November 26, 2010-present weight loss

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Marrakesh Musings

I am really not even sure of where to begin in explaining our weekend in Marrakesh.  It was an interesting place to visit, but Marrakesh is part of a small number of the many places I have seen that I have little to no interest in revisiting.  I neither hated nor loved it.
When we disembarked from the plane, Kenny immediately remarked that we were certainly not in the Middle East.  Where most of the Middle East- especially the parts he travels to for work- looks like a mash up (for all of you Gleeks out there) of the Arab World and Las Vegas, Marrakesh had none of that glitz and fakery.  We checked into the hotel, had a quick bite and decided to walk around for the remainder of the day.  Our hotel was just outside the Medina, for that I am very grateful, so we had a short walk to reach the Koutoubia Minaret and Jemaa el Fna.

This is where things went downhill slightly.  Non-Muslims are prohibited from entering mosques in Morocco.  We knew this upfront, but it is really annoying.  So we could go TO but not INSIDE Koutoubia.  Yeah, it might be their culture, but could you imagine if St. Patrick's Cathedral (or all Catholic churches in the US) discriminated against all non-Catholics!  I have a feeling that this would not be well-received, but I digress.  We've toured mosques in Dubai and Istanbul and knew we weren't missing all that much, but still...
   Jemaa el Fna
So we walked a few minutes to Jemaa el Fna, the main square, where the snake charmers and men with monkeys are.  It is disgusting!  I have a real fear of snakes, which by no means helped my opinion of the square (I still have pictures of snakes in my mind when I close my eyes at night and have to really think about something else to distract me or I cannot sleep).
I gave Kenny the camera to take a picture of the snakes, because I refused to get close enough to snap anything. 
Next thing I knew, Kenny had a (small) snake around his neck... idiot!  Seriously, some snake charmer walks up to you with a snake and looks like he is going to wrap it around your neck and you STAND there and LET him do it!  NFW folks.
The snake guy took a pic of Kenny with the snake,
and you can see how far away I stayed from this whole scene! 

Of course the snake guy then demanded a ridiculous amount of money for the pictures (about $20 when it should have been $2), but Kenny didn't have much room to negotiate when he had a serpent wrapped around him.  So $20 poorer and sans snake, we left Jemaa el Fna.
We booked a tour guide to bring us around the Medina and the Souks on Saturday at the suggestion of several friends who had been seriously hassled when walking around.  After booking guides they were able to have a much more enjoyable time with much less aggravation.  This was by far the best investment we made during this trip. 
Our guide, Abdel, was fantastic! 
He brought us to the Ali Ben Youssef Medersa (Koranic school), showed us a local bakery, Bahia Palace, the museum, and on, and on, and on.  The best part of hiring the guide was that people in the souks were much less aggressive towards Kenny and me when we were with Abdel.  We avoided the touristy stores and bought very little, though I did return home with a beautiful embroidered black cape as well as a bright red wrap.  
The women make dough in their homes and bring it to the local baker for baking
After Saturday we had had enough of Kenny and Nora Experience Marrakesh and decided to get massages on Sunday morning.  Luckily one of the top spas had availability, so we were able to get a couples massage before our flight.  The place was BEAUTIFUL, but let me start from the beginning.  We arrive at the spa and are each shown to a changing room.  It was the first time I have not had anxiety about a spa robe fitting, which made the experience much more relaxing from the start.  The attendant handed us each a little pair of undies (think of something about 90% smaller than what an American spa gives you for a bikini wax), and I just smiled.  There is no way that little elastic band would have stretched an extra 12" to get around Nora's Belly- 2010, but it easily handled NB- 2011.  So the attendant puts us into a beautiful marble room with a gigantic jacuzzi- probably 8' by 20'- to soak before our massages. 
Now onto the massages... I love massages but typically indulge only in the States.  My friends have told me their very amusing stories about how massages differ when traveling abroad, and now I have my own to add to the mix.  Kenny and I were shown to our room, and it became obvious that this place was not for the modest.  A woman stood behind each of us and immediately took our robes- no stepping out of the room while we disrobed, no sheet to lie under so only the part of the body getting massaged is exposed, no, no, no.  Hey, when in Rome. 
We get on our respective beds and enjoy a wonderful massage.  It was kind of odd being so exposed, but I wasn't going to let it bother me.  I started ass up, an unfortunate sight for the masseuse, and at some point she grabbed this little elastic holding 2 square inches of fabric to my body and pulled it down to, well, my ass crack.  At least it didn't go any lower than that.  This was a very thorough massage, and my tush has never felt so relaxed!  She finally had me flip over, and I assumed that this is where the sheet would come into play to cover me.  Nope, nada, zilch.  The only part of my body not massaged was hiding under the aforementioned two square inches of fabric.  I even got a stomach massage!  While I will still enjoy being covered by a high thread count sheet in the future, I was a lot more comfortable getting this massage than I would have been last year.  I am big, but it isn't like this poor woman was attempting a massage through a gigantic layer of fat!  My only hint of anxiety was when I thought, 'OH NO, she can probably feel my port', followed by, 'OH CRAP, could she possibly massage the area vigorously enough to flip my port?'! 
I will leave you with one last nugget about Marrakesh.  We constantly felt that we were being scammed, because the reality was that we were being scammed.  Everything is a negotiation there, from the taxi drivers who refuse to use the meter to the person who points you in the right direction and then sticks his hand out for money.  On our first night Kenny had already had enough of the taxi ripoff scheme.  We paid 30 dirham (about $3.60) on the way to dinner and knew that the taxis outside the restaurant would expect us to pay more.  So the first taxi said that it would be 40 dirham to get back to the hotel, and Kenny said no, we paid 20 to get there, and we would pay 20 to return (see, he learned the art of the negotiation).  The driver said fine, he would take us for 30.  I was good to go, but Kenny said NO.  He made me WAIT ON THE STREET for a taxi who would drive us back to the hotel for 20 dirham ($2.40).  I wanted to kill him.  A cab finally said that he would take us for 20 dirham, and we got in the back of his car.  The car wouldn't start.  He kept trying to turn over the engine, but the car simply refused.  At this point I was trying not to look at Kenny, because I was only barely maintaining my composure and not bursting into laughter.  The driver told us to wait in the car, and he got some other drivers to help him back the car out of the spot and then run behind the car and push us down the road until the freaking car started!  It was one of the funniest situations we have ever been in, and we laughed all the way from the entrance of the hotel to our room.  For $1.20, my husband almost got us KILLED.  Oh, and this car didn't even have working headlights.  I am of the generation where we talk about things that are Soviet-era and post-Soviet era.  I am pretty confident that this car drove its first mile in the rarely mentioned pre-Soviet era.  Amazing!       

