12 Ways You’ll Know I’m Close to Goal Weight

blog2 goal weight

I thought I’d beat the New Year’s rush and get started on a weight-loss program before the holidays. I’m not one of those people who tries every diet that comes along. No – I know exactly what works. It’s as simple as less calories in, more energy out. So what a rude awakening it was to discover that knowing what works isn’t enough – apparently one has to actually do what works. Ugh!

I am a grown woman – I can “just do it,” right? Well, that is what I kept telling myself. The mantra works in so many other areas of my life, but no matter how much I mentally beat myself up for not having more “willpower,” I could not “just do it.” It was quite humbling to have to admit that I need external assistance if I’m going to change things. So I mentally reviewed my distant past, when I looked my best, and asked myself what was different back then. It didn’t take me long to figure it out. Accountability. The buddy system. Having someone who counted on me as much as I counted on them to keep heading toward the goal. But I don’t have close friends nearby, I no longer live in a neighborhood where I can recruit a neighbor to walk, nor do I have a schedule that allows for driving to a gym 2-3 times a week. By necessity, I got a little creative. I called a professional friend who had recently had a total knee replacement and worked in an office a few blocks from my own office. Having had two total-knee replacements myself in the past couple of years, I pitched the idea of doing something to protect our new knees.

I am a life-time member of Weight Watchers – a feat achieved three decades ago while in my twenties. Not that the organization would claim me as a spokesperson at this point, mind you. One of the reasons the habits learned back then may not have really taken is because I had a bad attitude. Well, maybe more arrogant than bad. My twisted logic included premises such as on weigh-in day I could splurge because I had six days left to “fix it” before the next weigh-in.

12 Ways You'll Know When I'm Close to Goal Weight

But I’m older and wiser now, with  a new and improved attitude! I know the program really boils down to making wise food choices that include variety and moving more. It has the built-in accountable-to-self component with the weekly weigh-in and I  had found somebody who had a common goal, thus creating that mutual accountability component. So now I am ready to head, once again, toward the feeling-my-best coveted “goal weight.” I remember well the excitement felt as clothes became loose, energy increased and I closed in on that reasonable number that both my body and wallet (no more payments when you maintain goal weight) would thank me for. I also remember how those last few ounces seemed to mockingly hang around, delaying the big day, and the weigh-in-day creativity of members who were mere breaths away from “goal weight.” So I’m already planning ahead for success. Here are twelve ways you will know that I am ounces away from the magic number:

  1. My eyebrows are plucked into commas;
  2. My legs are shaved despite the fact that there’s snow on the ground;
  3. My short hair just got shorter;
  4. I turn down coffee on weigh-in day;
  5. There’s only a white stripe where the wedding ring I hadn’t taken off for 38 years used to be;
  6. My skin is hot pink from having the top layer loofahed off;
  7. My fingernails have been trimmed to almost nonexistence;
  8. I seem to be flossing my teeth excessively;
  9. My face is make-up free;
  10. I’m going sockless in spite of my mother’s lifetime warnings about how doing so ruins your shoes;
  11.  I refuse to put a band-aid on a profusely bleeding papercut;
  12. I’m pulling lint out of my pockets.

So if you run across me and I’ve got a smile and a swagger, don’t let the pink skin and the funky eyebrows fool you – it will mean that I’m enjoying some sweet success!

What weight-loss program, plan or tips work for you?

How I Got a Whole New Wardrobe – Free!!

How I Got a Whole New Wardrobe - Free!!I may have mentioned before that household chores are not my thing. I wish I was one of those people who cleaned when stressed, but I don’t. I’m more likely to eat. Which results in more stuff to clean. And I consider shopping to be a household chore. Something I have to do because I like to eat. Which works as incentive for groceries, but not so much for clothes. I figure if God really wanted people to buy clothes in malls He wouldn’t have allowed the catalog to be invented!

