If Oprah is doing it, then so am I. About every three years, I give Weight Watchers a try. It’s usually at the point where the one pair of jeans that don’t constrict my abdominal region have absolutely no more stretch left in them. I last a few weeks until I’m at a party and find myself with a tequila in my hand and some pigs-in-blankets traveling down my throat. This then kicks off a high speed train ride back to gluttony. I always seem to have a first-class ticket. Shit. Yet I still hang on to the hope that WW (as it’s now called) will reel me back in somehow. That’s why I tend to show up at meetings even after a night of pasta—that I definitely did not calculate in the WW point system. Hearing a woman confess about how she housed an entire sleeve of Thin Mints makes me feel normal. I don’t know any of these people. We are all different sizes, shapes, colors and ages. But, we all have one thing in common—we love to put things in our mouths that are bad for us, and I’m not talking about blowjobs here. We try; we fail; we try again. That’s why I continue to cycle through my triennial relationship with WW.

Hearing a woman confess about how she housed an entire sleeve of Thin Mints makes me feel normal.

My last meeting leader, Sally, was my favorite. She streaked her hair purple, fuchsia or turquoise each week, and she had slightly hidden tattoos. Her wit and humor makes this group-therapy-like setting fun. Once at a meeting, a woman said her “thing” was CHEEZ-ITs; she said she could sit down and eat a half of a box. Right away, Sally cut in and said something like, “Wait, you mean you don’t eat the whole box? Then, that is definitely not your thing! If it was, that box would be gone. I know that, because CHEEZ-ITs are my thing, too. That’s why they cannot enter my home. Ever.” I show up for Sally but also for the regulars. Sometimes I want to call out “NORM” when Kitty enters. She’s in her 70s and talks without shame about her food struggles. I fell in love with this woman the day she told us that she was placed directly in front of the sweet potato pie at Thanksgiving, and her arm and fork just kept reaching back in for more. That’s why I was so happy the day she sat down next to me at a manicure. I said, “You’re Kitty, right? I’m at your WW meetings, but I don’t talk much.” Well, in only 15 minutes, I knew how much weight she had put on; the marriage status of her three children; and the stops on her upcoming two-week cruise.

At times, the honesty in that room is almost too much to bear. Women have started crying while talking about their fucked-up relationships with food. It’s a good thing I’m rows away, because it’d be really creepy if I reached out to stroke the hand of a complete stranger. One woman once confessed that her own father tries to sabotage her dieting. Another broke down as she spoke of having to take care of a very sick relative, which made her regain her weight. The saddest moment was when a woman said she was there, because having to ask for a seat belt extender on a plane was the lowest point of her life. It’s this room that makes people feel safe, because if you’re there to lose over 100 pounds or just ten, people get it. And, it’s a real bang for your buck when you compare the 12 or so dollars a week to the $200 for private therapy. Plus, you don’t have to dig all they way back to how your mother never hung up your school projects on the fridge.

Then there are the people who make me smile, like Kitty. Two of my other favorites are the older women with white hair who sit in the back and “whisper” comments to each other. I swear they are those two old muppet men in the audience of “The Muppet Show.” I overheard one of them say she wished she could use the WW app (which is as important to this diet as having gas in a car). I leaned over and asked why she couldn’t. She said it was because of her phone. I expected to see a flip phone, but, no, she had a smartphone. I told her I could help her, or she should ask the woman at the desk. I’m pretty sure she still doesn’t know what she’s doing. My own 83-year-old aunt is convinced she doesn’t have a texting icon on her brand new Samsung Galaxy, even though my sister and I have separately given her idiot-proof, step-by-step instructions—at least ten times.

I get more out of these meetings than just feeling like a fellow failure in a sea of yo-yo dieters. Who knew Hebrew National made a hot dog that is only one point? And, who knew there was something called Half Naked Popcorn that you could eat a lot of and still keep it legal? I also know how one woman pre-tracked her meals to navigate the exorbitant amount of food on her vacation to Mexico without tipping her scale. I even learned how one of the regulars made it through her nephew’s bar mitzvah without starving herself like she used to do. Victories, not only failures, abound at these meetings. I just sit there quietly hoping that something will click in me, too. If those muppets can do it, then why can’t I, damn it?

