Friday, July 29, 2011

'What grown-up wants to wear a bib?'

Lol! The judges' commentary are always my favorite part of "Project Runway," and as season 9 kicked off Thursday night, they did not disappoint! Heidi was responsible for the snarky remark in the headline, and I loved Michael Kors' follow-up: "She's wearing like a Flintstone disco pouch." Ha!!!

These comments were directed toward Rafael, who was sort of the first to be auf'd. (I'll get more to that later.) Honestly, it was a three-way tie for me as to who should pack up their tacky clothes and roll that suitcase right on out of Manhattan.

First, let's talk about the challenge. The 16 designers were woken out of a peaceful slumber and told to travel down to the studio in their pj's carrying their white bed sheets with them. They had to design a garment for a female with their pajama fabric and sheets, given closures (buttons and zippers, etc.) and dye to change the fabric color. I LOVED this challenge. So fun! But I was TOTALLY grossed out by some of the fabric being used. The old guy, Bert, literally took off his peach checkered boxes and incorporated it into a cocktail dress. Forgive me, but there are prime areas of that fabric I hope weren't touching that poor model in any way. HOLY UNSANITARY, BATMAN.

So, who sucked ...

Rafael, for SURE.
I think it was Michael who said it looked like the model put on the grey, skin-tight pants and white blouse and then had too big of a meal, so she was popping out of the whole ensemble. Just the weirdest, most ill-fitting, crotch-hugging pants I've ever seen. And the bib they were referring to was a nasty, leopard print head scarf that he fashioned into a "necklace." It was a bib.

Despite the fact that the judges picked him to WIN the challenge, I hated Bert's cocktail dress. Maybe it was the fact that I couldn't get over the underwear-hanging-off-this-poor-girl's-boob aspect. But I thought it looked all weird and twisty and amiss. Kind of just hung on her, all willy nilly. Honestly, when he was left on the stage to answer to the judges, I thought it would be bad news for Bert.

But Julie, who was in the bottom, presented the hottest mess of any garment in Runway history. Oh yeah, I went there. And I'm owning that statement! Oversized cargo pants that looked like they were inside out, with the droopiest butt and the saddest sickly grey color EVER. A hot pink cartoonish print on the tee, wrapped with a second bold, crazy color. How does sickly gray go with cartoon pink and yellow? Not only was it in poor taste, but it showed that she has no vision, poor construction abilities, and she works HORRIBLY under pressure. For me, it would have been Julie, and I would have gotten quite nasty about it as well.

Who's AWESOME ...

Ok, let's just pause for a moment and appreciate what Anya put forth last night. FREAKING AMAZEBALLS. This chick learned to sew FOUR MONTHS AGO. The judges weren't even going to let her compete! Because they were afraid she couldn't handle all the sewing! Then, out of frickin' nowhere, she dyes fabric to a beautiful shade of grey and makes HER FIRST PAIR OF PANTS EVER from it. And they fit like every woman wishes her pants would fit. Did you see that tushy? WHAT TUSHY?! And she was able to make a beautiful, Asian inspired halter blouse out of silk. SILK! Who in the hell can sew silk? I'll tell you who: Anya, who just learned to sew FOUR MONTHS AGO. And she's gorgeous, too. And she's cool. Why do the pretty ones have to have it all? ...

There were three surprises for me. ...

1. Cecelia did very well -- that was a surprise. There was a casting special that started the show where four designers were eliminated out of a batch of 20. (What a waste of time. I don't need to see who they DIDN'T WANT. Just get to the challenge already, am I right?) Cecelia was on the cusp of being auf'd. But she made it through, and her outfit was actually really cute. Tangerine skirt. Well-constructed, bodice-esque top. I liked it. Except for the slip up near the butt crevice. Didn't like that.

2. One of my favorites from casting videos on the website was Serena. I would have worn any of her clothes. Gorgeous! And she didn't make it through to the 16 final designers. Sad.

3. One of my top favorites, Olivier, didn't make it into the top. He was just in the middle. And I was surprised at the lackluster quality of his garment. It was a drab color. Neutral. Nothing special. A skirt and a top. But, I don't know, I'm sticking with him, I think. He's cute. Funny.

So here are my picks for people who will do quite well ...

Anya and Olivier. I have a good feeling. Oh, I also loved Bryce! Here was his outfit.
Now tell me who you liked!

Until next week ... Auf Wiedersehen!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

One great song, one sad life

I wasn't an Amy Winehouse fan. But I thought her one hit single was pretty good, if not a blatant cry for help that was answered with Grammy nominations instead of interventions. But then, I'm sure her family and friends tried to get her help. If I've learned anything from TLC's "Intervention" it's that you can't force an addict to get clean. They have to want it.

No cause of death has been determined just yet. But I'm sure we all have an idea. And it made me think about the 27 Club. Winehouse just joined it today. Hopefully she won't be listed in the same breath as Joplin, Morrison or Cobain. But her age, occupational choice and modicum of fame will surely mean she'll make the roster.

Unfamiliar with the 27 club? Read here.

