Tuesday, March 31, 2009

#35 Chocolate Covered Anything

It's been a while since I wrote about food/food issues, and although some friends and family members would say this is good, since they think I obsess about food too much anyway, others maybe wondering if I'm "cured". Well I'm not, but thankfully, other things besides food have been on my mind lately.

Last night I went to a Bat Mitzvah party. Since my daughter turned 13 this year, we've been attending many of these events. One thing for sure, there is always a lot of wonderful food, and the cocktail hour is a favorite time of mine. Thus, I tend to over indulge during the cocktail hour, under indulge during the meal and am always good for a bite or two of dessert, but last night I thought I was in hog heaven. You should have seen the smile on my face when the waiter placed a plate of dark chocolate covered pretzels and dark chocolate covered marshmallows in the middle of our table.

As usual, I limited myself to a tasting and enjoyed every bite, nibble and finger lick. As my kids will attest to, dark chocolate covered anythings are my favorite treats. Truthfully though, when the end of the evening arrived, I began to fantasize about stuffing my evening bag with chocolate covered leftovers. Unfortunately, the size of my cell phone prohibits much more than lipstick from fitting in my purse, so that was that. [Note to self: buy bigger evening bag]. Talking about fantasies, I recently read an article in Ladies Home Journal about a women in Weight Watchers who decided to eat everything she wanted in a one day gobblefest. As she stood in line anticipating getting weighed, she looked around and became annoyed at all the skinny people she saw. In a fit of, well, I'm not sure, she decided not to get weighed and instead headed for all her favorite foods and food haunts. She started at Dunkin Donuts, worked her way through a malted and cheeseburger for lunch, an afternoon turtle sundae with extra sauce, and then a huge steak dinner with all the fixins. After I finished the article, I went back to the first page to see who the author was, and it was only then that I read the smaller print under the title that said, ..."author imagines what it would be like to act out some extreme food fantasies". I felt duped! Not that I would have picked her food choices, but it was kind of a by proxy sort of splurge for me. I'm sure SHE carries a large evening bag....

Reading this article comes on the heels of watching an Oprah segment earlier in the week on extremely obese people. It was heartbreaking. One young man who weighed over 700 pounds asked that obese people not be judged. The road to obesity, he said, was not the same for everyone. Another woman, who was once 600 pounds and who loves to go dancing and "partying", said that obese people have very good ears and can hear the mean and hurtful things being said about them. In the Good Housekeeping article the author also alluded to how fat people are seen by "normal" people.

I decided to share the article with some friends [not letting them know that it was only a dream binge]. Some were grossed out and couldn't believe a human body could pack away that amount of food. Some were surprised that she didn't stop halfway through the day out of sheer self disgust. And some were jealous that she just let go and went berserk for the day. How did I feel after I read it? A little jealous, a little disgusted and a lot worried.

My worry is for our future generations. At least once a week I read an article or hear a news report about the growing number of obese [American] people. We know so much and yet we are still filling ourselves with over processed, over salted and over sugared foods. Billions of dollars are being spent on taking care of weight- related illnesses. Restaurants continue to serve Herculean portions and the fast food industry is still a conveyer belt deliverer of high fatty meals to our youngsters. Thankfully, some restaurants have chosen not to cook with hydrogenated oil and others are starting to list the calories and/or ingredients on their menus. I've also heard about schools that have started healthy food and exercise programs to try to give children "life lessons". The hope is that the children can integrate these life lessons into their lives and those of their families'. This is great, but it makes me think about our country's current fuel crisis. Are we perhaps doing too little and doing it too late? Eating healthy and exercising has to become PART of a person's lifestyle and not something you ADD ON intermittently when you want or need to.

