with Lynne and Leslie
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It’s 2018! Doing my part to make it less of a dumpster fire than 2017!

by SweetMidlife

We wish you a Happy New Year!

 

Happy 2018, ya’ll! This is Leslie, who is sitting at Lynne’s kitchen table with a cup of coffee and a whole lot of grandiose plans about what I’m definitely going to and not going to do over the next 12 months.

This is largely speculative nonsense.

There is no way that we can say exactly what we’re gonna do in the future because we don’t control it. Stuff happens – death, hurricanes, job losses, illness – that throw the most monkiest of wrenches into the best laid plans of mice and men (and yes I mixed some metaphors and references that don’t belong to together. Have now made them a thing. They’re a thing now.) Elections go drastically differently than we expected. Friends and family members don’t show up the way we expected. Everything, as Dog’s Eye View once said, falls apart.

So should we just pack it in and go back to bed until 2019? Of course not. That’s unrealistic and unless you’re independently wealthy you probably have to work, as you have found that American Express doesn’t accept “fear-based inertia” as payment. There’s a lot happening in my life that is uncertain – my newspaper is being sold and I have no idea what that means for my job and my future . I’m trying to sell a book. My lease is up soon. My kid insists on getting older and needs stuff.

I mean, we can plan. Plans are good. Will and self-control are good. I plan to work out every day and hit my 10,000 steps on ye old Fitbit. This is something I am resolved to do. However, if my kid gets sick and I have to schedule a doctor’s appointment during my appointed workout time, or if it rains and I can’t go running, or if work just rears its unpredictable head and completely throws my schedule for a loop, that might not happen every single day. I could maybe try to go to the gym instead and get 8000. Or do some sort of video when my kid goes to bed and not just sit in my room and catch up on “The Bachelor.” Plans can change. Our intention for those plans can remain steadfast. Maybe I have to get 15,000 tomorrow.

That does not solve my love of potato chips. It doesn’t change racism, or sexism, or nuclear war. It doesn’t guarantee my job. But here’s what it does do – it makes me healthier and more alert. It gives me meditation time that is all my own to talk to God or to myself or sing Night Ranger songs real loud, because Night Ranger workouts are a thing and if you don’t know this you are missing out. It gives me more energy to write better at my job and to pitch this book, which is good and you should buy it when it’s out. It makes me more likely to be prepared to make my lunch before my son wakes, ensuring more control over the healthiness of it and that I’m not spending more money than I should on lunches out. It gives me preparation for the rest of the day, physically and emotionally and makes all the other stuff coming at me easier to manage. I can’t control that stuff. But I can at least try to walk around my room a couple of times and give some thanks and hum Night Ranger’s “The Secret of My Success” to myself as encouragement while dodging that stuff. (And as the song says, that secret is that I’m living 25 hours a day. 22 of which involve avocado products.)

This doesn’t mean that no one I love will be sick or die, or that I can’t lose my job, or that I will sell my book. It just means that I can control one little part of it, the part that is mine. I can try to be a better friend, a better mother and daughter and sister. I can be neater and on time and write things down in my calendar. I can be a better listener and put my phone away. That doesn’t stop everyone’s chaos but it can at least lighten mine.

We don’t know what 2018 has in store for us – as I wrote earlier, 2017 sucked in a lot of ways but that’s relative to what happened to you in 2016 or 2015. It’s going to be big – I know that big changes are coming for me and that hopefully they’re really good. And if they’re not, I hope I can learn from them. That’s all I can do. Besides finish this coffee and go dance to “Sister Christian” in the corner till my kid comes back downstairs.

 


What to Wear: A Stitch Fix Update or I actually bought some clothes!

by SweetMidlife

striped dress

This is Leslie, and this is me, Spanxless, in a fitting dress. And I only slightly look like the anaconda that ate Jon Voight.

This striped dress came in my second Stitch Fix box yesterday, and I admit to being dubious, especially since only liking one necklace last time and having such great luck actually picking things out last week at Runway Consignment. But the gamble remains the same – last week I had more luck with stuff that was chosen for me, and even though the Stitch folks don’t know me, I was willing to give them a try again.

stitch paper

This box was actually more successful – I’m not sure if the stylists are checking my Pinterest boards, one of which I set up to give them hints of what I like, as was suggested (Cross-promotion is magic!), but it was pretty close.