So if I really, really need a new clothing item, I find it in one of the plethora of catalogs that arrive in my mailbox weekly (clearly my name has been circulated throughout the catalog industry). If the ordered item fits and flatters, I order three more in different colors. If it doesn’t, it gets repackaged to be sent back and left sitting and forgotten on some table until the day after the required “return by for full credit” date.

One rushed day I was hunting for something to wear to a meeting. While washing clothes is one of the chores I do regularly without whining (now that I don’t have to wash them on rocks in a stream anymore), I’m not as diligent about folding promptly. So on this fine day, all acceptable clothing were too wrinkled. And there wasn’t time to break open the clothes steamer from it’s original packaging (received for Christmas four months earlier because I’d let my husband know it was my heart’s desire) and learn how to use it. Desperate, I pawed through my husband’s side of the closet in case something he owned could morph into a passable outfit. It did not happen.

In a panic-driven burst of creativity, I remembered The Iron. Whether it was because as young child I distractedly ironed right up my arm instead of the shirt in front of me, the trauma of being required to do household chores at such a tender age, or the fact that I was better at ironing permanent wrinkles in than smoothing them out, I don’t know – what I do know is that I hate to iron.

I found The Iron buried in a laundry basket full of rumpled cotton and linen in the guest-room closet. It was right where my mother had left it after doing all my ironing on her last visit – three years prior. (Save your mother-abuse comments – believe it or not, my mother likes to iron.) I had added to its pile over the years, but not reduced it any.

I felt like I had discovered a new tropical island that was close enough to drive to on weekends! Clothes! A whole wardrobe of beautiful clothes! In colors and styles I knew looked good on me! And that fit well!

I picked an old favorite I had forgotten I owned, opened up the ironing board in spite of it’s unused metal legs’ screeching protest, and rediscovered the water hole on The Iron. Seven minutes later, basking in the heady light of having successfully smoothed out more wrinkles than I created, I was ready to go. But I looked forward to getting back home, eager to  reacquaint myself with the discovered treasure.

I can’t promise I’ll keep up the relationship with the still-hated iron, but the clothes steamer is definitely coming out of its box. And I’m even going to read the instructions. Well . . . truthfully? That’s Plan B. Plan A is seeing if I can guilt my mother into coming back very soon – we’re way overdue for a visit!

Wonky Whisker

Wonky WhiskerI was brushing my teeth when I saw the smear on the side of my chin. How could my face possibly get dirty while I slept? I put my glasses on for a better look. What the . . . ? It was a hair the length of my arm! Attached. To my face. How could something that long just pop up overnight? And of course it did pop up overnight. Because if it didn’t, that would mean that thing had been dangling from my face for weeks. No way – somebody would have told me. On the other hand, maybe all that snickering I experienced over the past month wasn’t a result of my sparkling wit as previously assumed.

I stopped with the trying to figure out its genesis and asked myself what do I do with it? The way I saw it, there were three options.

One, I could buy a black pointed hat, learn to cackle and just roll with it.

Two, I could take that allegation made against me once during a past argument literally and actually split hairs. Or hair. If I could split it into three, I could braid it. Maybe tie it off with a colorful teeny-tiny rubber band. Other people decorate their faces with tattoos, noserings or brow studs – my facial artistic expression could be a chin braid.

Three, I could remove it. I knew better than to shave it off. You know – the whole it-grows-back-twice-as-thick-thing. I remembered the pulled-tooth method. I could tie it to a door knob and have someone yank the door open. An attempt to do so informed me that the hair wasn’t quite as long as it appeared in the mirror. The job could be done with tweezers. I grabbed some and yanked that sucker out. It dropped to the counter in the shape of a mocking smile. We both knew I had won the battle, but the war was ongoing. -El

Wanky Whisker

Monday Confessional – ‘You Might As Well Live” (Dorothy Parker)

You Might As Well Live_2First of all, I am confessing to not even picking up the afghan I am supposed to be finishing for my daughter this month!!! Hello it’s October 22 already, I need to get with the program – geez! On the other hand, I did manage to make a dent in the torn out magazine articles/recipes pile.

