We are Better Together

Marci, was it everything you hoped for? (This was my friend’s question yesterday.) Well….. I answered her yesterday, but the question has been floating in my head since.

The last week’s event was purely social – not a Weight Watchers-organized or paid-for event. But Weight Watchers brought us together AND to this place of love and sharing and connection.  And we are forever changed.

Last year when the five North Carolina women were returning from a life-changing few days in Michigan, we decided that we should host the following year. We wanted to re-live the connection, recreate it, offer our brand of hospitality. If I just invited dozens of my closest friends over for a party, I could be pretty sure we’d have a great time. If I invited dozens of friends (some who didn’t know each other) I *still* could be pretty sure they’d have a good time.   But “a good time” isn’t what happens with this type of event.

What happened here is no short of magic.

We – the North Carolina crew who went last year – threw the invite out to last year’s group – then our territory and whoever we had on Facebook.   Among the 5 of us, there are a LOT of connections! We talked it up. We had a LOT of interest but we know that life sometimes gets in the way, we’re not the ones who show up on everyone’s Facebook feeds, and trips can’t be made sometimes. We also know that the ones truly upset they couldn’t come were the ones who had the experience before because we just can’t articulate what happens to our hearts until it happens. It’s not just “getting together to get to know each other.” It’s getting TOGETHER to get to KNOW each other and FEEL our hearts grow!

Taking a trip to meet virtual “friends” is not an easy thing to say “yes” to for a lot of people.   The practical reasons why people say no are obvious:

  • I don’t want to – that’s just not a priority.
  • I can’t spend the money in coming.
  • I can’t get off time from my job.
  • I have other obligations during the time period.
  • I think it’s insane!

But there are the emotional reasons:

  • I don’t know anyone!
  • My circle is just fine, I don’t need it enlarged.
  • I am not LIKE them, I’m not extraverted.
  • I’m not in to all that connection or the touchy feeling stuff.
  • I’m not at my goal weight.
  • I don’t deal well with large groups of people.
  • What if they don’t like me?
  • This is out of my comfort zone – I can’t fathom spending the money AND being out of my comfort zone – no way.
  • I think it’s insane!

It’s just easy to say no. But we say no to a lot of things in life – too many things. We say no to the beach because we don’t want to be in a bathing suit. We say no to family reunions because of how we look. We say no to scary things, fun things, uncomfortable things, things that are hard and uncomfortable and inconvenient.  My Nana used to tell me, “For the most part, you don’t regret things you do, you regret things you don’t do.” But I used to say no to many things because of some insecurities.

What if we said yes to more things? What happens then? What if we planned a visit instead of talked about it? What if we picked up the phone instead of texted? What if we knocked on the door to give a hug instead of just thinking about it? What if we took a leap of faith and met other women instead of thinking that it’s “just not me”?  What if you want to improve the “just not me”?

Weight Watchers staff members are trained to deliver our service vision: keep members well informed, motivate members to succeed, make them feel well cared for and part of the group. I believe this training helps us live our lives outside of Weight Watchers in our day-to-day lives. I try to do those four things each day of my life.   I spent the last few days with women who embody that service vision.

We ate healthy food.
We took over the first nine rows of a kids train in a park!
We rode on a Merry Go Round!
We shopped and helped each other with “NO – try this – it’ll look amazing!” (We sometimes said – “no….that doesn’t look amazing!”)
We went to a meeting! (Okay – I get a bravo for leading a meeting that had a dozen leaders attending!)
We were silly in a scavenger hunt.
We listened.
We heard.
We laughed.
We cried.
We go kicked out of stores.  (ooops.)
We line danced.
We created fantastic relationships and a fun atmosphere.
We shared ideas and stories and defining moments.
We explored each other and the Raleigh/Apex area.
We nurtured ourselves and each other.

(Ladies – do those italicized words look familiar?)

We are not our Facebook personas. (No one truly is.) Each of us is made of flesh and blood and heart and soul and gifts and minds and scars and smiles. Each has more to offer than a status update, a funny meme about coffee or bacon, a political post, or a food picture. Each has questions about others and what makes them tick but sometimes afraid to ask. Each has defining moments and know and live the results of those moments. We are all shapes and sizes. Some are rule followers. Some don’t play by the rules. Some are organized and some are more loosey goosey! We have different food tastes and makeup preferences. We have different group comfort levels.   Some of us have never met a stranger and others take a while to open a gate to the wall we’ve built. Some of us laugh easy. Some of us cry easier! Some are natural athletes and some have no coordination!   (None of us have accents!)

Our job in Weight Watchers is to help members. Well, these are women who feel passionate about doing that.   Our commonality – or universality! – is our passion for our members and delivering that service vision to them – and each other. We are constantly proving to each other, the company, but especially ourselves…
We are Better Together!


2016: Nourish – Check! 2017….??

Yesterday I was out shopping for some paper goods. As I was in the store aisle, the woman next to me asked me to get some cups that were on a higher shelf. As someone who fibs about being 5’3”, I’m rarely asked to get something off a higher shelf. And she was about my height too, but I didn’t hesitate and got the cups. She said that if she reached, she’d hurt herself and it was a year of six surgeries. We talked for a few minutes and she’s been in the hospital 302 days this year. 302! And there she was in Party City buying party supplies because she was determined to bring in 2017 with a smile.

