New Year’s resolutions & the junk food junkie

New Year’s resolutions are fabulous to make—once you’ve had your third glass of champagne on December 31.

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It’s like when you’re all tucked into bed, thinking about getting up early to jog. I’m going to get up at 5am, I’m going to run 10k, have a smoothie for breakfast, and just be a better person.

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Then the alarm goes off, and it’s as if those intentions belonged to another person. Following the brouhaha of the holidays, those resolutions were made by a different person, all boozy and jacked up on butter tarts and boxes of chocolates. Sure, it’s a great idea…but I’m not actually going to do it. Come January 2, all you want to do is slip into a month-long turkey coma.  Better yet, send me away on a cruise ship so that I may return when it’s spring, all tanned from napping in the sun.

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Once all semblance of the holiday season has passed, what remains is the carb bloat that gives you a fat Elvis glow—or whatever the opposite of glow is. Kind of like when a cheese platter is left out too long and it gets kind of…sweaty.  That’s the one good news about the recent cold snap, layers, layers, aaaaall the layers. I’m like Oprah over here: YOU GET A LAYER, YOU GET A LAYER, EVERYBODY GETS A LAYER!

Of all the resolutions going, “Dry January” just feels like punishment. When the scale is higher and the bank account is lower than you’d prefer—a glass of wine is absolutely in order. Of course, to each their own with the resolutions and best of luck to those setting and maintaining intentions. I’ve always loved the notion that we can reset our internal clocks and try our hand at being healthier, happier human beings.

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Why try to tackle these changes during a dull and blah time?  On the other hand, what else is there to do? What better way to battle the misery of January by implementing small improvements that will set you up for success for the rest of the year. Although, are these goals like civilizations that crumble by the time we get back to December—and then does it become a vicious cycle? Are we stuck on the futile hamster wheel of gain and loss?

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For me, food and weight management is the albatross around my neck. I’m a steadfast foodie, and am quite passionate about all things yummy; and those yummy things are equally as passionate about lurking in my fat cells permanently. As much as I detest the expression, “a moment on the lips, forever on the hips” is painfully apt.  Linger over the flavour my friends, there’s about a 1000 burpees worth of calorie burning coming your way.

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Throughout the holiday season, I was an active participant in healthy choices. I was hydrated, eating balanced meals, walking briskly and taking yoga classes. Bolstered by the Herbal One’s Little Black Dress challenge, I was cruising through holiday parties unscathed. I did attend one function with a mammoth cream puff buffet, partnered with a vast ocean of delicious options. You could really give those cream puffs some personality. I did not partake, but admittedly, stared at a co-worker the same way my dog watches me eat. It was captivating.  Tantalizing even.

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I personally think it’s better to not even have a taste. It ignites a furious hunger that wants to devour an entire pizza, dipping slices mercilessly into ranch dressing. I simply can’t have just one French fry—I want aaaaaaall the French fries. If I go down that route, you’ll find me lurking around food courts and fast food restaurant parking lots hustling customers for deep fried goodies like a panhandler looking for change. Got a fry to spare? I just need a taste man.

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My sister-in-law’s visit from New Zealand was my culinary downfall.  Our Sun Peaks holiday was not a ski vacation, but more an arctic eating tour. Sure, there were salads, but they were swiftly trumped by other caloric delights.  It’s my responsibility as host, and as a Canadian, to find the best restaurants in the area. That’s just good manners.

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There was a day that included pulled pork poutine, movie theatre popcorn and a plethora of curry.  Every bite was a masterpiece. Until I stepped on the scale the next day and my eyes bugged out of my head like I was a cartoon character. Yowza, that got out of hand quickly.

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That’s the thing about indulging—it’s Christmas—it’s the time to do it, relaaaaax, enjoy yourself. Everyone is giving you permission to treat yourself. Everyone else is doing it. But you alone how to deal with the post-holiday damage control. Except, now you’ve got a taste for that melted cheese dripping in gravy and it makes a crisp salad on a frosty January evening look like a total chump.  But—there’s something about your underwear hugging you a little closer than normal to make you think: Wait. What? But I had salad that time…as a starter…for poutine. I may have gone off the rails a wee bit.

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It’s a balancing act. Lose track?  Reset the intention. Yoga classes and the 60-day Barre Kamloops challenge will keep me off the couch for January and February. The fabulous gals at Herbal One are so kind; they’re always willing to pick me up from the food court and deliver me to Poutine Rehab so I can get through my gravy detox, and learn to love salads once again.

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Thanks a million to the infinite internet for all those nifty images

Pretty Woman & the Full Jackie O

I see ankle boots are a bit of a thing for fall. Frankly, I’m not thrilled. Aren’t they always in fashion?  I remember feeling vaguely unsatisfied with the boot styles last year as well. Every time the summer light starts to fade and the crispness of fall sets in, I venture out into the world to look for a classic knee high black boot to wear with oh, I don’t know, everything.  Either I can’t find what I’m looking for, can afford what I’m finding, or–it just doesn’t look as you imagine it. When I saw it on Jackie Kennedy, it looked a bit sleeker–a bit slimmer.

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When I go for the full Jackie O, I always feel more like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man from Ghostbusters.  The great gaping divide between how you want to look,  what you think you look like, and how you actually look can be quite alarming when that little Bermuda Triangle of expectation and reality collide.

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First of all. Why is the average changing room so drab? Audrey Hepburn wouldn’t look good in florescent lighting, so what hope is there for the average woman? Down to the socks and underwear–confronting our figures in a cramped, shadowy spaces bathed in unflattering light? The sounds of chatter, babies crying, toddlers sprinting through the racks, some upbeat non-descript pop song playing just a little too loudly in the background.  Cowering in the changing room at war with the fabric, the buttons, the zipper at it’s height of resistance.  Wedged into a dress/bathing suit/jeans–whatever it is that makes you feel like fat Elvis trying to fit into a little girl’s dress.

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Customer service is a dying art, and odds are, no one is coming to check on you. Put your own clothes back on and venture out into the store–avoiding the pictures of the models looking far better than you in the very clothes that you were wearing. Either buy nothing or something that you don’t really love. It can feel very, very grim.

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Shopping for a specific item can be such an annoyance. Like when you get a job at a place with a very specific dress code? Everyone must wear khaki pants! What better way to spend time and money: on clothes you hate as .for a job you need but possibly don’t want. Of course, khaki pants aren’t really a thing and now you have to roam from store to store searching for some vague equivalent. Worse yet, shopping for bigger clothes after a weight gain. Although, you didn’t really know that you gained weight, because you haven’t been paying attention. You head off to the change room with a size 8 and then require a 10, 12, 14. A most deliciously heinous feeling, trying to wedge one’s cheese filled sausage legs into fabric tubes, coming to quite the realization in a very public arena. Fuck it– I’ll have better luck with sizes at the food court, just going to wear ponchos and yoga pants for the rest of my life.

Image result for girl in a poncho vintageThough I love fashion, glamour, style, and elegance–shopping is not my favorite task. For that reason, I made an excellent personal shopper and was successful in retail.  I really tried to help a sister out–finding an outfit for a wedding, funeral, job interview, date, holiday, party, event with a lot of love, good humor and the occasional hug. Tears were a regular occurrence, as were self-deprecating remarks that usually start with “I hate my…” and end with “thighs, arms, belly, etc, etc, etc”. The key is to keep customers in the change room–bring them outfits that suit their body type and explain all the ways to mix and match. Make it fun, keep it light, and when necessary, a  generous dose of tough love.  Pull yourself together, god damn it–Leave your emotions at the door–and just find some fucking pants. 

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When I encouraged body confidence to others,  I avoided taking in my own reflection in the many mirrors around the store. The agony of a conflicted figure, feeling physically inconsistent with not only your sense of style, but your mental self image. Who is the real me? What do I really look like? How am I perceived by the outside world?  If the reflection is to your dissatisfaction, what is the option? Continue on with the self loathing or shift e gears? Along the way to weight loss, the thought of giving up will enter your mind a million times. If discouraged, frustrated, or exhausted-when you can’t do another stupid squat or count another calorie you need to reconnect with your “why”. Health and mental wellbeing is a noble motivation–but sometimes it’s not an accessible visual like: “Audrey Hepburn in a summer dress. Audrey Hepburn in a summer dress. Audrey. Hepburn. in. a. summer. dress”.

