Tuesday, March 30, 2010

11 Things Children Can Teach ME About Weight Loss

I'm  so exasperated with myself and signed up with http://www.sparkpeople.com/ yesterday to provide external motivation and accountability, when mine flags (often) to help me get the weight off. Rather than continue to bemoan  my current predicament, and yet not do anything consistent about it, I decided to give this a try. SparkPeople is free and has all kinds of flexible tools and trackers available so you can see exactly what you're doing to reap success or failure. I don't know if it will work but it's work a shot for me.

This article just arrived from SparkPeople as an email and I thought I would share it. Such common sense things and so true. 

11 Things Children Can Teach You About Weight Loss
The Littlest People Know the Biggest Motivation Secrets
-- By Mike Kramer, Staff Writer

The answers to weight loss success aren’t in the bookstore. You won’t find them in the latest government research labs. Forget about talk radio, late night TV, or a magazine rack full of scantily clad, impossibly thin cover models.

You’ll uncover information and data there, for sure. You’ll find plenty of opinions, ideas and "proven techniques" too. But the REAL answers – the stuff you can use every day – can be found anytime at your local playground.

Everything you need to know about fitness and weight loss, you can learn from kids.

Have you ever watched a child completely engrossed in a project? They have the magical ability to be serious about what they’re doing without taking it too seriously. You can do the same with your weight loss. You can live every day with more focus, and every week with more motivation.

Here’s what every child knows that you may have forgotten. See if you can apply some of these lessons to your daily program:

1. Everything can be a game. Why slog through the same workout routines in boredom, when you can add a little fun? Make up rules, shoot for personal records, regain your competitive spirit.

2. Don’t walk when you can run. Every day is full of opportunities to increase your fitness. This rule is closely related to "don’t drive when you can walk."

3. If you don’t like it, don’t eat it. Once you hit your goal weight, chances are your eating habits won’t stick around long if you hated what you were eating. Healthy eating involves balance and moderation.

4. Laughter feels good. Kids seem to inherently know that laughter can ease blood pressure, help your brain function, give you energy, and help you reach your goals. Smiling and enjoying yourself can be serious help.

5. Playtime is important. We get so caught up in work, chores and a host of "have-to's" that we forget to take time for ourselves. Not only does relaxing and regrouping make life worthwhile, it has real health benefits. Most of all, it will help you stay consistent and motivated.

6. The world should be full of color—especially on your dinner plate! Splash it with as many colors as possible, paint it like a rainbow with food. It’s more fun to look at and chances are you’ll be eating a healthy, balanced meal.

7. It’s always more fun with friends around. Children tend to gravitate toward other children. It gives them spirit and makes them want to play all day. Working out with other people is almost like having your own little playgroup.

8. Adventures are found outside, not inside. Every kid knows that the good stuff is in the great outdoors—fresh air, wide open spaces, limitless possibilities. You can’t find those things cooped up in a tiny, stale gym. Open the door and start a new adventure every day.

9. It’s important to use your imagination. You can be Captain Fantastic or Stupendous Woman any time you want. Give yourself permission to believe in your own super powers and let your mind take you wherever it wants to go.

10. Anything is possible. No fear, no self-doubts, no negative self talk, no self-criticism, no worries, no destructive anxieties or thoughts of failure. To a child, he/she can do anything. And do you know what? They’re right.

11. You have your whole life ahead of you. Here’s your chance to do it right.

The answers to weight loss are probably about 3-4 feet tall, and may be closer than you think. When you act more like a kid, suddenly the world opens up. Living a healthy lifestyle becomes something you want to do every day. Start enjoying yourself again! 

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Erin was in Michigan this past week (Wednesday through Saturday) for her dad's fifth-of-eight chemo treatment.* I had Lucy all day Wednesday and Thursday (thanks to play dates and a birthday party for Emily - thank you thank you) and then both Emily and Lucy were with me on Friday. We're well enough equipped for these visits that everything goes fairly smoothly, except for the moods and challenges of little girls.

The biggest draw at our house right now, for Lucy anyway, is to watch the movie Thumbelina. I've seen it so many times (OK, so I'm usually doing something in the kitchen or reading my Kindle) that I pretty much know exactly how much movie is left. I use it mostly as an enticement to (a) eat a good lunch (2) take a nap (3) whatever else I can do to postpone the viewing of said Thumbelina. 

