Thursday, April 26, 2007

I am perfect...

...except, apparently, not so much.

I just discovered some major errors in yesterday's book review post. Does this make me a miscreant? (Ha! I got my bonus points!)

I seem to have fixed them. For now anyway - it took multiple attempts. Some days blogger just seems to want to be contrary for the heck of it all. Anyway, if you like books, you might want to re-read the post as there were several that were missing.


Fun with words

For no particular reason, I felt like looking some words up in the dictionary today. I had this urge to get my definition on (so to speak). And I was struck by what Mr. Webster has to say about one particular word.

And that word would be: DEADBEAT

Which the esteemed Mr. Webster defines in the following manner:

1. A person who deliberately avoids paying debts.

2. A loafer; sponger.

3. Being a parent who neglects parental responsibilities, esp. one who does not pay child support.

In fact, I was SO fascinated by this that I had to also Google what Mr. Roget has to say about synonyms for this word.

And that word would (again) be: DEADBEAT

Mr. Roget provides the following enlightening list of synonyms:







Malefactor (ooh…good one)

Miscreant (another good one)

Punk (where’s Dirty Harry when you need him?)

















I’m just sayin’ is all.


P.S. Bonus points to those who go out and use either “malefactor” or “miscreant” in a sentence today.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The drought is over!

Okay, so it hasn't rained enough here in So Cal this year, but at least some decent books are finally around and I’m getting caught up on the reading list so here’s the latest book review.

I came back from vacation to find the the latest (and first hardback) installment of the Rachel Morgan series “For a Few Demons More” by Kim Harrison (who obviously has a Clint Eastwood fetish when it comes to book titles which reminds me it’s about time for me to have my annual spaghetti western film festival…must go update my Netflix queue.) Fortunately for the author, but unfortunately for the rest of us, this series has gotten popular enough that this installment came out in hardback. I always have mixed feelings about this because I’m glad to know my favorite authors are successful enough to warrant a hardback release, but it means my book budget goes up some more and hardbacks are such a pain to fit into my purse to carry around. Paperbacks fit in so much more nicely, especially on days when I’m not carrying the state-of-Texas-sized giganto-purse.

None of which, of course, has anything to do with the actual book so let’s get to the review. Same cast of characters is back. Rachel still has the same impulse-control and adrenaline-junkie issues as always. She’s still tiptoeing around a possible relationship with Ivy the vampire. I have to admit I’m getting tired of the whole “will she give in to her secret lesbian desires” sub-plot that’s been going on through the whole darned series. Ms. Harrison needs to make a decision on this. Either make her a lesbian or don’t, but quit sitting on the fence because I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gotten to the point of no longer caring. Also, isn’t Rachel supposed to be a witch? I don’t think she cast an actual spell in the entire book. While there’s nothing terribly wrong with this book, it doesn’t seem like the series moved forward here. Despite the **warning – spoiler** exits of a couple of characters, everything seems pretty much in the same place it was at the beginning of the book. A major thread is left undone (presumably to keep our interest going for the NEXT book) and I’m starting to find Ceri a far more interesting character than Rachel (who never seems to learn anything from her mistakes).

After so much sameness, I decided to try something new with Diana Pharoah Francis’s “Path of Fate.” I really liked her twist on the tradition human/magical-animal-bonding story. What if an animal came to bond with someone who wasn’t particularly thrilled to be “chosen?” It was a great starting premise, but I thought it was resolved too quickly. There should have been more fallout from the initial rejection of the animal and it should’ve lasted longer. I found this book to be a bit simplistic (and unrealistic in certain areas). Although it was shelved in the main sci-fi/fantasy section, I can’t help wondering if maybe it was supposed to be in the YA section instead. It had that sort of feel to it. Still, there was enough good raw material there that I picked up the second installment in the series to see if the author makes any progress.

Then, of course, there’s the latest Dresden book “White Night.” Holy crap! Can Jim Butcher GET any better? I cannot believe the way each book is just better, funnier, more tightly plotted and more exciting than the last. I stayed up until 1:30 AM last night because I couldn’t put the darned thing down. If you’re a fan of the series, run, don’t walk, to pick up this book. If you’re not a fan…what on earth is WRONG with you? You can also go HERE to join in the letter-writing campaign to request another season of “The Dresden Files” on the Sci-Fi channel. While I’ll admit that the first episode or two were a bit lukewarm, the series definitely improved and got better each week. I thought the last two episodes were terrific and it’s absolutely worth bringing the show back for more.

