From the monthly archives: July 2012

I have spent many a long year with my bathroom scale. It is an antique — literally. It was my grandmother Yost’s scale in her old Florida home, before she moved in to the retirement home. I think she bought it years before she moved down to Florida. It’s one of those old-fashioned heavy steel scales.

We grow used to our ways. I’ve started every morning for decades with that rusty old scale — I never wanted to paint it or change it because it reminded me of my grandmother. The paint has chipped off and the matting has cracked, but it was my scale. And boy was it accurate …. as long as you didn’t move it.

So funny the attachments we have to items, and the memories that we cling to. I can remember the bathroom scale that was in the home I grew up in. The house was a 1950s tract home built on Long Island. It was a tiny two-bedroom, one-bath house when built. The bathroom was as tiny as possible, with no square inch wasted.

The bathroom featured a “Hall-Mack hideaway scale.” The height of ’50s technology! The bathroom scale was tucked away in the wall in a steel case painted silver-grey with a stainless steel frame and chrome handle. As a kid, I would stand barefoot in the bathroom, wrap my toes around the brushed chrome handle to pull down the spring-loaded door to reveal the hidden scale. What magic! When done weighing for the day (and done either crying or shouting for joy at the results), a little tap-kick up and the scale magically disappeared into the wall.

Why don’t they have things like this anymore? I recently saw one of these Hall-Mack hideaway units sell on eBay for $240.00, and it had 39 bids. I guess I’m not the only person nostalgic for these old units.

But, as I enter into my new lifestyle, it’s time to put behind these fond memories and get a scale I can actually depend on. There’s so many digital scales out there, it’s hard to know where to look when shopping. Having never had a digital scale before, I was amazed at the variety. I was surprised how many were glass-based. That worried me: at my weight, stepping on glass and not expecting it to break? That seemed like too much of a leap of faith.

After reading reviews on Amazon and suggestions on the community board of, I decided to spend some real cash and buy the Eat Smart Precision Plus Digital Bathroom Scale with ultra-wide platform. Yes, I need that ultra-wide platform. It also will weigh up to 440 pounds. I don’t need a scale to go that high, but it did allay my fears about the glass to know that I’d have to be over 440 pounds to endanger breaking it.

It has the step-up technology, which means you don’t have to tap it to wake it up before weighing yourself. Gee, I never needed scales needed to be woken? Grandmother’s scale never seemed to sleep. And if the concealed bathroom scale ever took a nap, you’d never know it. Once I found out about this advanced step-up technology (that wasn’t needed on mechanical scales), I knew I had to have it.

It also features REALLY BIG numbers, so I definitely don’t need my “readers” on to see how I’m doing. It’s nice, too, that the display is backlit so I can see the results (good or bad) without turning the  lights on. With grandma’s scale, I need very bright light to see the pound markings.

My new Eat-Smart scale worked straight out of the box and so far, so good. I’ve finally joined the 21st century in regards to weighing technology. It proudly boasts “four high-gauge Precision G sensors” (whatever they are) and sleek, ergonomic design.

But I still have my grandma’s scale. It’s nice to keep a bit of tradition around. And I wonder, like Grandma’s scale, will the new digital scale still be working 50  years later? Hmmmm.


Long, long ago, in a previous century, a soft drink company decided to launch a diet drink targeted toward women. Before this, only one other sugarless diet soda had been released. But this new product was from the mighty Coca-Cola. They weren’t 100% sure that the world was ready for a sugarless version of Coke, so they didn’t use the term “Coca-Cola” in the name — just in case the new soda turned out to be a bust.

Coca-Cola introduced the new drink, “TaB”, which helped ladies keep “tabs” on their calorie intake, in 1963. It became an immediate hit. I had my first TAB sometime in the late 1960s. That was the good old days when your diet drinks had sodium cyclamates (before being banned by the FDA as carcinogenic).

I drank TaB because TaB was for “beautiful people,” as their advertising proclaimed. The catchy theme song announced:

TaB, what a beautiful drink.
TaB, for beautiful people.
TaB, you’re beautiful to me.
Sixteen ounces has just one calorie.
TaB, what a beautiful drink.
You’re good and sugar-free.

You can see several decades of classic Tab commercials in the video below. What memories these bring back!

I became a loyal TaB drinker after graduating from college. It was the only soda I would purchase. Back then, I would buy it in 16-ounce bottles and the girly pink carrying case. Later, I bought it in the two-liter bottles and poured it into my own TaB glass with the womanly curves. (I still have that TaB glass!) I showed product loyalty through the Saccharin warning labels, past the introduction of Diet Coke, and remained true to my brand right through the newest recipe re-formulation that added Nutrasweet.

TaB has been my drink of choice for over thirty years. If thirsty, I never bothered with water. I would joyously reach for my beautiful drink for beautiful people. Since I am not a coffee drinker, I start every day with my TaB to get my morning pick-me-up. I end my day with a TaB. In between, I’d reach for my beloved TaB four or six more times. Sometimes more. At 46.5 grams of caffeine per can, I was chugging back 372 grams a day.

I was going through life WIRED!!!!

Some studies indicate that consuming more than 300 mg caffeine per day can give you the “caffeine jitters.” And other nasty side-effects happen with too much caffeine: irritability, sleeplessness, even anxiety.

Often, when I couldn’t get a TaB, I’d go through the intense headaches of caffeine withdrawal. And, boy, would I get crabby.

As part of my new journey, last week, I went semi-cold turkey on my TaB. I have cut back from my 8 per day, down to one. And, yes, was I crabby, irritable, and aching from headaches. But the withdrawal passed pretty quickly.

Now, I have my one TaB in the morning. For now, I’m sticking to that. I’ve had a longer relationship with TaB than any man in my life. I still need to jump-start my day with my beautiful drink.


