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No Cliques, Only Free Hugs!

I am so excited to be attending Fitbloggin’ 2011 in May! I know, it’s almost half a year away, but still, I am SO EXCITED! I am re-vamping and polishing my solo performance and getting soooooooooo excited to meet friends who have meant so much to me but whom I have yet to meet in person.

After last year’s conference, I heard some random grumblings and read a few blog posts about how there were “cliques” that made some people feel uncomfortable or unwelcomed. Now I hate cliques more than anyone, but it occurs to me that someone might think that *I* am part of some clique. MizFit blogged about this and my response was, it’s not a clique, it’s a friendship, and if you feel left out, then … then what? Tough luck?

I can imagine that it would be tough to go to a conference and not know anybody. And everyone is all huggy and happy to see each other, and you’re just standing there against the wall, and thinking, this sucks. Everyone is in a clique! I’m going home NOW!

I don’t want that to happen.

Recently I saw that Alan had Tweeted that he was going to get a FREE HUGS shirt to wear to Fitbloggin’. And I thought about the clique grumblings and thought, what if a LOT of people wore FREE HUGS shirts? So if anybody was there on their own, they could just go up to some random person and get a free hug, and instantly they would feel not so alone. Right? Wouldn’t it be awesome if a WHOLE BUNCH OF PEOPLE wore the FREE HUGS shirt and NOBODY felt left out?? How awesome would that be?

So right now, Team Free Hugs has two people. I would love to grow that team between now and May 2011! The rules for membership are simple:

  1. You have to attend Fitbloggin’. Although I suppose you could also participate remotely, by Twitter. But I’ll leave that campaign to someone else to organize.
  2. You have to wear something visually conspicuous that says FREE HUGS. It could be a T-shirt that you purchase here, or that you make at home with an old undershirt and a Sharpie. Your choice.  You could also tattoo it in Dayglo colors on your bicep. (MizFit?)
  3. You have to be willing to hug anyone who comes into your path looking like they WANT a hug. You’re GIVING hugs to people, not imposing them on anyone.

That’s it! Down with cliques! Up with hugs!

This is the T-shirt that I want.

Which one do you like best? Have you ever gone to a conference and felt alone? Would it have made a difference if you’d seen a bunch of people with open arms wearing this?


When Imaginary Friends Become Real

It’s a funny thing about online friends. Some people have lots of them, but never meet them. Some people basically can’t imagine befriending someone they’ve “never met.” But I’ve been making friends like this for over 15 years now, and a few of my nearest and dearest I once met in cyberspace.

This weekend I got to meet one of Foodie McBody’s first friends. Someone who reached out to me when I was in a vulnerable and shaky spot here. When I didn’t have any confidence that I could reach ANY of my goals, and who has basically cheered me from afar, invisibly, for over a year.

I finally got to meet Superwoman Spirit Shannon. She IS a superwoman in my eyes. And when we met, the fact that we first knew each other online just vanished in about three seconds. First I hugged her. Then I began laughing hysterically at the GIANT suitcase (plus another smaller one) that she had lugged with her for her visit of 3 days!

We had the most amazing time together. Working out (every day!), eating, talking, laughing. It was very very hard to let her go last night. Here’s a little photo album/recap of our time together.

Fresh off the plane, she came to my WW meeting!

First she came to my WW meeting. This was such a big deal because the weekly meeting topic was “The Importance of Support.” How timely, right? My “prop” to open the meeting was a box of Kleenex because every time I looked in her direction, I started tearing up. I told the story of how she had supported me for so long and how I never could have kept it up without her friendship. I almost started bawling. All true!

Shan, DJ and me!
Shan is killing the Ropes of Doom!

The next day, I took her to see my awesome trainer Doug Jones. He welcomed her with open arms and a killer workout. She did GREAT. She totally beat me on the jumpropes (my personal nemesis) and held her own on the ropes of doom. DJ loved to yell, “UTAHHH in the HOUSE!” LOL.

After she spent a day at work with me, we visited her first Whole Foods where I introduced her to Fage yogurt and other delights. That was a trip! Friday night, I took her to her first author reading  – Kate Moses reading from her very foodie memoir, Cakewalk, at the awesome Great Good Place for Books. We ran into a friend of mine. I introduced Shannon and the friend asked how we met. When we said “online,” the friend gave us the most CURIOUS look, like WTH?! Really?!?! Yeah really! The reading was really powerful. I am looooving this book and will be reviewing it as soon as I finish.