On Friday, Lucy was particularly fragile and whether it was allergies or the early onset of a cold, I dunno but she burst into tears at the least provocation. Substitute one sippy cup for another: screaming. She didn't get to pick which dog she let out of his/her cage: top-of-the-lungs bawling. Wanted whatever toy Emily picked to play with: copious tears and pouty lips.

After nap, she bounced out of bed, excited to see Fum-Ba-WHEEEEEEE-Na. The two girls settled into their chairs with a snack and watched the @#$$% movie while I worked on dinner. As soon as it was over, she asked to see it again. 

I said: "How about Imagination Movers?" 
Emily jumped at that suggestion but Lucy wanted Fum-Ba-WHEEEEEEE-Na yet again. By this time Grandpa (Ban-ha to Lucy) was home and lucky enough to witness the mayhem. Lucy wailed, repeating time and again how she wanted to see Fum-Ba-WHEEEEEEE-Na. Emily finally decided she wanted to help me in the kitchen instead so we restarted Thumbelina. The wailing did not stop and Lucy shortly tottled into the kitchen sobbing. Remember that Thumbelina was playing all this time.

"What's the matter, why aren't you watching Thumbelina?"
More wailing. No talking, just high pitched wailing. 
Ban-ha: "Lucy, if you don't stop crying, we're going to put on Imagination Movers." 
Increased wailing. Time passes very very slowly. Still wailing.
Me, as an aside to Ban-ha: "Welcome to my world, honey."
Ban-ha: "All right then, if you're not going to stop I'm going to stop Thumbelina so Emily can watch Imagination Movers."
Lucy: "NOoooooooooooooooooo!" and more wailing.
Ban-ha, who drives a school bus and deals with irrational children all day long (God bless him) says in his bus driver tone: "That's it, we're gonna put on Imagination Movers."
Still more wailing. Daddy arrives  for dinner and to pick up girls . Lucy is red faced, snot flowing everywhere and tears pouring down her cheeks. We share a knowing smile over her head.
Me: "Hi daddy!"

Emily was quietly watching Imagination Movers (another show that makes me want to poke sharp things into my ears and eyes) and Lucy eventually joined her. The sniffling slowly abated but the wailing stopped, thank the Lord. Another two episodes of two-year-oldness during dinner and they were on their way home.

*Erin's dad Gerry (my ex-husband) was diagnosed with lymphoma December 27th. Pretty much a holiday-wrecker all around. Luckily he has responded well to the every-three-week chemo regimen and the tumor has shrunk from 18 centimeters (about the length of a nerf football) to about eight millimeters (the size of a pencil eraser) now. Yeay.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sleep assured

A few weeks ago I discovered a new use for something we have dozens of around the house: ear protectors. We have pairs of them in the basement, in the garage and in our backpacks for traveling. I even have a pair in my purse which came in handy at a loud concert last fall. The new use came to me when I was trying to get to sleep one night. With the numerous colds and sinus infections that Johnnie and I have traded between us and with the granddaughters all winter, sleep time can be kind of, um, noisy. 

So I was lying there trying not to give up and slip into another bedroom when I thought about ear protectors. I got up, found a pair in my desk (when I'm writing and Johnnie's on the phone chatting with someone, I put them in to help me focus), popped them in and voila! I was asleep in just a few minutes, with Johnnie's snoring reduced to a distant rumble. I tell you, I was saved!

Last weekend I went to The Christmas Tree Shop, which has lots of house decorations and weird things for fairly inexpensive prices. Not a Christmas tree in sight. It's probably one of the most misnamed stores around, in my opinion. (Looks like they're mostly in the Northeast, from Maine to Kentucky.)

I was by myself which was rare in itself so I indulged in poking among all the junk and treasures throughout the store and taking my time. In the health and beauty aids area, they had a sizeable display of ear plugs and the packages were rated on the back on how many decibels they reduced, noise-wise. So I picked out a package of these beauties, rated at 33 decibels of reduction, the highest rating of the packs displayed. They actually have a brand name: Howard Leight by Sperian - never heard of them or him before but they really do the trick for me.

