54 at 54 Friday Update – Week 1

This week has been…slow.  I’m still struggling with the sugar but I’ve worked out every evening which is a very big deal.  When I hurt my foot before Christmas, I stopped working out so I didn’t aggravate it.  I never picked it back up.  BUT I’m pushing through even when, like last night, every bone in my tired body said “NO!!!!  Just go home and sit in your chair and relax…you deserve it.”

I told those lying-ass thoughts that they had been evicted and would have to leave…and then I did a 40 minute workout instead of a 30 minute workout.  See what happens when you piss me off.

My diet has been good too (except for the sugar…oh…and some potato chips…ugh).  I’m keeping it clean, low carb with lots of vegetables.  Still too many diet Pepsi’s but progress not perfection.

I mentioned I’d been reading the book Down Size by Ted Spiker.  It’s really given me a new perspective on my weight and, more importantly, confirmed what I have always believed…diets don’t work and anything you do to lose weight you must be able to maintain for a lifetime (with the exception of jump starts and cleaning up your diet…more on that later).  If you can’t do it forever, you’re just making yourself crazy.

From the introduction:

“It comes down to figuring out not the rules, but the truths – the principles that can guide your actions, that can steer you in the right direction, that can bail you out when things go wrong, that your brain (and not your belly) is the lead character in the dramatic performance that is weight loss.”

This is the hook that made me keep reading.  That it’s a holistic approach.  That I can’t undo a lifetime of truths and what’s more, I shouldn’t.  Rather, I should work with my own truths to uncover the healthiest version of me.  He outlines 12 truths that worked for him and that he hopes will help us find our own way to healthy.

In part one of the book, Ted talks about figuring out the reasons we are overweight in the first place.  Genetics?  Lifestyle?  Clean your plate club?  Or how fat acts as a coping mechanism against some kind of trauma, either in childhood or in adulthood.  The bells and whistles started going off in my head as soon as I read that sentence.  I remember that I was a sickly skinny child until about third grade when I began to put on weight…exactly when the abuse began.  Believe it or not, I had never put that together with my sexual abuse…NEVER.

So I started thinking, could my weight gain as a child be related to my sexual abuse?  Later, as a middle age woman, could my weight gain have been as a result of a feeling that I was failing my mother as she was dying?  The time in between 22 and 40 I maintained a healthy weight and was physical fit.  But before and after…

Rocked my world people.  I spent a good 2-3 days just flipping that one over and over in my head until I realized, thinking about it wasn’t going to do a damn thing.  I had to actually do something…so I kept reading.

Ted moves on to discuss motivation and determination and strategies but never strays from the premise that one size does not fit all and that we each must do the work to figure out what works for us AND what our bodies want to be.  We’re not all a size 6 (or 00?  What the what?) and, for me, I know my body will fight me every step of the way if I try to make it something it’s not nor will ever be.  It’s been doing it my whole adult life.

And then, after my post the other day where I said it felt like a I had reached some kind of quiet determination this time I read this…

“It’s quieter than what we typically think of as determination.”


This book isn’t a diet book and there are no hard and fast rules about how you’re going to get skinny.  But I promise you that if it doesn’t do anything else, it will definitely make you think.

It has made me think.  In fact, I’m toying with the idea of another Whole30.  Just to jumpstart me and detox from sugar and potato chips.  I felt so great when I did the first one and I think enough time has passed for me to feel the newness again.  I’ll think about it some more and let you know.  I know that when I was at my best, my fittest, sugar and chips were a treat…not a way of life.  I know I can maintain that lifestyle.  I know I feel great in that lifestyle.  I just have to find that lifestyle again.

And the treadmill should be coming about the middle of next week.  Scandal here I come!

Thanks for listening.



I got some truly amazing comments on my post yesterday about The Before.  It resonated with a lot of people which made me happy because, well that’s why we’re all out here right?  That, and the cheap therapy.

One comment in particular has been stuck in my brain since yesterday and I have to write about it or it will be up there tumbling around unaccompanied until it drives me batshit crazy.  So to avoid all that drama – I’ll be writing about it here.