2016 is almost over.   In the last week I’ve seen so many posts about how much it sucked. The whole year!   This makes me really think until I realized – I can’t think like that.   That’s just not me.  I’m learning over the course of my life that some years are definitely better than others, but I think we need to ask ourselves why? There will be deaths, sicknesses, crises, elections, crimes, consequences, major life events, and simple day-to-day stuff. Some of us had some real challenging times this past year. Some of us have had some incredible opportunities this past year. It’s rare that the entire year was bad or good. Did people die this year? Yeah. We’ve had some major loss. Every year people will die, and as we get older, more and more will be deeply felt – as will our own mortality. Each time I hear of one more icon I first get really sad, but then what happens is the celebration of the life. And how awesome is that? People start posting the great quotes or moments of those lives to share all the good. Why don’t we do that all the time – BEFOREHAND?!

Our life – however long it is – is measured not in years lived, but moments cherished and remembered. And there will be deaths of icons as well as family and friends. There will be sicknesses and hospital visits. There will be world crises as well as hate crimes and personal tragedies. We have options how much a year can suck or not. We have options to live and celebrate our days, our small and big victories. Our options are in how we process it all.

Last year at this time I blogged about my 2016 theme – nourishment. I had decided against resolutions but had a theme. My own nourishment paralleled Weight Watchers program last year of Food, Fitness, Fulfillment. I loved having a theme because for the first time, it was easy to follow. I scheduled healthy meals, activity as well as food for my soul.   I tried new recipes, took a Pilates class, visited and met fantastic people that are so close to my heart. I nurtured the relationships I already had with family and friends and my members. I met new people that instantly felt like they were family. I helped members with their weight loss goals seeing the victories that are really beyond the scale.   A year of nourishment that has me really proud and happy.

This year Weight Watchers theme is Live Fully. Just imagine! What a simple phrase that can take us all so far. I need to narrow this down for myself and have another theme – one that will take me farther outside my comfort zone than “nourish” was. You see I’m a natural nurturer so “nourishing” came a bit easy for me. I didn’t live as fully as I could have – although I had quite a full year. I thought of different words to push me but didn’t want it to be negative – that’s not me. And then I thought about what I share with my members – what do I encourage THEM to do? A common saying I’ve heard in Weight Watchers is “Magic happens outside your comfort zone.” I need to get out of that zone but not too much that I stop.

So the theme for me will be bravery.   Bravery to me means speaking out for those people and issues I believe need more honesty and help. It means saying and doing the right thing without holding back, writing from my heart and maybe posting more than I have without the fear of repercussions. It means I should take a class or two or three to expand my body and my mind. It means I should push myself outside this comfort zone I live inside and maybe try to be an expert at something and not settle for good or good enough. Everyone who is an expert was a beginner once, right?   In thinking of all those icons we lost this past year – they stepped out of their comfort zones. They had to be brave to get where they were. It’s not honoring them to just talk about them and remembering what they did and said so much as DOING a little more with our lives.

I don’t just want to celebrate those icons and wait for them to die.   I want to celebrate the day-to-day people with whom I surround myself.   I think instead of celebrating and rehashing the celebrity stories, we need to create our own. I think instead of complaining about who is in office, I need to work hard to make my own community the best. I think instead of throwing my hands up in the air on who is gone, I celebrate who is here.

Create your story. I’m going to create a new chapter to mine. I will be brave with my food, my activity, and my spare time.   I’m going to toast the woman in the paper goods store and honor her by doing more with my days than work and sitting on the couch.

2017 – living fully by being brave!   Come with me!

Struggling today – along with half the country

I watched as the results came in, as Donald Trump was winning, and wondered. I wondered what happened? What will happen? I cried. I was scared and hurt and angry and shocked, broken…..and so utterly disappointed.

I don’t see this as a game or a contest.   I’m not upset one team lost and one won.   That’s not what this is about, contrary to what I’m seeing on Facebook.   I don’t completely surround myself with like-minded people and so I get the different viewpoints. People think I’m sad because she lost? People think I’m angry because he won? No, that’s not it.

I don’t believe for one minute that every person who voted for him is a racist or a misogynist or is stupid.   I don’t believe they’re all haters or sexual predators or bullies. I truly see the good in people and cannot live in a world where I think half the country are all those bad things.   Everyone who did vote had a reason for choosing one or another.   We can argue the numbers and demographics from now until the next election.   But numbers don’t lie.   There are millions of people who voted him in.   There is a voice to be heard. Mine wasn’t the loudest or the strongest, but we absolutely cannot ignore that there is a voice to be heard.  Let’s listen to it.  Let’s not dismiss that entire voice as hate.  I don’t believe for one minute that it is – completely.

So I’m not angry at them. I’m not sad because of them.   My future president – OUR future president has his work cut out for him, that’s for sure, but so do we – so do all of us.   Seeing people hashtag #notmypresident will not help. I’m not exactly happy about people saying, “I told you so,” or “have fun moving to New Zealand or Canada.” That’s rude and I can’t exactly say if the shoe were on the other foot, it would be any different. There are always rude people.

