Category Archives: Health

Bye, bye belly

My pouch was visible when I visited Lipari, one of the Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the north coast of Sicily.

Close your eyes and visualize this: A toothpick that swallowed a lemon.

Now open them and you will see how I see myself, which is why I have decided to have tumescent liposuction today.

I’m 50 years and three days old. But the decision to do lipo didn’t just hit me because of my age. Those of you who know me have put up with me complaining about my belly for years. When I texted the news to a girlfriend in Chicago whom I’ve known since the 80s, she texted back:

“Awesome Girl!!! I’m surprised you didn’t do this sooner because you never liked you (sic) “tiny pouch”. lol

I eat healthy 90 percent of the time, work out four to five days a week doing weight-bearing exercises and floor work for my abs and walk the hills of San Francisco to run errands since I have no car. I’m quite pleased with the rest of my body after dropping a dress size while researching The World’s Top Destination Spas story for Elite Traveler this spring. I can’t afford to lose anymore inches. My butt is practically non-existent. My boobs have shrunk. My pencil legs are now toothpicks. Still, my belly persists to the point where it is much larger than my ass. And everyone knows you can’t spot reduce.

What’s a girl to do?

I’m 6-foot-1, 152 pounds, reed thin. My legs are so skinny I have to get all of my boots taken in. Always have.

And I’ve always had a belly too. I’ve grown as adept at holding it in as I have at breathing.

When I was in my 20s, I popped laxatives before going on vacation to get rid of my bulge. Seven, 10, 12 at a time. Whatever it took.

By my 30s that no longer worked and I went to 90-year-old nutritionist Hermien Lee, who turned me into a lean, mean, machine.

And then came my 40s. I opted for more drastic methods such as the Master Cleanser or doing a raw diet with no alcohol for weeks at a time. Being that I’m a travel writer and part of traveling is eating then guzzling lemonade for several days at a time and not eating anything cooked can only work so long for me.

Everyone knows what a foodie I am and my stomach is a bottomless pit. The way I eat, I should be 300 pounds but I’m not because I exercise regularly — plus, I have great genes. Previously, if I needed to get my belly down, all I had to do was really watch what I ate and give up alcohol. Within 10 days, I’d be looking good enough to rock a bikini like I did in St. Tropez this summer.

Kelly E. Carter, Trina Turk bikini

I rocked this Trina Turk bikini in St. Tropez this summer, holding in my belly.

But age has a way of catching up with you.

When I returned from St. Tropez, I learned that the beau would have to endure six weeks of radiation. Before he began his treatment in September I offered to give up alcohol to support him. Oh how we both love our wine! He looked at me with the most loving eyes, for it was akin to me offering to shave my head if he lost his hair. (Thankfully THAT didn’t happen.) Outside of drinking at HBO’s Emmy party, during a business trip to South Beach and in Atlanta, where I went for a funeral, I stuck by my no-alcohol edict. After the beau’s radiation ended, his belly was gone and he was down 20 pounds. My belly still stuck out like a hump in a camel, a further indication that alcohol was not what was causing me to look four months pregnant.

During a visit to the beau’s dermatologist, I spotted a brochure for tumescent liposuction. Curious, I picked it up. I thought back to a recent lipo discussion with a retired dermatologist friend from my beau’s yacht club. He tiptoed around my situation but agreed that lipo wouldn’t be a bad thing for me. And I recalled a conversation from a couple of years ago with a friend from childhood, now a medical doctor with a weight loss clinic in L.A. She told me back then that I was the ideal candidate for lipo. The brochure in hand, I looked at these before and after photos and read when the procedure should be used, the risks, how it is performed and why a dermatologic surgeon should be used.

tumescent liposuction

Liposuction is most effective for removing localized fat deposits that do not respond to diet or exercise. It is not intended as a substitute for weight loss; rather, it is a contouring procedure, and is optimally utilized in a program of exercise and weight maintenance.

I know a lot of you reading this may look at the before picture and ask “Where’s Waldo? Where’s the fat?” Not me! I looked at the photo and said, “That’s me!” I gave the brochure to the beau, who said if that’s what I want then fine, I could have it. But, he made it clear, he thinks I have a fantastic bod. We returned for a consultation with his doctor and scheduled my procedure for Nov. 30. This gave me license to thoroughly enjoy  myself during a decadent birthday trip to Las Vegas with several girlfriends to ring in my 50th.

Now, a bon vivant like me disdains buffets but Kitty Yancey, a USA Today travel writer whose opinion I trust, assured me in an email that the new, $17 million Bacchanal Buffet at  Caesars Palace was worth it and wrote that her story in USA Today didn’t give it justice. You have to go, she implored.

