Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall


Pre-menstrual syndrome.  Do I need to spell out that godforsaken, emotional, mental basketful of goo that us lovely women get to enjoy every 28 days or so.

Sometimes, I swear that the surge of progesterone is likely to rival any hallucinagenic (although, I personally cannot attest to's what I imagine it to be).  Maybe that explains that crazy man who ate another man's face off earlier this week in Miami.  Admit it, you have had those moments of hormonal rage that could make you want to think about face chomping......(in my household, it's usually the testosterone of my family that incites my flesh off bone imagery).

In any event, with the surge of my hormones, my body image swells like one of those soak in water overnight creatures your kids get in goodie bags.  Yes, from the time I have gone to bed and have risen in the morning, I look in the mirror and this is honestly what I see.  (Note the brain searing image on your left).  <------------
So maybe I am PMS-ing while I write this....but I do not lie, nor do I exaggerate.  (You can stop laughing a the exaggerate)!  That picture is how my brain depicts the reflection of my mirror for a few days once a month!  My husband tries to persuade me that is definitely NOT how I look, with a master level of disgust and how would I ever fathom myself looking like that.  I remain stunned that he cannot see what it is that I so clearly see. 

Can hormones really warp your vision for a few days?  I say hormones are a weapon of mass destruction.  Imagine if us women were in charge of the world!

Late last week as I was having a particularly "fat" feeling day, a friend and I were chatting, and she said something that, well, stopped me in my tracks.  As I was whining about my weight, she simply said, "...but not everyone is as beautiful as you are."  I simply poo-poo'd her with her ridiculous compliment.  I do not see myself as beautiful.  Really, though - who does?!?  My friend came back with a compliment so bitch-slapping powerful that it stopped me dead, speechless for a few moments......"You are so gorgeous, it's actually disorienting!"  Wait.  What?

How could I not take this compliment from a friend who is known for her absolute brutal honestly (which I find awesomely refreshing, by the way).  I thanked her and smiled to myself for a little while.  One, because it's so great when a woman genuinely pays another woman with a compliment.  Two, because she made me feel, at that moment, I may have looked like this super-star Gabrielle Reece.

I further thought to myself, what a shame.  I absolutely feel 100% beautiful, powerful, strong, confident and so much more on the INSIDE.  What is wrong with me that I cannot feel it on the outside?  What exactly will it take to make me feel it on the outside?  I have many beautiful friends and I would feel so badly if they admitted this is how they feel.  Yet, I'm sure there are many of you out there, right?

With that observation, and amongst the salt-lick bloat of the remaining days of PMS, I try to remind myself of this image below.....there are a couple of weeks every month where I am actually disorientingly beautiful (and always, as any Curvy Girl mom will tell you -actually disoriented!  Who isn't with three kids?!?).  I cannot promise that I won't have any more fat days, but  I will try to have a more balanced perspective. 

Tell me, how do you see yourself?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I thought pregnancy math was bad. I realize now that grown-up weight loss math is so much worse.

For example, take a woman who weighs, say, 150 pounds before conceiving and add on 50 pounds for the pregnancy (it is her first baby -- nobody makes that mistake twice). If she gives birth to a 7-lb baby and a 1.5 pound placenta, how is it possible that she leaves the hospital weighing 202 pounds?

You see? Pregnancy math never adds up. And neither does weight loss math if you ask me.
I have tried a little bit of everything over the years, having been slightly overweight for my entire adult life. I have tried Laws of Attraction, Vision Boards, meditation and the Power of positive thinking -- my Zen-like mindset resulting in a growing sense of appreciation for nothing more than my growing ass. I have done Weight Watchers, gluten-free diets, veganism and I flirted with eating ‘right for my blood type.’ FitDay. Com. Something about being but I can’t remember that one anymore. My username – and my clothing size – hasn’t changed.

But I am starting to wonder if maybe the mathematical approach isn’t entirely flawed. Maybe those math minds have the right idea, and this should be well within my capabilities. I come from a long line of semi-autistic math nerds who can barely look you in the eye but who can solve the world's problems via quadratic equation. People for whom the term "nerd" is the highest of praise.

Calories in, calories out – isn’t that the way weight loss is supposed to work? Recent research has supported the notion that it isn’t necessarily that simple – that eating high-protein food with a low glycemic index is a more important focus than counting calories or points or whatever. In other words, it’s what you eat and not how much of it you are eating.

But in many ways, I am starting to come full circle back to calorie counting while using the knowledge I have accumulated in guiding my food choices within the caloric range I am shooting for. Maybe now I will stand a chance in the battle of the bulge.