Secondly, and the point of this post, is that I confess to my desire to be a domestic goddess/kept woman . Well not a goddess exactly or even domestically, I just want to have the time to enjoy my home and all that goes with that statement. I was listening to a Selected Shorts story on NPR by Dorothy Parker. There were two humble working girls fantasizing about what they would spend a million dollars on if someone had left it to them with the stipulation they had to spend it all on themselves. My first choices would have been retire, retire and then retire. I stayed home with my children when they were little – a luxury I will always be thankful for and don’t regret a single day. I was out the door to work with my youngest on her first day of Kindergarten and have worked outside the home ever since. Loved having a job, the social network that came with, the paycheck that came with, and the confidence that solving problems brings. Trust me, as I am sure most of you know, work problems are a cinch to solve!

A couple of weekends ago, I spent the days making grape jam from MI Concord grapes from my neighbor’s backyard (no, I did not tiptoe over there under cover of darkness, she gladly let me have as many as I wanted) and applesauce from any old gnarly apple tree outside in our yard that provides some of the ugliest looking fruit every other year. I can’t let these bounties go to waste. The gorgeous jars are so rewarding and the house smells amazing throughout the process. Combined with some homemade deli rye bread that rose and was kneaded as required during the day, I was in heaven.I also want to travel, travel, travel.

I want to do whatever I feel like doing with my days and no longer need the satisfaction of doing a good job at work! I don’t need to solve all the ‘family problems’: they don’t seem nearly as troublesome (could be due to the fact that my children are no longer in their teens and early twenties!!). Most things work out despite, or even in spite, of my ability to provide solutions. Did I mention that I also want to travel, travel, travel.

Does that make me any less fierce? I think not!!!

Stopped by the blog Frugal Confessions and serendipitously stumbled upon this postI will be researching and implementing some of these ideas with the goal of getting to retirement more quickly than my current plan gets me there. This goal is not going to languish in a basket in my craft room.  -M

You Might As Well Live


7 Tips to Share From the Breast Cancer Closet

7 Tips for Breast CancerNow that I’m out of the ‘cancer closet,’ I’d like to share some of the tips I picked up from the experience. None of this process is fun, but it can be less difficult.

1. Get the deodorant before it’s necessary. The day before radiation treatments started one casually mentioned to me that most deodorants contain metal and could irritate the skin during this process. An exception was a brand called “Tom’s” that might be found at Walmart. You’re just NOW telling me this? (To be fair, it may have been stated somewhere in the bubblegum-pink Texas-sized tote bag they gave me full of pamphlets, but by the time I received that I was so sick of reading about cancer I shoved it behind a couch to dim its pink glow). I finally found Tom’s. It was reminiscent of citronella. Good – I’d smell better while not having to worry about armpit mosquito bites. Find organic options ahead of time and have one on hand.

2. Weird changes are normal. I expected things to look and feel different once radiation started, but wait – there’s more! If, like me, you have a sense of smell so acute you can detect a potato rotting a week before the skin is marred, you may notice an enhanced aroma from the radiated site in a: “What the . . . is that me?” sort of way. Yes, it is. Pass the citronella please.

3. “Breast cancer is not an emergency.” So says Deborah Capok, M.D., surgical oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. After I was diagnosed, some were shocked that I took weeks to make a decision about the type of surgery and treatment I wanted to pursue (more on that unpleasant bit Monday). I was heartened to see an article wherein Dr. Capok advocated taking the necessary time to gather information and look into all treatment options.

4. Find out your ointment options before the burn. Prior to starting radiation, a Cherokee woman relayed to me that she successfully minimized the burns by using milk from the aloe plant as 7 Tips from the Breast Cancer Closetsoon as treatment began. She said one could use aloe gel (found at health stores) as an alternative. So I stocked up on aloe gel and used it liberally from the first day on. I was told repeatedly by radiology staffers that my skin looked good at different stages – not as bad as many they had seen with the same amount of treatments. As the skin got a more vibrant pink (that blasted color is everywhere) the doctor said it was time to talk about lotion options. I told her about my aloe gel regimen and she was fine with me continuing with it because it was working well for me. I asked why this subject wasn’t discussed early on so one can take a preventative approach. She said: “Most women use a topical cream daily in those areas so it’s not necessary to discuss it until there’s a problem.” Oh. Either I’m not like ‘most women’ or she’s mistaken. I’m going with the former explanation, because to prove her wrong I’d have to ask ‘most women’ a question I have no intention of asking.

