Tuesday, June 30, 2009

#51 Botox and Feet-Binding

Julianne Moore, known for wanting to age gracefully, said in an interview that she uses the analogy of feet-binding when discussing plastic surgery. She says, "I feel we have decided that being expressionless and young-looking is the most beautiful thing.” Yeah, her point? What's wrong with wanting to look youthful, or beautiful? Don't we all want to FEEL youthful? Isn't there a saying that says "youth is wasted on the young"? Looking youthful and/or beautiful is a positive thing. I think the problems begin, as with anything, when it goes to the extreme -- when it gets weird, dangerous, disfiguring. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then who is The Beholder? Who decides what is beautiful?

During the school year, my son came home from his world civ. class and told me that he learned that Chinese women used to bind their feet. All in the name of beauty, I said. He looked at me like I was crazy, but I told him it's true. Women have been known to do some extreme things to feel and look beautiful. For centuries women of all cultures, colors and religions have been primping, pulling, nipping, tucking, expanding, cutting and shaving body parts all in the name of beauty. I told him he just had to look in any fashion magazine to see today's modern foot binding -- a young model wearing 5 inch stilettos with a 20 degree angle pointed toe.We women [ok, not all women] do get pretty crazy when it comes to beauty...

I love my Spanks!! I love that my spanks give me a smooth silhouette and suck me in on all sides, but I also love that my spanks don't disfigure me nor make me want to faint. Where did this modern marvel come from? From corsets of course. Corsets have been around since before 1700 BC. Cave pictures were discovered depicting women wearing bodices [probably made from animal hides] and stone dolls were discovered adorned in corsets made from hides and feathers. Corsets were used not only for beauty, but for flaunting status and wealth. Over the centuries, corsets went from animal hides to iron [1556]; from iron to wood, ivory and metal in the 17th century, and to whale bone that was so rigid that it worried the medical professionals of the 18th century. Women's diaphrams were known to become disfigured from cincing the bodice too tight [13" waists were required in the French court of Catherine de Midici] and fainting spells were not uncommon. During the 1920s, the freedom of the "flapper dresses" made wearing corsets a thing of the past, and it was only due to Madonna bringing them back [as outer-wear] in the 1980s that they came back into vogue.

Only Brooke Sheilds made thick eyebrows look good. The rest of us wax and tweeze them into shape. Well, not all of us. Joan Crawford used to rub hers with yellow vaseline and castor oil and brush them the wrong way every night to make them grow. In a biography on Bette Davis, the author quotes her as saying [about Crawford] that, "those eyebrows wound up looking like African caterpillars".

The pompadour went out of style, thankfully. This hairstyle and all that went with it sounds almost as debilitating and painful as feetbinding. During the 18th century, a woman's real hair and some fake hair were piled high on top of the head, sometimes 2 feet. Because it took so long to create this "do", women didn't wash their hair for a week, at the least. Sanitation was still not a "modern" convenience" nor was hygiene a daily practice and because of this, women in their beautiful silk and satin layered dresses would douse themselves with perfumes and toilet water to mask their "aromas". However, not only did their bodies smell, but their hair began to have its own distinct odor. Another problem with the pompadour was that it was so heavy that it caused major neck pain and headaches, and because it was washed infrequently, lice found themselves a home. Interestingly, both the pain and the lice became acceptable parts of the life of an 18th century woman of means. These women also used Belladona [from a poisonous plant] to enlarge their pupils so as to make them more attractive. I think it's just plain safer and easier to choose a restaurant with dim lighting -- dim lighting causes the pupils to enlarge. Voila! Beauty!

Just the other day I took my 13 year old for a bikini wax before she went off to camp. She was asked if she wanted "a Brazilian". A Brazilian bikini wax entails ripping out the hair from your pubis, vulva, and around your anus, thus leaving you a thin, short "landing strip". You should have seen my daughter's eyes when this was explained to her [no Belladona needed here]. "Nope", she said, "just a snip and tuck please"... bless her heart!! However, I'm not holding my breath. Who knows if in a couple of years having no pubic hair will be considered the standard of beauty?

And last, for the most ridiculous if not the most ditsy way to look sexy, Marilyn Monroe purposefully had the heals on her stilettos cut so that one was shorter than the other. Why, you wonder? She found that by doing this, she swayed and sashayed more. This, she believed, and perhaps it was true, increased her sex appeal by making her look more vulnerable. Good Grief!

