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Lorraine Bracco is one of the world's most dynamic actresses, but when she reached her fifties, she felt she was losing her luster. During the long illnesses of her parents, she began to gain weight and felt her energy and self-confidence take a dive. Watching her parents die within 9 days of each other was her wake-up call to take charge of her life. She made a commitment to herself to stay healthy.
In To the Fullest, Bracco presents her Clean Up Your Act Program, a comprehensive plan to help women over 40 look and feel younger. The program includes an intensive liver cleanse to reboot the body to start fresh on the path to optimal health by eliminating gluten, sugar, eggs, and dairy. Two weeks of meal plans and a varied list of meals and snacks illustrate that hunger is not part of the program and that eating clean has endless flavorful options. Her Clean Up Your Act Diet, which follows the cleanse, will help you lose pounds and deliver supercharged energy. Bracco adds her own mouthwatering recipes to ease the transition to clean eating and suggests an abundance of satisfying breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. She gradually lost 35 pounds and has kept it off. The book also includes testimonials gathered from women who have participated in Rodale's 6-week test panel.
With winning honesty, Bracco provides the perfect combination of humor, comfort, and motivational support that women need to rise to life's challenges. From attitude adjustments to style tips, from finding new passions to making movement a habit, her advice and personal insights both inspire and entertain.
|Product dimensions:||6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.
Being part of The Sopranos was exhilarating. I was on top of the world. Depression, money problems, a brutal breakup and custody battle, and a failed business venture had brought me down, but all that was behind me. I had come out of a dark place and was stronger for it. I believed I had some good times ahead. My father kept my feet on the ground by reminding me that when Clark Gable--the King, the biggest star in the world--left the MGM lot for the last time, he walked through that gate alone and uncelebrated. It was my father's way of cautioning me that my success playing Dr. Melfi was transient. I'd been around long enough to know that, but working on the show did solve some pressing problems and freed me for some much-needed self-reflection. I was light-headed with relief!
I had raised my two daughters, Margaux and Stella, and worked hard to support them. By the time I turned 25, I had been a mother for a year. I had a little baby with a French father who was in love with someone else. I was so focused on getting by day-to-day that I never had a strategy for myself. I felt as if I had been floundering from one thing to another my whole adult life. With the astronomical success of The Sopranos, I felt validated for the first time.
I finally could take a hard look and figure out what I had to do to get the most out of life rather than just struggling to survive. I did learn a lot along the way. I knew that life is never smooth sailing for long, but I believed in my heart of hearts I had lived through the worst. Nothing in my experience prepared me for the physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges in store for me.
The phrase "change of life" began to take on new meaning in my early fifties. I never believed hitting a certain age would make that much of a difference. I was who I was, and a dramatic shift wasn't going to happen to me. But it did. I had always been an eater, hungry all the time. I never stopped eating. Even so, weight hadn't been an issue. I was blessed with a hot and fast metabolism. When I hit 50, the metabolism I took for granted changed and the needle on the scale gradually started to move up. Getting dressed one morning, I stood there tugging on the zipper of my pants. I couldn't pull it up, no matter how much I sucked in my stomach. In denial, I raged through clenched teeth that the dry cleaner had shrunk the pants of my favorite suit. My answer to my increasingly tighter clothes was to tear out my hair.
REAL TIME CHANGE
Being a lifelong active, healthy woman, and someone who has always strived to lead a healthy lifestyle, I have noticed with the onset of menopause in the past 18 months, it has become more of a challenge to maintain as well as lose weight.
MARY LAMPE SUDDELL
NORTHPORT, NEW YORK
Me: You can say that again! Join the crowd. Nothing had prepared me for how much my body changed. I tried everything. Hormone replacement therapy didn't work for me. Messing with my hormones was not the answer.
There were other changes. I was famous for my ability to sleep anywhere, anytime. I could conk out on a park bench with five thousand people doing the samba around me. Suddenly, I had sleep problems. Not only did I have trouble getting solid sleep, but I was waking up with aches and pains. I got out of bed in stages. Sitting on the edge of the bed, I had to muster the energy to haul myself up to start the day, and I hadn't been partying the night before.