I liked the necklace you see above but not enough for $28. The pants were great, but I just didn’t feel like spending $78 on them. Great pants are hard to come by so I sort of regret that, but I am convinced that now that I’m familiar with this brand, Liverpool, I can find them cheaper elsewhere. I may be wrong.

There was a devastatingly soft heather zippy cardigan in the box, and I am always drawn to slouchy heather. But I live in Florida, it’s heavy and I don’t need a statement piece of fleece here. If it’s too nice to wear to the gym, I can’t wear it all the time – very seasonal for a season we don’t get. And the slouchy neck top was cute but not special.

However, the dress up top was special. I knew it from the moment I opened the box, and I couldn’t wait to try it on. I was working at the time at home and made myself wait until I finished to play in the box. When I did it was the first thing I threw on, and while it wasn’t great without Spanx, those elastic wonders made it look perfect. The above photo is this morning, au natural, because I wanted to see what it would look like. Not bad. But I’m packing the Spanx in the gym bag. #nocommando

So that’s me for this week. I think I’m gonna keep this for a while and see what happens. What are YOU wearing?


Running up that hill: starting all over again

by SweetMidlife
That is 2005 Marathon Lynne on the left, her fierce twin on the right.    That is our friend Funnel T. Cake on the plate.

Us in 2005, fiercely fierce with the fierceness.

Leslie here!

My fabulous sister wrote a really great post a few weeks back  http://sweetmidlife.com/?p=2714 about how the 2014 version of herself was just as fierce, in a different way, than the sleek marathon-running 2005 version, and about how she was embracing the earlier Lynne’s ability to crush it by figuring out how New Lynne can do that and still live her current life.

I read that intently as we are twins and were at similar levels of crush at 34, and have similar interest in re-crushing it at 43. We also both really love running, not just for its weight loss possibilities, but because it’s transformative mentally and spiritually. I love yoga, but I have meditated more deeply, more truly while sweating and pounding on a path by the water with the sun coming up than I ever have in a darkened room with quiet intonations and cymbal-y music. Maybe I’m just weird or a glutton for punishment.

Or maybe it’s the rhythm of your heart, that’s beating like a drum (thanks, Rod Stewart!) to the time of your feet, to your breath, to the water and the sky. And even though you’re in pain, and your muscles are screaming at you, and you’re noticing that you’re running past the home of a friend who would surely drive you home….you keep running. You NEED to run. Or shuffle. Or crawl. You gotta get there. The rhythm demands it.

Anyway, I want back in. I started running again, just 20 minutes at a time, a few weeks ago, and I find that I crave it. I plan to run a 5K – my first race in nearly three years – in December, and I’m thrilled and terrified all together (thrillified? terried?) This is my running morning, and as I write this and drink the green juice of repentance for what I ate this weekend, I find myself imagining the things I’m gonna see as I run – the mothers pushing strollers, the pretty houses with “For Sale” signs, the little details I never notice when I’m driving. And I’m hungry for it…certainly hungrier than I am for his green juice. But it’s all a part of the run.

And I’m ready. Who’s coming with me?


Doing This For Real This Time

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here!!!

 

So, a few months ago, I wrote about how I was breaking up with Weight Watchers, my go-to for, gosh, over 10 years for getting back on track with weight loss. Because it never stays lost with me. It always comes back, and year after year, it comes back and brings its friends. When I wrote that post back in October, I had lost the weight I gained after giving birth the year before, but i was stagnating, and feeling like a failure. So a friend suggested that I read this book about mindful eating, called “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat”, by Dr. Michelle May. The idea is that if you learned to eat when your body was actually hungry, your weight would go to where it should, because you are naturally regulating what you eat based on what your body actually needs. I thought this sounded great! No counting! No points! I bought the book on my Kindle and started reading. And it all made sense.