I’m sad and I’m scared that all these good people will watch and learn from their example. I’m scared that my kids might not get health care.   I’m scared that my gay son’s rights to marry someone will be taken away.   I’m scared because of the uncertainty and if all the promises made are kept, then my Judaism leaves me as a 2nd class citizen.   Vice President Elect Pence said today, “We need Jesus even more right now.” And while that was a NICE thing to say in the scheme of things, does he mean that the only people he’s willing to support and govern are those who believe in Jesus because at that moment I didn’t feel like a citizen. I don’t need Jesus. I’m not a Jesus believer.  I do believe in God and I do pray, but not to Jesus.

This is not a Christian country. I know that’s hard for some people to believe or even desire, but it’s not.   We have a separation of Church and State.  Why are Christian values more important than mine? Or my son’s?

I am frightened for my daughter, a gorgeous young woman on the verge of a life – a career – that she might get groped and minimized and not paid as much because of who she is. That she might listen to those telling her that she’s not worthy.  I’m scared that someone might not even SEE the potential because she’s a woman.   I thought we were beyond that and I don’t think we are.

He made no secret that he was campaigning to a group of white straight Christians – and that’s okay. We all have a target audience. He campaigned using fear and exclusion and he won. So let’s listen. Listen to what the country said.   They are afraid.  We are afraid.  Know that you won’t change the result, but you can change what people hear. You can educate more than just your inner circle.   Posts on Facebook are useless for change if you don’t go outside your circle.   They’re great for support and for venting and for coming together – (and I’ve so desperately needed that!) but really, those groups were already together.   Now we have to unite – with others. Be ALL together.   Or at least fight for that.

I’m not angry that Hillary lost or Donald won. I’m angry that by voting for him – and 42% of women and 33% of Hispanics voted for him (NOT just a group of straight white Christians!) – those say it’s okay to say “Grab him by their pussy.”   “Ban the Muslims.” “Mexicans are rapists.”  We can say differently.   We can teach him differently.   We can set our citizen boundaries.   He can be taught. I firmly believe this. I have to.

Last night we voted a man in to our Presidency, but we don’t have to walk around moping. Okay…we can, and I fully intend to for a few days. But eventually, if I don’t use my voice for positive change to people outside my circle, than I’m no better than the ranters.   I need to use my voice.   I need to volunteer (might be challenging working 2 jobs!) and donate my services and money to those organizations I feel will be cut short. I can speak out for communities that will get bullied.   I can speak against bullying.

He won on a *change* platform and half the country voted for his type of change and the other half for another type of change.   The only thing guaranteed is that change WILL happen. If you pray – pray for his wisdom and strength and that he makes GOOD decisions for ALL Americans and our neighbors. If not – cross your fingers because we’re in for a Hell of a ride.

We are a broken nation.  But we’re fixable.  But we have a responsibility to fix it.  We have a disconnect but it’s not his job to connect it.   Okay – it IS his job – yes, but really it’s all of our jobs. We have to be the change we want to see. We have to talk to more people. We have to be kind – despite what others are saying. We can’t validate the hate even though we might think others voted for it. I don’t believe the stereotypes.   I really don’t think they would say to themselves, “I hate ____ so I will vote for ____”. Maybe some, but definitely not the majority. What will you do? Who will you reach? What good will you do?   We need to know we’re not alone – and we aren’t, but unless you speak out, you won’t know.

So today I’m going to cry and maybe even tomorrow. And I believe that everyone needs to feel what they’re feeling because nothing good comes from internalizing those feelings.  But then we need to get to work.   Or maybe you don’t – but I do.



Just today

What is it about stress that causes us to give up on our plan? Do we think our plan is stress and we can’t add “one more thing”. Is it really less stressful to dive in to the cake or chips or fast food? I’m not here to actually answer the question. I’m one of the people that “they” can study, in fact.   I’m not a therapist who has to figure out the “why” in things. Nor, do I feel that if I know “why” I’ll be better off. Sometimes I’ll just have a name to a disorder giving me the excuse to do it. “I’m an emotional eater so when I’m emotional I just eat.” Identity. No. Not happening. What I do isn’t who I am.

We’re headed in to the Bermuda Triangle of weight loss. We have Halloween coming up, followed by Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas and Hanukah. We will be having family traditional treats and family-induced stress simultaneously. We will have shopping and scents and triggers everywhere we look.

I’ve been at my goal weight for over 8 years. In that time I’ve split  this Bermuda Triangle evenly. Sometimes I rock it – I stay on plan and track and minimize the treats (I *never* give them up!) I’ve weighed in January perfectly within my 2 pounds. But just as often as I’ve rocked it, I’ve failed it. I used the holidays as an excuse with the same mindset I’ve had for years – it’s too hard now, I’ll focus with everyone in January.   This makes me human .   I forgive myself quickly. (Maybe too easily!)

But I don’t have to struggle – nor do I have to think that these next few months will be hard. Have I been under enormous stress? Yes. Still am. And unlike a work deadline (which I just NAILED, by the way – go me!) I don’t have an end date for the stress. So as this has been turning in my head, I need to make myself STRONGER to deal with it. And a bag of Chocolate Riesens does not make me stronger. (If you’ve never tried these, please don’t. Trust me.) It actually makes me shake and have a hard time sleeping, but that’s another story. By opening a bag and putting them in another room and going back to the other room for one or two or a handful until they’re gone, it makes me feel weak – not strong, and very disappointed in myself. What a wasted (although very real) emotion – that disappointment.