On Saturday, we took a hike through the foggy forest near my house and I got to point out the Imaginary View. (how apropos!) Then we took off for a super whirlwind tour of San Francisco that was truly only the tip of the iceberg. She has to come back! There is so much more to see and do (and eat, LOL).

First stop: Chinatown. Dim sum. (her first) YUM!

yum yum dim sum!

Then we drove around San Francisco. We had to do Lombard Street.  It’s so ridiculous and cheesy and touristy (and CHOKED with tourists wielding cameras) but I love it. Views of Alcatraz. North Beach. Japantown. FUN: I took her to get some (first time) manju at Benkyodo, then we went to the best stationery store on earth, we snarfed down a strawberry & ice cream crepe at Sophie’s Crepes, and had a riot in the Pika Pika sticker booth. (oh that reminds me I have to scan our pics!) Then I took her through the Haight, Golden Gate Park to wave at the buffalo, through my old neighborhood (outer Richmond, 43rd & Balboa!) and to my favorite park in the world, where I introduced her to my favorite tree (she has the photo of this, will have to link later!). Then we went to the almost-completely fogged in Golden Gate Bridge and nearly froze our tootsies off walking about halfway across and back. BRRRRR!!

brrrrrr Golden Gate Bridge is in there somewhere

After that we hightailed it back to Oakland for a yummy Indian dinner (another first for Shannon and hey Mikey! she liked it!!) Then home. Collapse.

mmm veggies!

Sunday morning! Farmers Market. Shannon bought some super-juicy mandarin oranges and some sugar snap peas as healthy souvenirs for her family. Then I had to bring Shannon to her very first Nia class. Of course she LOVED IT and is now scheming how to get to one in Utah. It was truly an awesome class (thanks Danielle!) which featured TWO Michael Jackson songs, the theme from Flashdance, Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” (which totally flipped me out with its mention of Gollum) and a song about being grateful for friends that got me ALL choked up. Good good times! Great sweat!

The rest of Sunday I hunkered down with my script and prepared for my show. Wow that was great. I was the headliner (which I didn’t find out till I arrived at the theater)! Woo hoo! So many awesome friends showed up, including Pubsgal (another type-2 diabetes and 5k runner kindred spirit!) and Dailykat from the blogger/Twittersphere. (hey, you know, any Twitter or blogger friends who come to my show will get a SHOUT-OUT from the stage – I’ll write you into my script, no kidding!) It was a little nervewracking waiting to go last, but my other performance stars ROCKED and were just amazing. (note to locals! or visitors! LAST CHANCE to see show this Sunday at City Solo! Buy tickets QUICK before they sell out!)

After the show we went over to Mel’s Diner for a bite. I was raveeeeeeeennnnouusssly hungry after expending about a million calories of nervous energy. Big fun to hang out together!

It was an incredibly special weekend. I loved every minute I spent with Shannon. We have so much in common, even beyond health and fitness, it’s almost surreal. The time went by WAY too quickly and now I can only wait hopefully for the next time. For any of you who have not yet met an “imaginary friend” in real life, I really recommend it.

A Very Foodie McBody Christmas

I had a great Christmas. It was one of the nicest Christmases I can actually ever remember. Even though I was out shopping late Christmas Eve, something I swore I would not do, I was still in good spirits throughout.

Foodwise, I had a pretty decadent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I am certainly up a few pounds. But that’s really the end of it. (I am so relieved!) I don’t have any big plans for New Years’ Eve, and I don’t celebrate Boxing Day. I don’t even know what Boxing Day is. I guess I could look it up. Okay, so they say it’s a day of “cold buffet” (ie., leftovers?!) and parlour games.  That just seems… um, obvious?

On Christmas Eve, we went to our neighbors’ house for their traditional jumbo breaded fried shrimp and cookie and champagne fest. Ah, it was so good. I had two champagne cocktails, about 4-5 giant shrimp and about five cookies. Which I can tell you is a fraction of what I ate last year, and previous years. I enjoyed every bite of those things, and I felt full but not painful when I left.

Yesterday we had ham, turkey, some incredibly decadent scalloped potatoes, creamed spinach.  All of it (except the scalloped potatoes) we got from the Honeybaked Ham store. Now I know that HB ham is probably not the most nutritious thing on earth. I know it’s all injected with glucose and salt and chemicals and stuff. Do I care? Hmm. Last year and before, I’d say probably not. But for me, Christmas dinner has to be all about EASE. I can’t cope with shopping, cleaning, wrapping etc AND cooking some multi-day meal. Maybe if I lived near a bunch of relatives where everyone makes a dish. But it’s pretty much all on me so it has to be easy.

