You are browsing the archive for 2009 December.

Does pink really stink?

December 31, 2009 in Uncategorized

By Ana Lilian, Los Angeles Moms Blog

I just read on the NYT Motherlode blog an article titled “Boycotting Pink Toys for Girls” about a British online campaign started by two moms-Pink Stinks-which just launched an effort to boycott the Early Learning Centre, a large toy retailer in Britain, during the Christmas season because of their “pinkification” of girls’ toys. They know there are many toy outlets that abide by this practice, but believe the ELC is the worst offender since they market themselves as educational.

Yes, they have a point that the role models being perpetuated by marketers and retailers are too narrow and simplified to define who our girls really are. However, I4m not sure that pointing our fingers towards retailers will result in us raising strong, secure and powerful women. Note that I didn4t always think this way. For a long time I would pinch my nose at the site of pink and its derivatives because I felt pink was the first step at becoming a frivolous, self-centered, image-obsessed girl. Think Paris Hilton.

Ever since we found out three years ago that we were expecting a baby girl we got on the mind set to avoid anything frilly, cutesy, and pink. I didn’t mind a fuchsia, hot, Mexican-rose pink, but could almost vomit by the site of the soft baby pink and ruffles that surrounded baby girls’ products. I even went to the point of requesting on my baby shower invitations that “Please, no pink gifts.” I knew I would still be bombarded by pink, but wanted to minimize the impact as much as possible, while sending a message that we were not raising “that type of girl.” Whatever that means.

Our “no-pink” obsession morphed into a “no-dolls” obsession once our girl was born and she started being interested in toys. She had plenty of Ugly Dolls, musical instruments, stuffed dogs, wooden blocks, and any of the other wannabe cool-parent statement toys, but not one doll or girly thing in site. And not much playing around or intense interest coming from her, except for the musical toys and her wooden kitchen.

When she was about 15 months she started going twice a week to a family daycare. There were a couple of babies there with whom she instantly bonded. Not only that, but when I would go pick her up she was always playing with dolls. She would be cradling one or two and shushing them to sleep. So completely absorbed in what she was doing that it looked like it was just natural for her to be doing it. Her whole face would light up when she saw me coming and all she wanted was to show me her Bebe. At around the same time, she started wanting to “help” around the house and would grab the broom, the mop, the sponge, etc … making it so much more difficult for me to get anything done. That’s when it finally hit me that we were totally and completely depriving her of being a girl; that because of our own fears and complexes we were not letting her nurture that physical part of herself wired with feminine characteristics and hormones of taking care of and connecting with others. Plus, her main role models are all women who she sees tending to babies, children, friends and the household. These same women being strong, independent and passionate about many things in life.

That’s when I got it and when she got her very first doll-with a stroller to push her around in, plus her very own cleaning set. It’s been a year now, she’s two and a half and still loves taking that doll for walks and helping mama clean the house.

The pink-myth was one more of those, oh-so-many, AHA moments that abound in motherhood; just like how I swore that no matter what we would always listen to my music in the car. Yeah, right! I’m still humming Dora’s Christmas Carol songs in my head from the overdose. I realized that more important than all my life philosophies and social moral issues I4d like to help rectify is to observe my daughter, follow HER cues and let her BE and gravitate towards what sparks her curiosity. Especially at this young age of discovery and brain connections. This doesn4t mean I let her run wild and don’t provide a moral compass and limits for her. We are totally about limits in the aspects of her life where she needs them. But there’s no way I’m gonna push her to play with trains and trucks if all she wants is to twirl like a princess and put her babies to bed. And it’s not like we’re even pushing those girly images on her. She just naturally prefers to play with more typical girl toys. That’s what I found fascinating and when I knew I had to back off on my anti-pink obsession.

What I’m trying to get at is that for me it all boils down to parental responsibility. If we want to raise strong individuals we must be involved, listen to them, know what they need and nurture them by providing opportunities for them to grow towards their chosen path. Not start out their lives by choosing for them through our own preconceived, and often warped, notions.

This is an original LA Moms blog (http://www.lamomsblog.com/). Ana Lilian is a free-to-be-pink (at heart) freelance TV producer and advocate for raising bilingual and bicultural children on her blog, SpanglishBaby.

Technology has made me stupid

December 31, 2009 in Uncategorized

By Erica, Silicon Valley Moms Blog

Keychain remote What else could I conclude, as I stood crying in a dark parking lot, unable to find my car in a freezing rain on a recent Monday night?

