Six Week Six Pack Results!

Today is the final day of my six week experiment with Jillian Michaels’ Six Week Six Pack! I could not possibly be more happy with my results. Well, I suppose that’s not true… I’d be happier if I had an actual six pack… but I’m really just blown away by how effective these workouts have been, when combined with watching what I eat.

If you’ve read my blog before, you may remember that I tried out Jillian’s 30 Day Shred last June and lost a few pounds and lots of inches. I was really pleased with the results that I got from the Shred, but nowhere near as pleased as I am with THESE results!

What did you expect from the Six Week Six Pack? I expected to get a six pack. Just kidding. I expected to flatten out the pooch in my belly and maybe, just maybe, lose a pants/skirt size.

How often did you do the Six Week Six Pack  workouts? Almost every day.  I skipped 8 days over the course of six weeks.  5-6 days a week is the recommendation, but the more you do it the better your results.

Did you diet along with the workouts?  As I’ve shared, I started trying to eat a less insanely terrible diet on the same day that I began the 6W6P workouts. I have been using MyFitnessPal to log calories daily. The first week or so, MFP told me to eat 1450 a day, but I decided I liked food too much for that, so I lowered my weight loss goal to 1.5 lbs a week, which allowed me to eat 1690 a day (WAY better and WAY easier goal to hit). Sometimes, I’m under the goal, and a couple of times, I was over the goal, but generally I’ve been eating about 1650-1700 calories a day.

Did you do anything else that may have impacted your results? I love to run, and I do so as often as possible. I also live in Georgia, and it has been very, very hot this summer, so I have not been out running on a daily basis, but I do run whenever I get the chance. The running may have helped, but I think diet and the Six Week Six Pack DVD were the major contributors to the success I have had.

How much weight did you lose? 14 pounds.

How many inches did you lose? 3 inches off my waist, 3 inches off my hips, 2 inches off my chest. Also, notably, I measured the area of my midsection that is sort of between my chest and my waist (rib area? I don’t know the technical term) because that was an area where I had definitely gained some unsightly fat… I lost 4 inches in that trouble spot!

What is the biggest visible difference? My face is thinner. Also, my abs are much more defined. Not a six pack, but much flatter and with more definition. Oh, and I lost two clothing sizes. I think the fact that I’m back in single digit sizes (in some brands, not all brands!) is definitely noticeable.

To whom would you recommend the Six Week Six PackI would recommend the DVD to anyone at an intermediate level of fitness who is looking for a good way to really kickstart weight loss and really get results (and can’t afford or doesn’t have time for a personal trainer).

Who would you advise to stay away from the Six Week Six Pack?  People who have never worked out before at all would probably die. If you are a true beginner, the 30 Day Shred is challenging but not impossible… bu it took me several tries prior to my official first day of the six weeks to even complete the level one workout for 6W6P, and I was already working out at least 4 days a week prior to starting the DVD.

I would also advise you to stay away from it if you hate sweat and working hard.

Was it worth it? Yes, yes, a million times yes.

What is the most important thing people need to know about trying the Six Week Six PackComparison to my experience with 30 Day Shred last summer shows me that eating a healthier, more balanced diet allowed me to get much better results that simply exercise alone. This is common sense and obvious to those of you who already know how to treat your bodies well, but as someone who is just learning now, this six week experiment really brought home how easy it can be to get the results I really desire.

So, what’s next? Keep up with the same… eating like a normal person instead of a crazy person, working out 5-7 days a week, popping in my Jillian Michaels DVDs occasionally, and running a lot more once it gets cooler outside! After six weeks of eating less like an absolute moron, it feels normal, and I know if I keep up with it, I will continue to see weight loss and more tone/definition.

Want to buy it? Of course you do!

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28 Days Later

This week was our fourth week of being healthier eaters and also my fourth week of Jillian Michaels’ Six Week Six Pack!

Six Week Six Pack is divided into two levels, each of which have a “beginner modification” and an “advanced modification.” With level one, it took me until the third week to be able to do the advanced modifications on most of the moves (there was one move that my body just would not get advanced with, even after three weeks!).

This is the move I could not get advanced with for the life of me. I have no idea what it’s called, but it requires more balance than I have.


By the end of the third week, I was kind of bored with the workout because, even though it was still a very challenging workout, I pretty much had the sequence of moves memorized. I was ready for some new moves!

