Friday, May 28, 2010

14 "Glorious" Years

I just got back from seeing Sex and the City 2 with a group of girlfriends (thus the very late time of this blog post). The movie continues the story of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha as they struggle to manage their love lives, friendships and careers in New York City. As always, Samantha was a hoot. Charlotte attempted to juggle the challenges of motherhood with the help of her hot nanny. Miranda tried to find the perfect balance between career woman and mommy. And Carrie and Mr. Big struggled with how to keep their relationship from getting stale after two years of marriage. (Turns out, a black diamond ring may just do the trick.)
The ladies of Sex and the City 2 get a chance to visit one of the most extravagant
vacation destinations on the planet.

Before the movie, we decided to get a drink, something I anticipated so I fit in a workout at the gym and quick shower before we left. I knew the 35 minutes on the elliptical trainer would be enough for me to earn two additional Weight Watchers points, which just so happens is the points value of a glass of Chardonnay. For fun, I decided to try on some of the blue jeans that were folded on the top shelf of my closet to see if they would fit well enough to wear to the movies. The jeans had been perched there for a couple of years, just waiting for me to shed some weight so I can fit into them again. My size 14 jeans are pretty baggy now, so I weeded through the Size 8 and 10 jeans and settled on the Size 12 ones, which fit just about right after a couple of deep knee bends. 

I skipped dinner so I could save enough points to enjoy a small bag of Hot Tamales candy at the movie. I sneaked the store-bought candy in my purse because I didn't want to be tempted to buy the super jumbo box at the theater. Pre-diet, I could easily consume the super large box of Hot Tamales and a small box of buttered popcorn, which, next to Mexican Food and a margarita, is definitely a weakness for me.

But tonight, instead of movie theater popcorn, I ordered soft pretzel nuggets, without the cheese dipping sauce. At first I thought it was a good choice, until I realized all of the butter the nuggets were soaked in, much of which leaked out of the box and onto my Size 12 jeans. After this blog post, I'll be soaking them overnight and sleeping with my fingers crossed that the butter will wash out because, after all, a lot of work went into me fitting into those jeans again.

Me at the theater in my Size 12 jeans, complete with the butter stains on both legs.

On Tuesday of this week my husband Christian and I celebrated a milestone -- 14 years of marriage. Woops, I should say 14 "glorious" years, as my husband likes to sarcastically point out. Carrie and Mr. Big have nothing on us! As I mentioned in last week's post, I'm a social eater so celebrations are typically a challenge for me to enjoy in moderation. We decided that we will celebrate our anniversary with a date night this weekend, so this week I'm banking all my bonus points for that meal. However, we still wanted to do something to celebrate with the kids on Tuesday, and I worried how I'd be able to do that and stick within my 21 daily points allowance.

Christian made a delicious Seared Scallops with White Beans and Bacon recipe from his Men's Health Magazine, a surprisingly low-point recipe he's been wanting to try for a while. It was delicious -- and so elegant!

Seared Scallops with White Beans and yummy!

While we feasted on our meal, the kids enjoyed grilled cheese sandwiches. We ate by candlelight illuminating the table from the tin can lantern Will had brought home that day from school.

 Will's tin can lantern was the perfect finishing touch to our anniversary dinner table.

The morning of our anniversary, Christian had left out a chilled can of Diet Pepsi with a note saying "Enjoy Now" next to a bottle of champagne that said, "Enjoy Later." I decided to surprise him by making Chocolate Covered Strawberries and dipped Madeline cookies for dessert, something I knew he and the kids would enjoy. I bought some fat free Cool Whip for me that I could dip plain strawberries in, which was actually a really nice low-point treat along with the champagne. I did treat myself to one chocolate dipped strawberry and some champagne.

Isn't this just beautiful? I was pretty darned impressed with my display that I just had to take a picture.

I was thrilled when I entered my points to my Weight Watchers online tracker that between dinner, dessert, champagne, and my modest breakfast and lunch, I used exactly 21 points that day.  I was able to stay within my daily allowance, even with a little bit of indulgence. That is definitely worth celebrating!