Lastly, I devoured Jane Lindskold’s “Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls” in practically one sitting. I’ve always been a big fan of her work – “Changer” and its sequel “Legends Walking” are two of my all-time favorites, but I’d never gotten around to picking up this book until recently. Lindskold was a protégé of the late, great, Roger Zelazny, and while her works are nothing like his, I still seem to detect a faint hint of a similar “tone” or style.

“Brother” chronicles the life of Sara, a young woman who has spent her entire life in mental institutions until one day she’s forced onto the street as a result of budget cuts. Unable to communicate in a normal fashion, Sara resorts to famous quotes from literature to get her point across. For anyone with a background in English or literature, this provides an extra layer of complexity. But Sara is more than just a kooky escapee from a nut farm – she possesses a special gift. It’s a gift that someone wants to find and make not-so-ethical use of. Also, this book IS available in paperback. Okay, so it’s a trade paperback, but still less expensive than a hardback version.

That’s where I left off and got some much needed sleep. I’m on almost continual mom-duty for the next 3 weeks so the pickings may be a bit slim around here. I know the jewelry pictures have been almost non-existent because I just haven’t had any time to make anything lately. I’ve got my fingers crossed about getting some stuff done on my lunch hour today.

And yes, I take jewelry projects to work on at lunch.

So what?

Perfectly normal.

Stop staring at me.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Day at The Beach

Okay, I was going to title this entry “The Big Swell”, but I just knew that those of you out there with dirty minds would make something…ahem…dirty out of that so “A Day at the Beach” it is.

Remember back when I made my Resolutions for 2007 and one of them was to get down to the beach more often? Well, I’ve been making good on that by going for walks after work and on weekends at some of my favorite beaches when the weather allows.

All this got me to thinking about how much I love the beach and how I’ve always lived near it because Dad was in the Navy until 1970. Except for being born in Idaho Falls, ID (hey, don’t ask me why the Navy has its nuclear submarine training program there – they just DO), every state I’ve lived in (CT, VA, SC, HI, CA) we’ve lived at or near the beach and all of my earliest memories involve the ocean somehow. I still remember putting horseshoe crabs back in the water in Virginia Beach after some teenage vandals had turned them all upside down on the sand so they’d die.

Horshoe crab pics:

I remember watching the fishermen pull nets up onto the sand on that same beach and the day that a small shark bit one of the fishermen’s fingers off while we watched. I remember learning to body surf at Sandy Beach on Oahu and being the only girl surfer in the water at The Wedge on a red flag day when the waves were over 6’ high.

Back before Dad taught me to body surf, he was an original longboard surfer. He used to have a bright yellow board that we called “the big banana” (until it got stolen in Hawaii) and he was the one who turned me onto the classic surf movies such as “Endless Summer” and “Big Wednesday.” (By the way if you haven't seen this movie, can I just say...Jan Michael Vincent BEFORE he became a wacked out addict who nearly offed himself and ruined his face in a car crash).

In fact, “Big Wednesday” gives a great idea of the kind of swell that recently hit our beaches. A week or so ago, we had an unusually big swell for several days resulting in 10-12 foot waves. Unfortunately, due to work and other responsibilities, I wasn’t able to make it down to see the surf on those days, but I did go down on Saturday to see the results and holy cow was there a lot of stuff tossed up on the beach. I don’t remember ever seeing this amount of debris get up onto the sand. At Main Beach in Laguna, the city had collected most of the debris into a number of large piles that were each at least waist high and about the length of a school bus:

I took a few shots of some of the things I found:

Surf and Turf, anyone?

Giant turban snail:

Another turban snail, but this one was still occupied so I put it back in the water in the hopes of rescuing it. It moved off under its own power so I have hopes that the rescue was successful. Go, snail, go!

Yes, this is how I spend my days, people. I rescue giant snails because that’s just the kind of girl I am.

Also found this beautiful clam shell:

I was going to take this one home, but when I turned it over, I found it was still...partially...occupied. Ick. Oh well, guess the gulls have to eat, too.