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A year since I began the Herbal One program, I’ve lost 42 pounds and 52 inches. It’s been a time of enormous change, growth and grief. My three weekly visits with Beth and Elisha have whittled down to one, but the beat goes on. I know now that it’s an on-going, never ending process.  Like Sisyphus, the rock and that hill.  Keep pushing–forever and ever.

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Poking around Winners on Labour Day morning, picking up a few pieces to update the professional wardrobe. After three years of working with children in a preschool and gymnastics club, it’s been a lot of stretchy pants and loose layers.  With a new job ahead of me, it’s time for a few fresh touches to the ole closet. I haven’t really had any kind of post-weight loss Pretty Woman shopping montage moments. Mostly I’m shopping in my own closet, wearing items that have been collecting dust on the lowest shelf. Now, that they all fit, I’m really getting a sense of just how long it’s been since I wore them–one pair of jeans that had a whiskering effect  made it very clear that it was not to be matched with this year’s ankle boots.

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Interestingly enough, despite all the life-changing results- I still head straight to the plus sizes in the store. It’s like driving to your old house after you move across town. Taking clothes that are way too big to the change room or dismissing something as too small and it fitting perfectly.  Or the irrational fear of gaining aaaaall the weight back after eating too much bread or skipping exercise for one day.  Ultimately, it’s my brain catching up with my body amid breaking long standing habits, exorcising past pains, and discovering whiskered jeans buried deep in the closet.  I wonder if I would suit ankle boots after all? An option worth exploring I suppose–important to question everything.  It’s the eternal adjustment to the reflection’s metamorphic alteration. Forever seeking the perfect fit, when expectation and reality reconcile with one another once more.

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Images Courtesy of Google etc.

 

 

 

Wait-Loss Wonderland.

The weight loss journey is one seriously rocky road, like wandering though a twisted fairy tale, a calorie-conscious Wonderland with all kinds of detours, obstacles, distractions, forks in the roads and the occasional rabbit hole.

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It’s easy to lose track of your starting point, how far you’ve come, or how much you’ve changed from that day you took that first step in that direction.

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Ten months spent in this weight-loss Wonderland has been a deeply transformative time. Not just of my appearance, or my dress size, but as layers of myself have diminished-now forty pounds and 42.5 inches, I have suffered, struggled—and travelled through my memory—and ran the entire gamut of emotions.  Memories of food; of overindulgences.  I am a certifiable comfort eater. I am my own Italian grandmother serving up heaping portions of creamy, saucy, gooey, salty goodness. Eat! Eat!  It’s the cure for all things: anxiety, boredom, depression, loneliness. It’s not as though gaining weight was a deliberate, conscious act. It just becomes a reality that feels unchangeable.  In my office, there’s a giant glass picture frame with a wedding photo of Buster Keaton, (random I know but the image amuses me). It sits on my desk, and I could see my reflection in it—so I covered it up with papers.

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In retrospect, that action strikes me as sad.  In order to not see myself–and face some hard facts, I refused to see something that brings me joy. Then again, denial, like loose fabric and stretchy pants are necessary accessories of avoidance.  Of course, the cruel irony of this vicious cycle is: feeling unhappy with yourself + self medicating and overindulging + feeling unhappy with yourself + self medicating and overindulging =not living your life out loud like you’d really like to. Knowing that you are on the verge of a great depression; or deep in that chasm with no way to get out—knowing, in an abstract sense, that a healthier lifestyle would be a benefit—but not knowing how to break that cycle—because frankly, you won’t see results on day one, two or three. It becomes quite the waiting game. You simply have to trust that each day, you are a little bit more different than the day before.

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Even after change has become to take shape, sometimes you need reminders. Those Facebook memories that pop up on the ole newsfeed are effective tools, and can be occasionally mortifying—or inspiring, depending on your mood. There was a photo of me in Mexico that really stands out in my mind—I’m rather stylish in the group shot—beachy hair, my smile dressed in red lipstick, a purple silk scarf draped over my shoulders, all tucked into a chunky belt—but oooh, that belt was not the only bit of chunky in that snap shot. It was staggering to see. I showed it to my mother, who was quick to insist that I not feel bad about it; I assured her that I didn’t look at the picture with sadness—I was celebrating New Year’s Eve with some marvellous people in Mexico, and have zero regrets about aaaaaall those guac and chips and margaritas. It was more about realizing how far I had come, when I had kind of lost sight of where I was on the long road to fitness. That was then. This is now. I can’t cripple myself with regret for not starting sooner—or for having a problem at all. Regret, sadly does not burn calories, and is therefore pretty damn useless.

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In the mix of dealing with health improvements, my issues with anxiety are the whack-a-moles that I must endlessly smash with my big mallet. Anxiety is the internal Debbie Downer that leeches joy and distracts from motivation.  That bitch needs to get up and go. But, if she won’t leave, and she sticks with you like a bad tattoo you got in your teen years, how does one redesign it in order to deal it on the daily?   In my case, how does one apply self-comfort without stuffing one’s face? Cups of tea, a cozy blanket, my husband Benjamin, our dog Bluebear, a good book, writing, curling up on the couch, a hot bath, a long walk, a visit with a friend. Chatting with Beth and Elisha at Herbal One, laughing through squats and plies at Barre Kamloops.

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Living life in bite sized increments,  mindful of the moment. By all means plan for the future, but focus on today. Especially in regards to health and weight-loss. So. Many. Times. I would eat as if I were being shipped off to the electric chair at dawn. Tomorrow I’ll be better; I’ll start fresh on Monday.  Excuses start to fly like baseballs at the batting cages. Monday is the worst day of the week, why make that the day to start anything? I’ll start on Tuesday…Wednesday… Thursday… ah, it’s the weekend, best treat myself…to bigger pants. You won’t see change in one day—so what’s one more day of not seeking change? There in lies the need for that mindfulness. You may not see rippling abs on the first day you decide to make a change, so you have to find the ant-sized successes in the daily choices that benefit your long term goal.

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My relationship with food is much friendlier.  I spend more time in the kitchen than ever before–prepping, planning and preparing. The other night Benjamin and I were lying in bed discussing all these delicious meal ideas like two children whispering secrets in the dark. Sunday’s are my food prep days, and there is nothing more satisfying than looking into a perfectly stocked fridge filled with washed and chopped produce and ready to go meals. Take that Monday! If the opportunity arises for a true indulgence, I don’t shy away from it; last night for example—live music, three glasses of pinot noir and two kinds of fondue at the Commodore (swiss cheese and dark chocolate). Do I have a wine/cheese/chocolate hangover today? Hell yes, I do. Do I have regrets? Not at all. I completed a 10-day cleanse, treated myself to a mani/pedi, and enjoyed a very special date night with my sweetheart; I savoured, celebrated and absorbed every bite and every sip.  (We also shared a salad, just for good measure).

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This time has been one of great reflection; recollections of all the injuries, accidents, disappointments, heartbreaks, disasters, losses, betrayals. How I’ve been hurt and hurt others. How I have failed myself and failed others.  Taking responsibility, accepting my actions, forgiving myself, letting go.  Letting go is not my strong suit. I’ve been carrying around past agonies in my heart for so long, punishing myself for my mistakes, torturing myself for every misstep I have ever taken.  I’m still carrying around some of those things in my emotional gunny sack—but I’m learning to leave things behind as I walk along that road. Seeing myself as different people. The fretful child I once was, that 14-year-old girl, that 22-year-old, that 30-year-old—on and on, I can only see them as separate from my present-day self.  Sure, our past selves are a part of the patchwork quilt that is your collective existence, but it’s not the definition of your entire life.  Still, I have to love her—apologize to her for the things that broke her, how I didn’t know how to help her, take care of her. I was weak and imperfect and riddled with flaws. I could have done better for so long, but I didn’t. I can’t punish myself any longer for something that is gone; I can’t change the tides that threatened to drown me. All I can do is today. Breathe. Release. Laugh. Love. Stretch. Forgive. Connect. Be Patient. Cry whenever necessary. Eat fondue occasionally. Be grateful for every mistake and heart break, just don’t let it weigh you down.

Image result for vintage alice in wonderland quotesImages Courtesy of the Fine People Behind the Internet…

Junk, Trunk & the Salty Seductress.

The prospect of a post weight-loss shopping trip can be a real thrill. Less intimidated by the reflection in the changing room mirror, approaching fashion with a newfound freedom. A colorful and energetic montage of the new you twirling around in a multitude of stylish garments–celebrating your hard work with a whole new wardrobe.