I dedicate this blog to that 83-year-old aunt I mentioned. She has always struggled with her weight and is probably the thinnest she has ever been in her life, having stuck to a diet for a long time. I wonder why, at 83, she doesn’t just say, “Fuck it,” but I haven’t said that to her. I never aspired to be a saboteur, only a thin person.

*All names have been changed.

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Posted in community, confessions, day-to-day, dieting, health, improvement | Leave a comment

Confessions of a Weirdo

Who the fuck eats the green Mike and Ikes? Or the green lifesavers? Why do they even make that flavor? Or, is the question really: Who still eats this tooth-rotting shit? This is where my hand shoots up from the back of the class, and you all look at me in either disgust or admiration for admitting a gross habit. Unfortunately for my thighs and ass, I do love candy, just not the green ones. I like all the candies that make you say, “Is that even food?” I love Now & Laters; Bottle Caps; Spree; Bullseyes (caramel creams); and Circus Peanuts (orange, peanut-shaped, marshmallow-like). I think in the meats department, that’s akin to liking Spam. My parents ate Peanut M&Ms, Snickers, Charleston Chews and Reese’s, so I know it’s not a hereditary disorder. 

I like all the candies that make you say, “Is that even food?”

I also like really bad TV shows. Ray worries about me, when he walks in and finds me watching some documentary on teenage abduction; hoarding; women with the biggest hips in the world; kids born with no brains and men who date blowup dolls. I don’t really think I’m the audience they are targeting, because I have a college education. I’m so glad I can help their ratings, though.

Now, let’s move on to my obsession with gadgets. I have a mini ice pick in my freezer to separate the ice when it clumps together. I wish I could explain why it’s satisfying to make that stabbing motion from the shower scene in Psycho and watch the cubes break apart. I use a sheepskin shoulder pad on my seat belt strap to stop the chafing on my neck, which made me paranoid that my kids thought Ray had given me hickies. I have a zoom lens I hook right onto my iPhone that makes me look like the total loser that I am. I even have a boot-remover device that I bought at a western store. You stand on the back of it with your opposite foot, as you put the heel of your boot in the front of it and pull out your foot—no bending over or struggling required. It doesn’t discriminate: It works on fuck-me boots as well as cowboy boots. And, you know those metal zig-zag taco holders that restaurants use? That’s all I’m ‘gonna say. 

Does this make me anal-retentive, obsessive-compulsive or attention-seeking? I really don’t think so. Let’s just say I’m a little strange, or how about interesting or unique, since that sounds better? I tried to bring Ray into the fold a little bit, when I bought him one of those electric shoe cleaners they have at golf clubs, you know where you press the button and the black and red nylon brushes rotate around as you put your foot underneath. He was polite and thanked me, but it’s still in the box in his storage closet.

One more thing—I know I mentioned only sugar candies above. Please don’t take that to mean I don’t like chocolate. Unfortunately I did inherit my parents’ chocolate gluttony. If you put a bag of Hershey’s kisses near me, I can assure you I don’t need a wand to make them disappear.

I dedicate this blog to Amazon, who enables my strange buying habits. When you don’t have to leave your house to buy a 1950s retro candy box or a pickle grabber tool, it’s pure bliss. How great it is to live in the United States of Amazon. 

*All names have been changed.

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Miss Under Stood

A green complexion can make life tough. Just look at the Wicked Witch of the West. Noticing a new pimple makes me wince, so how do you think she feels waking up to a green reflection in the mirror every morning? Maybe you’d act like a mean witch, too. I learned the real story behind the Wicked Witch from the musical Wicked. She is a liberal and caring soul and truly the most misunderstood character out there. Brainwashed from childhood, I bought into Dorothy’s take on her and never even bothered to think there was a bigger picture. I’m embarrassed to admit that this is typical for me. I tend to prejudge people before knowing a whole story. It’s not one of my better qualities.

