femininity

Fifty, fit and fabulous! – 10 tips.

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This morning I weighed myself and didn’t dread it. Why? At 50-something years old, I took those impossible ten pounds off, kept them off, and have (mostly) maintained good eating and fitness. And, in spite of all the fun and food of the holidays, I only gained back a pound of it.

I didn’t keep the weight off by starving myself, not drinking alcohol or being a workout nut. I just kept some simple practices I’ve developed over the years. I’m sharing them in the hope that they might encourage you — and keep my own resolve strong!

Love yourself. Unconditionally, right now, where you are, who you are, and how you look. Stand naked in front of a full-length mirror and take in your beautiful body — bumps, bulges, warts and all. Self-loathing has no place in your tool kit and can only sabotage you. Look at yourself and love yourself. No exceptions.

Weigh yourself. Not hatefully or self-punishingly, but mindfully. Accept where you are, but have a goal weight that is reasonable and achievable. Weigh yourself daily or weekly, whatever keeps you aware of your progress.

Move everyday. I didn't say exercise. Every January the gym is jammed with folks who want to lose those holiday pounds (again) and start an exercise program. By March they are all gone. Instead, embrace movement that you like; gardening, walking with a friend, running, skating, swimming, yoga, dancing or whatever works for you.

Eat chocolate. There. I said it. People wanting to lose weight frequently punish themselves and refrain from all desserts and sweets. This degree of deprivation can only last so long until natural cravings kick in and all resolve crumbles. Yes, refrain from donuts, cookies, pie and ice cream (fat, salt and sugar bombs), but eat that dark chocolate truffle and savor it.

Cook veggies. And not frozen peas boiled in water. Experiment with herbs, oils, cheeses and nuts. How about roasted asparagus with basting oil, pepper and sea salt? Or fresh green beans with butter, fresh dill and almond slivers? The proper seasoning and cooking method can make a hum-drum vegetable into a treat.

Avoid the whites. White sugar, flour, pasta and rice provide empty calories and spike blood sugar – this leads to cravings, binging and ultimately more pounds. Cut out sugar and substitute whole-wheat products for white. You’ll feel fuller and eat less.

Lift weights. I hate lifting weights, but notice that the women at the gym who are slim and sexy lift weights. Strength training is the secret weapon in a fit girl’s arsenal. Muscle burns energy (calories) and shapes a body beautifully. Start out slow and moderately and build up to 2 - 3x a week. And don’t worry, unless you’re a body builder you won’t bulk up.

Dress beautifully. Whether or not you’re near your goal weight, dress as though you like yourself. Choose clothes that are neither too loose nor too tight — clothes that enhance your curves or height — your unique features. The better you dress, the better you’ll feel about your body.

Get a buddy. Enlist the aid of a spouse or friend to encourage you in making better choices. Walk with them, share your goals, cheer each other on and win together. Most communities have running, hiking and walking clubs. Find one and join with others who are like-minded.

Embrace moderation. Do nothing today that you can’t see continuing for a lifetime. Fitness and good nutrition need to be slowly incorporated one-day-at-a-time into a healthy lifestyle. Fad diets and harsh workout regimes don’t work for anyone. Right now, make one or two simple, achievable goals. In the months and years to come, build on that.

I hope these tips inspire and show that fitness and good health belong to all of us — even you!

 

On being loved fully and outrageously, like I deserve.

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First, a confession. For the first 40 years of my life, I did not feel worthy to be loved romantically. I projected an aura of superiority and self-confidence, but inside felt unlovable and undesirable. A lot of women do. We internalize slights from middle and high school and hold ourselves to impossibly high standards. We find ourselves lacking.

What cured me of self-loathing? At first it was becoming a musician and singing out publicly — finding a passion and that audiences liked me, they really liked me, as Sally Field once said. This flew in the face of my old story about being unattractive. Secondly, it was going through a painful, unwanted divorce.

To heal I needed to fully love myself, faults and all. Early in the separation a memorable moment occurred in front of a full-length mirror. I assessed my body and finally embraced its beauty, uniqueness and flaws. I loved it — and me, completely.

Loving myself was an important step to being loved, but before dating, I also needed to map out what a successful relationship would look like, so I created a vision statement for my new life. It painted a verbal picture of my new home; the atmosphere, art and music that would live there — the social life, vacations and spirituality I’d pursue.

