private benjamin moments

burgers stephanieklein web
At Island Burgers & Shakes: “Yes, I’d like a side of cottage cheese with some celery please. Oh, and then kill me.”

It was a rock bottom moment. A lot of people speak about bottoming out, getting to that hellacious place where they decide, “I’m not going to live this way anymore.” Then they commit to doing something about it. For good this time. Really. The intention is there, but we still can’t help but wonder, “Yeah, how long will this last?” Because there’s motivation and then there’s cheesecake.

My rock bottom was actually a high, an all-time high. I didn’t need a scale to prove it. None of my clothes fit. There’s nothing worse than a closet FULL of nothing to wear. So I started to wear dresses to the supermarket–not a housecoat, mind you. Who even owns a housecoat? But there I was in a cocktail dress and flip flops squeezing melons and smelling the bottoms of pineapples. It’s all that fit. “Wow, aren’t we dressed up!”

Normal response to this statement:

Oh, thank you. Or perhaps, Yeah, I just felt like playing the part of girl today. Or even the overused, Time to do laundry!

My response:

Eat me.

Beginnings are easy and hard all at once. The beginning of a commitment to new eating and exercise habits, for example, is easy in that you’re super motivated. This is it. This time it will work. You take measurements and ghastly “before pictures” where you refuse to smile, and hell with it, stick out your buddha, flaunt your puckered hams. You memorize the food guidelines, sign up with a personal trainer, hit the bookstore for cookbooks, join an online community, and scour the web for snack ideas. It’s a fun new project! You might, if you’re psycho like I am, create a scrapbook dedicated to your weigh-ins, filing away your food journals for that week, complete with a special section called Cravings, where you’ll find “non-food rewards,” images of the outfits, jewelry, and handbags you’ll buy yourself every ten pounds along the way. Beginnings are easy because you know that dumpy photo of you will make a great “This was me before.” And the idea of that makes me incredibly sad. Because the “before you” is awesome. I hate all the implications and judgments we smack on ourselves.

diets suck stephanieklein
Burger from DB Bistro, stuffed with Foie Gras

Beginnings are hard because you abandon the familiar. You’re rewiring your brain, creating new pathos. You’re resisting temptation, and quite frankly, knowing you have to do it makes you an angry, resentful, asscap. Sure you try adopting the mindset that you don’t have to, you choose to. But that’s bullshine. When your husband is eating a cheeseburger deluxe with well-done fries and you have to order a turkey sandwich with no sandwich it’s have to. No one’s going to be happy about ordering a side of cottage cheese in place of potatoes.

And then there are, what I refer to as, “Private Benjamin moments.” Where in this sweep of newness, we’re inspired to do something insane, akin to when Goldie Hawn joins the army when her husband dies. And I went there. I signed up for a month of hotass 90-minute yoga classes–of which, I attended one.

Yes, this warranted a re-post. Sometimes the re-blog serves as a thigh master warning that while you’ve been there, failed at that, at least now you’re doing so with perseverance.



  1. 2 things:
    1) You won’t lose weight doing hot yoga. Maybe power yoga (e.g. ashtanga). Yoga is great (I love vinyasa and ashtanga) but it is not intended to help you lose weight. To lose weight, you need to do cardio and strength training. Some yoga classes (like ashtanga) have elements of strength training). I personally hate hot yoga (I sweat enough as it is in regular ashtanga). I would also recommend pilates, in addition to cardio and strength training. Try spinning.
    2) Not cool of Phil to be eating a cheeseburger right now in front of you. Not cool of all, especially as you seem to be in the beginning stages of this, trying to even decide if you want to do this, and if cheeseburgers are one of your favorite things.

    1. Bikram yoga is certainly designed for weight loss. 90 minutes in a 104 degree room? That’ll get you started.

    2. Agreed with Jeneria – I’ve done hot yoga, a lot. Hot yoga will flush out toxins, give you more energy than you ever knew you had, make you feel fabulous, and, if done regularly, help you lose weight as well as strengthen and tone muscles. All those streamlined muscles also lengthen you and make you LOOK like you’ve lost weight, as well.

      1. Ditto. I lost 25 pounds doing a combo of hatha and vinyasa flow. No need to kill yourself over it. Any increase in exercise will help you lose weight (when combined with healthy eating).

    3. I agree with the others. Yoga is definetly beneficial for weight loss. On average, approximately 630 calories are burned per hour of Bikram yoga, which equals one hour of jogging.
      I love my Bikram yoga class. It makes you look and feel beautiful.

