Musings on Life, Love and Leftovers

Archive for the tag “new year’s resolutions”

Balancing the Scales

My Deluxe Diet Scale sits on my home office desk. I bought it a dozen or so years ago. It’s one of many tools I’ve collected all promising to help me reach my perfect weight. This ideal number isn’t the same weight I enjoyed in my single days or even the weight I carried on my wedding. No, I’m not that foolish. I know the difference between real and fantasy. My days of weighing less than my bowling score have long passed. I aim toward a sensible weight for my diminutive stature.

food-scaleOn the inside I think God made me short for my weight, but that doesn’t help my cause. So, like many women, I struggle with the number that lights up on my digital scale each morning. Yes, it’s that same 5 pounds I’ve tried to lose through four presidential administrations, only now it has doubled. It seems to be gaining momentum, fighting every step of the way to remain a part of me.

When I was 12, I didn’t think about how much I weighed or how my clothes fit. I never climbed on a scale, unless it was at the doctor’s office. The details that filled my mind as a curly-haired preteen were: Does Steve Newton, the handsomest guy in eighth grade, know I exist? How will I finish my report on Chile? What time does the Partridge Family Show start on TV and does David Cassidy have a girl friend? Never a care about the calorie count in a Strawberry Nirvanna Jamba Juice. Who thought about how much fat there is in movie theatre popcorn? Not me.

The lesson my mother, Florence, wanted me to learn was that the girl I was mattered more than the girl I looked like. Her buzzwords were: try, try again and always be truthful. There weren’t conversations about being over weight or how I looked. Short of combing my hair and making certain that my teeth were brushed, she never harped on these topics. Sure, I recall mom moving a yellow vinyl-covered, chrome-legged kitchen chair in front of our black-and-white TV where she would do her leg lifts guided by Jack LaLanne. To me, her efforts were more in the spirit of exercise than weight loss. Fitness, not foxy, was the motto,.

But times changed and even though it’s not what I learned at home, I have acquired a preoccupation with calories. Was there a time I didn’t know my body mass index? I’m not sure. I think this transformation from happy-go-lucky schoolgirl to appearance-minded career woman happened slowly. It hit somewhere between young bride and seasoned mother.

I marvel at this plastic scale. It’s divided evenly in ounces (and grams) and I realize that I haven’t used it for it’s original purpose in a long time. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that in recent years, this measuring tool has been employed more often for weighing letters not linguini. As the price of postage expanded, so did my hips.

My doctor offers lots of convincing reasons why it’s important to reach my goal weight. Things like a healthy heart and lower blood pressure top the list. But I think it’s more than playing with my granddaughter, Windley, that inspires me skip the extra serving of guacamole and stay away from the  Krispy Kremes. My real motivator, in spite of mom’s insight, is the quest to look young. In this age of face lifts and tummy tucks, who wants to be labeled fat and frumpy? Elastic-waist polyester pants and free-form blouses that aren’t designed to be tucked in, no way. This is the generation of “good-looking, tight-fitting” jeans. I have a waistline and I want to use it.

My mind flips back to when I was that young Girl Scout, outfitted in my mint green uniform and dark green sash, dotted with badges. Alongside girls from my troop, I stood in front of the Market Basket grocery store, selling cookies. I didn’t know about trans fats. Nutrition facts weren’t printed on the side panels of the sandwich cookies we pedaled for 50 cents a box. Being together, having friends and sharing a common goal was our priority — that and hoping that Steve Newton would notice one of us.

I’ll still use my scale to weigh occasional letters and birthday packages before I send them to out-of-town family and friends. When I pull it out, though, now I’m aware of its intended purpose – an aid in reaching my ideal weight. But a scale can never measure the person I am. Only I can assess that. I know that ideal exists only in my own expectations. This doesn’t mean I’m giving up on watching my weight. I’m no quitter. Of course, I’ll try, try again, no matter which way the scale tips. I think mom would like that.


