Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Makeover or under?

I was watching the news the other night. I think it was Nightline. They were showcasing Mary Kay and how awesome they're still doing even in a bad economy. The line that stuck out for me was something like "In any recession, while people are cutting back on everything else, you've never heard anyone say they're going to cut out their their mascara. Or stop buying lipstick" So, as I was putting on my (free) mascara from a Lancome gift-with-purchase, I started thinking about it and how much I care about make-up. Or how much I don't. How I can covet trendy handbags, semi-expensive colorful shoes, yet, walk around on the average weekday, with no make-up on, dressed like what Oprah used to call a "Schlumpadinka". I guess everyone has their thing. I love, love, love my navy blue sequin bag with the attached disco ball. So what if I'm carrying it while wearing Nike running (walking?) pants, sneakers, and an old Rider sweatshirt?

This Mary Kay thing resonated with me though. I like to look nice when I have somewhere to go besides Park N Play or dropping E off at school. When I was in LBI with my friends in October, my friend Hezz brought this most excellent eye shadow set to do up our faces. It was the coolest thing I've ever seen. It's called Urban Decay's Naked Palette: http://tinyurl.com/6c7b9sy. She did up my eyes and I looked fab. She did up half the rest of the house and they looked fab too.

I have tons of eye shadows. TONS. They come in every gift-with-purchase every time I buy a nail polish, eye liner or moisturizer. The gift is the only reason I ever even buy "make up counter make-up". I toss the make-up remover, shove the free black mascara & eyeliner combo in a box and throw the eye shadows in a little white bin I keep next to my vanity mirror. I always have the high hopes of being able to do something with them, but I try, and I feel like it looks stupid. AND, one eye always looks better than the other. I don't even know if I have the right brushes or how to use them.

Sephora sent me a $15 off $50 coupon so I bought the Naked Palette. I don't know what I'm going to do with it- maybe barter lampshades with Hezz to get her down here from Massachusetts to give me a tutorial. Or I can just do what everyone else probably does and look up some tutorials on YouTube. If you're in the market for some eyeshadow in neutral but still interesting shades that didn't come with a free gift, this is definitely the way to go. Usually the gift shadows are weird, hard for the make-up skill challenged person to attempt. Like, pink and silver. Or shimmery white. Seriously?

So, really, I don't put on a full face of make-up for school drop-off, but I do like to look like I've actually slept more than five hours a night (which is actually how long I usually do sleep). I thought I'd give you my findings for what I think is a pretty natural looking face. Not too done, not totally undone. And I don't like to spend a lot of money. The Naked thing was for three reasons- One: Hezz made me look like a rockstar. Two: I had the coupon. Three: It has colors I'd actually use and I could dump all the crappy ones I'd been keeping. I have an internet friend, Cassondra, who seems to put on a full totally gorgeous face every day of what looks like a MAC counter to me. It makes me tired, poor, and envious just looking at her photos.

I'm a big fan of CVS and all it has to offer. It works for my face and my wallet. But any drugstore or Target will do. I'm not picky. But, with my food and make-up, I am a brand shopper so it just have to have the specifics. CVS has most of them and it's the closest to my house.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer: http://tinyurl.com/7chaa79. It's sheer and doesn't feel like a mask. I do have some sun spots on my face and it doesn't totally cover it. But, that's what you get when you go sheer. I'm not willing to do the heavy hand so this is totally fine for me. It's also taken me like a year to use the whole tube. A little goes a long way.

L'Oreal True Match Super Blend Concealer- http://tinyurl.com/7yodxha. It works. It's the only concealer I've found that didn't give me raccoon-eye. Clinique also has one too that's pretty decent. It came in a Gift and since I haven't been in a tanning bed since October, I'm pale enough to use it. But, I wouldn't pay whatever the price is for it. It'll probably last me for years.

*Yes, I'm aware they tell you make-up has a shelf-life but I don't subscribe to this. NONE of my make-up, some of which I've had through the W presidency, has ever "gone bad", separated, smelled weird or given me any infections.

Cover Girl Pressed Powder: http://tinyurl.com/7lsprsw Self-explanatory. I've used it since high school. It doesn't get cakey and the color seems fine without getting into the crazy number of shades they have at a counter or even in the drugstore brand that goes from powder to liquid. All I want it to do is go over the Neutrogena "Enhancer". I don't know the difference between Bisque and Buff Medium. Nor do I want to or care. I want to be able to quickly grab it and get the hell out.