Here's an article on Winehouse's death, too.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Good (and bad) nutrition begins in youth

I was at the bar for a ladies gathering several months ago. And as women tend to do, the conversation got deep rather quickly. Before I knew it, my childhood was being examined.

My three lovely barmates simply had to get to the bottom of why I have yo-yo and crash dieted since adolescence. It always goes back to youth, these things, or at least that’s what Psych 101 has taught me.

As cynical as I am about blaming one’s childhood on problems in adulthood -- problems that an adult mind should have the capability to recognize, understand and work to remedy -- I found myself surprised by the insight these women gained so quickly. They traced the problem back to sixth grade, and I was pretty shocked that I hadn’t looked back to examine that year before.

I knew that age 11 is when I first became conscious of my weight. That’s the first time I beat myself about it. But I hadn’t realized my familial circumstances had a lot to do with the problem, as well as the reason it got worse.

My parents divorced the summer before my sixth-grade year, when we lived on an Air Force base in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We were poor. In fact, my uncle had to come up and help pay for a U-Haul to get my mom, my sister and me back to Fairmont, where my mom grew up.

When we got settled into income-based housing in Fairmont, my mom started working two jobs. Through my high school years, she worked 60-80 hours a week. So, at 11, it was just me and my sister at home. We had to get our homework done without prodding. We had to keep the house clean. And we had to prepare meals for ourselves.

When you are 11, you don’t think about nutrition when you’re cooking. So that’s when Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, peanut butter sandwiches, chips, sugary granola bars, Little Debbies, ice cream and Fruit Loops became staple meals. When we wanted to snack, whether it was right after dinner or before bed or constantly throughout the night, then we did.

What I was careful to point out to my bar companions was that I in no way blame my mom for not being around. In fact, I feel the opposite way about it. I can’t imagine a more giving woman, to work from sun up to sun down so that my sister and I had what we needed. If that were me, I don’t know if I could do it. And she never complained. Not once did I ever hear her say that her feet hurt from waitressing or that she was tired.

I think about a time once when we went on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Owatonna to outlet shop on her day off. She brought all of her tips with her, and when I found a pair of Nikes I couldn’t live without, she counted out one-dollar bills and quarters to pay for them. I remember how embarrassed I was. I walked outside as she lined the stacks of quarters on the counter, with annoyed customers behind her.

I wish I could go back to that moment sometimes and wrap my arms around her and tell her how grateful I was to have those shoes.

But, I digress. My point is that, while it wasn’t my mom’s fault (if she had her way, she would have been home every night making me eat my peas), I had no one to teach me about nutrition. No one to make me eat my vegetables and limit my snacks. I ate what I wanted when I wanted, and that mentality has stuck with me well into adulthood. Since 11, if I wanted to have ice cream for dinner, I did.

As I said, an adult mind has the capability to recognize and begin remedying these self-destructive patterns. But it’s certainly important to look back and examine their roots.

I can’t promise that I’ll never eat ice cream for dinner again. But I will more frequently force myself to eat my vegetables. Tonight, in fact, in honor of my mom, I’ll eat my peas.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Two major Katotainment announcements

I couldn't have timed this any better: As my public weight-loss battle comes to a close ... A NEW SEASON OF 'PROJECT RUNWAY' BEGINS!

I'm realizing a couple of things right now ... 1. I may just be the last person on Earth who gives a damn about "Project Runway." 2. My readership during my "Project Runway" blogging days was MUCH smaller than my readership of my public weight-loss battle.

However! ... of all the things I've written about, I still get people asking if I'll continue blogging about "Runway." The readership was smaller, but it was mighty. A small few, I'm proud to say, would log onto my blog the first thing on the morning following each episode to see if my thoughts corresponded with theirs. That's what blogging is all about!

Writing about my fight to be fit has been so fun and extremely cathartic. But it could only last so long. It could only be interesting to you for so long, as well. I think we've reached that point. I will, however, continue to check in from time to time with my progress. Maybe every month or so I'll update on how I'm doing. That keeps me accountable, and it will appease any lingering curiosity, hopefully. So it's a win-win!

In the meantime, though, the "Project Runway" blog will make its triumphant return!

So the two official announcements are thus:

1. The final regular "fight to be fit" blog post will take place Monday, Aug. 8, when I return from a week's vacation. My final (public) weight-loss total will be given. I'll lay out my plan for the future and perhaps set a final goal. And I'm sure I'll get all gushy and thank a million people for their support.

2. The "Project Runway" blogging, right here at Katotainment, kicks off July 29, the morning after the premiere of Season 9 of the show.

Be sure to check out this season's contestants and make your predictions before the premeire!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Socially mandated eating is tough to swallow

I remember one day in sixth-grade health class with Mrs. Meschke, circa 1992, we were listing forms of recreation on the chalkboard.

After the typical walking and skateboarding and playing sports answers were taken, somebody raised his hand and said, "Eating." We all laughed. But Mrs. Meschke said, "No, that's very true. In America, eating is very much recreational."