Our easy Christmas morning breakfast is traditionally those giant Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, yeah the Cinnabon kind. We wake up, make the giant rolls, then open presents. It’s that typical Christmas morning smell. It’s also.. yeah, easy. But I felt kinda sick after my roll yesterday and felt like, I wish I’d made a nice caramelized onion frittata or something else proteinish for breakfast. Again, no time. Next year I might consider tweaking this particular tradition. Or maybe not. Hey, it’s just ONE DAY. I don’t need to eat another Cinnabon for another year.

I got some fabulous presents this year. Some of the best ever. One was a BodyBugg, which I have been desiring ever since I started watching Biggest Loser. I am very excited about really knowing the calories I’m burning. I have not quite figured it all out yet. I was hoping to get it rolling this morning but I’m still having some technical difficulties. So I’m gonna have to wait until tech support is on hand, probably Monday.

I also received a panini press, which I have been wanting for eons. I am so excited about this. I love warm sandwiches. I love grilled cheese. The great thing about this is that it makes warm sandwiches without having butter all over the bread, which is a huge calorie saver. And I can also use the great thin low-point bread. So it’s all good! We had some leftover ham-and-cheese paninis just now and they were amazing. I’m excited that you can also grill meats (like chicken breasts!) and veggies (like eggplant!) on this machine. I am jazzed, baby.

Santa also brought our family an ice cream machine. I admit this is not exactly a WW endorsed product (HA) but I am feeling happy and confident. Just because we have an ice cream machine does not mean we are going to be eating ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But right now there is some homemade vanilla churning away and I am excited.

One of the gifts I gave myself yesterday is that I registered for the Kaiser Permanent Half Marathon in Golden Gate Park on February 7th. A friend of mine is having a Big Birthday that day and she asked for friends to join her in this event.  What a great way to celebrate, right? I am not at all sure my ankle will be able to put up with much running but I’ve decided to racewalk most of it and jog a little if I can.

Last night we watched Julie and Julia on DVD. I love that movie so much. A feature film about a blogger! A food blogger! That alone made me so happy. As did all the food. And best of all the beautiful relationships between the women and their supportive husbands. It made me laugh and cry.

So it was a great Christmas, one of the best ever. It’s the day after, and I am not awash in regret and self-loathing. I’m quite happy. And now I’m going to the gym!! Hope you all had a great holiday. oxoxo

Christmas Eve Talent, Unleashed!

So the awesome MizFit Online has requested that the blogging community participate in the first-ever Christmas Eve Day Virtual Talent Show. How could I resist? I could not.

I laughed my face off at some of the other amazing talent that showed up today!

Josie over at YumYucky takes the cake, by inventing the first-ever cheesecake flavored water! Don’t try this at home! (I sure won’t)

Pubsgal at Opposite Life plays a darn good kazoo.

Fab Fattie Shannon-Knievel performs some absolutely death-defying stunts in the snow. WOW. LOL!

Mary at A Merry Life is a world-class, Olympic level eye roller.

Karla rocks at Healthy Scrabble. Woot!

MizFit has had some sadness in her life recently. She needed some cheering up. I really hope this helped do it for her!! And to all of you in this awesome healthy-blogging community out there, you ROCK. I hope you have a beautiful holiday time.

A Reader Asks: “Dear Foodie…”

I got an email from a reader recently! Asking for my opinion regarding her teenaged daughter. First of all, I am honored that anybody would ask my opinion on ANYthing.  Let me say that I am not a big expert at this – far from it -(just read my posts from January!!) but I do have some thoughts about most things and am glad to share what I’m thinking. So that’s just it… my opinion.  Here’s the question.

Q: I have a 16-year-old daughter who would like to lose weight but doesn’t get a lot of exercise. I think she would die rather than go to a WW meeting. We already tend to keep healthy foods around the house, and she makes fairly good food choices compared to a lot of American teenagers. But without tracking her eating, and without a lot of exercise, she doesn’t lose weight. Any suggestions for how to help a teen in this kind of situation?

I suppose one answer would be to help her learn to track points on her own, using my WW materials but without having to enroll herself. But I am not sure she will have the discipline to track, and I don’t want to put myself in a position of having to bug her or be the bad guy about food — I fear that the more involved I get, the more likely it is that she will say, “f— you, Ieave me alone, I’m going to eat whatever I want.”

