Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bring it on, Adventure Wednesday! Or: I was a plus-sized cheerleader

Today's post is a rare Multimedia Monday and an Adventure Wednesday combination.

Tom and I are both big fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda - a Wesleyan alum whose Tony award-winning In the Heights was on near-constant rotation in our household for all of 2008.  (We saw Miranda star in it twice, once in New York, once in Los Angeles when Miranda performed with the tour as a special engagement.)

So when we found out that he was contributing to a new musical, we got excited.  And when the tour of that new musical began in Los Angeles, we knew we had to get tickets to see it.  So last Monday, we went to the Ahmanson to see Bring It On: The Musical.

Yes, that's right.  Bring It On is now a musical.  Or, rather, the franchise built around competitive cheerleading has expanded.  The play isn't adapted from the original film - it's clearly inspired by it, but it has its own characters and plot.  In this story, the preppy captain of a cheerleading team is redistricted to an urban school across the tracks - a school without any cheerleaders.

I liked the original movie.  I have a soft spot for stories about the high school experience, and Bring It On had surprising bite and humor.  (Other high school films I enjoy - aside from the obvious 80s ones - include Can't Hardly Wait and Easy A.)

But something about the musical version hit close to home.  This version features... a plus-sized cheerleader.  (Technically she starts out as a mascot, but she breaks out of her mold.)

And once upon a time, I was a plus-sized teenaged cheerleader.  (Technically, I was a pom-pon girl, but outside of former cheerleaders and pom-pon girls, who knows the difference?)

Yes, that's me.  I hardly feel like I look plus-sized in that picture, but at the time, my size-16 body seemed enormous to me in comparison with the single-digit sizes that made up the rest of my pom-pon squad.  One of the most embarrassing moments in my young life was realizing that there were no pom uniform skirts available in my size.  My mom had to take two of the small skirts to the tailor and have them made into one for me.

Maybe it was me - my own hang-ups, my own shyness - that made me feel not a part of the group, either time I was on a pom squad.  (Once in eighth grade, once in tenth.  I skipped auditioning the other years, because I wanted to focus on theater, journalism and band.)  I felt separate.  I felt "other."  Among the pom and cheer set - with a few friendly exceptions - I felt like a total weirdo.  When I was with my goofy theater friends, or editing an article for the paper, I always felt included.  My weirdness fit right in.

With many years of retrospect, I'm sure everybody feels weird - even the cheerleaders.  High school is tough.  (Maybe that's why I like watching it - or writing about it.)

So, no surprise, I enjoyed Bring It On: The Musical.  Particularly the music that seemed to come from Lin-Manuel Miranda.  The simple pop-style numbers at the preppy school didn't grab me the way that the hip-hop songs at the urban school did.  When the main character goes to the first day at her new school, a deep reverberation of the beat sounds out, accompanied by the men's voices shouting "MOOOOOOOVE!"  It rips the musical right open.  From there it grows into a celebration of personal expression, of crossing lines and being yourself.

The characters grew on me throughout the show, but none more than Bridget, the plus-sized character played by Ryann Redmond.

She's the standard equivalent of the plus-sized-best-friend character, but the writers - and Ryann - bring a lot of spunk to Bridget.  As an unconventional quirkster, she fits in better at her new school than her old school, where she joins the dance crew and develops a love interest.  It's a lot more for a plus-sized actress to try on than they usually are given, and Redmond wears it well.

It was a pleasant experience at the theater, and for awhile, I thought that might be all it was... that is, until the very end, when an unexpected moment made me cry.  The very last dance move - and the most celebratory bird-fly to conformity and coloring inside the lines - was a cheer lift.  Coming on the heels of two and a half hours of cheer lifts, that shouldn't be particularly impactful.

But it was a plus-sized cheerleader at the top of the pyramid.  And that message - you can do anything you want to do - made sixteen-year-old Heidi (and thirty-two-year-old Heidi) very happy.

The show has left LA, but it's touring across the country, starting in San Francisco and heading to big cities throughout 2012.  You should check out the website for dates.

All right.  I'll be back with another post soon.  Until then - and always - remember that you can do anything.  And remember to take care of you.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Weigh-in Tuesday: Slipping up

I slipped up last week. Literally.

I had planned out a productive and eventful day, which I began with a trip to the mailbox, to sort and manage the bills. It's been unusually cold in Los angeles, so I was wearing my cozy sweater-boot-slippers to keep my feet warm. The day felt full of potential, and I was energized to fulfill it, so I ran up the lobby steps. So eager. So careless.

Until suddenly, everything turned slo-mo. I didn't have my footing, and although everything felt unsettlingly slow, for some reason, I couldn't move my body to react. BAM. My feet were somehow behind me, the rest of me felt jabbing pain.

Somehow I'd managed to simultaneously land on my glasses, my elbow, my breast, my knee, and all of my thigh at the same time. Well, big, stair-shaped stripes of my thigh. My glasses were chipped, twisted up to my eyebrow, which it gashed open. (a shallow gash, fortunately, but it bled nonetheless.). Most of all, my body ached, back twisted and muscles lashed from the impact.

Shaken and in a lot of multi-sourced pain, I pulled myself up and clued the stairs gingerly back to our condo. All the energy and momentum I felt before was completely gone, like it was jarred out of me on impact. On top of that, all I could think about was my Mother's last fall - the camel-straw that brought her life more rapidly to a close. About how much worse this fall could have been, had I taken it last year at this time, 68 pounds heavier. About how much worse it might be if I lose my way on this life-long journey to better health.