I also envisioned the man in my life. He would be kind, hospitable, generous and fit. I imagined a mutually loving relationship with a lot of sex and affection. I wanted a man who adored me, would lay it all down for me, put me first and powerfully desire me. I shot not only for the stars but the whole dazzling Milky Way before even setting a foot in the dating swamp. This became the road map for my future.

A friend who had been single for many years warned about the lack of prospects in our hometown. “There are no good men. They are all taken. The only ones left are losers. Trust me — I’ve dated them.” I envisioned better for myself. I reckoned it was only a matter of time before Mr. Right came into my life. The key was to not be entangled with Mr. Wrong when he finally appeared. The more I loved myself, the easier it was to lose the Mr. Wrongs. And while setting the bar high might result in singlehood, alone and happy was better than coupled and miserable. The bar stayed high.

It didn't drop with that first man I dated who noted I was “loving and feminine onstage, but vulgar and boorish offstage.” Bye. It remained high with the wealthy but incurious man with only one thing on his mind and it wasn't quantum physics. He was stopped at the second date. Significantly, the bar didn’t lower when dating the well-off, fit and sexy plumber who had anger and jealousy problems. It was sad, but I ended it and was alone again.

Dave was not an obvious choice. He was a recent widower of a dear family friend. He was an artist like I was and quiet, probing, funny and smart. We started out as supportive friends with no thought of dating while I kept looking for Mr. Right. To our surprise, over time our friendship became romantic. We were remarkably compatible, sharing interests in museums, theater and music. We both loved to read, travel, entertain and wanted to create a house filled with love, respect and generosity. Most important, Dave wanted me — was willing to do anything to get me. Nothing came before me. The more he loved me, the lower my defenses became and the more I loved him back.

Newly single, I'd been told that “statistic” that a middle-aged woman had as much chance of remarrying as getting struck by lightning. But, that was a mindset of scarcity and desperation. Instead, I determined there would be abundance and love in my new life, if not specifically a new man. However, it turned out that accepting myself fully, envisioning an ideal life and keeping high standards became the magic path to the love of my life.

 

12 tips for being an epic wife.

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Have you ever wondered what makes a good, or even great wife? How about an epic wife? One that Dictionary.com describes as being “heroic; majestic; and “impessively great.” How did I learn to be one? First, by leaving my husband.

We had been married 22 years and I was temping in a retail tile shop. It led to an unexpected revelation; all the couples that came into the store had better marriages than we did — more respectful, kind and polite. They consulted each other; were partners and friends — so unlike the adversarial, chilly roommates my husband and I had become. I wanted what they had. I knew then my marriage needed to change or be over.

But it was too late for us. In time we divorced and I found a new husband — taking the first (and most important) step to becoming an epic wife:

