Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bootcamp Week 4 Wrap-up: Major Mental Milestone

I almost puked at bootcamp yesterday.

That would have been a decidedly different milestone, for sure.

Yesterday was circuit testing day, my first.

Several weeks ago I had heard they do this from time to time and I tried to forget about it. It brought back too many bad memories of the Presidential Physical Fitness Test, at which I was a spectacular and consistent failure.

So when I walked into the gym yesterday and saw the following lineup on the whiteboard, my stomach dropped:

100 medicine ball tosses
100 side to side jumps
100 squat jumps
100 crunches
100 Mountain climbers
100 rows
100 military presses
100 straight leg lifts, etc.

I think there were a few more and I blocked them out.

The trainer announced it was testing day. We had the entire class (50 minutes) to complete the lineup, but the object was to race against the clock and do it as quickly as we could. The trainers keep track of our results and we can compare against future testing days to see our progress.

My first thought: I'll never finish. Seriously, 100? Of each?

I had an immediate vision of it being 2 p.m. and I'm still there grinding out squat jumps.

After warmups, the clock started and we were off. I did my 100 medicine ball tosses, then decided it was stupid to do all 100 of everything in a row. So I began alternating between exercises doing, say, 40 squat jumps, then moving on to 50 military presses. I bounced from exercise to exercise, chipping away as best I could while our trainer kept tallies and informed us what we had left.

Amazingly, I was down to about 40 Mountain climbers and 40 military presses when I started feeling nauseous. Not sure if I drank too much water or too little, or was pushing too hard, but I did not feel well. It wasn't 911-puking level, but I was in the neighborhood.

But, with so little left, I was not DNFing it.

I ground out the final reps, gave the trainer a head's-up and saw my time: 35:11. 35:11! I finished.

That's been the most surprising byproduct of bootcamp: Confidence.

I expected great fat burning and muscle-building, but I never anticipated how the classes would boost my confidence.

It seems as if I go into most fitness adventures with the predisposition that I will fail. It's not on purpose, but rather the cumulation of a lifetime's worth of attitudes on this subject.

But lately, since running and bootcamp, I've been really challenging myself and, in turn, surprising myself, too.

It's turned a world of I can't and I won't into I'll try and I will.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

In which it's out with the old

For a few weeks I was in clothing purgatory.

I bought new summer clothes in smaller sizes, but my closet and drawers were still jammed with a wardrobe that's now way too big.

Sick of having my closet filled with useless items, I finally made the time to have a therapeutic purging of old threads, tossing everything with a 3X, 2X, 1X, XL, 24, 22, 20, 18 on the label - basically, an entire plus-size section - into trash bags for donation.

I cleaned out most of my closet and drawers. I probably have 1-2 bags of stuff still to clear out from the deep recesses of the closet, but it's nice to have a lot of space back.

I did keep a few pieces of old stuff: A couple pairs of pants and a shirt. I will need them for After pictures. :-D

It's a luxury to not only have all this extra closet and drawer space, but also to be able to pick anything - anything! - and know it will zip, button, cover what it's supposed to, etc.

Is that what regular-size people do? If so, I like it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In which I share how I got started

In my weight loss not-so-secrets post, Jen commented and asked:

What motivated you to start, and also what kept you going each day?

My start and my motivation are two great topics, but too big for one post. I'll write about starting here and motivation in another post.

Why did I start when I did?

Basically, it was time. My youngest had just turned 1 and the But-I-Just-Had-A-Baby excuse was quickly expiring. I didn't want to be walking her into Kindergarten registration in 3 years and still be a Size 24-26...or, most likely, worse.

Also, my oldest was heading for Kindergarten registration the following year and when she started in Fall 2011, I didn't want to be "the fat mom." Kids are honest and, later, mean. I didn't want her to ever bear the brunt of my weight issues.

I wanted to buck the stereotype of the "Oh, she has three kids and obviously has no time to care for herself."

I just wanted my pride back.

Over 5 years, 3 pregnancies and the ensuing children, I ate whatever I want. I had fun, but paid the price. By summer 2010, no food excited me anymore. I could (and would) eat anything and nothing gave me a charge. That also signaled it was time to make some changes.

