September 25, 2009
This is the story of my life. My husband calls me the Boundary-Crossing Queen, (As in oops! Was that too much?! There I go again! Leading to lively discussions on the ride home from wherever we’ve been). This is preferable to being called an addictive personality-I think. For example, I love, yet abhor getting edible gifts because I’ll nibble the entire basket away. I always say that giving a middle-aged woman like me food gifts is like giving bottles of booze to an alcoholic. My husband on the other hand can leave a box of homemade chocolate-dipped pretzels on top of the fridge-in full view!- for a month, having one per week. His self-control is extremely irksome. Not gaining weight for me means avoiding land minds every where I go. A party? Avoid the alcohol, skip the fried appetizers, dodge the bowl of beer nuts, refuse seconds. Otherwise I wake up 4 ell-bees heavier. Going out to dinner? I battle(sometimes) to banish the bread basket which is hard with three teens and a restrained husband and don’t even think about butter as well as the dressing should on the side and leave quickly so you aren’t tempted by that Creme Brulee. Even Back-To-School and after-church Coffee events and are laden with muffins that might as well be hand grenades and donuts holes that double as bullets.
THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T LOOSE WEIGHT, PEOPLE!
It’s too hard. Even when we journal and plan and clean out our own kitchen, we still have to go out in the real world and live with the bagels, which, in all stores are now officially the serving-size equal to 7 slices of bread. The real world is filled with the ammunition, delicious though it is, that it takes to become obese.
Last week, I spoke of embarking on a massive health-kick where EVERYONE commits to getting to a healthy weight. This challenge is NOT moderate. It would be similar to when we passed state-wide, then country-wide laws for wearing seat belts.
Sure, some people don’t want to give up their T-Bone steaks and the 7th glass of Budweiser but just like my old roommate Amy, who used to rant about how it was an infringement on her freedom to be forced to wear a seat belt and isn’t it one step away from Socialism to force her to wear one. Then just last year she was in a car accident in which her toddler and her sister could’ve been killed without their seat belt. She doesn’t complain about seat belts anymore and she wouldn’t think of not strapping in her child. Yet I look around and see more obese children everyday than the number I saw during the entire span of my childhood! And I know it’s a sensitive topic but these people who seem content at a heavy weight may complain at first but anyone who’s been fat and then been svelte knows that being svelte feels better. You gotta give me that one. Losing weight and maintaining close to your ideal weight not only feels better, it gives you more energy and makes room in your (now longer)life for better things. Losing weight could be an even more drastic measure for saving lives than wearing seat belts, we just can’t see the results as immediately.
We could do an Americanized version of what Japan did last year when their health care costs started skyrocketing due to the introduction of McDonald’s and other American fast food. It is a crazy extreme, but Japan made anyone between the ages of 40 and 74 shrink their waist size to between 33.5 and 35.5 inches (women had similarly adjusted thresholds) Everyone’s waist was measured. Then dieting guidance was given if needed and if after a certain length of time they didn’t lose weight, they were steered toward further re-education. The Japanese government is imposing financial penalties on companies and local governments that fail to meet specific targets. It’s crazy but it does have science behind it (and me).
The average waist size for American men is 39 inches, a full inch lower than the 40-inch threshold established by the International Diabetes Federation. American women are even worse, with an average waist size of 36.5 inches, about two inches above the Diabetes-alert threshold of 34.6 inches.
How would we do it? We’d have to have parties where we pass healthy appetizers and wine-spritzers as the only offerings. We’d HAVE to nix all sodas. We’d offer fresh fruit slices and crudites with low-fat dip at the PTA coffees. We’d demand that bagel shops shrink their bagels, that restaurants exchange the bread basket for celery and carrot slices and that their offerings eliminate saturated and trans fats as well as additional sugar. Who’d be upset? Our fat children?? Would it still taste as yummy? Maybe not to such a decadent degree since fat is the ultimate flavor enhancer, but we’d all adjust, even the most spoiled of our kids. It could still be delicious and we could still feel satisfied and the small diminishment in flavor can be easily worth it by how much better we all feel. And look.