They work great. I've been able to sleep through Johnnie's latest cold with no problem. In fact, this morning he was awake before me and switched out the shower head in our bathroom and I never heard a thing. Awesome.  This is a far better solution than sleeping separately, according to me. And there are times when sleeping separately isn't an option, when we have company or both granddaughters stay overnight and we put them in our two extra bedrooms. I can still hear if there's an emergency but the sounds of Johnnie's snoring become  gentle susurration.*

Extra benefits: I don't hear the dogs with their early weekend morning agitating about going outside or the window shade clicking against the window casing in a light breeze. Both of which wake me up, usually annoyed. If the dogs really need to go out, they come to the side of the bed and bump it, guaranteeing that I get up.

*I've always wanted to use that word but there's not much call for it in the technical or marketing writing that I do. It means whispering - isn't it cool?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Something in common

My reading tastes run to fiction books, Shape magazine and the local newspapers. I will occasionally buy a People or Prevention if the cover articles are interesting and I'm feeling particularly splurgy in the supermarket checkout lane. Never do I buy the yelllowly journalistic National Enquirer or any other rags that tend to feature alien babies and flying saucers that stop by for lunch. But the headlines are fun to read, especially if the line at Wegmans is moving really slow.

However, I was stopped in my tracks the other day by this headline. Obviously even NE has slow news days weeks.

With all the crises and unanswered questions in the world: earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, will Tiger return to golf? health care legislation, terrorism and sleeper cells, Conan O'Brien/Jay Leno and who knows what else, the biggest shocker that National Enquirer could come up with was Lisa Marie Presley's weight hits 165 lbs! She's only 5-foot-3! Her weight is OUT OF CONTROL!!! (emphasis mine)

Immediate thoughts: My gosh - she's almost the size of an elephant! She should be hiding inside a dress custom made by Fox Tent and Awning! Maybe Armageddon is really and truly coming this time! Lordy Lordy, she's taking after her daddy Elvis!

And they note she was only 109 lbs in 2000 - so she gained 54 pounds in a decade. Big whup. Besides the pressing question of who the heck cares? I found a particular soft spot of sympathy and empathy for Lisa Marie. Finally, we have something in common: I'm 5-foot-3 and, coincidence of all coincidences, I also weight 165 at the moment. I've been waiting for this day so that Lisa Marie and I can bond. Maybe over a hot fudge sundae or three.

Heart attack risk. Seriously? OK, 165 is definitely overweight and her BMI is not within the proper range but it's hardly morbidly obese. Binge eating turns deadly. Really? Gaining five pounds a year is hardly binge eating. It's a couple dozen peanut-butter-n-banana sammiches over 365 days, people.

Anyway, I need to track down Lisa's email or find her on Facebook or Twitter or somewhere so we can commiserate together. Maybe we can join up on SparkPeople and inspire each other to reduce.

In the meantime, I'm hoping for another world crisis to take the nation's attention off the publicizing of Lisa Marie's devastating secret.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spending time with Lucy

Now that Emily is in pre-kindergarten five days a week, I'm having more time with Lucy and loving every minute of it. Emily and I still have an afternoon together each week but schedules work out such that I have a full day with Lucy on Wednesdays.

I pick Lucy up when Erin drops Emily off at pre-K and then we head off to the store or to meet Grandpa (Ban-ha) for a late breakfast and eventually we end up at The Little Gym (TLG) for an 11:30 class. This class at TLG has all 2.5 year olds up to 3 years. It's the last of the parent-child classes and the focus is on the kids playing independently with the adults in the room or even in the outside observation area. So since I had 45 minutes to sit and watch Lucy play, I amused myself by taking pictures of her today.

What's interesting is that she insists before we go that she doesn't want to be there but then has a wonderful time. She'll tell me that Mr. Andy (the teacher) is not her best buddy ("Ban-ha my best buddy," which melted his heart) and then told me with great delight that Mr. Andy is her best buddy.

As with all 2.5 year old children, you never know if they're going to cooperate or not but she has been doing really well at staying with the children and following Mr. Andy's instructions. (I really believe that Andy is a child whisperer as he can get them to do virtually anything. Whenever he gets married and has children, he's going to be an awesome dad.)