People engage in destructive habits because they obviously get something out of it. I was no longer getting anything out of it, just exhaustion and boredom.

Finally, my desire to regain my pride trumped my longing to eat whatever I want and sit on the couch.

In spring 2010, I gave myself until the kids started school in the fall. I would enjoy the whole summer and then rejoin WW when school began.

My family loves amusement parks, so that summer we went to several. Being overweight took its toll: I was crazy hot and sweaty. All the walking, not to mention carriage pushing and childcare, left me really tired.

And, most tellingly, everywhere I looked I saw obese families. Seriously, they were everywhere. Mom: Fat. Dad: Fat. Kids: Fat. I didn't want that for me, or us.

There was no Ah-ha! moment, no horrible picture (although I have plenty of those), no single terrible experience that got me going. It really was the culmination of everything I've written here.

Plus, I want to be around for my family. I was concerned about developing diabetes and I am positive I had sleep apnea, although I wouldn't go to a doctor to be diagnosed. No doctors! How that has changed.

A couple months after I rejoined WW I either read or heard this great statement that puts obesity in perspective and I think of it often, especially if I'm having a tough time:

Obesity is a disease as serious as cancer. But, unlike someone who has cancer, you have all the power to cure yourself.

Imagine walking into any cancer ward and telling the patients, "You want to be cancer-free? Here's what you have to do: Eat healthy and exercise. Do this and you will walk out of here 100% cured."

Can you imagine any cancer patient not doing it? Just like everyone I've lost too many family and friends to cancer, and I can't imagine any of them refusing a sure-fire cure.

Anytime I think something related to weight loss is "hard", I remind myself:

Chemo is hard. Dragging my sorry ass to the gym is not.

I tell myself: Stop feeling sorry for yourself and suck it up. And be damn thankful you can do it at all.

So the way I look at it is I have a disease, and all the smart eating and exercising I do is what I have to do to keep it under control.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Week 33 Weigh-In: Welcome to Onederland

I know weight is just a number at a specific point in time and we all enjoy many victories that have nothing to do with the scale.

But I can't tell you how happy I am to have my weight start with a 1.

Next to Goal (now just 21 lbs away!), Onederland was my second-most sought-after achievement.

If you've ever had your weight start with a 2, you know how much it means to turn that into a 1.

As you can see from my weigh-in booklet above, I was down 3.6 lbs this week. I was very surprised, I didn't expect a lot given last week's WI, so it just proves that after dozens and dozens of weigh-ins throughout my life, I know nothing.

But, this week, that's fine by me. Although, if you look at the last 6-7 WIs on the chart below, it looks like I have a pattern forming.

Regardless, woo hoo!

Monday, April 25, 2011

In which I reveal my weight-loss 'secrets'

That headline is misleading as I don't have any secrets, I'm happy to share what works for me.

But the title, "In which I reveal my weight-loss rules of thumb" is boring.

Many people who haven't seen me in a while ask, "What are you doing?" When I reply "Weight Watchers" they almost always follow up with, "But what are you doing?" As in How are you doing it?

Over time I've developed many Dos and Don'ts that help me. I've divided them up into categories below to make them easier to digest.

I know the minute I hit "Publish Post" I will think of 14 more, so I will update this post as my early-onset Alzheimer's allows and make a note up here so you don't have to reread everything to find the new additions.

Now, my most important piece of advice:

You can do it.

No excuse will hold you back if you want this bad enough. It doesn't matter if you work, don't work, have kids, don't have kids, are married, single, busy, bored, tired, whatever.

We all have commitments, roadblocks, challenges and other problems that can get in our way if we let them.

But, in the end, nothing can stop you, but you.

I don't have any secret formulas, iron-clad willpower or a magic metabolism. If I had the latter two, I would never have been in this situation in the first place, I assure you.

I am nothing special, just a person who is very committed to this goal - safely and healthily doing what it takes to see it through. Some days are easy and some are hard, but I keep pushing through.

If you have any questions, just leave a comment and I'm happy to answer.

Weight Watchers

  • I follow the Weight Watchers Points+ Plan. Coming from old Points plans, Points+ did take a little getting used to, but I'm convinced its fruits/veg/protein focus is helping me lose weight faster.

