Naturally Thin

In December of 2007 I gave up Diet Coke – not completely, I still have one occasionally, socially. But I gave it up as a daily drink.

I blogged about it in December, then on New Years Day, and then again later in January when I had finally kicked the habit. In other words, it was a big deal to me. Twenty years of loving it and drinking it daily and being addicted to it – not an easy thing to break free from!

I decided to give it up because I knew it was bad for me, and I knew it was an appetite stimulant, and I knew it was the next step I needed to take, if I wanted to get healthier, thinner, and more beautiful – but I never guessed such a simple act would have such a big impact. It’s not like I hadn’t given up Diet Coke before – I had – sometimes for months at a time – but I always went back. Maybe I never stuck with it long enough to really notice the changes that occurred when I wasn’t drinking it daily? You’d think that a couple of months would be enough time to notice some changes – but those changes never seemed like they were all that big – and the siren song of that cool silver can was so strong that I always gave in, eventually.

So what was different this time? I guess I just decided that even though the improvements might be slight, they were still improvements, so I was going to stick with it – for good. But surprisingly the changes this time were not quite as slight as I thought – and overall, they added up to something pretty impressive.

Yes, I knew that Diet Coke is an appetite stimulant, but I never went without it long enough to see what happened to my eating habits when that stimulant was removed. After a month or so I started to notice that I wanted less – the portions on my plate for each meal shrunk – without any conscious thought on my part.

And yes I knew that eating, or in this case drinking, one extreme food, causes your body to crave other extreme foods – in this case junk food. But I never left Diet Coke alone long enough to really feel the cravings for junky foods lessen, so it was a real surprise to me to find that I was eating less fast food and less junk food, without any concentrated effort on my part – but that’s exactly what happened.

And yes I knew that caffeine can interrupt your sleep patterns, and that lack of sleep is one of the leading causes of weight gain, but I really didn’t think it would have that big of an impact on my body. I mean, I slept fine – right? But once I gave up Diet Coke, my sleep patterns did change, and I did find I was sleeping longer.

So fewer bad chemicals were going into my body, my appetite was less overall, healthier food started to replace the junk, I was sleeping better and longer – those are major changes when you add them up – and they all stemmed from giving up Diet Coke. I did nothing else. Just gave up my daily Diet Coke.

By the end of last year, on my one-year anniversary of giving up Diet Coke, I had lost 25% of the weight I would like to lose – and with very little conscious effort on my part. It was as simple as give up Diet Coke and then watch my body change. Totally easy! I’ve now lost almost 33% of the weight I would like to lose – so I’m almost a third of the way to my ideal weight, and that feels great!

So why did it take me sooooo long to discover this? I’ve weighed more than I’ve wanted to for years, and I’ve felt like dieting was nearly impossible, and that I was lacking in will power. And the only real problem was a little drug I put in my body daily that messed up my whole system? A little drug called Diet Coke? That sounds impossible and improbable and there must be more to it – right? But there isn’t. The only real change I made was giving up Diet Coke, everything else stemmed from that one little decision and occurred naturally without much effort from me.

I also know that the rate of loss may slow down, and that’s fine – truly! I feel confident now that when it does start to slow, I will be able to look at my portion sizes and scale down a little. Adjust! That confidence comes from over a year of seeing progress – slow progress – but still progress, and rethinking how much is the right amount to eat. It sounds overly simple, and why couldn’t I do it before, if that’s all there is to it? But I have to say, the edge that Diet Coke gave me, as wonderful as it felt at the time, also make me want to overeat and clearly I wasn’t able to win that battle. It wasn’t a fierce battle – I never fought that hard. Diet Coke for me, caused a perception that I needed slightly more food that I really did – and even just a tiny bit extra over time can add up to lots of extra pounds. I’ve read about people who binge or who eat massive amounts of food – that was never me. I never ate to squash down my feelings either. I just let that Diet Coke edge cause me to consume slightly too many calories every single day, for years on end. So yeah, now that I’ve removed that edge, I do feel confident that my body is on it’s way to reverting back to it’s natural pre-Diet Coke state. And what is that state? I’m hoping naturally thin!

I really do believe that our bodies want to be healthy and balanced, and that if we treat our bodies right, and give them what they need they will balance out on their own naturally. It’s not natural to be overweight – it’s an imbalance – but for years I didn’t know why I was so imbalanced – and now I do.

At the rate I’m going it could take me years to get down to a naturally healthy weight – but that’s fine, I’m in no hurry. I have absolutely no desire to diet – in fact I plan to never diet again – and that feels so good to say! I do plan to continue to make adjustments in my eating habits – I expect my portion sizes to continue to evolve as my body gets thinner. But I don’t want to be the girl who won’t eat cake because she’s on a diet – I want to be the girl who is happy with a few bits of cake, and loves it, and never feels deprived. In other words I want to be normal, and thin, naturally.

And I will never cut out a food entirely – not even Diet Coke! There will always be a place for it in my life – in moderation – like maybe once a month? That seems to be working for me now – and I like the way things are going at this point!