So off me and my girls went for my birthday lunch. With each plate, I reminded myself that everything I was eating would be removed on Friday.

bacchanal buffet Caesars palace

After starting at Bacchanal Buffet’s seafood station, I moved on to Italy, pausing to pick up a slider during my birthday lunch at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas.

At Bacchanal, I took it upon myself to gorge on fresh East and West coast oysters, prawns, shrimp and grits, mussels, grilled salmon, pepperoni pizza, meatballs, sliders, French fries, chips and guacamole, Kung Pao chicken, edamame, low mein, crème brûlée and lots more. With more than 500 dishes to choose from, I couldn’t try everything – though I wanted to.

That night, my birthday dinner took place at James Beard award-winning Chef José Andrés’ Jaleo in The Cosmopolitan. I devoured cured ham from the legendary, acorn-fed, black-footed Ibérico pigs of Spain, 18-month salt-cured Serrano ham, white asparagus with idiazábal cheese, grilled skirt steak with piquillo pepper confit, traditional chicken fritters served in a shoe and so much more, knowing that it would all be gone be in just a few days.

Jaleo Las Vegas Jose Andres

My yummy birthday dinner served tapas style at Jaleo by Jose Andres in The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas.

Before I left for the trip, I went clothes shopping in San Francisco for a couple of new birthday outfits since it was Black Friday.What a frustrating experience that was! I looked longingly at dresses that I knew were not right for my body type because they hugged the mid-section. I was nearly in tears as I went from one store to another, unable to find anything despite the Black Friday sales. I admit I do a pretty good job of hiding my belly. One saleswoman convinced me to try on a dress that she said would hide the belly that she couldn’t see. I wiggled into the cute red dress and her eyes nearly popped out when she saw my belly protruding like a beach ball. Oh, she said, before finding the one dress in her store that hid a belly. But I didn’t care for the dress. I told her I was having lipo in a few days and she said she looked forward to seeing me back in the store in a few months. I waddled further down Chestnut Street and into BCBG Max Azria, where I picked up this darling shirt dress that hides my pouch, and a couple of other items that would suffice.

Kelly E. Carter, Ghostbar Palms Casino

Me at Ghostbar, on the 55th floor of Palms Casino for pre-birthday drinks.

As much as I absolutely love, love, love this BCBG shirt dress, in a few months I won’t be limited to dresses that flow. Thanks to the beau and his generous birthday present. Even though he doesn’t think I need lipo, I do. And that’s what matters.

Check back later for updates.

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Filed under Aging, Beauty, Dining, Health, Las Vegas

If Gwyneth can do macrobiotic then so can I

macrobiotic meal SHA Wellness Clinic

Dinner at SHA Wellness Clinic in El Albir, Spain

It’s easy to explain a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian and even Mediterranean diet. But tell someone you’re going to a spa where only macrobiotic food is served and inevitably, the question is “What does macrobiotic mean?”

I know I sounded like an idiot when I told people had no idea. My only association with the word was through actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who did the macrobiotic thing for a few years, and M Café, a macrobiotic restaurant in Los Angeles that I had talked about a couple of times to Susan Irby on her The Bikini Chef radio show though I really didn’t know understand what macrobiotic meant.

All I knew was that I would be eating not just super healthy but exceptionally well at SHA Wellness Clinic because the chef Pablo Montoro had worked at Ferrán Adrià’s renowned restaurant El Bullí and in Martin Berasategui’s kitchen. I was eager to begin my “Discovery” program, the name for the uninitiated such as myself that flock to this clinic on Spain’s Mediterranean coast to detox, lose weight and learn how to take better care of themselves. I crammed my 36-inch inseam into what had to be seats with a 25-inch pitch on Iberia Express and jetted off to Alicante from Madrid.

My first introduction to macrobiotic food was breakfast, which I arrived just in time for after the 45-minute drive in a luxury sedan to SHA in the resort town of Albir, which has been overtaken by Germans and Brits. Breakfast started with a delicious mixture of carrot and fruit juice. Then I was served Miso soup, porridge, spelt toast, pears that had a hint of ginger and compote. I thought the porridge was steel-cut oatmeal but I was surprised to learn that it was brown rice and spelt milk. I had barely heard of spelt and had no idea you could make milk from it.

For lunch, I feasted on asparagus and zucchini soup topped with rice noodles, turbot paella, salad with sunflower seeds and almond crème brûlée with crumbled cinnamon. Then I was served kukicha tea, which is loaded with calcium and has tons of nutritional benefits.

Later that night I gobbled down pumpkin soup with caviar eggs, bread sticks, rolls and what appeared to be butter though I know it wasn’t, thinly sliced fresh vegetables that were so tasty that I might change my opinion of cauliflower being the worst food in the world and a white fish called “gill head.” A trio of homemade sorbet (orange, chocolate and strawberry) were presented for dessert.