The weather turned crappy later in the day after I left, but it was glorious the morning I was down there and the surf was still pretty decent:

Damn, but I love living in So Cal.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Confronting the past

So, we’re all tearing off that blanket of denial, right? Everyone will go about this in her own way, but for me, part of the process involved picking up the psychological flashlight and taking a stroll through the attic, the basement and even shining the beam over those dark corners that no one likes to go into because, y’know, cobwebs, and scuttling things and just ICK! Well, it’s time to hang some lights, give the place a good sweeping and dusting, knock down the cob webs and put out traps for anything that dares to scuttle or otherwise creep me out because the place better be ship-shape the next time I decide to poke around.

How did I get here? It’s not like I woke up one day and decided “hey, I think I’ll be fat for the next 15 years.” I wasn’t always overweight. In my early years, I was actually on the small side for my age. I was also a competitive swimmer until high school when I switched to dancing. I was in terrific shape and had abs you could bounce a quarter off of (literally – someone tried it so I know for sure). I weighed 116 lbs. when I left for college. Then, my knee went out towards the end of my freshman year at UCLA and that was the end of dancing for me. It even made walking to and from campus something I tried to avoid whenever possible by bumming rides from friends with mopeds, etc. so I put on a few pounds that way, but I was still about 120-122 which is better than acceptable for someone 5’5” and with my curves.

I think the real problem began my sophomore year when I started to struggle with an ever-deepening depression (except I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time) and it really affected my sleeping habits, my energy level and my eating habits.

Ah yes, my eating habits. Never stellar to begin with – I pretty much loathed and avoided most fruits and all vegetables since I was a kid. My poor mom tried everything to change this. I remember many a night being the last one left sitting at the dinner table, in the dark, long after the rest of the family had gone upstairs and mom had finished cleaning the kitchen. Just sitting there. Me and my plate of vegetables that I refused to eat. Eventually, mom would cave in and come get me. I remember lunches where I poured my Campbell’s alphabet soup (which is essentially vegetable soup w/ letters in it) little by little into my brother’s bowl (sorry, Mark) whenever my mom wasn’t looking. I also dumped my raisins into his cup of milk (sorry again, Mark) to hide them. I fed vegetables to the dog under the table (in my defense, he didn’t like them, either, and would hork them back up later on the shag rug) or spit them into my napkin and then excuse myself to go to the bathroom where I’d dump my napkin out into the toilet and flush the vegetables good-bye.

So, when I got to college, it was like “finally, I am FREE from the tyranny of fruits and vegetables and shall never again be forced to eat them against my will!” Hey, don’t judge. Most college kids make stupid decisions when they get out on their own. Mine just didn’t happen to involve drugs or alcohol (except that one time in Santa Barbara at the I.S.V.T. that…okay SOME things you SHOULD remain in denial about). And, in my infinite “I’ve graduated from high school and am therefore all-knowing and mistress of the universe”-ness, what did I replace fruits and veggies with? Well, sugar and fat, of course. Oh, and mashed potatoes. Must not forget the mashed potatoes of which I could eat gallons especially if they are smothered in butter and gravy. I once survived an entire finals week on nothing but Diet Coke and mashed potatoes, but that’s another blog entry.

So, suffice to say, that between the depression, the sleeplessness, the bad eating and various other things, I got up to 130 lbs. by the end of sophomore year. Still, this was not a disaster by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I’m sure at that point that no one but me even noticed the change because a curvy figure can hide a lot more “fluff” than a stick-straight one.

Then came my junior year when I moved into the sorority house to live. HELLO, body image issues! Big time! But I’ve done enough “demons of the past” confronting for today so we’ll save that for another entry.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Latest Book Review

Finding time to read has been a bit tough lately…hence the long lag time between reviews. Never thought I would get to a place in my life where I didn’t devour at least 3-4 books a week, but looks like I’m there. Still, thanks to a week of vacation, I’ve gotten caught up a bit on the “to be read” pile so here are the reviews.