Anyway, what following is a series of pictures -- somewhat fuzzy because I took them with my cell phone -- of Lucy (in the green shirt with the peach-colored flower on it) and her little friends enjoying their time at The Little Gym this morning.

The classes are much more about socialization and sharing at this age rather than tuning them for gymnastics competition. The kids learn how to climb safely and take turns and we've really enjoyed our time there. I love it because I get to spend time with each of the little girls (Emily doesn't go any more) playing, cuddling and rough housing. It's really a blast.

Last Thursday I took Lucy to get a haircut. Her hair is all kinds of curly and we weren't sure what the stylist could do but they said they could get rid of the dry wispy ends and it would look less messy.
 Lucy: "where we going?"
Me: "we're going to get you a haircut!"
Lucy, breaking into a big grin and her mouth forming an O and holding up four pudgy fingers: "Oh! That means I'm four! I'm not two anymore!"

Apparently in her mind only four year olds get haircuts so getting a haircut automatically meant that Lucy was now four rather than two.  It cracked me up. How adorable is that. I explained that she was still two and she seemed fine with it.

I treasure these times with the little girls and I know I'm the luckiest grandma in the world.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This is why

We once received a phone call from someone who lived near the expressway on the other side of the city, about 15-20 miles from our home. They found a cancelled check of John's in their front yard. No clue how it got there. The bank eventually speculated that the check somehow flew out of a truck that was on its way to the incineration facility 75 miles away and floated a few houses away from the expressway. Maybe but still real scary since it had bank information, address, phone number and driver license information on it (when we were still young and foolishly still put those things on checks).

Now we are compulsive shredders of personal information and receipts. Even to the point of taking address labels off magazines, junk mail and catalogs we receive and shredding them too. We've worn out small capacity shredders and have graduated to a heavy duty office-size one plus the old one that we use for adhesive backed labels and all the labels we get from charities trying to ply us with free stuff.

Our feeling is that the less information floating around in paper form about us, the better. We take labels off prescription bottles and buzz them too. You just never know what shred of information with your name, address and/or phone number someone might be able to take and trace back, doing something dastardly with your personal identification. Maybe it is overkill but it makes Johnnie and me feel better.

And this is why.

I walked out to get the mail from the mailbox yesterday and noticed a scrap of white paper snagged on a bush in the front yard. (Actually there are quite a few pieces of detritus scattered around the yard, besides dog poop, but it's still fairly wet underfoot so I haven't gone out to pick up stuff yet. Later this week.) I picked up the white paper and realized that it was a receipt for a prescription from our local grocery-store-pharmacy-one-stop-shopping-wonderstore, Wegmans.

My first thought was that it was one of our receipts but we faithfully keep all those to submit for reimbursement. Then I read the name: one of our neighbors about six houses down. Being innately curious, I looked at what was prescribed. Cialis. Thinking: isn't that one of the pecker-upper drugs? The 36 hour variety? Yup.

First, why was this in the trash or recycle bin? Maybe their insurance company doesn't reimburse for, ahem, drugs like this? Second, how much do you want your neighbors knowing about what pecker-upper drugs you are taking? And how embarrassing would that be? Plus holy cow, it cost $113 for a month.

Anyway, it just reinforces our policy of shredding and securely disposing of everything that has our information on it. I'll never look at that neighbor in the same way again.

Monday, March 15, 2010

They're baaaaaack!

Last week was a beautiful week of sunshine and better-than-normal temperatures (40s and 50s) especially for early March. Our friend Bridget is almost always my outdoors walking partner and she's awesome. She will even get up early cheerfully (meeting at 6:30 am -- in the dark, in the cold months too) in the morning to walk, even though she is officially retired and doesn't have to get up. And she's always receptive to walk. What a friend! Anyway I digress.

So Bridget, their dog and I went walking along the Eric Canal path last Wednesday. It was a great five mile walk but the most exciting part was seeing hundreds of geese flying overhead and then spotting as many as five robins back in the area. It was so cool and it's one of the first signals that spring is indeed on its way. I've seen robins earlier in other years but to see so many signs of springtime so early this year has me quite excited. We heard many flocks (gaggles?) of geese overhead all week -- it seemed sort of like a geese expressway and it was delightful music to our ears.