I canceled my plans for the day and went back to bed.

Resting was the best choice for me at the time. But the choices that followed? Not so much. A day in bed after a fall turns out very much like a day in bed with a cold. I get bored. And we all know what happens when I'm bored, especially when I'm not feeling well. One less-than-ideal food choice turns into two not-so-great exercise choices turns into ten really-awful moments of negative self-talk. And then I feel even worse. And not surprisingly, that same pound that's been torturing me - the one I had lost last Tuesday - was found again.

Luckily, my weekend was full of previously-scheduled engagements, and when I'm feeling down on myself, nothing helps me see things more clearly than time with friends and loved ones. Today I feel back to normal, with that same momentum I had a week ago. I'm out doing errands and Christmas shopping today, and my gear for Slimmons is packed and in my car (which is currently having an oil change.)

Now, to maintain that momentum for as long as I'm able... And not to be hard on myself when I'm not. That's the real trick. Just gotta take care of me. You take care of you, too.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Multimedia Monday - iSee you!

Hello from my new iPhone! It arrived this morning shortly after we returned from the airport. We flew in from our weekend with family in Sonoma - more on that in an upcoming post.

I'm posting via the Blogger app, one of a great many with which I'm experimenting. I was warned by several of you that I'd be sucked in by apps, and thus far you've been completely correct.

I've downloaded and played with LiveStrong, IMDb, Facebook, Twitter, and Fandango. I've yet to use Pandora, Amazon or Kindle, but they're in the plans.

Instead of including a list of Short Cuts this week, I thought I'd ask YOU for one!

What are your favorite mobile apps? And why are they worth downloading?

I'm enjoying Tom's last day on hiatus (and he's enjoying his first day ever with a smart phone!)

So I'll be back tomorrow with more bloggery... And next week's Multimedia Monday should include some reviews of the 4S and all the new apps that I hope you'll recommend today!

Til then, as always, take care of you!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Inspired by Miss Piggy on Fashion Friday

Before I start today's post, have you guys heard about the AdoraOm "New Year, New You" Makeover Contest?  You could win a makeover, workout clothes and lunch with the AdoraOm team - and I know from experience that they're terrific ladies who are excellent lunching companions.  You find out all the details for entering at their website or their Facebook page.

OK, onto today's post.

Miss Piggy has been a fashion icon of mine for as long as I can remember.  She certainly inspired me on Halloween a few years ago.

When we went to see her wardrobe collection at the El Capitan last week, it wasn't too surprising that one of her outfits sparked my fashion creativity.  I loved her houndstooth suit.

Ooh la la... Piggy wore this suit while working at French Vogue.

She even had my haircut while she wore it.  (Or I had hers.  It's not clear.)

Lately, it's helped me to dress for work in the morning before I begin my daily schedule - even though my work is freelance, and I could be in my jammies all day if I wanted.  When I snazz it up, it's like I'm making a commitment to being focused and productive in my day.  When I saw Piggy's suit, I realized I wanted to work a similar piece from my own wardrobe into my daily wear a little more.  So today I'm wearing this more casual - but still put-together - tribute to Piggy's suit.

Blazer by Lane Bryant
Tank shell by JM Collection
Slim-cut jeans by Style&Co
Resin and ribbon necklace by Avenue
Chiffon flower brooch came with the blazer
Boat shoes by Sperry

There are no pearls a la piggy in my wardrobe, but I thought I'd pay tribute to her black-and-pink with the ribbon/resin necklace.

One thing I like especially is the shape of the outfit.  The jacket is a little blocky, but because it's an open cut, the body-hugging shell underneath reveals a little more curve.  And the slim-cut jeans taper the look, so I'm not one big rectangle.  (Likewise, the loafers - new favorites of mine - don't overwhelm the shape, but don't disappear, either.)

This are actually my first pair of slim-cut pants, outside of workout pants, in... I don't know how long, but probably more than 20 years.  I found them by spending a few hours trying on every single kind of brand and style and cut at Macy's.  It is surprising just how differently each pair fits... but this one fits me like a glove.  I can't believe I'm saying this, but I don't really want to go back to boot cuts again.  Macy's seems to be out of slim-cut jeans right now, aside from their new "butt lifting technology" ones.  I haven't tried those before. 

So, what fictional character inspires your wardrobe?  (Or what real person, for that matter?)  I have another inspirational character, but I'll save her for another Fashion Friday.


In other news, I'm feeling better than I was yesterday.  The blues seem to have passed, and I'm sure my weekly therapy session helped - as did the support from all of you.

We leave early tomorrow morning for a family gathering.  Traveling is always stressful when you're on a plan for healthy living... mostly because you have to be flexible and there isn't always an easy plan in place.  Fortunately, we've stocked up on some healthy snacks to take with us, we have activities scheduled, and I have kind relatives looking out for me.  I'll let you know how everything goes when I'm back again on Monday.  Until then, let's take care of each other - and ourselves.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holiday blues

I think the holiday blues have arrived. 

Thanksgiving has come and gone - and it's a little late to be posting about it, but today's the first day I got to it, so here it is.

My Thanksgiving was... well, it was fine, I guess.  I enjoyed spending time with our guests, my mother-in-law and our friend Alexa, especially when we watched a few episodes of the show Tom's editing. 