This week brought Level Two, and as with any Jillian Michaels advanced level workout, it is NO JOKE. There are burpees (sans the jumps in between) in the warmup… I’m used to those being part of a cardio interval! However, I felt ready for this after three weeks of Level One and I’m really happy with where I am after a week of Level Two… I am even able to do several advanced modifications already.

Even after only four of the six weeks, I am really, really happy with my results. Can’t wait to see where I am in two weeks!

As for eating…
As for the eating healthy thing, myfitnesspal continues to be my best friend, keeping me in line and keeping me from going over on calories. My biggest accomplishment this week was this:

Cutting a Burger in Half!

I know, I know. Baby steps.

I’ve heard many times that a great way to cut calories while still enjoying awesome food is to still order that yummy bacon cheeseburger that I want, but cut it in half (eating half for dinner and saving the rest to reheat). This has long been something unconscionable to me… how could I ever order an amazing burger and NOT finish it?

Well, on Wednesday night, we went with a couple of friends to check out karaoke at a local restaurant known for their burgers. While I could have ordered a lowcal option from their menu and finished the plate, I just couldn’t imagine NOT trying their signature item, so I decided to order a burger and cut it in half to test myself. I decided that if I was still hungry after half one, I would wait a few minutes and then eat the second half if I still wasn’t full.

The burgers were great, but I was happy to find that I was just as full after having half the burger and fries as I would ordinarily be after having the entire meal… a difference between 680 and 1360 calories! (The other half of the burger was just as good when I reheated it, sans fries, the next day.) I was pretty proud of myself for being able to finally use this method that so many of my friends previously lauded as “easy.”

The thing about posting weight/inch loss results is that, at some point, it’s hard not to feel like it constitutes bragging. There’s an invisible line where we all move from saying “You go, girl!” (Do we say that anymore? I guess not. We ought to.) to saying “That [redacted] needs to stop shoving her skinny [redacted] in our faces.” I’m not sure where that line is.

Anyway, I’m never going to post my actual weight on this blog, but I will post the amount I lose. So if you think that’s shoving it in your face… don’t read it. After today, I’m not going to post my clothing size on this blog, because I’m officially at the point where if I lose another size, it’s realistically going to be the last size I can lose (I am super tall and don’t want to look gaunt). But again, I am excited about my results over the past month, so if you don’t want to read them… what are you doing here?

Continue reading

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Clichés and Seasons

There’s a belief that “it takes 21 days to create a habit,” and after three weeks of making healthy choices with regard to what I eat, I can testify to the statement’s truth.

As a “bad eater,” I often heard “good eaters” say things like the above, things which I thought sounded ridiculous. As I finished off yet another Large Zaxby’s Platter, I thought to myself that the people who said these things must just be liars. That, or they had to convince themselves that the weight loss clichés were true in order to keep themselves going.

But I find, more and more, that the clichés are true. Or at least partially true. One day at a time, I find myself feeling so much better, healthier, stronger that I can’t possibly see how they could be false. Well, all but one of them:

“Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.” In moderation, there are TONS of things that taste as good as being thin feels, if not better. But one can’t subsist on Chocolate Stuff every day and expect to get [positive] results. It’s all about portion control, which brings me to our anniversary dinner this week!

This Wednesday was our wedding anniversary, so we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Seasons 52. Seasons 52 is a restaurant that cooks with the seasons, so they have neat specials all the time as well as some standby favorites. They were also the originator of those “dessert shots” that you now see at restaurants all over the place.

Anyway, what I love most about Seasons is that they keep the calorie count of every dish at 475 or below, so we were able to get great foods without screwing up our calorie counts for the day! Here’s what I had for dinner on Wednesday:

3 slices Steak and Cremini Flatbread (98 calories)
3 slices Portobello Mushroom Flatbread (108 calories)
Carmelized Sea Scallops with roasted asparagus and sun-dried tomato mushroom pearl pasta (380 calories)
Raspberry Cannoli Mini Indulgence (250 calories)
836 calories for an appetizer, main course with sides, and dessert! Can’t beat that. Well, I’m sure you can get three courses somewhere for less calories, but not for a meal that tastes better than being thin feels.

This Week’s Workouts:
Six Week Six Pack Level One every day except Wednesday. I am so stoked to start Level Two tomorrow because, after three weeks, I’ve pretty much memorized Level One.

Lost another pound (9 in 3 weeks) and another inch off my hips. Need to go shopping.