Calorie counting? Meh. It hasn’t been a successful approach for me, personally, but maybe I have fudged the numbers a little too much. For example, if a glass of wine is supposed to have 162 calories, maybe I can’t use my glass beer stein and expect everything to add up.

Maybe the search term on SparkPeople has to be a little more specific than “Ice Cream Cone.” Anyone in Massachusetts who has eaten at Kimball’s knows full well that their kiddie-size ice cream cone could feed an entire Girl Scout troop.

And maybe when I click little icons indicating that I drank 10 glasses of water, I might – mathematically speaking – have to be more specific and indicate that the water was actually carbonated tonic water mixed with gin.

Clearly, I need to revisit the idea of calories in, calories out. These days, I am measuring calories, ounces, slices and minutes on the treadmill – just for shits and giggles – to see if it does boil down to simple math. My trainer – who I demonized last week but who was really just trying to help – warned me not to give up too easily. She said it can take up to a month for the results to really start kicking in.

Which indicates to me that even though it’s based in math, there’s still a little magic in there somewhere.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Why Diets Need Vacations

OK, OK. You aren't even supposed to BE on diets. You are supposed to be in a new LIFESTYLE. You are supposed to be changing direction that is ONGOING and a diet is a time period, or whatever. Or as Garfield would point out, it is a nasty word with the word DIE in it. But I digress (as always...)

So diets or changes or new outlooks or whatever you want to call what you are doing with yourself and food and those too tight shorts from last summer- they need a vacation. From time to time one needs to say, On this day- whatever goes. And I tell you why: wonderful things happen over food and you don't miss it when you are just going with the flow. And you don't spoil it by being in a sugar free rage. And you don't insult anyone when you chow down.

I have spent this Memorial Day weekend with 80% of my family in a house my parents designed and had built. I have brought friends to this house. And even though the place is huge and filled with couches and soft chairs and a space with a pool table, everyone ends up in one of 2 places- on the bricks (fair enough with the water views and sun shining and beers) or in the kitchen.

This kitchen was my mother's vision. She said everyone is always in the kitchen in every house everywhere. This includes my tiny kitchen in my house- people stand around jammed in there until I push them into other more larger spaces. My mom got rid of any thought of a dining room and made a gargantuan kitchen and threw a round table in it. THEN, when that wasn't enough, she had a man build a round table cover that was larger than the table and fit over the table to make it even bigger when the house was packed with peeps. We can seat 10 to 18/20 people that way. The kitchen is always filled when people are here. Over cocoa puffs and coffee, newspapers and donuts, lunches with bag of chips thrown in the center of the circle, 5pm with drinks and dips, and dinner with long talks during and long talks after, while various people are washing and scraping and tupperwaring. This table is our home.

Of the 5 Burke children, 4 love to cook. There is a definite hierarchy of who cooks. Dave first, Ter sous. Ter cooks, Owen sous. But every now and then it gets to be me, mom sous. Generally when we cook, we automatically are doing a healthy thing by knowing what we are making, and what is going in it. But I sometimes have to look between my fingers at what my brothers are doing. That was 2 sticks of butter. Really? Buttered steak? How much cream was that? (seriously, 2 sticks of butter?).

Oh but the eating is so fine. The conversations so funny, so intellectual. The food is rich and that heel of bread is just left on the cutting board for you to snag. Say yes to one more glass. Get filled with the food and the company. Say yes to desert. (Say no to the sambuca. Do that for yourself.) Agree to a longer walk tomorrow and another piece of cheese tonight. This isn't every day. It doesn't count if it is every day. But let it be now when all that good stuff is going on.

I cooked tonight- a great seafood stew (whose recipe will be available to y'alls at some point). What is great is I know it was very healthy and fresh. And that bread was perfectly crusty. And that birthday cake was just so box made perfect (Why F that up by going by scratch??) and I passed on the ice cream on the side (because I had ice cream after mini golf already, but who is counting?) and we all sat there and chatted, and remembered, and laughed, and learned something new. And there wasn't one bit of salad anywhere and I am still alive.

Happy Summer, Curvies et al. To a great season of cookouts, get aways, and friends meeting at the creameries.

Friday, May 25, 2012

What Is Love? A Recipe To Score!

What is love?  Baby, don't hurt me......<insert "Night At The Roxbury" Will Ferrell head shake dance>....oh wait, sorry, back to you guys! 

