Thursday, December 30, 2010
OK ladies - time for a reality check. I know I won't be popular with this blog, but sometimes the truth hurts. I popped into a high end women's clothing shop the other day to check out the after Christmas sales and I spotted THE most fabulous coat. There was only one left and even at half price it was still a small fortune. It was by "Save the Queen" designs and it was sooooo me! It had everything. Originality, varied textures, the perfect cut for my body, some bling attached on the lapel, a cool charm on the zip - the chances of me seeing something similar on someone else would be slim to none. It was black and grey and pink. It was love at first sight. It was attached to a mannequin so I had to ask the clerk to take it off it so I could try it on. It was a medium, and the last one, and I figured it might be a little big on me, but I could alter it if necessary. Besides, you don't want a winter coat to be too snug, in case you need to wear a bulky sweater underneath it. I was sure it would be fine. We stripped the headless plastic body and we made our way to the back of the shop so I could stand before the full length mirror and slip it on. "Hmmm," I thought as she helped from behind, it didn't slide on like I thought it would. I was wearing a zipped yoga jacket over my t-shirt - maybe that was creating a little bulk. I was about to tell her to wait a second while I unzipped and took off the extra layer I was wearing, but then I thought "Wait a sec," it does not matter. "Horrors!", it would not make a difference - the coat would clearly not fit me even if I did strip off. I could go right down to my bare skin and that coat would not wrap all the way around me. And then she informed me it was an Italian label - you need to go up a size or two with these she said. On one hand I was relieved it did not fit and look as fabulous as I thought it was going to, as I was not really in the mood to spend the money, but it was one of those things, that had it looked the way it did in my imagination from the moment I saw it, I would have slapped my credit card down in a nano-second and spent the next 30 minutes of my walk home justifying my extravagant purchase. The point of this story is we live in denial here in North America when it comes to sizing. I know a woman who is clearly a size 18 or 20 and goes around saying she is a size 10 or 12. "Yeah," I think to myself, "on what planet?" In Europe I am a large. In Canada I am a small. In some Asian countries, I am at least a medium and in some American chains, where they have really perfected the art of self-denial, I am an extra-small. Ladies! Let's be real here. I am not "extra-small". Even small is a stretch. Not that I don't love seeing an "S" on my clothing labels. I do. I just know that 25 or 30 years ago, that same "S" would have been a more realistic "M". I know this is true. But I don't mind the lie. None of us do. How else do you explain the existence of Size "0". Or better still "double bloody zero?" Clothing manufacturers figured this psychology out some time ago on this continent, but in Europe and Asia, where obesity is not rampant, sizing is still true. Sorry to burst the bubbles of all you 2's and 4's out there, but the truth is, you are merely a small or a 6. Yes, a 6! Ever since that infamous line in The Devil Wears Prada, "2 is the new 6", American clothing manufacturers saw the opportunity to sell more clothing. They started making their sizing more generous so women everywhere would feel better about themselves and spend more. And several Canadian designers are at it too. Last winter I tried on a Pink Tartan coat in a size 4 thinking there was no way it would fit and lo and behold - it was too damn big! Nice of Kimberly to try to make us all feel so tiny, but COME ON! We may be able to suspend reality somewhat, but sometimes it is just ridiculous. Same thing with Joe Fresh. That wonderful inexpensive grocery store wear that really takes it to a whole new level of bullshit. Remind me to show you my extra small T-shirts I bought there last summer. Of course there will always be women who try to squeeze into clothing that is way too small for them - that's not what I'm talking about. I am talking about getting your head out of the sand and accepting your true size. Unless you are anorexic, you are NOT a size zero. If you have any curves at all, you are at least a small or medium, or between a 4 and an 8. If your curves are starting to spill over into muffin top or your breasts are bursting out of your bra, you are a 10 or 12. If you have been noticing a double chin or none of your rings fit you any more, you are likely heading into the 14-16 zone. After that, you have to start shopping at plus size clothing stores and at that point, it's time to do some serious thinking about joining a gym and checking out the latest Weight Watchers program. I would love to think that one day I could fit into that Italian size small, but the truth is, if I lost that much weight, I would be grumpy all the time from starving myself and my breasts would practically disappear. Neither of those appeal to me. And besides, those European imports are expensive and wearing them in the correct size would make me feel fat - perhaps this denial thing is really the way to go. You're as young as you feel and you're as thin as your clothing label says you are! Tadah!