5. Protect what’s vulnerable. Areas of skin in ‘folds’ are more susceptible to intense burn reactions. A staff member made a suggestion that worked for me. Put a soft rolled-up tank top (or other small fabric item) under the breast and under the arm when sitting around the house. I’m not talking armpit here – I’m talking about that baby-soft place on your side (between armpit and ribs) that only sees the sun if you’re a beach volleyball player. The point is to keep skin-to-skin friction at a minimum. Because it’s harder to secure something under the arm, I didn’t buffer that location as much and paid the friction price!

6. Keep it moving. As the skin burns, it shrinks and tightens (remember that nasty sunburn you once had?). If you don’t push through a little discomfort to stretch the skin, you are setting yourself up for a painful event. I asked the doctor if swimming was okay and she said that was a great choice – anything that kept that arm and skin moving on a regular basis. She added that I shouldn’t overdo it by lifting weights. Whew! I could now justify deleting “joining the gym” from my yet-to-be-done New Year’s Resolution List – doctor’s orders!

7. Contribute to a pleasant environment. You already know that having a positive attitude will serve you well in difficult times. There are things you can do to make the experience as positive as possible. As one dear friend says: “Less bad is good.”

  • Don’t just go through your paces – interact with your treatment team. These are very interesting people – not to mention they have great tips to share.
  • For my own entertainment, I named the radiation machine so I could say things like: “I’m headed out to see Yve – be back in an hour” and “Man, Yve sure took her good sweet time today.” I took pictures of me and Yve. (The last one – not shown here – is me waving goodbye. Well, not ‘waving’ exactly – but gesturing goodbye in a way that indicated I wouldn’t miss her.)

    Yve and me during one of our numerous debates about her treatment techniques

    Yve and me during one of our numerous debates about her treatment techniques

  • Bring your own music for your treatments or that stressful MRI. Maybe the theme from Rocky, or a peaceful instrumental. Not only can you create your own mood, it helps avoid Pandora’s insensitive selections such as Another One Bites the Dust and Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heaven’s Door. (Yes, those are real examples.)

I’m shooting for Monday to wrap up this mini-series on cancer with my promised list of what to say, and what NOT to say when someone tells you they have cancer.

Above are a few things that helped me. If you have tips or suggestions, please share them with us in the comment section below.

Let’s Call it a Bucket List

Let's Call it a Bucket ListI confess, I don’t have a bucket list. I never even gave one a thought before my dog’s life started winding down. I heard about a dog in Florida that had a bucket list, and I thought coming up with one for our beloved pet of 13 years might be a great way to shift our focus from the inevitable and give our pet a few last romps. We’re all having a good time with it. But before this? I thought the bucket list was just a movie with some old guys in it.

Then I came across a blog post from a twenty-something called “My Fall Bucket List.” What? Maybe I didn’t understand what a bucket list was. So I looked it up in the dictionary. According to Miriam Webster, a bucket list is “a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying.” So, I went back to the blog post to see if the woman was ill. Nope. Apparently she has a bucket list for each season – including the holiday season. They had lots of fun things on them – but many were not things that she (presumably) hadn’t done before (read three books, visit a cider mill, romp through dried leaves, etc).

So, if she’s not trying to get it done before she dies, and it’s not something she hasn’t done before, isn’t it just a ‘fun things to do’ list? Are we diluting the whole bucket list concept? (Speaking of diluting experiences, is anybody else appalled that kindergarteners now have graduations? Complete with cap and gowns?? ) Or are we more likely to get things done on our ‘to-do’ list if we frame it more dramatically?