Our Thanksgiving table

But something our friend Josh had mentioned in class before Thanksgiving really hit home with me.  Now that I'm a recovering food addict, holiday eating is - frankly - stressful.  It used to be joyful.  It used to be one of the rare times in my life that I ate happily... or, rather, I overate happily.  Perhaps it was because I always had company.  Perhaps it was because the holiday food is always so delicious.  Perhaps the warm feelings of the holiday were mainlined into my system via food.  Perhaps because in my mother's kitchen, food was love.

Now... food is fuel.  Tasty fuel, mind you, but fuel nonetheless.  And that made my holiday eating feel kind of... empty.  It's hard to explain.

Since I was making much of our food (I covered the cranberries, the low-cal pumpkin pie, the butternut squash, the stuffing and the turkey; Tom made the root veggies, the green beans and the Brussels sprouts) I had control over what was served.  I planned fewer dishes - and smaller, less-heavy ones - than we usually make, and adjusted the recipes.  I cut down the use of butter by about 300%.  And I tasted it. 

This is everything I ate for Thanksgiving dinner, save for a piece of my low-cal pumpkin pie and a glass of sparkling cider.

I didn't have any desire to eat more than one plate of the food.  Which is healthy, I know.  But without it, I was bummed.  I missed that butter.  I missed having lots of leftovers.  Each dish fit into single-serving tupperware, with room to spare.  It was all gone by dinner the following day.  I was living that joke from Annie Hall.  "Two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, 'Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.' The other one says, 'Yeah, I know; and such small portions.'"

Don't get me wrong.  I know the food wasn't terrible.  But it wasn't emotional.  And I missed that.  Maybe someday I'll be able to balance bringing in some positive emotion about food without going overboard.  For now, I'm just worried about how to handle the upcoming family events - starting this weekend - when I'm not in charge of the menu.

I'm a bit blue today, and I don't quite know why. 

The Santa Ana winds are blowing in, knocking out power across town - but other than the damage I do, I really enjoy them.  A rare moment of weather in Los Angeles.

Yesterday we were out in the afternoon and evening.  Tom wanted to enjoy the holiday offerings at Disneyland while he was on his hiatus, so we went around to the various Christmas-themed things (Small World Holiday, the parade and fireworks, etc.) to get in the spirit.  I had a nice time, and made food choices that were in-line with my plan.  (I did have dessert - part of a pumpkin yule log - and per Richard's recommendation, I'm allowing myself one dessert each week.)

But I saw something yesterday that I still can't shake.  We were boarding pirates with a woman in a wheelchair who reminded me of my mom.  The struggle to move her from the chair to the boat was one that was all too familiar to me.  It reminded me of recurring nightmare I have, where we're in peril and I'm unable to transport Mom to safety.

I suppose maybe I'm blue because I turned the Christmas music on - or I turned the Christmas music on because I'm blue.  Because I'm missing her.  Because Christmas really was her time of year.

There's so much to be un-blue about, though.  My friends and family.  My time with Tom this week - my life with Tom, for that matter.  My writing, both personal creative and professional freelance.  My health, and how much it's improved over the last year.  Funny thing about that word, "improved"...

Thanks to Bella of Bella on the Beach, I'm considering participating in a month-long blog carnival of sorts, called WEverb11.  And today's question is:

December 1: Choose one word.
Encapsulate the year 2011 in one word. Explain why. Imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2012 for you?

That would would be "improvement."  This year, I've improved my health, my strength, my ability to cook, the way I handle my food addiction.  I've improved my freelance career (and definitely improved my life by leaving the interactive marketing behind.)  I've improved my blog.  I've improved my creative writing.  And I've improved my overall happiness.   This is probably the year I've been most proud of.

Next year's word, I hope, is "achievement."  I'd like to continue toward the goals that I actively began seeking this year, in health, in career, in family.  And I'm hoping to be closer to achieving them next year than I am this year.  I'm certainly closer this year than last, by miles.

Or maybe the word for both years should be "care."  I'm putting so much care into my life.  I'm taking care.  And almost every day, I remind you to take care. 

That reminds me: take care of you today.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Adventure Wednesday with The Muppets!

It's time to play the music.  It's time to light the lights!  It's time to go see The Muppets, if you haven't already, because it's pretty damn good.  The best Muppet movie since the 1980s.  For today's Adventure Wednesday, I take you along on our trip to see the movie, Hollywood-style.

Having finished all of my preparation for Thanksgiving by Wednesday afternoon, Tom and I found ourselves with an uncharacteristically open night before our holiday guests arrived for dinner, so we booked tickets to see the movie opening night at the best possible viewing location -- the El Capitan. 

The El Cap marquee, all lit up


This turned out to be especially fun, because El Cap is in the film, as the location of "Muppet Studios."  (In real life, the Henson studios are actually on La Brea north of Sunset, in Charlie Chaplin's former studio space, but the Muppets are now owned by Disney, the owner of the El Capitan.)

The real Henson Studios has a tribute to Kermit and Chaplin - the statue of Kermit AS Chaplin.
Photo via Henson Studios


   We love going to the El Cap.  It's a more expensive ticket than your usual theater, but then, it has so much more to offer than your usual theater does. 

Here's the side of the theater, with the nearby Animal billboard.