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving in London is NOT as much fun as it is in the States, primarily because Kenny is working today.  Friends of ours are hosting Thanksgiving dinner this evening, which should be amazing.  The husband's mom is a professional chef (owns her own restaurant) and is preparing some sort of feast.  Yum!  Or it would be yum if I could actually eat.  I have started getting TOM tightness- not good.  Kenny and I were out with a friend at a very nice sushi restaurant last night, and Nora could not eat.  I tried a few pieces of sashimi and promptly excused myself so I could rid my body of what it obviously didn't want.  The body was no happier with my spinach and shrimp lunch today, so the three bites that I ate are now somewhere in the pipes of our building, and the rest of the dish is in the garbage.  Yuck. 
I am bringing rum balls and a very yummy trifle for dessert.  I would typically offer to bring sides, but I didn't want to bring something mediocre when dealing with a real chef!
Kenny is taking tomorrow off, and we are going to Marrakesh for the weekend.  See you next week!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Updated Measurements

From November 26, 2010 to November 16, 2011:
Waist: -12" (ONE FOOT!!!)
Hips: -11.5"
Chest: -12" (ANOTHER FOOT!!!)
Each wrist: -0.5"
Left upper arm: -3.5"
Right upper arm: -4.25"
Left thigh: -6.5"
Right thigh: -7"
Left calf: -3.75"
Right calf: -4"

Spread The Word Around... Guess Who's Back In Town?

The girls are back in town
The girls are back in town
I said
The girls are back in town
The girls are back in town
I was very lucky to never had FBS (Fat Boob Syndrome)- even at my heaviest.  I might have been a 44C, but at least it was a C and not a DD!  Over the past few months I have really feared that The Girls were going into hiding as I continued to drop pounds.  Not good news!  Luckily I have remedied this situation with a new collection of push-up bras.  How did I get through my 20s without these things?  They are nothing short of FANTASTIC!  I guess pushing up 44Cs wouldn't have been a brilliant move, but my much more modest 38Cs are very happy that they are getting the love and support that they deserve.      

