Monday, July 9, 2012

A Picture, But Not A Thousand Words....

*This won’t be my normal style of blogging, but lots of people wanted to know how I ended up in the August issue Good Housekeeping, so….

I was standing in a supermarket check-out line in early 2009.  Thanks to the recession, my husband had recently lost his job, when the company he worked for the last eight years went bankrupt.  I often flip through magazines when the line is long, and I noticed a little blurb in Good Housekeeping asking for readers to submit their weight loss stories.  Since I had lost nearly sixty pounds, I thought, Hey, I’m a pretty good writer, maybe I can get paid for my story!  I was just trying to help out financially.  I went out and got my first waitressing job that same week. 

A couple of months later, a Good Housekeeping editor contacted me.  They wanted to “do my story”, which is not the same as publishing the story I submitted, that, I must admit, was lengthy.  I think two and half pages.  But every word was important and inspirational.  Their idea was more along the lines of, “You’re beautiful!  Can we take your picture?”  Not what I had in mind, but flattered, so “Sure.”  They left me with a vague, “We’ll be in touch”.

I went about my life and then one day at the end of May (2009), they called me again out of the blue and said, “We’d like to fly you up to New York for a photo shoot in two weeks.  Can you do that?”  My husband was about to start a new job in Washington D.C., but my mom graciously agreed to keep the kids so I could enjoy the glamorous life for a couple of days.

For the next two weeks, leading up to my photo shoot, I did live like a model, eating like a bird, exercising at least an hour a day, moisturizing my skin and staying out of the sun, being careful to not get any bug bites or bruises.  (I avoided the sun because the article was originally supposed to run in the fall, which explains why I’m wearing jeans and fall colors in my picture.) 

Wanna know how models feel?  Well, if it’s like I felt those two weeks before I went to New York, they feel hungry, moody, and bored.  I couldn’t exactly go rollerblading, which I love, and risk a broken wrist or ugly bruise. 

I embarked on my new healthy lifestyle in January of 2007; the twins were four months old.  I lost weight gradually and steadily for over a year to reach my goal.  And that is definitely the way to do it because I’ve kept it off for five years now.  I started eating healthy, eating less, and exercising more.  Well, at that point, you could’ve left the “more” off….I started exercising.

It’s awesome to have my hard work validated and rewarded this way.  I really wish that every woman (and man) who loses/lost weight could get to experience what I did….

I was picked up at my house in a limousine and taken to the airport for my direct flight to New York City, where another man in a dark suit was waiting with a sign to escort me to another limo.  My bags were carried into a swanky five star hotel in Times Square and after a time to “refresh”, I went to the Hearst Tower, where pretty much all big magazines’ offices are housed.

After the initial security station/reception desk, I rode an impressive escalator that cut through an indoor waterfall.  On the next level, another security attendant assigned me an elevator.  There were no buttons on the elevator; he remotely sent it to the appropriate floor.  A high floor that was completely reserved for our photo shoot.  There were rooms FULL of clothes, shoes, and jewelry.  It was all loaned out by the designers, name brands I’d only heard of, but never worn.  And we had the most incredible view of the city from up there.  I felt like a princess!  I was happy for the little girl inside of me that had always dreamed of becoming one, because for two days, that dream came true.

I met three of those four women that are featured in the magazine with me, but the one that is on the cover is new.  I’m not sure, but I suspect she’s a recent addition so they could have appropriate colors and styles for an August cover.  Unfortunately, the original fifth member of our crew didn’t make it into the issue.

That first day was just a fitting and meeting with the stylists.  I mostly sat in a reception room, that had a buffet of fancy healthy foods and drinks, while these women came in and held pieces of clothes or jewelry up to my face.  Occasionally, they’d ask me to go into one of the dressing rooms and try something on for them.  Seeing the price tags on the clothes, I was extremely careful as I did so.  Ultimately, they liked the jeans I showed up in the best and just added the sweater, shirt, shoes, and accessories.  I guess I have good taste.  They still fit; I wear them a lot.

After my fitting, I went shopping, which is the only thing the magazine didn’t pay for while I was in New York.  (A wise financial decision on their part.)  And I ate a nice big dinner that night because the stylist said my size 8 jeans were a little too loose!  I wasn’t going to get into a size 6 by the next day, so I figured a steak and baked potato might help.  (I still need a size 10 in dresses though, so I made them put my size as 8/10, because I want real women to be able to identify with me.)

I had a ten a.m. “call time” the next day, and I was told to show up without make-up and not to do anything more than comb my hair after my shower.  Done.  That’s how I leave the house pretty much every morning; clean face, wet hair, and casual clothes.  Most mommies could get on board with that facet of model life.

When I arrived, I met the rest of the “team”; the make-up lady (on my right), the hair guy (blonde guy), the photographer (man on my left) and his minions.  The photographer, rather than the editor, was top dog there.  He had the final word on EVERYTHING during the shoot.

I’ve never had expertly applied make-up.  But if you look at the picture, you can see it was totally worth forty-five minutes in that chair!  Except for fake eyelashes though, that’s me.  No airbrushing.  Just lots of hair brushing.  My hair guy would step in every two minutes or so during the shoot and adjust one or two strands of hair.  He was OCD.

The photo shoot itself was incredible.  There was music playing the whole time, but the first song, the one playing as I walked into the room was “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison.  They took my picture a million different ways for the next two hours.  But with the music, fans blowing, and even a girl whose sole job was to offer me water through a straw, it was easy.  After I was done, they popped open a bottle of champagne for me.  I don’t like champagne though, so the stylists drank it.

I spent the night visiting my favorite New York sights and then went to the movies before bed.  The next morning I got the limo/star treatment again, back to JFK.  And when I arrived in Raleigh, a big, handsome, twentysomething Italian guy in a black suit met me as I exited the terminal, took my bag, and then drove me back to suburbia and reality in a tricked out black Escalade.  When he was helping me into the backseat at the airport, I heard a family nearby saying “Ohmygosh, who is that?” about me and I laughed thinking, I’m just the crazy lady that lives down the street from you probably.

The article got bumped that fall because they got Paula Deen for the cover and couldn’t put weight loss in her issue.  It didn’t run in the months after that either, so I figured it wasn’t ever going to.  Imagine my surprise when they called this spring to make sure I’d kept the weight off and said they still wanted to run it.  I had to submit current pictures to show I’m still the same size, but I didn’t get to do a new photo shoot.  That’s okay, because I want to have my words read, not my picture taken.Photobucket


  1. That's totally awesome. I should submit my weight loss story somewhere. I want a girl whose sole job is to offer me water through a straw!

  2. Great blog Heather! Can't wait to read the article in the magazine. - Mike

  3. Congratulations Heather!! I'm headed out in a bit to get your magazine!