Maybelline Shine Free loose powder- http://tinyurl.com/7mzvksa. I use this too, in lieu of the pressed powder. It's whatever is closest to me when I'm putting on my face. It lasts forever too. I can't remember the last time I bought one yet, I still have plenty.

*I do also have Lancome Dual Finish pressed powder. It's $35. You know why I bought this if you've been reading. I don't know what Dual Finish is supposed to do, nor do I want to do it. It sounds like a pain and I'm not that interested. But, I do like it as an actual powder. http://tinyurl.com/84z5kvz

NOW- I found THE BEST lip balm ever. The other day, I ran into CVS to grab some tissues. I left with this- Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm- http://tinyurl.com/7u5dbhl. It ROCKS. I hate lipstick. Well, no, I don't hate it. I wish I could wear it. But, my whole life, I've had extremely dry lips and lipstick always gets cakey or I bite it off. I feel it on me and it drives me crazy. I end up with a tube of Blistex medicated which ends up looking like I just ate powdered doughnuts. Lip gloss is ALWAYS too gooey-goopy, those lip-stains look like I magic markered my mouth, and Chapstick is too waxy. I've tried tinted balms but none seem to be the right color. I bought it in "Fresh Plum" and it's PERFECT.

One thing I've never found is a good drugstore blush. I've been using Lancome's Blush- Cedar Rose, for a million years. I don't even know if they make that color anymore. I bought a new one a year ago, haven't gotten to open it yet since I'm still on the last bit of the old one. Why do I buy Counter blush? Because you can test it out IN the store, touch it, feel the consistency. Blush is tricky. It's not something you can buy all wrapped in plastic. I'd rather get it right the first time and not have to deal with the wrong color when I get home. No one wants to look like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane with two Pepto-pink cheeks. I also buy Lancome Liquid Eyeliner- because Estee Lauder doesn't make one. Those are my two counters because I like the free "age defying" moisturizers that always come in the gift bag.

Lastly, when I do get a little more glamorous, I actually CAN and DO put on false eyelashes. The best lashes are also bought at CVS- either Ardell, Andrea or Revlon: http://tinyurl.com/72psoa8. Revlon even recently came out with a paintbrush glue. Can't get much easier than that. Of course, the first time it took me an hour. But, it's gotten less and less time consuming as I've done it more times. I think I'm down to like five minutes and eye. And they look damn good if I do say so myself.

There you have my picks for a *mostly* economically made-up face. Being Barbizon trained in 1988 did not prepare me for later life without rainbow colored eyelids, "contouring" blush, and pink frosted lips.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My friend Jenny......

Or our friend. Jenny Craig, that is. I read Valerie Bertinelli's book- Losing it: Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time back in January of 2008. I LOVED it. I really liked her candor and she made Jenny Craig sound so easy and manageable. http://www.amazon.com/Losing-Gaining-Life-Back-Pound/dp/1416568182

So, I found myself feeling like I NEEDED to try it. Valerie had a book signing at Bookends in Ridgewood in February 2008 and I was in line with the rest of the Barbara Cooper fans. I was inspired and signed up the next day. Of course B did it with me...because that's just what we do. I knew I was going to try to get pregnant in the next few months so I figured it couldn't hurt to lose some weight prior so that I wouldn't feel like a house while I was pregnant.

Let me preface the rest of "our" journey with some facts. No, I'm not obese, but I've never had a healthy relationship with food. I'm either rigidly doing some diet or justifying eating a daily cupcake and 2 lbs of jelly beans a week. Yes, I said "a week", and if you ask the friendly lady who owns the Candy Store in Garden State Plaza, and she understands what you're asking, she'll corroborate that statement. Anyway, I've been a size 2 and a size 12. Before anyone says, "oh, boo hoo, I'd be happy to be a size 12! What an asshole.", understand it's not about the number- it's not even about the number on the scale. It's about how I feel in my skin and in my clothes. EVERYONE, whether they want to admit it or not, KNOWS what is their "happy weight". Not only do I know my happy weight, I know my "too skinny I look like a bobblehead weight" and my "oh my god, no amount of Barbizon trick posing is going to make that arm not look like a medieval turkey leg weight". I just want to be able to fit in my own clothes comfortably without having to get bigger ones. I'm not weight-greedy at this point.

When I was 25, after a tumultuous life altering break-up, I went to "thin enough to rock pleather pants and sequin bandeau top at D'Jais" weight of 125. By the way, that's what most men think all women should weigh. I think I read that in Maxim once. Yeah, well that was 25, many moons and platform shoes ago and completely unobtainable ever again. I think I was eating a piece of turkey roll on a half a piece of bread and calling it a day. On my wedding day, I weighed 138 and that was rough to maintain. That's my "I'll look good, but a jelly bean would show in my gullet like a snake eating a mouse weight". I didn't look sick- I looked good. But, I could never enjoy another cupcake at that weight. I might as well kill myself then.

