Wednesday, May 26, 2010

#103 Brains, Beauty, Body

There is a song my son sings by the rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot. It starts like this, "I like big butts and I cannot lie...". The rest of the lyrics are pretty disgusting, but that line caught my attention. Even as a child, I seemed to gravitate to and admire actresses with rounder figures. Well, I did have a girl crush on Farrah Fawcett during the 80s, but I'm not sure if it was she who I liked, or her hair that I coveted. Today, there seem to be fewer full-figured actresses to admire. America Ferrera comes to mind immediately, but I had to think hard before I thought of Jennifer Hudson. Both of whom, by the way, have lost weight after becoming famous. Yet, they both are probably still considered [in the industry] full-figured. Below, I share some of my favorite leading hourglass-figured women.

I love Dolly Parton. I love her spunky personality, her hourglass figure, her singing and song-writing abilities, and her no-nonsense way of getting right to the point. Dolly watches her weight, but doesn't really diet. She says, "I tried every diet in the book. I tried some that weren't in the book. I tried eating the book. It tasted better than most of the diets". As for her Ta Ta's, I remember reading an article where she shared that she is naturally well endowed and that the only plastic surgery she's had was to help "the girls" from going south. Well I say, good for her... and the girls. Truly, if your breasts are going to be that big they should live above the belly button.

Another woman I admire is Sophia Loren. She's no shrinking violet either. I also love and agree with her feelings about aging. In an interview after the movie Nine, she was asked about how she has kept her body and face so youthful. In response, she raised her eyebrows at the interviewer [like, I can't believe you just asked me about my face], and then went on to share that she eats pasta at least once a day, exercises a couple of times a week, and I think she may have mentioned something about sleep. Then, she asked him this question [paraphrasing], I've spent my life taking care of my body so that I would always look my best. Why is it that when you cross a certain age it's called vanity? My response: because those people who consider the time and effort women spend on maintaining their girlish figure and facial skin tone are also the one's who think they are "aging gracefully". There, I'll get off my soap box.

I could keep going, but I'll end with one of my all time favorite stars, Barbra Streisand. I love that we share the same name [Bobbie is my nickname], and that her fingernails always look so amazing. I can honestly say that I've enjoyed every movie in which she has starred, musical, comedy or drama. One of my favorite oldies is the movie Funny Girl. I'll never forget the scene where she comes out on stage as a bride. The chorus girls [her maids of honor I suppose], who surround her are singing how beautiful she is and that she's a star.... at which point they move away, she turns sideways, and the the audience can see that she is 9 months pregnant. Ok, her beauty is not classic and she doesn't have a cultured speaking voice, but who cares. Her intelligence, drive and independence make her a woman to contend with. And here is Barbra; "I arrived in Hollywood without having my nose fixed, my teeth capped, or my name changed. That is very gratifying to me".

Quote of the day: "When you learn something from people, or from a culture, you accept it as a gift, and it is your lifelong commitment to preserve it and build on it" Yo-Yo Ma, musician

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

#102 Finding Your "Own" Loveliness

Why do I desire to be thin? To be honest, because I like the way I look and feel when I am "thin". Right now, thin would be 132 pounds. I presently weigh 139 pounds. When I got married 20 years ago, my thin was 126 pounds. Let me say here, it's not that I want to be 126 pounds or 132 pounds. It's just that when I felt my best, my most attractive, my healthiest and happiest with the way I looked and felt in my clothing, I got on the scale and those were the numbers. I didn't work towards those numbers, those numbers reflected my body at that time. Although I try not to let numbers rule my life, the scale does play a pretty large role. My scale and I are friends though, not enemies. How do I feel about 139 lbs? At 48 years old, with 2 children and a sluggish thyroid being treated with medication, pretty damn good. Not totally satisfied, to be truthful, but happy. I continue to try to improve upon my physique with exercise and healthy eating; however, I do these things to attain the body in which I feel best, not a body that I've see in a magazine.

The media play a very large role in how women think they should look. Models are stick thin, and actresses, if not stick thin, are extremely svelte [to be kind]. If it's really true that TV puts ten pounds on you, well then, some of those actresses must be emaciated because on the television they appear [very] thin. Let us remember, their livelihoods are based on how good they look. They spend hours a day working on their bodies, not just with exercising and grooming, but massaging them, regulating their diets, spray tanning to hide flaws... and lest we forget, potentially nipping, tucking and lifting. Plus, they have personal chefs and nutritionists on staff to help them eat well. How can we non-Hollywood, non-runway ladies attain perfection when having a "perfect body" includes knowing someone with an airbrush? No matter how "perfect" they get in real life, what we see in a magazine has been "played" with.