So, today, it's my 16th wedding anniversary and I felt compelled to share a true love recipe.  NO!  Sorry, after 16 years, this recipe is NOT related to my marital vows to my beloved husband; but instead, our holiday/anniversary weekend is going to be spent at the soccer field (where else?!?!).  As a tradition has become, especially at the soccer field,  I make these delectable, wonderful cookies and they are all the rage amongst kids and adults alike.  SCORE! 

Basically, I use my favorite Toll House recipe but I swap out the semi-sweet morsels with white chocolately goodness and I add a cup of cranberries.  Depending upon the crowd (teachers - yes; unknown students - no), I add about a cup of chopped pecans.  True love affair in a cookie, if you ask me. 

Lately, I prefer the pan cookie method - it's less time consuming (just smooosh that dough onto a sprayed cookie sheet) and the cookies stay wonderfully moist.

Seriously, these things are so worthy that for year after year, the recipients of my cookies at Christmas received these reliable morsels of love.  They come out great....every.....single....time.  Go ahead, you know you want to!  Just don't blame any extra curvaceousness on ME.

White Chocolate Cranberry Chip Cookies


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped nuts preferably pecans


PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm

These past few weeks, I have had several moments....several things that seriously make you go "Hmmmmmm."  "What the fudge" moments; moments that make me really want to find a soft corner, so I may curl up in the fetal position and suck my thumb.

Fudgy Hmmm Moments, they go quite like this:

  • My husband proudly announcing since we started the whole vegan/vegetarian thing earlier this spring, well, he has lost 16 pounds.  Yes, dear, I am so pleased for you!  Yes, dear, you look like a stud.  Yes, dear, I really want to kick you in the face and throw a massive hissy fit.  (I am down 9 and holding.....and I work out a gazillion times harder than he does and I did NOT have two greasy cheeseburgers last weekend.  Please refer to last week's post, Life Is NOT Fair).
  • I am about to be married sixteen years.  Yes, you read that right.  SIXTEEN.  16.  SWEET FABULOUS SIXTEEN.  I have been married just shy of half of my life.  May 25, 1996. 
  •  My daughter is just three months shy of high school.  I am NOT old enough to have birthed a freshman.  Dang, , I agree she looks remarkably like me, but I swear my 24 year old vagina did not birth her.  Hmph, okay, I am a terrible liar. 
  •  Yes, we are shopping for semi-formal dresses.  You know the kind.....strapless, mid-thigh, all feminine beauty aspect enhancing dresses.  My jock daughter is going for the absolute knock-out look for her semi-formal and I am hyperventilating into a plastic bag.
  •  Said daughter will be going to Washington, DC for her class trip for four days.  She has never been away from her mommy's vagina (wait, that's right, I didn't birth her).  She will be fine.  I will be in that aforementioned fetal position.  I am thankful for whomever invented the cell phones.  Thank you.  I will be that mom that texts her daughter. 
  •  My son.....will be a middle schooler.  The son who has suddenly embraced showering daily.  The son who has suddenly started fumigating the house with body spray in the early morning hours.  The son who was fixing his hair in my car reflection before scrimmaging the girls' soccer team last week.  The son who reminds me on a daily basis that he is "Awesome!" and he's got "swag".  What happened to dinosaurs and Bob The Builder?  <Insert sucks my thumb>
  •  My "better" half who has demonstrated for the upteenth time that his smaller size pants in his closet now fit him wonderfully!  Won't I have another look?  He wants to know, why do I wear the same pants all the time?  Why won't I wear some shorts when it's 88 degrees outside?
 Hmmmm, I guess I have no choice but to continue on doing boot camp.  I will embrace the lightning speed in which my children are growing; I may not like some of it...but I will have to etch each milestone in my memory bank.  I will celebrate my anniversary milestone and truly, truly be happy my husband has embraced our new healthy lifestyle.  Because I know, all my flubs and flabalanches will be loved by him regardless of whether or not I approve of my current body image.  With that, I dedicate a very Happy Anniversary to my spouse, my partner in crime, the daddy-o of my children, my own personal comedian, the guy who has put up with so much in our long time together.  <3

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

what you might refer to as a bad day

A conversation, both real and imagined

Trainer: Amanda. Welcome to the gym and good job showing up for your complimentary personal fitness consultation. It will be very un-complimentary.

Me: As long as I don’t have to step on the scale, I’m cool.

Trainer: Ok, let’s get you on the scale.

Me: Oh goodie, that’s my favorite thing to do in front of other people.

Trainer: Oh please! It's just you and me! Here, just (I get on the scale) oh. Ok.

Me: Yeah.

Trainer: So, yeah. Well, you carry it well.