It may only be a mile away from our home, but we rarely get over to the tourist district (with Grauman's Chinese among other attractions.)  There's always something strange and amusing to see there, and going to the El Cap gives us a good excuse to people-watch.  Or pet-watch.

For instance, we spotted this very recalcitrant cat being walked - or tugged - on a leash.

The El Cap is also fun because it is such a beautifully restored historical theater.  I'm a fan of old theaters, and this is one of the best restorations ever done.

Here's the ceiling above the ticket box and entryway.

And unlike most old theaters, it has a Wurlitzer organ that is in good working condition -- and their organist plays a set before every show!  There's nothing like seeing a movie like Pirates of the Caribbean or Lady and the Tramp or The Muppets, (all which we've seen there) and hearing its theme song pour out of the pipes before the movie even starts.

The organist at play.

   Plus, whatever is playing at the El Cap, Disney always brings in special displays or events that tie into the movie.  This one was no exception, and it was one of the reasons I most wanted to see The Muppets at the El Capitan.  They included a pre-show holiday sing-along with a live performance by Kermit and Piggy.


Now, I know - and I hope you know I know - that they aren't really people.  But... I'd never seen the puppets in action, actually being puppeted in front of me.  The holiday sing-along with them was worth the ticket price alone.

My inner two-year-old (and my outer thirty-two-year-old) was totally geeked out by the real Kermit and Piggy, in person.

After the sing-along, we enjoyed the audience's giddy reaction to the pending movie.  When the reel didn't roll right away, some fella behind us started doing a Statler/Waldorf impression.  It was spot-on and made everyone laugh.

The film was preceded with a Toy Story short that was so packed with laughs from stem to stern that I am pretty sure I need to see it again to catch everything I missed.

Finally, The Muppets began, and I was amused (and kind of moved) that there was as much cheering by our fellow adults in the audience as we'd heard from the tweens seeing Twilight.  I'm reminded, with the second coming of these felted weirdos, that I'm not alone in my love for them.

Especially when it comes to Jason Segel, the writer and star of the movie.  I was a little worried the film would be jaded and a touch ironic, as is the 'Apatow' style from which he sprung up to stardom.  But the movie was filled with real heart, and lots of funny laughs.

I'm a musical fan, and the music numbers did not disappoint.  I loved several of them, but my favorite by far was "Man or Muppet," which I hope like hell will be nominated for an Academy Award.  There's a terrific cameo for the song, which totally surprised me - I was deeply tickled by it.  I'm not spoiling it for you, and you should try to stay unspoiled.

It was fun to spot the hotel on the corner of our street, in its own cameo as Amy Adams' and Jason Segel's hotel room.  (I was hoping there would be an exterior shot, but alas, no.)

Once the credits were done rolling (you should stay for them, btw) we headed downstairs for the special exhibit of Miss Piggy's wardrobe from the film - yet another benefit of the El Cap screening.

My favorite was this Zac Posen number. He designs so well for curves!

   We didn't realize - I don't think they advertised - that there was also a photo op backdrop down there, plus the Muppet portraits from the film, and some sets and props, too!

Blissed out after the movie.

Tom in front of Kermit's office, complete with his "Standard Rich & Famous Contract"

Me with Miss Piggy's dressing room. I'm holding the Muppets popcorn bucket that came with our VIP tickets.

From there, we headed out through Disney's Soda Fountain, the combination gift shop/restaurant connected to the theater.  (You can't exit a Disney ride without exiting through the gift shop, yo.)  They had a ton of Muppet merchandise.

They had a whole display just for Animal!

They also sold Muppet Whatnot sets - and though I'd really like one, I'd rather wait until I can assemble my own
at the FAO Schwarz in New York - or if it finally comes to Disneyland, as is rumored.

   They even sold the OPI Muppet nail polish series - but I decided not to buy any, in favor of another souvenir I had my eye on.

Sporting my cozy new Kermie hat.

We loved the experience... and we loved the movie, which we'd like to see again while it's still in theaters.  (Having had the full El Cap experience, we'll opt for a cheaper theater this time.  Once is worth it, but once is enough.)

If you're local and you love Muppets, definitely consider checking it out at the El Capitan... and if you're not local, you should try to catch the movie in theaters.  It's a love letter to the original fans, and a cheery introduction for new ones.

OK.  I'll be back again mahna-maƱana (wocka-wocka), and til then, take care of you!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Media Monday... Movies, Movies, Movies!

It's already Tuesday, and I missed Monday, so I'm including a quick post of short cuts, all about the movies we saw this weekend!

We always do a movie day on Thanksgiving weekend.  By the end of November, the Oscar films are starting to pour into the theaters, and we're usually so busy that we're playing catch-up with them.  It started on our very first Thanksgiving together (Kinsey, Finding Neverland, Saw, Sideways) and has continued every year.  This year, we caught five great films!

