if you film it, they will come

I went to the movies last Friday. This is not unusual. I try to get out to see something good every month or two or more depending on the movies that are playing. There have been dry spells in which nothing to my liking was playing and there have been times when I have the pick of the litter.

This past week a new batch of films came out but the one I wanted to see had been in the more arty theaters and was now in widespread release. It was Hello, My Name Is Doris, with Sally Field and Tyne Daly. It was appealing to me because of the quirky lead character and a story line I could get behind. Doris is a sixtysomething, single, working woman with some issues. She lives alone now that her elderly mother has died and because she had never moved from the house she grew up in, she has a huge attachment to what it is, what it’s meant, and what belonged to her mother, which has resulted in a hoarding habit. Because she lacks social awareness (which reminded me of someone I’m very close to, by the way), Doris falls for and fantasizes about a life with a new young executive at her workplace when she mistakes his kindness for something more.

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The movie got great reviews and with Sally Field at the helm I expected there to be some people in the theater with me (yes, I have at times been the only one there!), but I was taken aback by just how many folks came out to see this film on a day with much more popular films hitting the theaters for the first time, namely The Boss, with Melissa McCarthy (which I’d like to see; I’ve been a fan of hers since Gilmore Girls),  and others that have mass appeal, like Batman vs. Superman. I had to move over twice so my row could accommodate additional people. It was a smaller theater, but every row had at least ten people in it and some folks were forced to sit in the rows closest to the front.

So who was in the audience at this matinee? Mostly older people, either couples or senior women in groups. I thought it was telling that a movie with a longtime revered actor like Sally “You really do like me” Field, as well as a grown-up story line and some humor and warmth, can sell tickets. Hyped-up, big-budget fare like Batman vs. Superman, which got mediocre ratings, or the new Star Wars film, which is supposed to be good but which I’ve yet to see, are not the only films that will draw in viewers. And sure, the majority of filmgoers last Friday at the Doris screening did not fit into the typical 18-35 age group, the group that advertisers love because they’re the big consumers, but that’s my point exactly: If studios make mature, good films, they can bring out a wider audience and sell those precious tickets. And that’s refreshing news.

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week one weight update

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I’ve been on the weight-reduction and -maintenance program, the one in which you get points for food and can take them away with exercise, and I’m doing OK. I was hoping to have dropped two pounds by week one, but I’ve dropped just one. Still, I am putting on muscle weight–I can feel it–and I’m noticing my cheekbones are coming back into definition, my chin is getting smaller, and my girth is reducing.

I understand that weight loss is more apparent in the beginning, but because mine so far is slow and steady, and I have a history of putting muscle back on the more I exercise, I’m taking this as a silver lining and that my weight loss will be gradual but obvious.

I haven’t cheated at all, unless you count a Costco sample of Chicago-style popcorn cheating. I also went to the movies this past week, Friday, and I had a smallish bag of Target popcorn there, plus water. I figured it was about 6 cups of popcorn. But that’s all I had in the middle of the day between my usual morning meal of an egg and sourdough toast and a small evening meal. And I took my morning walk and then a longer, 45-minute walk at the nearby lake with my son in the afternoon. It was a great day. I love going to the movies and am glad the 6 cups of popcorn didn’t hurt me much. I also liked that I was able to make up for the calories by walking more than usual later in the day.

I don’t have a long way to go in my goal. Fifteen pounds isn’t 50 or 150 and I feel for people who have that much to lose. I can only imagine how discouraging it is to give up stuff you love, add in more exercise, which is often hard to accomplish when carrying extra weight, and not get the results. My weight gain has been gradual over the years–four babies in a thirteen-year span and then middle age and a desk job following directly afterward–so I assume my weight loss will be as well. It’s basically about being cognizant of what you put into your mouth and adding movement to help take away the calories added on.

It’s possible to shed the pounds one day at a time and I’m happy with my results so far.

will watching weight work ?

So I never thought in a million years I’d join a weight-loss and -maintenance program, but I have. Since one can do it from the privacy of his or her own home, I gave it a shot. I signed up for the three-month initial program and will track my progress on these pages.

I don’t know what to expect. Will it be difficult (I assume it will be) and will it impose on my lifestyle (I would guess it would)? I still cook for a family of four, so I can’t eat what I want when I want for dinner without having to prepare two separate meals, so the program I’m following allows participants to eat real food as we count points for food totals and exercise. It sounds like a reasonable plan, I don’t have to attend meetings (there’s online support), and I don’t have to buy prepackaged meals, which I’m sure would taste like cardboard and the portion sizes would suit no one bigger than Barbie.

My niece (and Oprah) signed on to this program recently and my niece has already shown improvement after just a couple months. Of course she’s in her early thirties and has yet to have a baby, so her body can’t be compared to mine apples to apples, but it’s nice to see her results. Like me, she loves to play board games and this is a game of sorts. Participants go onto their personal web dashboard and type in what they’ve eaten for the day and what type of exercise they’ve gotten. The dashboard will tally the points, letting participants know how much more exercise they may need for the week or how much less food they should sock away. More exercise equals more food and vice versa.