First up is Mark Del Franco’s “Unshapely Things.” It’s a bit “Harry Dresden Lite” (does EVERYONE have to be a private investigator?), but there are a couple of changes that make it interesting enough to stand on its own. Whereas Harry is very powerful, but has a hard time with his personal life, Del Franco’s main character USED to have it all. Power, wealth, fame, etc. Then he lost everything courtesy of a magical accident. Now he’s sort of like a has-been rock-star…can’t get into clubs that used to keep an entire room reserved for him and can’t perform more than a basic protection spell. Also different here is the status of the otherworldly creatures. They are, with a few exceptions, the down-and-out denizens of a magic-laden ghetto. When they become the targets of a serial killer, neither the magical authorities nor the mundane police seem to much care. Enter our hero who, despite his fallen status, still considers his non-human “kin” to be worth saving. While there are some definite “first novel” issues, this could shape up into a decent series as the writer becomes more practiced and if he is able to further differentiate his characters and world from the Dresden books

Side note: The Dresden Files TV series on SciFi is definitely improving. Each episode has been better than the last and I have a serious crush on Paul Blackthorne (the actor who plays Harry). Still not crazy about the guy playing Bob – he looks so damn mournful all the time – but he’s starting to bother me less. Anyway, it’s definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already. Wish I could say the same for Lifetime’s take on Tanya Huff’s “Vicky Nelson” series. I didn’t even know they’d made those books into a show until I accidentally stumbled across it while channel surfing one night a few weeks ago. Always a bad sign when there’s no pre-premiere publicity. The only good thing I can say about it is that the guy playing Henry Fitzroy is H-O-T. Too bad he can’t act his way out of a paper bag. He also seems like he’s trying to suppress (not always successfully) a major surfer-boy accent. Like, dude, I’m like a total vampire. Sweet. Yeah, just how I’d expect a son of Henry the VIIIth to talk. The guy playing Mike Celucci is WAY too good-looking to be a cop. The gal playing Vicki is decent, but somehow I think of Vicki as being more hard-nosed and pissed-off or something. Plus, I wonder how Ms. Huff feels about Lifetime scrubbing even the merest HINT of homosexuality (a MAJOR part of the book series) out of the TV show. Tony’s not even in it for heaven’s sake and Henry is suddenly all-hetero-all-the-time. Anyway, I suppose it’s worth checking out for the eye candy quotient, but there’s not much else there.

So, back to the books.

Y’all know how I feel about Linnea Sinclair so I was really excited to pick up her latest book, “Games of Command.” It’s good, but it’s definitely not my favorite of her works so far (that would be “Finders, Keepers”). I kept having the feeling that I’d been dropped into the second novel in a series and maybe that’s the case, but none of my searches have turned up an earlier book featuring these same characters. Maybe there were short stories or unpublished pieces? I dunno, but it sure seems like a lot happened off stage to lead up to this story and I was frustrated that I didn’t get to read THAT part. As always in a Sinclair book, the romance, characters and the pacing of the action are top notch. I could’ve done with a bit less furzel-talk (cuteness overload) and there was, for me, a rather jarring plot twist about halfway through the book that had me going “what the ___?” for a bit, but those are my de rigueur nitpicks and shouldn’t deter anyone from buying and enjoying the book. I’m looking forward to her next book which has the fun and interesting title of “The Down-Home Zombie Blues.”

Next comes “Nylon Angel”, the first in the Parrish Plessis series. Usually, I kind of enjoy a good cyberpunk novel, but while the world background in this book is interesting, about halfway through it I realized I didn’t give a rat’s ass about the character or whether she made it through or not. And the whole alien virus thing seems like a weird addition that got tacked on and doesn’t really belong. I bought the second novel in the series at the same time I bought the first book, but I doubt I’ll read it. I’m looking for the receipt to take it back.

Fortunately, Carrie Vaughn’s “Kitty Takes a Holiday”, the third installment in the Kitty the Werewolf series, was a good way to recover from the whole Parrish Plessis debacle. I usually find that series tend to get weaker as they go along, but this one keeps getting better. Despite the use of the incredibly tired “skinwalker” device (seriously, people, there ARE other mythologies in the world…go plunder one of those for your ideas and spare us the umpty-zillionth re-tread on this one), I really enjoyed this book. Vaughn takes a risk by having a main character undergo a major and permanent change which completely alters the dynamic between him and Kitty and between Kitty and another prominent character. It’s nice to see a storyline really moving forward and evolving. I look forward to seeing where Kitty goes next.

You guys know what happens when I venture out and try a new author, right? It’s almost never good. And this time, I just got sucked in by the incredible cover art for Alan Campbell’s “Scar Night.” Too bad the book doesn’t live up to the picture on the outside. Despite starting out with a fascinating premise of a city built entirely on chains and suspended over a seemingly bottomless abyss, Campbell fails to deliver with his characters. It’s a shame. I hate it when a great world goes to waste. I gave up and didn’t finish the book because I got tired of waiting to care about these people.