So, for those friends and family members who say that I obsess, I say perhaps more of us should. Dr. David Zelitch, the creator of Trevose Behavior Modification http://www.tbmp.org/, said that you can either obsess about food in a bad way, as in "I shouldn't have eaten that" and "I'm a fat pig" -- or you can obsess about it in a good way, as in "I need to have the right foods in my house", "I am going to count my calories", and "I am going to bring my own snack to the movies". My vote is for the latter obsession. Dr. Zelitch lost 100 pounds doing it this way. What I'd like to see in our future though, is a nation of people who are at healthy weights, not morbidly obese. No one should get near being 100 pounds overweight. For my children and the generations to come, I would like to see the healthcare industry spend a lot more time, money and resources supporting events and programs on how to live a healthy lifestyle versus spending so much time, energy and money taking care of people with illnesses related to bad nutrition, obesity and couch potato life styles.

Quote of the Day: "The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what we want most for what we want in the moment." Anonymous

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

#34 Bunny Lines

The metamorphosis of "husband Marc" to "cosmeceutical savvy Marc" happened over a 2 year period. I may be stepping out on a limb by lumping your men folk into the same category with my husband, but I think that many husbands and boyfriends stop really looking at you after they've been around awhile. I can't tell you how many times I've gone from blonde to brunette and back again without his blinking an eye. But this babble isn't about my hair, it's about Marc's Y chromosome evolution. It begins with the simple act of me looking in the mirror and seeing the signs of aging... the delicate crinkles around my eyes, the bunny lines on the bridge of my nose, the tiny red capillaries on my cheeks, etc. And I do mean etc.

It was in my early 40s that I started going to an aesthetician for facials, peels and it seems to spend ridiculous sums of money on the most up-to-date products. At first I tried to hide these bills from my husband. I don't think he would have said anything [I too was bringing home a paycheck], but honestly, I was embarrassed. Anyway, about 4 months into my new regime and 3 major facial peels later, my skin was looking dewy and softer, the lines were finer and 80% of the freckles and age spots had disappeared. Guess what? He noticed. Actually, he didn't notice, but a friend told me how nice my skin looked in earshot and that's when he noticed. So, my totally non metrosexual husband asked me what I was doing. I told him. After I shared that, I shared the bills with him too. I figured it was good for him to see that our money was being well spent. In spite of the peels and facials, the clock continued to tick and it was around the time I turned 45 that I decided to try botox - peels and facials can only do so much. This is when the second half of his metamorphosis took place.

A funny thing happened on my way to get botox. My husband stopped me. As you now know, his history was non-involvement in my beautifying, so I was pretty surprised when he said something. However, this time it was the doctor and not the husband that stopped me. He said that it was ridiculous to spend that kind of money [I won't even tell you what I was quoted], and that if I could wait, he would go get training and learn how to do it. I think we all know that this was a no brainer. I took a few little jumps for joy when he wasn't looking and then got on the phone with my girlfriends to share "our" good fortune. Of course not only would I reap the benefits of his new training, but any of my friends who wanted to slow down the signs of aging would too. I mean, he would need a few guinea pigs in the beginning, wouldn't he?

I'd like to say right now that this babble is not an advertisement for botox, nor any other cosmetic or plastic procedure. It is but a story about my husband's change of view. Getting old sucks, but he wasn't able to appreciate the effect it had on women as compared to men when it came to our faces. However, when he saw how my skin looked after those peels and facials, he was a convert. As he undertook his training with a cosmetic surgeon and then more training with a pair of oculoplastic surgeons, I saw him looking at me and women differently. During his training, he was able to see how a small amount of botox in the right place and some filler to plump those deep grooves around the mouth and nose, could rejuvenate a 60 year old woman. She might look a couple of years younger he would grudgingly agree, but as a surgeon, he saw the aesthetic benefit. I guess the icing on the cake was during an evening out with friends. My girlfriend mentioned that she was thinking of getting botox. The husband made some derogatory remarks and used words like vanity and narcissism. Marc, in his calm doctor/patient voice said, "Actually, I used to think like you, but I've seen what a small amount of botox can do to someone's features and how that little change can make a person feel". I squeezed his leg under the table and gave him "that look". You know, the look that says "You are sooo getting lucky tonight!!".