While neuroscientists and journalists debate whether the Internet is making us stupid, a different kind of technology — the remote control keychain — is contributing to my own brain-flabbiness.

I borrowed my babysitter’s car to run some errands and visit my Dad at his nursing home. The problem: I had been on my cell phone (hands-free) when I parked the car and walked inside Valley Fair shopping mall, so I didn’t pay careful attention to exactly where I parked. In my defense, I was also distracted by my Dad’s recent health problems and had been feeling “fuzzy-headed” lately. This tends to happen when I’m in pre-holiday, sick Dad, work deadline- panic mode. But with my own car, technology would have saved me. I can always click the lock button on my keychain and get my car to beep. Much of the time, that’s how I find it.

My sitter’s car doesn’t have this handy feature so I had to find my car the old-fashioned way. By remembering where I had parked it. Uh-oh. So what happens when you don’t bother to memorize where you parked? And then the sky turns black and freezing rain drops pelt you? Miserable, scared and walking in circles, a strange man calls you “Sweetie” and offers to help you find your car. “No thanks! I’ve got it,” you say with greater confidence than you feel. And then you get out your cell phone and call your husband and your Mom and make one of them come help you. Technology, and a loving family, to the rescue again.

My sweet hubby helpfully reminded me that losing your car in a parking lot is so common that they even made a Seinfeld episode about it. That made me feel a little better. My friend’s story about losing her car in a parking lot and reporting it stolen to the police also helped. At least I’m not alone in my bumbling.

But so far, what’s helped the most? Driving my own car with the beeping remote control. And vowing to really think about where I am the next time I park.

This is an original post to SVMoms, http://www.svmoms.com. Erica also writes at wellthoughtoutspot.

Joe Thomas gets the Hat Trick

December 31, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Joe Thomas has been voted to the Pro Bowl once again… for the third time in as many seasons.  I guess there were a few things that Phil Savage did right as our GM.  Thomas is an absolute stud at left tackle for us, what a great pick.  If Mack turns out to be half as good of a lineman as Thomas and we can get a solid right tackle, we’ll have a great line for years to come.

 

I also have to give props to Cribbs.  He was also voted to the Pro Bowl this year, which is his second visit.  And what a great season it’s been for him.  He broke some records this year, including the all-time record for kick return TD’s.  The best part is that he’s still got a while to go.  I don’t see him retiring anytime soon and I would love the Browns to get that new contract done so he can retire a Brown.  We can add him to the nice list of Cleveland Browns greats.  Thank you Phil Savage, again, for seeing something in this kid.  I’m hoping the Josh Cribbs WR experiment is over, because that honestly wasn’t working out.  I think I called it correctly in an earlier post when I said Cribbs would never pan out as a good receiver.  I like him just fine in his current role. 

 

Anyway, congratulations to these two guys.  They deserved this and it’s nice to see them get the recognition even though they play on a bad team.  The only other guy I thought was worthy of a Pro Bowl selection was Eric Wright, but I can understand why it didn’t happen.  Mark my words though, that kid will be a great one.  Next season will be lights out for him.

Boys basketball: Clippers take hint, win Avon holiday tourney

December 31, 2009 in Uncategorized

AVON — Even though school is out for holiday break, Clearview coach John Szalay treated last week’s practices like class, bringing a visual aid to help teach a lesson.

Szalay put on display the Clippers’ runner-up trophy from last season’s Avon Holiday Tournament, a not-so-subtle reminder of the team’s disappointing loss to Keystone in the championship game.

The lesson plan worked: A year after giving up a double-digit, second-half lead to the Wildcats, the Clippers on Wednesday night blitzed Avon in an impressive second-quarter display and eventually beat the Eagles, 70-60.

“We knew how badly Coach Szalay wanted this one,” said senior Anthony Hitchens, who led the Clippers with 20 points and seven rebounds and fueled their second-quarter surge.

“We came up short last year, and he was on us in practice this week. You see a smile on his face, and you know he’s happy. We’re happy, too.”

Purchase a print.

Szalay said the Clippers (4-1) treated the tournament like a mini-Final Four, in an attempt to become accustomed to tournament-like conditions. That included posting a bracket in the locker room, and he hopes the win will carry over to Patriot Athletic Conference play and eventually the postseason.