Does a label really make a difference in being motivated to accomplish something? I was reading an article by one of those people that will go to your home and get you organized. She was working with a client who had failed miserably at all attempts to de-clutter her home. The organizer gave her an “Action Plan” (which looked suspiciously like a ‘to-do’ list to me) and voila! – the client became committed to the process and went on to execute the action plan. (I’m sure her success had nothing to do with Ms. Organizer cracking a whip behind her during an 8-hour Saturday organizing session).

So what I learned is I’m doing it wrong. The reason I’m still so unorganized in spite of my many to-do lists is I’m using the wrong terminology. I’m going to immediately start a bucket list and “Drafting an Action Plan” is going to be the first thing on it. I’ll have to get back to you on the rest of the content because I don’t have time to work on it right now. I have to get my dog to Arby’s for a French Dip. It’s Number 17 on her bucket list.

Let's Call it a Bucket List


There’s an app for that!

SmartPhoneAppsI recently got a smartphone (as in just last week)!

I know! That really should have been in the confessional section of this blog because it is a bit embarrassing to have gone this long without one. However, I held out because I didn’t want ‘Big Brother – Tech Division’, to have loads of information on me that I did not explicitly agree to share. Some say I am a bit paranoid about this (SEE – people are talking about me!!). I tried the latest ‘non-smart’ phone and it was ridiculous. Anywho…(as the ‘older folk’ sometime say), I LOVE my smart phone, so much more than I thought I would, and my girls are working to convince me that it is OK to get some ‘apps’ to go with it. I did do some research and found this site (scroll down to find the list) listing top ten apps for those of us who did not grow up with these new fangled electronic devices,  and thought they were certainly worth passing along. The list includes the following.

I think the Eye Reader is going to come in VERY handy since I am still working on that voice recognition! I am also looking forward to viewing the ‘Older People are Happier’ talk.

Anyone have an app they just can’t live without?

Smart Phone Joke

National Women’s Friendship Day

National Women's Friendship Day

I confess there was a time I didn’t like girls. Especially dealing with more than one at a time. I had friends that I got close to, but we didn’t hang in a group and there was always angst if the individual friends overlapped at events. And as I got older the phrase ‘women friends’ made me shudder as much as hearing the term ‘chick-flick.’ I had had numerous negative experiences interacting with women groups in various settings. I didn’t like the drama, cattiness, gossip-focus, or mean-spirited remarks thrown out in the name of humor. I refused to join any group or organization, no matter how worthy it’s cause, if it had ‘women’ in its title.

Then two things happened: Book Buzz and Return to me.

Some years back I wanted to discuss the suspense books I read as well as broaden my scope of reading, so I organized a book club. I invited women from my church and neighborhood who I knew casually to meet at my house – and Book Buzz was born. I didn’t think of it as having a group of women over – I thought of it as a group of readers. And what an enjoyable group it was! I had already hit 40, and I was just finding out how great a bunch of gal pals could be. Over the next decade with these women, the positive interaction and deepened friendships made me more receptive to expanding my circles and embracing the unique aspects of having women friends of all different ages, backgrounds, and life experiences. My existence continues to be enriched by the wonderful women in my life.

The same year that Book Buzz got started, I saw the charming movie Return to Me which demonstrated that “chick-flick” was not always synonymous with ‘ “insipid.” My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Calendar Girls reinforced that concept. As a matter of fact, I went to see the latter with my Book Buzz buds and thoroughly enjoyed both the movie and the company!

As one who now embraces the richness of female friends in my life, I was delighted to learn about the upcoming “National Women’s Friendship Day” that is on the third Sunday of September. The holiday was created in 1999 by the Kappa Delta Sorority  – by women, for women. The objective of the day is to promote special friendship among women. This year it falls on September 20. Here are some things you can do to celebrate:

  • Hold a breakfast, brunch or lunch for a group of your friends
  • Call, email, write a letter or send a card to a friend that you haven’t had contact with for a while
  • Have a movie night with back-to-back movies that celebrate friendship such as Beaches, A League of Their Own, and Thelma And Louise. Click HERE for 20 more suggestions.
  • Send flowers to an out-of-town friend.
  • Go visit a shut-in, aged women, or anyone you know that has lost a friend.
  • Participate in a a program that promotes women in society.
  • Take a fun class with some buddies (painting and wine, anybody?)
  • Give a special book to a special friend
  • Think “Lucy and Ethel” and have some fun!