The reality is that if someone judged me on who my close friends were, I may have a very barren social calendar.

If a woman is thin, attractive and has a good sense of style, but she’s a quiet type, it’s easy to assume she’s aloof and a bitch. If another woman is quiet but is instead overweight and sports a pooka bead necklace, we would chalk it up to her simply having a less social nature. I know some women who are actually shy. I used to think, “Grow up already for God’s sake. You’re 45, not three.” But, then I learned they had some kind of social anxiety. I knew a woman like this in college, who got stomachaches before she’d go to a party. Sometimes she’d even stay home altogether. When you look at it from an angle of why, rather than an angle of an immediate eye roll, it’s surprising how sympathy develops.

For example, if someone shows up to a workout class wearing a sleeve of gold and diamond bracelets and has a Mr. T neckline, that definitely might make me stop and say, “Hmmm. I don’t think I’ll be asking her to coffee anytime soon.” But, what if the story behind the jewels was that the minerals contained in gold tempered some kind of extreme skin irritation? Then there is that mom who smothers her kids and lives her life vicariously through them. Before I label her pathetic, I have to think that maybe she was a very lonely child, who was the last pick for kickball and never went to a prom. Who am I kidding, though? I’d still think she was pathetic, but, at least I’d have some compassion behind my judgment.  

Then there’s the guilty-by-association prejudgment. You know, like, “How could I be friends with Betty, because Betty is friends with that social climber Louise?” The reality is that if someone judged me on who my close friends were, I may have a very barren social calendar. I have friends who social climb, too. They also lie on their taxes; let their underage kids drink; talk behind people’s backs; double book plans; curse at their kids; fight with their mothers; and on and on and on. Who elected me chief of the moral police, when I’m guilty of some of this stuff myself? 

A very wise and beloved cousin of mine once told me that people who are mean are usually unhappy inside. When I encounter rude people, I’m grateful when I remember that before a slight rage builds inside me. I’ll never forget a NYC bus driver I had once. I didn’t have my token ready, and she barked at me with a real nastiness. She was heavy, highly unattractive and seemed tired. A possible out-loud “fuck off” turned into an under-my-breath one. She was clearly sad inside and was lashing out to soothe herself somehow. I think she just needed to get home to her couch and wrap her crocheted blanket around herself. 

There’s always more to a story. There’s always someone just having a shitty day. There’s always the possibility that even the most perfect of us could simply be misunderstood. And, if you’re not buying any of that, there’s always pizza. It’s cheesy, crusty and not sweet, but you still like it anyway. 

I dedicate this to the next-door neighbors of my son’s apartment, as he parties, I mean studies, abroad. May they have patience and earplugs. Or, may they file complaints ever so softly. 

*Names have been changed.

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Posted in friendship, improvement, Judgment, sentimental, shame | Tagged | Leave a comment

Stop Being So Groovy

The white robe; the white, terrycloth slippers; the little bottles of shampoo: all signs that yes, you’re in a hotel room. Then there’s the sign in the bathroom asking you to please be green and reuse your towels. It’s interesting how I usually notice that sign as I’m dropping my wet towel on the floor. But, give me some help, hotel planners—where are the extra hooks in the bathroom? I’m lucky if I can find two. Ray’s hook works for him, a low-maintenance male, but my hook has to put in a lot of overtime as it supports a wet towel, a bathrobe, and, at times, a wet shower cap. That little, paper, guilt-inducing sign was never around when I was in my younger years. Does it actually help cut down on energy and water use? A Google search just told me that seventeen out of 100 people reuse their towels during hotel stays. 

I need my bathroom to be like a vault, where, if a nuclear war hit mid-shit, I’d be safe. 

Now that that’s out of the way, it’s my past two hotel stays that have made me really scratch my head (and not because of dirty towels). What the fuck is with this trend of not fully enclosing the bathroom? I know we share hotel rooms with spouses, relatives and close friends. They are the people we get naked in front of, cry in front of and burp in front of. But, do we really need to hear them take a shit and then smell it? For god’s sake, let there be a door that closes fully and a shared wall that is solid. These groovy designs of missing doors; partial walls that don’t meet the ceiling; walls with a macrame rope section (my last hotel) or a glass insert in the middle of sheetrock do not work for me. I need my bathroom to be like a vault, where, if a nuclear war hit mid-shit, I’d be safe. 