Me: Thanks. Bitch.

Trainer: What are your goals here?

Me: Be active with my family. Maybe make some new friends. Swim.

Trainer: And were you hoping to lose weight?

Me: I guess? Actually, I didn’t really care much about losing weight until you brought it up.

Trainer: You weigh too much. [awkward silence] So why are you overweight?

Me. Ouch. Well, I don’t really know. I love to exercise, I eat really well.

Trainer: Well, it’s something.

Me: Yeah, I just don’t know what.

Trainer: Maybe you eat too much.

Me: Yeah, I guess. Maybe. But I eat an almost completely vegan diet, very little gluten but plenty of whole grains. Minimal sugar. Too much booze. Which, frankly, is a coping mechanism for events like this one right here.

Trainer: How is that working out for you?

Me: How’s your smug attitude working out for you?  Not so well, I suppose. But you seem to have more of a problem with it than I do.

Trainer: Look, you weigh too much.

Me: I HEARD YOU, BLONDIE! Wanna say it 5 more times so I can drive my car into a tree on the way home?

Trainer: Let’s measure you.

Me: Oh fantastic! Even better than the scale – the tape measure.

Trainer: Hmmm.

Me: What’s “hmmm”?

Trainer: You actually aren’t that big. And you are very muscular. And you have a very proportionate figure. An hourglass.

Me. Uh, thanks? God, you suck so bad right now.

Trainer: And you passed the fitness test with flying colors – great flexibility, stamina, endurance. You just weigh too much.

Me: Got that. Thanks. Maybe you could stop saying that?

Trainer: Just keep up what you are doing with your exercise. And try to eat less.

Me: Eat less. Awesome. Thanks, Einstein. This has been MOST helpful. I will go ahead and do that. Well, ok. Thanks for all your…help?  Suck it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Beauty in Friendships and in Self

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

~Audrey Hepburn

I think what I find most attractive in people, women in particular, is not their faces alone. That, to me, would be like finding a blank movie screen attractive. It is what plays across their faces. When there is nothing behind their smile, there is no real smile to return. When they are lost in a discussion between a close friend, their attentiveness and love for the person shows in the openness of the face, and sharpness of the interested eyebrows. When they are laughing at a joke, there is vulnerability. When they are searching for understanding, the earnestness of the words and pleading of the eyes are breathtaking.

When I used to spend time with friends, I felt like I was in a category. I was the fat friend (even when I wasn't heavy). The funny friend. The nervous friend. I have noticed lately that I feel less labeled. Probably because I have stopped labeling myself. I have thrown out my label maker. I don't use it on myself nor on my friends. My heart does all the work for me now. I am mature enough to be graceful about it- no need for proclamations. I know who is a good friend for me because the friendship is clean and unconditional. We don't get along because we are at a party. We just get along. We don't get along due to a shared interest. We just are. They add to who I naturally am. I can add to who they are.

So, these are things I have thought about over this Spring. Going through life changes and being as graceful as I can about it has caused me to be more introspective. To be more perceptive. And you'll be amazed by what you see when you just shut up for a while.

Do something awesome for yourself. Go email, call, text, facebook...reach out to a friend or 2 and tell them why they make you more you. And with that should come a thanks.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Getting There By Erin Cowell

Life is but a journey. This is mine learning to love my curves.

My story starts out when I was 11 years old. I had to buy softball pants for the new season. Somehow between seasons, unbeknownst to me, I grew hips. My Mother and I went down to Warners, went to the girls section and just looking at the pants, I knew, I was NOT going to fit into them. After trying on the largest pants they had to offer in girls, I was sent to the boys section. Ya, because boys have hips and that was going to work. I was so embarrassed and didn’t even want to play softball any more. We ended up buying a pair that “kinda” fit. When I say “kinda” I mean I could at least pull them up BUT because I had such a tiny waist, I had to wear a belt. I was a mess.

No one told me I was going to get hips. No one told me that I wasn’t fat either. That would’ve been nice to hear. So I spent most of my teenage years thinking I was fat. I know, not uncommon with teenage girls but it just seemed like no one else had the thunder thighs that I had. It didn’t help that back in the day, most jeans didn’t come in the variety of types as they do now. No curvy, boot cut, slim cut or boyfriend jeans. Just jeans. If they didn’t fit, you went up in a size. Skinny waist + big hips = a very dorky looking Erin.