And that’s when the vacation ended. At least I had the new Kim Harrison book to look forward to when I got home. Still reading it so the review will have to wait until next time.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

10 Reasons Why Vacation Rocks...

10. No stupid alarm clock blaring an obnoxious DJ voice right into the middle of that great dream where Hugh Laurie and I are…well, never mind about that, but seriously, TOTAL buzz kill.

9. Abundant sunshine, a pool within walking distance and my new green bikini.

8. Tony, the so-cute poolside bar tender who makes a mean Pina Colada.

7. African fennecs (world’s smallest fox species) at the zoo:

6. The kestrel that flew onto a tree branch mere inches from my head and hung out long enough for me to show him to the kidlet.

5. Naps.

4. White-chocolate-covered cheesecake lollipops w/ raspberry sauce. OH. MY. GOD. These were seriously the best dessert EVER.

3. Getting to re-order the cheesecake lollipops for dessert again another night in order to experience their awesomeness for a second time.

2. Finding and using the hotel gym for the first time in my life.

1. And the number 1 reason my vacation rocked? Finding THE shoe bargain of the century – 2 pairs of Kate Spade shoes on sale for $99!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A funny thing happened on the way to the cafeteria...

Well, actually, it happened IN the cafeteria. In the lunch line. In front of many, many witnesses. Public humiliation – these are the moments that make life worthwhile. Except not so much.

Let me set the scene.

I work in a 15 story building that is part of a sprawling complex of connected office buildings. On the first floor, buried in the center of the maze that is the entire complex, is a cafeteria. Except it’s not just any old cafeteria. It’s more like the biggest mall food court you could possibly imagine. There’s a grill station, an Italian station (including little pizza boxes for your own personal pizza), a Chinese station, a HUGE salad bar, a made-to-order sandwich station, a giant bar of breads and desserts, a huge soup selection, several frozen yogurt machines and various and sundry other little stands and shelves of fruit, chips, jello, cheeses, hard-boiled eggs and well, just about every food you could possibly imagine.

Then there’s my favorite – the toss-to-order salad station. They have a Chinese Chicken Salad with sesame dressing that is awesome. Normally, I go over there, pick up a CC Salad package, hand it to Francisco (the designated tosser of salad) and he tosses it all up for me with the dressing and other accoutrements. The only downside to this is (as I learned on a previous occasion) that if you go get your salad tossed, but then don’t get to eat it right away because you return to your desk to maybe find out that there was a meeting you completely forgot about which proceeded to suck up 2 hours of your time and when you finally escaped and went to eat your lovely salad, you found that it had become a wilted pile of mush with melted, no-longer-crisp wonton chips on top. And since, of course, the wonton chips are the best part of the salad, the whole thing was ruined.

So, lesson learned. Do not put the dressing on the salad unless you can eat it right away. Oh, and also, maybe remember to calendar your meetings in Outlook with reminders so you don’t space out and forget about them.

This brings me to the day in question during which I had a busy morning that ran into the lunch hour so when I finally got a break I realized I only had 15 minutes to run get my lunch before heading into a 12:30 meeting.

Which leads one to ask WHY do people schedule meetings at lunch time? Don’t they know I get cranky when my blood sugar is in the basement?

But I digress (as usual).

Having learned my lesson about the wilted salad, I formulated a cunning plan to avoid the soggy wonton chip issue. I would pick up the salad package and then ask Francisco to give me a couple of the little “to go” containers of dressing. I’d go to the meeting and then toss the salad myself at my desk afterwards. I love a perfect plan. It’s when the Universe doesn’t cooperate that I run into trouble.

All went as planned until I was in the cashier line. I successfully maneuvered through the payment process when I realized they had “to go” plastic bags at the end of the line. “Ah ha!” I thought. “I shall ease the burden of carrying the salad and dressing containers all the way back up to the fifth floor by making use of these thoughtfully-provided carrying devices.” I was reaching to put my lunch in the bag when disaster struck!

One of the containers of dressing rolled off of its (admittedly precarious) perch on top of the salad container and fell in what seemed like slow motion to the floor. Whereupon it (of course) burst open and spilled sesame dressing all over the floor, my new 9 West black stiletto pumps and my foot. Had my hands been free, I might’ve tried to catch the stupid thing, but I had a bag in one hand and a salad container and another container of dressing in the other hand so I was forced to watch helplessly as the event unfolded. I even knew before the container hit the ground that the damn lid was going to come off.