I think when B and I went on Jenny in 2008 I was probably around 160. That's my "lazy but still watching somewhat weight". Oh, I'm 5'7 by the way. Just in case you're following along and comparing. As an aside- that's SO what I do when I read Shape or one of those magazines where they chronicle people's weight loss. I'm always so bummed when someone is 5'7, weigh like 130 and make it sound effortless. I'd have to spend my life chained to a treadmill. And not mine where I only go as fast as I can still hear the TV. Whatever- I went off on a tangent. So, we went on and I think B and I weighed about the same. It's always awesome when you weigh as much as your husband. He's about 5'8 if you're interested in that too.

We did Jenny for like four months. Of course B ended up losing so much weight they told him if he didn't stop losing he wouldn't be allowed to buy anymore food. Jenny's wet dream. For me, it was good- I never got to my goal of 138-140 but I made it to like 142 and I was ok with that. I also found out I was pregnant in May 2008. So, I did my last week of food when I found out and that was that. I will say, I was happy I had lost so much before I got pregnant but it was HARD to get used to the mindset of seeing the scale go higher with the baby in there. I was so used to weekly weigh-ins expecting/hoping the numbers went DOWN.

I gained 40-42 lbs with my pregnancy. So, I think I gave birth at around 180. I was horrified to be honest, but I tried not to think about it. I also thought I'd give birth and like a basketball coming out, I thought my stomach would just go down. It did not. But, I lost 20 lbs rather quickly and I was back at that 160 mark. I went back to my old friend Jenny. This time, it was a lot harder. I was doing it alone. B didn't feel like doing it again. I was also a new mom with what felt like a lot of new stress and while I wasn't particularly "stress eating", I just wasn't as rigid with the program. I didn't buy their breakfasts- I ate my own cereal. I didn't buy their snacks, I had my own. I think doing that, while saving money, allowed me a different mindset. Just more lax about it. I could've done that down the road after some success but not right away. I need that whip cracked, so to speak. So, it took me a long time to get down to around 145. I think that's around what I was when E was between 7-8 months old. Then my mom dropped dead. I'm not going to go into the whole dead mom thing here because this is about Jenny. I'll just say, due to circumstances, I lost another five pounds.

I was actually able to maintain that for like a year! THEN, last fall, for Hanukkah, B bought me that damn candy dispenser from Brookstone, that I love with every fiber of my being. For my jelly beans. And boy did it get use. That was the start of my downfall. Then I found Cupcakes by Carousel. Next, around June of this year, I was in Victoria's Secret when I found the "Boyfriend Pant". These are literally the most dangerous and damaging things to hit the market. Well, for my ass. You put these on and you instantly have a craving for ice cream, a soft blanket, and Lifetime Television. I actually don't even eat ice cream but in those pants, anything is possible. I finally learned the urban legend that you grow to fit your pants is not really urban legend. It's absofuckinglutely, 100% true. Of course, being me, I bought five pair over the next month or so and started wearing them almost daily. They're heaven with brushed cotton insides and giant pockets. I think one of them even says PINK on the behind. I wasn't even choosy with them. One pair is neon pink. I could direct planes wearing them.

I knew, but was ignoring, that when I washed the pants, they were feeling a little tighter and tighter. I blamed the dryer. Then I took E to tennis class and my pants split. That was kind of my wake up call when I couldn't make eye contact with anyone as I left the building with him since I looked like I was channeling old school/80's Joe Elliot. And not in a nostalgic, hot kind of way. But, really, all my jeans were starting to feel tight, I didn't like any pictures of me (which those that know me would say was a tip off), and I just didn't feel good getting dressed.

I'm not sure how we came to the decision to go back on Jenny together this time. B was probably complaining about the dinners I was giving him (cold salads from the Kings deli counter). He tells me he likes something so I buy it. Enough for every day. I just forget not everyone can eat the same thing every night like I can. He said we should just do Jenny, it's easier, it's quick, and we'll both look good by spring. He has maybe 5 lbs to lose, but I appreciate the Jenny companionship. And not having to deal with his dinners.