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Two Weeks of Living Healthy

This week, our not-a-diet started to feel much more like business-as-usual for me. I’m by no means counting calories in my head, but I’m feeling far fewer cravings for the things I love to eat and know are bad for me.  A couple of meals in particular helped me to feel this way.

On Sunday, we went over to our friends’ house for dinner. If it were any other couple, I would have been very worried about the calorie count of the meal, but Paul is probably the healthiest eater I know, so I knew there was no chance we’d be getting anything super bad for us. This seemed like a good opportunity to venture out of the house for food.

Emily made a great tomato and watermelon salad, which we both loved in spite of our usual hatred of tomatoes.

I was so happy to see recipes online estimating this salad at 105-135 calories per serving! We also had cuscus (about 175 calories per serving) and yummy steak kabobs. In all, the entire meal was definitely less than 500 calories (before adding in beverages). Thanks to Paul and Emily for serving such healthy fare… though of course that’s the way they eat all the time.

We brought dessert, Patrick’s yummy chocolate chip peanut butter blondies (no recipe link since he made it up). The blondies were 150 calories for a very small serving, but naturally I wanted about twice that because they were so good!  The nice thing was that, because I had saved calories over the course of the day by eating super low cal foods, I was able to splurge a little bit at dinner/dessert. It was totally worth it because the dessert was a great ending to the meal!

On Wednesday, my sorority sister Casey and I had plans to go to the movies. I woke up that morning wanting some fast food, so I budgeted my calories again in order to be able to have some Wendy’s for dinner. I went online and looked up the nutritional info for each individual item I order when I go to Wendy’s and determined what I needed to order a smaller version of, or not order at all. Just like Sunday, I planned all my food for the whole day around the promise of dinner.

However, after I got my fast food meal that I had been waiting for all day long, I found that the food didn’t taste as wonderful as I anticipated AND my stomach was busting-at-the-seams-full before I even finished eating. On top of that, I was hungry again when I got home, but had wasted the bulk of my calories for the day on fast food (that wasn’t even that good), so I couldn’t have anything substantive to actually make me full.

It’s worth it to save calories for something that’s worth it.
 Fast food is not worth it.

Workouts for the Week:
Jillian Michaels’ Six Week Six Pack. EVERY DAY.
Level 1 is still very hard, though it gets easier each time. This week I am going to try to do the advanced modifications as much as possible.

Progress for the Week:
I lost one more pound, another half inch off my waist, and an inch off my hips. Some people might be upset with only one pound lost, but I’m more interested in converting fat to muscle than weight loss, so I am very happy to continue to see the inches coming off. I was able to wear jeans on Wednesday that I hadn’t worn in over a year, so that was exciting.

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The First Week of the Rest of My Life

Last Sunday, we began our household mission to start eating right. This has been incredibly easy for Patrick and less easy for me, but I am getting the hang of it.

On Sunday, because I didn’t really know how to start, I decided to jumpstart things with a day of fruit only. I ate tons of cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, and grapes. It was awesome and kind of gave me a base from which to start. I considered doing the Seven Day Diet, which one of my coworkers used with great success during the school year, but I was sort of worried about the impact of not eating any protein for the first few days. So I just decided to jump into the “eating right.” Like Patrick says, this is not a diet… “this is how we eat now.”

I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app on my phone, which allows me to keep track of my calories. It’s a really easy-to-use app which allows users to log calories, track goals, and log exercises. It gave me a daily calorie goal based on my height, weight, and goals. It also allows me to scan in barcodes for the foods I consume, enter the amounts I’m eating (yes, I measure everything out), and see how the foods impact my daily goals. I would recommend it to anyone who, like me, wants to eat right but does not have a lot of experience doing so.

The only issue I find with it is that logging any physical activity screws up the calorie tracker. For instance, I told it that I mowed the lawn for 20 minutes on Wednesday and it credited me back 158 calories to eat. I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work, MyFitnessPal. I’m not Ryan Lochte, burning 9 million calories and needing to eat to make up for it. Workouts are not free calories to eat.

Speaking of workouts, I’ve gotten into a new Jillian Michaels DVD this month, Six Week Six Pack. This workout is MUCH more difficult than the Shred, at least for me. It took me several tries to actually make it through the Level 1 Workout without pausing for any breaks! I’m planning to do the workout 5-6 times a week (as suggested) for six weeks to see what the results are. I’m starting the “six weeks” with the first time I actually completed the DVD (which was Sunday).