Just for fun…

This is fun! Ashton Kutcher posted some video of a Mert & Marcus photo shoot with Demi Moore. It’s interesting to see amateur video of a shoot like this – and because Ashton is who he is, he’s able to get right in there – he’s not trying to stay out of the way, and be a fly on the wall, and not affect the work – he’s right in the thick of things, talking to the participants and having a great time.

About halfway through it, I recognized Taylor Jacobson, one of Rachel Zoe’s assistants, and then I realized Rachel herself was also hovering on the sidelines. And yes, I admit it, I watched The Rachel Zoe Project on Bravo. Fun show!

From what you can see on the monitor, it looks like the results were stunning – and it’s always fun to see behind the scenes…

Michigan Avenue Magazine

Marty Casey in Pacific BeachFrom Marla Zegart of

Marty Casey’s Silver Elements Trees dogtag necklace is featured in this month’s Michigan Avenue Magazine. The monthly magazine is an upscale publication that “celebrates the best of Chicago and its surrounding region, from people, events, and celebrity dish to fashion, fine dining, and shopping.”

To see a scan of the magazine, with a couple of my images, click here.

Biggest Dreams & Worst Nightmares

I think it’s interesting how often love and fear collide. And I guess it makes sense, since if nothing is at stake, then what would there be to fear? And truly, what is the absence of love? It’s fear. And if love and fear are connected, then obviously so are our biggest dreams and worst nightmares. Unfortunately dreams and nightmares go hand in hand, far too often.

When I was younger my biggest dream was to be on the silver screen – in a movie. I also wanted to do TV, but movies were the pinnacle for me – the biggest dream I had! But then I discovered photography, and my passions turned toward art, and my dreams evolved – and it happened long before I even got close to seeing myself on a movie screen. I got on TV in a couple of VERY minor ways – once as an extra in a crowd scene in 1989 on Simon and Simon, a cop show on CBS set in San Diego. And then in 1992 I was on the local San Diego NBC News on election day – dressed in royal blue, making phone calls for my candidate of choice, I got the full treatment with the microphone cord under my shirt, and I was instructed when to start and what to do – it was more “making” news than anything else, but I thought it was great!

But I never made it to the big screen, until this year. It started with an interview for a local cable program called Life in California. I had shot a photo documentary of the Fallbrook Film Festival, and this TV show was doing a segment on the festival, and somehow it ended up that they wanted to interview me. Cool! So I show up for the interview dressed in my most flattering best, with my hair as fabulous as is possible, and I tried hard to forget how I looked, and focus on what I had to say. I mean who cares what I look like? It’s my images that count – right? Not my looks. But for anyone who has ever been an actress, that’s hard. It’s hard for anyone, but for an actress, even harder. And just because I’m now an ex-actress, doesn’t mean that the old fears don’t still exist. And when I saw where they wanted to do the interview, I cringed inside, but didn’t let it show. What could I do? They planned to have the camera placed below me and the interviewer, pointing up, which is the best way to make me look fatter. Oh, and I was to be in profile, which is the second best way to make me look fatter. And to top it off, we were to be seated – which is of course, the third quickest way to make me look fatter. It was my nightmare scenario. Truly! But I had two things going for me. One, deep inside of me, the actress part of me who had the big dreams still exists, and two, I have great passion for the subject matter – my art – so I just plunged right in and did it. And it was fun!

The interview ended up lasting close to thirty minutes – it was really in-depth, and it’s fun to talk about art, especially your own art. I did panic a little the next day, and called the producer to make sure I’d done okay – that I wasn’t too gushy, or too dorky, or too over-the-top enthusiastic. He told me I’d been “great” but that didn’t reassure me much, since I’m sure they tell every trainwreck/hot mess/loser who appears on every reality show just how “great” they were – good TV doesn’t always mean yes, you came across as classy, talented and hot. Sometimes it means you were a total mess, but hey, it was entertaining!

But even with all the worry about how I looked and how I sounded and how I came across, I was still actually looking forward to seeing it on TV someday. On TV.

Then I found out they were going to have a premiere of that particular episode at the local movie theater. And that’s when the fear really stuck me down. Appearing on a little TV screen was one thing, on the big silver screen was just another thing all together. The idea of me, looking ugly and fat, on a HUGE screen? It terrified me. At that point I didn’t even care what I said. I could have been spouting off pure nonsense and I would not have cared. All I could focus on was ugly, fat, and thirty feet high on a movie screen.

I came so close to not going. I wouldn’t let my family go, and none of them could understand why? Who could understand? But it was my worst nightmare – I just knew it!

But…. somewhere deep inside, I was still aware that it was also one of my biggest dreams about to come true. And if I missed it, I might be missing the only time I would ever see myself on a movie screen. Did I really want to miss that? Yeah, it might be awful, but still, it was a dream come true…

So on the big day I went with my mother, who would not be dissuaded, and the theater was much bigger and much fuller than I would have liked. We took seats near the front – I figured that if this was IT for me, the big dream come true, then I wanted to be really close and get the full experience. Even if it killed me! But surprisingly it didn’t kill me. They showed lots of my images from the Film Festival, I sounded fairly smart and what I said made sense, and while I did look fat, it was okay. I started to breathe again, and to actually enjoy it. The segment on me went on much longer than I expected, and my mom kept squeezing my arm, she was so happy. Experiencing that with my mother was very very cool, and it made me sad that I’d denied the rest of my family. What was I thinking? It was a fun and cool thing, and they only wanted to share that with me. I kept the little ticket stub from that day as a memento, and I came away feeling really glad that I’d made myself go, and made myself face that huge horrible nightmare, because honestly it wasn’t so bad, and seeing myself on a movie screen, talking about art? That really was a dream come true!