We went back to the center this past Wednesday evening. I was looking forward to their no-brainer way of eating. I did a pre-weigh in of my own, naked, at home, so I wasn't shocked when I stood on the scale there. 160. Awesome. I'd gained like 12-15 lbs in five months. I decided "for my file" that my "happy weight" is 140-145. Anywhere in there, I'm good. All my clothes will fit, I look nice, and I feel good. It's manageable to where I can still have cupcakes here and there and I'm sure I can have a few jelly beans if the mood strikes. I just can't eat 2 lbs of them a week.

They are running a special right now- 4 weeks for $15. That's the lowest I've seen it, I think. I think I signed my life away this time. I was paying the "deal" memberships for almost 4 months and I spent about 1/3 of what I would've spent if I just bought the longer deal to begin with. For me, it's worth it. I'm never going to lose as fast as B and he's going to get bored of it much sooner than I would.

Wednesday night both B and I were mentally hungry. Just knowing we were starting is an emotional thing as well as physical. Thursday, we were starving. Not necessarily because we weren't eating enough- we just weren't used to it again. We need to be reigned in like every six months. By Friday, we were both busy, didn't get to eat much until later in the day so it was getting easier. Saturday I wasn't really hungry and Sunday neither. Our bodies are getting used to the lesser amount of calories and it's working. I'm on 1200 calories and B is on 1500. I did a mid-week weigh in at home and I'm already down to 157 lbs. I'm finding it easier not to eat the "bad" stuff or off E's plate.

We're not really doing much this month even though it's the holidays so I'm not concerned how the holidays are going to affect our staying on track. If we go to the movies on Christmas like the rest of the Jews, and like we did last year, I'll cheat with a small bag of heavily buttered popcorn. Because I'm not going to deny myself everything I love for the rest of my life. The whole idea of any diet anyway is to be able to work in your real life.

And for those interested in the actual food...It's GOOD. *I* happen to really like it. People have asked, "well isn't it just like getting a Lean Cuisine?". I don't know. Maybe it is. But, it's more a mindset. You feel like you're in control with the Jenny meals. I've also heard on the news that the frozen dinners in the supermarket have been tested and are often 20% higher in calories than they say on the box. I don't want to get caught in that game- eating that only to not lose and then be hard on myself not knowing where I went wrong. The Classico Chicken Parmesean, the meatloaf and potatoes, and the mac &cheese, are my favorite dinners. The Sunshine Sandwich and the blueberry pancakes /sausage are my favorite breakfasts. My favorite lunches are the stuffed chicken sandwich and the meatball stuffed sandwich. There are other meals I like but my point is, the food isn't total shit. Or maybe it is if you're a foodie, but I'm not. I don't know the difference between homemade lasagna and Jenny's aside from the size of the portions! I've now also eaten way more jello than I've ever eaten in my life. It's "free" food so you can have as many as you like. We've "liked" it a lot.

So, that's my Jenny story. If you need to lose weight and think you can stick to frozen meals for awhile, it's the easiest thing you'll ever do once you get past the first few days. We go to the one in Paramus, on Rt 4 next to BUCU, Destination Maternity, Houlihans, etc. They're nice, quick, and really work with you on your goals if you need them. I highly recommend it! Hopefully I'll make it to that 145 in no time....


Monday, December 5, 2011

Lots of Natural History

B had been anxious to take E to see the dinosaur exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. He seems to remember going as a kid and since that's pretty much one of the only memories he has of his childhood, he was excited to share it with E. I'm not a huge fan of museums. I know, *gasp*. I'm not that cultured. Lest anyone not realize that on their own based on my love of all that is reality tv. It's not that I didn't think I'd have fun, it's just not the first thing I think of as something I want to do for the day. E does love dinosaurs though so I knew he'd think it was cool.

We went on Sunday and anticipated getting there rather quickly. We did. I think we left around 11a and got there, parked and inside before noon. So, there are things to know if you're taking a trip there....

It's confusing as hell to even know where to get tickets. You can get tickets online or at those same kind of kisoks you see in the airport to check-in. There are "recommended donation"prices. Now, I don't know how you go about paying less but if you're willing to just pay whatever they're asking you don't have to wait on line and talk to an actual person. You use the kiosk. If you want to pay some other amount you wait on line. We waited on line because we also had questions. There are different kinds of tickets. General admission, general "plus one" (one special exhibit) and then general plus 2 or more special exhibits. The special exhibits also have times you're supposed to keep to and you are supposed to know what order and when you want to see what as you're buying your ticket. I guess they do this because they have to keep some order in the place but for us, it was a lot to process at that moment.

