Are Your Friends Making You Fat?

fatfrie1.jpgSo last night, I sat down to dinner with my husband…this time made cajun crawfish, lumpy sweet potatoes (another bad side dish) and our spaghetti squash and turkey meatball leftovers which I devoured and must say that even on day two, it tasted quite delish. But I digress. Anyway, we got on the topic of my weight loss mission and I told my DH that I had a fabulous idea for a new post – Are Your Friends Making You Fat? And at first, he was a bit squeamish because he doesn’t want me picking on our friends – don’t want to risk pissing anyone off but then he added that there’s actually a show on TV that already covers this topic.
And lo and behold, I googled the word he gave me, Diet Tribe and I discovered there’s a show on Lifetime about five friends who have vowed to lose weight together. My only beef with this new show is that these friends appear as if they’re single – although I haven’t read all their bios so don’t want to jump to conclusions. But when you’re a parent and you’re chowing down on your kids’ food and then finally getting the chance to kick back with friends over a glass of wine and some fried dough with powdered sugar, it’s as if you’ve been transported to a fantasy land where all your cares and troubles melt away. Unfortunately, in my instance it all melted onto my thighs.
And so, I’d like to just take on the topic of Are Your Friends Making You Fat in the most constructive way possible. What I’ve found, without a shadow of a doubt is that the answer is abso-friggin-lutely. Back in the summer, I distinctly remember gaining at least 6 pounds after we spent several days away with good friends and savored bottles of wine, great food and conversation – thankfully the chats were calorie free but the rest of the stuff caused a significant weight gain. Fast forward to the holidays and surprisingly, the exact same thing happened. But this time, in addition to spending time with our good friends and enjoying incredible dinners and mouthwatering desserts, we were also invited to holiday parties that led me to where I am right now – squeezing into tight jeans that were swimming on me last year. All I can say is, thank goodness for stretch denim.
So how do I deal with socializing with friends without gaining a significant amount of weight? Simple…when they reach for the bread basket, I’ll pretend that if I touch a roll I’ll get an electric shock if I lay a finger on the raisin pumpernickel. No, really, I mean it. And when they order two bottles of wine – I’ll have one glass instead of three. And when they order fried dough…I’ll take one little piece instead of five squares – that’s fair – I can’t deprive myself of everything!
So what’s your strategy for dining with friends who might unintentionally sabotage your weight loss plans? Share your story now!

I Am a Cheese Ball

images-6.jpeg Took the kids to see “High School Musical 3” today and I have a confession to make. I teared up during those corny scenes with Troy and Gabriela and then got all weepy at the end of the movie when everyone graduated. To be brutally honest, I loved the movie. Yes, I am lame but hear me out.
I love this movie because it takes me back to 1986. That’s when I was doing what I loved and had a lifetime ahead of me. And now, 22 years later with two kids and a husband, I sat in the movie theater wondering what would have happened in my life if I had gone for it. More importantly, while I didn’t necessarily wind up doing what I love, I want my kids to pursue whatever their heart desires.
I never thought that I could have peaked in high school and something tells me that I’m going to get a second chance at that original dream but for now, as I think about all the things I could have done differently, what I do know is that I did do something right. I married the right guy, had two amazing kids and am very grateful to have incredibly supportive parents, in-laws and friends who have been there for me in good times and bad. And best of all, thanks to the magic of Facebook, I’ve re-connected with those pals from high school who I shared the stage with and knew the old optimistic me. We may not have been Troy, Gabriela and Sharpei, but we were pretty talented back then and had the time of our lives. And really, that’s what it’s all about. Doing what you love while surrounding yourself with the people who love you.
So thanks High School Musical 3 – I guess you never thought you’d inspire an almost 40 year old mom, but you did. Now if only I can find a time machine so I can get my do-over.