All week we discussed sugar in the Weight Watcher meeting rooms. And for half that week, I was eating it uncontrollably.   My members discussed that they’re the same – we get uncontrollable around it. They called it addictive and although I don’t believe it is – I find that whether it is or not doesn’t make it any less or more of a problem. I must work on how I deal with it – how do I make this work….especially with all of the sugar that will be in my environment throughout these next few months? This Bermuda Triangle.

Well, I need to change my thinking. I’ve told my members for years that if you want to change your body from the neck down, you need to change it from the neck up. It’s in our head. We ALL have the ability to redirect our thoughts to a more positive, less damaging direction.

Our thoughts and feelings are intertwined sometimes, but we – if we pay attention – can redirect them which might lead to a positive outcome. My lack of control over what’s going on might still lead me to frustration, but it does NOT have to lead me to the Riesens. It might lead me to calling a friend to vent or to cry. It might lead me to taking a hot bath with candles to escape some of that frustration in a positive way.

We have powers, friends. We have unbelievable powers. But I hear you right now. I hear you say, “But I’m just too tired to use them.” Wait – is that you or me? Ooops. Probably me. I’ve said to myself, “I know you know how to do this. But I’m just too tired. I’ll do it later. I’ll do it tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.” Well, I’m done. It’s ridiculous talk, you know. It makes it seem that “doing it” is stressful and hard and too much. It’s not. Not if we don’t make it hard and stressful and too much.

That’s why we remind ourselves of baby steps. No – really – baby steps. Think about that term and then think of the literal thing. Babies crawl, then they work themselves up and take a step and then they fall. They don’t get up the first time and walk. They don’t stop trying. Baby steps. One little step today.   Knowing that one little step will lead to a few in a row.

Today, this wonderful day ahead of me, I will make some roasted vegetables. I’m going to feel so wonderful picking them out and drizzling some olive oil and salt and pepper and spreading them out on the pan. I’m going to relish in the colors of them and think that all those colors represent nutrients that my body needs TODAY.   And I’m going to smile. I don’t have to plan an entire menu. I don’t have to be perfect and track if I don’t want to. I just have to start today with one thing – and for me it’s the veggies. Just one thing.   Tomorrow I may actually prep a few meals or drink my water or take a walk. But that’s tomorrow. Today, is important. I have control of today. I will do this one thing and be happy. Will I be stressed, too? Yes. Because that’s my life right now. But who says I can’t be stressed and happy at the same time? I have to find my moments and in those little moments, I’ll take my baby steps until those moments stretch out longer and longer.

Who’s with me? Who will take even the smallest baby step today? I can honestly say that most of the time when life hands me lemons, I make lemonade. But sometimes I make brownies. Today, though….I’m making veggies!




A little chat with God

My blog, although mostly about my weight loss journey, is about me.  I haven’t blogged in a while and too many things were bubbling.  This blog entry has nothing to do with my weight loss journey – or anyone’s for that matter.  But it does have everything to do with what’s been on my mind and in my heart.    This is my *place* for my words.  We all need one.   /marci

Dear God,

It’s Rosh Hashanah and I should be in shul, but I’m not. And I broke down crying in the middle of my prayer lighting the holiday candles. I broke down because I’m mad at you. I shouldn’t be. I know it. I know you don’t cause illness or pain. I know you listen and hear and know what’s in my heart. So I know you know I’m mad at you. I talk to you daily. I pray and praise. And I do love you. In fact you taught me that I can be mad and love you at the same time. And you taught me to be honest – so there it is. I’m angry.

She’s in so much pain, God. You know this. You’re watching her. You’re hearing prayers with her name, I know you are. And maybe she’s not worse BECAUSE you’re listening and hearing and watching and caring. Or maybe she’s not because you’re busy elsewhere or mad at me because you’re not seeing or hearing enough from me. Maybe you’re disappointed in me. I get that. I get that because I’m also disappointed.

I know any given day you have millions of moms talk to you about their kids. We’re all praying because our kids….well, they’re our hearts.   We’d pretty much do anything for them. We’d take their pain if we could.   You did that – somehow. You gave moms this connection.   It’s not biological because we don’t have to carry our babies to feel this love….this consuming connection.

I’m scared God. You know that, too, I’m sure. I’m scared for her because we don’t know what this is. So there’s fear of what we don’t know. Then looking at all the possibilities, there’s fear of the treatment. There’s fear because this strong girl you and I created (yeah, I’m taking some credit there) doesn’t know how strong she is. She knows how stubborn she is and how frustrated she is and how anxious she is – but she doesn’t know her own strength. I’d have preferred she learn that without so much agony, thank you very much.   And I’m scared for me because I’m not coping with this as well as I normally cope with things. Lack of sleep, anxiety, lack of focus, lack of staying nourished in all aspects of nourishment – body, mind, soul. I say I’m doing my best, but actually, I’m not. I’m hardly doing at all – just surviving hour by hour, day by day.