My Workouts This Week:
Sunday: Six Week Six Pack
Monday:  Six Week Six Pack
Tuesday: Six Week Six Pack plus 3 mile run
Wednesday: Six Week Six Pack
Thursday: Day Off 😦 I worked the retail job all day and then my parents came in town that  evening, so I didn’t make the time.
Friday: Six Week Six Pack plus Crunch Cardio Dance (sidenote: I do not recommend Crunch Cardio Dance. Not challenging.)
Saturday: Six Week Six Pack

Results of Week One of the Non-Diet:
I lost half an inch off my waist and seven pounds.

So, if you didn’t believe how badly I was eating before,  that’s almost 4% of my weight lost after one week of eating a sensible 1450-1500 calories a day with no real changes to my workout plan. That’s insane. Why haven’t I always done this?

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A Balanced WHAT?

I’m back! For the past several months my feelings about blogging have been as follows:
1. I have way too much to do. I do not have time to blog.
2. I actually have time to blog, but would rather sleep/read.
3. I actually have time to blog, but as I sit down to write I feel that what I’m writing is really unnecessary and no one will actually care about reading it (so I delete it).

The quick “what have I been up to” update: Since my last post, I had a very busy spring semester, filled with grading, directing, choreographing, and buying a house. Now that we’ve been on summer break for over a month, the house looks vaguely like people live in it, though there is still much to be done! Moving is a process, so I am happy that we won’t be moving again for a long while.

Anyway, onto the actual post now:

Our household has embarked on the adventure of eating a balanced diet. This is very new to me, and I’ll tell you why:

I eat TERRIBLY. I mean, it is AWFUL. Especially when my wonderful cook of a husband is not home to cook me dinner. Sample things I eat for dinner when he is not home:
– An ENTIRE box of Velveeta Mac n Cheese
– HALF a Digiorno pizza
– You get the idea.

This is vastly superior to the things I would make for dinner in college, which included meals like hot dogs wrapped in Pillsbury biscuits (with cheese inside, of course). Judge all you want, because these are AMAZING.

I found this photo on a website for creative recipes for kids. Or college students, I guess.

Anyway,  I love terrible, fatty, sugary, awesome foods. I also only started eating breakfast regularly last year. In 2007/08, I lost two clothing sizes just by starting running again, and last summer I lost another clothing size by increasing my workouts. The only times I have dieted have been for specific events or to fit into certain dresses, not for longterm weight loss.

As I approach my very first 29th birthday this summer (I intend to celebrate 29 for several years), I’ve started wondering how much thinner I’d be if I just didn’t eat so darn much stuff that’s awful for me. I’m happy with the size/weight that I am, but I guess I’m just curious to see what size/weight I’d be if I actually did something about my diet.

I mentioned this to Patrick, who of course was very excited to start eating right again. I ruined his diet when we started dating, as he had a two-protein-shakes-and-a-sensible-dinner type diet and I had a decidedly more awesome hot-dogs-in-biscuits type diet. I mean, who can have a protein shake for lunch when his significant other wants to have a 920 calorie bacon cheeseburger from Five Guys? After almost eight years together he was beginning to grow tired of the cholesterol and calorie laden meals I adore so much, so he jumped at the chance to show me how to eat healthy. It’s weird to think that we aren’t dieting, but changing our lifestyle permanently.

Yesterday, I was shocked by how full I was. I probably had 500+ less calories than usual, but I was full before I could even finish my dinner. My body is so quickly growing used to eating the food it needs and gaining nourishment from the “right” foods… it’s amazing to me how quickly I’m adjusting! Now I just need to learn how to pick foods to eat without Patrick there to help. I anticipate eating at restaurants being incredibly difficult for me.

Goodbye, old friends.

This “eating right” thing is going to take a lot of work, but I am eager to learn how to do it (and not in the memorize-the-food-pyramid kind of way, but in the actual eat-right-without-thinking-about-it kind of way). I have lots of questions and he has lots of answers, since he is just getting back into the swing of things (whereas the last time I ate a balanced diet was in high school, with my mom doing all the cooking). He is basically my at-home “eat this, not that” consultant. This leads to me asking a lot for stupid questions and feeling bewildered by basic things like seasoning chicken. I always feel like I have to apologize for asking silly things, but he always responds the same way:

“We’ll get where we need to be. Don’t worry.”