For me,  the main shopping agenda was new bras. Having lost thirty pounds and as many inches, my strapless bras were starting to slide down my torso like a firefighter rushing down the fire hall pole.  At the best of times, bra shopping has always been an unfortunate enterprise. A real emotional hot zone.  The advertisement in lingerie stores always slays me. After seeing Miranda Kerr in underwear, it makes seeing yourself in underwear a bit of an underwhelming, or even traumatizing experience.

Beth from Herbal One nods sympathetically when I reference my dwindling breasts. “After all, it’s fatty tissue” she reasons. Uh…yea, so is my ass, why the discrimination? As far as the weight loss goes, if my upper half is like a sprightly speed walker, my lower half is like an elderly and arthritic Tai Chi enthusiast. After two weeks of work on a local film set, my pedometer tallied up some rather impressive numbers. 15 hour days on one’s feet really adds up, especially, if you are utterly shameless and casually march and lunge on the spot.  The shoot ended and I returned to Herbal One victorious…and five pounds lighter. After walking the equivalent of 15-25 kilometres per day, I was certain that the effort would be reflected in my measurements, which they did—with the ever-loving exception of my pear-shaped essence. That didn’t budge an inch.  Meanwhile, it’s RIP C-cup. Who needs a full bust anyway? I can just go back to wearing an undershirt like when I was 9.

My body is changing, my health is improving, and I have generally gained control over the task at hand. My thighs, on the other hand, are like that dude at the party who refuses to call it a night–strumming a guitar poorly, talking loudly; unintentionally intervening on a romantic liaison with that dreamy poet you’ve been flirting with all night. Still there in the morning, drinking your coffee, taking up space and frankly, just rubbing you the wrong way. Go make yourself useful thighs, find out where my boobs scuttled off to.  What does a girl have to do to ditch a little of that junk in the trunk?

I signed up for an Herbal One summer challenge and a month of Barre classes–which offers a mix of ballet, yoga and Pilates. It’s the perfect exercise for me, and a fabulous compliment to my Herbal One Program. It’s a full body workout, the music is upbeat, the staff are friendly, and the other attendees are lovely. Sure, the classes can be quite challenging, and it does bring up such questions as: “Has anyone ever barfed in a Barre class? Just right here on the carpet? And then died from lack of core strength or a vicious butt cramp?”  It’s like thinking you might die, but in the most elegant way possible. When that last plie while standing on one’s tip toes makes you feel the burn like nothing else; or when you aren’t quite grasping the movements and feel like a water buffalo with a charley horse trying to give birth in a swamp…

…you just have breathe, and focus on a visual, chant a little inspirational mantra.  Mine is “Audrey Hepburn in a summer dress…Audrey Hepburn in a summer dress. Audrey. Hepburn. in. a. summer. dress“.

You may want to give up, just a little, or a lot. Tempting isn’t it? Go home, sit on the couch and get your sloth on. Let motivation drift, routines fade, lose track of progress. After all. Isn’t this all so hard? Wasn’t it easier when you filled out the stretchy pants and a proper lady bra? Don’t you miss the sweet, savory and cheeky treats? Temptation is such a salty seductress.  Here’s one: don’t you ever get sick of wishing things were different from the sidelines? Wanting to change, and not knowing where to begin? Or falling back into bad habits, and giving up at the first sign of struggle, failure or defeat?  Or, what if you just kept quietly pushing onward.  It’s about applying that same rationale towards food control to exercise. Commitment and consistency is key, sacrifice and just a smidgen of suffering is required if you want to see results. Ultimately, you have to like what you do, or it won’t really stick for the long haul. Frankly, after living with my thighs rubbing up on each other like a couple of horny teenagers—since, like the day I learned to walk—I need to get in there with some loving, yet brute force.

Between the Herbal One challenge and the Barre Kamloops class, I dropped five inches in one month–and yes, even off the junk in the trunk. For me, finding happy places to focus on my health has been as essential as the little black dress; having friendships steeped in that healthy lifestyle. To be surrounded by support and humor as you lose weight means gaining something far greater in return.

Images & GIF’s Courtesy of the Wide World Web etc.

 

 

Off the Wagon.

Whenever I feel discouraged in regards to weight loss, I just think about Oprah.  She has money, power, influence, accolades, luxury, celebrity; she can do anything, go anywhere– and do so like a boss. She has such a magic touch that there is an actual phenomenon known as “The Oprah Effect”.  All the while, she struggles to maintain a consistent weight.  This is a woman with access to trainers, chefs and all the support in the world–and it’s still the hardest thing ever. Why? Because food is delicious and gaining a whole mess of weight is quite possibly the easiest thing a person could ever do. Being Oprah, she turned her own weight-loss journey into another gold mine, chronicling all the ups and downs with Chef Rosie, and her trainer Bob. Although, it goes back further than that–to the late 80’s, when Oprah lost sixty-odd pounds, and then pulled it out onstage in a little wagon.

It’s a great visual. Grotesque, but great. Eventually that Radio Flyer’s worth of weight made it’s way back onto Winfrey’s waist line. Those pounds have been lost and found more times than anyone could count. Although, it was pretty well documented, I’m sure someone else could do that math.

Perhaps it means that you never really complete the mission. The finish line is like a mirage in the desert, or a horizon that ceases to come closer as you approach it. It’s a never ending quest to lose, and then maintain this new found physique. As I considered blogging about my own weight-loss journey, I thought of Oprah Winfrey and the fat wagon. Firstly, that it would be a fun name for a funk band, and secondly, that it was nerve-wracking enough to privately make these kind of changes, much less to shout your intentions from the roof top; inviting everyone to watch you fumble through. I didn’t want to ride in on my high horse and trumpet about my great successes…then fall off, and get trampled by said horse.

Six months into my weight loss program with Herbal One, and I’ve lost over twenty pounds and just under twenty inches.  By all rights, there should have been far more extensive changes by this point. I have the support, I have a plan, the supplements, the groundwork was laid for me to whittle down. It’s just me in my own way.  When I think about my weight-loss, I imagine water lapping along the shoreline. It goes in a little bit, and out a little bit, repeat, repeat, again, again. I could really use a low tide one of these days. It’s an arduous undertaking. Many, many changes must be made. I remember sitting down for my first meeting with owner Beth McBride and nodding profusely.  “NONE OF THIS WILL BE A PROBLEM”–I say, smugly, like a total idiot. Like any addict, I can stop anytime I want. By all means, make all the changes all at once.

I started the program after a lengthy road trip through Washington and Oregon and went to Las Vegas a week later. From there, more events, shows, mini-breaks and random outings.  So many opportunities to eat and drink.  Three weeks in New Zealand for Christmas. Sure, there was swimming and walking, but there was also so. much. cheese. Cold Ciders, gin and fresh lime, champagne, lemony French onion dip with salty potato chips. My in-laws are all foodies, and all make gorgeous, fresh meals. Of course, being on holiday, one eats 8-12 times a day, in between glasses of bubbles and the beach.

Drinking everything but water, nibbles around every corner, something decadent or deep fried around midnight.  Holiday is Latin for “seeking the next meal”. Pop into the cute café for a latte, stop at that sweet shop for an ice cream cone. Wander through a marketplace and eat all the samples. The montage that plays in my head of eating a variety of delectable goodies in a variety of foreign places makes me stare out the window wistfully.

New Zealand was a happy, relaxing time with family and friends. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to lose the shoes, send for our dog Bluebear and shack up in a little Kiwi Bungalow by the beach with Ben. In all honesty, returning home was a little challenging. I came back to some challenges that unfolded and worsened over time. I began to sink deeper and deeper into a rather serious depression. Ever the cheerleader, Beth says: “Weight-loss is something YOU can control!”. Let this be the thing that grounds you, gives you purpose. Which is a truly fabulous, remarkable idea–and it’s the truth. But, for anyone who has dealt with depression, it’s a bit like sinking in quicksand and lacking the wherewithal to stop it. Mix in crippling anxiety, and you’re sinking, too stressed to make a rational decision to better your situation. Quite the bloody predicament isn’t it?

My weight–that had crept up a wee bit while in New Zealand– was like an unmanned car with a brick on the accelerator. I was not in control. I was not happy. I also didn’t know how to stop this car or turn it around. How can we want these changes for ourselves and let precious days pass by wishing those things were for us but lamenting that they aren’t.