My mom called me last night – she’d been flipping through the channels on TV and came across the episode with my interview, except that it was different than the version we’d seen in the movie theater. This version featured some of my images of rock stars and musicians and models, instead of just images from the film festival. And she said they showed different parts of the interview, and matched what I said up to particular images. We saw the premiere back in October, so I’m surprised her memory of it was that detailed – for me it went by in a big blur of stress and love and fear and happiness – I don’t remember the specifics of what I said! But she’s my mom, and she did!

It’s blows me away to think about how close I came to giving up something that had been one of my biggest dreams, just because it collided with what could be my worst nightmare. And I certainly haven’t kicked that particular nightmare – I’m still fearful of looking ugly and fat and all the rest. I fear that on a daily basis! But I don’t want that fear, or any other fear to stand in between me and my dreams – even an old dream that I’d nearly forgotten. It may have been an old dream, but seeing it come true was pretty sweet…

From Los Angeles, Last Week

Last week I spent a couple of days in Los Angeles – I saw some friends, went to a concert, and shot a really fun session – more on that later! But I also got to spend some time at a few of my favorite places, and made a few images along the way, which I’ll share now…

The Wiltern Theater // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsThe Wiltern Theatre // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Some architectural details from one of my favorite art deco buildings, The Wiltern in Los Angeles. Usually when you think of the Wiltern, which houses the Wiltern Theater, you think of the green tile exterior, but I focused more on the ticket booth area, including the fabulous ceiling and the stamped silver wall. The whole building is just fabulous!

View from Griffith Observatory // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

The view from the Griffith Observatory, at sunset on a very cloudy afternoon in early March. A few big raindrops fell that day, and then the next day was clear and sunny and beautiful – the real rain didn’t come until the day after I left the city.

Ambition Exactly Proportional to Your Powers

“Every man has his own vocation. The talent is the call. There is one direction in which all space is open to him. He has faculties silently inviting him thither to endless exertion. He is like a ship in a river; he runs against obstructions on every side but one; on that side all obstruction is taken away, and he sweeps serenely over God’s depths into an infinite sea. This talent and this call depend on his organization, or the mode in which a general soul incarnates in him. He inclines to do something which is easy to him, and good when it is done, but which no other man can do. He has no rival. For the more truly he consults his own powers, the more difference will his work exhibit from the work of any other. When he is true and faithful, his ambition is exactly proportional to his powers. By doing his work he makes the need felt which he can supply.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Beautiful Blur // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

[bctt tweet=”‘When he is true and faithful, his ambition is exactly proportional to his powers.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson” username=”cherylspelts”]

Change & Growth

My horoscope for today, according to Yahoo

One of your friends keeps going on and on about how they are changing and growing, but you’ve yet to see any real evidence of this transformation. Before you call them on their baloney or tell them that they are fooling themselves, think about what they really need right now — your support, not your criticism. So be patient and understand that sometimes real change takes real time — it doesn’t always happen dramatically. Encourage them to keep going, and they’ll be able to.

Now first let me say that I would never in a million years tell a friend that I didn’t see any real evidence that they were changing and growing! How can we ever know what is going on inside another person, no matter how close we are? I would just never never never do that.

But reading that paragraph did make me think about visible change versus the tumultuous kind of change that happens inside and can drive you nuts, but may not show on the outside until way after it’s completed and done, and you’ve moved on to new growth. Sometimes we know we’re in a period of serious growth, and it can be delightful or difficult, but we know we’re changing big time. But do others see it in us? Not always. You don’t always get credit for all the growing you’re doing. Then other times you do something minor like cut your hair, or start wearing more of one particular color, or anything else that really didn’t require much thought on your part, and suddenly everyone around you starts to comment on all the changes you’re making, and how much you’re growing – and you want to say “Really?”

Personally I embrace change with one arm, and push it away with the other. I love change that I choose, and hate change that is forced upon me. And I almost always feel like exciting things are on the horizon, and like I’m chasing after change and growth as fast as I can go. I hate feeling stuck! And right now, I have to admit I do feel a little stuck. It’s hard not to feel stuck in this economy. But I know the cure for feeing stuck – it’s embracing change with both arms – and I can do that. It may not always be visible from the outside, but that’s okay. No one I know would dare tell me they didn’t see any real evidence of change or growth. My friends are much too polite for that…

Snow in Idyllwild // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

By the side of the road…

Dead bush, by the side of the road in Idyllwild // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Over by the dump, on the side of the road, there is some brush that looks dead. Maybe it’s the time of year? Maybe it will come back when we get further into Spring? Maybe it won’t? But either way, it’s seriously beautiful when looked at through a camera lens!