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Partner Sabotage Study

Amanda Harp, a Doctoral Candidate in Clinical Psychology at Clark University, emailed me last week and asked that I complete an anonymous online survey meant to assess for partner undermining of weight loss (and, of course, spread the word).  I assume many of you have participated by this point, but here is the info for those of you who have not... 
*Have you been participating in a weight loss program for the past consecutive 5 weeks?
*Have you been in a committed, cohabitating relationship for the past two years?
*Do you ever feel like your partner/spouse gets in the way of your weight loss?
Amanda G. Harp, M.A., is completing her doctoral dissertation at Clark University on a subject you may have experienced personally or heard about from your friends, acquaintances, or clients--partner undermining of diet/exercise.  Please promote this throughout your social network so that this important research can be garnered from those who are struggling with partner interference of their weight loss efforts.
Your participation in this survey should take approximately 30-45 minutes (there are open-ended questions which sometimes take participants longer to fill out depending on their particular experiences with the phenomenon of partner undermining. We appreciate your thoughtful responses about how you feel your weight loss program is undermined by your romantic partner and how this affects you).
The responses to this survey are anonymous and cannot be traced back to participants. Any question may be left unanswered. Participation is voluntary and may be withdrawn at any time. If eligible to take this survey, you will be provided with an email address to enter a lottery for $100.
This study is being conducted by Amanda G. Harp, M.A., who is a graduate student in the Psychology Department at Clark University under the supervision of James V. Cordova, Ph.D. If you have any questions about this study, please contact Amanda Harp ( or Dr. James Cordova (
Full study details at: (Also,

Ethics Review Information:
This study has been approved by the Clark Committee for the Rights of Human Participants in Research and Training Programs (IRB). Any questions about human rights issues should be directed to the IRB Chair, Dr. James P. Elliott, 508-793-7152.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nora's First Escada

Sorry for the brief blogging hiatus, but I was in NJ for a week and spent that time running around like a lunatic.  I had to see my gyno for my three month check up on a cervical cyst I have had for years.  Her partner had been a bit concerned about it when I saw her in June, so I had to go for tests over the summer.  I finally got word that everything is OK, but ah... the anxiety leading up to hearing this was not fun.  I also had my 1-year check up with Dr. K.  I know it is a bit early for the visit, but I didn't want to have to schedule the appointment closer to Christmas when I will be at least as busy as I am now.  Dr. K said that my espohogram looked good and that I was still losing weight steadily.  She flat out refused to give me a fill, and in reality I agree that I don't need one quite yet.  I am slightly concerned that I will need one closer to Christmas and will not be able to get one, but I will cross that bridge later.  
I visited the Under Armour outlet to pick up some gym sweats last week- boring!  On my way back to the car I passed the Escada outlet and saw the most dangerous word I can ever come across when shopping: SALE.  I typically avoid Escada, as the clothes have not fit me since 2004 or 2005.  I decided to take a peak this time and see what the store had to offer.  My rule was simple- no cashmere sweaters and nothing stretchy.  If I was going to plunge into the realm of designer merchandise, it had to be real clothes (skirts, jeans, trousers, etc.).  A very nice saleswoman approached me before the door even closed behind me- always a good sign- and I chose a pair of jeans and a pair of pinstriped trousers, both in size 46.  The jeans fit perfectly, but the pinstripes were TOO BIG on me.  I wound up buying them in a 44 instead.  Yippee!  So now I know that I can actually wear some 'normal' clothes.  After this epiphany I went home and weeded through my remaining clothing at mom's home.  I am now able to wear most of my old but very, very beautiful Ellen Tracy outfits in size 14!  I also fit into a pair of size 14 jeans that I bought on sale over the summer and never, ever thought I would actually squeeze into:)
Mom and I went for much-needed pedicures on Thursday.  Her pedicurist, Arlene, had not been working at the spa for several months as she was battling liver cancer.  She cam back recently, but I had not seen her since last winter or spring.  She came in and started speaking with mom and completely ignored me.  I sat there silently- Arlene finally looked at me and almost jumped out of her skin.  Her chin dropped down to her chest, and she just stood there.  It was quite funny that the woman who did my nails for my wedding and has known me for more than 5 years didn't immediately recognize me.   
An artist girlfriend of mine had an opening on Saturday evening, and I bought a new dress... as well as new shoes (4.5" heel with a 3/4" platform), of course... for the occasion.  I had my mom take a picture so I could do a little collage.  Unfortunately, mi madre has an uncanny way of cutting off the top of my head in photos.  Anyway, this artist girlfriend and I are from the same area and have a number of mutual acquaintances.  One is a girl I went to school with from beginners-high school.  I probably hadn't seen her since graduation in 1997.  She was at the gallery, and I 100% refused to go over and say hi.  I remember her as a Grade-A Bitch, and I have heard that she hasn't changed.  At some point she saw me, raced across the gallery, wrapped her arms around me, and told me how fantastic I looked.  She said that we simply MUST meet up for a boozy lunch or dinner and catch up, etc.  I am certain that she would not have even bothered approaching Fat Nora, let alone saying that we should catch up.  I don't know if I will ever bother reaching out to her, but it was so nice to have her come to me!  The opening and subsequent evening out at a local restaurant/bar wound up being so much more fun than I had expected.  I am a social person, but the idea of spending the night with (mostly) strangers really didn't appeal to me.  I like feeling comfortable meeting new people and being pretty confident that I am not going to be a sweaty, fat mess in a crowded room! 
I probably have a lot more to report, but this post is getting ridiculously long.  Instead, I will leave you with my comparison photo. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Conversations I Didn't Have

