I think it was near the end of last summer when the subject first came up. Discussion began about the idea of all the siblings and our spouses taking our mom to the beach the following year. We would have roughly eight months to save up the money to rent a huge beach house where fourteen of us would vacation for a week. We would surprise her at the family Christmas party with the plans. The Outer Banks of North Carolina would be our destination.
Excitement built with each deposit of money made for our share of renting the beach house. And that’s not all, for soon I was personally on a roll. I lost 10 pounds and 10 cholesterol points. I could almost hear the sounds of the Atlantic Ocean as the waves rolled in. I could visualize the colorful umbrellas and beach towels laid out on the hot sand. It would feel really good to bake in the sun after a long northern Ohio winter. Though I still had more weight to lose, I was not only feeling good physically and moving around easier than I had in a long time, but I was confident the progress would continue.
Before long, “The Holidays,” that wonderful time of year between Thanksgiving and New Years, began. As soon as the calendar page was turned to November, it seemed like pumpkin spice lattes began appearing everywhere. There they were at every coffee shop and all the fast food places. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked. You would think they were part of the new food pyramid. Next came Christmas cookies, and everything else that sabotages the best of dieting intentions during that season. But I really wasn’t doing all that bad. I wasn’t losing any more weight, but I was pretty much keeping off what I had lost...until...
Winter just wouldn’t quit this past year. Records were set for snowfall and cold temperatures. Comfort food became the order of the day more often than not. Memories of long ago winters and my mother’s good home cooking became reincarnated in my own kitchen. The hard boiled eggs, salads, and fresh fruit of last summer gave way to pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy. Still I did not give up the dream of being comfortable on the beach in a bathing suit. As soon as winter was over, I would be able to get outside, get much needed exercise, and start dropping unwanted pounds again.
Supposedly we are having Spring now. The calendar says it is May. But the weather has been nothing but record rainfall and dark dreary days. Nothing to make the body want to get up and get moving. I’m beginning to panic. We are counting “days until vacation” now instead of “months”. Still I tell myself I have “time” to lose a few pounds before we hit the beach.
At one of my lowest psychological points when fretting about all of this, I found the book of my dreams while browsing through Borders one Friday night. The title jumped out and screamed at me: HOW TO NEVER LOOK FAT AGAIN by Charla Krupp. “Over 1000 ways to dress thinner~~without dieting” is the subtitle. I really didn’t care how much this book cost. I HAD to have it.
I have been having a great time using this book as my second bible. Complete with pictures of the right and wrong way to dress, it is not only humorous, but it has helped me be a little more realistic. Sure, I still want to lose weight...the pounds I rediscovered after I had lost them and the pounds that never did get lost over the long winter and dreary spring. But I set out to do the best I could with what I had to work with.
I used to enjoy watching the TV show “What Not to Wear” with Clinton Kelly and Stacy London. The lucky nominee would win a $5000 credit card and a trip to New York City to purchase a new wardrobe. The only catch was the contestant had to follow the rules laid out for her body type. I decided to have the same kind of fun, with Charla Krupp’s book as my guide, and instead of the big budget and the exclusive clothing shops in New York, I shopped my local thrift stores so I could practice my new way of dressing.
Good results were almost immediate. I started accumulating an affordable wardrobe of the “right” kinds of clothes, and I emptied my closet of stuff that didn’t fit right or didn’t do a thing for me. Confidence grew as I became more comfortable trying new ways of dressing and faithfully following the rules. In Charla’s book I have been introduced to clothing items and body issues I’d never even heard of before. I had no idea that women were wearing heavy artillery underwear such as high-waist bike shorts and compression body suits that can extend from the midriff to the calves. All to make the best of bodies that have muffin top bulges, big booty, Buddha belly, or any number of other “flaws”.
If you’ve never been in, ah, my situation, you really have no idea how traumatic it can be to shop for a bathing suit. But there is simply no way to have a beach vacation without one! Yes, I’m what you might call a “mature” woman, but I’m not ready to wear skirts to swim in just yet. And Charla Krupp says I don’t have to! After trying on about a dozen new swim suits in stores, I found a $3 bargain at my favorite thrift store. It meets all the guidelines though I would be happier if it was one size larger. But for $3, it will pass. But I still needed another bathing suit~~a new one that had as high a compression factor as shapewear. So I went on line and searched through hundreds of them, trying to follow the rules without breaking the bank. Charla recommended ordering nine suits: three in the size I think I am, three one size smaller, and three one size larger. The idea would be to keep one or two and return all the rest. I felt lucky to find ONE suit I liked that seemed to meet all the requirements and it was about half the price of most of the better suits I saw, and with free shipping.
I held my breath for several days while waiting for the new bathing suit to arrive. Finally I saw the package stuffed into my mailbox. My heart pounded with a combination of fear and excitement as I tore into it. I raced upstairs to the privacy of my bedroom to try it on. I pranced around and looked in every available mirror and from every possible angle. Not too bad, all things considered. It will work.
My joy was tempered by the sudden realization that a high compression bathing suit does it’s magic for certain body flaws, but it doesn’t cover everything! I still have what Charla calls arm flap and thunder thighs to deal with, and no bathing suit on the market at any price can help me there! With vacation only two weeks away, Lord help me find an appropriate cover-up, and soon!
*a note to my gentle readers: while this is a true story, it was written as a writing assignment and meant to be humorous. I share it with you in that context. Please comment and let me know you laughed with me!