You know, God….I wasn’t angry with you when my mom got sick and then died. I wasn’t angry at all. I was just really getting to know you after she died and simply was in awe. But now….well, I just can’t help it.   I’m downright upset. What did I do? What didn’t I do?

Just because I’m mad at you, doesn’t mean I am not grateful. The myriad of test results of what she doesn’t have – thank you! Her ability to articulate what she’s going through – thank you! I remember when she was a baby and couldn’t and we just were at wits end. The love my kids have for each other – thank you! The care she’s being shown by so many – thank you! And for Neil, God.   Really there are no words for how much I thank you for him.   He keeps giving me the love, the support and the perspective of “Of course He’s listening. She’s still here, isn’t she?” So thank you a gazillion times for Neil.

Last night she apologizes for ruining Rosh Hashanah.   And I told her that she didn’t have the power of ruining Rosh Hashanah. It’s not a meal. It’s not brisket and chicken soup.   It’s the promise of a new year ahead and if anything, she reminded me of what it really means. So I sit here reflecting on this new year ahead, I ask you to show me what I can do and then help me do them.   Praying for a sweet year ahead with answers and healing and growth.

So please take these burdens I wrote and those others I feel and couldn’t articulate.   I’m giving them to you because I just can’t figure out what to do with all of it. Forgive me for being angry and thank you for allowing it.

Good talk, God. Next time maybe fewer tears?

With all the love and praise and the myriad of feelings that I have….your Marci

Fight for it!

“Fake it til you make it.”   You’ve all heard that phrase.   I can almost see you rolling your eyes.

A few months ago while at the day job and picking the “soundtrack of the day,” I felt a pull towards some show tunes. A pull that is far from unusual for me – what was odd was my decision to avoid my old favorites and deciding to listen to some I never have before. Googling different musicals, I chose Billy Elliot.   I’d never seen it – barely heard of it. Believing that the Universe was truly talking to me, I had to listen to the second song about a dozen times. I needed those lyrics – that day and many since.

So what was special? The brilliant lyrics to the song, Shine, was written by Lee Hall. And although I’ll quote a few here throughout this blog, you can easily find the lyrics to the whole song online.   Keep in mind I had no earthly idea what this musical was about (at the time). All I heard were the lyrics.

♪♫♩♬ “It doesn’t matter if you’re large or small
Trapezeoid, or short or tall
Even if you can’t dance at all
All you have to do is shine.

It doesn’t matter if you’re unemployed
Only partially humanoid
An octopoid whose mind’s a void
All you really have to do is shine.” ♪♫♩♬

I needed to hear it because I felt my “fight” wane and when that happens, the shine fades.  Are you shining? Do you think you don’t need to? Don’t want to? Don’t have the energy to? Why not? What is stopping you from shining?  Shining comes from believing and hoping.   What is stopping you from believing and hoping?   What is stopping you from fighting for what you want?

I hear excuses for a living.  Trust me, I make them as well.   I think we’re all experts at excuses. If we were to stop making excuses, what would honestly come out is we don’t feel like it. “It” might be making dinner, going to the gym, planning your meals, going to work, cleaning your house, going out with friends – well, you get the idea. Sometimes we have the “don’t wannas.” We never regret the made dinner, the gym workout, the planned meals or cleaning the house. And if we didn’t go to work every time we didn’t wanna go to work – we would no longer have work to go to. Sometimes we have to fake it til we make it. Yeah – keep rolling those eyes.

♪♫♩♬ “You might be feeling lousy
You might be feeling blue
A little apprehensive
A minor touch of flu
They couldn’t give a monkey’s cuss
They couldn’t give a fig
Come on son get over it
It’s all part of the gig.” ♪♫♩♬

In the last few weeks I’ve struggled with my plan more than I haven’t. Now I must say these days are far fewer these years than it was years ago. And you know why? Because I have faked it til I made it on those days. Because I fought for it – no….I continue to fight for it!   It’s not a fight on the easy days. I go to work when I don’t want to. I plan my meals because it’s just what I do now. Exercise? It’s not totally routine yet. But that’s another story for another day. (Do you see my eyes roll?) I fight for it. I fake it til I make it.

I think the reason that phrase makes the eyes roll is the cliché factor. Clichés are clichés for a reason – they’re usually true. Faking it til you make it is about optimism that you will – in fact – make it! There’s no reason to fake it if you don’t want to make it. And if you have optimism – some level of hope – you will stay the course. You will fight for it. It’s when we give up that hope – give up that fight – that we give up on ourselves.

I have a member who has been telling me for weeks, “I can’t get below this certain number. I just can’t.” She’s blocking herself. When we – the meeting members – convinced her to think she just hasn’t yet – but WILL – she did it! By thinking she couldn’t, she allowed extra helpings to her ice cream, to her everything. But by thinking she just hasn’t gotten there YET, she worked harder. Optimism.   Drive.

What I love most about the Olympic games are the stories of overcoming obstacles. Have you ever found one athlete who didn’t have obstacles? What makes them champions? Optimism. Optimism and grit. They faked it til they made it. Some days they had the “don’t wannas” but they did it because what they wanted was in front of them and they were chasing it. They were fighting for it.