I have always loved wearing heels--the higher the better. I could never understand why women wore awful shoes as they got older, choosing comfort over style. But there I was, barely able to walk in my sexy shoes. The heavier I got, the harder it was. You have to be strong to wear high heels! Even though the pain was excruciating, I could not give them up--at least not for public appearances. Sensible shoes were not in the picture. I could manage to get from the car to my seat, where I would kick the shoes off with a sigh of relief and rest my tortured feet.
I was working to launch my wine company, Bracco Wines, and traveled all over the country wining and dining buyers. My weight continued to creep up. I was so busy I ignored what was happening to my body. It was easy to shrug off the changes. I would have time to deal with my weight, sleep deprivation, creaky body, and aching feet when things settled down. One thing I have finally learned is that if you wait for things to calm down, you are talking about a long postponement, because it never happens. Life is not like that. It's so easy to put off making a commitment to change. How many times have you said to yourself "next week" or "next month"? There are so many excuses for procrastinating--a New Year's resolution to start right after the holidays or when the kids go back to school or when you finish that project at work. All I can say is that there's no time like right now.
REAL TIME CHANGE
I teach full time, run three teenage boys around to their activities all evening, travel with my son's hockey team most weekends, and no longer take care of myself. I have gained 30 £ds in the past few years and feel completely out of shape and exhausted all the time. I need to put some focus back on me. This past year, I no longer feel healthy. I feel like I have aged tremendously. This year has been a big turning point in my health, and I can't get away with my current lifestyle.
Me: I'm so glad you had your hallelujah moment. If you don't take care of yourself, no one else will.
The last episode of The Sopranos aired in June 2007. HBO served my wines at the finale party. Things were good for me. I was ready for an easy time with few worries. My two beautiful, intelligent daughters were out of the house and making their own way in the world. I am so proud of them. Margaux and Stella inspired me. They always make me want to be better. They were quick to comment on how I looked, critiquing my makeup and the clothes I wore.
At one point, they demanded I get out of the baggy sweats I lived in. They took me to a trendy store that sold a cute, young version of my wardrobe staple, made me buy some, and threw out the gross stuff I had been hanging out in. They nagged me about working out more. They didn't hold back. The tables had turned. My daughters were taking care of me. Watching them reminded me of how I used to be. I wanted to get some of that back.
Just as I was feeling liberated and open for anything, I was thrown into crisis mode. Early in 2008, both my parents became really sick, and the bottom dropped out of my world. My father, Sal, who had worked his whole life at the Fulton Fish Market, developed congestive heart failure. My mother, Sheila, a smoker, suffered a mild heart attack and battled emphysema. As my father said, their lives were about "pills and bills." Watching my parents' bodies fail them over a period of 3 to 4 years made it clear to me that aging is not for sissies. Seeing them suffer overwhelmed me. I was not ready for their decline.
And then there were the logistics of taking care of them. They were getting treatment at different hospitals. My brother, my sister, and I were running ourselves ragged racing from one appointment to another. I realize now that we have become a nation of caretakers. Not only do our adult children stay around longer, it took three of us to take care of our parents in their final years. Being their advocate and watching over them was a huge roller coaster ride. We were responsible for putting out fire after fire. It was very stressful, but I felt lucky I was able to be there for them. My parents had put up with so much from me as I grew up. They had been very open parents, and I loved them very much. Keeping them comfortable took precedence over everything else at the time. It was my turn to give to them.
Getting my father to be compliant was next to impossible. He never took his medication. I would organize what seemed like hundreds of colorful pills into his weekly pill sorter. He left the plastic organizer on the kitchen counter and completely ignored the schedule. He was so stubborn that I had Tony Sirico, the actor who played Paulie "Walnuts," give him a call. "Sal," he growled, "take your f***ing medicine!" My father was astonished but not threatened enough to gulp down all those pills. We did have some good laughs during their illnesses. The questionnaires we had to fill out at every new doctor's office became a running joke.
Me: Do you have a productive cough?
Mom (as she hacks up a lung): Absolutely not.
We tried our best to make their lives as normal as possible.