  • The Muppets.  Major love.  More on this tomorrow, for Adventure Wednesday!
  • The Artist.  An absolute must-see if you're a fan of silent films... and even if you aren't. Take a dash of Singin' In the Rain, a pinch of A Star Is Born, and you have a story about the silent age of cinema told... in the style of the silent age of cinema.  There's some really indelible imagery in the film, and it's created in the vintage-retro aesthetic that I love.  Plus, the two leads seem as if they were plucked from the 1930s.  Hollywood just doesn't make actors - or movies - like this anymore...  but it seems France can.
  • Hugo. Two films in a row that are love letters to classic cinema - though I didn't really expect it of this Scorcese children's pic when I first saw the trailer.  I don't want to spoil anything for you, but it's a slow but immersive jaunt to France that entertains while it pleads for the preservation of film.  This actually may be my favorite Scorcese film.
  • Arthur Christmas.  The most benign of the bunch, but a pleasant watch nonetheless.  I usually expect more of Ardman (the Wallace & Gromit studio) but it's still much better than many animated films.
  • We Bought A Zoo.  It was playing in a "sneak preview" (the kind you buy tickets for, not the kind you're selected for.)  I wasn't expecting much, because Cameron Crowe hasn't interested me since Almost Famous... but I was totally won over by the film, the characters, the actors, and the depth of feeling.  I won't lie.  I cried - a lot.  I loved it.

We've also been seeing more and more of our own script.  With Tom home this week, we've been going gangbusters, and it keeps getting better and better.  Thanks also to a long discussion over dinner with my mother-in-law this weekend, we having been looking into a new avenue for the main character that has been fun and exciting to research.  Woo-hoo!

On Weigh-In Tuesday, weighing in on Cleveland's obese foster child

I'm weighing in today, with the number on the scale, and with my opinions.  Specifically, my opinions about what makes weight loss harder, what makes it easier, and how my experiences relate to the case of Cleveland's obese foster child.

First: Hormones & The Long Haul
When I hopped on the scale last Tuesday, I was up.  By a pound.  Again.  I hadn't eaten terribly, but I still wasn't logging what I ate, and my exercise had slowed a bit.  It's very frustrating to confront my challenges again and again and again.  I try to remember that this is a life-long journey, not a race. I remind myself that so long as I'm committed to taking care of me, speed does not matter - only persistence.  It's hard not to feel frustrated.

Aware of my frustration, my mother-in-law recently pointed me to an article in the LA Times.  Apparently, a medical study found that "subjects who shed weight on a low-calorie diet were hungrier than when they started and had higher levels of hormones that tell the body to eat more, conserve energy and store away fuel as fat."  Even a year later, the subjects' appetite hormones hadn't returned to normal.  The good news is that perhaps the study will help scientists find a way to help those who've lost weight maintain their loss.  The bad news is that until then, those of us who are struggling to maintain or lose more after an initial loss... we just have to fight what our bodies are telling us, keep active, and stay on our journey as best as we can.

Second: The Team Approach
Tom's been home since last Wednesday night - for Thanksgiving plus a week of work hiatus (he goes back next Monday - and I'm reminded what a difference it makes being one of a team on this journey.  While he's working, we're still a great team... but I'm alone in making our dinners, planning our menus, doing our grocery shopping, cooking for myself.  I go to the gym alone.  To Slimmons alone.  (I see dear friends there, but it's not the same as arriving with my best friend.)  And since I'm a freelance writer, I work at home alone.

But since Wednesday, it's been much easier to do everything I was struggling to do.  We've cooked together.  We've exercised together.  We planned our meals and grocery-shopped and discussed our plans.  We've also done a lot of work together.  It supports the very first thing that Richard Simmons ever said to Tom and I.  He said, "you have to do this together, or it doesn't work."

Together with Tom, I was able to come back down a pound - even on Thanksgiving week.  Soon I hope to be back to my 70 total lost, and move on from there.  But I have to be patient with myself, and I have to be pretty vigilant, thanks to hormones that are constantly telling me I'm hungry.  I never used to feel this way.

On the Cleveland Situation
Perhaps you haven't heard yet, but there's a debate swirling around a Cleveland social worker's decision to remove a child from his parents' custody because he was obese.  The child was an honor student and involved in activities at his school, but he is now staying with foster parents.

Apparently, the state worker was trying to work with the parents, but claims that they weren't following doctors' orders.  The parents dispute that claim, that they bought him a bicycle and were working with him. 

The Cleveland Plain Dealer article includes this quote from the mother:  "Of course I love him. Of course I want him to lose weight. It's a lifestyle change, and they are trying to make it seem like I am not embracing that."

The article also states that the mother is overweight herself, and that when she "found out that other kids and a sibling might be giving her son extra food, she tried to put a stop to it."

It sounds to me like the family was torn.  I don't know the specifics of the situation aside from the story, but all I can think about is how the Team Approach helps everything.  And if a sibling - or a struggling mother - isn't doing everything they can to help their loved one (or worse, actively sabotaging them), then it's going to be that much harder for their loved one to succeed. 

One other quote from the article stuck out to me - it flashed like a blinking red light.  "Last year, the boy lost weight but in recent months began to gain it back rapidly." 

It sounds to me like the foster child from Cleveland - like the scientific study suggests - has his appetite hormones out of whack after a weight loss.  It's hard for me to control myself in this situation as an adult.  How much harder would it be for an eight-year-old?  Without his parents?  Without his friends, in a new school, with life upside-down?  I know how my eight-year-old self would have handled it. Hell, I know how my twenty-eight-year-old self would have handled it.  I'd eat.

Is it sad that an eight-year-old is over 200 pounds, and suffers from sleep apnea?  Certainly.  Does it need to be addressed?  Yes.  Are the parents responsible?  Absolutely, to the extent that they are able to control their son.

But does the child need to be removed from their custody?  I'd say no.

