Monday, November 11, 2013

The Downfalls of Getting Older

I hope that I am aging gracefully.

I am pretty good about my sleep, diet (even with the binging I eat TONS of fruits and veggies), exercise and skin routine.  I have started to get gray hairs (a few here and there) and even that I can handle.

What I cannot handle are my hangovers.

I am not a big drinker.  Yes, I used to be a HUGE drinker.  If I drank the amount I once did, I am sure I would have to be rushed to the ER to get my stomach pumped.  I say this honestly, because once after too many shots of Captain Morgan when I was sixteen....this actually did happen.

The other night, Crush and I went out to supper with some of his old friends.  We had a wonderful time enjoying some delicious and very overpriced Thai food in Charleston.  This is a place that Chicago has Charleston beat....yummy and inexpensive Thai food.  I get that it is supply and demand and Thai food is super popular here. The $20.00 pad woon sen was yummy nonetheless and I promised Crush even yummier Thai for a fraction of the price the next time we make it to the Windy City.  He is excited, no one loves a deal more than my man.

Anyway, I had four drinks in a matter of six hours.  1 glass of wine, 2 glasses of champagne, and 1 vodka and soda water and I got DRUNK.  Like, not sloppy, but definitely not cute.   I was in a jolly mood.  I did a really seductive sloppy strip tease for my man, rapped him a few 90's favorites including Candy Man (Knockin Boots) and then fell on my bed in a heap while the room spun.  Hot.  For the big finish, I started yelling "ATTACK!" and made a police siren noise, every time Crush tried to initiate physical contact with me.

I know know.  I mixed drinks, so that was half the problem.

I woke up with a major hungover. URGH!  I made it through a half ass workout and then I demanded that Crush get me pizza.  It wasn't pretty.

Today, I am back on track after about fifteen hours of sleep yesterday.  The reality is that things I could once do: drink ALL night, sleep three hours, work nine hours and then make it to the gym are WAY behind me.

It makes me sad, but I would rather be sleeping by 10:00 pm any night of the week.  Now, I am catching up on all the things I needed to do yesterday before I allow myself get into bed early tonight.

Hope everyone had a great weekend and handled their booze better than I did.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Wedding Diet and a Random Tidbit

I am on a very strict wedding diet.  I am only eating air.  And apples and chicken.  I kid.  I kid.

True story, one time in college,  I did vow to eat only apples and chicken.  That lasted all of two days.

So...back to my wedding diet!  I am actually not doing the standard starving for a year to fit into a dream dress that many of my clients like do to.  Hell, I even did it myself a few years ago to look hot at Sissy's wedding.  In terms of a really severe diet, OY!  I am too old.  I am too tired.  My vanity has taken a back seat to more important things like health and happiness.

Now, now, I am still a little bit vain.  You can take the girl out of Chicago, but you can't take Chicago out of the girl and man, ladies are TINY there! I zipped up my fair share of negative zeros on many Saturday mornings in the Windy City.

I just want to look at my wedding photos years from now and see the best version of me.  NOT the skinniest version of me, but a me that is healthy, happy and extremely comfortable in my own skin.  The reality is that some pounds will need to be shed to make me feel rocking, but it doesn't have to be anything crazy drastic.  I look better a little soft anyway.

So, what have I been eating?  The answer is a lot of the same thing.

I am the type of person that can eat the same thing over and over again if I LOVE what I am eating.  As a binge eater, my central issue with my eating is that I eat for entertainment or to quell my nervous feelings.  If I do not give myself too many food options, it helps me control my food decisions.

Once a week, I go to the grocery store AND Costco and buy lots of good stuff.  My typical shopping list includes tons of fruits and veggies, lean proteins, cheese and a few sweet treats.  I also put at least one thing in the cart that I don't eat a lot, but that I like.  This week I picked up some artichokes.  I always have fun choosing this item. I call it my random tidbit, even though it isn't really random or a tidbit.  I scamper away from the cart and tell Crush, "I am off to find my RANDOM TIDBIT!!!!" and then when I come back to put it in the cart, I always make a huge production out of it (booty shake dance accompanied by jazz hands and then a exaggerated shimmy while I reveal the "tidbit") because I am really not the biggest loser in the world and I get SUPER EXCITED about food.  Sad, but true.

