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Dancing with the Athletes

My most favorite show featuring sequins and feather boas and bad puns is back on the air. Yes, Dancing with the Stars is broadcasting live every Monday and Tuesday night. I think my fanaticism for the program is waning a bit, like the third year of a marriage where we’re starting to get used to each other. I’ve missed a couple of episodes already because the two hour length leaves my attention waning. I keep thinking “I should really be exercising or writing instead. Or better yet, dancing!” Then I leap up off the couch and do an imitation of the mambo that causes my cat to scamper out of the room in fear. He evidently fears flailing arms and booty shaking more than plastic bags.

One of the things I love about Dancing with the Stars is the athlete competitors. They always have an awesome attitude. Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, and now Laila Ali have all come in with a positive outlook and ready to work despite the fact that they had as much hip action as a GI Joe figure. They’re in it to win. This awesome approach they take to conquering an obstacle is probably why they are so successful in their chosen professions. It’s also the same attitude you have to take to succeed at weight loss.

Heather Mills is on the show this year too and she has an equally cool attitude since she’s dancing with a fake leg. I don’t know much about her other than she’s divorcing Paul McCartney, but I hope if a motorcycle ever chopped off my leg I’d be as willing to challenge myself like she is. Many people consider this show to be cheesy and melodramatic – and it totally is – but they also sneak in lessons on how to live your life between the carefully edited biography packages and the judge’s criticisms about heel leads.

My favorite contestant this year is Laila Ali, a boxer and daughter of Muhammad Ali. The girl is all muscle and it is totally sexy. Check it out. She could flick her fingers in my general direction and the gale force of wind would knock me on my well-padded ass. But she looks glamorous in the satin ballroom garb and has a graceful elegance on the dance floor. She oozes confidence. It’s great to see a woman with size and stature who is in no way fat. It’s such a contrast to the ideal of feminine beauty that is typically represented on TV and magazines. Too bad she’s partnered with Max, who seems so slimy I bet she has to wash her hands after every hold. I hope she wins, though it seems like it’s harder for women to take the competition than men since more flashy moves are expected of them.

Strangely, models don’t seem to fair well on the show. The first woman kicked off was the funny and clever Paulina, a model who was in a music video for The Cars in the 80’s. I was bummed since she seemed like someone I would hang out with. She and Alec had a fun chemistry that I was looking forward to watching develop. But she wasn’t popular enough and didn’t dance well enough to stay. This week it was Shandi somebody, a beauty queen who lived up to all my expectations for beauty queens. I’m not crying in my oatmeal about that one.

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Debbi • April 5, 2007 at 9:13 am

Harumph. Some of us aren’t home on Monday or Tuesday nights, and when we do get home we’re too tired to watch television. That is tired, I’m tellin’ ya! Or tarred, if you’re from the south. I’ll just watch vicariously through your blog this season.


Andrea • April 5, 2007 at 9:22 am

I saw Paulina in person once with her husband (the Cars’ Rick Ocasek) when I lived in Boston. I spotted them in Star Market perusing the cheeses. One of my big brushes with greatness.

Thanks for the tip in your previous post about the sneakers (putting the laces through all the holes so the shoes don’t rub). I’ve been having the same problem and now I know why!


Lose Weight With Me • April 5, 2007 at 9:35 am

Laila Ali totally rocks!

She displays a level of fitness that we should all aspire to.




PastaQueen • April 5, 2007 at 9:59 am

Andrea – It makes me feel much better that I was not the only person who was ignorant to the complexities of shoe lacing. Glad I could help!


mickey • April 5, 2007 at 10:13 am

i am a big fan of laila ali on this show, and also of clyde drexler, for the same reasons you outlined. although i don’t think clyde is long for the dancing with the stars world.


Debbie • April 5, 2007 at 11:29 am

I don’t watch the show because it’s on opposite 24 this year. But I saw a clip of Heather Mills doing some cartwheel-like dance move with her partner. Amazing! Not only that she managed it with an artificial leg, but that she attempted it at all, especially on national TV. I really admire her for that.


Kriss • April 5, 2007 at 11:32 am

DWTS is my guilty pleasure, too. Laila Ali is hot – she’s definitely the kind of feisty I would love to be!

I dunno – Ian Ziering seems a little too smug to me, as does Joey Fatone. Apollo (the speed skater guy) is growing on me & I love that he & his partner seem to have some real chemistry. Unlike Billy Ray Cyrus & the sourpuss he’s stuck with.


Joy • April 5, 2007 at 12:08 pm

Many years ago I worked for Estee Lauder – when Paulina was in all their ads. I happened to meet her once and she seemed like a really lovely person. No ego trip at all, very natural and sweet. I was sad to see her leave Dancing with the Stars.

But my fingers are crossed for Laila Ali – great confidence, attitude and she’s gorgeous, just like her dad!