As Oprah would say–the ‘Ah-ha Moment’ that set me back on the path of better health was two-fold. The cancer diagnosis of a really good friend–which rattled me to the very core, was deeply influential in waking up from my deep dark doldrums. Also, sitting in the Herbal One office, like a sad sack, whining about how I keep setting health goals and not achieving them. This is my vicious cycle: I keep saying–oh this event/show/performance is coming up, what better reason to lose those pesky pounds? And then…the only thing I actually exercise is procrastination. Tomorrow I will exercise. Tomorrow I will eat better. Tomorrow I will drink less. Who am I? Scarlett O’Hara?

A month before another big event, I express disappointment that I hadn’t met my mark. Beth, in this cool, casual manner, says: “Well, there’s always next year”. Not sure if she was genuine, or if it was a sneaky parental tactic, some reverse psychology. Regardless, you could practically hear The Eye of the Tiger pumping through my veins. Next year? NEXT YEAR?? Who has that kind of time?

I let go of the shame, the regret, the ‘what if’s’ and made the resolution to start over. I got a fresh new food journal. I reassessed my habits and weaknesses. Started visiting Beth and Elisha at Herbal One more. Making teeny tiny changes. Living my life in 24-hour increments. More sleep. More water. I’ve taken to weighing myself every morning and tracking the patterns on a Pin-up Girl calendar that hangs in the bathroom.

I try to not let that number ruin my day, it is simply a matter of that number helping guide my decisions for the day.  It’s effective, and it’s now part of the routine. From the day I started that practice, I have seen significant changes. Leading up to the next event, I felt that there was a difference. Not just to my figure, but to my mindset.  I’m not really to roll out any ole wagon of fat–and I’m still living day to day, but the last month has been truly empowering. Revolutionary even. I’m active, I’m hydrated, I’m happier. I’ve even started running.  I had lost weight leading up to the Kamloops Film Festival, and continued to lose weight during the ten days.

How you ask??

  • A Bold Lip Color. Wearing chic red lipstick made me far more reluctant to nibble.
  • Eating beforehand is essential. (Who knew?)
  • Limit hard alcohol. I really enjoy a drunken grilled cheese, so I needed to maintain some level of sobriety to reduce my odds of losing my willpower.
  • I really enjoyed  Pinot Noir. Was like classy, buzz inducing velvet, and was better than anything morsel out there. Makes a great accessory, keeps your hand occupied.
  • A snugly fitted dress is key. It’s really easy to keep things loose and layered, and not notice any difference as you quietly consume a boatload of calories. I felt a nicely cinched waist kept me in check. 1) I didn’t want to be uncomfortable and 2) I wanted to wear this dress again.
  • Tell someone! I had so much support from committee friends, and that made life all the easier.
  • This is kind of a cheeky tip, but during the film festival, I packed a bottle of water and a Tupperware container of plain popcorn. On the day I watched all four movies, I brought along a small amount of dried cherries and dark chocolate as well.
  • Of course, the support from Beth and Elisha at Herbal One. I truly could not do any of this without them

By the Sunday, I was the lightest I’ve been on the program…and then gave in to post-festival laziness and ate some take-out Chinese food that my husband ordered and bloated like a MSG infused puffer fish. Damn you Chicken Chow Mein!!  Make a delicious, salty, buttery, soyasaucey mistake?  I hope you savored every bite, cause now you’ve got more work to do. Take a breath. Be kind to yourself, prepare some hot water and lemon, walk a little longer, run a little farther. Be like Oprah, and try again.  After all, tomorrow is another day.

Images Courtesy of Jen Randall Dustin &the fine folks behind the internet.

 

 

 

Postcards from the Plateau.

I wish anything in life was as easy as getting fat. Or as much fun. Or as delicious. Is anybody else hungry right now? In her latest memoir, actress Candice Bergen writes about a thirty pound weight gain over the past fifteen years.  She refers to herself as a champion eater, and has no regrets about demolishing every carbohydrate in sight–I believe she actually wrote that “no carb is safe”.  I hear that, I’ve been known to murder a meal or two.

Good for her, she’s earned the elastic waistband in her designer slacks. Open up another tab and Google “Young Candice Bergen”. Stunning–utterly photogenic, and looking as if she’s just come from her bungalow in Malibu.  Seriously though, what kind of deal with the devil did she have to make to get that kind of volume in her hair?

Now heading towards her seventies, Bergen’s happy to lose count of those calories. She’s had a dynamic and interesting life, well-traveled and whatnot. Candice Bergen would know where to get a good burger. If I once was able to pull off an outfit like the one below, I am perfectly happy to skip the  Jane Fonda third act make over, and hit up the world of full flavoured fat head first.

What a way to not go gentle into that good night. Just get the most expensive bathrobe ever and let the calories fly. If I make it to 100, I’ll get a one way ticket on a cruise ship. I’ll be the one lurking at the buffet like an elderly Elizabeth Taylor: drunk off my ass, jewel encrusted  and putting mayonnaise on absolutely everything.

Until then, I’m on the weight-loss track–for three months now. Seventeen pounds and fourteen inches lost. Which is not too bad seeing that when I started I had just come from the Seattle/Portland/Bend Cider & Carbs Tour of 2015. A week later I went to Las Vegas, and then there was Thanksgiving, and the Florence and the Machine in Vancouver, and then Halloween. When having my meeting with Elisha at Herbal One, she asks how I did over Halloween weekend. I had spent my Halloween as the Queen of Hearts, and she had a few nibbles of chocolate. Beth popped her head into the room, congratulating me on was quite possibly the greatest excuse ever: Blame it on the Queen of Hearts, she can take it.

It’s not that I need a weight-loss plan, it’s that I need Ranch Dressing Rehab. I need to be cured of a poor appetite by day, and an almost werewolf-like urge to  eat all of the food in the world after nine o’clock at night. Breakfast is for suckers! Give me a grilled cheese at midnight!

Which is why I now go to bed at about that time. If I stay up late to write, I try to stick with tea. Which is not nearly as cheesy or buttery or plunge into ketchup-able but that’s my cross to bear.

Around the time I  started the weight-loss plan, I was reading some tabloid article about Khloe Kardashian and her daily diet. It was an extraordinary amount of mini meals punctuated by intense work outs.  Seriously, how much food and gym-time can a gal pack away?  Then again, if you want to look that good in a full lunge, you’re going to have to do some serious work.

Khloe K is my distant cousin of the YoYo Sisterhood; with a quick bit of research you can immediately see a pattern over the last few years. Headlines have announced her twenty-five to thirty pound loss quite a few times. Is this is same weight that just keep coming back like a stray dog or old boyfriend? On a much smaller scale, I too have been feeling that pain; I was in a rhythm, losing a consistent amount of weight, writing in the ole food journal, meeting with a coach daily. Then, the schedule changed, and it was difficult to get that groove back.  Still, each day there was effort and intention. After ten days away, I was looking forward to seeing the ladies, but not facing off with that damned scale.

The weight-loss halted, but it didn’t become a weight-gain.  had plateaued. To the ounce, I was the exact same weight from the last time I came in. It was like getting a C+ on a test that you totally didn’t study for. Yes, I could have done better, I could have studied, prepared, made up little flash cards, but I didn’t. No excuses. The dog didn’t eat my homework, I did. It was not the desired effect, but I still took it as a win–that while I was busy with everything else in my life, my weight remained consistent. Not every choice was my best; but they still overweighed the number of poor ones.  In the occasionally discouraging world of weight-loss it’s perfectly acceptable to celebrate the C+’s

I got a text from Elisha the other day. Just checking in, making sure I was eating. ‘Eat the whole banana’, is a mantra I try to live by. My life is truly action packed, and each day brings wild variables that make eating at regimented times difficult. Breakfast at six am is completely  uncool. Coffee with milk and CBC 2, and a little dog to watch me putting on make-up is all I can stomach. Once at work, I just forget to do it. There have been many half eaten abandoned bananas near my desk.

Besides my late-night predatory craving for  carbohydrates, not eating enough it my biggest issueSorry? You want you to eat how much? Coffee and fruit until a half-assed dinner at 9pm isn’t the key to a slim figure? That is such upsetting news.  I’d be the only person to get stranded on a desert island and instead of coming out tanned and thin a la Brooke Shields in Blue Lagoon…

…I’d look like Elvis in Hawaii circa 1977.

The last month has really been a jazzy little two step between gaining and losing small increments of weight. With the calendar at it’s busiest, it’s been difficult to get to Herbal One with as much regularity as before. I realize more than ever how much those connections matter; those texts from Beth and Elisha (#eatthewholebanana), mean a lot to me.  At those points when you could just give up and go for the full Bergan; those ladies are there with all the support a girl can handle–and that kind of encouragement is simply delicious.