The Crab Whisperer

I recently missed out on becoming a reality TV star so that I could go crabbing with my family on an annual tradition we had first experienced more than 13 years ago. You see, when my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) was working at his first job, his boss invited us to join his family on their annual expedition. Since I had never gone crabbing, I was up for anything – not realizing the trip would require us to wake up at 3 am, travel an hour to the dock where we would rent our boats before we’d shove off before the sun rose so we could rouse the crabs with smelly moss bunkers.
I have to admit – while I didn’t enjoy the getting up early part or the fact that we were confined to the boats for hours before we could return for a crab fest, what I loved was the thrill of the hunt. I’ve always had a knack for fishing – while I hate to actually eat fish, I love the excitement of reeling them in. In those early morning hours, I pulled up dozens of crabs and could instantly feel when a claw was tugging on my line. While I earned the nickname the Crab Whisperer after that fateful first trip, we gave up the sport while our kids were young and directed our attentions on toddler friendly vacations.
Fast forward 13 years – our kids are now perfect crabbing age and lucky for us, we received an invite to re-join our friends’ annual tradition. Little did I know the trip would coincide with my almost audition for the Food Network show “The Hopeless Homemaker” – I thought I’d be the perfect candidate for their new show about awful cooks and they invited me to audition this weekend – but unfortunately for me, I was going crabbing. As visions of early morning wake up calls danced through my head, I joked to my husband that I missed my big chance of becoming a sous chef and instead would be reeking from moss bunkers while someone else was on their way to becoming the next Rachel Ray. So much for instant stardom.
When we arrived, the familiar house we had stayed at before we went crabbing had changed. My hubby’s old boss had moved to a fabulous house on the water and the moment we arrived, they were grilling up a storm while kids were catching crabs off the dock. As we caught up on lost time, we found out that we wouldn’t be getting up at the crack of dawn. Instead, we were waking at 7am because this time, it wasn’t going to take us an hour to drive to the pier…it would take us about a minute and a half.
The following morning, we drove to the crabbing location – a drop dead gorgeous waterfront home with boats lined up along their private pier waiting for us to hop in and get busy. Oh what a difference more than a decade makes! And so, we shoved off and once again, with raw chicken for bait (I can’t decide if I was more grossed out by that or by the smelly fish we used to use) we dropped our lines in the water and I started catching crabs like wildfire. But as the morning progressed, I began to lose my touch and my daughter picked up the slack and began pulling them in. Gotta love that one.
The best part about our upscale crabbing trip was that we could go back to the dock as often as we wanted. We spent the entire day with our friends and their family and enjoyed delicious food and lots of great conversation. Plus, there was even a makeshift beach near the dock where we sat for hours on lounge chairs watching boats sail past as the kids caught jelly fish (eww) and crabs a few feet away.
By day’s end, I realized I would gladly give up a reality show audition for crabbing. There is nothing that quite compares to taking part in a family tradition – and even though they’re not exactly our family, (I kind of feel like the crabbing crashers) today was by far one of the best days of our entire summer. That’s what lasting memories are made of – good times, smelly crabs and re-connecting with old friends. In a word, priceless.

My Life Through Facebook

Brian's Bar Mitzvah_01.jpgIn the past week, I’ve been reunited with classmates I haven’t heard from in more than 20 years. Out of the blue, their familiar names popped up on my Facebook account and suddenly, I was intrigued. One asked me if I was the person who starred in the 6th grade production of Ms. Dibono’s original musical “It Ain’t Necessarily So” (yes, that was me in a frilly shirt, Dorothy Hamill hair, pepto bismol skirt and knee socks) and the other was a long lost friend from Junior High School who reached out and shared a photo of me wearing a tuxedo shirt and black shiny pants, sitting next to him at his Bar Mitzvah along with my arch nemesis, who sat on the other side of him wearing the exact same outfit.
The funny thing was, I think I purposely erased those images from my mind. The sixth grade shot since I was still chubby at the time and was desperately trying to shed unwanted pounds on Weight Watchers (yes, I probably was the youngest member to join in WW’s history) and the second because who actually wears a tuxedo shirt to a Bar Mitzvah and thinks that’s trendy? When I was at my oldest friend’s son’s Bar Mitzvah last month, I’m convinced I would have been ridiculed by the 12 year old girls wearing cocktail dresses and heels. Hey, I would have laughed at myself. What was I (or my mom) thinking anyway?
It’s funny how those memories from elementary and junior high school are pretty dim or nonexistent – partly because I was an awkward kid with absolutely no sense of style. But once I hit high school, watch out! I invested in Stagelight make-up, grew out my Dorothy Hamill bob and wore flouncy shirts that made me look like a pirate. By my senior year, I got a job at Bennetton where I proceeded to buy out the store and take all my jerseys, leggings and mohair sweaters with me to college.
As my friends and I wore fuschia eye shadow and light pink lip gloss, we looked like the Jewish version of the cast from “Pretty in Pink.” I even remember my girlfriends and I calling ourselves “The Sexy Six” (yes, we were a bit full of ourselves) – I regained my confidence by then and pursued my passions without fear of failure. While most people hate their high school years, I instead selectively erased my memories of elementary school and junior high because I was one of the classic nerdy kids you would have seen on “The Wonder Years” who had crushes on boys who wouldn’t even give me the time of day.
But my worst memories didn’t even come from the boys. It was those heartless girls who pulled awful tricks on me – like the one who called another friend while I was at her house and proceeded to say terrible things about me just so I could see how our friend on the other line could easily make fun of me too. Or another who told a mutual friend not to speak with me and they froze me out of their group for months. Or the time my tuxedoed partner in crime decided to apply to the same high school I wanted to attend and managed to get in but I didn’t. She also had a knack for rubbing it in my face when she’d get a better grade on an exam than me. During those years when I was obsessed with my grades and obviously not my wardrobe, I was a classic attractor of Frenemies.
Today, when I look at my own kids, I begin to become apprehensive as my daughter prepares to start fourth grade. While that’s the same year I was tormented for being chubby (my nickname was Stubby Beth), I feel relieved that my child has become a veritable fashion plate, doesn’t have any weight issues and has the confidence to stand up to bullies and competitive, cutthroat girls. Though it won’t be easy, at least my childhood experiences have armed me with the ammunition I’ll need to protect my own kids. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.