I’m excited to get there.

**At some point I will be old and/or in a wheelchair (not the latter before the former, I hope). When I get THERE, I fully intend to eat Velveeta mac n cheese for every single meal, because I truly will not care anymore. But until then, my body deserves better treatment than I’ve been giving it.

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Truth Is, I’m Still Kind of a Pansy

I know it seems early for a New Yearsy type post, but today’s workout really got me thinking about how differently I approach working out now in comparison to this time last year, even in comparison to this summer.  In 2011, I’ve really changed the way I view working out and I’ve toned up a lot, but Jillian Michaels still kicks my butt.

My typical workouts from July 2009-March 2011: Running when I felt like it.  More running during periods of time when I was eating more than usual (i.e. holidays and breaks in the school year).

My typical feelings about working out from July 2009-March 2011:  When I got married, I was really happy with my weight/size.  I figured out, between 2007 and 2009, the combination of workout/diet that I needed to get down to that weight/size and maintain it.  After the wedding, I enjoyed working out when I wanted, for however long I wanted, since I wasn’t worried about making my arms look good in the strapless dress or making my abs look good on the beach for our Jamaican honeymoon.  With this approach, I pretty much maintained my weight and could count on it being around the same amount every week when I weighed myself.  At that point, working out was about weight loss, gain, or maintenance.

My typical workouts from April 2011-July 2011:  Even before I was diagnosed on April 28, I was working out more (running daily during spring break and then running even more from the stress of all the appointments prior to my diagnosis).  After I was diagnosed, I committed to running 100 miles in May, I did the 30 Day Shred, and I made daily gym visits.

My typical feelings about working out from April 2011-July 2011:  One of the bits of advice I was given early in the diagnosis process that really stuck with me was “Every mile you run today is another mile you’ll walk in the future.”  I took that, perhaps, a little too much to heart.  I would do anything to avoid going a single day without running, including getting up crazy-early, running late in the evening after getting home from my mall job, and even running with injuries or while sick.  At this point, working out was do-or-die.  Working out had nothing to do with weight… it was about my future mobility.   I felt that I couldn’t skip a day and I felt a tremendous amount of guilt when I took even a day off.

My typical workouts from August 2011-Present:  I run 4-5 days a week and do some form of cardio 6 days a week.  Sometimes the non-running cardio includes other gym equipment, sometimes it includes workout DVDs, and sometimes it includes the surprisingly excellent Wii NFL Training Camp.

My typical feelings about working out from August 2011-Present:  I still get frustrated when something comes up that means I have to miss a scheduled workout, but I don’t go crazy about it.  I know that sometimes things will come up that keep me from working out, but I just have to be discerning about what I let get in the way.  I try to log 15-20 miles a week running, and sometimes I end up with more and sometimes less.  I’ve learned to find a middle ground between my old, laid-back attitude and my crazy focused attitude to find my current approach.

So, what’s my current approach?  I run because it’s good for me.  It makes me healthy, and  not just by keeping me at a healthy weight or at a “normal” BMI.  It makes me feel that I have at least a little control over where MS might take me.  But I also know that it’s healthy to take breaks, not to let running consume me.  It’s all about balance.

A little addendum to this post about balance:  I started Ripped in 30 again today and plan to use it 5-6 days a week for the next 30 days.  Around the holidays it’s hard to get in longer workouts, but it’s hard to make up excuses as to why I can’t handle 30-40 minutes of Jillian each day.

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A Very Critical Muppet Review

This is not a sweet little review where I say “I love the Muppets!  Everything old is new again! Muppets can do no wrong!”  I’ve read a lot of nostalgic reviews like that since early reviews started coming out, but I feel that a lot of those reviews slightly missed the mark.  The movie was good, but it could have been better.

I do love the Muppets.  I was born after The Muppet Show finished airing, but I grew up watching the movies, enjoyed the reruns of the show when they re-aired it on the Disney channel, and watched the Muppet Babies show.  My grandmother taped A Muppet Family Christmas when it originally aired on TV, and I watched it at her house even if it wasn’t appropriate for the time of year.

So of course I was ecstatic to hear that a new Muppet movie was being made, and made by a well-known Muppet fan.  I was also kind of nervous, though.  There have been many retreads of my childhood loves over the years, some better than others.