Except I wasn’t actually doing it. Well, I thought about it some, then I would feel sad, and would want to eat. Then I would feel bad about that and give up and eat more. And I gained the weight back, about 15 pounds of it. And then this winter was full of injuries and sicknesses and other things that set me back from working out, and that didn’t help. And I had a moment recently when I looked at myself and wasn’t happy. I looked like someone with my face that ate me. And I thought about going back to Weight Watchers, but not because I wanted to, but because I felt hopeless. And I wrote my really smart friend who counsels people on weight issues, and I remembered that he was the one who suggested the mindful eating thing. And that the reason it wasn’t working was that I wasn’t following it.

So I bought the book again, this time in hard copy so I can make notes, and it is going well. I am learning that if you can pinpoint why you eat and really monitor and take stock of those reasons, you can decide if you are actually hungry. What I realize is that I have made food not about eating, or even enjoying it. I eat when I am tired. I eat when I am celebrating. I eat because other people are eating. I eat because I have extra money in my pocket. I eat because I think I deserve it. And when I eat too much, I feel bad about it, like I have failed. Not a good way to live.

So, I am still going through the book, and but I like the main point so far, which is that ultimately, we are in charge of our lives, and we make our own decisions, but that if we base them  on what we need, we will enjoy it more. We went out for my husband’s birthday a few weeks ago, and we ordered queso and chips. And I slowly ate my fill. And I LOVED EVERY CHEESY BITE. And when my meal came, I had it wrapped up to take home, because I was full. And I was fine with that decision. Now, I am eating more well-rounded meals than cheese and chips, but I am learning to take time and think about what I am doing and not letting the cookies control me. This is hard. I have to unlearn things. I still have days that I fall back on eating because it is there. But I am more aware now. I swear,  I went to the fridge the other to grab something but I realized that I wasn’t hungry. And I actually got angry, because I felt like I was supposed to eat. But I took a deep breath, and realize I was just avoiding cleaning my kitchen. So I did that. And I ate when I actually wanted food. And my sink was clear. And I actually enjoyed my yummy food and clean kitchen. And I think I can do this. Step by step. I am already feeling less bloated, have dropped a few pounds (I am also back working out), and I just feel like less of a mess. I am riding this to see where it goes. But I like it. And I will keep checking in so you guys can ask me how I am doing. Okay?


Mary Mary’s Erica Campbell, “modesty”, representing God and giving each other a freaking break

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here, still simply having a wonderful holiday time in the Sweet Midlife northern offices, watching our office assistant eat cereal with his hands. He’s not that good at typing but he’s got the hand cereal thing down.

Like a lot of people facing the end of the year with some changes they’d like to make in the next one, I’ve been seeing a lot of photos of famous folk who have made some changes too, including in the poundage department. One of those folk is Erica Campbell of the gospel duo Mary Mary, a beautiful lady who was introduced to the public when she was younger and heavier, but is now a more svelte, albeit curvy, married adult. She has written publicly about her struggles with weight, and specifically said that her quest to be more fit was not about her public image but to honor and protect the health God gave her, for herself and her family.

Campbell put some photos on Instagram promoting her upcoming solo album, and Sister looks gorgeous. She could also not be any more covered up – She’s wearing a form-fitting white dress with a turtleneck that covers, you know, her neck, with sleeves to her wrist and a hemline falling below her knees, with only her lovely shins, hands and face showing. Yes, the dress shows her curves, because why shouldn’t it? She’s grown. She’s married. She’s beautiful. They’re not sexual. They’re “Here’s me looking my best.”

You would think that the Christian community would clap their hands and celebrate not only her continued success in the business, but also hold Campbell up as an example of how to be healthy and beautiful while upholding recognized standards of appropriateness. (I hesitate to use the word “modesty,” because its modern connotation too often puts the onus on young women to be the bastions of propriety, giving them the responsibility to keep young men honest and blaming the girls and not the guys if things get out of hand. That also negates the girls’ own sexual identities and just focuses on them as tools of the devil or something backwards like that.)

But that applause, if it was there, has been overshadowed by what Bob Geldof might call the clanging chimes of doom, or, as we in the church community call it, much shade.

And I wish I was surprised.

