Just Step Right up on the Scale …

“Okay, just step right up here onto the scale, and let’s get your weight real quick, sweetie.”

No matter how gently those words are uttered, you might as well be saying, “okay, let’s just cram this knife right into your neck real quick, sweetie, and see how fast your blood flows.”

I hate getting weighed at the doctor. Unless I walk in there and specifically ask, “would you mind finding out how much I weigh, because I don’t have a scale, a mirror, 4,000 apps on my phone, or clothes with waistbands anymore, so I just can’t tell on my own,” then PLEASE don’t weigh me. 

Unfortunately, my health care practitioners think this is my first (and only) concern when I visit them. My left arm might be hanging off from a chainsaw injury or I may have passed out in the elevator from a fever, but darn if that scale isn’t going to be my first stop.

I remember the last time I went in for my physical. It was a freezing day in December, let’s say around 4 degrees. As you might expect, I happened to be wearing a tank top … under a sweater, scarf, leggings, pants, socks, shoes, a coat, sunglasses, REALLY heavy earrings, and my wedding band. And I had a surprisingly hefty rubber band in my hair. 

“Okay, just step right up here onto the scale, and let’s get your weight real quick, sweetie” my otherwise very understanding and sympathetic nurse requested. 

“Um, do you want me to take off my coat? Or, maybe everything I have on before I do that? I don’t mind being completely naked in this hallway as long as it will shave an ounce or two off the results” I said, horrified.

“Oh no,” she replied, “that’s fine. We WANT to see just how much you can possibly weigh. According to medical research, if we put you on the scale in the dead of winter and make you look right at the numbers, we can effectively humiliate you enough that you’ll spend the rest of the day beating yourself up, buying diet books on Amazon, and scouring the Internet for weight loss plans. It’s a deal we have with therapists, publishers, and software developers.”

And don’t even think about losing weight when you’re a woman over 55. Instead, you’ll find out that once you get to “that certain age,” it’s nearly impossible to lose weight and keep the weight off. I’ve tried everything, but the real joke was the “Intermittent Fasting” trend that has become so popular.

I tried …

  • the 5:2 diet involves eating normally 5 days of the week while restricting your calorie intake to 500–600 for 2 days of the week,
  • the 16/8 method (fasting every day for 14–16 hours and restricting your daily eating window to 8–10 hours),
  • “Eat Stop Eat” (24-hour fast once or twice per week),
  • alternate-day fasting (you fast every other day),
  • and The Warrior Diet (eating small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day and eating one huge meal at night)

I gained seven pounds.

Now I’m trying the 5:5 intermittent dieting plan.

I eat anything I want for five minutes, then look for something else to eat for five minutes, then eat that for five minutes, etc.

And next time, I’m scheduling my physical for a hot summer day.

How I’m Surviving COVID-19

We all have our coping mechanisms. COVID-19 and the year 2020 have certainly shown us not only HOW we cope during a crisis, but have given each of us a pocket full of tested strategies that we can pull out anytime things get bad – like when the next virus hits, or when an asteroid is heading toward the earth, or when aliens invade the planet, or when locusts overwhelm the environment, or … Tuesday.

But just in case you haven’t been able to store up enough resilience yet, I thought I would share my TOP 5 COVID-19 COPING STRATEGIES. Be sure you get your grain of salt ready …