If Clearview could bottle a four-minute sample for safe keeping, it just might: After Avon’s Marvin Coleman made two free throws to kick off the second quarter and slice Clearview’s lead to 17-13, the Clippers rattled off 14 straight — including six from Hitchens, who had four straight steals during the spurt, and point guard Tony Williams — and led by as many as 19 after another Williams basket moments later.

Williams scored many of his 19 points in transition, as the Eagles fed the Clippers’ run game with eight second-quarter turnovers. A perfect example: After Avon cut Clearview’s lead back to eight with a 13-2 run of its own, the Clippers regained momentum with the final two baskets of the half — on easy transition layups.

“We snuck out on them a lot, thanks to some steals,” Szalay said. “That helps build momentum. (Avon is) good in half-court defense, so we wanted to get out and run a little. That’s what we’re looking for, quick baskets and quick steals. That energizes us.”

The Clippers also led big in their first game of the tournament, by 21 in the third quarter on Monday against Elyria Catholic. The Panthers cut that lead to five before losing by six, motivation enough for Clearview on Wednesday.

“We feed off runs like that, but we can’t ease up,” Hitchens said. “They can do the same thing right back and make it a ballgame (like Monday).”

Still, the Eagles twice cut Clearview’s lead to seven in the third quarter, but, as coach Jim Baker lamented, never could quite get close enough. R.J. Kauffman impressed Szalay by scoring 31 points on 12-of-21 shooting and Coleman added 14, but Baker was disappointed in the Eagles’ defensive effort.

“They have a nice team, but we have no business giving up 70 points to anyone,” said Baker, whose team fell to 4-4. “We didn’t play very well in the second quarter, and I thought we were a little bit intimidated. They’re very athletic, and have a very nice basketball team. I thought for some of our guys, it was intimidating.”

Contact Joel Hammond at 329-7135 or hammond_joel@yahoo.com.

Boys basketball: Elyria survives in OT to win holiday classic

December 31, 2009 in Uncategorized

SANDUSKY — Who could blame Elyria coach Brett Larrick if he petitioned Athletic Director Jerry Chizmar to play next year’s home games in Sandusky?

Elyria’s second-year coach is now 2-0 at Sandusky and winner of the Holiday Classic as his Pioneers defeated Vermilion in a torrid defensive struggle, 47-45, in overtime Wednesday night.

Elyria won only twice last season in Larrick’s debut but the Pioneers are now 3-3 as they enter the new year off two straight quality wins. Vermilion is 6-3.

“Anytime you win two here against the two teams we played — Admiral King and Vermilion — we’ll take it,” Larrick said. “I don’t know how well we shot here so I’m not ready to call it our home floor, but we’ll take the wins.”

Both teams played outstanding defense. Vermilion packed its zone to prevent Elyria’s two big inside players — 6-foot-6 senior Will Rudolph and 6-5 Chase Farris — from dominating the paint area as they did Tuesday against King.

It worked pretty well. Rudolph, after scoring eight points in the first quarter, only had two more baskets until he stepped out to the 3-point line to bury two huge shots — one in the fourth quarter that tied the game and the second to give Elyria the lead in overtime.

“I had confidence in myself to knock them down,” said Rudolph, the leading scorer and rebounder with 19 points and nine rebounds. “It was an open shot.”

And one the Sailors didn’t mind him taking — at least in theory.

“We were willing to let him have that shot,” Vermilion coach Kurt Habermehl said. “Give him credit, he made them. He’s a great player.”

Elyria needed someone to make a shot. The Pioneers struggled all night from the perimeter and Vermilion dared them to take the outside shot. Freshman Kody Bender came off the bench but rimmed out his first couple tries before hitting a huge 3-pointer down the stretch that tied the game at 36.

Elyria scored only six points in the final quarter — Bender’s and Rudolph’s 3-pointers.

“They wanted to stop our big men,” said senior guard Mike Cannon, who scored 10 points including a pair of clutch free throws that gave the Pioneers the final spread with 25 seconds to play. “It was up to our guards to make shots, but we couldn’t get them to fall.”

Elyria’s defensive effort was just as superb. The Pioneers played a tight man-to-man and were able to get some steals off half-court traps. Inside, Farris did his best imitation of the Cavalier’s Anderson Verejao with a couple of flops for charges on Vermilion’s Nick Farley, while Rudolph came up with a number of huge blocks.

“The first half, they weren’t giving me any charges,” said Farris, who finished with eight rebounds and seven points. “I was lucky enough the second half that they gave them to me.”