Stacey Woods, a pastor with a large Internet presence, wrote a very public indictment of the photos that I imagine is supposed to be convicting but which seems to be shaming this woman for having a body while claiming to be in the body of Christ. She writes  “This is not ok. Yes, you are a beautiful, curvy woman but no ma’am you are singing the gospel of Jesus Christ. We compel men to come through our love for Jesus, but when we wear things that are distracting, the message is somehow lost and it becomes about us and not about Him.”

Oh, for Pete’s sake. To quote the esteemed “Field of Dreams”‘ James Earl Jones’ Terence Mann reacting to Kevin Costner’s Ray’s indictment of his writing as a wedge in the generation gap between him and his late dad, “It’s not my fault you didn’t play catch with your father!” That means, of course, that whatever stirrings of rebellion and dissent existed between them were already there when Ray read Mann’s work, and wasn’t his fault. And if a man is struggling with his focus on spirituality and a well-shaped woman causes him to stray from an Instagram photo, that’s not her fault. Erica Campbell’s sole purpose in the world is not to stop been from thinking bad thoughts. Her witness as a Christian, and as a person trying to make money as an artist, is also for women who might want to be healthier but still be vibrant, and for her and God. She said herself that being healthier was part of her way to honor God, and if she chooses to show that in a TURTLENECK DRESS DOWN PAST HER KNEES, then your struggle is between you and God. Don’t put that on her.

Lynne writes about her spirituality more than I do on this page, but my relationship with God is something I take very seriously, while still understanding that it is MY RELATIONSHIP. I understand that Erica Campbell chose at an early age, and still chooses, to make her relationship with God public, and to use it to inform others. She is a public person and therefore subject to scrutiny. But…and I’m gonna be real here, because I think we can be, right?…women can be so hard on each other. And it doesn’t change when it’s under the auspices of religion, or race, or national pride. I am sure that Pastor Woods thinks she’s making a statement that will instruct and protect, but by going to that ‘Your job is to not distract men from God” space, she’s negating Sister Campbell’s autonomy as a Christian and as a woman. She also questions her Christian sincerity, which is neither her place or her business.

There’s another thing – people in the black community, and in parts of the black Christian community, are all about telling you your skirt’s too tight but not addressing the obesity that is killing us. Why aren’t we saying “In the name of God, take care of your bodies?” Ruben Studdard, the famously fluffy “American Idol” winner and recent “Biggest Loser” contestant, told me a couple of weeks ago that sometimes we in our community don’t support each other, maybe out of jealousy, and because we project our own struggles onto other people. He recalled hearing people audibly prefer Luther Vandross when he was heavier – “‘So what you’re saying is you like Luther unhealthy,'” Studdard told me.

I want to believe that the admonishment of Pastor Woods, and of others, is about what they believe is a Biblical and cultural duty. And they are entitled to their opinion. Campbell, for her part, has said that she’s sorry she offended people but that she thought the photos were cute and appropriate, and other people, including singer (and Christian attractive person) Yolanda Adams, have given her their support.

As humans, we have complicated reasons for the things that we champion or demonize, and because I don’t know Pastor Woods I can’t get into her head. I do wish that she’d maybe addressed her statements to Campbell personally, or not hung her out as a bad witness to men. This reminds me of the Miley Cyrus “slut-shaming” situation, where women, including me, addressed concerns about what appeared to be her publicly losing her mind in a Twerky, humping, naked flourish. A lot of people were like “What will your young fans think? It’s your responsibility to always be a role model for them and not make them be slutty!” I think that’s stupid – if Miley is the fragile gateway between you and a life of shameful Twerkitude, maybe you need to examine your own soul (and your own butt.) My issue was more that I wasn’t sure this was going to lay a foundation to be taken seriously as a older artist once this stage was over.

But that’s on her, just as Erica Campbell’s career is on her. It’s not on you. And your struggles are not on her. She can be a beacon, but if a stranger is causing you to struggle, don’t look at the pictures. But don’t make their existence your excuse. It’s not their job, and it’s not hers.

What do you think?


In search of a smaller size: The good and bad things about fruits and veggies

by SweetMidlife


(by Leslie)

The Good: Fruit has no Weight Watcher point value, meaning that you can eat a lot of it within reason – as a former WW leader I know used to say, “Eat a lot but don’t eat the whole orchard.”