It might be fun to see if I can meet the end-of-week totals and reach my goal weight. My goal is to lose fifteen pounds–those nasty fifteen that, honest to God, seemed to materialize overnight once I hit fifty. I also want to stop looking like a dark-haired female Michelin Man. As I uploaded photos from the past year to my computer today, I was shocked to see–on a 22-inch HD computer screen no less–just how big around the middle I’ve gotten. We don’t carry weight well in my family at all. It all settles around the middle and under the neck. (Why couldn’t we have gotten saddlebags and big thighs instead?) The estrogen from menopause sends fat to the midsection already, so I didn’t need my family’s apple-shaped physique to add insult to injury, but what are ya gonna do? It is what it is. And hopefully, it won’t be there for long.

I never thought these “diets” worked. I was a busy young woman who had trouble finding time to eat and therefore had no trouble keeping off the pounds, but I would watch other coeds and coworkers struggle through these programs. The weight would be lost, then come right back on, and the women would be miserable while trying to stay on course and not cheat. They would talk about the weigh-ins as if they were comparable to being sent to the guillotine. I was happy I was able to regulate my weight by eating well or not eating enough in college, with two or three part-time jobs at a time along with a full course load to deal with. That was followed by multiple jobs after graduating and then by running around after the babies and being too poor to buy goodies in my mid to late twenties. When my thirties hit, the weight began settling in, but I still could fit into a size small or medium. By baby number 4, I was in my late thirties and it was harder to lose the pregnancy weight and then keep the pounds off.

Throughout my forties, I and a couple friends would do a weekly three-hour hike up and down mountains and I was able to maintain my weight sufficiently. But by my fifties, menopause made weight loss much harder and my friends became too busy to go on a weekly hike. Now we’re lucky to get two in a year, while we used to go every Wednesday morning, come rain or come shine, for years on end.

I’m still a bit cynical that this program will work, but I will try my hardest to stick with it. Once in a while it’s good to be proven wrong.

how to keep a tidy home (or what i wish i knew)

I love flipping through home decorating magazines and watching every show on HGTV (except the ones with the “property brothers”–just can’t get into those guys) and I want my house to look like the ones I see on those pages and in those series, but there’s something holding me back. And it’s this . . . well, this and about $90,000 in cash: I am not neat and tidy enough to keep a house looking that way.

I have good intentions and occasionally the motivation necessary and I’m nowhere near ready to be featured in an episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive, but I just don’t have what it takes to get the house immaculate and then keep it that way. I often choose to think that I’m too busy or that I have more than the average number of kids (four vs. two), but it’s not those things either. I have a friend who has just as many children as I do and her house is spotless. And I follow a TV series of a family with five children and the mom keeps her house very neat and clutter free. So it can’t be just the number of children that makes the difference. I also want to believe that my house isn’t big enough, that there aren’t enough places to store everything, but I know people with smaller homes that are super tidy. So it’s not that either.

I have come to believe that it’s something inborn–you either have the tidy gene or you don’t. My husband is tidy, as was his father, but his mother was not. I have to believe he inherited the trait from his dad. I came from a family whose mom was neat and clean but whose dad accumulated stuff and didn’t want to throw things out for fear he’d need them someday. His mother, my grandmother, was the same way and now my sister and one brother are similar. My oldest brother is just the opposite, however. He’s never accumulated junk, has no problems parting with old books, baby items, or Boy Scout badges. He enjoys things when he has them, knows when they’ve run their course, and can easily part with them as need be. And he’s thrify too, so it’s not that he just throws stuff away willy nilly. He can and will sell anything possible, which is a motivator, I suppose.

I’m somewhere between the super-neat brother and the one who asks grocery stores for their banana  boxes (because there sometimes is a need to store heavy items stacked to the rafters, apparently) and the sister whose every tchotchke she’s ever brought into the house is displayed on the fireplace mantle, the coffee and end tables, the shelves, the back of the couch, the kitchen counters, the dining room table, the beds . . . you get the picture, I’m sure. So if there is no “neat gene” or “inherited tidy trait,” then how do you account for the variations in my own siblings who came from one neat parent and the other not so much?

I guess we can’t all be good at everything. The friend with four kids with the spotless house, she hates to cook and refuses to do so. The mom on TV seems to feed her family well enough, but admits to not loving cooking. Meals don’t look exceptionally creative. These women are also, one, an occasional part-time worker and, the other, a stay-at-home mom, meaning they’re able to put their superpowers to work with the adequate time they have. But my messy sister and brother have plenty of time on their hands too. They choose to use their time in other ways and are OK living among the messes.

Me? Well, I can and do cook well and often. I also work a lot of hours and have been the full-time parent and in charge of most home repairs, renovations, and upkeep, so time is tight, but I realize that’s just an excuse. I think I may have inherited both genes from my parents–the tidy and not–and I’m just being pulled toward the less-enthusiastic-housekeeper gene.

I have read about and noticed some things neat people do, namely they don’t accumulate stuff and can easily let it go. If it doesn’t have an immediate purpose, it’s out of there. I want to get to that point of knowing I won’t miss it once it’s gone.

I love the feeling of freedom being on vacation gives, when you’re unable to carry around anything that’s not immediately necessary for the duration of the trip, anything that is the baggage of life, so to speak. A carry-on will do. I’m pretty good at packing economically, so I think I’ll take that feeling and run with it for the rest of the year. By the end of this experiment, I’m hoping my home looks more like House Beautiful than Collector Magazine.