Here is an example of a day in my life in terms of eating -

- Iced Coffee (I make it myself and ice my hot coffee and add 2 TSP of sugar and 2 TBSP of cream)
- 3 Turkey Sausage Links
- Cheese Egg White Omelet (I make my egg whites in a non-stick pan and add 1 slice of white American cheese, I use 6 TBSPs of egg whites)
- 1 Apple

- 1 Turkey and Cheese Sandwich on a Sandwich Flat (3 ounces of honey turkey, 1 TBSP mayo, 1 slice of white American cheese)
- I cup of Baby Carrots, 1/2 Sliced Cucumber and 2 TBSP Hummus
- 1 Single Serve Bag of Veggie Straws
- 1 Apple with 1 TBSP Peanut Butter

- GIANT salad = Romaine lettuce, 10 cherry tomatoes, 1/4 of an avocado, 1/2 of a sliced cucumber, 1/10 of a diced onion, 1/4 of a diced apple,  1 TBSP almonds, 1 TBSP raisins, 1/4 cup feta cheese, 1/2 cup diced grilled chicken breast, 2 TBSP balsamic vinaigrette
- 1 Steamed Artichoke with 1 TBSP melted butter
- 1 cup of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate (Milk Chocolate variety made with water)
- 1 Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwich

1 Single Serve Bag of Veggie Straws

I am working out 5-6 times a week and I am aiming to eat between 1,700 - 2,000 calories a day.  I find that this menu works because I need real butter, cream and sugar in my diet to feel satisfied.  I also need some snacks (Veggie Straws) and sweets (hot chocolate and Skinny Cows) to feel like I am not going down the diet drain.

I have completely given up soda (both diet and regular) and I drink about 30 ounces of water during a spinning class and then 30 - 40 of ounces of seltzer water during the day.  I was raised on milk and juice (they thought juice was healthy in the early 80's, right?!), so I never developed a real taste for water, so I am doing the best I can with it!  Seltzer helps me a bunch.

Next week, I will have a new menu to eat.  But for now, the one I am eating is doing to trick!  It is way better than JUST apples and chicken.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Can't Find a Better Man

The other day, I was at my 6:00 am Spinning class and Better Man by Pearl Jam came on.  Highly focused on my workout at hand, a steep hill climb, I zoned in on the lyrics and really listened to the words for the first time ever (and then I ugly cried, but passed it off as workout sweat):

Waitin', watchin' the clock, it's four o'clock, it's got to stop
Tell him, take no more, she practices her speech
As he opens the door, she rolls over
Pretends to sleep as he looks her over

She lies and says she's in love with him, can't find a better man
She dreams in colour, she dreams in red, can't find a better man
Can't find a better man
Can't find a better man

Talkin' to herself, there's no one else who needs to know
She tells herself, oh
Memories back when she was bold and strong
And waiting for the world to come along
Swears she knew it, now she swears he's gone

She lies and says she's in love with him, can't find a better man
She dreams in colour, she dreams in red, can't find a better man
She lies and says she still loves him, can't find a better man
She dreams in colour, she dreams in red, can't find a better man
Can't find a better man
Can't find a better man

She loved him, yeah, she don't want to leave this way
She feeds him, yeah, that's why she'll be back again

Can't find a better man
Can't find a better man
Can't find a better man
Can't find a better man

I lived this.  I lived this song.  I was in a horribly abusive relationship and I escaped.  Sometimes when I lay in bed with Crush and doze off, I thank my lucky stars that I am lying in bed with him and not with Awful.  I found a better man.

I know everyone out there must be SICK and TIRED of hearing about Awful and hell, I am sick of writing about it, too.  But, I see my breakup with Awful as my rebirth.  I try to lock those memories in a safe and keep them tucked in a storage closet, but once in a while, they creep out.

When I found the strength to get out of that relationship, my world opened up and changed for the better.  I don't think I can ever truly explain how hard it was for me to dump him.  I still sometimes think of myself in amazement because I actually did it. I walked away to save myself. I actually did it.  I gave up a lot to break free: my Independence, some friends and my old job. 

Awful was married a few months ago.  He used to tell me that he needed time to get to know me before he could propose to me.  He had married his ex-wife mere months after meeting her and created a rule that we needed to date for at least 2 years before even thinking about marriage.  I held out for over 2 years.  A proposal was no where in sight for us ever.  He married his current wife less than 10 months after they first met. 

I looked at Awful's wedding photos.  I know I shouldn't have, but once I started, I couldn't stop.  It was like opening Pandora's Box or taking a bite out of forbidden fruit.  I had actually initially introduced Awful to the wedding photographer he used, so even seeing that they were still friends made me realize how far my life has come in terms of social relationships.