I know this sounds like a crazy idea but I think it’s a crazy idea who’s time has come. But then again I’ve never been one to make moderate suggestions.
Call me crazy.
September 18, 2009
In church last week we welcomed a new pastor who is relocating from London. (Does that make him a pasteur? If so, does that mean we’ll be pasteurized?) Anyway,at the end of his welcome speech he asked for us to pray for, among other things, their family’s safety while driving since it will obviously benefit everyone on the road if they remember to drive on the right side of the yellow line.
I snickered to myself until I remembered that my daughter babysat for them a few nights before and that they’d given her a ride home.
Not that I wasn’t listening to the sermon or anything but that reminded me that last week the entire country of Samoa switched it’s traffic from driving on the right to driving on the left. Take a moment and just imagine what a brave undertaking that is. I can name four people on my street and one person in my own home that would scare me into staying off the roads for a goodlong adjustment period if we were forced to do the same.
Here’s how Samoans did it. First they talked about it for years. Then, the government prepared for months by adding new markings and speed humps on key roads. They called a three day alcohol ban to deter accidents and a two day island wide holiday to minimize traffic. Then on a designated Monday morning at 6am, the Poobah of Samoa took to the airwaves and had everyone stop their vehicles, move to the opposite side of the road and then, amidst honking horns, ringing church bells and wailing sirens and with an air of boisterous celebration, they all resumed their travels.
I am guessing that this has been an interesting week or two around Samoa yet from what I can gather from news reports, accidents have been minimal.
Unlike our British Pasteur who, upon arrival on American soil, just had to stop driving things the way he used to drive them, all on his own, which has got to require some concentration (and faith in God), the Samoans at least could comfort themselves with knowing that everyone else was in the same boat (or car in this case) as them and that even though they might be tempted to turn right instead of left or vice versa, and even though they might not wanna do it, the healthiest thing to do was go with the NEW flow.
I wish I could have a health and fitness Poobah initiate something similar to get people to start exercising and eating right. After all, a bad lifestyle might not be as instantaneously disastrous as driving on the wrong side of the road, but not exercising, combined with unhealthy eating can be just as dangerous as not wearing a seat belt not to mention that obesity in this country is more life threatening than a fatal car accident. Stop laughing. I’m serious, People! Just like following car safety laws, eating right and maintaining cardiovascular health can be even more life-lengthening then safe driving!
Hey, wait a minute. Could we possibly get someone like Dr Oz to pick a specific date, we all start thinking about it, mark our calendars and we all wake up on D-Day and, like it or not, agree to make some major changes in how we drive our day from now on? We could get the stores to ban junk food sales for the week and give free exercise classes in parks and make it almost impossible (or at least very hard) to fall off the fitness wagon. All of our friends could honk their horns at us (or some horn honking lifestyle equivalent like taking the gun –er, I mean donut out of our hand or cleaning out the junk food cabinet for us) if we fell back into old patterns. Sure it would be tough and uncomfortable. Some mornings we might not FEEL LIKE driving the new way but after a month or so, if we knew everyone else was doing it, it would all become second-nature and we wouldn’t even remember driving the wrong lifestyle. We might hit a few speed humps (skipping the walk on a rainy morning)or even have a fender-bender (think late night munchies combined with PMS and a friend who wants to go to Dairy Queen) but over time we’d all adjust. I bet within one week there’d be a ground swell of well-being! In just seven days our belts would show some wiggle room and our energy levels would be higher. We’d see more of our neighbors on the sidewalks and our sense of community connection would increase which by the way, is also equated with living better for longer. The initial DT’s would’ve passed and feeling good in our bodies would surpass any momentary discomfort or memory of how good Big Macs taste.