Josie over at The Miracle Is Around the Corner commented that she feels like she’s in The Before when it comes to her eating and exercise plan and that it feels just like it did when she was in The Before of her drinking career.  She and I have discussed this, so she knew I would understand (which I DO).  Pop onto yesterday’s post and check out her comment – it was awesome.

The reason I get it is because it’s the same for me.  The only difference is that this particular Before has been going on for me since fucking puberty.  It’s been rolling around in my brain and making me miserable since I was about 12.  That’s almost 42 years of bullshit brain activity (or approximately 336 dog years). 

What the what?

This is my 474th post on this blog.  Of those posts, I would estimated that at least 1/4 to 1/3 of them are about eating, exercising, dieting, body image, etc.  That means between 119 and 158 posts have been written about my struggles not with alcohol but with FOOD.  That feels like a lot to be on a blog that is supposed to be about sobriety.  Maybe it’s not.  What the hell do I know?

What bothers me is the up and down in and out back and forth of the whole thing.  One day I’ve got this killer eating plan and I’m exercising every day, the next day I’m stuffing my face with Oreo’s and Halloween candy and my self-esteem is in the toilet.  One day I’ve sworn off thinking about food and I’m just going to learn to love myself the way I am, the next day the doctor calls me “obese” and I’m crying in my Diet Pepsi.  One day I’m meditating and practicing self-care and telling myself only good things, and the next I catch sight of myself in a mirror and I swear I’m not going to eat until my 55th birthday by which time (in 2016 btw) I will have lost approximately half my body weight and have to check into Betty Ford for an eating disorder.

I’m not making fun of eating disorders by the way – I’m saying that thinking like this IS NOT HEALTHY.

Where does it stop?  Unlike cigarettes, alcohol, drugs or gambling, WE HAVE TO EAT!  What’s more, food is one of the greatest joys of life.  Sharing a meal with friends and family is a beautiful thing.  Sitting down to a table of food made with love (including dessert and bread) is a blessing that I never take for granted.  (There are too many people in the world that never have enough to eat.)  All this bullshit going on in my head ruins that joy if I let it get away from me.

Which I do.


I wish that for once in my life I could make peace with sustenance.  I wish I could find a happy place that was free of guilt or shame or self-righteousness (when I’m doing well I can get very self-righteous).  I wish I could learn to treat food as sacred and, in turn, treat myself that way.

I know there’s a root to this issue that I’ve yet to uncover.  I’ve read book after book on the subject.  I’ve scoured the Internet and plunked down lots of cash in an effort to understand what’s going on with me and food.  I’ve been to nutritionists and spas and doctors in a desperate attempt to right this ship.  And here I am typing about it again.

I often talk about wanting to get back to the way I was when I was in my 30’s and early 40’s.  Now I’m not so sure.  While it’s true that I was at a healthy weight and was extremely fit, the fact is that I was not happy.  The shit going on in my head now was there then – a constant stream of consciousness about what I was eating, where, how much and how much exercise I needed to do.  That’s not healthy.  It also wasn’t very joyful.  It was, in fact, a Before.

There really is no point to this post.  No pithy comment that will make you think, “Yes!  That’s it!”  Only a recovering alcoholic, ex-smoker who would love, for once in her life, to find peace of mind on a plate.  I have no idea how I’m going to get there or even if I’ll ever get there.  I just know I have to keep trying because, as I said yesterday, The Before is no way to live.


It Is Better to Give Than to Receive

When I was a youngster (in my twenties), I gave blood once, at work, during a blood drive.  Everything was perfectly fine.  In fact, I went out partying that evening without any ill effects.  Even the hangover the next day wasn’t that bad as I recall.  Of course not – I was YOUNG.

The next time I went to give blood, they refused me.  It seemed I had inherited my father’s heart murmur.  That particular heart murmur had kept him out of the service during WWII – he hated that and wished desperately he had been able to serve.

In researching my own heart murmur, I discovered that it was only a mild irregular heartbeat (after a multitude of tests) and so I had a special form signed so that the Red Cross would be absolved of all blame should I croak on the damn table while helping to save someone else’s life.  No use…they still wouldn’t take me.