My friends and family will tell you that I'm all for feeling youthful and beautiful, well at least trying to feel them. Many of the strange things you just read above were styles of the times. We can look back and have our opinions or make our judgments, but people 100 years from now may look back and think that the way we colored our hair or perhaps that we even colored our hair was a disgusting and barbarous thing to do. Dare I go blond again?

Quote of the Day --"My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance, but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors" -- Maya Angelou

Thursday, June 25, 2009

#50 The Gates of Speech

When my son was about 8 years old, I told a lie. It was a white lie, but boy did it snowball. I was supposed to take my son and his friend to a birthday party. It wasn't until I received a phone call from the boy's mom that I realized I had not only forgotten to pick up her son, I had forgotten about the party. It would have been so easy to tell her the truth, that I had forgotten about the party and would be over in a second to pick up her son, but I didn't say this because when the boys were in kindergarten I had left them stranded at school because I had forgotten it was my turn to drive. See, my record wasn't pearly white with this family and I lied so that they wouldn't think that forgetting [specifically their child] was my norm. We each ended up taking our own children to the party, and when I received a call from the mom later on saying she would bring the boys home, I was happily surprised -- thank goodness, no hard feelings. You're thinking end of story, right? Wrong. This is where my nightmare begins, but also a life transforming moment.

To continue the story - My son gets dropped off after the party and I ask him if everything was ok on the ride home. He says, "yeah, I told them the truth". I nervously looked at him and said, "what truth?". He said, "I told them that you lied". Oh--my--goodness, my 8 year old outed me!!! I was so angry and embarrassed and humiliated and did I say angry already? I started yelling at him and telling him he had a big mouth [which is sorta true] and so on and so on. My husband came into the room, asked what was going on, and intervened by saying that Logan had told the truth and isn't that what we want from our children? Ok, that penetrated, which made me stop my tirade and apologize. The next morning when I was feeling no better, but calmer, I explained to Logan what a white lie was and how because of this experience, I would never again tell one. I quoted the saying, "oh what a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive", and explained what it meant. I apologized to him again and that was the end of that....well sort of. Most people grow up using white lies so as not to hurt the feelings of others, but whenever I think of telling one, I remind myself of the above experience and the shame I felt -- so ashamed that I lost my appetite for days. Losing my appetite is something that I had never experienced before, nor since.

Oh, I wish I knew then what I know now. During one of my yoga classes, my ears perked up when I heard my instructor talk about mindful speaking. While we moved from pose to pose, she shared The Gates of Speech with us. She started by telling us that being aware of what we say and how we say things are equally important. By asking ourselves if what we are saying is truthful, kind, necessary, and timely, we learn to "really" think before speaking.

I think the Gates of Speech is a powerful tool. Since the focus of my blog is: "thoughts on life, living and and the pursuit of the perfect body," and of course mindful eating, " I thought I would try to ask these 4 questions as they relate to these topics.

1. Is this true hunger?
2. Are you being kind to yourself by eating this particular food?
3. Is eating this particular food necessary?
4. Do you need to eat this particular food right now?

I've been known to be a little impulsive when it comes to speaking. Training myself to pause and go through the gates of speech is something I want to incorporate into my life. Being a compulsive eater, I will also incorporate those 4 questions above -- my own 'Gates of Eat' into my life.

This may seem difficult or daunting, but when did self improvement and/or personal growth become easy? Even baby steps hurt when you fall on your rump. So, I say to you and me: Be aware of what goes in your mouth and what comes out. Install a comfortable, but sturdy set of gates, and remember to close them for your own protection.

Quote of the day: "A mistake is simply another way of doing things" Katherine Graham

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

#49 Tongue Rings, Tube Tops and Teen-Speak

Finding Your Own Style at "This" Age

I went shopping the other day and while trying on some clothing, the owner of the boutique came into the dressing room and handed me some shirts, dresses and pants she thought "would look great on me". "Really", I said, thinking that these items were meant for the teenager in the next cubicle. Anyway, I put on one of the shirts and came out to look in the mirror. The shirt was really cute, I admit, but so not appropriate for me, a 47 year old suburban housewife, blog writer, kiddie chauffeur, and yoga student. The next item, a pair of pants, were amazing. They were made of cotton and some other fabric that totally sucked in my thighs and rounded my tush. Woefully, when I tried to sit down in them, I almost caused new damage to an area that had already seen enough damage from the birth of my son with the "Charlie Brown Head". The last item I tried on was a dress that was cut so low and showed so much boob I thought it might be on backwards. Alas, it was on correctly. The owner [my age at the least] thought I looked "adorable" -- I looked at this attractively put-together woman and thought to myself that she looked, well -- silly. Silly, as in totally inappropriate.