Marc has always been a sensitive man and has a keen ability to understand other's emotions. However, his sensitivity didn't carry over to understanding a women's vanity nor the aging female. Well that has changed. Over the past two years, he has seen what a peel and filler and botox and facial cream can do. His metamorphosis is complete. He understands what his cosmeceutical clients want and is able to deliver. He is honest with us females. He will tell anyone who sits in his chair that his objective is to make them look rejuvenated, softer and relaxed, not 20 years younger nor a Grace Kelly look alike. Alas, that would be nice though....

In conclusion, I am blessed. Not only do I have a wonderful husband, but I also have a husband that is now more sensitive to and understanding of women. Don't get me wrong, he's still from Mars in many respects [do plates left in the sink ring any bells?], but on the issue of understanding a women's desire to age gracefully..... maybe with a little bit of assistance, we speak the same language.

Quote of the Day: Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open. Sir. James Dewar, Scientist

Friday, March 20, 2009

#33 Bye, Bye Bravado

I've been blogjammed [as my college roommate coined]. Over the past few weeks I've had a lot of ideas flitting in and out of my head, but nothing seemed to stick for long. Then yesterday I heard about Natasha Richardson's skiing accident. Today, I learned of her death. For those of you who don't know who she was, I will tell you. She was a very talented actress, a stunning women, a wife of many years to Liam Neeson and most importantly the mother of two teenage boys.

Why after being blogjammed did this seem like a topic to write about? It's because her accident really hit a cord. I gave up skiing 10 years ago because of fear... fear of hurting myself so badly that I wouldn't be able to care for my family, that I would damage myself so terribly that perhaps someone would have to take care of me. Silly, perhaps. Felt by other moms, definitely. When I was telling some girlfriends at lunch today about this babble, I learned that one of them had given up scuba diving a couple of years ago for this reason, and I heard Kelly [Live With Regis and Kelly] say on the show that it's a parent's worst nightmare to leave your children young without having told them all you think they need to know. I felt validated. I read an article in Esquire Magazine [The Rationality of Personality by A.J. Jacobs] that said our brains are flawed; that they are not rational. Well, fears can be irrational, but they can also be very real. Nonetheless, the fear that came to mind when I heard about Natasha Richardson was primal. It was the motherlode of motherhood.

Momma's fear [pronounced mommasphere] - adverb - the global all encompassing, perhaps unfounded, real or imagined feeling that something may happen that will stop you from being able to care for your child/children.

Ask anyone who knew me before I had kids and they will tell you that I was a bit wild. I drove fast, played hard and wasn't really scared to do many things. Well, I might have been scared, but I did them anyway, and as I got older, bravado usually got me over the fear hump.

Exit bravado. My first experience with momma's fear came as a wedding gift. Friends bought Marc and me a pair of his and her roller blades. I'm not sure why, but it wasn't until our son was about 8 months old that I finally put mine on. This is an embarassing and ugly story, but the end result is I fell... badly. It was actually a crash landing where I knocked my head, saw stars and got the wind knocked out of me. I went home and slept for five hours straight. The next day I learned that I had broken my coccyx. I told Marc that I was never ever going to put on roller blades again, that luckily all I did was break my coccyx, but it could have been my back or neck or skull. What went through my mind on that day was, who would take care of my baby? My family? My dog? I gave the roller blades away toute suite.

Momma's fear and I became reaquainted in 2000 after 9/11. Marc and I had scheduled a trip to Europe for our 10th anniversary. The date we were supposed to leave was October 8th. Regretfully, I had to put the kybosh on this romantic getaway. He didn't understand that I was actually more scared of being stranded in Europe without a way to get back [G-d forbid something happened to the kids] than of getting on a plane. "What about my chidlren?" was the litany that ran through my head and out my mouth until my husband agreed to cancel the trip.

