30IN30 WEEK 10: Imperfect Pear

Week 10 of 30lbs in 30 weeks. – .1 lbs
Ten weeks into 30lbs in 30 weeks and weight-wise, I am pretty much in the same place I started. Although, I am 10lbs behind on the weight goal, other things are going well. I do feel more energetic and have been prioritizing exercise and wiser eating decisions. Even as I am making bad decisions or just repairing old habits, I am more conscious of what I am doing.
I realize it may be awhile before I hit my goal and in the meantime, I need to work with what I’ve got. Recently, I spent sometime online shopping for new clothes. I want a few things that I feel good in when I go out as well as a couple interview appropriate items. I have a hard time shopping online. It is hard for me to envision what things will look like on me. Especially when they have models so tiny that anything would look good on them. Does this drape-y dress/shirt look as cute in a size 10 or I am going to look like I am wearing a muumuu? One thing I find helpful is knowing your shape. I am a pear.
While looking for clothes with this in mind, I ran into some articles that suggest there is scientific evidence to support the idea that different shapes should approach diet and exercise differently. The bad news is that it can be harder for us pears to lose weight, especially that ugly, dimply fat around our hips. The good news is that we tend to be at a lower risk for many of the health issues an apple shape might encounter.
I have avoided it up to this point, but I feel ready to take on more of a diet and exercise regimen. Diets recommended for pears are low in fat. Some of the recommendations are “clean” diets or “fat flushing” diets. I have a few diets in mind, including The Fat Flush, that I will evaluate this week and report back next week with which one I decide to proceed with.
Have you tried dieting with you shape in mind? I’d love to hear about your experiences and any lessons learned.
Karen Propp is an artsy-fartsy digital geek who sees beauty in a different way. She chronicles the pursuit of happiness and  her weight loss project, 30lbs in 30 weeks, in a weekly feature. You can read the introduction here and follow her journey here. You can also follow Karen on twitter @karen_propp.

Week in Review: 11/27-12/3

Coco Chanel

What intrigued us this week?

Introducing contributing editor, the beautiful Karen Propp  Weekend Observations: Some Exciting News!

Can you imagine spending over $1,000 for eyelashes?  An example of how far people go for beauty  Pic of the Week: Beautification to the Extreme

Meet a beauty inspiration: the 80-year old model, Carmen Dell’Orefice An 80-Year-Old Supermodel

Karen’s first installment and introduction to her quest for happiness first, weight loss second Some Day You’ll Want To Remember How It Feels To Be Young And Beautiful

More fun beauty-in-culture reading More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

Have a splendid weekend!

Someday you will want to remember how it feels to be young and beautiful

Week 1 of 30lbs in 30 weeks.

“Feel your legs. Feel your body. Someday you will want to remember how it feels to be young and beautiful in New York City.”
I wrote the above in my journal when I was 25. I was unemployed, completely broke, and going through a contentious divorce. I didn’t even have an apartment and was sleeping on friend’s couches. I was also probably the happiest I had ever been. I have been trying to recapture the feeling I had those couple years ever since.

a younger Karen
Someday you will want to remember how it feels to be young and beautiful in New York City.

I felt truly free. I was listening to my heart and my body and I imposed very few rules on myself. If it felt good, I did it. It was a time of great exploration for me. I was single for the first time as an adult (I got married at 19), I was in New York City, and the world of possibility was open before me. I was willing to try almost anything once. I didn’t berate myself for mistakes and was completely unafraid of failure. I refused to indulge in negative thoughts, feelings of guilt and I took the word “should” out of my vocabulary. To be a little cliche, I was living “in the now.”

My inner satisfaction seemed to have ripple effects in other areas of my life. As I mentioned before, my divorce was quite ugly and I could easily have focused on the negativity surrounding that process. Instead, each dick move my ex made, I reminded myself how lucky I was to be (nearly) free of him.

My dating life went great, mostly because I just wanted to have fun. Because I was not looking for husband #2, I did not have any preconceived ideas about my perspective dates. I didn’t care much about his age, I didn’t take his bad habits personally, I didn’t try to change him. As long as he was kind, I enjoyed his company and there was attraction, I didn’t care about his career, his background, his hobbies or future goals. I met a lot of great guys with whom I am still friends with. I also met the man would become husband #2.