Again, I wasn’t fat but wasn’t the healthiest either. I also wasn’t told that once you hit your teen years, you can’t eat like a 7 year old anymore. When I was 15, thankfully my Mother got on a healthy kick. And not just a “I’m going to eat cabbage for a week and lose 10 lbs” kind of kick. A “I’m going to read labels and consider what’s healthy for me and my family” kind of kick. I embraced this kind of thinking. I considered what’s going into my body and what I’m going to get out of it. I started running. I slimmed down. I accepted my body.

Sort of.

Those damn hips never went away!

 OOOOOH, you mean they’re apart of me and I should embrace them? (Ya, right!)

I kept running anyway. I hated it. I sweated, felt like puking and I sucked at it. When I first started I couldn’t even run for more than two minutes. But I kept at it. Why? Because it worked. Curves—yes, thunder thighs—no. Eventually I learned to love/obsess about running. It was a form of escape and released the stress of the day that a pint of Ben and Jerry’s couldn’t. Believe me, I tried.

I wish could tell my 11 year old self that we would run a half marathon one day. More than one! And a whole bunch of 5 and 10ks! Oh and how super bummed we get when we miss a good day of running.

Today I will love my curves. Tomorrow—maybe. Next time I’m in dressing room—probably not but at the age of thirty-szhdflkf, there not going away. I love my curves.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Foodie Friday: A SUSHI tutorial

I love sushi -- not the kind with the raw fish -- just the kind with rice, nori and veggies. Making it is not exactly simple, and it is not at all foolproof. In fact, at the end of this sushi tutorial that I have lovingly prepared for you, dear Curvy Girl readers, I am not sharing the final product. The rice, which I had prepared in advance cuz it's a busy week, was no longer sticky. So the result was a bit of a train wreck. A delicious and super ugly train wreck.

I also love swimming pools and I bet you aren't seeing the connection. Allow me to elaborate.

I have three very loud and very demanding daughters. I, myself, am a bit loud and demanding. When we are around, let's just say people are aware we're there.

We want to be invited to your pool this summer. Whether you are a longtime friend, an occasional acquaintance or a complete stranger, the answer is a resounding YES when you ask.

So I want to sweeten the deal to make you ask. I am going to come bearing homemade sushi. So here's the promise:  if you invite us, we will say yes and we will show up with goggles, towels and sushi.


Without further ado....

I am a bit of a spaz in the kitchen so being prepared is not my thing. However, with sushi, it helps to be a wee bit organized and get everything ready before you are, well, ready to roll. You'll need:

* Nori (seaweed wraps) broken in two lengthwise
* Sushi rice, prepared and mixed with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon sushi vinegar
* Filling (I use carrots, cukes and avocado)
* A bowl of cold water
* A sharp knife (which of course I don't have)
* A sushi mat (I use the table runner my friend gave me from pier 1 cuz I left my sushi mat on my last vacation and I am too cheap to buy another one)
* Lots of Patience

Lay a piece of saran wrap on top of your table runner...I mean, sushi mat. Press the rice (it helps to dip your hands in the cold water so the rice doesn't stick to them) thinly onto the saran wrap in a rectangle.

Fill 'er up. Try to distruibute stuff evenly so the roll isn't all bulgy and weird.

Now, here's the thing. This is MY method. I have no doubt that this is probably all messed up and the real way to roll sushi is like rolling a .... er, cigarette.... but this is how I do it. I bring the long edges of the saran wrap up above the roll and squeeze it together until the rice gets a chance to stick together. Then I set it down and...

roll the mat over the whole shebang, squeezing and pressing everything until I imagine its eyes popping out the ends.

 So like I said, the end result of this particular sushi roll was a freaking disaster. It definitely was not photo-worthy, but that's sort of irrelevent. It all tastes the same going down :-) THank you google images for showing the people what sushi is supposed to look like. Now get in my belly!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sometimes, Life Just Isn’t Fair

It’s a cliché, but it’s oh, so true.  Life just isn’t fair.  However, when we all come out of our mother’s wombs, there’s no Certificate of Entitlement to a life without challenges, without trials, without tribulations.

My personal life has been anything but fair.  I have encountered challenge after challenge after challenge.  I have learned to cope with each and every obstacle handed to me; some have been persevered with grace and some have been blindly stumbled, fallen, tripped and gotten back up through.  However, this is not about me. 

I have continued to try and teach my children that life is not fair.  It is simply the way it is and the only thing they can control is how they react to life, how they learn to cope with each test.  Yet, how do you explain things like cancer.  They see that their mom beat cancer.  So, why can’t my daughter’s best friend’s mom beat cancer?  Why can't  our friend's young son beat cancer?  Why can’t my daughter's prior reading teacher beat her cancer?  Why did my son's teacher's husband and son die of cancer?  Why did my daughter's friend’s dad die of cancer?  Why did our family friend’s best friend die of cancer. 