This week's weight loss was more modest than last week's 3-pound loss. I lost .5 pounds this week, bringing my total weight loss to 20.5 pounds.  This week, my goal is to "kick it up a notch" with extra exercise, something I haven't been able to fit in as much as I'd like in the last couple of weeks.
I'm going to have to let these jeans loosen up a bit more before I can kick like the Karate Kid.

Friday, May 21, 2010

20-20 Hindsight

Wow, what a week! I lost three pounds over the last seven days, bringing my total weight loss to 20 pounds. With about three months away until my 40th birthday, I am at the half-way mark of my 40-pound weight loss goal! 

It's been quite a ride since I originally decided to go public with my weight loss challenge to myself. To celebrate my 20 pounds milestone, I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane and list the top things I've learned about myself, weight loss, and life.

You've got to dig down deep to find what will really motivate you.  For me, it was the public accountability that I needed to really be successful at losing weight. For many people, that approach wouldn't work. But for me, putting it out there on record for the world to see has made me much more accountable. I've been in several situations since I started my weight loss effort -- be it a tempting food situation or a day where I don't want to go to the gym even though I should -- and I think about my blog and all of the messages of support I have received, and it keeps me going and motivates me to do the right thing. Other people might be motivated to lose weight by setting a goal of participating in a marathon or triathalon, or trying out for Survivor (yes, someone who reads my blog did that and made it a couple of rounds!).  None of these would have worked for me, and it just took me really digging deep to figure out what would.

I'm a social eater. I've always been jealous of the people that lose weight when they are under stress. I'm not an emotional eater. I don't pig out when I'm stressed, stuff my face when I'm sad, or binge when I'm frustrated. I'm a social eater, one that uses food to celebrate. But the problem was, I'd always find a reason to celebrate. It's Friday! It's the last day of school! Will got an A on his report! It's Saturday! It's payday! My self-designated celebratory meals and social events are where I historically tended to get in trouble. We rarely eat out anymore, and when we do, my choices are a lot less cheesy and creamy. When we go to social gatherings, I make it a point to arm myself with healthy options. I also bank my additional exercise points and weekly bonus points when I know I have a big party to go to over the weekend. And I get a pedicure instead of a pizza when I'm proud of myself.

Celebrating at a crab feed!

It takes a village. I have been so blessed to have such a wonderful and supportive husband helping me behind-the-scenes of my weight loss effort. He makes my lunch every day! Sure, I think his original motivation was to save us money so I wouldn't buy my lunch out all the time. But once I really got committed to losing weight, he began faithfully packing my lunch with Lean Cuisines, Greek Yogurt, fruit, veggies, 2-point Weight Watchers Almond Sensation Bars (the best!) and Vitamin Water. Andrea has been a great workout buddy and we keep each other accountable, making sure we get our butts of the couch and onto the recumbant bikes and elliptical machines at Benicia Health and Fitness. My Weight Watchers leader, Norma, and my fellow Tuesday night Weight Watchers friends are a must-have to celebrate all of the 5-pound milestones. After all, it's all about the 5-point stars and the rounds of applause!

My husband the lunch-maker and official Christmas-tree-cutter-downer

Motivation is contagious. When I first started my Jen's 40 by 40 blog, my only goal was to keep me accountable to lose weight. I really hadn't considered that I would inspire others to adopt healthier lifestyles as well. But now I have a handful of friends who, inspired by my blog, have embarked on weight loss challenges of their own. Who knew?

Don't take yourself too seriously. A co-worker of mine suggested I watch Kirstie Allie's Big Life, a reality show that chronicles the actress's latest attempt to lose weight. One night, I decided to watch it. If you have seen it, you'll know that Kirstie enlists her hefty handyman, Jim, in her battle with the bulge. She makes Jim participate in weigh-ins with her, go through rigorous workouts, and frequently embarrass himself. In the episode I saw, Kirstie had six-pack abs spray painted on Jim -- a technique she noted is common in Hollywood. It was so hilarious to see his "six pack" abs sprayed onto his enormous bulging belly. Likewise, Jason Alexander, who played George in Seinfeld, recently donned spandex (and then the "full monty") on a commercial that celebrated his 30-pound weight loss on Jenny Craig. Here's a link if you haven't yet seen it:  I think a sense of humor is important when battling the bulge, and my blog has helped me add a little sense of fun and humor into my own effort.