Fast forward 30 years.  In all that time I never even tried to give blood.  I just assumed they would turn me away yet again.  So when I walked up to the table at a recent blood drive for my current employer, and the attendant took my vitals and said, “You can step behind the curtain” I almost fell off my chair!

Yay!!!  Woo-hoo!!! They want me!!!

So I sat right there and gave them my blood.  And then it took me a full 48 hours to recuperate.  WTF is THAT all about? 

It’s about age THAT’s what it is about.  The old bod just doesn’t bounce back the way it used to.  Sigh….

At least I was able to give blood – finally – after over 30 years!  I knew I’d give again, I just didn’t think it would be so soon.

Six weeks later I received a call from the community blood bank.  Seems my blood has been deemed “pure” because it doesn’t have some kind of virus most of the population has and that makes my blood suitable for babies and cancer patients AND I’m O+ so, in a pinch, my blood can be used for other blood types as well. 

They want me…they really want me.

Honestly…they had me a babies and cancer patients.

So I made an appointment and gathered my son and my other son’s girlfriend and we headed to the blood bank bright and early one Saturday morning.  All of us very excited to be doing our civic duty.

I signed my blood away, settled into the chair and began squeezing my fist.  Once the machine beeped I was ready to go.

Except I wasn’t.  All of a sudden I didn’t feel so good.  When I said, “I don’t feel so good,” the formerly lackadaisical technicians who didn’t appear to like their jobs very much snapped into action so fast you would have thought someone overhead was yelling. “SWARM SWARM SWARM!”.  The chair I was in dropped my head down and brought my feel up.  Cold compresses began appearing from nowhere and were placed all around my throat and just when I thought it had passed…I puked…three times.  It’s not easy to vomit in that position and so those same techs brought me a new t-shirt and were so sweet to me that I expect to be exchanging Christmas cards with them from now on.

My poor son looked like he had seen a ghost (mom NEVER gets sick) and so I kept saying, “I’m okay.  It’s fine.  I just didn’t eat enough before giving.”  While the whole time I’m thinking, “I’m never giving any of my motherfucking blood ever again.  Even Twilight Edward wouldn’t stand a chance getting to these veins now.  Nope…holding on to this bloody blood from now on…ain’t nobody draining me…”

But later…I knew.  I knew I’d give again.  Babies and cancer patients.  Babies and cancer patients.  Babies and cancer patients.

They just called.  I’m scheduled for this Saturday at 2:30 which is AFTER breakfast AND lunch.

Babies and cancer patients.  Babies and cancer patients. Babies and cancer patients.


Geezer Alert

I’m about to rant about something which makes me sound (and feel) really old.  I’m not going to rag on the most recent music (I love ALL music), I don’t particularly care what the younger generation wears, and I don’t really care if they spend all day with their noses in their phones on their personal time, but a lack of manners and decorum really pisses me off.

I know that times have changed and blah blah blahdy blah blah, but good manners never go out of style.  Look, I was raised in the projects.  My parents had no social skills and certainly didn’t pass them on to us.  My grandparents were immigrants.  But I knew better than to show my ass in public from a very, very young age.  I knew the difference between my inside persona and my outside persona. (Forget voices.  I’m Italian…I have no inside voice.)

When my kids were at that “magic” age when they began to flex their potty mouth muscles, I made sure to have a conversation with them about their different personas.  I explained that I knew they would be trying on expletives to see how easily they rolled off their tongue and while that was perfectly normal, there was a specific time and place for that behavior, i.e. only with their friends and only out of earshot of adults.  Who could be lurking around any corner.  So be careful.  Very careful.

I made sure they understood that they were a reflection of me and that no matter how “good” they were, a foul mouth and rude behavior would have people thinking poorly of them and that good manners, kindness and a polite demeanor would cast the impression that they were trustworthy, mature and well behaved…even if they were the heathens I knew them to be.  I also made it clear that a poor first impression was very hard to overcome and a good first impression would pave the way for forgiveness of future sins.

In other words…don’t fuck up and make me look bad.

No…of course I didn’t actually say that.  My foul potty mouth is reserved only for this blog and my husband’s ears (and a few close friends).  Otherwise I have daisies and rainbows flowing from my mouth on a regular basis.