During this time, I was also in great shape. Despite the fact that I had started drinking, did not have a gym membership and was not counting calories, I managed to stay trim and active. I believe it had something to do with my state of mind. I was listening to my body, I felt energetic and sexy and all this translated to how I treated food and exercise. It likely also manifested itself in other ways that are known to influence our weight – stress, sleep, hormones, mood.

In the past, weight loss was always the goal. It was as if I was going to wake up one day and be at that perfect weight, that perfect size, and suddenly everything would be great. I’d have a steamy sex life, all my clothes would be awesome and fashionable, I’d have more friends, I’d be athletic. I am re-framing my thinking. Weight-loss is no longer my goal. It is a by-product, a benefit of my happiness goal.

To learn more about my project, 30lbs in 30 weeks, follow my weekly posts here.


Karen Propp is an artsy-fartsy digital geek who sees beauty in a different way. She chronicles the pursuit of happiness and  her weight loss project, 30lbs in 30 weeks, in a weekly feature. You can read the introduction here and follow her journey here. You can also follow Karen on twitter @karen_propp.


Are Diets for Kids Such a Bad Idea?

I’ve been bombarded by news that a diet book, Maggie goes on a Diet, is about to hit the bookstores.  As you can see from the cartoon cover, the book is meant for kids, not their parents, to consume (no pun intended).

Of course, my initial reaction is one of repulsion.

To be fair, the book is aimed at teens.  But if the readership stats of Seventeen and Teen Vogue magazines tell a story it’s that tweens read what’s meant for teenagers.

Still, should we be promoting diets to kids or teens?  Is that healthy?

But is the alternative better?  Childhood obesity is the biggest health concern facing children in this country.  And, as the saying goes, a fat kid inevitably turns into a fat adult.  If we’re not going to teach our children how to manage their weight and eat healthfully (and, let’s face it, the stats show many of us aren’t doing it, or, at least, not doing it well), shouldn’t we be happy there’s a book out there to guide them along?   As a mom of 3 kids with divergent tastes and different eating habits, it’s really hard to get something they’ll all eat, let alone make sure it’s the healthiest too.  Maybe having other sources to encourage good eating habits could be a plus.

No question putting the word “diet” in the title was a mistake.  I bet if the title used phrases like “eating to be fit” or “eating smarter” the book would have received less flack.  We Americans just don’t like the word “diet.”  Period.

Despite the title I will try to have an open mind about the book.  And even if I think it sucks, I still question whether it’s so bad that kids get some eating advice from other sources beyond school or mom & dad.

Comment or tweet me your thoughts @beautyskew

Weekend Observations: How Economics Are Keeping Us Fat

I went shopping at Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck) this weekend to pick up some groceries.  While I tend to feel like a gourmand when I peruse the aisles, as soon as I check out the prices, I gasp in horror and end up feeling like a pauper. 

And forget about the organic section.  That’s WAY beyond my price range.

It’s no wonder that USA Today just published an article about how expensive and, ultimately, out of reach healthy eating  truly is (“The high cost of eating healthy out of reach for many“).  

So, how in the world are we supposed to maintain healthy, trim bodies when the food to help us do this is so expensive?

Many, including the authors of my new favorite book, Skinny Bitch, argue that taking care of our bodies should be a priority.  As such, we should rethink our spending habits and lay out more cash for healthy food and less on other stuff.  After all, Europeans spend much more money on food than we do. 

Are we just used to food being so cheap that we can’t fathom paying a premium for it?

I don’t know.  There’s a lot of people in this country barely making ends meet.  If I’m hesitant to shell out the big bucks for healthier food, imagine what a single mother or an out-of-work father with multiple kids is thinking.

I think the solution is clear.  If the government truly wants to improve our health and healthcare system, then it should subsidize the hell out of produce as well as the fruit and vegetable transporters (trucks, air travel, etc.).  And it should tax big time the crappy food.  (I know, I know, easier said then done, especially when corn manufacturers have a mega group of lobbyists.)

Any other suggestions to tackling the expensive healthy eating challenge?

