I should just accept the fact that as a full-fledged pear, I will never possess the legs I secretly long for when I pass a stranger on the street. I mean, there are redeeming qualities with being a pear. I am pretty small from the waist up so that's a plus. So my thighs jiggle when I walk and my calves are the same size of tree trunks, things could be worse. I could be a watermelon.
Lately, I've been avoiding my gym. And let me tell you - that doesn't bode well for my thighs, butt and mid-section. But I've decided, rather than do the same thing I do all the time at my local gym (elliptical, stationery bike and treadmill), I'm going to do five things that will hopefully melt the fat from my lower half without me realizing I'm actually working out.
1. Rollerblading - Back in the day (meaning the mid-nineties), I was quite the rollerblader. In fact, my favorite thing to do each weekend was to strap on my blades, slip on my headphones and sing as I rolled through Central Park. During the winter, I'd even rollerblade to Wollman Rink, put my rollerblades in a locker and ice skate for an hour. Hello, Old Me - where are you and how do I get my mojo back?
2. Dancing Lessons - When I was on a cruise recently, I realized that I am a dance spaz. I mean, I can certainly do the typical side to side, hand bopping move that I perfected in the eighties and I personally love the "Baby Mama" 'Stop Framing Your Face' line, but what I've realized is that dancing burns a serious amount of calories - just look at how Kelly Osbourne transformed her body. Sign me up for some salsa lessons stat!
3. Commuter Calorie Burn - Give yourself less than 10 minutes to catch your train. Then sprint in high heels carrying your purse that includes a laptop, your cell phone, iPhone, files and notepad. Now, make sure your train is on the furthest possible track imaginable - for an added burn, climb three flights of stairs at top speed and then collapse on the train. Do not, under any circumstances buy a bag of pretzels before you board the train because if you do, the calories you burnt will be useless.
4. Tennis Anyone? My favorite sport since the time I was nine years old is tennis. The reason - when I'm in the zone, I can really play well. And when I play outdoors, I actually sweat - which means I burn calories. So I will step into my time machine, pretend I'm back in high school and start hitting those balls like a fiend.
5. Wii and My Family: Never count out my Wii Fit - which will definitely call me obese once I step on that balance board but I can take it. All I need to do is stick with a routine, even if it's 15 minutes per day and I will be on my way. Besides, I love the kick boxing and hula hoop games - feel the burn without the burden.
So there you have it - five ways to lose weight without it feeling like a total chore. I'm kick starting my routine tomorrow and will let you know soon how it's working for me. Summer is right around the corner and all I can say is I refuse to spend another season fretting over my knee fat and cankles!
If you have any fun calorie burning tips to share, please feel free to comment!
I had been looking forward to this vacation for months. One week away, on a cruise, hitting some of the most beautiful islands in the caribbean. And then I caught a cold. Which meant the food that I was going to be enjoying on the high seas was going to be tasteless. And the strawberry margaritas I was dreaming of...again...nothing.
So here I am on our way to St. Maarten where all the women will be shopping but I will be joining my family on a beach excursion to the French side of the island on a beach offering partial nudity. Lovely. While my mom and her friends shop for diamonds and tanzanite, I'll be wincing at some topless women lounging on the beach while I cover my kids' eyes.
So the vacation. What have I enjoyed? Let's see. The Princess Cruise line offers great entertainment - from comedy shows, to bands performing in their side bars to a karaoke experience where you can sing with a band; and a piano bar called Crooners featuring a piano man who sounds like a cross between James Taylor and Billy Joel. Okay - not quite, but he is pretty awesome. What I absolutely love are the Movies under the Stars option. You get to sit on a lounge chair and cuddle up with a blanket and popcorn as you watch movies that have recently been released on DVD (This is It, Night at the Museum II, Harry Potter, Mamma Mia and many more).
As far as the food - it's not as amazing as some other ships I've been on - like Celebrity and Royal Caribbean - but then again, I do have a cold so I can't tell whether or not my taste buds would have been delighted by the culinary creations on the ship.
Things that are missing from our cruise experience - the midnight buffet. While food is plentiful, there are no ice sculptures or masterpieces in the pool area featuring mouthwatering creations. I mean seriously folks, how could there not be a chocolate fountain on board? There is a pizza and ice cream bar, two restaurants that are not part of the meal plan (we loved Sabatini's) and a dessert cafe, plus there's a wine bar with sushi and tapas and a cafe with cappucinos, latte, smoothies and tons of desserts.
I've also found that everything - except our dining room reservations, are first come first served. Which means if you don't get your butt to a lounge chair by the pool at the crack of dawn, well you're pretty much going to be sitting behind a pole in the shade for most of the cruise (that would be us).
The staterooms are very nice. While our room isn't that spacious, the kids are loving their bunk beds and I am loving the bed linens. Each bed comes with a cozy comforter with a soft duvet covering (no scratchy bedspreads). Plus, the chocolates and cookies left in the room by the steward each night aren't too shabby either.