Monday Confessional – Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering?

Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?Mondays are probably not the best day to make assessments. You know –  we’re all tired and not excited about going back to work, dragging after cramming too much fun into our weekends! So, no surprise that I find myself dreaming of surgery to reduce my double chin, sagging turkey neck and eye flaps while applying make up to cover what I can. I don’t normally pay that much attention to it all but, seriously, haven’t we all thought about it from time to time? And is it any less FIERCE to get some help along the way? We can’t answer that for each of you, but as I muse about it this beautiful Monday morning here are some pros and cons I have considered.

Cons (always a bad news first kind of gal)

  • Expensive
  • Risk of complications
  • Risk of not looking quite as good as I was hoping (think Bruce Jenner)
  • Believing it will a ‘cure all’ for life’s disappointments


Pros (certainly needed after that disparaging list)

  • Could provide just the lift (pun intended) needed to face (pun again) life with a new perspective
  • Improve self esteem
  • Possible health benefits [deviated septum, too large breasts (did not say too saggy of breasts – although it may cut down on skin irritation from sweat that accumulates where breasts rest on stomach skin all day – yes even with the benefit of a bra)]

Never a good idea to contemplate any of this if it is someone else’s idea for a new and improved you. Most changes that will make us feel good about ourselves are free (or relatively) and longer lasting than the cosmetic kind. I just still ponder it from time to time though. Good thing Mondays only last 24 hours! Wrinkles can be adorable as proven by the ‘wrinkle twins’ below.

Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?

Have a great week, friends – and remember that you are Fiercely Groovy Cool! -M

Anybody else conflicted about cosmetic surgery?

7 Things Not to Wear When You’re Over 50

7 Things Not to Wear When You're Over 50I confess that I struggle with the whole “age-appropriate” clothes concept. There’s a war going on between phrases doing battle in my brain: Wear what makes you feel good versus Just because it comes in your size doesn’t mean you should wear it. I usually come down in the middle somewhere. I defy the slimming benefits of basic black by wearing brazen colors – even an occasional horizontal stripe or two – in spite of the fact that I’m . . . big boned. But shorts and anything sleeveless are out.

There are times when I’m in awe of one who has the moxie to wear less-than-flattering clothes with confidence because they love them. [WARNING: politically incorrect statement coming] However, I think there are some things that women over 50 just shouldn’t wear. Here’s my short list:

1. Crop tops. Feel free to ignore me if you have abs of steel. The rest of us, however, don’t usually end up with the look we were going for.7 Things Not Wear When You're Over 507 Things Not to Wear When You're Over 50








2. Any item that doesn’t allow for a bra. Unless you’re in pajamas or a woolen overcoat, bras are now mandatory in public.

3. Pastel floral dresses. From fun and perky to tired and frumpy in less than three decades.7 Things Not to Wear When You're Over 507 Things Not to Wear When You're Over 50







4. Tatoos. Sure, that rosebud right over your left breast looks cute when it’s first done. But before you know it, it’s a long-stem rose.

5. Very high heels. Stilettos just don’t look good with varicose veins. You don’t have varicose veins, you say? Just keep wearing those super high heels and you’ll find out what I’m talking about.7 Things Not to Wear When You're Over 507 Things Not to Wear When You're Over 50







6. Anything you wore the first time it was in style. So stop saving your crushed velvet bellbottoms, denim overalls, and baby doll dresses. Yes, they will come back in style. No, you should not wear them. Not even new versions of them. The only exception to this rule is trench coats.

7. Thongs. They look bad and make you walk funny.