My look has changed over the years to what I now call conservative-fun, with a little "urban" thrown in. I think most of us dress in a way that reflects the person we are, who we have become, our interests and our passions. I have a friend who is so "Green" that she won't wear leather shoes nor carry a leather brief case. Another friend dresses in what I consider a "preppy" look. However, no matter your fashion genre, at a certain age, certain articles of clothing just seem "not right". The question is: How are we supposed to know these things? My library doesn't carry the 'aging manual'. You know, the one that says what length your hair should be, the right way to wear make-up, and what you should be wearing at certain ages. The rules of our mothers don't all carry over to our generation.

For those of you thinking there are no rules, trust me, there are. If you are not being "judged" by your family and friends, strangers are looking at you and wondering what you are trying to prove. My son and I watched a talk show a couple of years ago where kids brought their moms for makeovers because they were embarrassed by the way their mothers dressed [too young and too sexy were the main reasons]. Another show, "How do I Look?" has friends and family members write in asking for help to change the way their loved one dresses because it is "inappropriate" for their age, their status, this century, whatever. I think if you look good in an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini, and you're 47, more power to you. BUT, I don't think you should be flirting with the lifeguards... just my opinion.

Because there is no manual or documented record of what a women of a certain age shouldn't wear, I decided that I would make my own "what not" list of what I thought was inappropriate FOR ME. I'm not judging or questioning anyone else. This is just my list.... see, it says Bobbie's with an apostrophe-s.

Bobbie's What Not To Wear, Do, Say List

1. sparkly eye glitter
2. really short shorts, like cheek revealing [i don't care how thin i am]
3. short shirts that show my belly button [unless i'm in the gym]
4. pants or shorts with the brand name across the butt
5. thong sticking out the back of my pants [on purpose]
6. teen-speak [not sure I would know what I was saying if I chose to speak it]
7. purple fingernail polish [i'm ok with it on the toes]
8. siren red lipstick [vertical lip lines; need i say more?]
9. FM shoes [if you don't know what this is, you never owned them]
10. tongue ring [my husband, the oral surgeon, would divorce me]
11. mini skirts [i mean major mini]
12. tube tops [PUH-lease]
13. baby doll shirts [i'm too old to be pregnant... on purpose]
14. thong bathing suit [that's shocking at any age]
15. multiple piercings in one ear [that means probably more than 2, but I could be swayed to maybe 3 if it's done right]
16. "interesting" hair colors [ones that no one is ever born with, ie blue, pink, etc.]

It's hard to get older when you feel young at heart. However, since we all live in glass houses, me thinks it's important to remember that if you want to tell someone that what they are wearing isn't age appropriate, make sure your windows are shatterproof ....just in case a rock is coming your way. LOL

[actually, i may have to re-think #14 -- grandma doesn't look too bad in that thong...]

Saturday, June 13, 2009

#48 Living on the Sumo Wrestler Diet

I know this may sound a bit odd, but I think inside my size 6 jeans, I was once a Sumo Wrestler. Do you know that they must eat 15,000 calories a day [that's not a typo]??? They also lie down the minute they are done eating so that their body produces fat. WOW!!!

I decided to do some research to see what I could learn about a Sumo Wrestler's diet and their exercise regime. For some inexplicable reason [duh], their eating habits fascinate me. Sumo wrestlers do everything we dieters and maintainers were told never to do, and yet, after reading about their lives, I realized that I pretty much lived like a sumo wrestler [when it came to eating] from my late teens to my late 20s.

Managers of Sumo wannabe's recruit athletic stocky men who are around 165 pounds. They don't recruit heavy or fat people for this job because it's believed they won't have the discipline, both in exercise and diet, that's needed to be a sumo wrestler. By following the Sumo diet, these men can get up to 200-250 lbs [average size], and some sumo wrestlers grow to 400, 500 and 600 pounds. Since sumo wrestlers don't fight in weight classes, the largest man is at a "large" advantage. Even though they are so large, they are great athletes. The exercises performed are all about building stamina and muscle, especially around the hips and in the legs. The goal during a match is not to be taken off your feet nor pushed outside the circle. Sumo Wrestlers train very hard, usually 4 - 6 hours daily. The rest of the time they are eating or sleeping.

Below is the Sumo Wrestler Diet.... You can look at the information below in a few ways. If you are trying to gain weight, then follow the information you are about to read. If you've gained weight, you now know why. If you want to lose weight, do everything opposite of what you are about to read. Good luck in whichever endeavor you wish to pursue.