Back to the glass panes now—my one thought is “Why?” I’m a woman. I represent all women in the fact that we pee at least once, mostly twice, in the middle of the night. With a full bladder in the dark, I have two choices in these groovy-designed hotel rooms: to take a Helen Keller-like journey and feel my way around the bathroom, hoping to fit my ass securely on the seat or to turn on the bathroom light, which will wake up Ray, since the entire room will be aglow at two am. Both scenarios suck. I usually end up using my phone’s light, which is only one step away from a blindfolded Sandra Bullock in Bird Box. 

The real impetus for my profound confusion with this groovy, boutiquey nonsense was the placement of these panes of glass inside the showers. One hotel had a glass pane in the wall between the shower and the bed itself. And—I swear this is true—the pane was directly in the spot where you stood under the shower head. I tried to angle that fucker as far back as possible, so that maybe just my breasts were visible. But, nope, no such luck, it was a full-body shot. Of course, the friend I was rooming with, weighs about 80 pounds and has a body profile that mimics a sheet of paper, not to mention firm tits. I wanted to break that pane of glass, take a shard and murder the asshole in charge of deciding where the glass would be placed. My last hotel was only a little better in that the shower wall was frosted glass and not completely see-through. However, my fully-lit, naked silhouette still wasn’t working for me.  

You better believe when I stepped out of these showers, cringing and wet, I wanted a fresh, clean towel. Fuck the environmental footprint, and fuck these groovy designers. I reuse my towels at home, where I have a solid wooden door with a proper knob and a lock. I even have six hooks. Please know that I will never leave a hotel room without leaving cash on the counter for the cleaning women. And, I never steal the robes. 

I dedicate this blog to Ray for giving me the privacy I need in hotel rooms with no proper barriers. 

*All names have been changed.

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“Everything off but your underwear. The doctor will be in soon,” she said as she handed me the paper gown. But, you didn’t tell me if the opening goes in the front or back. Ass first or second? Shit, I hate these full-body skin checks.  

Does Gisele Bundchen feel the slightest bit self-conscious about this? Do teenagers hate this, even though nothing is even falling or weathered yet? Every ripple, vein and freckle was scrutinized by my doctor. She even wore a headlamp around her head, like a coal miner about to head into a tunnel. Then, I’d hear the snap of a picture being taken. This is actually being documented? I want my records sealed. When she got to my boobs, the self-loathing in my head got louder: Is she choking back her puke? Will she have night terrors from the sight of these? Then we proceeded to have a conversation about sunscreen with me facing her, gown fully open; my tits hanging down like my scarves on closet hooks. This was humiliation at its maximum output, as she kept shooting photos. I said, “Wow, this is as close as I’ll ever come to being a centerfold in Playboy.” She didn’t laugh. I don’t blame her—it wasn’t funny. I yearned for my jeans and bra on the nearby chair.

But, my inner voice can be such a mean bitch, who wants to take some kind of vengeance on me. What the fuck did I ever do to her?

I would guess that guys don’t care much when they’re in a medical gown, and the doctor clutches their balls and tells them to cough. They’re not thinking about a clean bikini area or back fat. I assume their biggest paranoia is worrying that the guy before them in the examining room was hung like a 70s porn star. Their expanding bellies and love handles that protrude over the tops of their ill-fitting GAP jeans aren’t a concern. It’s their dick size that’s making them squirm. Wow, that would be a dream to think about only my vagina while stark naked in front of someone. Instead, my head is swarming with enough self-deprecation to cause an aneurism. 