Week in Review: 7/24-7/30

In case you missed out this week, here’s a review of our thoughts:

I finally reviewed Skinny Bitch and just might be a convert! Weekend Observations: To Be or Not to Be a Skinny Bitch

Sometimes architecture can just blow you away, even just a picture of it Pic of the Week: Breathtaking Architecture

Did the Chinese have right all along? Could It be the Chinese Are the True Beauty Experts?

Why we hold on to the old-fashioned prom king and queen ceremony What’s With the Whole Prom King and Queen Business Anyway?

More fascinating reading for your beauty pleasure More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

Have a fantastic weekend!

You May Never Be Fat Again, and It’s All Thanks to My DAD!

I was quite surprised when I read a story from Mailonline reporting that yo-yo dieting may actually be good for you!  For years we’ve heard that it’s terrible, and now a study shows that mice who yo-yo’ed (excuse the strange image) lived longer than those who remained on steady low or high fat diets.  But, then again, every day there’s another diet, another piece of evidence about gaining or losing weight that contradicts the evidence from yesterday, or a new super food to curb appetite and increase metabolism so we can look like the super model of the moment.

Jeeze, who/what to believe?!

Well, I’m thrilled to report that all this crazy so-called diet science may be thrown out the window due to a discovery by my dad, Dr. Gerald Kolodny, chief of Nuclear Medicine at Beth Deaconess Hospital, and his colleagues at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, MA.  A few years ago, my father and his colleagues discovered the existence of brown fat in adults.

So what is brown fat (no credit to the person who says an overweight person with a tan)?  Everybody is born with brown fat and white fat.  White fat is used to store excess calories.  But brown fat actually burns calories to produce heat.  Infants need it to produce heat to keep their temp high despite their tiny bodies.  But the brown fat decreases as we age, and until now, people assumed it dissipated altogether.

When physicians started doing pet scans, they noticed a type of fat dispersed among white fat that was taking up a lot of glucose in cold weather.  My father and his colleagues showed that patients not only exhibit brown fat, but if you keep a person cold, they will increase their usage of glucose thanks to activity by the brown fat. The next stage of this research is to find ways to accelerate brown fat, so that we can burn more calories, and lose weight.

Even better news, my father and his team received a grant from the National Institute of Health to get to the next stage.  How so?  Forgive me if this gets technical, but for those biology geeks, here we go:

There is a particular molecule in the body called UCP1 (uncoupling protein 1) that is unique to brown fat and is the molecule that generates heat (as opposed to stores fat). It would be nice to have a test to visualize how much UCP1 people have so that we can pinpoint it and stimulate it.  My dad and his team are proposing a novel way to pinpoint and visualize the protein.

Phew, a lot of info there but suffice it to say we’re on the road to figuring out how to end our obesity epidemic one and for all.

Way to go Daddy!

Oy, Yoplait Goes Too Far This Time

While I think Yoplait‘s products, advertising and website are great, it went a bit too far recently.  Ironically, what makes Yoplait so great is that it deeply understands the needs, conflicts and desires of people when it comes to watching their weight.  The brand does a great job reflecting how women speak and think about their bodies with a sense of humor and truth.  I LOVE the “Know Your Girls” campaign promoting breast cancer awareness with candor and a sense of humor.
But there is a difference between understanding the issues we face with our bodies and actually reflecting them back to us on the screen.  Yoplait has gotten a lot of flak from the National Eating Disorders Association for a recent ad that shows a women negotiating whether she could eat a piece of cheese cake (click below to view).  The copy is spot on.  We probably all talk like this once and a while.  But that’s the problem.  It reflects, and maybe even promotes, the screwy relationship many of us have with food.  And sometimes that relationship leads to major eating disorders.
Let me give you a taste (no pun intended) of the monologue:
“What if I had just a small slice?  I was good today, I deserve it!  Or, I could have a medium slice and some celery sticks and they would cancel each other out, right?  Or, OK, I could have a larger slice and jog in place as I eat it.  Or, OK, how about one slice while jogging in place followed by eight celery …”
Yikes!  Maybe this is true but since when do advertisers (as opposed to, say, shrinks) need to hold a mirror up to ourselves!?
I must give Yoplait some credit, though.  Soon after the attack, they yanked the spot off the air, which set them back a pretty penny.
Yoplait Cheesecake Commercial

Weekend Observations: No Wonder There’s Liar-Exics!

