Recently, while drifting in our pool, eyes shut while listening to the soft strains of bossa and samba, it occurred to me that the Spice Girls are kind of the UK version of our Sex in the City girls. We all know our SitC “girls” look good… really good. But, apparently, the Spice Girls had a concert last week in Dublin and guess who else still looks incredibly hot? Yup. Le Spicy Chicks. The reason I mention this is some years ago, I don’t even know when it began, I felt as though I had disappeared from the world’s radar. People were not aware of my presence. I was no longer considered attractive or special. It was a slow fall from grace. Mama died and I packed on the pounds. I ate and drank all manner of garbage with zero portion control. I guess grief can have that effect. Well, I’ve had a turn around… my own, personal, come to Jesus. I noticed that a great number of the women who live here in south Florida look pretty darn good. There’s a yoga studio on every other corner. Women are out power walking, playing tennis and running at all hours. Our waterways, and we have many, zig-zag with bright pops of colors from girls, moms and ladies paddle boarding in bikinis, 2-pieces and maillots. They’re all over! What I’m saying is if you practice outdoor living, where the days are typically hotter than blue blazes, you live in shorts, linen camisole tops, flip-flops and pony tails and you’re conscious of your weight. It’s just too dang hot to be huffing and puffing because of excess weight. We perspire even more profusely than skinny-minnies do. We can drown in our own personal puddles. The slightest exertion on our part is exhausting not to mention the unattractiveness of it all. Don’t get me wrong. We all have our 5-7 pounds we just can’t seem to lose. And some of us have, at different times in our lives, put on wayyyyy too much weight. Y’all, I’m here to tell you, even though you already know this, as we get older, big weight is really, really hard to lose. Nobody wants to leave their 1500 thread count cotton sheets to go workout, least of all me. But the rewards can be amazing. Men have started noticing me again and I’m here to tell y’all ah likes it! I’m 63 and sometimes weight loss seems insurmountable but, hey, let me count my blessings. I live in one of the prettiest cities in the world. We can be outside and active year round. Not only do we have an exotic tangle of waterways but we have our glorious beaches and I’m most fortunate to have splendid, big ol’ free-form pool. All this enables me to work out on a daily basis. I’m privileged to have a dear friend, Andrea, who is always willing to go for an early morning race walk on the beach followed by a rewarding breakfast of strongly brewed coffee, a bowl of gently scrambled egg whites and a few ruby-red tomato slices. It seems as though working out first thing in the morning sets the tone for the day. I’m less inclined to eat bread, french fries or something loaded with fat at lunch if I’m feeling lean and sleek from my morning exercise. But that’s just me. And I know it’s easy to say, “Oh, c’mon, Alicia! You’re the first one to push some rich, fattening desert. You write about them all the time!” Yes. I do sometimes. But please know, I have only a small taste. And, if I find myself struggling not to surreptitiously shovel mouthfuls of said desert into my open mouth, behind Jimmy’s back, well, I get rid of the whole thing. I do. I hate waste, hate it, but I know myself and if there’s a 9X13 pan sitting around in my kitchen loaded with cold whipped cream, vanilla butter crumble, sweetened cream cheese randomly studded with chocolate, I’m done. DONE. I am NOT going back to the big girl I used to be. Ain’t doin’ it. So, when that happens, I dump the entire contents of the pan in the garbage, all of it… and then, to truly stop myself from being a pig, I have to scoop the coffee grounds from the morning’s pot right onto the top of my temptation. You just can’t eat out of the garbage if it’s all grody. Nor can you blow your daily eating plan if the contents of that fattening dish made their way down the disposal. Y’all, I know it’s hard. It’s a struggle. With the support of my husband and friends I’ve ever so slowly lost a good bit of weight within one year. One thing that really hardened my determination was when my husband, very gently and carefully, showed me a photo of myself walking in Greece. Jimmy kept mentioning the “white shorts” and how different I now look. Oh, my word, people! The photo was taken from behind. My back was as wide as a linebacker’s. I was so fat I had put on my BVD’s and by the time they reached my waist they spelled out boulevard. Joke but no lie. Anyway, I’m so grateful and pleased that I’ve been able to get rid of some of those pesky excess pounds. Let me reiterate. It has taken me ONE YEAR. It can be done. It can. Not easy but so worthwhile. I feel so much better. I like what I see in the mirror. Oh, I still have wrinkles and saggy jowls but my spirit’s back… there’s a sparkle in my eye and a spring in my step, (probably because my feet aren’t trying carry all that dead weight!) Jimmy’s lost weight as well and is a lean, mean, fighting machine. The two of us could be that good looking geriatric couple in the Depends or Jitterbug advertisements. Look better, feel better. And think of all the clothes you’ve not been able to wear in forever. You haven’t seen them in such a long time, they’ll feel like new clothes next time you put them on. Look better, feel better. My new mantra.
Y’all, this gorgeous, emerald green dressing is a snap to make. I recently had something like this at a restaurant here in town while I was lunching with my girls and we all agreed summer salads make life and losing weight so much easier and better. I buy a huge head of romaine then wash, dry, cut and store it in the fridge. Hand cut romaine mixed with spicy, baby arugula, paper thin slices of cold, crisp cucumber, a scattering of savory, crumbled gorgonzola, all tossed with this lemon basil dressing makes for a dinner you soon won’t forget. Gorgonzola is only a little bit higher in fat content than other cheeses so the fact that it is a strong cheese means you don’t need much to appreciate its great flavor. The only already crumbled cheese I ever buy is Publix brand gorgonzola and they have a reduced fat container that tastes sharp and wonderful, truly delivering flavor. This salad marries well with grilled shrimp, fish or chicken on top if you find you want a bit more heft. Going meatless? Grill or toast whole grain bread, run a garlic clove over it, a quick drizzle of good olive oil, a little sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper and hunger is sated. Update: the dressing is better without vinegar so I’ve taken it off the recipe. It originally called for 2 tablespoons.
Lemon Basil Salad Dressing
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, that’s the big, 2-ounce box at the grocery store, washed, dried and stemmed. Discard stems.
- 1/2 cup good olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- zest of 2 lemons
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1 clove garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and blitz until smooth.
- Taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasonings.
- Store in refrigerator in a glass or non-reactive jar or container and cover tightly with lid.