What I did not anticipate (having never felt it before) was the awful sensation of cold, oily dressing dripping down inside my shoe.

Oh, and did I mention this was the height of the lunch rush so there were like 20 people in line behind me and probably 200 or more seated in the cafeteria as a whole and if any of them managed to miss the initial “splat!” they certainly didn’t miss the cafeteria staff yelling at the top of their lungs “Spill! Spill! Hurry and get towels and a mop because this stupid gringo girl just spilled sesame dressing all over the floor and down her shoe!” At least, that’s what I assume they were screaming. It was in Spanish. I’m sure at least the “stupid gringo” part is correct.

Meanwhile, I’m still standing there, frozen, with my salad in one hand and bag in the other and thinking “Oh God, there is dressing in my SHOE!” Of course, they brought enough towels to clean up the floor, but not enough for me to clean up my foot or my shoe. Plus, there are still 20 some people in line behind me who, now that they have recovered from laughing their asses off, are starting to get pissed because I’m in the way of the line moving forward and really, how could I stand there and take my shoe off and try to clean off my bare foot and continue blocking the line and, well, this is California and we shoot people for holding up traffic.

So I know I have to get out of there.

And there is no bathroom on the first floor.

And it’s LITERALLY a quarter-mile trek back to the elevators to get back to my office where there IS a bathroom.

Yes, I walked a quarter-mile in salad-dressing-filled stilettos back to the damn elevator while carrying my salad (that I so didn’t want to eat any more) and feeling my left toes go “squish” with every step.

I ride the elevator back up to my office and go to my desk to put my food down. Because even though I’m probably not going to eat it now, I am sooo not taking food into the bathroom. Because, you know, that’s just gross.

Then I finally make it to the bathroom. Take off my shoe and wash my foot off (all the while PRAYING that none of my co-workers are going to come in and ask me why the hell I’ve got my foot propped on the edge of the sink. Next step is to try to get the dressing out of my shoe with damp paper towels while at the same time not ruining the leather. Assuming, of course, that the salad dressing didn’t already take care of the whole ruination thing. That’s when I realize there’s dressing all over the bottom 3” of my new black trousers. Swell.

Now, I’m late for my meeting so I have to put my still-slightly-damp shoe back on my not-quite-dry-yet foot and race to the conference room where I spend the next hour hoping that no one else notices that I reek of sesame dressing.

I am nothing if not the epitome of grace and style.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Less talk, more pictures

I promised not to be "all weight loss all the time" and yesterday's entry WAS a bit wordy...even for me. So, shutting up now and just posting cute bead pictures. These are some recent ebay auction wins:

The picture doesn't show it that well, but there are hidden depths of glittery turquoise sparkles in these beads when viewed in real life. And yes, they ARE as yummy as they look.

And then there are the cute fish beads:

I have no idea what I'm going to do with them, but every time this seller lists these beads, I end up buying more because I am obsessed with them. Maybe because they remind of that time that I OD'd on the Victoria's Secret Lip Plumper Lip Gloss?


Monday, April 09, 2007

The Kelly Plan - Step 1

Step 1: No More Denial

I’ve learned a lot on this weight loss journey that I’ve been on, but if I had to pick the number one most important thing that’s allowed me to succeed it would be this:

Weight loss and denial are two diametrically opposed forces.

Can’t have ‘em both. They can’t occupy the same space. Sort of like matter and anti-matter.

Now, when I say “denial”, I don’t mean that I was unaware that I was overweight. I do own mirrors. Several of them. But, since I wasn’t ALWAYS fat, somewhere along the way I developed the ability to ignore the fact that I was getting bigger and bigger.

Well, mostly ignore. Every once in a while reality would crash down, I’d feel like crap, I’d resolve to do something about it, I’d fail, I’d feel like crap again. I couldn’t stand that crappy feeling so I’d go back into denial to escape from it. Denial was a defense mechanism for me that kept me buffered from dealing with my problem or the pain it was causing me in any real or meaningful way.