Life isn’t fair as an answer just does not seem to offer these questions justice.  I do not know.  I still struggle with this myself.  My own faith has been questioned relentlessly over the past five years.  I am sorry.  I do not find faith or answers to these questions by seeking God or religion.  I will not apologize for believing that not one of these people has a “higher” purpose.  Their purpose is here, on Earth, with their families and loved ones until they hit their ripe old age…..not battling for their lives at age 35, 47, or having their lives ended in their 40s.  I do not wish to engage in religious debate or invoke anyone’s defense of their own beliefs.  I simply have not found my answers, nor comfort, in God or any other religious beliefs.
Life isn’t fair.  Life isn’t supposed to be fair.

I was further reminded of this recently in soccer, of all things.  Many people have complained one way, or another, of how pampered and/or coddled our children are becoming these days.  The best example of this is how our regional soccer program has a so-called mercy rule.  Once a team has a six point lead, you may not score any more because it is detrimental to the losing team.  Excuse me?  More detrimental than telling your team players to simply pass around and around and around the other team because you are more skilled than they are?  More detrimental than pulling a player and playing down a “man” against the other team?  I sound like a ripe grandma, but when I was this age sometimes we got creamed in soccer, and sometimes we were the team creaming another.  That is life.  What happens when these kids get out of school, beyond helicopter parents and into the real world that has no “mercy rule”?  These kids will not have learned to cope.  Our jobs do not offer you mercy; nor do real world challenges.  You deal.

As many of us curvy girls can relate – it really isn't fair:  some of us have great boobs, but no butt; some have the perfect hourglass figure but no brains; some of us have the best hips ever but no boobs; some of us have multiple kids and can still rock a bikini whereas others cannot even rock the Miraclesuits  – life just isn’t fair. 
But… is life.  We are living, breathing, given 365 times a year to wake up and start all over again.  Not every day will be good, but there will be some good in each day.  The next time your child thinks that life isn’t fair, hug that child, tell him that no, life isn’t fair but life is good.  The next time you think life isn’t fair, remind yourself that your life is full of blessings and each moment that isn’t “fair” is a moment to reflect on all that you do have.  Life isn’t fair.  Life is short.  Embrace it.  Live it.  Love it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Finding my Mojo

Motivated by my lack of mojo last week, motivated by the drive to keep my kids occupied and cooled off during the summer, motivated by my need to make a positive change....I have done the unthinkable. I have joined a gym. A gym with a pool, but a gym nonetheless.

I know. I was just here at Curvy Girl not too long ago spouting anti-gym sentiment. And I meant it. If going to a gym is rote torture, which I suspect it is for many people, then it's time to switch things up.

But for me, right now, joining the gym IS switching it up.

I am no stranger to gym culture. In the past 8 years, I have belonged to every single gym within a 10 mile radius. Each winter, for just the coldest months of the year, I like to join a new and different one than the year before -- I am one of those rare creatures who likes change, who thrives on it.

(My husband, who abhors change of any kind, has grown accustomed over the course of our 13 year marriage to coming home from work only to find rooms re-arranged, painted in different colors, coffee mugs moved across the kitchen to a "more logical" cabinet, etc.)

Lately I have noticed that my kick-my-own-ass-spirit has gone missing. I have been cruising along on exercise auto-pilot, opting for pleasant active pursuits -- hiking with the kids, walking with friends, an occasional yoga class, a leisurely tennis match. And this is good. Great, even. But there is something missing.

As I write, it is late and I cannot sleep. I can't seem to shake the nagging sense of something I can't quite put my finger on, a distinct sense of impending imbalance, an unfortunate and unexplainable feeling of both isolation and overstimulation and the need to really journey through it or maybe against it instead of trying to roll along inside its undertow. And more than ever, I need the release.

I need to sweat, to lose my breath, to be so sore I wince everytime I sit down. I want to feel my body again, every painful muscle as it yells at me for what I did to it the day before. I want to be surrounded by sweaty people, searching for that optimum heartrate. I want to test my confidence and change in a lockeroom without shielding myself. I need to feel proud of myself, I need to feel strong.

I want something new.

And in 3 months, when I am ready for something new again, I will submit my resignation to the gym. I will don my sneakers and hit the open road, enjoy the crisp autumn air against my face. I will roll through crunchy leaves with my kids and shed that gym-rat skin, molting and renewing and reinventing what it means to be alive.

