Back in the early months of 2010, I decided that Patrick and I needed to lose weight. Gestating a book for over a year had the same effect on my figure as having a baby. Near the end of writing it, I was 145 lbs, over 15 lbs heavier than when I started. That’s not an unhealthy weight for a 5′ 4″ woman of 40, but it was a steep gain, and I neither looked nor felt my best. Patrick had been gaining steadily for several years, and while I know I will eventually have to make my peace with wrinkles and jiggles, I wasn’t ready to just let ourselves go.
I don’t know how anyone else gets their husband to do something they’d rather not do, but I find it very effective to pitch it as a story to my editor at Good Housekeeping, and tell him that she’s the one making him do it, not me. So I volunteered us for a midlife couples diet makeover. Over a 12-week period, we consulted with the wonderful Samantha Cassetty, nutritionist at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, dropping 34 lbs between us. I submitted the story that spring, did some revisions in the fall, and then didn’t hear about it for a while. In the meantime, I continued to gradually lose weight by sticking with the incremental lifestyle changes Samantha had prescribed. Patrick, whose 12-week losses had been aggravatingly dramatic, had slipped back into some of his wicked ways, and was gradually putting pounds back on.
Then last April, we got a phone call from the creative director at GH. They were ready to lay out the story. Could we come to New York for the “after” photos?
“PATRICK!” I yelled, as soon as I put the phone down. “Whatever you’re eating, DROP IT NOW.”
He did, and got back on the wagon. A few weeks later, we were in a New York studio, gazing up at the Empire State Building through the skylights.
There’s a lot to love about getting to work with Good Housekeeping. At the top of the list are the people I get to work with. For this shoot, I was reunited with Daniela Stallinger, who shot me for Mommy Wears Prada. It was so great to see her again, and introduce Patrick to her. “Now you have to write a story about the children, so I can shoot them, too,” she teased. I’m working on it.
It was interesting for Patrick to experience a big league shoot, having directed plenty of local ones in his advertising career. “The process is the same,” he observed, adding up people and props. ”It’s mainly the scale that’s different.”
There were makeup and hair people.
There were wardrobe people.
There was catering.
There were 18 dozen donuts. That’s a lot of donuts.
We shot for most of a day. Having been forced to give up his daily breakfast of packaged powdered donuts, Patrick had to pose with a donut in his mouth until his jaws ached. And submit to various other indignities. He was an incredibly good sport about it.
But really, who would complain about getting to spend a couple of days in New York with your best girl, in a swell hotel…
…and all the donuts you can’t eat?
The article is called Mommy Wears Spanx (Daddy Eats Donuts), and it’s in the September issue, on stands now. We laughed a lot throughout the diet and the shoot, and hope you get a kick out of it, too. Post-script: well over a year later, I am 127 lbs, and Patrick is at 165.