As I read my babble above, Spock comes to mind [from the TV series Star Trek]. Spock and his race, having dispensed with emotions, live their lives logically. That's food for thought. I mean, I wouldn't want to give up emotions like love and humor, but maybe a little bit of fear and worry could be bred out of us over the next couple of centuries. I know it sounds irrational, but why not. There's a saying that goes, "What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?" I think I'm going to coin a new phrase concerning motherhood -- "What would you do if you didn't have to worry?"

Quote of the Day: Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That's what little girls are made of; the heck with sugar and spice. Bethany Hamilon (top female surfer)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

#32 Oh Dear, My Face Fell and Can't Get Up

It was about 10 years ago during a yoga class that I had my first encounter with falling body parts -- in case you're wondering, they weren't mine. Since then, I've learned that time and gravity are a bitch.

However, back then, I was young and still innocent of aging body parts. Actually, I was still dealing with post partum body parts. At 36 I felt young and in my prime. Picture this - I am in a yoga studio with about twenty women. We are all standing on our mats facing forward with our legs stretched as wide as comfortably possible and our hands are on our waists. We are told to bend forward so that the crown of our head can rest on our mat. So there I am, hanging upside down, looking between my legs into a full wall of mirrors. I take a look at my caboose sticking up in the air and decide to look elsewhere. I move my eyes to the right and see a woman in the mirror next to me with .... hanging facial skin. At 36, what do I know from sagging skin. The skin on our youthful faces and bodies is still connected very nicely to the underlying skeleton no matter what direction our bodies are standing, leaning or lying. I'm not sure how old this woman was, but in this position, her cheeks were hanging so loosely that the skin almost covered her eyes, and her breasts, well they were resting very comfortably on her chin. I smiled to myself and wondered if this would ever happen to me. At this point, if you feel the need, get out of your chair, stand with your legs spread apart and slowly bend until your head is lower than your waist. [Warning: major freak-out possible if you do this in a mirror and are over 45]

Like bras and panties swaying on a clothes line, I noticed other body parts. If you are still in the above position and your hands are on your waist, you may [or may not] want to look at your upper arms. Some of you may be used to seeing, feeling, lamenting your granny arms or whatever you call that hanging loose skin. Well, in this position, that skin is now hanging in the opposite direction - not something you see everyday let me tell you.

Leaving class that day, I felt energized and vibrant and young. Now comes the truly horrible part, I'm fast forwarding 10 years. I am now 46. I am in yoga class and the teacher asks us to transition from Warrior one [see photo at left] to Triangle Pose [see women in red below]. I've done Triangle Pose many times and getting into that pose has never really been a problem. However, this time something got in my way... and it wasn't a tight hamstring. I, of flat stomach and rounded butt, wasn't able to get into position because loose stomach skin was being painfully pinched between hip and ribs.

In Triangle pose, you are standing with your legs spread about 2 feet apart. Having moved from Warrior One to Triangle, both your arms are straight out at your sides. Continuing into the pose, you bend at the waist [lets say to the left] allowing the back of your left hand to slide down your inner left leg until it rests against the inside of the left ankle. The opposite arm is stretching up into the sky so that the body is completely aligned and you are looking up at your right hand. And of course, your derriere is not supposed to be sticking out, but rather pulled under. To deepen this pose, the teacher tells us to take our left hand and place it flat on the ground to the outside of the left ankle. It is at this point that I got pinched. I stood back up, used my right hand to hold the skin up while I tried again to go deeper.

It was also during this moment of horror that I remembered the yoga class from 10 years prior and the falling body parts. As I stood there in Triangle pose bending deeply to the left, I looked into the mirror and saw that my left cheek was trying to follow my left hand, down my left leg to rest on the floor next to my left ankle. I smiled to myself, a bit lopsidedly, and decided to take the high road. Looking in the mirror at my pretzeled body, I said to myself, "Self, you are one silly looking skin drooping roll pinching 46 year old VERY LIMBER LADY!!!

"Perseverance is failing nineteen times and succeeding the twentieth" Julie Andrews