Big decisions on what to do. We have a toddler. We don't know what he's going to be like from hour to hour and how long he'd last looking at stuff. So we took our best guess, bought tickets for general admission plus 2 or more special things (four exhibits, to be exact). It was $33/adult. Not sure what it is for kids. The guy asked us how old E is and we said "He's two.". He just said ok. We didn't read any signage until later. Just saying 2 isn't clear- you have to say like, two and a half. Because over 2 you're supposed to pay. We would have- we were just so confused and felt pressure to be quick since it was a long line. We said two, he didn't charge us, and we just went on our way. Anyway, the itinerary we picked had us going until like 4p and it was only noon. Just thinking about that made me tired.

*Strollers are allowed everywhere but the special exhibits you pay for. Just FYI. And at E's age, there was no way we could've gone through this whole museum without it. Too big and spread out.

It wasn't that crowded. Or as crowded as we'd expected. We walked around the dinosaur exhibit first and then into the special "Largest Dinosaur" exhibit. Both were cool but I'm not exactly sure why it cost more for the Largest Dino thing. E didn't really understand that he was looking at their bones but thought it was cool none the less. But, it took us a really short time to walk through there. I guess if we had an older child that really knew what he was looking for or at, it might've taken longer. Plus, people were taking pictures, which I thought was kind of weird because what are you going to do with those? But, whatever. So, the next thing wasn't for another 40 minutes or so. It's just confusing- there are a lot of different elevators that take you to different places.

I actually got lost and separated from B and E. I felt like a kid in a mall. I had no phone, no money, no car keys or jacket. I told B I was going to the bathroom which was downstairs by the food court. He said he'd take E in the stroller down the elevator and meet me there. I went down the stairs. I quickly used the facilities and came out. No B and E. I wait. I look in the food area. Still no family. I started to get frantic which is so not me, but I felt like this is what news stories are made of and I was nervous. Luckily about ten minutes later I checked this other elevator area and there they were. I literally almost started crying. I don't know what came over me, but in my head I had been like, "oh my god- I have nothing, they are nowhere, what could've happened to them..." so on and so forth.

We were starving and figured we'd take this time to eat. The food ALL looked awesome. I packed a lunch for E, thank god, because it was EXPENSIVE to buy their food. They had your average hamburgers, chicken nuggets, fries. But, they also had sushi, turkey burgers, veggie burgers, pizza, a salad bar with hot and cold food, giant cupcakes, cookies, fruit, chips, and more. There were just a lot of choices. B had sushi and some stuff from the hot food bar. He liked everything. I had a turkey burger and fries. Also good. But, this all cost $35 and that was without food for E, a drink for me (I brought my own) and no dessert. It's cafeteria style which works, we found a seat easily and they have high chairs.

We went looking for our next thing which was a frog exhibit. It was cool, but again, I'm not sure what constitutes the extra cost. They had these electronic kiosks where you could learn about different frogs which I liked.

Next up was the Imax. No strollers in there- you leave them outside the doors. I was a little apprehensive about it but I guess if they had a stolen stroller epidemic they would tell you to leave it at your own risk. I left it and it was fine. The movie- It's narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and about all the planets, sun, moon and stars. We were able to get in just as it was about to start. That was good because we didn't have to wait on a line and it didn't matter where you sat- it was the same view. We thought E would really be into it but meanwhile, it started it and he was clinging to me for dear life. He was really scared. But, he didn't cry and didn't ask to leave. And actually, he regurgitated to us later, info he heard Whoopi say about the planets. It was kind of awesome. He did sit on my lap, it wasn't full and it was a nice break from walking around. I bet if we went back, E wouldn't be scared at all, but since this was the first time in an Imax, I totally understood.

The last special exhibit we did was seeing the butterflies. It's literally 80 degrees in the greenhouse thing they're in. And HUMID. Butterflies just fly around freely and can land on you. You're just not supposed to touch them. None landed on us, but it reminded me a little too much of Silence of the Lambs in there. E really likes butterflies though so I wanted him to be able to see that exhibit.

We got into every exhibit early and were done by 3:30 I think. They didn't keep to the times and we zipped through the exhibits as one does with most things having a two year old. I guess if it was really crowded they would keep more strictly to the times on your ticket. By the time we left, B and I were exhausted but E seemed still raring to go, as usual.

It was a really nice experience, aside from getting lost in there, and the exhibits were really great for any age to see. Older kids might get more out of it than E did but he definitely retained some of what he saw. If you haven't been there, it's definitely a nice day. Had it been warmer out and we weren't so tired, Central Park is right across the street so there is another place to go before or after if you're looking to make a whole day of it.