Well, I bawled when I looked at those wedding photos.  Not because I was jealous or missing Awful, but because I am sad for his bride.  I can already see some sadness in her eyes, the same sadness I can see in my own when I glance at snap shots from when we were together.  I turned ugly on the inside and outside when I was with Awful.  An abusive man will do that to you.  My mom tells me straight out, "you are getting your looks back now, they went far away when you were with Awful." She's right.  Weight aside, my soul was suffocated for a while and I couldn't even smile though the pain after a time.  It showed on every inch of my face.

I truly believe that Awful will get divorced.  If his wife can find the strength to leave him.  His first wife left him and ran home to her family in another state and I left him almost the same way, fleeing for my life. I was hanging on by a very small thread, I was deeply depressed by the time I made it home to my childhood bed.

The basic fact is that Awful is a very bad person who lies and manipulates others to meander through life.  Once I figured it out, I was shocked.  He comes across as this harmless warm and giving person, but inside he is full of venom and spite.

The clairvoyant who hasn't been wrong about anything yet, told me that Awful would marry first and that he would get divorced again.  That he would marry quickly to prove to me that he actually believes in marriage.   I STILL don't think he really does regardless of his marital status.

I struggle with the notion that some one's garbage can be someone else's diamond when it comes to a mate.  I do believe in compatibility, morals, values, attraction, commonalities and all that other jazz in terms of what makes a relationship tick.  That there is someone for everyone.  A lid for every pot.  But, I also think that if a person is a bad person,  just rotten to their core (which I now believe Awful to be), then nothing can make any relationship (friend, lover, colleague) they are in work because they cannot be true.  Everything Awful does is tainted and calculated.  Bad people make even worse relationships.

And I am not bitter that Awful didn't want to marry me.  Which is clear.  He married someone else quickly and had been married before, so he knows how to take his little frame up and down an aisle.

I am sad.

And that is why I feel.  I feel for her deeply.  For Awful's new wife.  I would extend her my deepest condolences if I could because I know when she said "I do" some of her died.  He is a soul crushing person.  He goes for the weak.  I was so weak when we started dated and as the years passed,  I found my inner strength, my boldness, because the options for me were to leave or to find a much more permanent way out.

Since I have gotten engaged to the love of my life, I feel this peace and safety that I never knew existed.  So this is what TRUE love is all about!?! I can't believe I ever confused anything else with what I am feeling now.  My past relationships have been a super cheap imitation of what love should be.  Of what I am finally getting to experience now for the first time in my life.

I actually pray that she will find her way out.  That she has a family like mine that she can run to.  That she has friends like mine that she can cry to.  That she has the strength to not allow a man to say degrading things to her or put a hand on her in a fit of rage or do things with her body that she doesn't feel totally comfortable doing.

I don't know much about her, but I am pretty sure that she, too, can find a better man.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Salad and Spinning and Wedding Planning

I am trying to get into shape.

There have been many salads.  Lots of Spinning.  Even salad spinning. The wedding planning.  Well, I must admit, it is one of my strengths.

Sadly, my engagement ring has not been the same equivalent to getting my jaw wired, like I hoped it would be. DANG.  Eating is still a struggle, but the good news is that it has been a TON easier since I moved to Charleston.  I am so much less stressed that I am not turning to food emotionally like I used to.

My future husband has an amazing metabolism.  He is lucky this way.  He has no idea about nutrition and eating healthily.  NO CLUE.  For example:

R&F: "Hi sweets, what did you have for lunch today?"

Crush: "I ate really healthy foods.  Fried chicken, creamed spinach and fried green tomatoes."

R&F: "How is any of that healthy?"

Crush: "Chicken, spinach and tomatoes are all healthy!'

Unlike me, Crush never learned how to read a menu for healthy clues (thanks, WeightWatchers!), never sat around a cafeteria lunch table in the 5th grade and talked about who had the lowest fat and calorie meal (thanks, North Shore Girls raised by mothers with rampant eating disorders!) and never saw a nutritionist and an eating therapist to change his eating habits (thanks for real, the wonderful professionals who are helping me!).

And yet, with his COMPLETE lack of food knowledge, Crush still has a WAY better relationship with food than I do.  He simply eats when he is hungry and stops when he is full.  I wish I could do that consistently.