        1. It builds lean muscle mass which helps to lose weight. Any exercise causes an immediate loss of weight due to water weight, but if you stick with it for any length of time your body becomes leaner and more efficient at burning fuel. We’re not talking OTC diet pills here.

        2. Again, second what Jeneria said. I’m guessing the people who naysay yoga haven’t really done it much or aren’t aware of the various types. It’s not all sitting still in a room saying “Om.” You can break a serious sweat – particularly with any flow class. It’s not all about being flexible – it’s about being strong. Trying doing a few chaturanga dandasanas (yoga pushups) or holding plank for 10 breaths.

  2. Stephanie, I’m a longtime reader who just happens to be a serious yogini, and I want to tell you that I think you will LOVE yoga. Welcome to the club!

  3. Good luck! I know you can do it! And hot-add yoga rocks, you will feel so much better. I totally know what you mean about loving the before me too and how bad it sucks to have to grotesquely humiliate her in this process.

  4. I am right there with you, sister. My low was seeing pictures of myself from the Fourth of July. Great pictures but I hated them because it became obvious to me that I was such a fat ass. That, and the fact that I had difficulties in securing my seat belt on the plane (in first class, no less). I was mortified and went without a seat belt for the entire trip. I guess sometimes we all need a jolt to take action. But it does piss me off. Good luck with the hot yoga!!


    I am convinced a Wii Fit will help me, but will it really? I don’t want to be this way anymore, but i don’t know how else to be. It’s just 30 pounds, but that’s a freaking lot when money is tight.

    Thanks for writing, it encourages me to read about you.

    1. My mom swears by Wii fit. She’s been doing it since December and has lost 20+ pounds.

  6. Well, she’s right. There is nothing worse than having to “start a program”, (blech) because nothing fits. Nothing. And if you happen to live in a sweat pit during the summer, (geographically) it’s twice as bad because now because not only do your clothes looked cinched on you, but you’re puffy and sweaty in them as well. No matter what you might tell yourself, no one is fooled by a closet full of flowy, white linen.

    By the way- husbands who order burgers and fries while you’re having that cottage cheese and celery, ought to keep one eye open while they sleep.

  7. I’m right there with you. The pounds have been piling back on and it is so heartbreaking because two years ago I got myself back to my pre-babies weight and it felt so good. And then I pissed it all away by being lazy and eating as if I could eat whatever I wanted. I’m wearing a dress to work today because NONE of my pants fit. Time to reverse this course. Good luck to us!

  8. i know you will hate this – but you can keep track of your calories on livestrong.come via the daily plate. I basically eat whatever I want but I was feeling pudgier than usual, so I started keeping track – and I’ve lost weight just by being more aware of what I’m putting in my mouth.

    1. I recently started doing this, too. It’s kind of nice because if you fall off the wagon one day, you can look at the graph of caloric intake from the past 10 days and see that you’ve been kicking ass and know that this one day isn’t going to negate your hard work.

      Good work, Stephanie. I’m in the boat with you (albeit afraid to take “before” photos, though I now wish I had because I’m down 18 lbs.)

  9. Good for you! I had the same epiphany when I took a road trip to meet my husband’s extended family last week. I had a blast, drank wine… and begged my photo shop pro of a husband to heavily (HAR!)edit the photos of me. So what is his sister scratches her head when she gets the prints of me looking like a barbie? I looked tired and not like myself. Granted I’m on the taller side and can usually carry it in proportion but that’s no excuse for extra weight. I too have a closet full of things I cannot wear and it’s madness. When I met my friend for drinks recently (fussy queen, love him) he gently pressed my hand and asked if I was depressed b/c I was wearing the same thing all the time and well, not caring is a sign of being listless. I told him no, they were my one and only fat pants. He ordered me a vanilla Absolut and diet coke.

    Anyway good luck. You’re pretty enough with weight or without (we’ve seen both types of pics here) so that is some consolation. I guess if you will be doing the Hollywood thing soon you’ll have pressure to look a certain way even if you are the writer and not an actress. Just be careful and do not get too carried away. You as a bobble head wouldn’t be the same:)

    1. As motivation for my (there’s still some) summer body I made a list of all the clothes I own but can’t wear. After ten minutes I realised it would’ve been a lot easier to list what I can wear. Love your friend. Where the hell’s my vodka? If nothing’s tighter by September, and I mean my bootie not my bootlegs, I will channel that motivation into saving for a new wardrobe.

  10. Best of luck! I’d say that you should try to think of yoga and other exercise as being like “playing” when you were a kid — but I know from “Moose” that you hardly have positive childhood memories of your enforced activities.
    As for dieting, I think the key for you will be blending a low-cal diet with your culinary creativity and skill. I’m sure you’ve thought of that already, but you’re definitely not a cottage cheese and celery kind of girl and never will be.