What A Bargain

It’s January 2. My husband, Nick, is standing in our driveway, taking down the last string of lights woven through our bushes. He’s carefully wrapping them around a cardboard holder, one strand at a time. His goal is to prevent the lights from being tangled when he gets them out next winter. Fat chance.


Me, I’m inside the garage, packing up the last of the stockings, ornaments and candles and squeezing them into one of the eight boxes of Christmas decorations we’ve accumulated over the years. Nick’s secretly hoping that I haven’t added any boxes to the tally this year. Of course I have and I’m hoping he won’t notice. I’m also hoping that come December 2016, I will remember where I put the Christmas cards I just bought. My bargain cards, purchased at a 75 percent discount, will save me a ton — if only I remember that they’re in box six of eight. I make a mental note to write that down somewhere. I never do.

That’s part of my problem with saving money. I need to be more organized. I fare about as well as most in keeping track of things. I make lists, buy in bulk, read the sale ads. I come from a long line of super savers. I’m used to counting pennies. My mother, Florence, instilled her thrift gene in me, along with her favorite mantra: Save, save, save. So I recycle bubble wrap, wash out plastic zipper bags and I buy next year’s cards at Target’s after-of-the-holiday sale. It’s a good thing, as long as I remember where I put them when the next Christmas season rolls around.

Even though I no longer have to scrimp for extra dollars to add to three college funds (blessedly our sons Shawn, Jake and Seth are graduated), I still shop smart. Heck, a gallon of gas tops what I made per hour as a 17-year-old part-time shoe clerk, and recently I saw a grocery store sign offering easy financing for a dozen eggs.

That’s why I relish the start of a new year. January gives me a clean slate, a fresh beginning, a chance to improve on a few things like: spending more time with my family, losing weight, reading more, praying more and saving money.

Over the years, I’ve had mixed results with two of the five: losing weight and increasing quality family time. I’ve done better with deepening my faith and my reading output has increased. But it’s that being thrifty resolution that eludes my efforts every year, because it’s hard to tell whether I’m really saving or not.

For example, at a recent potluck brunch with four of my girlfriends, I bought a 12-pack of giant muffins at a warehouse store. At less than 50 cents each, I thought I’d found a deal. But did I? After the brunch, there were seven muffins left over. None of my friends (also struggling with weight-loss resolutions) wanted to take them home. My sons — more the donut-eating type – weren’t interested either, so my bargain muffins sat untouched in the refrigerator, until I finally tossed them out.

I don’t think we can afford

for you to save that much.

Shopping at the local 99-cent store is another great way to save a couple bucks. There are deals galore, but when I’ve spent $47 on 47 knick knacks, novelties and party supplies, I’m hard pressed to explain to Nick exactly what I’ve saved. “The price is great, but are you buying stuff we really need?” he says shaking his head, while flipping through the channels in search of a John Wayne movie. “I don’t think we can afford for you to save that much.

Still I soldier on, proudly toting my coupon caddy along with my grocery list, seeking low prices, bargains and discounts. As the family budget-balancer, I can’t give up. Clipping coupons, mailing rebates and pursuing two-for-one sales are just part of my strategy to be frugal. That’s how I keep potato chips in the pantry, ice cream in the freezer and toothpaste in the medicine cabinet.

Saving money is more than just dollars and cents written in my checkbook. To me it’s a quest, a challenge, a mission to complete. Organized or not, I can’t concede defeat. Because I know that in just 11 months’ time, Nick and I will once again be preparing our home and hearth for the Christmas. He’ll be standing in the driveway, strings of red, green, blue and yellow lights forming a spaghetti-like pile at his feet. As he works to free the bulbs loose from each other, he’ll be muttering about the flaws in his new tangle-free storage method

Me, I’ll be back inside the garage surrounded by eight or ten brown cartons, having a conversation with myself. Now what box did I put those cards in?  Did I even buy Christmas cards last year?

Maybe there should be an addition to my 2016 New Year’s resolutions – improve memory. Hope I remember to write that down somewhere.

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