As far as the cruise staff, let's just say that even though this is technically the "Love Boat," you will find no Captain Steubing, Doc, Issac, Gopher or Julie the cruise director on board. You will find Mark from England, a long haired girl from France whose nickname is 'Frenchie,' another guy from Australia and several more from Italy, Macedonia, Chile, Zimbabwe and many more countries around the world - I just haven't had a chance to read all the name tags. I guess Americans aren't applying for jobs aboard cruises. Instead, they're the ones lining up for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, coffee and drinks.
The girth of the passengers onboard is what truly troubles me the most about this vacation. Now don't get me wrong. After this trip, I'm hitting the nearest Weight Watchers center to shed at least 15 pounds. But the people onboard who I've encountered on a daily basis are so grossly overweight that some need to lose an entire person in order to reach their normal size. It's actually kind of ironic. During this trip, I'm reading a book called "The Power of Half" which shares the story of a family who took half of what they owned and donated it to charity. I say, if these people donate half of what they eat to the malnourished, the world would be a better place and they would be a whole lot thinner.
The other major gripe I have is that I constantly feel as if someone is trying to sell me something. It's fine when I walk off the ship and a woman comes up to me asking if I want my hair braided, but onboard, every day and night, there are options to spend more money even though this is an all inclusive trip. $30 for Bingo cards. $45 for a spa manicure. $25 for a wine tasting and another $9.50 for a follow up wine tasting. $25 for a shopping guide filled with over $400 in savings. $4 for a shot glass with limoncello in it. $6 for a tall beer glass that lights up. The only thing I have purchased which has proven to be economical is a beverage card that charges me $4.95 per day for unlimited Coca Cola beverages. And I've been using that card to quench the thirst of my entire family.
And one more thing. I also sat through a shopping show with the ship's expert who could also double as a QVC host. Except here's the difference. On QVC, you usually get a ton of great deals. Not so much in the places this expert suggested we shop. I was particularly interested in checking out one of the stores because she said we'd be blown away by the prices. You could say that again. While trying on a pair of blue diamond earrings in St. Maarten, I casually asked the price and the man behind the counter grabbed his calculator and proclaimed...$995 dollars. Bargain of the century? I think not. I left the store deflated and empty handed.
Now for the burning question - would I ever go back on a Princess Cruise? Drumroll please. Probably not. While the entertainment is quite good, there are too many things that did not live up to my expectations. I also think that this ship is best for older cruisers (50 and older) not families traveling with kids. While there is a kids' camp on board, my kids opted to stay with us and attended comedy shows and watched movies under the stars. They also ate...a lot.
All in all, while the cruise was enjoyable, it was certainly not one of my favorites. I still have incredible memories from our Celebrity cruise to Bermuda and that one by far stands out as the best experience we've ever had on board a cruise ship. And while we may decide to cruise again in the future, I think we'll be giving the sea a rest for a long while. Better run - I've gotta hit the gym and work off the tire that has now comfortably settled in around my midsection.
I don't like working out. There, I've said it. I hate everything about it. I don't get a rush when I'm running on the treadmill (instead I get shooting pains in my side), I don't like waiting for the elliptical machine for more than 5 minutes at a time and I hate, I repeat, hate taking workout classes with women who mark their territory like they're a pack of rabid coyotes.
But there's more to my tale of workout woe. You see, last year I decided to give up my fancy gym membership so that I could save some money and join a less expensive gym about one block away. Sure at my fancy gym I never waited for a machine, the snooty women there never gave me the time of day and I never accidentally inhaled cleaning solution while I tried to faux run on the treadmill at 4 mph, but in the interests of frugality, I bit the bullet and left the comforts and perks of my top notch fitness center.
The problem with my new gym is simple. It's way too crowded and there are too many yentas. Okay - if you do not live in New York and if you are not Jewish, a yenta is someone who likes to gossip. A lot. And I've decided, they should rename my gym, the Yenta Center. Everywhere I turn, there are women chatting with each other about everything from health issues, to the guy someone caught cheating on his wife (now, I have to admit, that was a juicy story), to a loud woman engaging in a very loud conversation with her girlfriend while admiring herself in the mirror as sweat, mascara and foundation trickle down her cheeks.
As uncomfortable as I get when I have to ask a towel less woman to move over so that I can open my gym lock that I still have from junior high school, what bugs me the most when I try to place my coat and knapsack in one of the few lockers are the people who just shove their stuff inside without investing in a lock or the staffers who utilize an entire row of lockers for their cleaning supplies and towels. Isn't that what a utility closet is for?