Exercise won't kill you. Now that I've been going to the gym 3-4 days/week, some of my friends have asked me if I find exercise addicting. The answer is no. But, what I can say is that I definitely can't envision exercise NOT being a regular part of my life. This is a HUGE transformation for me. After nearly six weeks of working out My knee pain is virtually gone, which if you read the week's post about the months and months of pain I'd been having, that's really significant. I thought for sure I'd need surgery to fix it, but it turns out that exercising has helped strengthen it enough to make the pain go away. It's interesting that simple vanity didn't do enough to motivate me to work out all these years. I guess that's because it's easy to hide flabby thighs in jeans, tights and skirts. But what has kept me motivated to work out this time, is my desire to strengthen myself so I don't have do deal with joint pain and other aches associated with gettting older. I want to be strong, vibrant and healthy in my 40's, 50's and beyond.

And lastly, it feels great to be 20 pounds lighter!  I want to thank all of my friends, family members and colleagues who have been such a great support system for me. Check out my progress in pictures:

Me pre-diet at a Project Linus Event (2/20/10)

March 25, 2010

April 15, 2010

And today (after a workout)!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Picture Perfect

This week's weight loss was not as dramatic as last week's, but I did lose a respectable .5 pounds, bringing my total weight loss to 17 pounds, with 23 more to go by my 40th birthday on August 15th.

As I mentioned in last week's post, Mother's Day was also our son's 10th birthday. It was a really nice day from beginning to end, starting with me getting to sleep in until around 10 a.m., followed by Will opening his birthday gifts and me opening my Mother's Day Gifts. Piper gave me a beautiful framed painting.

Will wrote me a poem, that I just have to share:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
They are pretty...
But not as pretty as you.

Sunflowers are yellow
Shamrocks are green
They are easy to find...
But not as easy as you.

I had to restrain myself from laughing too hard at the ending's double entendre, but how darned sweet is that?

One of the most unexpected surprises of the day for me was actually being happy with the pictures that my husband took of me with the kids that day. Honestly, I can't even think of the last time I took a picture with my kids that I liked. Granted, I'm still 23 pounds away from my goal, but I've taken enough weight off already to see a real visible difference.

I don't have any photos out in the house right now featuring me, well except for our wedding pictures on the wall and the framed picture of me in the sixth grade in my Dodgers softball uniform and my Farrah Fawcett hair with my ball cap strategically placed so as to not disrupt my hair's perfect feathering (a gift my husband gave to me one Christmas because he thinks the picture is hilarious).

So to literally like the pictures from that day was really refreshing for me. I mean really refreshing.

Will and me on Mother's Day/his birthday

We decided to take the kids bowling, something Will thought would be fun for his big day, and something we have never done as a family since Piper was born more than three years ago. We had a blast, even though in the first of the two rounds we played, I came in last place. Yes, even my 3-year-old daughter beat me! And to my friends and family who have known me the longest, yes, I did attribute my defeat  to my crooked right arm.

17 pounds ago, I would have never shown this butt shot

(For those of you who don't know, my crooked right arm is the result of a swingset mishap in the '70s that resulted in a dislocation and four breaks in the growth area near my elbow that very well could have resulted in me having the arm the size of a 7-year-old for the rest of my life. Fortunately it didn't, but it did mess up my form at horse camp as a kid, as I was the only one who couldn't straighten both arms for the acrobatic horse performances. If my childhood friend and horse camp partner-in-crime Barbara is reading this, she's laughing right now and I actually think I can hear her all the way down in San Diego. She loved hearing me have to explain every year to the horse camp instructors why I can't straighten my right arm.)

But, never fear, by the second round of bowling, I redeemed myself.