Hauling this hulking body around is hard work! But I really can’t count living with my body as actual exercise. If I am going to overcome my obesity, I have to exercise, even though my knees are fighting me all the way.

I walked again tonight, stretching my walk farther than the night before. And, yes, my knees are still killing me. But I know I must get more activity in my day. I live in a single-floor house and don’t walk to work (which is twenty miles away). So, I thought of one quick, easy way to get more activity in my day while at home in my normal routine.

If you are like me, you’ve been yo-yoing your weight for years (or, in my case, decades). That yo-yo effect has not just left my body a wreck, but it has littered my home and garage with the failed efforts of past diet attempts. Yes, I have a yellowing copy of the Atkins book. I have Susan Powter’s Stop the Madness videos. Workbooks from seminars by Gwen Shamblin and the Prism program are tucked away in drawers in my office. I still use my Jenny Craig microwave cookware long after abandoning the program. And I still have the original Jane Fonda workout tape.

Today, I dug through the collection of dusty workout equipment in my garage and pulled out my aerobic  step. You can buy them in stores or online for anywhere from $50 up to $150. Mine I bought years ago at a garage sale for ten dollars. It hasn’t gotten much use lately. But I thought of a way that I would be forced to use it.

I have placed the step in the entrance to the hallway inside my house. The short hallway connects the TV room to the main part of the house and includes the entrance to the guest bathroom. Anytime I want to go to or from the TV room or the bathroom, I now have to step up and over my aerobic step. And if instead of just stepping up and over I do a series of step-ups and cross-overs, all the better.

When trying to change a lifestyle, every little bit helps!


As I said in yesterday’s blog, I had decided that I have to change from sedentary to active. To do this, I was going to begin walking. What a great idea, right?

Well, my good intentions were rewarded with major “ow-ies.” Alas, a price must be paid when going from coach potato to a walker. Last night as I ventured into the cool twilight for my first walk on my journey out of obesity, I was full of ambition…. which lasted about two minutes.

Oh, my aching knees! For my first walk I decided to proudly stride the short loop around the adjoining neighborhood and then walk through my neighborhood. Who was I kidding? In short time, the screaming of my knees drowned out all my  high hopes. Not only were my knees crying out in pain, but they seemed to shout, “Go home! Get me in a hot tub, right now!”

So glad I was walking the loop, which meant it was as much distance to go forward as back. And I did it. Though what should have been a simple, quick walk took me forty minutes, with my knees screaming the whole way and my feet barely lifting from the concrete at the end.

But, I think, despite all the extremity screaming, my body really does want to take this journey out of obesity. I walked the circuit again tonight, with the knees again screaming for attention. But, amazingly, I did the circuit in twenty minutes instead of forty. I actually had to add distance to make it a proper long walk.

First steps, they can be painful, but they do start the journey. As the Chinese philosopher Laozi said fifteen hundred years ago, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I’ve taken that single step. Now, I just need my knees to stop screaming at me.

Weight loss: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. But can my knees handle either one?




As I start my weight loss journey, I’m doing voluminous research on the web to help with my quest. All I wanted was a simple calculator to help me determine how many calories a day I should be eating. Wow! I didn’t think I would have to dive in the acronym pool for something so simple! BMR, BMI, TDEE … hey! I just want to figure out what to put in my mouth, not drown in the alphabet!

Every calculator I went to asked about my daily activity, giving me choices between Sedentary (desk job) to Very Active (bike messengers). Had to admit I am not in the middle, I am completely sedentary. So, unless I was going to change careers and suddenly start delivering messages on my bicycle, I was looking at spending the rest of my life on a 1000 calorie diet. Or …. I could make a less-drastic life change and take steps (literally) to becoming more active.

Red Sneakers on Soil Patterned with Tire Tracks

I know I will never be one of those people who spend most of the day doing heavy, physical activity. At my age (56), it’s a bit late to decide to become a construction worker and being a marthoner never interested me.

But I can start to walk. Not a treadmill, not a gym, just plain walk! And I quite desperately need to do this. I’m a school librarian. My parking spot is on the opposite side of campus from the library. I confess, at the end of last year I was getting winded just walking to my library each morning. Looking back, I now realize that was the ONLY exercise I was getting all day was that solitary walk. Now it’s summer and I haven’t even been getting my “walking to the parking lot” exercise.

So ….. here goes. A walk tonight when the sun sets. Wish me luck!



This is the first post in my weight-loss journey. Last week, I made a commitment to lose weight. More importantly, I made a commitment to change my life and get rid of the adjective that has plagued my life …. obese. 

OBESE, adjective, meaning grossly fat or overweight.
Synonyms: fat, corpulent, stout, plump, portly, gross

That one word sounds so harmless in a dictionary. But it’s a very tragic word when associated with a life — even more tragic and terrifying when coupled with the adverb: morbidly.

a. Of, relating to, or caused by disease; pathological or diseased.
b. Psychologically unhealthy or unwholesome:

Why I want to turn my life around…

My brother is eight years older and morbidly obese (as am I). He just visited and I was shocked at how much MORE weight he had gained. And this was after bariatric surgery. He can barely walk. He requires two canes to move, and uses an electric wheelchair around the house. I do NOT want to live that way. I have to lose weight for my health, for my life. And, maybe, for inspiration for my brother.

And I am tired of being old before my time.

I have dieted before. Lord knows how I’ve dieted! Sometimes successfully. More often, not. This is different. This is a life change. Because if I don’t change my life, what will my life be? How much longer will it last?

I’m blogging not so much because I want an audience on this journey, but because it is a sign of my commitment. If I blog, I stay on track. If I commit my journey to paper (or rather, to e-paper), then it is a tangible commitment.

Let the journey begin…


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