  • I track everything I eat in a Three-Month Tracker. I save my trackers so I can reference them going ahead if need be.

  • I eat my Daily Points Allowance every day.

  • I rarely use my extra 49 Weekly Points (maybe once every 4-6 weeks). But if I want to go out to eat, I make sure it's early in my WW week - Tues (my weigh-in day), Wed or Thu, so I have time to work them off. If I have an event on the weekend, I try to make the best choices and keep the sodium low.

  • On workout days I eat some of my Activity Points. On heavy intensity days, I eat 3-4 APs. Moderate I eat an extra 1-2 APs. Depends on how hungry I am.

  • I drink between 96 and 128 oz of water a day. I drink it with every meal and ensure I get at least 96 oz in a day (3 refills of my 32-oz water bottle).

  • I love Diet Coke. It's my only vice left and I drink 2-3 a day. I don't drink coffee, never liked it.

  • I eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, usually more.

  • I try to cut down on carbs, and if I want a snack, I try to make it a protein. However, I do eat carbs every day.

  • I stay for the WW meeting every week.

    Weigh-In Day

  • I wear the same lightweight workout clothes every week to WI: wicking T-shirt, yoga/gym pants (full in winter, capris spring-summer-fall). When they get too big, I buy a smaller size; no need to weigh extra fabric.

  • My weigh-in is 10 am. I don't eat or drink anything before. You can find me in the meeting room devouring a Luna Protein bar and a Diet Coke just after weigh-in.


  • I eat a Luna Protein bar before a workout (5 Points+). When I get home after, I eat the rest of my breakfast. I need something on my stomach, I can't workout without any fuel.

  • I work out four times a week (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun).

  • I believe in rest days and keep them. I have two back-to-back workouts on Sun/Mon, but my weigh-in is Tuesday, so I consider Monday my "last chance" workout, but it's less intense than M-W-F.

  • Currently my workouts are Monday (45 mins elliptical); Wednesday & Friday (45 mins bootcamp class); Sunday (45-minute run).

  • My workouts are early morning, 6 am. It's the only time I can ensure I can get it in with my full focus and without family obligations.

  • When I started exercising, I did Leslie Sansone DVDs four days a week. They're fantastic for all fitness levels, especially if you're starting out. I still find them challenging if another workout falls through.


  • I never weigh myself at home. I've tried this in the past and I am almost always disappointed, either immediately or on the WW scale on official WI day. My weight fluctuates too much day to day for a home weigh-in to indicate how my week is going.

    Also, I worry I would get too caught up in the numbers and throw myself off track. Who knows how much weight I gain or lose day to day? I don't want to know. I stress enough over one official weigh-in, I have no desire to add spot checks.

  • I won't do anything to lose weight that I wouldn't do to maintain it for the rest of my life.

  • I won't force myself to eat something I "should" but don't like. For instance, I have never liked bananas. Won't eat them.

  • I don't eat after 8 pm. Sometimes I don't get dinner until later due to family commitments, so every once in a while I'm eating dinner late, but as a rule of thumb I try to get dinner done before 8 pm.

  • I try to make Lunch my largest Points meal of the day.

  • I rarely drink alcohol. I'd rather eat my Points than drink them. This hasn't been too difficult for me as I wasn't a big drinker pre-WW. I swear I have a 12-pack in the basement fridge that's been there for a year. But, if I want a beer, you bet I will drink it and write it down.

  • I weigh/and or measure all my food on a digital food scale.

  • I shop a lot at Trader Joe's. They have an amazing selection of Points-friendly food.

  • Saturday, Sunday and Monday are my three days closest to WI. I am extremely conscious of what I eat and especially on Monday I try to cut down on sodium or anything that would cause me to retain water. You'll never find me eating sushi Sat-Sun-Mon, but it's the first thing I grab after WI Tuesday.

  • I read many weight-loss blogs. They're wonderful inspiration and offer a lot of great advice, food finds, recipes, etc. Some of my favorites are listed in the right column.

    Any area I missed? Specific question? Ask away.
  • In which I love avocados...too much

    I adore avocados and, in turn, guacamole.

    I love them too much. It's one of those foods I can't make fresh (although I love to) because I'd eat the whole thing.