But right now, you know where to find me. Swimming laps and turbo-kicking it, scanning my keycard at the door.

 Reclaiming myself, one rep at a time, until I know where I am again. Then, and only then, I will soar.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


The new Time article and accompanying photo has, of course, instigated a lot of shock and response. There was a reason they chose to pose the pic like that rather than how a mother would normally nurse her child...if she were to nurse her child...which she doesn't have to. Some people came out of the gates running on the issue. Others remained quiet and/or semi-disinterested in the argument. My favorite reaction was from those who took a beat and then responded: Why is it a competition?

Why indeed.

It made me think about another entry I made regarding how some women react to other women's weight loss. It is natural to not always feel usually stems from a feeling of self doubt. Maybe a little guilt, maybe envy...regardless, it stems from a negative feeling and no one wants to have negative feelings. No one wants to be less than supportive. Not really.

I find it interesting that in history, women mattered little in what was known as the grand scheme of things. We were to be the woman behind the man, raising the babies, happy at home. Happy making a roast. Not making a Time magazine cover. It is perhaps rooted in our genetic make up to succeed at doing this caring, raising, feeding, whether we feel it or not. It was what our species' gender was to do. The goal. And you must keep up with the Jones' while doing it. That has changed a great deal (well, we all still try to keep up with that DAMN Jones family). We can now vote and wear red at our weddings if we want to. We can be working moms even if the income isn't necessary. We can be the woman behind the woman or the woman with a great spouse standing behind her. My guess is that article prickled most women just the same. It drew a line in the sand- which side are you on?

Why are there sides, again?

I was a nurser. It wasn't the "natural" choice for me. I found nothing about it natural at first. Once I got the hang of it- fine. Yes. I will do this. I will do this until I don't anymore. It is a sworn method of losing the baby weight (YES, that WAS a driving factor for me after gaining 7xs my baby's weight.) OK. Doing this. There were definite times that I loved it. There were definite times I didn't love it at all. After the 5th bite of my nip I was like, SEE YA! But then I had more kids and I felt I had to nurse. Had trapped myself into it. I didn't want the Thanksgiving table to erupt in 20 years with "WHY didn't you nurse me as long as you did her???" Chairs scratching back against the wood floor. Napkins thrown down over half finished plates as one or 2 of my kids stormed out. Yes. Pregnancy hormones did a number on me and that is what I saw. No, I didn't always feel trapped. But I did sometimes. And when I didn't feel trapped, I was quite blissed at moments! I had boobs! But seriously....

(I did. I had boobs)

In the whole struggle and debate with myself of how long to nurse my husband just shrugged. "Stop now.....(insert a rant of mine).... OK, stop next month to make it even.....(insert a counter rant from my previous rant)...OK, don't nurse the next one..." WHY wasn't he so TORN UP like I was about this?!?!?!? He just kept reassuring me I was a great mom. Oh the pressure.

What pressure you ask? I have no idea. In my little bubble world of family and gurgled milk smiles, there was no pressure. I wish I had seen that. It was when I stepped outside the bubble- on the the playground. On the TV. In the articles (I finally trashed my Parents subscription and upped the $$ for some People). Why do I need any more pressure? I have to lose weight, clean my house, find teething gel with flax and whey for my baby's gums, buy organic cloth diapers, keep my garden looking nice (once I found the garden), make the healthiest meals, binge eat in the basement while "doing laundry", slug wine as soon as the last nursing is done for the night, run the shower and jump in as soon as the baby wakes so my husband has to go to him/her...busy busy busy.

Just like how weight comes up now at every friend gathering, it used to be weight and nursing that came up. And I would see the look on my friends' faces who went with formula when I said I nursed. Many would launch into the reasons they chose not to nurse. I always said "whatever works! A happy mom is a happy baby!" Which is fact. (Unless happy mom only exists in the basement with all the binge eating and slugs of wine...) Some of the launchings of why they didn't breast feed would be seeeeeeping with guilt that I so wished wasn't there. Others would punch me in the face with how breast feeding was not for them with a disgusted look that I assumed they didn't mean to give me, but thanks ever so. I wanted to shout! I wanted to climb the dinosaur slide and shout "People! We are remembering to feed them! That is awesome enough!!"

And that is what it comes down to. That is awesome enough. YOU are awesome enough. And you, still in the maternity pants- YOU are awesome enough. And you, who were skeeved by the idea of nursing- YOU are awesome enough. You, who nursed until your child stopped, regardless of age- YOU are awesome enough. You, who still has the baby weight while filling out your baby's Kindergarten registration sheet are awesome enough (and DAMN you look good filling those sheets out.) You who never lets your child sleep in your bed- Rock on. You who has a family bed- Do it up! You who chews and pushes food into your baby's mou......