Well, I saw The Muppets last night and I had mixed feelings about it.  Understand that I’m probably more critical than most and it wasn’t BAD… it just could have been better.  The problems I identified with it are more problems in terms of consistency with the older Muppet films.  Henson was very specific about the choices he made in those orginial films, and I don’t know that he’d be happy to see some of those departures from the Muppet trends he set.  It was fine, but belongs more with Muppets from Space than with the original movies.

There are going to be spoilers in this post.  If you didn’t see the movie yesterday you probably aren’t a big enough Muppet fan to be devastated by me spoiling it for you.  If you don’t want me to spoil stuff for you, don’t read the rest of this post.

I loved the references to the old movies.

 They take a road trip… to France.
 Characters actually reference “Together Again” and even sing a couple of bars.  I got so excited and really wanted them to sing the whole thing.  But they didn’t.
   Gary and Walter ride a bicycle together.  Bikes are big in Muppet movies.

 A photo from “Somebody’s Getting Married” is integral to the plot.

There’s also a SUPER-adult song that Amy Adams and Miss Piggy sing (“Me Party”) that left the little boy in front of us asking his dad a lot of questions.  Which is awesome.  The Muppets should be for adults as well as kids.

In general, the songs were good.  The opening number was very Muppety (“Life’s a Happy Song”) and Kermit has a fantastic song (“Pictures in My Head”).  Those were probably my favorites.

Most of the celebrity cameos were good (see “negatives” for the couple I didn’t like).  Celebrity cameos are always fun, but even moreso when they’re unexpected.  My favorite unexpected cameo was…
 Awesome.  Carville is a giant Muppet.

1. My biggest problem with the movie was that there was far too much focus on the human characters.  In the Muppet canon (I’m referring to The Muppet Movie, Take Manhattan, and Caper here), humans exist solely to further the plot.  In the new movie, Gary and Mary are way, WAY too central to the plot.

 We don’t care if he proposes.  Less you, more Muppets.

Humans should be secondary characters whose lives are made better by having Muppets in them, not just Muppety humans who waste screen time with their human problems.  There were secondary Muppets who could have gotten more screen time if they’d spent less on the humans.

2. Subtitles for a Muppet movie are nonsense.  There are two unforgivable uses of subtitles in this movie.

Gonzo understands Camilla, but we don’t.  That’s funny.  But when you subtitle her, it’s not funny anymore.

 Chris Cooper does a short rap song, which he performs with excellent and understandable diction, yet they felt the need to subtitle it.  This actually made less sense than the Camilla subtitles.  Why subtitle something the audience can clearly understand?

3. The movie was just too aware of itself.  Muppet movies are supposed to be self aware, but it was just too much.  There are tropes in Muppet movies that are hilarious (“traveling by map”), but pointing them out and questioning all of them ruins them.  You have to really see it (preceded by all the other Muppet movies) to really understand what I’m talking about.  I’m all for a little postmodern self-reference, but they just went too far with it in comparison to the self-reference that’s par for the course in the original Muppet movies.

4. They kept making jokes about how little the American public cares about the Muppets, how unimportant they are in pop culture, etc.  At first my response was “Aha, that’s true, people have largely forgotten about the Muppets because they’ve been out of the spotlight for a while.”  But as the movie went on it seemed the running joke was “If we don’t make enough money on this movie, the Muppets will go away forever.  Because no one knows who we are.  Seriously.  No one.  Please come see this movie and save us.”

 This chick, whose name (Selena Gomez) I had to watch for in the credits to look up and find out how/why she is famous, shows up for a cameo and says that she only showed up because her agent told her to.    Which probably describes why she was in the movie.  Then Rico Rodriguez asked Kermit if he was a Ninja Turtle.

By this point, it almost felt like they were trying to convince the audience that they weren’t relevant.  Too much focus on the negative, like a slightly chubby girl who keeps commenting on how much weight she needs to lose in a desperate attempt to get someone to say “No, you look GREAT.”  You ARE relevant, Muppets.  Believe in yourselves.

Did I like it?  Of course.  It was a Muppet movie.  But I’d take any of the original Muppet movies (or Muppet Christmas Carol) over this one.  Times change.  I suppose a lot of the things I had problems with are part of trying to catch up with the times.  The little boy in front of us seemed to love it.  The (likely stoned, based on behavior) college students in the audience seemed to think it was the greatest thing ever.  Maybe I’m just becoming one of those “They don’t make ’em like they used to” sort of old people.