“We talked about concentrating on Farley,” Larrick said. “He’s a really good player. We knew he was going to put his head down and try to bull his way in there.”

“I thought both teams played extremely hard,” Habermehl said. “It wasn’t the most well-rounded executed offensive game but I thought both teams battled like crazy.”

Vermilion played the final 2:26 of regulation and all of the overtime without Farley, its 6-foot-4 leader. Cody Timbs, who is 6-8. joined him on the bench for the final 25 seconds of overtime but the Sailors wouldn’t fold.

It took a great defensive stand by Elyria in the waning seconds of overtime to prevent Vermilion from winning or tying the game. Two 3-point attempts misfired — the first ended up in a tie-ball situation giving the Sailors one last shot in the final second of play.

“Our kids did a good job with both of them on the bench,” Habermehl said. “We’ll learn and be better because of this.”
Vermilion had huge games from Cameron Zima and Madison Montgomery. The two combined for 25 of the Sailor points. Farley had 10 points and nine rebounds.

Elyria made just 17 field goals in 55 attempts. Vermilion wasn’t much better from the field (19-of-52) but the Sailor woes continued at the foul line. Vermilion made just two free throws in seven attempts. Elyria was 9-of-14.

It was the second time Vermilion lost a Classic final to Elyria. The Pioneers defeated the Sailors 75-58 for the 2005 Holiday title in Elyria. The Pioneers have now won seven of the 12 Classics.

Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.

County library will add to its collections

December 31, 2009 in Uncategorized

MEDINA — Bad borrowers beware: Late library books and outstanding fines can hurt your credit rating.
Beginning Feb. 1, the Medina County District Library will use Unique Management Services, a collection agency, to rein in missing materials and unpaid fines, library community relations manager Heather Coontz said.
“When items are lost or not returned they are not [...]

New mayor aims to clean house

December 31, 2009 in Uncategorized

SEVILLE — Mayor-elect Carol Carter asked three members of the village’s Zoning and Planning Board and one member of the Parks Committee to resign this week as she and four new Village Council members prepare to take office on New Year’s Day.
Carter said she believes it is time for old appointed officials to step down [...]

Obituaries for Dec. 31, 2009

December 31, 2009 in Uncategorized

William M. Shelton

Read the full obituaries in The Gazette E-dition at:

http://medinagazette.oh.newsmemory.com/

Book reviews: Best of 2009

December 30, 2009 in Uncategorized

Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm Sez

Ahhh, the new year. A time for fresh beginnings and resolutions made with the best intentions (then broken). Out with the old, in with the new. A time to use up that bookstore gift certificate that’s burning a hole in your pocket.

But what to buy?

Lucky for you, the New Year is also a time for the annual Best Of list. So without further ado (and because that gift certificate is tingling), here are my best picks for 2009:

Fiction

If you love mysteries with sass and a few cringe-worthy scenes, you’ll love the Jacqueline Daniels series, the latest being “Cherry Bomb” by J.A. Konrath. This book starts out with a boom and ends with a cliff-hanger that leaves fans howling for the next installment. One caveat: you’ll get more out of this novel if you read “Fuzzy Navel” (the book before this one) first.

I was pleasantly surprised by “B as in Beauty” by Alberto Ferreras. This little novel is about a self-conscious, homely wallflower who gets a series of fairy godmothers, transforming her into someone who blossoms. A Cinderella tale with a few twists, this is one really cute book.

I listened to “Eve” by Elissa Elliott on CD, and I was glad I did. This lush, beautiful story is about what happened to Adam and Eve after they were thrown out of the Garden of Eden, as told from the viewpoint of Eve and her daughters. Performed by three readers and in several different voices, this is an audiobook not to miss.

Getting older and saying goodbye are two of the themes in “Got til It’s Gone” by Larry Duplechan. When Johnnie Ray Rousseau loses his husband to AIDS, he believes he’ll never love again, but he does – and just as he enters a new relationship, he faces losing his beloved mother. Be aware that there is one graphic scene in this book, but get it for its casually presented dialogue and the realism within.

This one is probably cheating: “Shutter Island” by Dennis Lehane. First printed a few years ago and re-released in audio this fall (to coincide with the movie’s release), this audiobook is positively stunning because of its narrator, Tom Stechschulte. Yes, the story is good – it’s got surprises all over the place – but listening to such a stellar performance makes it an audiobook you’ll want to listen to twice.