You who loves your child more than your own life- regardless of whether they bore you or excite you or annoy you or propel you....YOU are Awesome.


Monday, May 14, 2012

1500 calories a day and counting….

1500 calories a day and counting….
1480 calories a day to be exact.  That is what it comes down to, my plan to get back to my pre-baby weight (or at least within ten pounds).  It’s been 10 years since I had my first born, and my youngest is now 2 ½, so I think it’s time.  Over the years I have tried South Beach, Paleo, and then two years ago, counting calories.  It worked great.  My husband and I did it together, before we went on our Ten year anniversary cruise.  The baby was a few months old, and we both lost about 30 pounds.  We knew we would take a week off the diet for the cruise.   After all that dieting, we indulged. We ate at the buffets, we ate dessert and we went to the Chocoholics Buffet.  When we got home we had both gained 5 pounds. I don’t know what happened after that; we forgot about the diet.  He stopped and I couldn’t do it alone.  Life happened.  And summer BBQs, with hamburgers, and hot dogs, and potato salad….  I could go on.  Two years went by and I was still fat.  The place where the babies grew (all five of them) was still sticking out; it didn’t seem to get the message that there is no longer somebody in there.  It was time to do something!  
After thinking about joining weight watchers for a couple weeks, I looked and saw the prices.  $40 a month.  $40 that I could use to buy reward clothes when I lose the weight.  I thought about it and decided to try counting calories again, so I downloaded myfitnesspal for free to my phone.  Much to my delight, they now have a barcode scanner which makes it easy.  I don’t even have to type every food in, most are already there. 
So far it has been a week.  I don’t know exactly how much weight I have lost, because for the past month I have been avoiding the scale.  I only know that it had gotten to 4 pounds above my alarm weight (when the first number on the scale was the same as the one for my husband and he is 6’ 2” and I am only 5’ 8”).   And now the number is under.  0.8 of a pound under, but still under.  Now, I actually like stepping on the scale, because every day it is less than before, maybe a fraction of a pound less, but still less.  
So every day, I think before I eat.  I don’t taste food when I am cooking it.  I don’t eat the last square of sandwich that my daughter leaves behind.  I measure everything by a cup, or half a cup, or teaspoon, and I record it.  I can envision myself looking good in a bathing suit.  Not a skimpy bikini (because I don’t know if the stretch marks will every go away) but a nice tankini, in something much smaller than an x-large.  I have hope, and I am smiling.  I will get there.  

Amanda Conlan

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hummmmming for Hummus

SO, the thing about hummus is that I love it and it is healthy and a protein and a legume and marvelous and I wants some. You can make it yourself and it is easy-chick-peasy. What I enjoy is the ability to add what you want to it- like you can make it very garlicky or add parsley or cilantro. You can make it spicy or veggie. AND an important piece, if you are one who wants to watch the fat intake, you can make this without tahini. Will it be the same as the hummus we all know and love? No. But it won't be bad. It will be a version of it. When I was on weight watchers and counting points, this was low points without the tahini and I really loved it. I dipped. I spread it on a sandwich. I ate spoonfuls of it. Now, I am happy to have some fat in my new approach to eating foods and so the recipe I give you has tahini in it. Feel free to remove it. No one's feelings will be hurt. It also has roasted peppers because I am down with that.

  • 6tablespoons tahini, stirred well 
  • 2tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1(14-ounce) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  •   1/4cup jarred roasted red peppers, rinsed and dried thoroughly with paper towels
  • 1small garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1/2teaspoon table salt
  • Pinch cayenne (optional!)
  • 3tablespoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons
  • 2teaspoons chopped fresh parsley (I usually skip this)

1. Whisk together tahini and 2 tablespoons oil in small bowl or measuring cup.

  1. 2. Process chickpeas, roasted red peppers, garlic, salt, and cayenne in food processor until almost fully ground, about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. With machine running, add lemon juice in steady stream through feed tube. Scrape down bowl and continue to process for 1 minute. With machine running, add oil-tahini mixture in steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.
  2. 3. Transfer hummus to serving bowl, sprinkle parsley over surface, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand until flavors meld, at least 30 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil (or not) and serve.

    Here is what I am thinking of doing next time....I think I am going to roast in the oven some red pepper, zuke, and eggplant and add that trio instead of just the roasted red pepper from the jar, to the situation. Could end up a hit.