While he's in danger for future comorbidities from obesity, he only has apnea, and has been treated for it.  While a parent can encourage and schedule healthy eating and exercise, there is nothing they can do to stop their child from, say, buying crap at school.  Stopping at a convenience store on the way home.  Swapping their healthy apple for processed junk from friends.  I cite these three examples because they are, in fact, things I did as an overweight child.  I remember that our cafeterias had some good salads... but candy, sugary sodas and fresh-baked cookies (3 for a dollar!) were sold at our high school store. Other kids didn't have a problem resisting them... but I did.  I know there were others like me, too. 

So, what can we do?  How can we help this generation of children get healthy, and stay healthy?

For starters, while this branch of the government is removing obese children from their parents, other branches are approving french fries and pizza as vegetables.  (Not even veggie pizza, people.  Any pizza with tomato paste - a tiny fraction of what goes into a pizza's calories.)  It's Regan and ketchup all over again.  Nobody's banning food advertisements.  How many late-night tacos were born of TV commercial taunting?  Who, as a kid, didn't want to go to McDonald's to get the latest toy?  Why are we still allowing it to happen?

The answers lie even beyond the ridiculousness of school cafeterias food and marketing.  But they're not easily addressed.

It would help if there wasn't such a stigma attached to being overweight.  Shame is often a chief reason for overeating - a vicious circle I was trapped in for years.

It would help if there wasn't such a stigma around therapy.  Everyone can use guidance.  Nobody is "normal."  And it's the very thing that helped me begin to address my health.

It would help if sports - especially competitive sports - weren't jammed down every kid's throat.  I have no hand-eye coordination.  I wasn't strong.  And I was scared of every ball ever thrown at me in gym class.  I was never taught to kick the kickball.  I was tossed aside on the no-cut basketball team.  And I was forever losing every race.  The lack of positive reinforcement from teachers taught me to hate gym class.  The negative taunting from my classmates taught me to fear exercise.  So, for a long time, I didn't do it.  I didn't realize that the dancing I loved as a kid could be good exercise as an adult.  I didn't know that the swimming that made me so happy on vacation could make my every pool workout feel like a vacation.  Not every kid is a softball star... and not every kid wants to be.  Maybe parents (maybe even schools) should consider an activity program for those kids who are averse to sports.

It would help if parents who struggled with disordered eating would do everything they could to address their own habits before passing them along to their children.  And that, my friends, is what I'm doing right now.

To the kiddo from Cleveland:  I hope you find your way back to your family, and that they can be a united team to help support you.  And I hope that they, along with the others around you, can help you to learn to take good care of yourself.

And everybody reading this:  I hope that you're taking good care of you, too. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Week in a day.

Between vacation recovery, freelance work and... I dunno, sometimes I feel kind of hermit-y... I didn't blog at all last week.  But it's never too late to do anything. So, I present:


Media Monday:
Countdown to the Muppets is hitting single-digits.

Is anyone else tired of Fake Amy Sedaris as the spokesperson holiday-shopper for Target? (I'd never be sick of Real Amy Sedaris.)

I'm not embarrassed to say that I looked forward to Twilight. Not because I particularly like the series, but because Tom and I enjoy a good ironic watching... plus, it's our tradition to watch the fans freak out. 

Weigh-in Tuesday: 
I was down 2 pounds last week.  Between very good exercising and cooking for myself, I have felt like taking care of myself.  But after the weigh-in, the week felt like a harder fight.  More on that soon.  In other news, I just read another weight loss blogger comment upon her "before" pictures.  She called herself disgusting.  I'd like to say to my before pictures: thanks, baby.  You are strong, and you're starting out on a journey that is neither easy nor short-term.  And you don't deserve any negative self-talk, any more than I do.  (We are actually the same person.)

Adventure Wednesday:
Had a wonderful time celebrating my anniversary with Tom.  He took me to dinner at The Little Door.  The space was beautifully designed, the food was creatively cooked, and the celebrity-spotting was amusing, what with Ricky Schroeder (yes, Silver Spoons Ricky Schroeder) seated around the corner from us at the bar as we awaited our table.  Our weekend writing retreat was fun and productive, and the plot is really taking shape.

Themeless Thursday:
I finally caught the weight loss documentary, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead.  I'd been putting it off, because I was a little nervous that the film - which advocates juice fasting - would convince me that I should try to lose my weight rapidly, as do the subjects of the film. 

As it turns out, it didn't convince me of that, because my own convictions and experiences with weight loss and motivation were strong enough to feel secure in my own path.  I think the juice fast might be very helpful to 'reset' the palates of people who eat a lot of junk food and very little produce.  I, however, eat a lot of produce, and have not eaten junk food in... wow, I just realized.  In a week, it'll be 11 MONTHS since I've had fast food.  And I don't purchase processed junk food, and try to limit processed non-junk food. 

The side effects of rapid weight loss - like mental disconnection and hair loss, both of which I've already experienced at my relatively slow pace - makes me think that if I tried to lose weight any faster, I'd make myself incredibly sick.  So my goal is to continue on the path I've already plotted out... but with the possible addition of a home juicer, so I can add some additional veggie nutrients to my daily intake.  I really do enjoy it, and my body seems to respond well, too.

I don't own a machine yet, but I do pick up the occasional serving of freshly-pressed
veggie juice as a treat.  Isn't my carrot-ginger juice vivid and pretty?