My weight loss was slow. Snails pace slow.   According to Weight Watchers’ definition of a plateau (averaging less than a half pound a week), I lost all my weight on a plateau.   I was frustrated, impatient, and often felt defeated. But I kept going. And the reason was simple – I had hope. I knew if I quit then I would gain. (That was proven in my history.) I was losing – albeit slowly.   And I also knew that being frustrated and feeling defeated is part of a typical weight loss journey – and ANY journey worth traveling.   I fought for it. I watched others quit and have a great time eating all the foods I wanted to consume when I felt defeated. That’s part of this journey. Do you think those athletes have never felt defeated?  What matters is what they did with those feelings – not that they felt them.  They fought for it.  They knew that they had what it took to get to their goals.  The difference between them and us?   They fight for it.

When we say “we can’t” then we won’t. When we say we haven’t YET, we give ourselves a chance – we give ourselves permission to fight for it. Put what you want in front of you. Chase it. Plan the menu. Make dinner. Go to the gym. Do the workout video. Eat foods that actually make you feel GOOD! Go to a meeting. Open your mind to know you CAN and WILL fight for what you want – whether you want the ice cream or the size 6 or both. Feel confident.

♪♫♩♬ “Doesn’t matter if you’re short or squat
Cerebrally challenged, completely shot
You might have it or might not
All you really have to do is
All you really have to do is shine” ♪♫♩♬

My beautiful friend Randi gave me the corollary to the cliché.   “Fake it til you make it. Then fake it til you BECOME it.” (Now the eyes widen instead of roll.)

♪♫♩♬ “Give ’em that old razzle dazzle and shine!” ♪♫♩♬





Better by the Dozen

As a Weight Watcher Leader, I’m constantly suggesting (….ok, nudging….ok, pushing…OK, kicking their butts….) my members get out of their comfort zone. We say magic happens outside of your comfort zone. But what does that mean? We say we’re “Beyond the Scale” but does everyone “get” that?

I remember little elf Judy in the movie, The Santa Clause, said to Scott Calvin, “Seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing.” Sometimes we can’t know what the magic is until we take a leap of faith and try or experience something.   Trying something can be as small as a new food or as big as a new job or marriage. When we try something, our minds open a bit. (Trust me when I tell you that there is very little magic inside a closed mind.)

These last few days have been amazing.   It started from a simple invite to all WW leaders to come to her house – her state – her meetings. Wait. Back up. Just throwing out an open invite to thousands who she didn’t know? Yeah, it takes a special kind of person to do that. This is a woman who loves people and believes with the utmost faith that all of them are lovable. The first time she cast out this invite three of us took her up on it. This time – twelve.

Twelve women came together – each taking a leap of faith. Each putting aside their time, their money, their work, their families – for a few days with people they didn’t know. Talk about getting out of your comfort zone! Twelve women spanning three decades and five states. Twelve women with different priorities in their lives. Twelve women with different backgrounds. Twelve completely different women who were simultaneously excited and nervous (ok, none of us wanted to get in to bathing suits!) taking a leap of faith. Twelve women who realized that our vulnerabilities are our strengths. Twelve women whose passion to help others – including and especially our members – was palpable. Twelve of the most beautiful beings I’ve ever encountered.

What happened was exponential power. Each of us imperfect beings, but as a group it couldn’t have been more perfect.

I knew it would be great. I didn’t know how great. I knew I’d meet new friends. I didn’t know my heart would be filled with love for these women and my life changed forever. I didn’t know I’d become a better leader, listener, sharer.  I can’t do math, but if you take 12 women and each have new and unique friendships – well, you get the idea. It’s a LOT!

Beyond the Scale has taken Weight Watchers exactly there – BEYOND the scale.   We know that in order to be our healthiest selves, we need to focus on food, fitness, and fulfillment. We got all three.   Our host planned a healthy few days complete with incredibly healthy and delicious food, walks downtown and on the beach, and the whole few days took the term “fulfillment” to new levels.My goal – my theme, so to speak – for this year was to Nourish.   Nourish my body, my mind, my soul.   This was nourishing.  We lived Beyond the Scale.

The list of people to thank is too long and this isn’t the Academy Awards. It’s just my take.   But I will thank Weight Watchers (as I do so often in this blog) for changing my life for the better first as a member (always as member!) and then as a colleague.   And Lisa, my dear amazing friend…. Thank you for loving us so individually and so jointly and so completely.

Next time you’re on the fence about something – something that you know would be good but you’re too nervous to try – close your eyes and jump. Let the magic in!

“Saying yes . . . saying yes is courage. Saying yes is the sun. Saying yes is life.”
― Shonda Rhimes.   We said yes.



Happy Mother’s Day!

Every now and again I smile to myself and thank God for all His blessings. I don’t do it often enough – how often is often enough anyway? But I know how blessed I am. And some days I realize that it’s my brains I’m thanking Him for… some days it’s my spouse, some days it’s my job. Some days I thank Him for raising me to be the kind who IS grateful and DOES appreciate what she has – as it’s all I need and more.