Wait! Now that I'm in full tirade mode, the cleaning methods of this gym is what gets me absolutely batty. No matter the time of day, the cleaning crew are always vacuuming right under equipment while you are actually on the machine. And they even spray cleaning solution and wipe down machines without caring whether any of the members are inhaling their toxic fumes. But that's not all. One day, when I got incredibly annoyed over the whole lack of cleaning etiquette, I was about to hop on an elliptical machine when a woman, who I mistook for a staff member, took the cleaning spray, spritzed several times and wiped down the machine adjacent to mine. At first, I shot her a dirty look and told her she was rude because the excess spray from the cleaner nearly burned my corneas (I know I'm a bit dramatic) and rather than apologize she brusquely replied that she'd rather inhale fumes than germs. I guess I failed to mention that not only are the women at this club chatty, they also like to engage in arguments with other female members.
And today, after an incredibly uncomfortable locker room experience, in which I had ask at least five naked women to move their buns so that I could make a break for my locker, I decided that it might be time to get back to basics and start working out at home again. My Wii Fit is looking quite attractive these days - especially since I won't have anyone spritzing cleaning solution in my face or pouring their heart out in their birthday suit.
Since my daughter is now 10 and I can't blog about the specifics of what goes on in her daily life, what I can share is an earth shattering observation about her weight...and mine. You see, my daughter is now in 5th grade - the same year my weight started spiraling out of control and my parents contemplated signing me up for Weight Watchers.
My daughter, who is now 4 feet 7 inches tall, weighs 65 pounds. When I was her height and was 11, I weighed 106 pounds. Yes, you heard me the first time. Four feet, seven inches tall and one hundred and six pounds. I was forty one pounds heavier than my daughter is today.
When I turned 12 and the teasing at school became incessant, I did finally step inside that Weight Watchers Center and while I initially had to lose at least 30 pounds, I grew four inches and reduced the weight loss goal by 10 pounds. And so, while I managed to lose 20 pounds, I have to say that in hindsight, I was very fortunate that my parents decided to take the bull by the horns and guide me along my weight loss journey.
Today, when I think about kids who are struggling with obesity issues, it often takes me back to the days when I was standing in their shoes. And trust me, it was not fun. It was not fun to be teased, to be out of breath when I walked up a flight of stairs, and to feel completely self conscious since I was one of the few kids who couldn't fit into a pair of Jordache jeans or Sergio Valentes - and back in the early eighties, if you didn't own a pair, you were deemed uncool for school. With the help of supportive parents, I managed to reach my goal and while I've always struggled with weight as an adult, I've never let the scales tip too far over the line.
If you're a mom with a child struggling to lose weight, let me offer this word of advice. Take them by the hand and join a program where you can shed the pounds together. Start exercising with them - go bike riding, ice skating, play the Wii or just take a long walk. If you help your own child achieve their weight loss goals, they will never forget you for it. Just ask me. I'm forever indebted to my parents who realized I had a problem and helped me confront it head on!
So while those 40 pounds may be a thing of the past, they are a constant reminder that staying fit and healthy is truly a family affair.
The one thing that I've realized this time around is that when I actually plan out my meals or eat half of a heaping restaurant entree rather than the entire portion, I've still been able to shed pounds. In fact, since I started, I haven't deprived myself of anything. And so as I continue my journey on the road to sveltesvelle, I've decided to share some recipes I've discovered along the way that are low in points (and calories), taste great and are filling too! (sounds like a beer commercial).
Egg White Omelet Mexican Style
Carton of Egg Beaters (1 point)
Handful of mushrooms (in the can or fresh) (0 points)
Two tablespoons of salsa (0 points)
1 Packet of Weight Watchers Cheddar Cheese (2 points)
In a non-stick frying pan, spray with Pam. Then toss in mushrooms and salsa. Next, pour in a half cup of egg whites. Let the mixture bubble up and when its almost finished, add the cheddar cheese.
Flip with your spatula, grab a plate and eat.
Preparation time: less than five minutes.
For more great recipes, like this Key Lime Pie creation, visit the Weight Watchers site today!
09/10/2009: Lose for Good...Here I Come
09/08/2009: Did I Really Eat All That?
08/08/2009: The Girdle Chronicles
07/20/2009: Weight Watchers I Hear You Calling...
06/26/2009: Get in Shape with The Mojo Coach!
06/17/2009: Weight Loss Tips du Jour
05/27/2009: The Girdle Chronicles
04/11/2009: I Was a Chubby Bubbie
04/07/2009: A Woman's World...Latest Episode
04/02/2009: Does this Remind You of You?
03/08/2009: Why Can't My Arms Be More Like Michelle's?
02/04/2009: New Fitness Program from Weight Watchers!
01/31/2009: Check out Wii Fit Mommies Julie Maloney!
01/19/2009: I Have a Dream...With a Twist
01/12/2009: Mango Salsa Swordfish for Dummies
01/06/2009: 13 Ways to Transform Your Life
01/06/2009: Are Your Friends Making You Fat?
01/05/2009: Shedding LBS. With My Weight Loss Coach
01/04/2009: Day 3 - The Girdle Chronicles
01/03/2009: The Girdle Chronicles