– It’s tasty.

– It’s healthy and you should be eating it anyway.

– it’s way portable, depending on the fruit. Watermelons, for instance, are not.

The bad: Eaten in significant quantities, the fiber content can make a girl…fibery. In the tummy region. And a little gassy.

– That’s pretty much it. But it’s significant.


“Sweet” Half Marathon training, Week 1: Or Owww!

by SweetMidlife
I can run now!

Leslie here!

Eight years ago, Lynne and I ran the Baltimore Marathon, through downtown, through Fort McHenry past the harbor where ship-bound prisoner Francis Scott Key penned a long poem as his young country fought for its survival, past our old high school and through Johns Hopkins as students dressed like tigers played Survivor and handed out Gummi bears. It was hard, and tiring, and slow, but by the end we felt great, looked great and guiltlessly wolfed down funnel cake.Screw you, Weight Watchers. I just burned like a million activities points! I am Iron Man! Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah give me cake! And don’t bogart that wine, neither!

We’d just run 26.2 miles. We were 34 years old, had flat stomachs, great legs and the world on a string. I could eat pretty much anything, for the first time in my life, and it just fell off me like sweat. I was a machine. I ran 5Ks every weekend for fun. It was awesome.

This is eight years later. And this is no longer the case.

I am 42 years old. My stomach is so not flat that an obnoxious woman at a dinner told me she was surprised I didn’t have any kids. (She was also a horrible person, because who says that to a stranger they’re dining with, at least if they’re not running out the door far away as they’re saying it? Jackass.) My knees and ankles have seen better days, and so has my butt.

But this morning, I was out running by different water, through the grounds of the Flagler Museum and the former home of the man who made Palm Beach possible, past mansions and boats. My breath is harder. My ankle is a little achier. I see the bridge ahead of me, a mile still from where I can stop, and I think “I can’t do this.”

Today it’s just four miles. But in 11 weeks I’ve committed to running 13.1, for the Southernmost Half in Key West, sponsored by Pat Croce’s Rum Barrel Bar and Grill. Ha ha rum sponsored race! Reminding me of what I have to stop drinking, or at least stop drinking less of, and the sacrifices I have to make, the extra sleep I need, the invites I’ll have to turn down. This will be my fifth half since 2004, when my running spirit guide Kristen kept me going through the rainy streets of West Palm Beach fueled on competition, Bon Jovi songs and her New England pluckiness. And it’s the first one I’m running completely alone – she ran most of the Miami half with me unofficially, and Baltimore, while Lynne and I did Baltimore together in 2009. I did the Ragnar, an awesomely insane relay on a team of 12 from Miami to Key West, a year and a half ago, and it was exceptionally difficult. I wasn’t ready, and it showed. But I gutted through.

This morning, as I make my way up the bridge, I think about why I’m doing this. I love running – I truly do – and even though my podiatrist shakes his head at me every time he sees me because he thinks running is the world’s stupidest endeavor ever, nothing gives me the high that I get gliding (or lumbering) through my city under my own power. I have been cheating on running, doing all kinds of other workouts like CrossFit, which I love. But I’m giving it up, because while it’s changed my butt and made me able to hoist boxes above my head, it hasn’t done a thing for my endurance.

And half marathons are an endurance game.

So here I am, back over the bridge, sweating and wanting to stop, less than a mile to go. And my ankle is reminding me to check out those Dr. Scholl’s inserts that Pretty Dolvett from “The Biggest Loser” is always hawking on TV. Why am I doing this? I want to lose 30 pounds, and the Weight Watchers is helping, as is my husband’s sudden turn to fitness, because I am not going to be the fat wife of the hot guy. Also, I promised my Daddy before he died I was gonna do this, because he’s the runner that made me want to be one.

All of those are good reasons. But my husband isn’t hear. Neither, sadly, are Daddy or Dolvett. (Oh, Dolvett.) But I am. And I’m gonna be out there in Key West in the heat and noise and excitement, alongside other runners but really by myself. So I gotta do this for me. And for my butt. And for my health, and for the kids I hope to adopt soon, because I want them to know that being 42 and fatter than you want and older than you were doesn’t have to mean that you can’t get there.