Skip breakfast
By depriving their body of food after 8 hours of sleep, their metabolism slows down and makes burning calories more difficult. I spent YEARS not eating breakfast either to reduce my caloric intake or to bank those calories for later in the day when I knew I'd be hungry.

Eat 2 big meals a day
They skip breakfast, work out for 3 hours, and then eat their first feast. Their second meal is close to bed time. By starving the body, they send it into fat-storing mode -- the body's protection against famine. Gee, I spent YEARS skipping breakfast and waiting til dinner to eat... and then on into the night until bedtime.

Take a [food induced] siesta right after eating
As they sleep, fat cells multiply. I'd like you to meet Ms. Right and Ms. Left Thigh. Although I didn't climb into bed after eating, I did go back to the office and sit at my desk for a couple of hours after lunch, and after dinner, I did go into couch potato mode. I believe these two actions are close to climbing into bed after a meal.

Exercise on an empty stomach
Well, I'm not sure about this one because I've heard some trainers and read in some books that you can work out on the previous evening's calories, and then when your workout is over, eat high protein and low carb to build lean muscle. However, one of the articles I read said that by working out on an empty stomach, you make your metabolism run even slower so that it can conserve energy. Hmmm?!?!?

Eat with others in a social atmosphere
According to leading researchers, a meal eaten with others can be at least 44 percent larger and with 30 percent more calories and fat. OMG!!! College eating was all done surrounded by friends in cafeterias and dorm rooms, especially late at night.

Drink large quantities of beer
Alcohol increases cortisol levels which leads to fat deposits around the abdominal area, creating the ‘beer belly’. This is desirable in sumo wrestlers since a large stomach makes them more stable in the ring." Yea for me.. .. I don' t drink beer, but I did for many years use TAB and other diet drinks to fill me up so that I wouldn't eat. Different damage done, but still damage.

After reading all these articles on Sumo Wrestlers, one lesson really hit home. It's not what Sumo Wrestlers eat, it's the quantity they eat. Their main dish is a kind of stew with lots of rice and vegetables and a protein, like fish or red meat. Sumo wrestler's cholesterol isn't abnormally high nor is there a higher than normal incidence of diabetes. They do have problems with their joints because of their weight and there is a higher incidence of kidney problems, but overall, their health is good. I've been told, seen, and read numerous times that if you eat too much, the hours of exercise mean nothing. Monica Selles, a famous tennis player who battled with food addiction, said that she would work out and play tennis for 5 hours a day and then sabotage all that hard work with thousands of calories eaten on her sofa in front of the TV.

It seems, to lose or maintain your size, you need to focus more on the quantity of food you ingest, not how much you exercise nor what you eat [now don't get too excited, you know what you're supposed to eat]. If the American Meal has become Sumosized... have we?

Quote of the Day: The only gift is giving to the poor; All else is exchange. Thiruvalluvar, poet (c. 30BCE)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

#47 How Salt and Pepper Can Save Calories

I get an Ezine (an email magazine for those who don't speak computer) everyday called the Daily Insight. A couple of Wednesdays ago, the article, "Posture Patterns" talked about observing people's postures and noting the way they sit, stand and move. The author then goes onto say that observing [poor] posture is the first step toward change. Hmm, this sounds somewhat familiar. This "observing" also works for people who have food issues. During sometime in the life of a "dieter" he or she has purposely observed a "normal" person eating.

My eating issues are two-fold; I eat quickly, and I can eat a lot. Nobody warned me that when you work in an Emergency Room, you sometimes don't eat during your 8 or 12 hour shift. You drink lots of coffee, you have bad breath, you chew a lot of gun, but you don't eat. During my first couple of months in the ER, I learned this lesson the hard way. I also learned to hold my bladder for 8-10 hours straight, but we can babble about that later. During a busy shift, I sometimes got lucky and would scarf down something while my patient was getting an X-ray or some other test. To this day, I need to remind myself to slow down, especially because I now know the rule -- it takes 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to figure out that you are full. So, it makes sense that if you eat more slowly, you will have eaten less by the time your body realizes it's full. This is where observing others helps. During a meal, if I find myself speeding along, I slow down and keep pace with the other diners.