Well, I’ve been mulling this over for a few days now. It’s a big answer! A long answer. With many facets and layers. Without writing an entire BOOK on the subject, here are my thoughts.

Motivation: This is one of the biggest factors in being able to lose weight, I believe.  Mathematically, I think that M (motivation) must > All Those Factors Conspiring Against Weight Loss (love of foods, emotions, environment, inertia, etc) or else it can’t work. And to be honest, I did not find sufficient M in my life until I was 49 years old. (do not use me as an example! just sayin!) My motivation was Health, pure and simple. And until I found that particular motivation, my M was ALWAYS < All Those Factors.

When I was 16, being motivated by health was the LAST THING on my mind. Hell, it was the last thing on my mind when I was 40. I just felt like I could do Whatever for However Long, and it would not catch up with me.

SO is it hopeless? NO. You just need to help this 16 yr old figure out her OWN motivations, which can be similarly compelling, just different. They are much more likely to be socially based, like, “I want to feel comfortable in a bathing suit.” “I want to be able to look good in any outfit at Urban Outfitters.” “I want to feel HOT.” (or whatever) One of the best tools for this is the Beck Diet Solution, which helped me a LOT at the start of my journey. It is all about tapping into one’s own particular Motivation and keeping that front-and-center at all times. Because it is SO easy to just Not Care.

The other thing is to separate Her desire to lose weight, from Your desire to have her lose weight (because you know she will be happier and healthier). For many many years, I could not FIND my own desire/motivation because it was clouded and all tangled up by what I PERCEIVED to be my spouse’s desire for me to lose weight. And I rebelled against this big-time. For YEARS. I couldn’t focus on what I wanted to do because I thought I was doing it for HIM, and that was a major losing proposition all the way around. It upset me and made me want to eat more. Which I did. So you have to take a deep breath and let her know that it’s HER choice/decision etc and not yours, even though you are there to support her.

HOW to do it? I do not know if tracking is the answer for a 16 y old, although it might be intriguing for her, just on a curiosity level. To just lay it out mathematically, pure and simple. Once she’s decided that she is motivated, it’s just a matter of math. Calories in have to < Calories out.  Part of losing weight means being more conscious and knowing what you are doing in that regard. I wonder if she would like having something like a Body Bugg, which measures calorie output. (I want one sooooooooooooo bad!!!!!! Santa please!) You know that people constantly underestimate the # of calories they eat (why tracking is so useful!) and overestimate their calories burned. So it’s a great reality check tool.

It might be interesting for her to just try tracking food FOR ONE DAY. Just to see. Just to understand WHY her body might be hanging on to some weight. It could be illuminating.  But you are RIGHT about not bugging her or being the bad-guy Tracking Police, because that will blow up in your face faster than you can say deep-dish pizza with extra cheese. She’s gotta find her own method.

Support: Losing weight can be a very isolating, sucky experience. It pretty much was for most of my life. But it can also be super fun and awesome and exciting if you have the right friends. (shout-out to EVERYONE who blogs, tweets, reads and comments with me!) Does she have any friends who might want to be her weight-loss buddy? This would make it so much less mortifying and “oh shit I am the only loser who needs to do this.”  YES, I can see her not wanting to be caught dead with all us Oldsters at WW. (although there is a nice 17 yr old who comes in with his mom to one of my meetings, he is awesome!) So I think it will be absolutely critical for her to find others HER AGE who are on the same path. There are plenty of way-cool bloggers who are much younger than me, who could be great role models. (PEOPLE- HELP ME OUT: can you recommend any cool teen weight-loss bloggers?)

She needs to find some form of activity that she considers Fun. Again, doing it with a Buddy is going to make ALL the difference.  I think having something like a pedometer (measuring steps per day, and doing a mini-competition? With prizes??? :-)) or a Body Bugg would be fabulous.

Lastly: Dara Chadwick blogs about girls, moms, weight and self-esteem. She’s written this great book. I bet she’d be able to give you even more informed and useful advice.

I think you are an AWESOME mom for your concern and wanting to support your kid in this way.  It’s fantastic that she already has your support and that you already have healthy food around. The biggest thing is to gently guide her in choosing her OWN path that she wants to take.

Those are my two cents for the moment but I really hope that lots of readers will chime in with comments. Help me out, folks!

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