If society slowly begins showing untouched "normal" sized women in print ads and "normal" sized women on television, would our vision of ourselves change too? In a sense, yes. In another sense, no. If these new "larger" women are the new standard for beauty, I think we would still aspire to look like them. However, we just might find more women trying to gain weight instead of starving themselves to look like them.

It's so ridiculous, though. Why do we try to be someone to whom we are not ethnically or chronologically or genetically alike? This is what it really comes down to. We need to aspire to our "own" greatness and not that of someone else. If you are 5'2", how can you ever hope to look like the model who is 5'11"? If you are from an Hispanic ancestry that for generations has been popping out black haired, black eyed beauties, you are just setting yourself up for heartache and years of frustration if you are trying to be a red head with freckles. I have a friend who is blond and blue-eyed. She went to a university in Texas where a large majority of the girls were blond and blue-eyed, and it was the brunettes and girls with dark complexions who stood out and were sought out. We should look at ourselves as our measure. We know when we are looking and feeling and dressing our best. Let's follow that feeling. Let's strive for our own loveliness and not someone else's.

If you've ever loved another, you know that you accept them for their wonderful qualities as well as their faults. You try not to be judgmental. You don't expect them to be what they aren't, nor what they can't be. Your love for them allows them to be themselves. Well, see yourself with those eyes, those non judgmental eyes. Not the eyes of someone who wants to love that person if only they were...

photos: Marc and [me 28 years old], Marc and [me 48 years old]

Quote of the Day: Do not judge yourself harshly. Without mercy for ourselves we cannot love the world" Buddha

Monday, May 17, 2010

Super Heroes and Barbie Dolls

Below is a blog by Darren McDuffie of He recently asked if I would guest write a babble for his blog; I asked the same in return. Darren is a personal trainer in Florida. I like what he has to say and have quoted and shared some of his ideas in previous babbles.


I went to see Iron Man 2 last weekend...great movie by the way! I also saw the first Iron Man movie. Hollywood usually “botches” the second effort, but Iron Man 2 lived up to the hype. I just hope they don’t start to beat the sequel thing into the ground like the Friday The 13th movies. It really got to the point where Crystal Lake needed to dry up and Jason needed a rest. Who can kill that many people anyway? Doesn’t it get boring?

Why do superheroes always have perfect bodies?

As a child, I would play with my action figures for hours on end, and I can remember wanting muscles like they had. I thought everyone grew up to have a thick chest and arms that looked like big pieces of pot roast. I also noticed they had skinny little legs... what’s up with that? All muscle up top and no legs! How could their body carry it all? Now, I have skinny legs -- that’s one thing I can say manifested from my superhero dreams, but I am still waiting on the superhero body transformation kit, not to mention the xray glasses I ordered way back when. Once I get the kit, I can finally get the chest and arms I have been wanting for years. I don’t think I need the xray glasses anymore, and I think my girlfriend would smack the “beejeezus” out of me if she knew what my intentions were for using them. Anyway, if my superhero kit and xray glasses end up in your mailbox please forward them to me down here in Florida. them.

My sister played with Barbie Dolls. What girl didn’t? I remember I would get mad at her and tie a string around her doll’s neck and hang them over the closet door. Yeah, I know I was MEAN, but there are no feelings spared between brother and sister when you are young. I love my sister dearly now, but we had our “fall outs” when we were younger. I always got the best of her by the way because I was the most devious and heartless. One of the things I hated the most was seeing her play Barbie Dolls with her friends. They would sit for what seemed like forever doing the doll’s hair, serving tea, and putting clothes on the doll with the perfect body. Yes, Barbie had the perfect body! The perfect legs, the perfect hips, and the perfect arms.

We are too old to believe in Superheroes and Barbies now, aren’t we? I would like to think that is a false assumption, but I think it's only partly true. Let me explain. I think people know we can’t fly or see through buildings, but some really do think there is such thing as the perfect body. They want that Barbie or Superhero body, and they beat themselves up when they can’t get it. I have heard comments from women who say, “ I wish I had her body,” or “how did she get a body like that?” They then go to the store and buy a magazine to follow the next new workout plan that some hot starlet’s $2000 an hour trainer designed. Men are no stranger to this either and fall for the same thing. I remember spending loads of money on Body Building magazines only to realize at 6’7 I would never be a bodybuilder because most of those guys were just above midget height, and packing on muscle was easy for them. I never realized that certain things were just natural for my body, and my body was uniquely mine. Have you come to that conclusion yourself?