Fashion Friday
I tried my AdoraOm outfit in action for the first time, while working out at Slimmons.  The pants were possibly the most comfortable ones I've ever worn while active.  I'd never had flat-seamed exercise pants before, and I was doubtful that it would really make a difference.  IT DID.  (I do wish the rise on the pants would be a little higher, but that's not a deal-breaker.)  The shirt was very cute and I got plenty of compliments on it.  The only down-side was that it would ride up a little when I lifted my arms, but I know they company has been very active at soliciting feedback, and I'm sure that it'll only get better from there.  Considering how great I felt after the workout - how well it cooled, supported, and wicked away sweat - anything else is gravy!

Here I am, in my AdoraOm outfit, accessorized with Richard in a tutu.

OK.  I feel better for having blogged.  How are you feeling?  Are you taking care of you?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fashion Friday: one skirt, two ways!

Happy Friday!  And it's a particularly happy Friday for me.  It's the seventh anniversary of my first date with Tom.  

Last night, in the elevator on the way up to our condo, he was grinning like a Cheshire cat.  I asked him what tickled him so, and he let on that he'd gotten "a little something" for me, to celebrate.  Oh, no!  I hadn't gotten him anything, but he assured me that it was really for both of us.  When we got to our door, the package was waiting for him.  "That was fast," I said.  "Depends how you look at it," he replied.

Turns out that it was a "little something" - a zip drive.  He secretly went to our wedding photographer - the amazing Kat Foley - and purchased the digital rights to all of our wedding photographs.  We've been married four and a half years, and we never managed to squeak it in the budget.  I was so surprised!  Bowled over.  I'll share more later, but for now, here's one to tide you over:

Look ma, no hands!  (Otherwise known as the most dangerous photo I've ever been in.)


Today's Fashion Friday post will have to be quick -- tonight Tom's taking me to a surprise dinner (he won't say where) and then tomorrow morning, we take off for an all-weekend writing retreat together! 


I'm in love with a skirt.

I'm always on the lookout for full, swingy skirts -- they are my favorite.  And I'd been wanting to add a chambray piece to my wardrobe this fall.  Chambray always looks so smart, and is so versatile.  So when I saw this swingy chambray number at eShakti, I pounced.

Still available, from size 0 to 26, at eShakti.

I can't stop wearing it, so I thought I'd show you two different outfits I've built around it.

This one, which I wore during the Reagan Library outing, was warm & comfy.
Sweater via Nordstrom Rack
Tank top by JM, via Macy's
Scarf via Nordstrom Rack
Belt via OneStopPlus
Leggings by Lane Bryant
Boots by Comfortview

Alternate view, plus Kate Spade purse, plus friends


The second version on the outfit comes with a bonus hat!  Our awesome friend Samantha had a hat party for her birthday, and we all wore our best chapeaus for the occasion.

Sweater by Jessica London
Blouse by Lane Bryant
Hat is vintage, via Junk For Joy in Burbank
Bracelet is vintage, via Dazzles in Palm Springs
Friends are gorgeous, and priceless.

I thought I oughta show you Tom's duds for the day, too - since he cleans up so well.
That's his best fedora, and his grandfather's vintage jacket.


That Tom.  After being so thoughtful and setting up our romantic/creative weekend, he even got mooshy on Facebook.

Honestly.  I'm every bit head-over-heels as I tumbled on this day, seven years ago.

Please take care of you this weekend - and take care of your loved ones, too!  I'm off to take smother mine with kisses.  Mwah, mwah, mwah!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On a roll... and in the kitchen with Salmon Rolls

I cannot begin to tell you how much better I am feeling this week.  I don't fully understand it... the previous several weeks were filled with fatigue, depression, and the less-than-helpful choices that come with fatigue and depression.  I was skipping exercise classes.  I was adding to my portion size.  And I was feeling downright crappy.  I could hardly talk about it - even when I tried.

But I tried to put tiny actions into place... good, healthy ways of self-care.  Solid rest.  Menu-planning.  Healthy snacks in moderation.  Between all of that and the breathing revelation at therapy last week, things just seemed to come together.  Mindful eating, regular exercise, writing, blogging, chores...  I'm on a roll.

A salmon roll, you might say.  Well, maybe I'm not on a salmon roll, but I'm totally eating a salmon roll snack, a few times a week.  I started at the beginning of October, as a way to tuck a little extra protein and veg into my weekend in Palm Springs.  It's simple, quick and tasty, and I liked it so much that I've added it to my repertoire.

All it takes is a little smoked salmon, Laughing Cow Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil, and some fresh crunchy veg.


Lay out an ounce of the salmon, and open up one wedge of the cheese.


Spread a half of one wedge onto the salmon.

Lay one or two strips of crunchy veg at the far end of the fish.


Roll it carefully toward you.


Wha-la!  You can either eat it as a hand-roll...


...or use a serrated knife to carefully slice it like a roulade.  Some of your pieces will be very pretty.

Some of your pieces may be pretty ugly.


No matter, it's all ending up in the same place!  And it's tasty.  The tomato Laughing Cow reminds me of the sun-dried tomato cream cheese at Noah's Bagels (if you're on the west coast, or Einstein Bros. if you're elsewhere.)  And it's such a quick fix that it makes the perfect pick-me-up in the afternoon.