Nina • April 5, 2007 at 12:54 pm

I love this show – BUT, especially during the earlier episodes, I insist on tivoing it before I watch it. Even if I’m home and wanting to watch TV, I wait, because there are some parts that are so boring, or just terrible dancing that I have to fast forward through them. Not to mention the MUSIC! ack! the worst cover band ever – I often have to watch it on mute so my sweetheart doesn’t hurl the tv out the window.

I agree Laila Ali is awesome. I worry a little about the “Emmitt factor” – Mario was a better dancer,but emmit was more personable and looked more like he was having fun. Laila needs to loosen up a little, and then she’s my pick to win the whole thing.


jae • April 5, 2007 at 3:57 pm

I just was telling my hubby the other day that I would love to have Laila Ali’s body. I don’t think I could be that dedicated though, so it will be just a dream. ~j


Jane • April 5, 2007 at 5:17 pm

I think Laila is a gorgeous woman, but my heart’s with Apolo. He’s a homey, after all. And, as my partner pointed out, he has a very pleasant aura, though I’m not sure his speed-skating rivals would agree.


K • April 5, 2007 at 6:45 pm

PQ – you rawk. (Hiss of air freshener.)

You’re right about Laila Ali… her arms look fabulous. As I write this, I can see some poor neglected dumbbells eyeballing me…


:) • April 5, 2007 at 7:47 pm

pea-queue, you HAVE to start watching Work Out on Bravo. Tues at 10. It is my new OBSESSION.

They kind of have a Biggest Loser contest this season, which is addictive.


me • April 5, 2007 at 11:16 pm

Hi Pasta Queen,

I’ve been reading your blog for about a year. I rarely post. The one time I posted I asked you about your skin issues and you wrote back a very lengthy, informative post. Thank you. It was so nice to get a response. I was curious about skin because I’ve had some issues.

I’m 5′ 4.5 and weigh about 117 lb. I fluctuate between 115-120, but I pretty much always hold steady there. I’ve been this weight since I was 18 years old. I have a pretty good metabolism and was born into a family that eats a Mediterranean diet. I feel very lucky.

That said, thirteen years at the age of 15 I became obsessed with my weight. I’d always been a skinny minny until then and then I suddenly put on weight after hitting puberty. That said I looked good, big breasts, teeny waist. But I felt very uncomfortable. I probably weighed around 130 then (if I had to guess). I promptly went on a crash diet (eating only 1260 calories a day which for someone who was still growing was a measly amount. I still don’t really understand why I fixated on that particular number, but I did) and got down to 102 over a period of 4 months.

I wasn’t anorexic but I was definitely suffering from disordered eating. Luckily, my mother took me to a doctor. As soon as I told the doctor how much I was eating, they told me flatly that I wasn’t eating enough. It was strange, because most people who are eating that little would’ve just ignored the doctor’s advice. But I felt like a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I began eating more almost immediately.

That’s when things got bad. Whereas before I’d always been very controlled, I was now reeling out of control. Within about 1 year I’d gained 47 lbs and weighed almost 150 lbs. No one in my family ever said anything. They just let me learn from their moderate habits. I was stuffing my face uncontrollably, yet they were so patient with me. Finally after I hit 150 at age 17, I decided I couldn’t bear dealing with this issue any more. I was sick of food, sick of eating till I felt like I would explode. So I just stopped thinking about it. I ate what my parents ate, got involved in school activities.

The weight fell off me. I barely noticed to be honest. It probably took about another year, but one day I realized I was normal again. I weighed 117 and I was 18 years old, midway through my first year of college. It’s like I stopped thinking about it and just surrendered to my body and it came back.

Since then I’ve been stable. I never forbid myself from eating anything. I don’t count calories. I just listen to my body. When I’m hungry I eat. When I’m not I don’t. If I want to eat cookie dough for dinner I do. I never regret anything I put into my mouth. I just listen to my body. It usually directs me to good yummy things that I grew up on (veggies, olive oil, chicken, pesto, pasta, tomatoes and tons of fruit are my staples).

Looking back I’m amazed I got through this relatively unscathed. The one reminder I have is my skin. I have stretch marks across my breasts, hips, and thighs. I never really noticed them though until several years ago. I’m very pale and so they blend in fairly well with my skin. Although in the bright light, in a bathing suit, I find them somewhat startling. But they’re a reminder of what I went through, how I betrayed my body and how it came back.

I guess this is why I read your blog. I don’t have a weight problem, but I’ve suffered from hating my body both when I was too thin and somewhat chubby. Your blog and my stretch marks remind me how I should love my body. I appreciate it and applaud your efforts. I’ve never talked to anyone about my experience let alone written about it. But I wanted to say thank you for giving us all a voice. I know my weight issues pale in comparison to others but much of what you write resonates with me. You wouldn’t know it by looking at me, only if you catch me in the sun on a beach. Then you might see the thin, ghostly white lines that are scrawled across my thighs, a gentle reminder of where I’ve been and where I hope never to return to. Thank you.


Deb • June 1, 2008 at 11:33 pm

Max is slimy? I think he’s smokin’ sexy hot! To each his own.


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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