I have a hunch I’m in good company here—that we women despise parts of ourselves for things we can’t control, like our mothers’ crows’ feet and our grandmothers’ thighs. But, my inner voice can be such a mean bitch, who wants to take some kind of vengeance on me. What the fuck did I ever do to her? I thought she was supposed to be a guiding energy and a personal cheerleader. She should be pumping in kind thoughts about unicorns and my favorite camp counselor. She needs to shield me from the devilish voices telling me I resemble my nana emerging from the shower circa 1980. Her gig includes suffering with me through nakedness and public speaking—even 50th birthday roasts—without hurling negative thoughts like spears through my frontal lobe. If she wants to remain a tenant in my brain, she better cheer the fuck up.

You know that cute, little serenity prayer that’s sometimes needlepointed and hangs on people’s office doors: Give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference? Well, that’s the kind of thing my inner voice should be chanting to me. She should set those words to a catchy tune that will play over and over in my head when I’m feeling insecure. I want that song cranked at high volume when I’m in a bathing suit and about to step onto a beach. If she can’t shower me with love, then I will have to turn to the only resource I have that brings me what I need within a day or two—Amazon. A quick search just now brought me to this book: You are a Badass; How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. Sounds good to me. 

I dedicate this blog to Daughter 2. She is my baby, and, though she tells me I’m annoying almost daily, I know she likes me deep down. Now, that’s something that gives me some confidence. 

*All names have been changed.

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Posted in aging, confidence, health, medical, nudity, shame | Leave a comment

Stop Talking

“If he don’t look good, we don’t look good. This is our president. He has to be the freshest, the flyest, [have] the flyest planes, the best factories.” That was just one soundbite from Kanye’s lunch with 45 a few weeks back. I’m not sure if anyone gives a shit what Kanye thinks about politics; I certainly don’t. This college dropout and his MAGA hat were looking for one thing—attention. I mean, he married into the Kardashian family, who is in the news 24/7 for acts as valiant as fucking people and wearing clothes that show everything but a tampon string. So, he needs even more attention? If he used the spotlight well and shared some sound thoughts—or even rapped—we might have turned our heads instead of shaken them. A new Kanye rap would have become a big hit, appearing in iTunes before the meeting even aired. I probably would have downloaded it, regardless of being on the other side of the aisle. I’ve been in his aisles before, by the way, and it’s his rehearsed words that sound best. 

Now I can’t smile when I watch reruns of him in his tighty-whities, lip syncing “Old Time Rock n Roll.”

Years back, Tom Cruise accosted Matt Lauer (not smiling on The Today Show anymore) about the evils of psychotropic medication. I’m just a layperson, but I’ve seen how Prozac and Concerta can quell the symptoms of anxiety and ADHD. About a month before that, we all saw Tom dramatically jump over Oprah’s yellow couch to tell the world how crazy he was about Katie Holmes (before she eventually dumped his psychotic ass). I don’t need to get into the Scientology component to complete this picture. All of his crap ruins happy memories for me. Now I can’t smile when I watch reruns of him in his tighty-whities, lip syncing “Old Time Rock n Roll.” I want to keep rooting for Maverick as he charms the underwear off of Kelly McGillis, but Tom’s freakishness ruined that, too. 

Then there’s Roger Waters, who spewed some anti-Israel sentiments a couple of years ago. I can’t name how many times my best friend and I watched The Wall in high school, while eating garlic knots on the couch. I know every word to “Comfortably Numb.” My sister and I even sang it at my dad’s bedside, when he was in a post-stroke coma. This sounds creepy, but trust me when I say it was a beautiful moment. Roger, thanks for sucking the joy out my defining snapshots. And, Roseanne, why’d you have to go and tweet your stupid, racist comment when your revived-show was crushing it? I’ve loved you and your family since the eighties, Mrs. Connor! Shut your fucking mouths, people! Save yourselves by telling only your inner circle your twisted thoughts, and pay your publicist a little bit more to somehow take hold of your tongues. 