Images Courtesy of the Internet etc…

 

Loss Vegas.

Started the morning off right.  Making healthy choices from the moment I open my eyes, and still going strong an hour later.  Solid breakfast, supplements, loads of water.  Truth be told, my standard holiday mode can get a little loose, and I have been known to be a imbibe in promiscuous doses. Total food slut. In an attempt to redeem that quality, I am setting a positive tone for a holiday where good choices will be made.  Good thing that I’m headed to Las Vegas-the Thunderdome of bad choices.

Off to the land of liquid calories and I am on self imposed budget. I mean, I’m not under duress,  I walk this path willingly. Recently I had reached out to Beth McBride, owner of Kamloops’ Herbal One. Just to ask a couple casual questions about her services. No big deal. It all happened so fast. There I am, standing on the edge of a pool, looking to dip a toe, and Beth pulled me right on into the deep end. Just get in the water already! 

It’s kind of like learning to swim; splashing and gulping and sputtering, but with a life guard on-hand. I’ve agreed to document this flail fest, and share my journey into a smaller dress size. What a daunting task. How exposing.  It helps to police one’s self when you have to hand over your food journal to a fit and gorgeous blonde woman, who scrunches her face gently when asking whether the bun I documented eating was whole grain. There’s something to be said for having someone beside yourself to be accountable to.

At the airport in Calgary, feeling pretty empowered after declining the complimentary snacks on the way from Kamloops. High on said empowerment, there may have been a breakfast sandwich. It came with little potato sidekicks, glorious little greasy nuggets, made better when plunged into ketchup. I gave half to my husband and relished in my self-restraint. Not yet anywhere near the state of Nevada and already feeling like a real winner. Nor had I really felt the potential pressures of the many caloric delights that awaited me in the City of Sin.

In general, travel is a calorie land mine. Food has an essential, vital role in survival, while good food in my world is an absolute necessity. Benjamin and I remember meals like we remember landmarks and people. It’s connected to a memory. That white fish in Kalbarri, Australia–served with avocado and sweet potato, enjoyed with a gorgeous unoaked white wine; a meal so good that I kind of drunkenly wandered into the kitchen to thank the staff.

The cannelloni with rose sauce, a glass of red wine and the accordionist in New York’s Little Italy.   Ice cold apricot cider, frito pie and freshly made California rolls in Portland; two for one margaritas in Mexico–served on the rocks with all kinds of salt, served with warm chips and guacamole. Sitting on the beach overlooking the Caribbean Sea, right next to a wedding party.  Late night, freshly made donuts in San Francisco. Poutine in Quebec. Room service in Bali, noodles and ice cream sundaes eaten in bathrobes. Fluffy scones served with cream and raspberry jam in Otarahonga, New Zealand. I once had a mocha mousse with a dense dark chocolate foundation with whipped cream and the tartest raspberry coulis that it caused me to burst into fit of giggles. I don’t even remember where I was. The feast was a part of the adventure.

Carbohydrates, chocolates, ciders and cheeses aside, a well made latte is the crowning culinary jewel. Made creamiest on the Southern Hemisphere, there is few more joyous things than a proper latte in a cozy café in a foreign place. There is no glory greater, or luxury grander than a warm mug of espresso and frothy milk in hand.

Something about the memory of feasting makes me want to cry.  It does make me cry. When I think about these moments I am imagine myself being happy. Making yummy noises and eating with my hands.  On holiday and feeling no pain. Fostering that perfect buzz where alcohol makes you feel fuzzy as a kitten.

I have lots of other fond memories: swimming in beautiful bodies of water, walking in spectacular bits of natures, relaxing on beaches, watching the sun go down while standing on a mountain–and that moment when you want to absorb that moment. Drink it in fully. Take it with you when you go. That’s the lure of travel, that’s the high. That’s when the child inside of you who longed for these adventures beams with pride. Butterfly stroke in the Indian Ocean, in a little cove off the side of the road–sun kissed and in love, everything you really need tucked in a camper van.  Somewhere between where you always wanted to be and a place you never knew existed.

Still, life is always better when there’s food to pick at. When I think about eating–think of changing the calcified habits that surround that ritual…it is rather tough to swallow. It feels profoundly emotional. Vulnerable even. Food is everywhere. It is social. It is a comfort. It is a gesture. It’s part of the celebration. It also has a way of really sticking to your skeletal structure over time, like tectonic layers of some truly awesome meals.

Of course, not everyday is a holiday and not every meal is yummy noise-inducing. We’ve been on holidays when eating becomes ‘something to do’.  There was this time in Planet Hollywood (yes, Planet Hollywood–my husband’s choice, not mine) in New York and the “everything deep friend platter”. We didn’t need it, it wasn’t very good, and it was kind of expensive. The server, who had up to this point been quite pleasant, brings the billfold on the table, smiles sincerely before very seriously reminding us that we were in America, and in America you tip. Ewwww.  I tip well when the moment is merited, but telling me to do something makes me not want to do it.  I wrinkled my nose at that one. It was not a minty compliment to an otherwise fine meal.  The whole thing felt like a huge mistake.

I know ‘food envy’ is a commonly known sentiment, but to me, there’s nothing worse than food regret.  I wish I never knew you calories. They weren’t special like the rest.  When the feasting makes a rather seedy affair out of a once promising romance. And the day to day act of feeding one’s self can feel like such a chore. That’s why I was so thin when I was single and living alone; I was living off of restaurant food from waitressing jobs, fruit and spoonful’s of cottage cheese, eaten out of the tub over the sink. Having a husband has been a shock to the ole eating plan. Mainly that he cooks a solid 90% of the meals that we ate. During my busy periods, if it were up to me to feed him, all he’d get is two sugar packets and apology note. I think of myself as busy now, but I used to be much busier, going straight from work to a rehearsal/meeting/project, buying food on the go. Eating what my husband made, at nine o’clock at night. Time goes by and that adds up becoming another layer you one day wish to shed. Every day that desire to change is alive and well–but then I leave my house and face the outside world. Good intentions unravel, meals are skipped, blood sugars dip, more coffee than water, and go-go-go for ten to twelve hours straight and then eating a big meal on the couch–watching Netflix with bleary eyes. Sleep, wake, repeat. Tired and over-scheduled, there were so many moments where I had to wish to make a change, but feeling stunted as to how. The wishing would evaporate like fog on a glass.

So…Las Vegas, one week into a weight loss journey. There were some wins and losses. Ate too little on the first day (should have eaten all of those hash browns!) and then was befallen by a $20.00 Michael Jackson themed drink at a Cirque du Solei show.   It was like a shot gun blast of intoxication. One minute I am enjoying the plethora of glittery dancers on stage, the next minute I realize that if I close one eye, that there are significantly less dancers on stage.

I hate getting drunk like that.  I don’t have the stamina to reach that level of drunkness and continue on with my night a la The Hangover. I just want a grilled cheese sandwich and a pillow for my head.  Due to my death by MJ cocktail, I proceeded with caution with the booze henceforth. Probably for the best.  The adage of ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ does not apply here, as the weight scale is nothing but a dirty little snitch.

On the last night of the trip, before a glamorous showgirls performance, my travel companions and I went to The Buffet. Who needs a clever name when you have every food under the sun in one room? I loaded up half my plate with salad and wandered around the space judiciously before settling in with my choices. I took two very long and luxurious laps around the space instead of getting a second plate. My arm linked into my friend’s, ogling the feast as we wandered through the edible museum. Anything you could ever want to eat was right within reach. It didn’t belong to me, I didn’t feel a responsibility to consume it. No envy, no regrets. There may have still been dessert.

Images Courtesy of the Fine People of the Internet

Pin Up Picks Zen Up

Rainy, miserable October the second. That transitional crisp, faintly Indian Summer sensibility–that too warm for your sweater by the afternoon–kind of feeling has faded considerably since the first rain fall of the autumn season.

Glad to be at home. Blanket over the lap, dog at my feet, watching the rain from the sanctity of my office window. Bad weather is delicious only if you have nowhere to go; if you are inside, fire adjacent, thick socks and an even thicker book, a hot kettle and someone to steep your tea. Throw in a Lazy Boy chair and a pastry chef, and this is literally how I’d like to die.