Why is it that people think they have the right to comment on how much or what others are eating?

What am I talking about?

There’s some unwritten rule out there that if you’re normal weight or thin, people can criticize or question what you eat.

Let me give you an example.  I was in the middle of a conversation this weekend with an acquaintance and knew that I wouldn’t have time to eat lunch later so I excused myself for a sec to grab my energy bar from my purse.  The person I was with said, “You’re eating that?  When you said lunch I thought you meant a real lunch, not a bar.  Is that really enough?”  I felt I had to make some excuse like, well, I ate a huge breakfast.

Now wait a minute.  I don’t comment on my friends’ tastes for calorie rich lunches so why should I get snickers for my low-calorie mini-meal (and btw, I had another a few hours later, as I like to eat often!)

It’s become so common for society to antagonize people watching their weight (ex: this article about a recent pic of Heidi Klum,”Heidi Klum — Curvy Beauty to Scary Skinny!“), that now there’s a phenomenon of people faking their eating habits to show they pig out like the rest of us.  The phenomenon has been aptly entitled “Liar-exics” by Mailonline.  People are eating “normal” or high calorie foods in front of others so as not to appear “hung up on eating.”  Otherwise, they think their friends or the media “shout” at them for overtly eating small, low-calorie portions.  If the reverse were true (i.e., getting snickers for eating junk food), the backlash would be intense.

When the diets are extreme and border on disorders, I see where a quiet discussion among friends could be helpful.  But nasty comments don’t help anyone.

Why can’t we just leave people alone and let them eat what they want, when they want…be it celery sticks or a 20 oz ice cream float?

If I may borrow a line from Dr. King (with a few changes, granted), let’s appreciate our friends for who they are and not for what they do or don’t eat.

What Happens to Our Bodies When We Love Ourselves

Isn’t it funny how we learn a new term or get exposed to a new theory and then it seems to crop up everywhere?  That happened to me last week.  I came across a new “theory” called “self-compassion.”  First I saw it referenced in an MSNBC article, “Self-compassion May Matter More than Self-esteem” in reference to the best ways to raise our children, and then ran across it in Whole Living magazine in the context of dieting.  In both cases, we’re encouraged to have more compassion for ourselves and others.  (The alternative theory around achieving or promoting self-esteem advocates striving to be better than others and punishing ourselves when we don’t reach our goals.)  While I was intrigued by the theory for life in general, the article on dieting really struck a chord.
The Whole Living piece, based on a new book, “The Self-Compassion Diet,” by psychotherapist Jean Fain, states that the key to maintaining a healthy weight isn’t self-control or deprivation but nurturing the self and the body — treating them as you would a friend or loved one.  OK, I know that sounds vague so here’s how the fancy Harvard psychologist explains it.  Self-compassion has 3 essential aspects: mindful awareness (giving full attention), self-kindness (vs. beating yourself up), and “common humanity, the understanding that suffering is part of the human experience and that you’re not alone.”
In a study, two groups were given a doughnut for each person to eat.  Afterward, one group was prompted to think kind things of themselves, like “everyone overeats sometimes and you can get back on track,” while the other group was left to think their own thoughts.  Then both groups were left to sit with a big bowl of candy.  Those who exhibited “self-compassion” were less likely to over indulge than those in second group.  Net net, being kinder to yourself reduces the likelihood of overeating.
I can certainly relate.  Who hasn’t eaten a bowl of ice cream or another piece of cake and regretted it afterward?  And the next day we wonder, did that pound of flesh just materialize thanks to what I ate last night?  Ugh!
So many of us are harsh to ourselves when it comes to our bodies.  But the result of this self-loathing as a nation isn’t making us healthier, stronger, or leaner but, rather, heavier and sicker.  As I’ve written in earlier posts (What Pornography Reveals), if we truly love ourselves — including the vessel we carry ourselves in, i.e., our bodies, we all would be happier and healthier. Our bodies aren’t separate entities, they are part of us.  We must nurture and love them.  And if we do, then the extra piece of cake becomes just a treat, not a symbol of our lack of control and inability to be a healthy, successful person.  And in the end, we would be happier, more confident, and even, healthier.