My parents died within 9 days of each other. Both were 84. They had been married for 64 years. I'm convinced that they chose to go out together. During their last few years, I was so focused on them that I never considered myself. I flew back and forth from Los Angeles to be with them in New Jersey. All I did was work, take care of them, and eat. I ignored my changing metabolism and didn't adjust my eating habits. I binged on old movies and two-£d bags of Twizzlers whenever I had time to collapse. For the first time in my life, I "needed" a drink at the end of the day. A little at a time, almost imperceptibly, my weight went up. I gained more than 30 £ds in the time leading up to my parents' final illnesses. Their deaths were my wake-up call. It took losing my parents to make me realize I had to change my life to live it. What was I doing to myself?
I wanted to be healthy. I did not want to be hooked up to oxygen like my mother. I did not want to take mountains of pills every day and live with the side effects. Crazy as it may seem, especially since my parents were so well taken care of, I became terrified of ending up helpless in a full-time care facility. I could no longer afford to put off taking care of myself until it was too late. I needed a prevention and repair plan. If I did not commit to making changes in the way I lived, I could only go downhill. I decided to do whatever it would take to stay healthy so that I could enjoy my two daughters and future grandchildren as long as I could. I was determined to stick around. I was not going to cave without a fight.
REAL TIME CHANGE
Trying the cleanse was a great opportunity at a time when I was just desperate to make life changes. I felt horrible. I ached all over. I had a full examination by my general practitioner, and he found nothing wrong. I just did not feel good. All of my joints ached. I was always tired and exhausted. I needed to fix myself but did not know how, and frankly, my doctor was no help at all.
I was in such a bad place--I was thinking, God, send me a sign, and he sent me Lorraine Bracco! God works in mysterious ways . . . and I am happier, healthier than I have been in forever. It is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I am in full control of myself and in full control of my life. Who would have believed in 6 weeks I could totally transform myself? I really have!
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Me: When a health care provider says, "Well, you're getting older--accept it," don't buy into it. It's so wrong. You don't have to accept feeling bad. You can always improve!
I cannot tell you how moved I was when I read this comment. The cleanse did the same for me. That's why I want to pass on what I've learned to other women who need to reboot their lives.
My hallelujah moment came when I watched my parents' health fail. So, I made a huge commitment to myself to take preventive action. I never had a problem with working hard. Now it was time to use that drive and energy on myself. I knew how easy it would be to lose my radiance and health in the years to come, to slip into dullness in body, mind, and spirit. I was ready to clean up my act and reclaim my life on my terms. I had to start with healing my body, which would have a ripple effect on my mental, emotional, and spiritual health. I had to make big changes in the way I lived.
Fortunately, my friend Lisa, who has spent her life as an integrative health consultant, had the answers. She encouraged me to jump-start change in my life by doing an intensive liver cleanse. She flew out to Los Angeles to do the cleanse with me. It probably couldn't have been a worse time, because I was starting the second season of Rizzoli & Isles and had just rented an empty house that I had to move into, set up, and furnish. But it was also the perfect time, because I was completely committed to doing the cleanse, so what better way to start than with an empty fridge and pantry-- no temptations to toss out, just a clean slate. And so began my new journey.
Table of Contents
Foreword Fred Pescatore ix
Introduction a Work in Progress xiii
Chapter 1 Wake-Up Call 1
Chapter 2 Love the Struggle 11
Chapter 3 The Hunger Within 17
Chapter 4 Navigating the Food Maze 33
Chapter 5 Cleaning from the Inside Out 67
Chapter 6 Cleanse Prep 83
Chapter 7 The 14-Day Liver Cleanse 99
Chapter 8 The Clean Up Your Act Diet-The Way to Eat for the Rest of Your Life 131
Chapter 9 Any Time, Any Place: Practical Tips to Make It Work 149
Chapter 10 No-Fuss Recipes 181
Chapter 11 Moving Is Huge 233
Chapter 12 Living Life to the Fullest 263
Afterword Run with It 273
Selected Sources 279
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
All i know my sister went on her diet an lost about 20 lbs, she is still losing. I will buy her book an do the same
Informative, easy read that I enjoyed; useful suggestions to change life style for the better.