Hey, I can do this macrobiotic thing for life. If it’s so good why does it sound so horrible?

The next day I met with Dr. Ken Prange, who presented me with a multi-page document on the macrobiotic diet, looked at my fingernails and tongue and suggested I cut down on sweets, or at least those made with refined sugar, and told me that my central nervous system was frayed. (“Could it be the economic conditions under which I live as a freelance writer,” I wanted to ask him?). He also suggested I eat Miso soup daily to improve my immune system after I told him I have way too many colds despite taking Spirulina, Chinese herbs and vitamin C daily.

I didn’t receive a textbook definition of macrobiotic from him so was eager to read the document he gave me. I still don’t know what it is but I’m thoroughly enjoying the dishes served at SHA Wellness Clinic.

pumpkin soup SHA Wellness Clinic

Pumpkin soup at SHA Wellness Clinic in El Albir, Spain

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Filed under Aging, Beauty, Dining, Health, Spa

Thinking of Elizabeth Edwards on mammogram day

Just a few hours after I returned home from my annual mammogram came the news that Elizabeth Edwards lost her long and courageous battle against breast cancer. A horrible coincidence but a reminder how deadly breast cancer can be.

I had already planned to write this post before I heard about Elizabeth’s death. I’m sure she isn’t the only woman to die of the disease today considering breast cancer is expected to kill 39,840 women this year but she is the most famous. May she rest in peace.

Because I’m a victim of the economy and don’t have  health insurance, I went to the Watts Clinic for today’s mammo. While sitting in the waiting room, a tough-looking and tough-talking woman came in and approached the receptionist’s desk with the grace of a bull.

“Do you still do that thing where they put your breast in a machine and squeeze it hard?” she asked.

After being told the procedure had not changed, the lady said she didn’t want a mammogram because it was too painful.

Being that I find it hard to keep my mouth shut around ignorant people, I said to her, “Cancer hurts a lot more than a mammogram.”

She gave me a who-in-the-hell-are-you look and replied, “Well, I don’t have cancer and I’m not gonna.”

“You could,” I said. “One out of seven women get breast cancer. I’ve lost friends to breast cancer. At least if you get a mammogram…”

She harrumphed as she sat down. I continued to stare at her, hoping my words and my glare would sink in. She stared back at me.

“Early detection,” she said meekly.

“Yes. It’s about early detection.”

“Do you get them every year?”

Now her bravado was gone.

“Yes,” I told her.

“A colonoscopy too?”

I told her although I’m not 50, two years ago my doctor suggested I have one so I did. Now I’m good to go for another several years. She told me she was 51, hadn’t had one and didn’t want one. I explained the prep and the procedure and told her she wouldn’t even feel anything because she’d be out.

“I don’t want anyone digging around in me and I don’t know what they’re doing,” she said, putting on her tough mask again.

I just smiled at her.

“What are they looking for? Cancer?” she asked.

Polyps, I told her, not knowing if that was correct but it’s the first thing that came to mind. By now, I could see she was relying on me and I couldn’t show any lack of education.

The technician then called my name. I stood up to leave, walked to the door and turned back to look at the lady.

“Good luck,” I told her.

“You too.”

I don’t understand women who say they don’t get mammograms because of the pain. They’re not even painful if you ask me. And if you think they are and use that as an excuse,  just compare it to radiation and chemotherapy.

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Ah, the joys of being 6-foot-1

revana bottleThere are pitfalls of being 6-foot-1, such as theater seats, flying coach, shopping for pants and anything with long sleeves, not wanting to rock a pair of 6-inch Christian Louboutins for fear of being stared at even more than usual and being hit on by diminutive men who are unable to stand on their money and see me eye to eye. And then there are the benefits: not having to torture myself in a pair of 6-inch Christian Louboutins, standing above most armpits, automatically distinguishing myself in a crowd and my newest fave benefit: two glasses of red wine a day.

For a bon vivant like me, it was music to my ears when Dr. Madaiah Revana, a Houston cardiologist and the man behind Revana Family Vineyard in Napa Valley, Alexana Winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and another winery in Argentina, told me that because of my height I could consume two glasses of red wine daily and not have it adversely affect my health. Take that you 5-feet women who should stick to one!