  11. Perfect timing for this entry. I can’t believe that at one point I worked so hard to get to a size that I loved and let it all go. What a waste. Tonight: meeting with trainer. Hopefully I can stay on track. Weekends and cocktails are my downfall.

    1. Please. I’m begging you. If you come upon the magic epiphany that allows you to deal with week-ends and cocktails, you must share your wisdom.

  12. I need a partner to do this with (and not a boyfriend type partner…because for me, weight loss with boyfriends has always backfired into a HUGE mess of insecurity)! I’ve started, down my first 10 lbs and I’m STILL struggling to feel motivated. In previous efforts, the first 10 lbs was motivation enough…well not these days! I wish I had someone to share it with, partly for the being held accountable thing and partly because doing things with girlfriends makes me feel better about the person I am NOW!

    1. i totally agree. i wish there were more folks at my work or by home that were in the same spot i’m in, but all my pals that want to lose a few live too far away, and i am surrounded by effortless skinnies!

  13. Cant remember my damn password for the pic but I’m still lurking around here every now and then. I suggested this to you almost three years ago (holy shit, has it been that long?!)- start lifting weights. I’m telling you it will make a world of difference, now and in the long run.
    It only gets harder the older you get, the more your metabolism suuuuucks, exercise doesnt do what it used to…trust me, lift weights.

  14. Haha! I dont know how that showed up. That’s my icon I use on Chicken Liver’s blog.
    *pelvic thrust*

  15. Joanna! I’m new to DC, and we should totally do hot yoga together! I’ve never done it before, I am in heinous shape (I’m tall and at “normal” weight, but I’m trying to quit smoking and I’ve got a spare tire or two at my waist and I have a high BMI), and I really would love some extra motivation. I live in SE, but would come wherever. How random, I know, but I just suddenly felt the urge to write. I need motivation something awful.

  16. Stephanie….you can do it….and keep us posted along the way! You are such an inspiration. I actually think that weight loss for me is yes…about health….but mostly all about the clothes….I am 34…married to a fabulous man…and about 15 pounds heavier than I have been…my skinny jeans are tucked away…and my “comfortable” airplane jeans are on a constant rotation!

    I am in investment banking in NYC…and hit an all time low when I wore my workout black pants and a cozy cashmere sweater to the office because nothing else fit. I AM NOT KIDDING. I use to wear prada suits. All. The. Time. No more! Please keep us posted! We can all do it together!!!! Skinny jeans….here we come!!! xoxoxoxoxo

  17. GO RAW!!! It works – you’ll never have to worry about your weight again! After a lifetime of countless diets I finally found a lifestyle (not a “diet”) that helped me naturally attain my ideal weight. After 34 years of hell, being overweight since the age of 11, I am now at a weight I love, I can’t even believe that I’m trying on size 2 & 4 as I’ve been a 10/12 my entire life. As an added bonus, I also cured my tendonitis and depression with this diet. On the flip side, you’ll never get to eat anything you like ever again. Well, not “never,” you still do “cheat” on occasion when you’re extremely emotionally vulnerable and aren’t eating to eat but to make yourself feel better. BUT, for the most part you look and feel so darn good you don’t even miss it. Just try it!!! Try the FREE 7-day detox from The Raw Divas…it’s only 7 days and at the end of it you can go back to eating the exact same way you used to if you want to. But, you won’t! That’s the amazing part – you just feel too great to ever go back to the old, miserable, lethargic you. TRUST ME!! Try it!! And, keep with the yoga, add some rebounding and you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll reach your goals (6 mo. TOPS!)

  18. You need advice like you need another head, but I can’t resist putting my 2¢ in in favor of South Beach. The diet is so easy to follow and being a creative cook, you’re more than capable of jazzing up some of the recipes while not adding calories. If you make up your mind that you’re going to live without fruit for two weeks and that you can give up bread/pasta for a while too, you’ll find that the weight comes off quickly, primarily from the mid-section first. After the first two weeks, more of the things you formerly loved will be added, bit by bit. You never feel hungry and after the first two days you don’t feel like you’re missing anything. The book is available via Amazon for 1¢. Of course, exercise absolutely is necessary. Choose what you wish….yoga, walking, pilates, whatever.

  19. hot yoga will definitely get the weight off! also incorporate a VERY high fiber cereal 1x per day and eat an apple a day too along with whatever else you are eating. you will be skinny in no time!