The canal is drained during the winter since it sprung a leak back in the 1970s so they now drain it to prevent huge leaks and to give work crews a chance to work on parts of it without lots of water in it. In addition to the geese and robins, we saw cedar waxwings (apparently they winter over here, according to Bridget who knows a lot about birds)
, cardinals and lots of ducks huddling in the water where the ice had melted in the canal.

So we're cautiously optimistic that spring might happen earlier than later this year. Most of the white stuff is gone from the yard and I even spotted an unfurling fern in the ravine this morning. I have a pot of fresh parsley in the front yard and was able to snip some of it to make meatballs last week. Anyway, lots of positive signs. Perhaps my late fall boycott of saying those two words that rhyme with splinter (begins with w) and crow (begins with sn) thereby giving the cold weather season more power (even if only in my mind) made a difference!

Welcome spring!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


The wife of a business associate passed away and John and I went to her funeral yesterday. We had never met the lady and went out of friendship and respect for her husband. She had battled cancer for the past eight years - what an incredible struggle.

It was the first Jewish funeral either of us had ever been to and we weren't sure what to expect. There were readings and a cantor who sang in Hebrew and the friends who spoke in remembrance of the lady. The service was nice and her friends said lots of nice things about her, how she loved her husband and son and things like that.

What bothered both of us was that most of her friends' and relatives' memories and reminiscences revolved around jewelry, shopping, cooking and clothes. So the picture we came away with was of a woman who had many loyal friends and that their times together were spent on lots of shopping excursions. One friend jokingly called her a Jewish diva which caused a bit of a rustle among the (older) people sitting around us. But mostly what they said made me think about what people might say about me at my funeral. And if diamonds, shopping and food are the substance of the lasting memories I leave with people, that gives me great pause.

Obviously I don't -- and won't -- know what people
think of me or might say about me but I sure hope there's more than that to what I leave behind in recollections, not necessarily tangible things. And if I'm not leaving noteworthy memories with my family and friends, I better change that so they don't dwell on superficial things like my jewelry, my cooking and always dressing to perfection.

Anyway, it made me think and it gives me something to work on so that someone who never knew me won't come away thinking I was less than I really am. Of course, I'm not trying to elevate myself either but I hope my impact in this life is more than the credit cards I've worn out and recipes for chicken that I've cooked.

I'd like to be remembered for always learning, always trying new things, volunteering to the point of being overwhelmed, loving my family, being environmentally conscious and not knowing how to (or caring to learn) balance the checkbook, despite having an MBA.

What would you like to be remembered for?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Die Trying

Sort of a gruesome title, no? It's startling if nothing else. Over February break, Johnnie and I went on a cruise along the western coast of Mexico, visiting Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Acapulco, Ixtapa and Puerta Vallarta. A great time was had by all (we went by ourselves as we usually do), many fruity beverages were consumed and much sleeping ensued.

As we were finishing a late lunch a
nd consuming a couple tasty Margaritas in Cabo, I spied a t-shirt shop and went to explore. The t-shirts were unique and some had rather ribald sayings on them, all with the theme Die Trying. We bought one for Johnnie that says "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story." And we got one for me that says "Die Trying. Not Watching." It appealed to me because it helps me remember to try things outside my comfort zone. And I like that.
Picture taken at Senor Frog's in Acapulco. My balloon hat says "Man Eater" and Johnnie's says "Sex Machine." 'nuf said.


If anyone is still out th
ere wondering if I'll ever post again, I'll try to do better. It's been busy and with Erin's trips to Michigan every three weeks to be with her dad and stepmom during his chemo treatments, there has been lots of little girl time on my calendar lately. I'm not complaining but it does tend to keep a girl busy.

Emily (4.5 years, on the right) and Lucy (2.5 years) stayed overnight with us last weekend so Erin and Mike could have a date night. We made a snowman before Lucy went down for her nap on Saturday. We received about 18 inches of white fluffy stuff from Friday to Saturday and, in fact, it continued to come down well into Sunday. The girls had a blast working on the snowman and we thought Grandpa (Banha to Lucy these days) was quite creative in finding potatoes, a carrot and licorice for the mouth. Emily enjoyed eating other licorice sticks as they were finishing up the little guy. Sadly, the temperature remained above freezing and the sculpture toppled rather quickly. The dogs enjoyed the carrot, licorice and potatoes as he melted away.