Note the crooked right arm.

And while my husband thinks this photo of me is hilarious, I'd say judging by this scoreboard, I definitely got the last laugh (just to reinforce the point, J stands for Jennifer and C stands for Christian).

The day ended with a wonderful dinner at Benihana, something I worked out extra for all week and saved my 35 weekly Weight Watchers bonus points for so I could enjoy it without guilt. Benihana is a favorite birthday venue for the Whittys because, after all, nothing beats the "birthday drum" and an onion volcano to celebrate a big day.

Note the enthusiasm of the guy with the birthday drum.

Happy Birthday Will!

Here's hoping I drum up some great weight loss results this coming week!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Losing Weight is a Real Mother

I don't ever want to revisit the 70's.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVED the 1970's, the period up until I turned 10 when life revolved around chasing after the ice cream truck, collecting stickers and playing baseball with the boys down the street. 

But the 70's -- as in the period from 170 pounds to 179 pounds -- I plan to never ever visit again.  As you know from last week's blog, I had a frustrating few weeks, seemingly unable to get below 170 pounds. My body was so used to consuming a six pack of diet soda a day and sitting on the couch every night crocheting blankets for my etsy shop (, I think it kind of panicked when I replaced diet soda with water and began working out four days a week.

This week, the metabolism gods were definitely with me...I lost 4.5 pounds, bringing my total weight loss to 16.5 pounds! Here's this week's pic:

So, while I've had a great week of weight loss, another loss has been weighing on my mind in recent days.  This Sunday will be the first Mother's Day without my own mom, who died nearly four months ago after a decade-long battle with dementia. She was such a classy and talented woman. She was a published writer, an impeccable knitter and needlepointer, a devoted Kindergarten teacher, a wonderful listener, and supportive voice that always encouraged me to follow my dreams. She was the one who suggested that I  "give a nice boy a try" during a phone conversation we had when I was in college and was telling her I thought this new boy I just started dating was "too nice."  That boy is now my husband of nearly 14 years.

She's not heavy, she's my daughter: Mom and me in the 70's.

This Sunday is also my son's 10th birthday, so Mother's Day will definitely be a bittersweet day for me.  But it will be mostly sweet as we will be celebrating my son hitting the double-digits, plus I just ordered the most delectable chocolate cake smothered in a rich chocolate ganache for his big day. Will is a sucker for chocolate cake; the richer the better.

Will up to bat during his last baseball game of his single-digit years

In anticipation of Mother's Day and my son's 10th birthday, I decided to create a list of the Top 10 things I love about being a mom. In Dave Letterman style, I'll start with number 10.

10. I love how a knuckle punch and a pep talk from me can turn my son Will's stike outs into a powerful hit into the outfield.

9. I love that when our 3-year-old daughter Piper comes into our room at 4 a.m. to sleep with us, she always comes to my side of the bed.

8. I love the "teachable moments" that make me feel like Mike Brady from the Brady Bunch, without the bad perm.

7. I love that Piper loves Hello Kitty, just like I did as a little girl.

6. I love that for Will's birthday celebration he only wanted to invite two friends, Lucas and Anders, to go to Scandia and have a sleepover because, as he says, "If I invited more, I wouldn't be able to spend as much time talking to Lucas and Anders. Plus some of the other kids at school that I play with say bad words." How's that for making you feel like you're doing something right?

5. I love how soft my daughter's hair feels when she cuddles up to me and tucks her head under my chin.

4. I love when Piper sits on Will's lap with her favorite blankie and sucks her thumb.

3. I love how when my kids argue that it reminds me of when mom used to yell to my brother and me, "Someday I hope you have children just like you!" And that I understand now how she felt.

2. I love that I have never uttered the words, "Someday I hope you have children just like you!" to my own children when they bicker.

1. I love to hear "Mommeeeeeeee" when I come in the front door.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there! Yes, losing weight is a real mother, but I'm determined to lose the remaining 23.5 pounds I have left on my journey to loose 40 pounds by my 40th birthday on August 15th.