Like yesterday, today that was filled with challenges and annoyances. I was interrupted, disappointed, frustrated, irritated…and then I got out of bed. The day unfolded with these intermittent moments of sheer… [insert angry, lengthy snort, and clenched fist here]. I also had a good cup of coffee, hugged my husband, snuggled my dog, had fun with children and some of those laughing until crying moments with truly wonderful people. It’s a rollercoaster. Above all, good friends and co-workers do help blow the steam out of the life’s little agonies.

My husband bought me a book called the “Little Book of Mindfulness”. Rather, he placed it in front of the necklace and coffee mug I was buying in a shop in Oregon, and the sales girl added it to the tab and popped it in a bag, and didn’t eally see it again until we got home. Mint green with gold lettering, the book has small little sections that essentially repeats the message of mindfulness. All you have is right now. The only thing you have to think about right now is your breath.

So I breathe… like the ocean tide gently lapping the sand. I do this when things aren’t going my way, when I’m tired, frustrated, anxious, challenged, confronted, which is all day every day…and then I wind up sounding like a Lamaze class attendee in an 80’s sitcom. I’m huffing and puffing like some ole cartoon wolf, and all I’m trying to do is get some peace

Following a meeting, I was keen to get home to the dog and some leftover chicken. There was an accident along the normal route I take, and unthinkingly took a route that was overflowing with construction and road works. An eternity of staring at the back of a dingy trailer, creeping along Columbia Street in the rain. Breathing deeply. Focusing on the radio. Cranking up the heat on my chilly toes. Watching the windshield wipers. I wonder what the chicken is up to. How the dog is. Trying not to get annoyed, Trying to be A half hour has passed.  I’m spending my lunch break like a Zen master who placed Bronze in patience at the Mindfulness Olympics. All I have is my breath…and every fucking red light ever.

Is this grumpy girl about town thing getting a little repetitive? Look back at the blog. Note the common thread of each piece and how I’m simply finding a new, elaborate and poetic way of saying.

“I was annoyed today”.

I even started my own group, I called it ‘AA’, which stood for Annoyed & Anonymous; held the first meeting…it was just a bunch of drunks.

That annoyed me.

I do fret though, always have. I could worry professionally. My job can be quite busy and stressful. There’s always something happening, and my ‘to-do list’ is more like a ‘wish list’, of things I try to achieve in small pockets of precious time. Any other time it’s kids and noise and variables galore, and sometimes I try to do math with a symphonic explosion of a pre-school age gymnastics class: music, laughter, yelling, crying, and a sea of little voices saying such classics as: ‘Look at me, Look at me’, “Coach, Coach, Coach’, “Teacher, Teacher Teacher”, and “He/she’s Buuuudging” featuring Pitbull. It’ll be a hot new dance craze inspired by the childhood crime of one stepping into a line without waiting one’s turn. It’s very Electric Slide meets Latino heat.

Seriously though. Nothing gets a kid’s back up more than the ole budging the line bit). There are a million little injustices in a kids day, which leads to the pinnacle of kidisms: “No fair”. To use phrase correctly, you must spread out “fair”, and add a twang and a higher octave halfway through. You really want to ramp that whine up if you want to hit a-ir just so. I get to hear aaaaaall about it as I answer calls, emails, solve problems, wipe noses, stage manage and occasionally do math and complex paperwork.

I love my job dearly, I love all those children and the entire staff. But… let’s face it, some times to really be truly productive, you wish you could shut out the world.

Yesterday was my fifth wedding anniversary. It is also the day that our dog Bluebear decided to chase after three massive deer and drop out of my husband’s sight. Benjamin calls me about ten hours into an action packed work day, as I’m about to delve into a administrative tornado heading toward me.

Earlier that day Bluebear had gotten her little paws on a vintage hat that I had saved as theatre memorabilia. Bits of blue velvet and feathers, bits of netting scattered across the office floor. It was like the murder of an exotic bird backstage at a Atlantic City Magic Show.  That pissed me off. She’s like that sometimes, you come around the corner and she’s quietly chewing the face of the Buddha you brought home from Bali. Casual as hell. She unapologetically destroys an irreplaceable item, and moves forward like it ain’t no thing. Ordinarily, she is my best buddy–my therapy dog. She is good to have around, lowers the blood pressure. I feel calmer when I’m with her.  When she stops to smell the ‘everything’ or rolls in the grass in absolute ecstasy, it forces me to pause. Dogs are very zen I find; it’s all about the moment, and in the moment it’s all good.

Unable to leave work just then, I went through the motions with this stunned, numb queasiness, hands shaking and heart pounding thinking that Bluebear was hurt, lost, dead or half way to Mexico on the back of a motorcycle. Dogs don’t know how to use pay phones…pay phones don’t even exist anymore, they’ve disappeared like record stores…which frankly is another thing that upsets me. Now she’s gone and I had been mad at her for murdering my hat. I would lavish her with many fancy accessories to eat, if only I could have her back.

Still, the show goes on, and I work until I get the call that Bluebear is safe at home. I burst into tears, which I was trying to contain; it looked like a weird involuntary watery eye sneeze. Blame it on the anxiety casserole, layers upon layers of stress, baked at 425. You’ll know it’s ready the minute I burst into flames.

Even on the not-so-dramatic-days of the stress casserole, I do get my daily servings of stress cereal, or stress stew. There’s always a mashing of factors.  I get bothered easily, get angry quickly. Like the children, small injustices drive me to aggravation. External forces cause me great distress. The news is a total buzz kill. Gun control is a disaster in the States. Stephen Harper is endangering my beloved CBC in Canada. Europe is in upheaval.  The world seems to be a mess. All that trauma and turmoil certainly puts your own small inconveniences in perspective. But then again, those are some pretty big tickets items to worry about. The environment, the economy, war, famine, disease. Bill Cosby. Kim Davis. Kim Kardashian. Donald Trump. The horror. The horror.

To be a writer and a mild disaster magnet make magic of my misfortune. When I was much younger–I had shared some sob stories with my dear-now deceased friend Monica. She would listen intently, but never grieve always laugh, saying “What a great scene that would make“. The darker the better, the more humiliating the funnier. Her tar black sense of humor helped shaped my own view of myself. I need to remember that. Even under the worst circumstances, I know that there is a funny story there.  As Nora Ephron was known to say:  ‘everything is copy’.

Perhaps it is best to follow the Tao of Ephron. Live in the moment, accepting that the present may be painful, but in the future it will be funny.

*images courtesy of the fine people of the internet*

Faith Tones & the Freak Show Circuit

For anyone who’s keeping track–the original blogs have not been flooding in plentifully…it’s a trickle. It’s like the tap in the bathtub that occasionally releases a fat drop of water. We’re teetering on full out drought here. Once the very busy summer ended, my life continued to be a morning to night all-consuming marathon of activity and responsibility.

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The luxurious days of writing for hours are gone–for now.  Maybe I’ll have a baby just so I can have a year off–finally write the book that the world has been holding their breath for. In the meantime the only thing I have time for is re-editing and re-posting older posts. Let’s be honest, there’s well over 200 blogs, and not all have been read by everyone. Only a handful of people (that I know of), have read the entire catalogue. Once in a blue moon the pop culture gods release news that allows me to re-release a blog for another dozen or so new readers to relish.  My friend Dusan admonished me over tea one afternoon: “Too busy is not an excuse’, ‘editing and adding new ideas to an old post is not really the same thing as writing a new one’. Well…what can I say? Legitimate writers take collections of already published material and put a spine on it and call it a book–and I bet they tinker and retool their work just a little before it hits the printing press.  As an unpaid, non-legitimate writer, don’t I have the right to rotate the backlog?  Though I no longer write regularly, I still check in on my stats–see what people are reading. I get comments that are almost exclusively spam. For example, samsung 32 inch tv said: “Heyya i am foor the firest time here. I found this board and I tto find It truly useful & it helped me out much. I am hopng to present on thing bak and aid others like you aided me“.  The other day I reposted a piece about the end of summer, and got a very nice shout out from a former co-worker. Her compliment was a nice validation–that someone is reading and enjoying; that it is not unfounded to repost old pieces, as they are new to someone else. Yesterday I checked my email and received a notification about a comment. Wow, another  comment from someone not named ‘fur coats cheap for sale’. It was regarding Crossed Lines at the Cal Neva, a rather epic blog written over my Christmas holiday about Marilyn Monroe’s last weekend.

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“Hell, if your so great why don’t you put up pictures of yourself and have them judge you based on their lives?”