The Samoans are making this switch so that they can import cars less expensively from their closer neighboring countries rather than paying more to import them from farther away. That’s good motivation to make such a big change but there’d be even greater benefits to our country from my Fitness Revolution Idea. I am so tired of reading daily about our supposedly unsolvable Health Care Reform. A big part of the solution is literally right under our noses, all we have to do is close our lips to processed foods, foods with added sugar and saturated and trans-fats and to walk 30 minutes every day. In my opinion, the majority of health costs in this country and the reason they continue to increase are due to obesity-related diseases and the only way for us all to bring costs down, according to the Gospel of Penny, is to get healthy by slimming down to a healthy weight by eating good food and exercising 30 minutes every day. Does this sound ridiculous? Does it seem totally impossible? Doesn’t it sound more doable than driving on the opposite side of the road? So the next question is where do we start?
September 11, 2009
It’s been raining today, which feels just right. On any other Friday I’d be disappointed with a rainy Friday since it feels prognostic of a dreary week end. But not today. Today I say let it pour. This is the weather that would’ve seemed fitting eight years ago on this date.
The desolate contrast of those plane catastrophes and the gorgeous crystalline weather seemed insulting in the rawest of ways, as if Mother Nature had played the cruelest slight–of-hand. Here! Imagine the most crystalline, sparkling September day and then layer onto that image the most horrible devastation New Yorkers have ever lived through.
I fondly remember our gym friend Michael Rothberg who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. What a great guy! Michael was a front row fixture in my Saturday morning class and we always teased him because he was so germaphobic. He’d wipe down his bike before and after class and this was back in the days before antiseptic gym wipes were even invented. He was the guy who patented the bathroom germ-free getaway technique of wiping your hands on the paper towel and then before throwing the towel out, using it to open the bathroom door and while propping the door open with your foot, making the big toss of towel to trash can. Voila! No germs!
And look what good did it for him. My lesson from him (Thank You, Michael!) is that no tomorrow is promised.
And if there is a thimbleful of good that came out of the truckload of devastation from September 11 , not that it would be worth it in any way, but we all did snap out of our zombie mode and realized, even if only briefly, that our life is right now. And that’s what I want to say today. Our life’s not later. It’s not when we retire. It’s not when our kids grow up. It’s not when we get our bigger house or more money or lose those last ten pounds. Our life is right now. It’ll always be right now. Your challenge for the second week of my three week fitness challenge is to decide to start enjoying your life right now, because it’s not ever going to get better than right now, until it gets better right now!
September 4, 2009
Anyone who’s been fat, then been thin, will agree. Thin feels better. It’s true for a lot of things. Anyone who’s been rich, then been poor will concur that rich feels better. And do I even need to mention that anyone who’s been sick, then healthy, knows that healthy feels better. If you read my post earlier this week, I’m hoping you can join me Monday morning by starting to not just talk the talk but to jog the jog,so to speak. Making dietary changes is hard- hard for the first three weeks, that is. It takes at least 21 days to form some new neural pathways in your brain that control behavior and habits. And what’s 21 days compared to 21 years of bad habits? So Let’s do it. First thing Monday is weigh in time. I want you to get on the scale every morning for the next three weeks. There WILL be 3-5 pound daily fluctuations but the idea is to get a barometer of where you are now. As far as eating I want you to follow Dr. Oz’s Rule of 5:
- If it has grain – it’s 100% whole grain
- No transfats
- Less than 4g of Added Sugar per serving
- Less than 4g of Saturated Fat per serving
- No syrup (maple, barley malt, corn, hfcs)
Look at all labels and use these guidelines. No eating three hours prior to bedtime. Eliminate alcohol or limit it to 1 or 2 drinks per week. Many women spit in my face when I suggest the no alcohol rule but come on now, it’s three measly weeks. I guarantee that if you have a glass or two or seven each evening, that if you can break this habit you will loose about ten pounds in 21 days, even if you make no other changes. Come on! Do it! You are stronger and less alcoholic than you think!