Nonfiction

Like a fool, I read “The Survivors Club” by Ben Sherwood while on an airplane. I read about how passengers have 90 seconds to exit a burning plane and how women over a Certain Age most certainly die in a plane crash. Gulp. And still, I can’t recommend enough this book about fighting, surviving, overcoming adversity and turning life’s rottenest lemons into sweet lemonade.

Particularly in this economy, it seems that speculation on How the Other Half Lives is an acceptable pastime. In “Rich Like Them” by Ryan D’Agostino you’ll see that things are only slightly different. Part business, part motivational for wallet and soul, this book is a nice antidote to those irritating spoiled-star headlines.

Reading like a novel in nine parts, “Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans” by Dan Baum is the 100% true story of nine people a few decades before Hurricane Katrina and the years afterward. I loved this book for the way the tales are told (in short-short chapters of mini-drama) and because Baum has a knack for wrapping you tight in the lives of such divergent people.

If you live in the city and have never so much as touched a live pig, don’t discount “Coop” by Michael Perry. Much more than a farm memoir, this is a love story to a woman, daughters, the land, and yes, to pigs and chickens. Perry is a poet with a wicked sense of the absurd and this book is another can’t-miss.

Since we all came into the world in the same basic way, “Birth Day” by Mark Sloan, M.D. is a particular delight. This is a book about what happens in the hours leading up to and the hours after birth, to both the mother and the baby. Not just for new moms, this book is a science-geek’s dream as well as a gee-whiz read for anybody who is awed at the miracle of birth.

Children’s books

Okay, so let’s just say it. When you read a book aloud to your child, having something for you is bonus. So make yourself happy with “Let’s Do Nothing!” by Tony Fucile, a cute story of two bored boys who try the impossible. The good-naturedly silly tale is great for kids ages 4 to 8. The illustrations — very Bugs-Bunny-like — will keep you laughing.

Your middle-school dog lover will adore “Flawed Dogs” by Berkeley Breathed. This is the story of a fancy showdog who becomes the victim of jealousy and is separated from his beloved Human. Filled with Breathed illustrations and with a tale that brings tears (silly, I know), this is a good book for an adult, too.

I was very impressed by “We Are the Ship” by Kadir Nelson in audio. Yes, this is a picture book about Negro League baseball and the struggle of the players to gain recognition and to bust through racial lines. It’s a beautiful book, but you won’t miss a thing by getting it in audio; in fact, you’ll gain. Not only is it presented with various voices (which enhances the story), but there’s a bonus DVD with the books’ artwork included.

For upper gradeschoolers who’ve read the Little House books a couple dozen times, “School’s Out: Rachel Yoder — Always Trouble Somewhere” by Wanda Brunstetter in audio is a nice alternative. This is the story of an Amish girl and her wild summer vacation. Kids will love the authentic Pennsylvania Dutch language in the audiobook and parents will love that this book is great for all ages.

What kid doesn’t like a few shivers? “Coraline” by Neal Gaiman has them and more. This is the story of a little Coraline who steps into an alternative universe where things are close to life, but not quite. The creature who is her Other Mother wants to keep Coraline forever, but, of course, she must return. I truly enjoyed this darkly-told story in audio, but beware that it might really frighten very little children.

And there you are. A gift certificate-friendly Best of The Year list you can really use, with some books that your family will enjoy until it’s time for the next Best of The Year list.

Fortunately, time flies fastest with a book in your lap.

Happy reading!

Contact Terri Schlichenmeyer at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

Mom learns to change lifestyle in weight loss challenge

December 30, 2009 in Uncategorized

By Cammy Clark, McClatchy Newspapers

KEY WEST — Leigh Smith, an out-of-shape, 240-pound mother of two, wanted to get healthy, but growing up on Southern fried food and routinely putting her family first, the 35-year-old admitted she didn’t know how.

Enter three Key West nutrition and fitness experts who spent November giving her a head-to-toe wellness makeover after choosing her from nearly 90 applicants for a “30 Days to Help Yourself Challenge.”

It wasn’t easy, but on Nov. 30, Smith showed off her new body, new confidence and new attitude about food and exercise at a celebration at Nine One Five Bistro and Wine Bar.

“It was more than what I had hoped for,” Smith said. “I feel now like how a 35-year-old probably should feel.”

In 30 days that included Thanksgiving, she lost 20 pounds, 2 percent body fat and 11 inches. She also saw her fitness level soar. She went from barely being able to complete five minutes on an elliptical trainer to spending 25 minutes on the machine — as a warm up. She went from barely being able to do one push-up to doing 18.