Image and perception are totally different. Barbie Dolls and Superheroes are an image put before us by people like us, who are imperfect. It’s up to you to take that image and perceive it in a different way. You can take something you like about someone and say, “I would like to have slimmer thighs like hers.” You may never get her thighs because your body type can be totally different then her body type. You can’t have his arms, because your arms are different than his. You can work to make your arms bigger, but they won’t look like his because they are unique to him. As a trainer, I see many people who miss this point and end up feeling discouraged because they can’t look like so and so. If we all looked liked so and so, the world would be a pretty boring place, and I would be out of a job! Models and actors are nice to look at, but most were born with flaws, just like you and me. TV and magazines accentuate the good and not the flaws. If you accentuate the positives with your own body, you can be happier with the shell you are in. Who knows, you might just have someone that envies you.

See you on the lean side,

Darren McDuffie

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Certified Nutrition and Weight Management Specialist
Certified Exercise Foundations Specialist
Certified Fitness Testing Specialist

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

#101 Swollen and Puffy

I don't know about you, but when I eat a slice or two of pizza, my digits [all 20] swell. Couple that pizza with some red wine, and you can add puffy eyelids and swollen ankles. And pizza isn't even the worst culprit. My little nuclear family loves ethnic foods, and along with their wonderful spices and flavors, comes a salt quantity that my body parts can measure by the crystal. If I know that I'm wearing a tennis skirt, shorts or having to show my lower legs the next day, I either pass on any unknown foods, or drink so much water that I'm visiting every potty I pass for the next 12 hours. After many a party, I've come home and removed my little sausages from the shoes, sandals or boots that had felt wonderful at the beginning of the evening. And let me just add this little [personal] fact - salt induced puffiness has only gotten worse with age. I'm worried. If it's like this now at 48, what can I expect at 58? 68?

Tackling the salt problem doesn't seem to be my problem alone [not that I really thought it was]. I was listening to NPR a few weeks ago and they were talking about grocery manufacturers reducing the amount of salt that they add to their foods. The person being interviewed said that these companies are doing it willingly, but that for a lot of people, these reduced salt foods taste bland, and for the companies, they are not big sellers. I, for one, only buy reduced sodium soups. If someone finds the taste bland, someone can add salt at the table.

I didn't grow up using a lot of salt, and it wasn't a big addition to the foods I was given as a child. On the other hand, my husband and kids find that many of the dishes I cook [ok, almost everything] are bland. Sometimes they add salt without even tasting first. I've seen this phenomena in restaurants too, adding salt before the meal is tasted. Knowing how my ankles and feet respond to most restaurant foods, I can tell you that there is already sufficient sodium added in the kitchen. In addition, frozen packaged "meals" will not be found in my freezer, nor many other prepared kinds of foods solely because of the salt content.

Recently, I read an article in a nutrition magazine that said that the World Health Organization and the National Academy of Sciences have recommended that we reduce our sodium consumption in the United States. Interestingly, one of the major reasons the US is moving towards salt reduction in foods is because of the British government. They are on quest to reduce sodium induced medical problems, and have asked food manufacturers to slash the amount of salt being added to their foods. Companies like McDonalds, General Mills, and Kraft have jumped on the bandwagon. Last November, the FDA held a public hearing recommending that salt levels be regulated by the government. Not surprisingly, there was no standing ovation. The companies, instead, pushed for voluntary measures.

What this means is that we can't wait for "someone" else to take care of us. Like removing hydrogenated oils and trans fats from our diets and kitchen cabinets, we need to take the reins with salt too. The recommended daily intake of sodium is about 2400 milligrams. That's about a teaspoon size. Even if you are not bothered by salt, I recommend that you take a look at the amount of sodium in your next microwaved dinner, restaurant meal, and morning cereal. You will be greatly surprised.