What is your favorite pick-me-up?  And are you taking care of you?  I hope so!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Adventure Wednesday at Reagan Library

Before I start, I just want to thank all of you for your support and outreach after yesterday's post.  I have been struggling, but this week has been leaps and bounds better.  More on that in an upcoming post, because today is Wednesday, and it's time for some Adventure!

I don't really talk politics on this blog.  It's not that I don't think about politics (though when I was younger, it was more of a focus.)  But politics is a fraught topic, and this blog is about the joy of living healthfully and creatively.  They go together like peanut butter and liverwurst.  (Except if you're my brother, who actually likes that.)

For the record - though you probably already know - I'm progressive/liberal with a basic belief that we shouldn't adhere to just one school of thought (capitalism, socialism, et al) because they keep each other in check.  Plenty of my friends and family members are conservative, and that suits me just fine, because, again, we keep each other in check.  In general, one really must consider perspective.

Take, for instance, my pal Erik.   Among our group of cohorts, he's one of the more conservative.  In another group of his friends, he's the hippie-dippy liberal.  So I found it apt and amusing that he took all of us - those to the left and those to the right of him - to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for his birthday.

We tend toward the rollicking when we're out and about, so I tried to be on my best behavior and keep the inappropriate jokes inside my head (or save them for targets who'd find them amusing) while visiting the museum that pays tribute to the 40th President of the United States: The Gipper.

Photo taken by my friend Audra

I'll admit, it was a little challenging to do that during the first multimedia presentation.  It was very much like a movie trailer.  They even said something like, "one man braved the challenges..."  One of our friends cracked, in a Don LaFontaine voice, "IN A WORLD..."

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  We met up in the front garden of the grounds, just past the entrance.  I'd never been to Simi Valley, and I didn't realize how beautiful the view from the library would be.

Vista from the meeting place.


It was nice to see a piece of the Berlin wall, which was donated to the museum.  Talk about symbolic contrast... the other side was totally bare except for the letter "E" (we presume for "East.")

Photo by Audra.

We started off with a little lunch at Reagan's Country, the cafe inside the library.  There was a nice range of options, including a barbecue chicken salad (with dressing on the side) which I enjoyed alongside a diet Snapple tea.

I don't know why my leg is pointed, but I like that we can see my cool kicks.
More on my outfit this Fashion Friday.
By the way, this, and the rest of these photos, were taken by Tom.

I spotted Reagan's favorite food quirk - jelly beans - for sale, and I couldn't resist picking up a bag for the group.  (There were jars of jellybeans tucked around the museum, and for sale in the gift shop as well.) You'll see them on the table in the photo below.

The birthday boy enjoys his lunch.  And some jellybeans.


I don't know what Audra is gesticulating about, but check out that VIEW!

The museum included a mix of Reagan's personal and political history, plus some general presidential-type fun, like a chance to stand at a podium and experience the phenomenon of teleprompting.  Did you know that teleprompters are basically a version of Pepper's Ghost, my favorite old-timey theatrical trick (and the technology behind the Haunted Mansion?) 

I take my podium seriously.


There were several interactive displays.  Our group got high marks on the etiquette quiz, and were very confused by the lack of explained consequences of our "break through regulations" game, in which we used a slingshot to break up things like business monopolies.  (We had video of it, but alas, it has been lost in the ether.)

 We also took a stroll through a recreation of the Reagan Oval Office.  Did you know that they redesigned it in unusual rust/coral color scheme to remind them of their southwestern ranch home?

Everything's a reproduction but the chair. The docent said after his presidency,
Reagan enjoyed coming to the library and sitting in his old chair.
Guests would commend them on their excellent Reagan impersonator.


The star of the exhibit, for me, was the decomissioned Air Force One, which we were able to walk through (but not photograph.)  We did get some fun shots of the outside (and some people purchased the souvenir photograph they took of us at the gate.  I'll post that in an update, later.)

The gang, admiring the tail.


Tom - in a bowling shirt that would come in handy later - looking dapper in front of the 27000.

My favorite of the batch - let's call it "View Beneath the Wing."

How often do you get to stand this close to the bottom of an airplane?
Let alone a presidential one.

From here, our camera battery gave up the ghost, so we missed photographing wonderous things like the very 1980s orange sherbet push-up pop I purchased in the Reagan "pub," plus  Nancy Reagan's Second-hand Rose outfit, and the official Just Say No Board Game (still available on eBay, people!)

Thus, we missed out on photos of our dinner at a local pizza restaurant (which had the nicest salad bar I've seen at a non-salad-bar-centric restaurant - they even had jicama!) or our post-dinner bowling... at an alley that looked very much like the one in my hometown.  One forgets just how much exercise one can get while bowling.  Especially when you're speed-bowling, which is the new sport we just invented.  (I think we invented it, anyway.)

Our time with friends was very refreshing... but I have to admit, that much time in a museum honoring a conservative president made my liberal brain feel a tad itchy.  Tom's too.  Partway through the museum, he whispered to me, "Can we do something really liberal when we're done here?"  We pondered through an amusing array of options, but finally decided that the best thing to do would be to donate to Obama's campaign.  So we did.

All right!  I think I've fulfilled my politics quota for... ever.  A big thanks to Erik for organizing our fun day with the Gipper, and to all our friends, who are awesome and amusing and supportive and fun.

And to you.  I hope you're taking good care of you.  I'll be back tomorrow to tell you about some of the ways I've been doing it this week.  'Til then!