I will get there.

Four miles.

So many more to go.


Five good reasons for getting up and going to the gym right now

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here.

1) I’ve already paid for it, and I have more fat than money to burn.

2) My weight loss has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, but right now it’s on its way down, and it might not stay that way if I stay on my butt in this comfortable room with the tea and the cat and…stop talking, Leslie. Get up.

3) DVR’d episodes of “Guys With Kids” will still be there when I come back.

4) Going to the gym allows the cat free time to do…whatever it is she does when she’s alone, which is probably no good. But it’s her time, and she’s earned it.

5) I need to be right with my body, and my time, and the promise I made to be the best me I can be. And won’t those skinny jeans look better when I’m actually, you know…skinny?


Ageism, size-ism and anti-peanut butterism…or “I just wanted to buy a smoothie”

by SweetMidlife


First of all, hello again! It’s been ages since either Lynne or I have updated this, because we’ve been emotionally and physically drained. Our dad died on June 25, and with lots of traveling, mourning and stress eating to do, we just haven’t found the time or energy to post.

But we’re back, with an incident that if my Daddy were still available to answer phone calls, he’d be hearing about, because he’d think it was hilarious. I am not a small woman. I would like to lose 25 pounds or so, which I have been trying to do unsuccessfully with all of the traveling and crying and aforementioned stress eating. But I am back to my regular workouts, and usually mindful eating. I am aware that I do not jump out at people at this moment as someone who definitely works out. Then again, if all I’m asking for is a smoothie, I don’t see how that matters.

The following story not only makes me want to punch people, but makes me wonder if as a 41-year-old, I automatically assume that the obnoxious behavior of those younger than me is because of their youth. So, Unknown Smoothie Girl, forgive me if the story I am about to tell of your trifling behavior isn’t because of your age. Maybe you’re just trifling. Forgive me.

So I leave a 6:30 workout, all showered and fresh and office-y, and head over to the nearest smoothie shop, as the diet that I am once again following encourages them, especially with whey powder, in reasonable portions and not as a side to your french fries and Coke. I take a while to narrow down the field to two, both of which contain nuts or peanut butter. I ask the cute, early 20s-ish lady behind the counter what she thinks of those two.

“Well,” she says, “the people who work out a lot like those.”

I am not a clairvoyant, but it was obvious that there was a part of the sentence she was not saying. And that was, obviously, “and you are not one of those people.” Which is not actually true. I am not as fit as I want to be, and if I worked out more and ate consistently healthier, I would be. But how can she decide who works out and who doesn’t? She’s not my trainer. She’s the girl at the smoothie store.

“I just came from the gym, actually,” I say, in a tone of voice that I swear was even and not stabby. Counter Girl’s eyes get mildly wild, but she tries to pull it back. And sticks her foot further down her throat.

“Well, they have peanut butter in them, and there’s a lot of calories in peanut butter, and if you’re trying to lose calories, you should stay away from peanut butter,” she says brightly, and I swear she’s trying to be helpful, and I know this, but it doesn’t make that help any less tone deaf or, by the way, wrong. Many trainers and nutritionists will tell you that peanut butter, again, in small doses, is an excellent source of protein, fills you up, and is great for you in foods like oatmeal and smoothies. Like the one I was trying to order. OK, I did ask her to tell me about the smoothie, but I didn’t ask her whether I was too fat to drink them.

“Peanut butter is a great source of protein,” I tell her, and she looks at me the way you look at a four-year-old who insists on wearing their Elmo slippers to pre-school, even though you tell them they aren’t real shoes – You can’t stop them from being stupid, so you just purse your lips and think “Well, you’re the one who’s gonna look stupid.”

Or drink a lot of peanutty calories that will hurt you, you fat butt.

I wound up ordering one with berries, but with almonds crushed up in it, instead of the peanut butter, although it was clear from her “whatever” face that she didn’t approve of that either. And again I know she was trying to help. But not only was her advice wrong, it was judgmental, tone deaf and out of her range of expertise. I asked if it tasted good and if people liked it, not if she thought I was thin enough to buy it.

I’ve decided not to call her manager and complain. But I am going to order that peanut butter one tomorrow.


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