Feeling full, to me, just means that my stomach is pushing against my pants. It doesn't mean that I'm supposed to stop eating. Well, I know I'm supposed to stop eating, but sometimes I choose to ignore this signal. I remember seeing a news clip where they interviewed men and women who are 80 years plus, still in good health and leading vibrant lives. One practice they all had in common was that they ate until they were satisfied, not full. I know how to do this and I know how this feels.... great. Feeling satisfied is so much better than feeling full. Sometimes when Marc and I are out to dinner, we share an entree. Other times, I'll put a "sizeable tasting" on his plate (to get it off of mine), but more times than not, I have to depend on my own willpower to leave the food. Even when I'm feeling satisfied and/or full, the desire to pick can be very strong.

Over these last three decades, I've learned all the tricks to eating slowly, eating consciously, being in the moment and leaving food. Years ago I was out to lunch with my daughter [who was then about 5 or 6 years old] when she picked up the salt and pepper shakers and sprinkled her chocolate chip pancakes. She was talking to her pancakes telling them how much she loved them, and how tempted she was to "gobble them all up", but that if she ate more of them she would get a belly ache. When I asked her where she had learned this, she said that she had figured it out by herself. Maybe I should have been observing her eating habits for the past couple of years and not her table manners........

Moral of the story: Think back to the days when you were a kid and ate to fuel your body. Back then we understood the repercussions of feeling too full and knew intuitively that full meant stop ... even when we were 5 or 6 years old.

Quote of the Day: "The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials" --Chinese Proverb

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

#46 Things that Make Me Go Ah-Ha

Oh, I wish for so many things, like peace on earth, an end to global warming [and adult acne], and of course skinny thighs. I wasn't a chubby kid, but I was one of those meaty ones whose cute tushy and chunky thighs screamed, "take a nibble". Well, those thighs are still somewhat ample, but I'm not so sure that they are yummy anymore nor cute. Actually, my husband kind of liked "rolly polly" when I was combing the thesaurus for the right word to describe my thighs.

Cheerfully, I'm going to move away from descriptive thigh words and talk about my ah-ha's. I was in the salon reading the December 2008 Allure Magazine the other day when I came across an article called the Total Makeover. It showed 3 women in their before and after photos with their before and after weights and measurements for the readers to ooh and ahh over. Each woman talked about their professions, how they changed their diet, exercise, food plans, goals, etc. Heather, 31 and a University Fund-Raiser, said that her favorite tip was to make a list of the foods that she had been abusing. She said, ..."after she wrote them down, it was relatively simple to avoid them". This wasn't a major ah-ha for me, but I'm definitely going to try this. I've heard before that once you share something, or journal it, it loses its power over you. Let's hope.

Ok, onto other things that make me go ah-ha. I was thumbing through a book called The Hunger Within and saw something that rang true [no longer, thank g-d] for me. In this chapter, the author is working with a group of people who are sharing their histories. They discuss the "fat me" and the "thin me" and how their life, work and relationships would be different if they were thin. As I'm hearing their words in my head, I realize that they are using their body weight [ok, this is where I saw me] as protection, like a suit of armor. Because my body matured early, older boys and men would say things to me and interact with me like I was a woman. The problem was, chronologically I was 13, physically I looked 18, but my emotional/sexual mind was still a tween. The author says, "when your early environments were not safe and did not allow us to have effective boundaries, increased body weight can become an imaginary boundary". All I have to say about this is that I wish the weight was imaginary too. I mean I put on some serious boundary there for a while.

Next ah-ha, French women don't get fat -- or something like that. I was reading a blog recently where the blogger talked about her stay in France and of course the food she ate there... chocolate sandwiches for lunch, a pastry here, hot chocolate there. Well, you get the idea. She worried that when she arrived home and stepped on the scale things would not be so jolie [pretty in french speak]. However, when she did step on the scale, Voila... she had actually lost 3 pounds. She attributes this weight loss to all the walking and climbing -- certainly not her dieting. My ah-ha is that perhaps it's the consistent "exercising" that stokes the fire all day and helps the [french] body burn calories. I wonder if our working out for an hour in the morning [perhaps] does nothing for us in the afternoon. The French are walking or biking to and from stores, school and work, and if they take the bus, they may have to walk a mile or two each way. A couple of summers ago, in addition to my morning workout, I used to walk every evening after dinner. I had no trouble maintaining my weight that whole summer. This is something I think I need to revisit!!

Enough ah-ha's... Our raison d'etre [reason to be] should not be to cherchez et mange la plus [look for and eat the most]. As De La Sabliere says, "Il est difficle de vaincre ses passions, et impossible de les satisfaire" (It is difficult to master your passions and impossible to satisfy them). Sadly, it seems that for us food passionate people, sont vissées [we are screwed].