I think anyone who has a weight problem (and no, I’m not talking about those skinny bitches who are always complaining about needing to lose 10 lbs. when what they really need to do is EAT SOMETHING once in a while) has probably fallen into this trap. Otherwise, we’d have successfully stopped the weight from piling on years ago, right? But it’s easy to ignore a few pounds here and there until one morning you wake up and now you’ve got what seems to be an insurmountable amount of weight to lose.

Do any of these sound familiar:

“Okay, so I’m not as skinny as I was in high school. Who is?”

“Yeah, I could lose some weight, but I don’t look THAT bad.”

“I’m already fat so who cares if I eat this cookie/piece of cake/entire carton of ice cream?”

So, how do you get off the denial roller coaster? Personally, I think it takes something big. Something life-altering. Because, again, if it was easy, we’d have done it already. I firmly believe it’s not a matter of will power. Everyone has will power – otherwise none of us would get out of bed in the morning when the alarm clock goes off. But will power is too weak to stand up to a problem this big.

What is this “something big?” I know what mine was, but I suspect it will be different for everyone. However, since this is MY plan, we’ll go with what worked for me. It started small…with a simple prayer: “God, please help me lose weight.”

Let me tell you, be careful what you pray for because prayer? It’s some pretty powerful stuff. I just thought I was asking for some help not taking a second (or third) doughnut on Friday mornings. What I didn’t realize (because of that lovely down comforter of denial) was that God had a plan for my life. He wanted it to be better than it was. Happier. More fulfilling. And, as a side benefit of all those things I’d get weight loss, too. But, to make all that happen, he had to get rid of all the things that weren’t working. Which was pretty much my whole entire life. Emotionally abusive husband? Gone. Depressingly dead marriage. Outta here. Dead-end, boring-as-hell job which gave me plenty of free time and incentive to stuff my face? History.

In other words, my entire life was standing in the way of me losing weight and being healthy and happy. So, my entire life had to go. Which it did.

And it was painful.

And it sucked. Big time.

And normally, it would have been grounds for me to gain another 20 (okay 50) lbs. But when everything gets completely stripped away like that and you’re left with only yourself and your faith in God, it gets pretty hard to keep that blanket of denial over your head. I finally was forced to sit up, take a good look around and deal with what I saw.

Now, am I suggesting that you jettison your entire life or go run join your local church before lunch time? Nope. I AM saying that it’s time to open your eyes, take a look around and figure out what in your life is working or not working for you. What is contributing to your weight problem? What are you going to have to do to make that mental change that will finally allow you to succeed THIS time?

I know not everyone is going to want to hear this, but for me, it was my faith. As things began to crumble around me, I prayed to God like I’ve never prayed before. I told him that I was powerless in trying to overcome my weight problem. I’d tried and failed so many times and I was terrified to go through that again. My marriage was hanging by a thread, I had a toddler to raise, the X had ruined us financially, I’d just lost both my grandmothers in less than a month and I didn’t really see how I could possibly attempt another diet right then.

So I asked God to take the burden on for me. I suppose this is sort of like the first step in a 12-step program where you admit you’re powerless over whatever your problem is and that you need help to overcome it. Frankly, I cannot imagine having achieved a 75 lb. weight loss without His help. I’m just not that strong and I couldn’t have made the attitude adjustment or the life changes I needed to make without Him directing everything according to his plan.

So, after all that meandering drivel, what actions do you need to take for Step 1?

There are two. First part is to take a good long look in the spiritual/emotional mirror and face up to whatever you find there. If you’re a person of faith, enlist God’s help with making these changes in your life.

Some suggested areas to look at:

Is there something wrong in your life that needs to be dealt with? Job problems, marital problems, an ailing parent, etc.? Start looking for resources to help you tackle this area and get it under control.

Do you have health issues that could be contributing to your weight? Seek out the right doctors and don’t take no for an answer until you get results. I’ll talk more about this one in an upcoming entry.

Do you have a good support system in place? People who will help you with items 1 & 2 above and be there for you during the process and not sabotage you?

What’s your ultimate goal? Is it realistic? We can’t all be a size 0, you know, and it’s time to just admit it. Is your weight issue genetic? You might have to work harder or have more modest goals if that’s the case. Same if you are extremely overweight. Maybe in that case, any weight loss is a supreme accomplishment and you might want to make your goal more about being healthier, living longer, cleaning up your diet, etc. That’s where I started (because, you know, exercise is yucky!) and I lost my first 30 lbs. JUST by cleaning up my eating habits a LITTLE bit. More on that later.