  1. A husband or significant other who will (pretends to?) listen – this has been a big one for me, because I’ve come up with a LOT of information and possible cures that I want to send to the CDC and the NIH and all of the drug companies. But thankfully I’m able to run them by my husband who very thoughtfully considers them and kindly tells me I might need to do a little more research before I reach out. But I’m thinking I really should remind them of that time-honored cowpox vaccine, in case they haven’t thought about that.
  2. Amazon or other online stores with FREE SHIPPING – it’s Christmas every day!! You can find some really random things like “Soft Scrub In-Tank Toilet Cleaner” for mere pennies, and they also deliver CANDY. Need I say more?
  3. Therapy – the most important thing you can line up during a crisis is a cadre of great therapists. And since you’re so miserable and depressed at first, it really doesn’t matter how much it costs because you know you’re going to die any day now anyway. Win/win. Since March, I’ve tried CBT, EBT, EMDR, therapy pets, Tarot readings, astrologists, The Amazing Kreskin, The Long Island Medium, and Miss Cleo. I’ve improved all the way from “definitely going to die from COVID-19” to “I may not die from COVID-19” but I do, evidently, need to keep my eyes open for an albino squirrel who’s really my deceased grandfather and wants me to know he forgives me.
  4. Below Deck” or other quality reality TV – Yes, I know what a contradiction it is to be brilliant enough to find the cure for COVID-19 AND be addicted to a reality show. But I really do need something to take me away from all of the deep thought that I’m doing all day! Now, in all fairness, I am only bingeing on “Below Deck ” and “Below Deck Mediterranean” because … puhleeease! Anyone who can cure COVID-19 isn’t going to watch “Sailing Yacht.” Sometimes I feel like Captain Lee and Captain Sandy are getting into some tough situations, and I try to tell them what they should do … but my husband once again kindly reminds me they can’t hear me.
  5. Home repair – this is such a great and practical way to spend time. For maximum COVID-19 distraction, be sure you choose project that:
    1. you’ve never done before
    2. will take much longer than you expect it to take
    3. includes a high probability that you will get into a fight with your husband (note: this is an excellent COVID diversion. You may want to consider picking fights just for entertainment.)

In case you haven’t tried any of these strategies yet, I hope you find one or more of them helpful. And maybe, just maybe, we won’t need them sometime soon!

Have an interesting COVID-19 distraction? Be sure to add it here!

You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

When I was in school, the LAST thing I wanted to do was learn anything. I was much more interested in being with my friends and having fun. That “fun” ranged from playing “Lost in Space” with my BFF Andrea on the playground in elementary school, to a different version of “Lost in Space” in high school that had more to do with Saturday night parties than 60’s television shows.. But education? … Background noise!

Thankfully, despite all my efforts to the contrary, I landed on a college major that really meant something to me: Mass Communications. What a perfect way for a blabbermouth like me to do just what I wanted to do – communicate … to MASSES!! 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that “lifelong learning” is actually very important to me. I also realized that learning is a LOT MORE FUN when you’re doing it because you WANT TO than HAVE TO! I think that’s why my college education was so exciting for me … I was actually learning what I wanted to learn.

As I’ve grown older and am not confined by time and topics that apply mainly to my work, my choices have become a lot more wide-ranging. A class about computer programming? I’m in. A book about snakes? Rattle me that one, Joker! A course on the Middle Ages? Templars and torture devices … oh yeah!

That’s not to say I remember everything I learn … ha, not by a long shot! But sometimes on Jeopardy, I’ll hear an answer like, “During the Middle Ages, it was thought that women could prevent pregnancy by wearing what around their necks?” and I’ll know what the “question” is! (“What are weasel testicles, Alex?”)

The best part is, there are SO MANY WAYS to learn FOR FREE that there’s just no reason not to pursue ANYTHING that you want to.  Here are a few sites to get your started.

General search

You know you can search for classes and ANY information through any search engine (Google, Firefox, Bing, etc.), but don’t forget YouTube when you want to learn … anything!

The second largest search engine behind Google, with more than three billion searches per month, YouTube is not just a website on which your children and grandchildren watch trending videos like “iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Unboxing!” and “Minecraft Speedrunner VS 4 Hunters REMATCH” (the two highest-trending videos right now … [(confused face]). You can also search YouTube and find free documentaries, video podcasts, movies, and short videos on practically anything you want to learn.

Vetted free college courses

There are lots of sites for free online college courses, but my go-to source is Class Central. Its super-easy-to-use platform aggregates courses from providers like edX, Coursera, and Udacity. You’ll find “the best courses on almost any subject, wherever they exist.” 

Class Central is a search engine and reviews site for free online courses popularly known as MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses. You can find courses, review courses you’ve taken (and read other people’s reviews), follow universities, subjects and courses to receive personalized updates, and plan and track your learning. 