Whoa. That was harsh. As a knee jerk reaction I immediately deleted it. But it really made me stop and think.

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If the writer of this comment had only put an apostrophe and added an ‘e’ to ‘your’, that would have cut me to the quick.  It made me screw my face up in confusion. So…who have I offended here? Are Marilyn, Frank, Jackie and JFK up in heaven nursing wounds over what I wrote about them? Is the commenter offended on their behalf? I reread the piece and realize the issue. (Read along if you wish for the most heightened interactive experience https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/12/30/crossed-lines-at-the-cal-neva/). The blog was originally going to be about me spending my entire Christmas holiday drunk on spiked coffee, and whiling away many hours on Pinterest…and because I was still drunk I just combined what really should be two blogs into one Lawrence of Arabia length piece. So the blog does start off with me making remarks about vintage celebrity snapshots.Why wouldn’t I?How can you come across a picture like this an not crack a joke>

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Furthermore, Cher is an old friend of mine.  I met her at a Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves summit.  I even introduced her to Val Kilmer. Celebrities in general love when I gently roast their past lives.  What I want to know is how this commenter has deduced that I’m “so great”, and insinuating that my  knowledge of this greatness is bleeding into my comedic work. Does she think that I think I’m better than Cher? Better than Nancy Regan sitting on Mr T’s lap when he is dressed like Santa? Bitch please. Nothing in life will be that good again my friends.

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Clearly this woman has not read all the blogs. It’s a pretty rare day that I shine a light on my many many talents and positive attributes. Don’t I self depreciate enough? I’m an unpaid, unfamous blogger with a slim following and fat thighs, and I am not afraid to shout these facts from the rooftop…what more does she want from me? Maybe she wants to hear more about my life–learn more about my past through the majesty of photography. Allow her to judge me as I have judged others.  Please forgive me…I’ll do my best, but I’m feeling a little foggy–I was just at George’s wedding in Venice and it was a pretty magical weekend.  This is not the most flattering shot of me, I was being attacked by a bee, and was trying to deflect it with my many diamonds.

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Was I invited to Clooney’s wedding? I wasn’t not invited. I know Amal (if that’s her real name), is quite intimated by me, and hoped I would not show my face around Venice over the weekend. What a silly bitch. You don’t spend as much as I have on a face and not show it off.  George needed to see what he was losing for one last time. This is a classic shot–George took this on a particularly hot day in our tow-trailer in Arizona…I was going through a blonde phase, which was a huge mistake. In Clooney land–you better run a tight ship. No dishes in the sink, don’t leave the milk and generic cereal out–and do all that with class, dignity and chestnut hair.

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Of course, I wasn’t always the beauty I am today. In fact, when I was born, doctors told my parents that I would never be attractive. Not wanting to be known as the parents of an ugly baby, they did their best to distance themselves from me.

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Time moved along and I did not outgrow the ugly baby phase. Still, I got a pet and a pack of cigarettes, and suddenly my toddler days were looking up.

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I found a group of friends, and they tried to help me blend into the crowd by wearing masks that were scarier than my actual face.

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Things with the group got kind of out of hand. Egged on by my pet chicken Albert…who had really come to rule the roost, daily life got a little too Lord of the Flies circa Rob Zombie, so we scattered to the wind shortly after this photo was taken.

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From there, it was a ragtag life of menial crime. Knocking off drug stores, liquor stands and 24-hour dry cleaners, and getting short stints with freak shows as they toured throughout the Mid West.

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I made a good honest living for a while–thrilling audiences with my peculiar body and excessively ruffled collar.

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I made friends along the way…making one acquaintance in particular on the road. Now this is an exclusive, and you won’t hear about in the press. Sure Amal looks like this now.  When I had Clooney money I looked like a million bucks too.

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I remember Amal from the freak show circuit when she was known as Gertie the Goatee Faced Girl.

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George is not the first man we fought over either. We have loved the same man before–or, at least, we thought it was a man…the heaving breasts were often confusing.  But what can you say? It’s slim pickings on the fair grounds.

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As is the theme of my life, I loved and lost–and was forced in the opposite direction. I got a new hat and a second hand gun and didn’t take shit from anyone ever again.

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Eventually, the law caught up with me, and I was captured trying to cross the border into Mexico with counterfeit money, thirty aerosol cans of hairspray and a trunkful of mushroom colored pantyhose in a stolen Oldsmobile.

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Prison life was a time of growth and self reflection. It’s all detailed in the wildly exaggerated fictional account written about my life.

Don’t even get me started on Orrie Hitt–what a liar. Who gives someone “Sherry Jenkins” as a pseudonym? Why not Doreen Magilicutty? Esther Pinkerinko? Toots McTinkertits? Trade a little sex for money and suddenly you are a hooker–which is another lie–I’ve never even played rugby once in my life.  Nonetheless, prison changed my life, and made me the saint you know me as today.  With those dark days of incarceration behind me, I turned to a more spiritual life. I realized that I had a natural ear for music and a voice that could make the angels weep; naturally I walked straight into the record biz and dropped a rather successful album with some girls I met in a Halfway house. I’m the one with the big hair in this shot.

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Considered the Justin Timberlake of The Faith Tones, it was only natural that I went solo.  I named the album after my favorite place in the world.  This look is a little ‘Sherry Jenkins’, but my management team at the time was going for an elusive combination of bronzer, bleach and bulimia with just a healthy splash of vodka and a venereal infection.  I think that achieving that look became more successful than the actual album. Lesson learned. The album cover is not more important than the album.  The Faith Tones tried to warn me–but I was blinded by money, fame and the reflection in the looking glass–I called them a dime store Lance Bass and Joey Fatone, and laughed off into the sunset with Charlie Sheen…’s recently fired bodyguard Gary.

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Nobody looks like good all the time right? Wrong. I look that amazing all the time. I earned this beauty. I pay monthly installments for it. I lie to my husband and claim they are ‘student loan payments’ when everyone knows a university education is for suckers.  As of recently I’m paying off the butt implant surgery that will make me look more like Nicky Minaj. I look right in the mirror before I look down on Marilyn Monroe or criticize Sinatra’s ability to be a good friend.  I  pass judgement on Cher’s dating life and make off the cuff observations about celebrities in 30 year old snapshots. And I know I am right to do so.  Why not? After all, I  know as anyone else that I am ‘so great’. No one has ever used the internet to pass judgment, make ironic statements or snarky remarks before. No one has commented on a photograph before. No one has ever taken taken vintage imagery and added a modern twist. Marilyn--117784

Thank goodness I came along to shake things up. I pretty much invented irony along with the birth control pill and the friggin’ wheel. Apologies to whomever I’ve offended–especially to Ms Monroe, as I am the first and only individual to ever speculate about her spectacular yet unfortunate life.

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Thick & Thin

Saturday afternoon of a long weekend.  This time off was so necessary. After a hectic, stressful, busy, emotionally challenging week I am feeling a bit like a filthy t-shirt you wear for the entirety of a four-day music festival.  I’ve seen all kinds of shit.  It was like crawling through the desert on one’s belly, the oasis always beyond one’s reach.  Then you find out that the desert is filled with landmines and the oasis is just a mirage.  Still, as all things must pass, the stress did recede like the ocean after an angry storm, and all was calm once more.  This weekend is the Richard Gere to my Debra Winger.

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To take my Officer and a Gentleman metaphor one step further…this week has been the Louis Gossett Jr to my Richard Gere, forever riding my ass and testing me to the brink of sanity.

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It’s like…”Thanks a lot universe, what did I ever do to you?”

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Leading up to the long weekend, Benjamin and I were making a lot of plans.  ‘Let’s go on a mini break’, “Let’s go to the lake’, “Let’s see people’. And now, past lunchtime on Saturday it’s like…. ‘Let’s never leave the couch ever again”.

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After the longest winter ever, the long work hours and Netflix on the couch I’m feeling…like I could use a little bit of a detox.  But then I hear about no bread, dairy, alcohol or caffeine, and I feel instantly bored.  As for activity, I love to be tricked into exercising.  I love my yoga, and a good long walk, but anything with a higher intensity level is too much to bear.  My favorite thing to do when I have free-time is research and write blogs.   I spend an inordinate amount on time on the computer, social media updates and promoting different events.  Endlessly searching Google images for the right picture to capture my particular vision.  It’s satisfying mentally, but it’s no cardio, and does absolutely nothing for my core.  I think about exercise more than I actually exercise. I think about it as I’m drifting off to sleep.  I’ll get up an hour early and exercise.  That’s what I’ll do.  And then the morning comes and I hit the snooze harder than I would hit the gym.  I should really make time, take up jogging, do it everyday.  Then again, nobody looks happy whilst running.  In reality, I’d only run if I was being chased.