Below are some foods [picked at random] and their sodium content -

Beets - 40 mg sodium per 1/2 cup, boiled
Celery - 50 mg sodium per 1/2 cup, raw
Spinach - 65 mg sodium per 1/2 cup, boiled
Kelp - 65 mg sodium per 1/2 cup, raw
Swiss Chard - 160 mg sodium per 1/2 cup, boiled
Oysters - 190 mg sodium per 3 ounces, steamed
Shrimp - 195 mg sodium per 3 ounces, steamed
Lean cuisine balsamic glazed chicken - 890 mg per serving
Amys roasted veggie pizza - 490 mg per 4 ounces serving
Milano cookies - 65 mg per 2 cookies serving
Egg McMuffin - 820 mg per single serving
Hamburger with chees - 100 mg per 4 ounce serving [made at home]
Chilis Hamburger with cheese - 1300 mg 6 ounce serving
Boca Burger - 260 mg per single serving
Chocolate chip cookie from Subway - 150 mg per cookie

Quote of the Day: “If you want to learn, teach. If you need inspiration, inspire others. If you’re sad, cheer someone up.” Leo, Zen Habits

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mothers Day

Always Dreamed of Being a Mom

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

#100 Practicing Safe Sun

Although I know my daughter as well as most mothers know theirs, I feel like I'm constantly trying to catch up.

The more time I spend with my daughter, the more I realize how different we are. Erica is confident, strong willed, very affectionate and driven. At fourteen, those were traits I did not have, and some that I still don't. When I say driven, I mean that Erica is not ok with just being good enough [that's my comfort zone], she wants to be the best, and will work hard to achieve that. Erica is a junior black belt. She went to karate 2-5 times a week from the ages of six to twelve and could have just had fun, but once her sensei told her about being a black belt, she diligently worked towards that belt. Athletically, she competed with much older kids and some adults. I remember like yesterday dropping her off for her black belt test. When I walked into the studio two hours later, she was absolutely exhausted. Her hair was totally disheveled, she wore a bruise or two or ten, and had a gigantic grin on her face. First time.... she passed.

Erica comes into my room to kiss me goodnight because more times than not, I'm in bed before she is. She's a night owl, and does some of her best work after 10:00 pm. In high school and college, I would get up at 5:00 am to study rather than stay up late or [god forbid] pull an all-nighter. On occasion, I have gotten up around midnight or later to visit the bathroom, and can see that her light is still on.

Erica's body is older than she is. A few months ago I discussed with her that men/young men/boys may say, do or be inappropriate towards her because of her [grown-up] body. Inappropriate because even though her body says "woman", her emotional age is 14, albeit a mature 14, but still 14. I told her that when the Y chromosome looks at her, they aren't seeing a 14 year old, they are seeing her body . She knows that she has the same body as I did at her age. I explained that I spent my tweens, teens and early into my 20s wondering what it was that I did to attract "bad" attention. I didn't dress sexy nor was I a flirt. What I had was big boobs and a sweet personality.... one that didn't talk back or make people feel bad for their actions. When I finished this mom-daughter chat, Erica hugged me, then patted my shoulder and said, "Don't worry about me mom. I think I have a lot more confidence in myself than you did". I silently pondered whether that "did" tense should be a "do" tense.

My wonderful daughter and I don't argue. It's really simple, she's better at it than I am. As a kid, I was taught not to argue or question my parents or authority. I just never had any practice. Erica can argue a point in 12 different ways, and I learned early on, that she can go on longer than I can. I just don't have the stamina or head for this type of "debate". I usually end the "argument" with one of the following yelled statements: "because I said so" or "discuss this with your father". Marc understands this personality characteristic... it's his DNA handed down and multiplied tenfold with female wiliness mixed in. Sometimes she crosses the line with me. She knows that respect for others, and especially her parents, is required of her at all times. Happily, she knows when she's crossed the line, and apologizes with hugs and kisses. However, this strong trait, which I may not like as a mom, is a characteristic that I don't want to put the kibosh on. Since as a kid, I never talked back, debated, nor fought for what I wanted, I want her to know how to stand up for herself without worrying about "getting into trouble". She has learned that you win some and lose some.

And this is the essence of Erica... We are driving downtown and she asks if we can go bathing suit shopping. I say sure, and then proceed to tell her that she really needs to start taking care of her pale, Eastern European complexion. That unlike her brother and me, she burns and doesn't tan. She laughingly says, "Mom, don't worry. I practice safe sun". At which, I roll my eyes and think, it might be time to have that other conversation!

Quote of the Day: "People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” Dale Carnegie

p.s. permission granted by said daughter to print this babble