The Silver Screen stars had it right. They let the movie studios control their public images. Yes, half of their marriages were farces, and they were, in a sense, lying to their fans. But, their fans were happily shielded from their pinups’ private lives as they skipped to their movie theatre seats with popcorn in their hands. It was decades later when they learned their beloved Oscar-winner, Joan Crawford, hit the bottle too much and beat the living shit out of her daughter with a wire hanger. Those girls who dreamed of banging Rock Hudson learned years and years later that he wanted to bang their brothers instead. No harm, no foul, right?

While knowledge is power for sure, I want permission from the Hollywood gods to remain ignorant. I will admit I won’t always turn off a Pink Floyd song, and I will still see Yeezy in concert if I’m offered a ticket. I won’t ever patronize a property, restaurant or business with the name T_ _ _ p behind it, however. He’s just plain inexcusable. 

I dedicate this to the families of the recent Pittsburgh synagogue shootings. May the victims’ deaths not be in vain and serve a larger purpose in the fight for gun control and against anti-Semitism. In the midst of this tragedy, the first of my friends became a grandmother and welcomed a new life. She is happy beyond words. Let’s hope her granddaughter grows up in a safer world. 

*All names have been changed.

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Posted in celebrities, memories, political | Leave a comment

Orange Is The New Pain

I am not a morning person. On weekdays, after only one snooze, I somehow get out of bed by 6:40 am. I pee, put in my contacts and smooth out my bed’s wrinkles before anally arranging my throw pillows. Then I put on the most forgiving workout pants I can, knowing that in only one hour, I’ll be lined up in the narrow hallway outside of my Orange Theory (OT) workout class. It is here in this class, where I’ve learned what it feels like to be a resident of Hell. I thought I used to work out really hard by running five miles regularly on some really big hills, and even running two half marathons. Personal trainers thought they were kicking my ass…but they weren’t. I know the color red is associated with Hell, but, trust me, it’s orange.

I know the color red is associated with Hell, but, trust me, it’s orange.

Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of OT: A coach calls out instructions to people on treadmills, rowers and the exercise floor, and they do what he says. If they’re not thanking some kind of deity when the class is over, then they haven’t pushed hard enough. I’ve glanced over at enough people’s treadmill consoles to know that some are simply “sweatin’ to the oldies.” If I got my lazy, 50-year-old ass out of bed this early, Richard Simmons is not going to be my benchmark. And, this thought process is exactly how I met–and now know–Satan. 

Besides the final group fist pump and chant, my favorite part is in that hallway before class. This is where I’ve made my beloved OT friends. Remember those in-class-friends from school, who you didn’t necessarily socialize with outside of class? You shared a camaraderie with them, talking about the teacher’s fat ass or a brown-nosing classmate. Well, my OT trio is pretty much the same. We will talk about the previous day’s brutal treadmill inclines and complain about studio-mates who invade personal space or swipe our weights without asking. We even know about each others’ sick dogs, ungrateful kids and disrespectful in-laws. Period cramps, hot flashes and hangovers round out our conversations. I’ll never forget the day one of them said to me, “I have so much tequila in my body, I may take a shit on the treadmill today.” Yes, I had found my hellmates. 

I was happy to see them when I returned from my summer away. I admitted I had only gone to OT a few times at the Shore. I chose to enjoy the outdoors, running and walking on the boardwalk and riding bikes instead. It was like I was away on furlough from the self-imposed torture that I secretly love—“Fifty Shades of Orange” without the nipple clamps. So, there I was again, grunting with every tug of the rower handlebars and clamping my butt cheeks together with every hip thruster—and all without wearing one piece of studded leather. I hate it and love it all at once. I am obsessed yet repulsed. Satan has me in his grip, and it hurts oh so good. 

This blog is dedicated to my favorite OT coach, who will most likely never read this. He is a sexy, twenty-something, who challenges us to go hard and “empty our tanks” and is truly inspiring. Just when we think class is over, he sticks us with bonus rounds of burpees with a full pushup. He cranks Drake and other hip hop artists I can’t name at ridiculously loud volumes. He always high-fives us on the way in and on the way out. I definitely like the one on the way out best. 

p.s. Orange Theory studios are everywhere. Check it out, I dare you. 

*All names have been changed.

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Posted in aging, exercise, health | Leave a comment