Having Crush around often really helps me focus on eating better.  We have started to eat most of our breakfasts and suppers together and I find that when I am cooking for someone else and not just for myself, I put extra effort into making my meals balanced, yummy and satisfying.  Crush wants to eat better and I want to lose weight, so I have been preparing calorie friendly meals full of lean proteins and fresh fruits and veggies.  Crush has of course already lost 6 pounds in a few weeks whereas I have lost perhaps a few ounces.  All of my yo-yo dieting in the past has slowed my metabolism, but I feel so much better and now fit into most of my wardrobe again, so I will take it.

The wedding planning is fully underway and our first goal for hotness health takes place in February when we will take our engagement photos.  It just so happens that our wedding photographer who lives in Chicago will be in Charleston for another wedding he is shooting, so he is going to snap a few shots of us when he is in town.  I am super excited to have Charleston engagement photos and Chicago wedding photos (yup, I decided to tie the knot in the Windy City as truthfully, it is a great city and I love to visit it, I just HATED living there!).

I have found that all of the wedding planning has been super easy thus far and these awesome little coincidences keep happening which make me feel like in many ways, everything about this wedding is simply meant to be!  In less than 2 weeks, I have my venue, officiant, ceremony musicians, band for the reception, after party DJ, florist, photographer, hair and makeup artists, rehearsal dinner venue and hotel room blocks. When I return to Chicago in a few weeks for a wedding I am working, I will do my save the dates and invitations.  I will say, I know the best vendors in Chicago and I have gotten a bird's eye perspective about how they all work, so selecting them was SUPER easy.  I am just so happy that they were all available!  I keep thinking....if my clients actually listened to me (some do, many don't and then they don't get the best product and services), they too could have their weddings planned quickly!  Everyone likes to do things differently, but there is nothing I love more than making a list and crossing it off!

Hope all is well out there and Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rings and Things

The other day, I was enjoying a latte in the warm morning sun at an outdoor cafĂ© after my Spinning class.   A very handsome man a bit older than me stopped in to get breakfast and started chatting me up.  I let him know that I had just moved from Chicago and he suggested some bars and restaurants I should try as well as some locations for great coffee, excellent pie and exciting live music.  He told me he was a doctor, off for the day and he planned to go for a long run in the evening once the temperature cooled as he slept much later than he anticipated after working several long shifts in the ER.

It was nearly 10 minutes into the conversation that I realized that perhaps this man was flirting with me. I glanced at his left hand and didn’t see a ring (yes, they come off!). You see, in Chicago, no one ever came up to me to chat sober.  Once in a while, a person with a penis may have asked me for directions, but never for my number. Since I turned 28, no one much looked at me at all in Chicago because my vagina, boobs, and tush were no longer on display in my “club” clothes as they once were.  Once in a while, a drunken perv may have whispered something explicit into my ear with his stale beer breath, but the truth is that I often didn’t get hit on in Chicago.  The minute I stepped outside of it, regardless of my weight status, men would approach me.  The secret I learned doesn’t have to do with looks or weight, but by how I feel.  I was never happy in Chicago, so I didn’t exude confidence.  Confidence is key.  Men love it.

Sure enough, a few topics later, Hot Doctor asked me for my number.  I realized that up until that point, my left hand had been under the table in my lap.  I then lifted it and explained that I was newly engaged to a very super special someone, but asked him for his number since he is kind, smart, a great conversationalist, successful, handsome, and tall.  He could be a great match for someone I know! 

Rings are funny this way.  They speak for you.  Help people know who may be available or taken.  Yes, it isn’t the rule, but it is helpful.

My father has never worn a wedding ring.  Funny, but Crush’s dad doesn’t either.  It is actually a relatively new tradition.  All four of our grandfathers didn't wear rings.  Unlike many other ladies, I am totally fine if Crush doesn't want to wear a ring.  I trust him and more than anything, I know my man and it is undeniable that he will lose his ring more than just a few times.  So, if he decides to wear a ring, I have already come to terms that we will be replacing it often and there will be periods of time where he won't have one.....

My feeling about rings are that they can predetermine outcomes.  Some people may forgo a chat with me now if they were wanting to get into my pants eventually, but others will still chat me up for the simple fact that they enjoy a fine morning chat as much as I do. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

When I Think of Heaven

I'm engaged!

Crush asked me last weekend and it has been an absolute whirlwind.

So much love has poured in from our families and friends, I am still waiting to connect with a few special people to share the big news.