  1. Pick right: Unfortunately, for some, this might be like closing the barn door after the horse got out, but it bears saying; choose a man who is worthy of you: kind, hard-working, free of addictions and is devoted. Trying to be an epic wife to a cad, an addict, or a man who doesn’t really love you is a losing prospect.
  2. Enjoy sex: If you don’t like sex, it's difficult to be an epic wife. Epic wives realize that most men are very sexual beings, and while a lot of woman require wining, dining and flowers to be in the mood, most men just want you to show up naked. For God's sake, give him regular sex and enjoy it while you’re at it. And, how about actually thinking about sex (not about the grocery list) while you’re having it?
  3. Look fabulous: Did I say skinny? Nope. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new Mom and feel like a sack of potatoes. Take the body you have right now and find clothes that are flattering and inspire confidence. Men do not notice those extra pounds, so long as you are well-groomed, working at fitness and feel good about yourself.
  4. Get well: Are you miserable? Don’t dump it on your man. Got issues? See a shrink. Grew up in an alcoholic home? Attend Al-Anon. Too fat? Weight Watchers. Drink too much? Get thee to AA. PMS? They have drugs for that. Men are natural problem solvers — women mull things over. And over. We might circle around our issues for decades before getting help. Do him a favor and fix yourself. It’s not his job.
  5. Look at him with love: Smile at him at him like when you were first dating, with admiration, fascination, passion and desire. Forget the dirty socks on the floor and the oil change he forgot to schedule. Forget his flaws and discard old history. The world can be a soul-crushing place. Your genuine smile may be the only one your husband sees all day. showering him with warmth and acceptance. It makes you feel better, too.
  6. Ditch the backup plan: It’s been said, if you want to take the island, burn the boats. If you have no alternative for escaping your marriage, you will find a way to make it work. So, say goodbye to old loves, social groups that don’t support you being a couple, or friends that don’t like him. As they say in poker, go “all in.”
  7. Listen to him: Turn off the TV, your cell phone, get off Facebook, put the kids to bed and listen. Ask how his day was and really hear what he has to say. Don’t jump in on the pauses – wait. Listen uncritically and don’t offer commentary. Silently empathize. We give our mates a rare gift when we give them our ear without advice.
  8. Shake it up: A friend of mine tells her children “If you’re bored, it’s because you’re boring.” Don’t be dull! Own your part in making your love life spicy and interesting. Try new positions, with interesting scenarios and outfits. Invite pizazz into other parts of your life, too. Suggest a new restaurant. Invite different friends over for dinner. Come up with an adventuresome vacation plan.
  9. Be a tightwad: Your frugality and money smarts take pressure off him to provide, and believe me, men feel that pressure. Whether or not you work, it’s likely you set the pace for spending, especially on household goods, clothing and your children’s needs. Women can be great economizers — so rock the budget and rock your marriage. An acquaintance of mine, due to his wife’s epic frugality, retired from his job at 50. He is the envy of other husbands — and in awe of his epic wife.
  10. Promote and praise him: Talk about your husband in a kindly light. Don’t roll your eyes when speaking about him or ever berate him publicly or privately. Praise him for the things he does right. A woman I knew routinely made fun of and criticized her husband openly while we all cringed. They were divorced within the year. Treat your husband with at least the regard you would accord a good friend.
  11. Let him be the man: Maybe you have a college degree and can negotiate the hell out of a car dealer. So what? It’s still good to let him take the lead and shine. Men like to feel useful and that you need them for something. It’s acceptable to lean on your husband and even feign a little helplessness at times. Because, really, you can’t do it all, can you?
  12. Make him #1: Put your husband before your children, friends, elderly parents, job and volunteer activities. Consult him on anything that impacts the two of you. In my old life, I was guilty of over-volunteering. My ex-husband never complained, but I robbed him of my time and passion. You belong to each other first. Everyone else comes second.

What’s the payoff to being an epic wife? Having a fulfilling, dynamic marriage and getting his devotion back 100 fold. If you have chosen the right man, he will more than likely rise to the level of excellence you have set. He’ll adore you and want to serve you — just like you do him.

As for the epic husband list? I’ll leave that to him to compile.

I’ve-given-up-on-life pants.

Slacker having given up on life

Aaron had no business wearing those pants, but with a 2 year-old and a newborn at home, we all understood. But, they were god-awful. They reminded me of the pants I sewed in 6th grade home economics: no pockets or discernable back and front with an elastic waist. These khaki disasters had been hung wet on a hanger so the wrinkles were till death do they part. God-awful, rumply, saggy loser pants. The hens at work promptly named them “Aaron’s I’ve-given-up-on-life pants.”

That is now the term I use to describe anything that a person has just given up on. The “I’ve-given-up-on-life body,” “I’ve-given-up-on-life boyfriend,” “I’ve-given-up-on-life job.” It’s when you’re shooting low and you don’t even pretend to care anymore.

In my mid-twenties after having two children, I gave up on being female. It was too hard to figure out fashion, fitness, and how to be sexy. It was all I could do to pull on my men’s Levis, large sweatshirt and brown oxford flats. And my hair. I kept getting it cut shorter and shorter, hoping it would just get sucked into my skull like the retractable hair doll, Crissy, so I wouldn’t even have to deal with it.

Fast forward. I became a singer, the two kids left home and I got a divorce. Somewhere along that path I discovered my femininity and boy, I will never go back to Birkenstock’s. I won’t even appear in public without heels, lipstick and a form-fitting top. It feels good to care.

What have you given up on? Your job? Relationships? Your weight or appearance? It gets harder to get up after life kicks our ass. It’s really tempting to pretend we don’t care and that life has no more good stuff for us. And it’s dead wrong. Just ask my Mom.

Bunny is eighty years old and just had a visit to her sports medicine orthopedist. Her hip pain is beginning to affect her performance in Zumba class. She wants to get it fixed so she can start a water aerobics class on Thursdays.

Not giving up on life just yet.