Today it was my daughter. She treated me to one of those wine and paint nights.   Considering that I couldn’t draw a straight line with a ruler and smiley faces intimidate me, this was a stretch for me. But she was determined to prove me wrong. She’s SO artistic – everything she touches turns to art. Anyway, mine was not horrible, NOR was it the worst in the class – yay me! It’s good to stretch your limits once in a while. I haven’t done that in a long time, and it felt GOOOOOOOD! But her treating me to the evening wasn’t the only reason I was thanking God for her. I raised a good girl. And approaching this Mother’s Day weekend where I internalize so much because my mom isn’t here, it’s really great to realize that I have this adult child with whom I thoroughly enjoy spending time. I have two actually – two kids became adults who I enjoy. I enjoy conversations, I enjoy spending time with them, I enjoy how their minds work and how grown up they became. They’re nice people. They’re good people. I had some part in that. Unreal.

This past week the food for thought in our Weight Watchers meetings revolved around emotional eating. And my members, both coaching and meetings, really dug deep in to feeling and not hiding or stifling their emotions. And then there is me. Approaching Mother’s Day is hard for me, I miss my mom. It’s simple. And very often – and this year was no exception – I eat those emotions of loneliness, missing her, and have a very tasty pity party for myself because she’s not here. When really, all I need is to treat the loneliness. Treat the missing her by filling myself with her – and that might mean filling myself with my kids, or pictures of her, or memories of her in conversation. There are ways to feel the feelings without eating them. My beautiful members came up with fantastic coping skills for themselves. I wonder if they know how much they inspire me.

I’ve been at my goal weight for over 7 and a half years and in all that time of hard work, I consider myself lucky. I know I work hard. I know that it’s not easy – especially during certain times of the year. But each meeting I get something more….something that they give me. And I never know what it is. I’ve said this before. My vulnerability is my strength.   It’s when I feel the most vulnerable that those little gems my members provide really give me the needed lesson. I rarely learn when I’m being strong.

I’m an emotional person. If I took all the weekends, all the holidays and all the “emotional times of the year” off from my plan, that would add up to 90% of the year and as a result I would be triple my size. Realistically, I have to follow the plan more often than I don’t in order to stay this size. People ask me, “Isn’t it hard?” “Don’t you want to just go crazy?” Well, the answer is “Sometimes”. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes I want to go crazy. So what? So I do. Since I’m not a perfectionist and I never do it perfectly anyway, it’s not hard to reign myself in after a little detour. It’s not an option. It’s on the schedule. Remembering that I love my life, my job, my size MUCH more than I love any food (and I LOVE FOOD!) helps me set an end time for my detour. I know I’ll have them. I’m human. And you know what – I NEED to feel these feelings. Sometimes that goes along with food – but sometimes it’s just the feelings that I need to embrace. Emotional eating is sometimes the result, but it’s less often than it once was. Victory.

When I spend nights like this with this woman who I raised – this girl child woman who I adore – not once did I think about food. We laughed. We painted. We joked. We were busy in each other’s company and in a task that made us smile. Those moments are better than the food we might have eaten or overeaten. We’ll remember the memory.

How do you cope with that feeling you have after binging on potato chips and M&Ms (what? Don’t judge, people – that’s my go-to for certain emotions!) Maybe if you’re sad, watching YouTube videos of animals will help. Maybe if you’re lonely, reach out to a friend and connect. Maybe missing your mom, find someone who knew her and talk about some shared memories – or find someone who didn’t know her and tell them something about her. Maybe if you’re angry, you could forgive – it helps you and has nothing to do with the behavior that was the cause. Maybe if you’re ready to reward some great accomplishment, you could think of something that TRULY fits the accomplishment, instead of ice cream. The only accomplishment ice cream feeds is making ice cream. Have the food because you planned for it. Have it because you love it. But don’t have it because of a feeling.

I ended my meetings this week with the quote, “If hunger is not the problem, then food is not the solution.” I eat for other reasons than hunger and guess what? It’s okay. But what’s important is this. I need to feel the feelings and LIVE my life – with the feelings, with the food. I don’t want to hide behind the chips anymore. When you feel the most vulnerable, look for the lesson in it. Is it hard? Yes. It’s okay. Aren’t you worth hard? You are. So am I.

Thanks Mom, for raising me so I can raise these kids.  I don’t know if they’ll have kids to raise or not – but right now I know they’re amazing.  And we did something good.  And that is a better reward than chocolate  or bacon.



Madelene and my Mom

Disclaimer, the title of my blog is Just Me and Sometimes Bacon. And although I mostly focus on weight loss, there are some posts that are, in fact, just me. This is one of those.

Oh, the thoughts running through my heart right now. I’m following the advice of a dear friend who said to me today, “I see some blog posts here. It’s how you process.” Well, that and some Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, but I digress.

As some of my readers know as I’ve blogged before about her, I lost my mom almost 15 years ago. And in these last almost 15 years I’ve learned that the hardest thing I’ve ever done was not to lose her, but to have so many life moments without her. Sure I’ve visited her gravesite, sure I’ve had conversations with her, sure I’ve written her Mother’s Day cards and notes and even blogs. But there are life’s moments that I wanted my mom with me. And I didn’t have her.

This past week one of her dearest friends passed away. Madelene was like another mother to me.   When I was in her house she treated me like a daughter and that included loving on me and also setting me straight when I needed it. She took me dress and shoe shopping as she had boys and my mom truly hated shopping. We had holidays together. When I started a home business she invited me to her school to help me. She had my kids over for holidays. And when my mom died, she called me every month to check on me and make sure I was okay.