It worked.  I am consistently complimented on my kids and their behavior and they make me proud everyday.  They have an excellent vocabulary.  Wouldn’t think of cursing outside of their inner circle.  They open doors, pull out chairs, say please and thank you and blah blah blahdy blah blah.

Here’s the thing though.  Yes, my kids are well-behaved adults but I honestly think the reason I get complimented so often is that the rest of the world has lost their freaking minds!!!  Since when is it acceptable to drop the f-bomb every three minutes within earshot of perfect strangers?  Strangers with toddlers in tow?  Or at a work function?  Or directly to your boss?!

Again…I must be geezing.  I know they are just words and that, as I told my kids, they only have power if we give them power.  But the fact remains that society has given them power and we have to respect that.  Or not.

We recently took a group of our trainees to a community service function.  We were asked to leave.  Let me type that again.  This group was asked to leave a VOLUNTEER function because they didn’t know how to behave.  From the time they walked in the door they were rude, foul-mouthed and not helpful at all.  These are young adults – not high school or middle school kids.  We didn’t accompany them because we thought they were adults.  We were wrong.  And let me assure you, they knew what was expected of them.

And let me also assure you that they heard from me upon their return.  But digress.

On what planet is it EVER okay to be rude, foul-mouthed and disrespectful?  I’m no Emily Post but damn people, it doesn’t cost a dime to be kind and respectful.  But it costs a lot for my company to have their reputation drug through the potty because of a few obnoxious frat boys and girls…yes girls…even they were in on it.  I think that pissed me off the most because, in a male dominated industry like mine, I expect more out of the women.  I expect them to be better than their male counterparts because that is what they’ll have to do in order to get ahead.  Is it right?  Hell to the no!  But it’s a fact so get over it.

What I do not expect is for them to show their ass while wearing a t-shirt with the company logo on it.  Show your ass in your own clothes…not mine.  And while you’re at it, bring me a bar of soap because I’ve got a line of people who need their mouths washed out.

See…told you I was geezing.




Me Through the Decades

From the first moment that Cinderella tells little girls that we need a man and his money to save us (although I’ll say this, Cindy worked her ass off), to the barrage of ads and articles in Vogue, Glamour, Cosmo and other “women’s” magazines that bombard us with examples of how we should be rather than who we are (or have the potential to become), we are led to believe that something in us is missing.  That we’re not perfect just the way we are.  That we need to change.


I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s during the Women’s Liberation Movement (yes…it was a thing…a very important thing and it deserves its capital letters).  The Movement told me that I could be anything I wanted to be…which was good.  They also told me that Disney was trying to keep women in their “place” with their spanking clean fairytales of Princes and happily-ever-afters.  Then they told me (well…not me, I was only a kid) to burn my bra and let the girls hang free.  They ALSO told me that the work world had a glass ceiling which meant I’d never make it in a man’s world without a fight.  This was very confusing to young me since I really, really liked the concept of happily ever after, the women on TV shouting and burning their bras were very scary, and no office had glass ceilings or you’d be able to see up every girl’s dress which the nuns at St. Thomas Moore told us was a no-no.

I did, however, take away some very good lessons.  I learned that just because it had never been done by a woman didn’t mean I couldn’t do it if I wanted to do it.  But what if I didn’t want to do it?  What if I had something more, um…traditional in mind?  Well then I should do it anyway…you know…for the good of women everywhere.  It was my job to break down doors and bust through barriers for womankind all over the world.  I was a trailblazer!  No pressure.

Just for the record?  I never burned my bra.  No one was ready for that nonsense.

I spent the 80’s denying what I wanted out of life and what my gut told me I should be doing.  WAAAAAAY down deep (way, way down deep…did I mention it was way, way, way down deep), I wanted to be a mom first and an English Literature teacher second.  I wanted to create the kind of home I’d always dreamed I’d have and make high school kids love literature the way I did.  That didn’t happen.  I took a job in the banking industry because it was a man’s world (while teaching was women’s work) and I vowed never to have children because it would get in the way of my career and I’d probably just fuck them up the way my parents did me.  So I would take one for the team.  What did I know?  I was just a snot nosed twenty something who thought she knew everything and was going to set the world on fire one man at a time.  Hey…I earned that “FemiNazi” nickname! (And the “Funnelface” one but that’s another post entirely.)