They also publish TheReport, featuring “news and trends in online learning” as well as several lists including “Free Online Learning Due to Coronavirus” (updated continuously) and “Free Online Ivy League Courses,” and a list of 115 courses with certificates that Coursera is offering for free (many “MOOCs” offer certificates indicating – typically to potential employers –  successful course completion and ensuring the authenticity and value of the credential. There is usually a cost for the certificate option).  

Class Central is funded through advertising and affiliate links. They clearly denote ads and sponsored search results, and their affiliate and advertising relationships don’t influence the course listing, nor do they affect user reviews.

Creativity

A great site to explore your creativity for free is Skillshare. There you’ll find an online learning community with thousands of classes for creative and curious people, on topics including illustration, design, photography, video, freelancing, and more. Note: Skillshare also offers a “Premium” membership for deeper dives into many courses.

Cultural and educational

Open Culture, the self-proclaimed “best free cultural and educational media on the web,” scours the internet for the best educational media. There you’ll find “the free courses and audio books you need, the language lessons and educational videos you want, and plenty of enlightenment in between.” Open Culture is eclectic! I found things like  “Seven Tips From Ernest Hemingway on How to Write Fiction,” “Ezra Pound’s Fiery 1939 Reading of His Early Poem, ‘Sestina: Altaforte’,” “John Wayne: 26 Free Western Films Online,” and “Learn 48 Languages Online for Free: Spanish, Chinese, English & More.”

And speaking of languages

While we’re on language, there are some great sources for free language lessons online. Take a look at Learn a Language, Duolingo, Busuu, Sign Language 101, and Galludet University.

There are millions of sources of free education on the internet (I feel a little bit like Dr. Evil right now … there are probably more like “billions” of them) as long as we’re “not yet dead” they’re right at our fingertips. Let’s enjoy every one of those Jeopardy answers we can still … answer? … ask? Whatever.

Are you f’ing kidding? Oh, and Happy Birthday to me!

I turned 64 a couple of days ago – and like Sally O’Malley would say, “I’m not one of those gals who likes to hide her age.” I couldn’t care less who knows how old I am, because I think I’m doing pretty well for myself. I can still “kick, stretch, and kick” and remember the important things (where I hid that cigarette, where I hid that tequila, where I hid those chocolate covered raisins from Costco, and (sometimes) where I left my cellphone).

So, thinking about this whole “getting older” thing, I decided to take a look at Google to get a feel for what I could look forward to. And according to today’s Google Alert results for “elderly” here’s what’s coming my way:

And the winner:

Really? This is what I have to look forward to? Hell no! I’m not falling for it (and I’m not falling yet either!). I’m going to write this blog and MAKE headlines like,

  • Elderly woman poses as 7-year-old, calls Walgreen’s to demand they let Prince Albert” out of the can
  • 86-year-old former infectious disease expert finds cure for COVID-19
  • Elderly woman tells children, “Keep your $885,000 … I’m spending your inheritance”
  • Those Zumba classes really paid off!” says elderly woman at casino who thwarts robbery with well-placed “kick balls, change” to the groin
  • Elderly Perth man saves four who abandon sinking vessel off Cable Beach in Broome
  • Elderly man swats housefly, transforms into “Jeff Goldblum, Superhero

According to population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, as of July 1, 2019 (the latest date for which population estimates are available) there are 71.6 million people in the US between the ages 55 and 73 (Baby Boomers) – and just over 55 million age 65+ (no thanks to you, stupid COVID-19). And you just can’t convince me that we’re only dying of viruses, getting scammed by assholes pretending to work for the DOJ, or blowing things up.

This blog is NOT going to be depressing. It’s going to focus on all of the great things about being older and, at times, try to find some humor in the things that aren’t so great. Most of all, I hope it will be a place for you to talk about YOUR thoughts and questions about this time of our lives.

I’ll find experts to answer your questions, I’ll ask your opinion, and I’ll make sure you’re not invisible! I hope you’ll join me for this fun adventure!

  1. I regret wimping out of my Navy SEAL training