  20. Was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto thyroiditis, this was after I had joined a gym and kicked ass every time I went, then after a month I weighed myself and had gained 20+ pounds…no, not muscle!
    It was somewhat a relief o find an actual medical reason for the weight gain, however the fact that I will soon have hypothyroidism, with less energy and more weight gain is more upsetting than finding out I had a thyroid problem at all.
    When the doctor goes over your options and your first question is, how much weight will I gain, it is really depressing.
    Good luck Stephanie and everyone trying to lose weight.

    1. Why hasn’t he prescribed Eltroxin? You don’t have to gain weight at all.

  21. I hear you. I’m looking forward to being able to fit into my skinny fat clothes, let alone my fat skinny ones. I’d be a lot happier if losing weight were as easy as putting it on. I know it’s calories in, calories out…but we all have such different metabolisms that that tired mantra loses quite a bit of meaning.

    I’m down 13 pounds from doing Seattle Sutton, but in the last two or three weeks, I’ve been stagnant. And, in classic fashion, when that happens I throw my hands up and order a pizza or pile on more cheddar on my portobello and red onion panini. I’m going to Italy at the end of August, and I really want to be down another 15 pounds so I can float down the streets of Como rather than shuffle. Ugh.

    I will say that for once in my life, my anxiety has had a positive side effect — the new medication I’m on tends to lower my, um, voracious appetite.

  22. As someone who has never tried yoga, how does one get started? Classes filled with yoga aficionadas seem very intimidating. I know I would not be able to keep up. (I also do not have the typical ‘yoga body type’.) Should I try yoga DVDs until I am familiar and able? Btw, Stephanie, good luck! I personally think you look great, but I know what you’re feeling and can relate.

  23. I love you Stephanie Klein!!! You’re brilliant + motivating! I loved Moose, and love that, in a way, it never ends because I get to still read you on the blog. As an aside, you once wrote me back when I emailed you about being dumped by a friend, and your wit and advice managed to make me snort. Thank you.

  24. Let me chime in on the support for Bikram Yoga. I’ve never been in better shape in my life then when I did that damn class three days per week.

  25. I empathize with you as someone who really loves to cook. It can feel so sad to have to limit yourself to certain ingredients when playing around in the kitchen. Trying to lose weight can take a little joy out of “dreaming up” new recipes.

  26. Good Luck with your yoga class!

    Right now I am all about the Zumba Fitness craze. I have lost 40 pounds dancing & sweating away. Check it out, it doesn’t even feel like exercise & is soo much fun! I feel sexier already! (how can you not with all the Latin music & Latin moves!?) I promise you will love it & become an addict like I am!

  27. i do dance dance revolution on the playstation 2. since the playstation 3 is out you can get a ps2 for cheap cheap on ebay, and ddr games are also like 6 bucks a pop. it’s really fun, you can do it in your air conditioned apartment, and if you get 2 mats you can have danceoffs with friends. love it!

  28. Switch: How to change when change is hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

    This book was recently recommended to me and I’m waiting for a copy from the library…but maybe you’d find it interesting too.

    I remember reading this post a while back when it was posted and knowing that exact moment. I have it three times a year. When the clothes start leaving marks i do something about it just long enough to fit again…and then I start the incline. It’s a cycle of checks and balances.

    Wish I could just commit to fitness, but I love food too much and give in to cravings often.

    And so it is.

    Let me know if you check out the book.


  29. I recently lost 30 lbs., 8 percent body fat, and went from a size 10 to a size 2 by doing Bikram yoga consistently for three months. During this time I also attend Weight Watchers. I’m a firm believer in Bikram, and while the physical results are outstanding and my initial motivation for going, the changes to my attitude towards myself and others is what keeps my motivation alive.

  30. Yeah, I’m a dude. My wife reads you every day, brings you up over dinner. And as odd as this might be for a guy to say, I can see why.

  31. Ooooh! I thought of one more piece of unsolicited advice. Instead of a fancy gym or yoga studio check out your local YMCA. I’ve recently joined the Y here in SF, and I love it. They have yoga, spinning, Zumba, an indoor pool and personal training services. They also have drop-in childcare. It isn’t fancy or anything, but the facility is clean and well maintained. The best part is the community of people you encounter. Ours has a ton of seniors who could totally kick my butt… no stick-thin women with perfect boobs that I’ve seen so far.

  32. I recently discovered the sickening feeling of having thighs stick together when I walk.

  33. Kate, I can totally relate! I did the same thing :( One year ago I was so proud of myself for reaching what I had thought was my impossible goal weight. Now I’m right back where I had been :( The thought of having to lose the weight all over again is very daunting.

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