What’s your lifestyle like? Are you a bona fide couch potato (like me)? How will you get around that? Maybe you’re an overscheduled, stressed out, go-getter and you need to consider slowing down or simplifying some things to make room for exercise. Or, you need to plan healthy eating strategies for when you’re on the go. McDonald’s doesn’t count.

What motivates you? And no, chocolate is not an acceptable answer. Do you want to sleep better? Live longer for your kids? Those are a couple of mine, but if you’ve read anywhere else in this column, you know fashion played a huge role for me, too.

Second action is…and please try not to hate me here…buy a scale if you don’t already have one. Get on it and deal with what it says. And, yeah, I know, it sucks. I was firmly convinced for years that having a scale and weighing myself daily or weekly would only make me feel worse about myself and therefore stymie any attempts at weight loss. But, in the end, I found avoiding that number only helped me stay deeper in denial. After all, if I wasn’t sure exactly how much I weighed, then I couldn’t be THAT overweight, right? In fact, I convinced myself that as long as I was under 200 lbs., I was okay. And of course, I HAD to be under 200 lbs because how I could I possibly weigh over 200 lbs.? Just not possible.

Until the day I stepped on that scale and it read 225. Even now, I hate admitting that number in public, but I’m doing it so you know that A. I can take my own medicine (no more denial!) and B. So that you know I wasn’t just a “few lbs.” overweight and that if I can get down from that level, ANYONE can do this!

Now I get on the scale every morning and I even have this nifty Excel chart I made up to track my numbers. Because that’s just how I roll, yo. I like to chart things into nice, neat little categories. I am somewhat of a freak, but then, if you’ve been reading this blog, you already knew that so let’s move on, m’kay?

I’m not saying you have to do this daily – maybe a weekly weigh in is better for you. I am saying that accurate information is necessary for ME to keep myself from falling back into denial. It also helps me stay on track each day – if I’m on a downward trend, I can have that extra cookie today or at least recognize that if I eat that extra cookie, it means an extra 20 minutes at the gym that night. And hey, sometimes I choose to eat the cookie. Sometimes I don’t. The point is, I’m making an informed choice. I know what the consequences of that choice are going to be. Before I put that cookie into my mouth I can ask myself “is this something that is moving me closer to my goal or farther away?”

The scale also helps me identify when I hit plateaus and need to think about tweaking my food/exercise regimen again because my body has adapted to what I’ve been doing. I think plateaus are the main obstacle to sticking with a food/exercise life change. It’s easy to stay motivated when you’re seeing real progress. It gets a lot more frustrating when that progress grinds to a halt and you start to ask yourself “okay, tell me again WHY I’m working out 3 nights a week if it’s not doing anything.” Therefore, being able to recognize a plateau and take steps to overcome it is a hugely important part of making a permanent change.

One suggestion I have for not letting the scale become more than an information-gathering tool is to not make your ultimate goal be a particular weight or even a certain number of pounds lost. Make your goal about being healthier, having more energy or, if you must have something specific, pick a (realistic) clothing size. My first goal when I started out was to just clean up my life and be able to sleep better at night and have more energy in the daytime. After that, my goal was to not be limited to shopping only in plus-size clothing stores. I didn’t even have a particular size in mind – I just wanted to buy clothes somewhere other than Lane Bryant.

I’m probably coming off like one of those reformed smokers who is on a campaign to make EVERYONE quit smoking. That’s not my intention. I just think that I can’t be the only person struggling with these issues and we all have a duty to help inspire and support one another.

Even if you decide you’re ultimately happy with where you are (and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you’re being honest with yourself and your physical health is good – no diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.), I think a good life inventory on occasion is never a bad thing.

In the next entry on this topic, I’ll go a bit more into how I got to be overweight in the first place, the emotional and body image issues that played a part and the underlying medical problems that also contributed. I think it’s important to recognize that weight is SO not about will power or having a sweet tooth.

Maybe some of my personal issues will strike a chord with someone and help them take a step on the path toward health. Because while the weight loss is a terrific side effect, that’s not what it’s all about.


P.S. Yes, posts on other, non-diet-related topics are forthcoming. But I just got back from a week of vacation (hence the lack of recent posts) and this is what I had ready to go. So, this is what you're getting.