Yesterday was a really enjoyable day for me.  After going to the gym I met a new girlfriend, N, for lunch (I mentioned her a couple of weeks ago after our dinner together- her husband is a colleague of Kenny's).  We gabbed all through lunch, walked around Notting Hill and Kensington and then came back to my flat for a drink.  Afterwards I met another girlfriend, K, for drinks.  These women have one thing in common- they never knew me when I was at my heaviest.  They know me as a heavy woman but not as someone who is knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door due to her weight.  I am amazed on how this changes the dynamic of our conversations... and more specifically, how it changes the actual conversations we had. 
With each of these women I discussed weight (not numbers obviously), dieting, working out, jogging, etc.  We openly discussed foods that we are willing to splurge on vs. foods that aren't worth the splurge, how to make it through a long workout (especially when the iPod dies) and on and on and on.  We discussed clothing and shopping.  K, who is barely a size 2, even talked about how she got 'fat' when she moved to London.  Her concept of fat is significantly different from mine (I think she gained 6 lbs or so), and I almost giggled when she talked about getting fat, but it was so refreshing to speak with a girlfriend who was not overly edited around me.  It was like a whole new world!  When I was at my heaviest, girlfriends and I could NEVER talk about any of these things.  I didn't work out, I couldn't shop at the same stores as my friends and I even got to the point where my feet got too fat for nice shoes.  And as ridiculous as it is to hear a woman who wears a size 2 talk about being fat, it was comforting to feel 'normal' enough that she would even say something so silly to me. 
I never noticed all of the conversations I wasn't having back when I wasn't having them.  Now that friends and I are comfortable talking about so many topics that were off limits not too long ago, I really appreciate this change in circumstance.  I spoke with my mom this morning and mentioned this.  Mom can be pretty brilliant and she said that girlfriends wouldn't speak with me about working out or clothing any more than friends would discuss paintings or nuances of colors with a blind man.  She is 100% correct.  Needless to say, I am happy to be out of the blind category. 
While I am on the subject of how other people view me now, let's move onto how men deal with me.
Because I am a very married woman who until the end of last year weighted only 1.4 lbs less than this cute Vespa, I have gone through the last few years never being hit on.  It never bothered me- again, married- but now I really don't know how to deal with being hit on. 
I was walking home from lunch with a girlfriend on Monday, and I have to say I looked pretty cute.  I was wearing nice jeans, high shoes, makeup, a fur-trimmed cape, and a nice bag.  It was a good ensemble.  Well, I am walking along in my kind of oblivious but still taking everything in Nora way, and this guy actually stops me.  You know the type, the 'I know I have met you before' guy.  And I am trying politely to tell him that, in fact, he has not met me, but he just won't hear of it.  So I do the smart married woman trick- I scratch my forehead with my left hand so he can clearly see my wedding band and engagement ring.  Nope, that didn't help either.  Finally the guy asked if I had a husband (and yes, for the record I did try to walk away) and I said that I did.  That was it, he got the picture and went on his way.  But wow, it was funny that I really didn't know how to deal with this guy.  Something similar happened the last time I was in the States.  I took the ferry from my mom's house into the city in the evening, and I was the only person on the boat other than the crew.  I wound up sitting with the guys to watch Monday Night Football.  I am friendly, and apparently this is issue #1.  Nora should just read here Kindle and keep to herself.  I sat next to one guy, and we talked about his tattoos.  I know that tattoos are pretty popular in Blogland, but they just don't do it for me.  I've never had one, never scheduled an appointment to get one or even flipped through magazines to pick out the perfect tattoo for me.  So I very innocently mentioned that I am not a tattoo person and that I don't do needles (minus fills, of course).  His response was to look me up and down and say, 'So, you are afraid of things that stick you'!!!  I almost had to lift my jaw up from my chest manually.  I was completely shocked.  Mom said (yes, mom is getting a lot of air time today) that I am going to have to start using my radar again to avoid the creeps and some of these odd situations.  Hey, getting hit on can be flattering, but I need to re-learn how to actually act when it happens.    