I hope today’s kids in general like it as much as the kids in our audience did.  I hope they love it.  I hope they love it like I love The Great Muppet Caper.  And I hope that when they’re nearing 30 they go see a Muppet movie and pick it apart because it wasn’t exactly like the ones from their childhood.

Because every kid should grow up with a love for the Muppets.  A fiercely loyal love like I have.

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Early Advent (Please Don’t Tell My Dad)

I know, I know.  I shouldn’t have done it.  But my husband had to work today, and he wasn’t here to stop me.

As I engaged in my weekly ritual of “cleaning all the things,” I thought to myself:

What would it hurt if I just put out a few Christmas decorations?

“A few” turned into red and green napkins, placemats with holly on them, Christmas doormats and kitchen floor mat, Christmas hand towels, and our wreath on the front door.

And I may or may not have broken out the Christmas CDs and a sugar cookie scented candle.  And I may or may not have had a small glass of egg nog while doing all of this.

So, pretty much the only decorations still in the closet are the tree/ornaments, stockings, and the nativity.  Because I don’t think Patrick will be able to deal with all that Christmas coming out on November 13.

I will, however, totally try to get those out of the closet prior to November 23, which is my designated “Elizabeth is now allowed to put out decorations” day for 2011.

Usually I put out all the decorations on Thanksgiving (or the day prior if I’m going to have company on Thanksgiving).  My parents trained me to believe that no Christmas music could be listened to, no Christmas movies could be watched, and no Christmas decorations could be put out until Santa came down the road in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  My dad is probably one of the biggest Christmas lovers in the world, but he is very strict about when decorations can come out.  Advent doesn’t start until after Thanksgiving in my parents’ house.

I just can’t help anticipating Christmas as soon as Halloween is over.  I absolutely love the whole holiday season, from watching every single holiday movie and TV special to listening to music to buying gifts.  I dive headfirst into the secular trappings of Christmas, but I think it’s totally acceptable to enjoy all of that as long as I remember what it’s actually all about.

Some people hate it when stores play Christmas music before Thanksgiving, but I will take every moment of Christmas that I can get.  I can be thankful at Thanksgiving while still anticipating Christmas!

Just don’t tell my dad.

And if Patrick doesn’t comment on today’s early decorating, I’m totally putting up the tree next Sunday.  Serves him right for leaving me alone in the house all day.

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Friends Forever

I really don’t know how many times I wrote “Friends forever” in yearbooks between middle school and high school.  Way more times than actually ended up being true.  “Friends forever” is a much harder thing to accomplish than it appears at age 12 (or even at age 18).  As I get older I am more and more proud of the friendships that have managed to withstand moves, years, marriages, children, and whatever other changes life throws our way.

I want to throw the spotlight on one such friendship:  my friend Jen and I have known each other since middle school, but really became close friends as we transitioned into high school (8th/9th/10th grades).  She was a year ahead of me in school and always gave me great advice on everything from theatre auditions to how to survive Mr. Taillon’s geometry class.

Here we are in 1999, when we were both effortlessly skinny (Jen still is).  I’m in the purple and Jen’s in the silver.  This is from a terrible community theatre production of Hercules.  We were both really sick, but essentially forced each other to come to rehearsals/performances because we just couldn’t do it alone.  [There are probably photos that exist of us in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown in 1996, but no one needs to see those.]

Here we are at prom in 2000 (her senior year, my junior year).  I had moved away to Georgia, but it meant so much that my friends didn’t want to have this special night without me!

Here we are at my wedding in 2009.  Jen was one of my few New England friends who could make the trip all the way down to Florida for the festivities, and I was so thrilled to have her there!

So, I think I’ve established that I’ve known Jen for a long time and she’s always been there for me.  She has known me for every single romantic relationship I’ve ever had and every degree I’ve ever gotten, and there are very few friends who I’ve kept in contact with through all of that.

But here’s the real reason why I’m spotlighting our friendship today:  Jen is running the Boston Volvo 5k Road Race for MS Research on Thanksgiving in honor of me (and also her aunt and cousins!).  I’d like to ask that you consider donating – your money goes to MS research, so not only are you supporting my friend, but you are also supporting me (and every other person who’s waiting for a cure!).  Jen has been there for me for so many years… please help me be there for her by donating to a great cause!

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