I had the pleasure of sitting next to Dr. Revana during a fabulous media dinner the other night at Belvedere, inside The Peninsula Beverly Hills. It’s a sin to nurse one glass of wine over a multi-course, fine dining experience and this group was not about to sin. We started with an amuse bouche of duck confit risotto with butternut squash, compliments of the talented Executive Chef James Overbaugh, then moved on to Dungeness crab chowder and Dungeness crab souffle (paired with the 2007 Alexana Pinot Gris) . The next course was pan roasted veal sweetbreads (paired with the 2006 Alexana Pinot Noir) followed by braised lamb shoulder and roasted lamb loin (paired with 2005 Revana Estate Cabernet Sauvignon). We finished with a plate of pistachio ice cream with strawberries, and a healthy serving of chocolate but by then no more wine was necessary.

Revana, planted in 1998, is fairly new on the wine scene  but already making news and selling out its limited production yearly. It’s no wonder why. Be sure to catch Dr. Revana discuss wine and its health benefits on the radio show I co-host, “What’s Cookin’ with the Bikini Chef Susan Irby,” on Sunday, Nov. 1 from 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. PT on KTLK AM 1150.

revana_vineyard

I can’t wait to visit Revana Family Vineyard in St. Helena!

Christian_Louboutin_Rolando_Pumps_In_Black_Patent_LeatherIf I were not already towering over everyone then I would rock these. But I already get a backache bending down to chat with short folks at gatherings when I wear two-inch heels.

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Filed under Dining, Health, Wine

“No Excuses” not to go to the gym

maynardEvery year so many of us begin the new year with the promise of working out on a regular basis.  But it’s so easy to come up with excuses not to go to the gym.

It’s too cold. It’s too hot. It’s too rainy. It’s too sunny. I’m too fat and feel uncomfortable. It’s too far. I don’t have any time. I have to walk the dog. Oh, I don’t have a dog. Well, I have to go buy a dog.

It’s time to stop. Yesterday I watched Kyle Maynard on CNN. You’ve probably heard of Kyle since he’s been in the news for at least half of his 22 years. He’s never made any excuses although he’s a disabled, abbreviated man with stumps for arms and legs. Despite being born with a condition called congenital amputation, he played youth football and wrestled in high school and became a weight lifter.  Today he can lift more than 200 pounds. Now he’s opened a gym called “No Excuses Athletics” in Suwanee, Ga.  Imagine the motivation that comes from just seeing him in the gym. For Kyle there are no limits. A motivational speaker, he wrote a book No Excuses: The True Story of a Congenital Amputee Who Became a Champion in Wrestling and in Life.

He said the question he gets asked the most is, if he could go back in time and be born normal would he. He said no because of the effect that he’s had on people, some of whom told him they were thinking of committing suicide until they heard him speak.

Once again, I put “to exercise regularly” on my list of new year resolutions. Whenever I think of a reason not to go work out, I’ll think of Kyle.

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I’m not a germ-a-phobe but …

michelle-and-barack-fist-bump
Some women love winter because they can wear an array of coats. Others have different hats for every day of the week. I relish this time of year because I can wear gloves, which to me serve a dual purpose. Not only do they keep my hands toasty but reduce the number of germs I’m exposed to by touching a pole on a subway. I just wish I could get away with wearing gloves indoors as well.

I am flabbergasted at how insensitive people are when it comes to extending their hands to someone. They think it’s a kind gesture but actually it shows their stupidity when done at wrong times. I was at an ESPN, The Magazine party in Manhattan, munching on Garrett’s world-famous caramel corn when I was introduced to someone. The man had the audacity to extend his hand to me, as if I was going to shake it in between stuffing handfuls of caramel corn in my mouth. Other times I’ve been pulling bread apart at the dinner table when someone comes over and expects me to shake their hand. Or even worse yet, enjoying a sticky Krispy Kreme doughnut. There is no way I am shaking someone’s hand then go back to eating from hands. I’m sorry.

Being that I seldom hold my tongue, I have gone so far as to tell people why I will not shake their hands at that particular moment. I’m sure they take offense but they shouldn’t. I’m not necessarily calling them dirty but there is no way of knowing by looking at someone who didn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom, who just picked their nose and who may have just picked up flu germs from the last person’s hands they shook. Why should I subject my hands and mouth to their germs just to appease them?

I traveled with the Lakers for four years during my sportswriting career and in the beginning seemingly had a cold every month due to my body being worn down by the heavy travel. Finally the Lakers trainer, Gary Vitti, suggested I quit shaking hands with people. And I did. Ever since then I’ve been more cognizant of shaking hands on my terms.

I hope the fist-bumping, which has been going on for quite some time but which was put in the spotlight by the Obamas, becomes an acceptable alternative to hand shaking. It’s not just that it looks cool but it’s more sanitary. Or we could bow like the Asians. Otherwise, I guess I could keep my gloves on indoors, rock a big cocktail ring on the outside and call it my style trademark. But that doesn’t solve the problem of when I eat with my hands. Only others can solve that by being more conscious.

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