Monday, November 7, 2011

Baby We Were Born To Run

I frequently read about bloggers who are trying C25K and I immediately think these bloggers are nuts.  I hate running and have always hated running.  I hated it in gym class and have never changed that opinion.  The only time I ever ran on a treadmill for more than a minute or two was with my old GP when I was 23.  I had been walking next to him, and he pushed me (in a nice way) to jog with him.... and I hated it.  My knees ached the next day, and I, once again, decided that running was not for me. 
Fast forward to today.  I tried running again, and I did what any smart person at the gym would do (because I now have a male follower, I feel the need to be a bit less gender specific... let's see how long this lasts for)... I took the treadmill next to the hottest guy working out to give me a good incentive to keep running.  It worked.  I completed 1.6342 miles in 20 minutes- this included a 1-minute walk followed by a 19-minute jog at a rate of 5mph.  I won't be breaking any records at a 12-minute mile, but I am very proud of myself for maintaining this pace for almost 20 minutes.  The wild thing is that I could have kept running.  I wasn't really tired, but I was bored.  So I walked for another 10 minutes, did the Vario for 40 and then rode the bike for 30.  It was a good working out day!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Trusting The Calorie Counter

Do any of you actually trust the calorie counters (or more specifically the calories burned counter) on cardio equipment?  I was working out on my newest favorite machine today, the Technogym Wave, and got to thinking about the calorie counter. 
Yes, I enter in my information, but do I really trust that the number of calories this machine says I have burned is anywhere close to the number of calories I am actually burning (especially given some of the articles that say these numbers can be very inaccurate)?  Is it really possible that I burned 945 calories in 70 minutes?
I complete at least 60 minutes of cardio a day, 5 days a week.  I like it, and it certainly isn't going to harm me in any way.  I don't plan my eating based on the calories the machines tell me I have burned, so I suppose it really doesn't matter all that much.  Still, I'd like to know whether most of you rely on these counters.
After my workout I threw on my sweats and went to the market.  Before even leaving the locker room, I had stopped sweating and my body had come down to a normal temperature.  This is the first time I noticed how much easier it is for me to cool down after a workout now.  When I started working out, I would sweat all the way home and would even hold off on showering (not for long, I promise) until my body had normalized.  Now I step off of the equipment, get dressed and feel cool almost immediately... and that, my friends, is very cool!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I've Been A Bad, Bad Girl

Yesterday marked our two year anniversary of living in London.  We celebrated (errr, acknowledged) this last night by having some cheese and Tokaji after dinner. 
When I took this photo, Kenny asked if I was going to title it
"My husband is trying to sabotage me"
It was certainly yummy in my tummy but was far from a wise diet choice.  The front cheese (in the little tub) is Vacherin Mont d'Or and is heavenly.  It is a seasonal cheese, so it is only available for a few months a year.  I baked it in the oven for 20 minutes- it was like a creamy, gooey fondue without the work of fondue.  The other cheese is Stinking Bishop, an English cheese.  I didn't overdo on the cheese and only had a piece of bread the size of a cracker, but I failed to show similar restraint when it came to the wine.   Oh well, today is another day. 
I haven't done a gym comparison shot since September 22, and I thought it was time to see how I am looking.  A month really isn't enough time to see results, so I figure I will keep snapping photos every 5-6 weeks.  I go home for Christmas on December 16 and hope I will be able to see a bit more progress in my mid-December photo. 
I always wear the same cut/size of Adidas shorts and Under Armour tank/bra to make the side-by-side a tad more true to reality.  Still, it is impossible to stand in the same position and hold the camera at the same angle, so this isn't the most accurate comparison.  I am (slowly) seeing a difference.  My chest has come down significantly, and legs are slimming nicely (I can see how loose the shorts are now).  My mid-section seems to be taking a bit longer to see huge results, but even it is a bit less fluffy than it had been.  I am working hard at the gym and am eating well (minus The Great Wine and Cheese Debacle of November 1, 2011), so I am excited and relieved to see that this effort is paying off!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Flu Vaccine And Obesity

I just saw an interesting New York Times article this morning- Study Suggests Obesity Hinders Flu Vaccine.  Eleven months after receiving the vaccine, over half of the obese patients in the study had a decrease in antibodies.  Only a quarter of non-obese participants.had this decrease.  The study also showed that white blood cells (which help fight the flu infection) decrease as BMI increases.  As obesity-focused research expands, we are going to continue to see more and more obesity-related complications popping up! 
Because throwing up can be so dangerous for bansters, I have considered being vaccinated against the flu this year but have yet to do so.  Do many of you get vaccinated?  Do your doctors suggest it?