Then the 90’s came around and all of a sudden I was in my 30’s, and a kinder, gentler woman emerged.  I had children and began questioning my career choice, finally settling on teaching within the banking world.  That’s about when my confidence headed south along with my ass and my breasts.  I had children and became the best mom ever (I have a mug AND a t-shirt that says so) but I was starting to think that being a mom and having a career wasn’t going to work (pun intended).  My job required travel but how could I be a good mom if I traveled so much?  The stay at home group said I was the devil incarnate and that my children were going to grow up to be neurotics who would prey on the normal people in their Stepford neighborhoods and torture guinea pigs while sucking the life out of the Maytag repairman with their tales of how bad their mama treated them.  The career women wondered why I refused to travel on my children’s birthdays and questioned my commitment to a job I was only doing until the Lottery Gods finally decided it was my turn to win.  Oh…and by the way, Vogue and Glamour and Cosmo said I was fat and my clothes were ugly and that I shold give it up anyway, 30 somethings were so last week!

Finally my forties arrived and while it was a tough time for me (my drinking got really bad then and my own mother – living with us at the time – tried to kill me by just being herself), it was also the time I started to question those “other women” and so called “friends” who were constantly giving me advice about my life. 

Let’s start with all of the women who, because they couldn’t figure out how to do it all, thought I couldn’t either and had the balls to say so!  Like my stay at home mom “friends” who were frustrated by talking to kids all day and secretly wondered if their husbands were sleeping around because they were BORING and therefore found joy in tearing me down because I had a life outside the home. 

“I am so sorry you HAVE to work…that must be awful.”  Well no…I actually really love my job and oh…are those the same yoga pants you had on yesterday? 

“But what will the kids do when you travel?  How will they manage?”  Well they have a father and my mother lives with us so I’m sure they’ll muddle through somehow and how come your kids are always eating at my house…oh that’s right YOU DON’T COOK even though you’re HOME ALL DAY. 

All the while I was feeling guiltier and guiltier about not being there for them, even though they were happy, well adjusted kids who everyone loved and got great grades.  The truth is that I would have LOVED to stay home and be boring (no really…I would have) but I couldn’t because WE COULDN’T AFFORD IT so give me a fucking break and back the hell off.

Then there were my career women “friends” who hated to be at home because their kids were brats and their husbands were assholes so they threw themselves into their work and made their co-workers miserable instead of their family.  THEY decided it was a good idea to question my devotion to my job because I actually liked spending time with my family and would do anything to be with them more.  How about you lighten up a little and pull that Blackberry out of your ass and lend some support to your fellow women rather than tearing them down?

Oh and by the way, now Vogue and Glamour and Cosmo said I was really fat and my clothes were still ugly and I was peri menopausal and cranky and I couldn’t remember how far to tighten my bras because I didn’t know where the girls were supposed to be on my chests and my shorts had to be worn down to my knees otherwise my ass cheeks were peeking out.  (And you wonder why I was cranky.)

But now?  Now I’m in my fifties.  I am through menopause, sober and guess what…I don’t give a Jack Keebler what anybody thinks.  I love my job and I love my family and I love being sober.  I’m softer and squishier than I used to be and my kids could care less.  My husband still thinks I’m sexy.  My grandchildren like me this way (“I love you Grandma Sherry…you’re soft.”).  Vogue and Glamour and Cosmo still say I’m fat (as well as that damn nurse in the doctor’s office) but I’m more concerned about not dying like my mother than whether or not I’ve got a thigh gap. (Really?  With all the problems in the world we’re not focused on daylight between our thighs?)  Besides…I cancelled all of those subscriptions years ago.  They could say what they want about me but I’ll be damned if I was going to pay for the priviledge!

I’m looking forward to my sixties.  I don’t care if they are the new 40’s or 30’s or what-the-hell-ever, for me they’ll just be my sixties. I’m also looking forward to another round of bigger and better “I don’t give a fucks.”