“No special, magic pills,” said personal trainer Amy Spielberg, an owner of Stay Fit Studio in Key West. “Leigh has done it simply with diet and exercise.”

The challenge was created by Spielberg, Charlie Wilson, owner of Help Yourself organic restaurant, and nutrition consultant Donna Shields. Their goal: Prove that a person can lose weight and improve health and energy levels by working out properly and eating “real food.”

“With Leigh, we saw a need and desperation,” Wilson said. “She had the motivation, but didn’t know where to start.”

Smith received five days worth of organic, whole-food meals weekly, a nutrition evaluation, two supermarket training tours, personal training, a gym membership, cooking classes, a kitchen cabinet clean-out and a medical evaluation, valued at a total of $5,000.

It began with a public weigh-in at the Southernmost Point, and was documented from start to finish on video posted at www.30daystohelpyourself.com.

Smith wasn’t always overweight and out of shape. She played softball in high school and was at a healthy weight until the birth to her first child, Ethan, now 7. The pounds kept creeping on with the birth of Sophia, now 3.

“I never let myself be the priority,” Smith said before the challenge began. “I’m doing this for me.”

Her husband Matt, a dive instructor with the U.S. Army, supported her effort.

“He loves me as I am,” Smith said. “But he’s happy I am doing this because he wants me to be happy.”

A month later, Smith said she realized that while helping herself, she also has done wonders for her family (including her husband, who lost 8 pounds himself).

“I couldn’t believe when I looked in the refrigerator last night,” said Smith’s mother, Pat Rogers, who had come from Maryland for Thanksgiving. “It was filled with fruits and vegetables. Oh my God, Ethan walked up and asked for a banana.”

Shields taught Smith to shop the perimeter of supermarkets, where the produce and whole foods are located, and stay away from the processed, packaged foods she was used to buying. The dietitian was surprised to learn that Smith’s kids had never eaten an orange. Clearing her cabinets of unhealthful foods also was an eye-opener.

“I wrote to her that I didn’t want her to feel like a bad mother,” Rogers said. “That’s what everybody’s cabinets look like. That’s what the kids see on commercials.”

To replace boxed macaroni and cheese and other packaged foods, Smith learned to cook healthy entrees and roast vegetables.

At a public cooking class, Wilson showed her how to make salad dressing with healthful fats and a chocolate dessert from ripe avocado and coconut.

“Mmmm, it’s good,” Smith said. “I’m eating things I used to be afraid of eating.”

Organic restaurateur Wilson had Smith eliminate wheat and dairy for the month and, for three days, eat only raw foods, ending with a juice fast.

“When you tell a girl she can’t have solid food for 24 hours, it freaked me out,” Smith said. “But I did fine.”

Smith worked for 60 to 90 minutes a day, six days a week. Gym owner Spielberg was concerned about serious ankle and knee injuries she had suffered in a car accident when she was 19. As it turned out, they were fine, but Smith’s back became strained from fatigue and improper use.

Spielberg created a well-rounded program for Smith that included aerobic, strength, flexibility and balance exercises. Sessions were scheduled while Sophia was in day care and Ethan in school.

“If it doesn’t fit into her life, she won’t do it,” Spielberg said.

There was personal training two days a week, spinning classes, pump and pedal classes (a combination of spinning and strength-training) and Pilates.

Smith didn’t miss a beat until about three weeks into the program, when she became overwhelmed by all the physical and mental challenges and had a tearful meltdown. She regrouped with help from a friend.

“A woman who had lost something like 100 pounds said to me: ‘I’ve been waiting for you to do this,’ ” Smith said. “She went for a walk with me and just listened. She understood.”

Spielberg was elated that Smith lost seven inches around her waist. “Too many people focus on the scale,” she said. “Muscle is not dangerous. Belly fat is dangerous.”

Before the big reveal Nov. 30, Smith was treated to a trip to a salon, complete with hair coloring, eyebrow waxing, manicure and makeup.

“I was treated like a princess,” she said. “And I now feel great about myself. I finally have confidence that I didn’t have for so many years. I realized this had been a huge jump-start for me, just what I needed — a kick in the butt.”

On Smith’s first post-challenge day, she took Sophia to day care and went to the gym.
“It felt good,” she said.

Her next challenge: walking the Disney’s Princess half-marathon — all 13.1 miles — with her mom.