FULL QUESTION:I gained weight during the pandemic, and now that I'm returning to the office, none of my clothing fits. Any suggestions?


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


I'm not sure that I'm the best person to ask this question as I work from home. However, unlike my sister, who has mastered maintaining her weight, I sympathize with you completely because, like so many people, I've succumbed to putting on weight during the pandemic. My downfall? Comfort food. And although I've always loved that kind of home cooking, what really did me in wasn't what I prepared, but having second servings because it tasted so good.

So, I need to go back to my Weight Watchers days. I never felt like I was on a diet because I could eat anything I wanted, but developed better eating habits, including being aware of portion control and making smarter food choices. That, and kicking up my exercise routine a notch (or two or three) – whether it's morning weights, mid-day walks, and/or late afternoon bike rides.

Well, I guess I really didn't answer your question as to what you should do. But I realize that I've analyzed how I got in a similar situation and what I should do. Now I just need to do it!


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


I am not going to tell Red that she is going through the logical sequence of change, but I will say that once many of us, Red included, understand WHY we are doing something, it is easier to do something about it. Just do not be too hard on yourself. And, be realistic.

Obviously, the pandemic caused isolation and anxiety, which resulted in more eating and less activity. And being able to work from home wearing "comfy" clothes did not help. But you are not alone, which explains why weight management businesses are doing so well. For example, gym memberships are up, and digital subscriptions at WW (what Weight Watchers is now called) are significantly higher from a year ago at this time.

Even if you are not ready to make drastic changes, you can start with small adjustments. Alcohol consumption increased (no surprise there), so maybe substitute low-calorie (or no-calorie) beverages, such as fruit-infused water instead of wine and cocktails. And, keep in mind short "office-friendly exercises" can also be done at home and can make a big difference. (Think: push-ups in a standing position against a kitchen counter or office desk or if you have stairs at home, putting away items immediately instead of accumulating them to minimize trips.)

One final thought … if you have to buy new clothes, keep it to a minimum and make sure they can either be altered easily or inexpensive enough that you do not mind giving them to a charity (such as Dress for Success or CareerGear).


Red assets.rebelmouse.io


Well, for me, this is a very special Black Friday … as it’s Black’s birthday, which makes me smile as the term “Black Friday” couldn’t be more perfect. So, as much as she prefers to ignore it, my daughters and I will ignore her (it’s probably the only day we can get away with that) and, at the very least, wish her a very Happy Birthday in person.

After that, I’m looking forward to carrying on my “day after Thanksgiving” tradition, which unlike millions of other Americans, isn’t going shopping. It’s going to the movies! And it’s not because I hate to shop; it’s because I love the quiet and escape of a movie, especially as it’s the perfect way to relax and recuperate after my marathon Turkey Day shopping, cooking, and cleaning up. Of course, the popcorn is the best part, and Black claims (rightfully so) it’s the real reason I go to the movies.


Black assets.rebelmouse.io


I celebrate my birthday the same way I celebrate holidays and even Black Friday. I work. And, enjoy the quiet and uninterrupted pace of the day as everyone else is busy doing something else. (Red refers to this time of year as the “silly season”, but all I know is that in-store shopping is too crowded, too time-consuming, too inefficient).

So, when do I do my holiday shopping? For family, I do things for them throughout the year, so holiday gifts are more like holiday tokens. For everyone else, usually on Cyber Monday, especially at Zabar’s, where I traditionally buy most of my holiday gifts. And, while I know that for some people, nothing will stop them from shopping on Black Friday, for others (such as myself), nothing will get us started.


Red assets.rebelmouse.io


I know it’s a simple question, but I hope you weren’t expecting a straightforward answer. In terms of my favorite candy, which I rarely eat at any other time of the year (but I find the Halloween sizes irresistible), that would be M&M’s (regular or peanut), Nestle Crunch, and KitKat. The funny thing is, unlike our mom, I’m not a chocoholic, but there’s just something about the combination of sweet and crunchy. (Which may also explain why I love kettle corn, but that’s an entirely different subject.)

But when I think of Halloween and fall (my favorite season), there’s one candy that beats out all the others – candy corn! And it has to be the traditional white-orange-yellow ones. I’ll admit that I loved them more when I was a child, but the fact they’re one of my daughter Natasha’s favorites always make me smile. As does memories of making turkey cupcakes with candy corn forming the perfect feathers, beak, and feet!


Black assets.rebelmouse.io


I have one word to describe candy corn – nasty. Consistency and flavor. Although I will admit they make great (non-edible) cupcake decorations. Anyway, growing up, my favorite Halloween candies were Mounds, Milk Duds, Charleston Chew, and Starburst. (Candy trivia – which of those was used to teach rheology, the branch of physics that studies the deformation and flow of matter? For the answer, check out this paper from the Geological Society of America.)

Today, although I am no longer a candy fan, I enjoy the history of Halloween candy in general as well as specific nostalgic treats. But, I love how the Halloween concept of individually wrapped smaller versions of candy is now being used for other food items (such as pretzels, veggie chips, and popcorn). And, I am stocking up on them as they are perfect portion-controlled snacks good year-round.

We’re a storytelling society, so it only makes sense that when asked about tattoos, stories are part of our answers. After all, each of us strongly believes that what makes a tattoo perfect isn’t only the creativity of the tattoo and the skill of the artist; it’s the story that has inspired the tattoo.

P.S. – And if Red ever decides to get a tattoo, you can guarantee there will be a story behind it!


Red assets.rebelmouse.io


Well, I can tell you that what I think about them today, especially as they’ve become more mainstream (so many celebrities and athletes proudly display them), is very different than how I used to think about them! Growing up, I thought that only “bad people” had tattoos. And I couldn’t quite understand why anyone would want to permanently “decorate” their bodies. Using needles, no less!

So, what changed? When my oldest daughter, Natasha, was fairly young, she talked about getting tattoos. She’s always been a non-conformist (I wonder where she inherited that trait), but I’ve no idea where the tattoo idea came from. And I never thought she’d be willing to endure the pain , especially since she has an extremely low (as in non-existent) tolerance for pain. Yet, she got her first tattoo on the day of her high school graduation instead of walking the stage. And while it was a simple outline of a bat, in honor of her love of bats , she has continued to get more elaborate ones over the years. And my younger daughter, Sawyer, who’s more like a mini-me and more traditional, totally surprised me when she decided to get her first tattoo.


Black assets.rebelmouse.io


Red neglected to answer the question as to whether she would ever get inked. Whereas I already have (warning: tattoos can be addictive ). My first tat is identical to Natasha’s bat, and I asked her permission to copy it as a reminder of the special bond between us. My second is the “ perfect tattoos” (yes, plural) as it was Sawyer’s first, and we got them done together. For me, while tattoos can be beautiful works of art on their own, there is something very special about having meaningful tattoos.

However, you must think about whether you will “outgrow” or regret the tat later. Keep in mind that while tats may have become more mainstream, there is still some stigma. (Some of my older and more conservative friends tried to hide their looks of disapproval when they saw mine.) It is a function of the other person’s age and prior exposure to tats, the specific tat and location (I still find some face tattoos scary), and your work environment .