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I mean, I walk briskly from the parking lot to the office, I move around a lot of work and I go to yoga class a few times a month.  But that’s hardly a calorie burner.  My friend invited me over and over to come to kick-boxing. The timing was difficult, but then I finally made it and it was awesome.  I resolved to buy a punch card, go all the time, be fitter, be better, perfect my round-house kick.  And then I took on additional projects and have never been available since.  Free time is feeling scarce, and I do need to maintain my creative life.  Thought admittedly, the writing doesn’t take nearly as long as searching for pictures.  Example, I’ve spent fifteen minutes searching “Baby Got Back”.  But aren’t you glad I did?

rvCPm_TAF7UlYou have to credit Sir Mix-a-Lot for being a true feminist, a pioneer for positive body image.

  • “I’m tired of magazines/Sayin’ flat butts are the thing”
  • “I ain’t talkin’ bout Playboy/Cause silicone parts are made for toys”
  • “So Cosmo says you’re fat/Well I ain’t down with that!”
  • Yeah, baby … when it comes to females, Cosmo ain’t got nothin’ to do with my selection. 36-24-36? Ha ha, only if she’s 5’3″.
  • So your girlfriend rolls a Honda/Playin’ workout tapes by Fonda/But Fonda ain’t got a motor in the back of her Honda

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Sir Mix-a-Lot is a true poet.  And he’s right about Jane Fonda.  She doesn’t have much going on in the Honda of her Fonda.  Led to believe that Mix-a-Lot ran a support group for big-bootied ladies,  I dialed 1-900-MIXALOT, to talk about my body issues.  When he said, “To the beanpole dames in the magazines/You ain’t it, Miss Thing!”, I really felt a kinship.  I felt empowered. I was trying to do as Sir Mix-a-Lot says, and “kick them nasty thoughts”, but I think I’ve misunderstood what he meant by ‘nasty’.  Unfortunately, the representative was rather crude, kept referring to his anaconda, and ‘doubling up on my juicy double’…whatever that means I am still trying to figure out.  I’m pretty sure it was Drake; he is long, strong and is always down get the friction on.

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Really, if you look at the lyrics with a critical eye, the rapper is still telling you to get a sweat on.  After all, he likes to keep [his] women like Flo Jo.

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Goodness me, Flo Jo was a fit lady, known as the fastest woman in the world. Wonder what her secret was, besides God-given talent and speed? The fastest woman in the world also had the longest nails in the world.  Pretty difficult to tuck into recreational snacking with those Freddy Kruger fingers at the helm.

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It’s a balancing act trying to please this body-conscious performer.  According to the Gospel to Sir Mix-a-Lot: “You can do side bends or sit-ups/ But please don’t lose that butt”.  He also heeds a warning: some brothers will play that “hard” role, and try to tell you that the butt ain’t gold.  Don’t worry, remember your affirmations ladies, your butt is plenty gold.  When non-big butt enthusiasts “toss it and leave it”, you can count on Sir Mix to “pull up quick to retrieve it”.  That’s comforting.  But it’s a lot of pressure to live up to.  Imagine deliberately trying to have a fat ass?

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The likes of Twiggy, Audrey Hepburn and Kate Moss were an anomaly in a world that once leaned towards the full female figure.  Certain retro advertisements were certainly geared towards curvaceousness as sexy, and skinny as lacking.

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Of course, for every Sir-Mix certified ad encouraging curves, there’s evil advertising that says…”you’re fat, stop that”. Loving this ad below, the clever ad execs behind this gem offered a pearl of a tagline for this product. Shape. “Stop eating”.  Subtle.

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Thank God that Warner’s has a Body-Do, because I’m apparently a ‘body-don’t”.   The pear shape is here to stay,  I had a big butt when I was a new born baby.  That’s just nature.  Good thing there are so many wonderful products out there to accommodate your full figure.

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Why must generous portions of lady curves have to be reduced to words like chubby? Where is Sir Mix-a-Lot when we need him more than ever?

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Easy on the sugar indeed. She’s so hungry and acidic from all the eggs and grapefruit that she’s seconds away from ramming that spoon us that smug bastard’s nose, in the same way ancient Egyptians yank out the brain for mummification.    Reduce this motherfucker.  Then she could enjoy a large cinnamon bun, sickeningly sweet tea and smoke a cigarette with sticky cream-cheese icing fingers while her husband quietly bleeds to death on the carpet.  This is why we need carbs people.

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I’m 32 now, skin elasticity is as fleeting as fertility and youth.  How can I have my cake and burn it off too? As always, I turn to Victoria Beckham for advice.  She is a busy mother-of-four, a designer, entrepreneur world traveler, and she is fit as fuck.  How does she do it?

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Naturally.  Take the fun of work and then add more work.  I would literally die if I tried to attempt this.  There is almost no space between the treadmill and the wall.  Isaac Hayes died on a treadmill and he was probably in suitable footwear. Me + typing + treadmill x those epic heels=suicide bomber’s certainty of personal injury.

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Bully for you Mrs Beckham.  Is that why you’re lying on the ground? I could wear stilettos all day too if all I had to do was laze about on my back kicking my legs in the air.  I will just need a pillow, my phone and somebody’s WiFi password…and David Beckham to pop in and bask in the glory of my beauty.  I don’t know, I have a difficult time prescribing to celebrity doctrines.  Sure, they put in the work to maintain their pristine figures, but if I had a team of people behind me I could make a hobo red carpet ready.   But wait–there are people far busier than you that look better than you, also without the luxury of extra help.

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I’d love to see this gal post this on the local Mom Swap Facebook page, and then read the 350 comments over a glass of wine.  This mother of three has a better body than me. What’s my excuse? Meh, I’m not too fussed really.  It’s not as important as everything else.  I mean, if I could naturally look like Audrey Hepburn, that would be ideal.

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Since I don’t have a dancer’s body, I can’t help but want to find the balance between happy to improve but happy to love myself regardless of my physical imperfections.

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Still, I catch the occasional glimpse in the mirror that makes me wonder whether some crazy-long Flo Jo nails would be a good idea.  Or maybe I should worry less about exercise and just take up smoking.

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Then again, you wouldn’t like me when I am hungry. It’s like those Snickers ads, only I don’t turn into a hilarious caricature, but a snarling werewolf.

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Hungry + angry =Hangry.  That’s my personal danger zone.  You wouldn’t like me when I’m hangry.  It’s like drowning and having no air to breathe.

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This isn’t sounding good.  I don’t want to not eat, all my favorite things involve sitting and a committed exercise regime is not suiting my current schedule.  This is a slippery slope between having a muffin top and being the mom from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

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My brother Mark and I got talking about that film on our morning hike. It’s too sad to ever watch again,  but it still resonates as a genuine fear.  How does that happen…you are born, you are a child–learn behaviors and eating habits, you grow up, and eventually become so obese that it’s easier to burn the house down than to remove your dead body through the front door.  Of course, there is a long road between thick and thin and back again.  You are usually just going along in your life, not necessarily seeing the changes in yourself until you catch a reflection.

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These photographs are a few years old now, but a terrific example of body shaming.  Jennifer Love-Hewitt is a happy and well-fed gal and the internet had a field day, hammering her for being “fat”.  For the rest of us, with bodies just like that, it sends a clear message that this is an unacceptable joke-worthy body type.

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If she’s happy, and her lover is happy, she is healthy, and her clothes fit, then what’s the trouble?  She’s on holiday, she’s relaxed. Does every day need to be met by a date with the treadmill?  Ugh, the idea of exercise…how exhausting.  The idea of fitting it into jam packed days is even more exhausting.  I wish I could adopt a fictional Gilmore Girls-esque all you can eat, movies and junk food couch potato lifestyle, and still maintain a spectacular physique.

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I flip through a magazine, read the weight-loss success stories and for a fleeting moment, wish I were just like the models in the magazine.  But then again, who would want to work that hard? Until the day comes that I shake from me the excuses and muster up the commitment to truly trim down, I’ll be happy as Love-Hewitt, splashing in the water, not for a second wishing I were any different.  What can I say? I like big butts and cannot lie.

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Images Courtesy of Google