I flashed to the TV dinners my sister and I had the night before in our living rooms, and I didn't quite get it.
Homogenized chicken nuggets in front of the tube didn't seem like a swingin' Thursday night to me.

Of course, years later, license in hand, I understood what she meant. A night's entertainment in Fairmont meant two things: driving around in cars with friends and boys, and, of course, consumption. Consumption of what, I'll leave
mostly to your imagination, but I will tell you that ice cream at the Dairy Freeze and fried foods at various area establishments were included.

As an early teen, it was fun to exist solely on French fries and gummy bears. But when my butt ballooned and it was time to deal with it, I really started to take notice of how important consumption is to social situations. It was almost mandatory, and it still is to this very day.

When a movie let out, for example, and a friend said, "Hey, let's go to Perkins and get something to eat." It
was not an acceptable answer to say, "I'll go with you and have a Diet Coke or something. I'm not hungry." She would get a pained expression on her face and say, "Oh ... well, I'm sure you can find SOMETHING you'll want to eat."

Then at the restaurant, when I ordered my Diet Coke and shut the menu, she said, "Really? Is that all you're
going to have? Well now I feel like a pig. Do you just want to go?"

I was puzzled. Why would what I put in my mouth or not put in my mouth have any bearing on her? What difference did it make if I joined her in a plate of fries and a chocolate malt at 11 at night?

It just mattered. It did. And many similar situations have come up in the 15 years that have followed, proving that if someone asks you to get something to eat with them, it is not an acceptable answer to say, "I'll go with you. But I'm not hungry." Because said person will then look crestfallen and say we can just skip it.

It's so odd that eating has to be a shared experience in a social situation. I feel like a toddler squirming in my chair trying to avoid getting nasty peas shoved in my mouth.

Parties, barbecues, picnics -- any event with a host, really -- it's the same story. If your gracious host sees that you have not partaken in the buffet they have so generously laid out for you, they almost look hurt. "Is there something wrong with the foods that I have so painstakingly prepared for you?" they ask without words. "Are you anorexic? Just rude? Do you think I can't cook? Because I can!"

I'm exaggerating. But there's a grain of truth there. And it will befuddle me for as long as I live, or at least as
long as I diet. So, friends, hit me up in 50 years or so for that 11 p.m. trip to Perkins. Maybe by then I won't care about calories.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Impulsiveness and dieting don't mix

According to the deadline I've set for the end of my public weight-loss battle -- which is the first week of August, as you may recall -- the clock is practically ticking in the back of my brain at all times.

As I sit down to write this column, it's exactly one month until the finish line (publicly, anyway). Exactly 31 days to go. This is one of five columns left to be written in this space about my journey.

In reality, these numbers are arbitrary. Just a measurement of the passage of time. But it's funny how much pressure one puts on herself to achieve something within a given parameter. I guess it's that basic human need for order.
Regardless, the ticking clock has brought with it reflection, of course. I was thinking about why this whole process is such a battle for me to stay on task. Why it’s often such a battle for all of us.

It's not that we don't have the information. We certainly do. Eat X amount of calories. Do X amount of exercise. Do eat this. Don't eat that. Voila! You'll be fit as a fiddle in no time.

Psha right.

Here's why it's so hard for me:
One afternoon four years ago, I thought, "I wonder if I should be spending rent money on a mortgage?" The next day I had left a bank with a preapproval for an obscene amount of money to buy a house. A month later, I moved into one.
Four weeks after that, I thought, "It would be so fun to have a puppy!" The next morning I was driving to the humane society in Fairmont to pick up my Lab-husky mix, Squishy.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I thought, "I wish I had a new couch." An hour later, I had a leather couch and two La-Z-Boy recliners ordered from Slumberland.

Catch my drift? One of the qualities I enjoy about my personality is also one that gets me into pickles. I'm quite impulsive.

It makes me buy a 12-foot backyard pool that I swim in twice, get tired of maintaining and then sell for half of what I paid for it. It makes me paint my kitchen yellow and then blue and then wonder if I should have stuck with yellow.

And it makes me think, "Oooooh, cotton candy ice cream. I'll cut calories tomorrow." Or, "Who can watch a movie without popcorn? No one would begrudge me that."

It's fun to live my life with instant gratification as the daily goal. It's a blast to have fun ideas pop into my mind and then act on them without much concern about recourse.

But that kind of mentality is just absolutely brutal to combat when trying to lose weight. Absolutely everything about dieting goes against my nature. The whole process is about delayed gratification. What I do for months and months will reward me later on. Laaaame.

So, given all of this, I think I'm doing pretty OK. Every day I'm winning these little battles in my mind, fighting against the urge to drink a Summer Shandy on a sunny patio somewhere, or sit on the front porch with a pint of Ben & Jerry's and watch the sun go down.

I will say, though, that sounds like a lot more fun than I've been having.

But, the healthier I am, the longer I'll live, and the more time I'll have to sneak in the occasional splurge on popcorn and cotton candy ice cream. And painting my kitchen yellow. And then blue again.