Monday, December 27, 2010
Birthdays! These days I prefer to ignore them, but when I think of the alternative, I suppose I should be grateful to have stuck around for yet another year. I am at an age where I actually have to strain my brain sometimes to actually remember exactly how old I am - unless it is a big milestone year, I forget. I never feel my age, well rarely anyway - maybe if I am nursing a bit of tennis elbow or some other muscle strain from a poorly executed golf swing or the morning after if I have more than two glasses of wine the night before, but that's about it. Generally speaking, I actually feel physically better now than I have in years. About 2 years ago I decided to really start putting me first and that included making time for regular exercise, not just the regular tennis I was playing. It made a big difference to my energy level and my overall fitness and that goes a long way in making me feel younger. I especially like free weights. I like the increased metabolism I get as a result of working those puppies and I also like the muscle definition they give me. I used to hide my arms, now I don't think twice about baring them. At one stage, I tried pushing it beyond my capabilities and realized I just could not devote that kind of time to it, so I have settled for a level of fitness that suits me, makes me feel strong and energetic, but does not keep me from doing other things I love as well. Everyone asks me if I go to a gym. No. I do not. I have a treadmill at home. I have a mat and a big ball, a set of 5 and 10 lb dumbbells, a 15 lb weight, a 20 lb one and my Ipod. I work out in my family room to music that motivates me and I do it consistently - no magic there at all. I don't have to get in my car and drive to a gym, pay money to do it, and I don't have to wipe off some stranger's perspiration from the equipment. I find it saves me time. I dress as though I am heading to the gym and I change the music as it suits me - my current motivational tunes are by Katy Perry and Rhianna and I slow it down for the stretching with whatever brings the tempo down a few notches. I honestly don't think I could do it without music. It turns it into something more akin to dance for me and that is what spurs me on. I do some Pilate's, some yoga poses and some other exercises that I used to do back in the day of 'aerobics" classes that make me feel good. I do some ab work, some core strengthening things and 30 minutes on the treadmill - mostly fast walking uphill, interspersed with some light jogging. It takes an hour, a bit more if I have the time and feel like pushing it and I do it 4-5 times a week. I was doing it 6 days for a while, but that was hard to schedule, so now I am happy with a bit less. I play tennis less than I used to - once a week now - 2 hours of doubles, and in the summer I golf about once a week. I figure this is all doable well into my old age. In the spring, summer and fall I abandon the treadmill for the great outdoors and my walks are longer - at least an hour- sometimes 90 minutes with variable terrain. The treadmill is really just for inclement weather - which is most of the winter - I hate the cold. With the New Year only days away, I plan to step up my work-out a bit to rid myself of the 5 lbs that crept on over the month of December. That, and ridding my diet of that "white death" known as sugar. I allowed it back into my body over the holidays, but it has over-stayed it's welcome now and it's time to say adios to my worst enemy - good riddance too. Whoever decided to call it a "treat" needs to have their head examined. The only thing it ever "treated" me to was a wide ass, cavities as a kid, and hypoglycemia. Some treat. Frankly, working out this morning - THAT was my birthday treat to myself. And one that will pay off in dividends and a smaller waistline! Happy Birthday to me!
Saturday, December 25, 2010
For years after I knew Santa was not really Santa, I recall still wanting to believe. The image of Santa in my heart and in my mind was so intense and I loved him so much that denial was present for some time even though the rational part of my brain told me to grow up, I really did not want to. At some point, I got on with it as we all do, but every year, I still get a little warm and fuzzy when I see certain visual images of the fat old guy. I especially like those sort of retro images of him with the fat rosy cheeks and when my daughter was little, I always tried to wrap the "Santa" presents in Santa paper just to emphasize where they came from. Not Toys Are Us or The Bay or Mastermind - no my dear - those packages came all the way from the North Pole and that's how you could tell - Santa only uses paper with his face on it - his stamp so to speak. I am quite sure she never noticed this little attempt of mine to convince her he was real, but it was something I just had to do, likely to re-visit my own lost innocence as much as preserve the magic for her in some small way. Now that she is 16, she is long past believing in jolly old St. Nick, but part of me wishes she still did. So, last night, Christmas Eve, as the smell of dinner was wafting through the house, the fire was burning, the candles were lit, and we were listening to Charlie Brown's Christmas (a tradition on Christmas eve in this house) I decided to try to re-create some magic. My jaded teen was partaking in the evening somewhat (she was in the room at least) even though she was sitting with her laptop surfing god knows what non-Christmassy sites, while I was busy lighting enough candles to illuminate the entire neighbourhood, I slipped past her unseen to the front door and opened it, left it open for a few seconds, then closed it. Our alarm system makes an annoying chime every time the door opens, so she would have heard it. I then slipped back past her - ignored and unseen again and went into the kitchen. In a loud voice, I said to my husband, "Did you hear the front door just now?" He turns to me and says - "yes, I did". I then said "Were you out in the front porch?", loud enough for her to hear of course and he says, "no, I have been in here the whole time." "Well who came in the door then," I said to him, then to her - "Emma, were you out in the front porch? - did you hear the front door?" She was somewhat intrigued now, and looked up from her lifeline, I mean, computer, and said "NO - I wasn't." So now my acting skills really took over - I got all "well then what's going on? Who came in the door - this is creepy - Emma! come with me - lets go see - I don't want to go alone - so she actually gets off her ass, and we walk together over to the door, creeping sort of to see if someone is there - and all she sees is a Christmas stocking hanging on the closet door knob. It was not there before. "What's that?" I ask. She looks at it, rolls her eyes and says - "God, you guys are such jerks." I try to continue the facade and say "What are you talking about - I didn't put that there - it must have been Santa who came in." Another roll of the eyes, but this time a bit of a softer look on her face, a little smile and for just a nano-second, some of that old magic came back and she was 4 again. Now, it was Christmas, even if halfway through dinner she asked if she could put Elvis's greatest hits on the stereo instead of Charlie Brown - I had had my moment and it didn't matter what transpired after that. Merry Christmas everyone. Ho! Ho! Ho!