The ring is perfect.  EXACTLY what I wanted and even more.  I thought it would take me a little time to get used to wearing my sparkles, but the truth is that I feel like it should have always been there.  From the very beginning, I felt engaged to Crush, we never really had a game playing or casual dating period.  It is nice now to feel safe expressing my feelings about Crush to everyone I meet, the ring let's me know that it is mutual.  In all of my past relationships, I felt like I was the one pushing to make it work.  That I wanted marriage more than my partner did.  Being on the same page makes the whole deal even sweeter.

I believe in heaven.  I believe in religion and spirituality and all that.  I know that some people don't and that's peachy, too.  Ideas beyond now are personal.

I was very close with my grandfather.  My dad's dad.  He passed away about 5 years ago and I have missed him every day since then.  I was in the room when he died and since, I have felt bonded to him more in his memory than I even did when he was alive.

When I was at the lowest depths of depression, I went to see a clairvoyant.  It was the BEST thing I ever did for myself. My grandfather told me to make a husband list and I did.

I have this beautiful idea that after I wrote my husband list, my grandfather received it and began walking all around heaven reading the list to anyone who would listen:

Grandpa: Merle, do you have a grandson?

Merle: Yes.

Grandpa: Is he tall, educated, and does he like music?

Merle: He is very smart, he listens to rap music, but he isn't too tall, a nice height, but 5'8" and likes little itty bitty ladies.

Grandpa: No, that won't work!

Grandpa: Samuel, do you have a tall, educated grandson who likes music?

Samuel: Yes.  But he is married.

Grandpa: No, that won't work!

Grandpa: Doris, do you have a grandson?

Doris: Why yes, I do.

Grandpa: Is he tall?  Does he like music? Did he go to college?

Doris: Yes.

Grandpa: Does he have straight teeth?  Does he respect his family?  Is he active?  Does he like to read?

Doris: Yes.

Grandpa: Does he refrain from getting drunk multiple times a week?  Is he sensitive?  Is he an independent thinker?

Doris: Yes.

Grandpa: Listen, I have a granddaughter who is really wonderful, but she is struggling trying to find a nice Jewish boy and I think your grandson could be perfect.

Doris: Dave, I wish I could help you, my grandson is such a mench, but he likes other boys and not girls.

Grandpa: No, that won't work!

I think my grandfather asked everyone in heaven that he encountered about their grandsons.  He loved talking to strangers, never feared rejection, and was the least shy person I knew. Very tenacious.  The perfect matchmaker!  He would even give Patti Stanger  a run for her money.

A few weeks after I sent my husband list, Crush's grandmother died.  At this point, I think my grandfather was understanding just HOW HARD it is to meet the right guy.  I envision that out of desperation, he was now standing right next to the gates of heaven trying to snag the best matches for me ASAP.

I have a feeling that when Crush's grandmother passed through, my grandfather was shouting out grandson traits and every single soul floating by, ignored him, trying to get to their final destinations impatiently.  But, like a fine Southern lady, Crush's grandmother stopped to listen to my loud grandfather as she also wanted a match for her oldest grandson.  As one of many siblings and the only daughter in her large family, she could handle a man better than most, even a very silly and bubbly one from New York.

Mere weeks after Crush's grandmother passed,  I received my first email from Crush.  The rest is history.

Yesterday, we went to his grandmother's home.  The very home we will live in next year as a married couple.  Crush inherited her home and we plan to raise our own family there one day.

As we walked around the house making a list of what renovations we plan to make, we decided to head out to the backyard and I felt compelled to lay on my back and look up at the sky.  Crush joined me on the grass and a gentle breeze rolled in.  The same wind that I feel from time to time when I sense my grandfather is around.  It is a breeze that you can feel wrapped around you, but it is still.  It doesn't move the trees or leaves.  I screamed (Crush tolerates my crazy...BONUS!), "HI GRANDPA!!!" and tons of little birds flew into the yard tweeting.  Then, Crush yelled, "Hi, Nanny!!!" and a huge gust of wind blew in, this time blowing all of the great big shady trees in her own backyard.

As the branches swayed and the birds sang, we thanked our grandparents and I showed the sky my ring.  Then, the wind stopped suddenly and 2 tiny birdies landed at our feet. We felt the motionless breeze and they flew away, across the cloudless sky.

I didn't always believe in heaven until I met Crush.

I also didn't always believe in true love.