Both from New York and both the quintessential Jewish mothers, if a director called Universal studios and said, “Hey, send me a Jewish mother type,” these two women would show up. They loved through pure adoration, attention, guilt, and sacrifice. And because of all the years together and all the memories, and all I felt about her, I needed to be there this week.

I wanted all the honor to be about Madelene and I expected it to be hard on me emotionally. But, I wasn’t prepared for how hard. I wasn’t prepared for the memories of my mom to be as intertwined and connected. And at first I thought that’s a disservice to Madelene, but it’s not. It defines her – that she took on my family as her own and family is intertwined. That’s the way it is. So all the emotional entanglements that I was feeling about my own loss was because Madelene took such incredible care to connect.   She was a good connector, that one!

I saw many of their mutual friends, some – most – I haven’t seen since my mom’s funeral. These friends are people who taught with her, who make my mom’s food, have her picture in their homes, had our family over their houses.   We’ve celebrated joys and sorrows together. There has since been joys and sorrows that we no longer celebrate together.  Kids grow up. They have children of their own. Wives lost husbands. Friends become ill. Life happens whether I witness it or not.

That was not only my lesson, but my pride this trip. Life happens whether I witness it or not. I need to be present – and I was. I talked to as many of the people as I could. I avoided the food and embraced the connection.

The beauty of shiva (the tradition of the first week of mourning) is the sharing of the stories. We live on in whom with we’ve shared our lives. We let the soul know that they’ll always be alive so it can move on. And the sharing of stories were filled with humor and joy and a common theme of love (and shoes and maybe some food).

Madelene, you raised two amazing sons and a world full of other children with your heart. Your legacy will live on in all of us who knew you. Mom, you’re now with your friend. Catch up and show her around and give her a heavenly hug. And both of you – please… continue to watch over us.

Acceptances and disappointments

On any given day in social media, you will find articles and pictures telling us to be happy with our bodies. Accept and love them. That the way towards shedding the weight is to be happy WITH the body you have.   Be comfortable in your skin. Don’t make excuses in it – revel in it. Buy the shorts and the swimsuit and the sleeveless dress.

Also on any given day, you’ll find the models selling shoes and clothing – even plus size clothing – and they’ll all be a size 0 or 2. They’ll have the gaunt faces and rarely smile.

So this tells me two things: the media is confused and models aren’t happy.

Confession – I’m one of those people on social media who spreads the “acceptance and the happy with our bodies” messages. I wanted that known up front because my light bulb moment arrived when I realized (even though I’ve been speaking the words for years) that I could be simultaneously accepting as well as pretty disappointed with my body.   And I am.

I love that I am fairly healthy.
I love that my cholesterol went way down after I lost my weight.
I love that my legs can safely and (most of the time) take me for pain-free walks to experience scenery.
I’m disappointed I don’t do this more frequently or faster or longer.
I love that I can stand for hours.
I’m disappointed that I don’t do more varied activities.
I love that I have a small waist.
I love having an hourglass figure.
I’m disappointed that it’s a lot of hours and most of the time the sand isn’t split very evenly.
I’m disappointed that my bones are weak.
I love that I have blue eyes and that they can see fairly well.
I’m disappointed that I’m at the top of my comfort zone in weight.
I’m disappointed that so far I haven’t wanted to work hard enough to move that lower.
I’m disappointed in a size 8 when I used to be a size 4 but I love that I’m a size 8 because I used to be a size 16.
Why, on most occasions do I confidently follow my plan and on others rip it to shreds and dive in to the chocolate?
Why, if I feel SO good after I exercise do I not do it more frequently?
Why when cooking a variety of healthy and interesting meals do I feel awesome and then get lazy and stop doing them?
Why don’t I ask for help more frequently?

So here’s my letter to myself:

Dear Marci,

It’s okay. It’s okay to feel all the feelings.   It’s not okay to just whine without action. It’s okay for that action to not be immediate. It’s okay to be both happy and disappointed as long as you appreciate the happy and actually do something about the disappointments. If you choose to NOT do anything, then stop the whining. You’re a grownup and you can’t blame someone else bringing candy to the office and your house on your inability to keep your hands out of it. Marci, “No, Thank you” is a complete sentence. Practice it once in a while. You’re 53 years old; you might want to start eating with dignity again.   It’s okay to want to feel small. It’s okay to want to feel more attractive – you’re not superficial for wanting this. It’s just as okay to want to lose weight for cute clothes than a more important reason such as good health. Marci, there is no one more important reason.   It’s okay to leave something on your plate. It’s okay to spend a little more if it means you’ll feel physically better.   It’s also okay to think when people say “food is just fuel” that they’re wrong or crazy but just don’t judge them. It’s okay to think about lunch or dinner while you’re eating breakfast. It’s not wrong just because others say it’s wrong. You’re allowed to be a bit obsessed with food, but you might want to start behaving more appropriately with it.  Be grateful for the things you have, Marci.  This is really about the serenity prayer.  Accept what you can’t change,  but do something about the things you can.   I’m fully aware that you can.  I believe in you.

All my love, Marci