That’s it for Week One.
Lastly, here’s your homework. I want you to start noticing how many moments you waste during the day mentally trashing yourself. If it’s a considerable amount of time, I really want you to use Monday as your starting point for a program to being more like who you want to be. And to becoming who your dog already thinks you are.
September 1, 2009
Once again, I was caught off guard. Even with the sunset showing up incrementally earlier every evening for most of August and with the wisp of crisp air first thing in the morning and when I let the dog in at night, you’d thing I wouldn’t be unsettled by the ending of summer. And don’t get me wrong-it’s not a bad thing. There are two 15 year olds and a driver’s license-wielding 16 year old in our house this summer so it’s been long enough. I learned a few things, like how to stay awake until I hear my son pull into the driveway even though that’s a good two hours beyond my bedtime. and that traveling 800 miles for a baseball tournament doesn’t sound too far if your kids like baseball enough and that no teen can, with good conscience, replace the toilet paper roll on the spool. It’s just not done. Changing TP rolls is for old people.
So I don’t mind that I find myself back at my viewbicle (that’s a cubicle with a view) pondering fitness topics. Should I write about Meno-pooch or BOB (Belly Over Belt) or BOB’s cousin, BUB (Belly Under Belt) not to be confused with FUPA (Fat Upper Pubic Area) or would you like to be reminded about how many calories are in that Venti Frappicino? I could also rant about the latest fitness research. And don’t get me started on the recent idiotic article in Newsweek suggesting that exercise does nothing for weight control. Don’t those authors realize that exercise is an urgentIt’s free , easy to do, and the single biggest thing you can do (besides quitting smoking )to avoid chronic and/or
But no. That’s not what’s on my mind today. Today,the theme that keeps pushing it’s way to my frontal cortex is this:
Getting Older Keeps Getting Faster. Aging is Accelerating.
One day, I’m 3o-something years old, juggling work and diapers and dinnertimes, then all of a sudden two decades have passed. This morning I saw a baby in the grocery store and and I was side-swiped by reminiscent thoughts of how time has evaporated, what a precious gift life is and what a crime that I’ve wasted my first half. Nome sayin’?
Life really is like a roll of toilet paper. Seems like one morning the roll’s so fat it won’t even spin on the spool without tearing. At CVS you walk right by the paper goods section confident about your TP inventory. But then the next time you sit down (especially with three teenagers around) you’re down to the last few squares.
In her book A Short Guide To A Happy Life, Anna Quindlan says that life should be lived like a terminal illness. That we shouldn’t wait until we find the lump or get the call with the biopsy results or hear our spouse say “Honey, sit down. We need to talk”in order to wake up and to start living life like it’s the tenuous gift that it truly is.
It’s easy to be dissatisfied. I heard a comedian do a routine once called “Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy” I often feel this way myself. Ugh, another day. But every now and then I catch a bird’s eye glimpse of my life out of the corner of my eye and it knocks the wind out of me. I married this man! I had these children! I get to go to a job I love and they pay me for it and then I come home to this house where the world’s most fabulous dog greets me at the door. I created this!
But just as quickly that moment passes.
Are you happy with your life? with your body? your health? your energy level? If not, this is your chance to fall AWAKE. Let me suggest that you either love where you are and what you’ve got (that means stop complaining, either in your mind or out loud) and accept your limitations- Love your lumps, People!
or CHANGE IT.
Consider this your wake-up call. I will email you this Friday with the game plan. Weigh-in is Monday (yes I know it’s a holiday). The first 4 weeks will focus on small diet changes-getting rid of soda, things like that. Then the next 4 weeks will be exercise- how to begin, maintain and break through a weight-loss plateau. That will bring us to November which will focus on lifestyle habits and small changes that make a big difference. You will have the best holiday season you’ve ever had. Because life is right now. And little decisions you make today add up. So decide to start falling awake to your fabulous life. Today.