    So I was pretty happy to hear that Wholly Guacamole makes a 100-calorie snack pack for the willpower-challenged like me. The package contains three, single-serve packets, each 3 Points+.

    It's delicious and portion-controlled, two things I appreciate in a food.

    It's so good in that I gladly (and embarrassingly) admit to licking the package to ensure I get everything.

    If you love guac and can't stop, it's worth your time.

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    In which it's Easter Sunday run day

    Happy Easter!

    He is risen. Good triumphs over evil, light over dark, the tomb is empty and the Devil is defeated, thankfully, once more.

    And I jammed in my Sunday outdoor run before all the mishegas begins.

    It rained all day yesterday and is sunny and humid today, it felt like I was running in Florida (though not as hot, thank goodness).

    Very happy I got my run in, now I can enjoy the Reese's Peanut Butter Easter Egg (<---- singular) I've been saving all week. 5 Points+ if you're counting at home.

    Will eat my regular breakfast and a good (measured) Easter dinner. I can fit it all in within my daily Points, plus 3-4 APs.

    That's why I love Weight Watchers. You can enjoy everything without being deprived, you just have to plan ahead.

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    In which I can't believe it's me

    Earlier this week, the kids and I went to a fun benefit where we played board games.

    My friend was taking pictures and sent me this, me and my son playing Rory's Story Cubes (a really fun game, BTW).

    I looked at the picture and was somewhat stunned - Is that me?

    Other than the frightening fact that I looked insanely like a female version of my father (minus the goatee), it was shocking in that, for the first time, I thought I looked pretty fit. I looked like a "normal" person and not the fattest person in the room. And, for once, I saw it.

    Yes, I know I look very different, but I don't always see it, if that makes sense.

    Whenever I get a compliment from anyone who says something like, "You're looking great!" I always automatically do the math in my head and think, Yeah, but I have XX lbs to go.

    Out loud my response is, usually, "Getting there!"

    But it might be time to change that to: "Almost there!"

    For a point of reference, below is a picture of my and my nephew, almost exactly a year earlier (and 4 months before I rejoined WW):

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    Bootcamp Week 3 Wrap-up

    It was another fun week of the continued beating of inanimate objects.

    Today's pummeling was even better than last week's.

    This morning the heavy bag was laying flat on the ground covered by a layer of Astroturf. When it was your turn at that interval, you grabbed an aluminum baseball bat, raised it over your head and, basically, rhythmically wailed on it for a full minute.

    It was full-on awesome and reminded me of a scene from either Goodfellas or Casino, can't remember which. And you got to repeat the interval later.

    After I got over my mob-movie flashback (the bag really did look like a body), I imagined that the heavy bag was all the weight I had lost and have yet to lose (25 lbs). Again, therapeutic.

    Hard to believe I've only been taking these classes for a month (counting the intro classes). Each class I feel a little stronger, faster and more flexible. I can get through warmups quicker, but they still kick my butt (pretty sure that will always be the case).

    I can lift heavier weights. In fact, this morning on my first medicine ball interval I automatically grabbed the lightest, 6 lbs. Halfway through I realized, I need the 8 lbs, this is too light. So next time around that's what I used.

    But the most stunning realization came at the end of the cool down this morning. While stretching on the floor I noticed a woman had walked in, I assume she had a session with one of the trainers.

    The woman was obese, a good size 24/26, exactly what I used to be not long ago.

    It was Old Me on one side of the gym and New Me on the other.

    I hope that doesn't come off sounding arrogant because I don't meant it to be, at all. Rather, I took it as a reminder: Don't forget.

    And, as Han Solo famously said: Great, kid. Don't get cocky.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Recipe: Crash Hot Potatoes

    I can't believe I haven't posted this before as it's one of my Favorite Foods.

    I try to limit it to once or twice a week as I could literally eat it every day, and that's probably not a great idea.

    It's a delicious and easy change of pace from a regular old baked potato. Crispy and salty on the outside, fluffy inside. Yum.

    8 new potatoes (or any small potatoes)
    Olive oil, for drizzling
    Kosher salt, to taste
    Black pepper, to taste
    Rosemary (or any desired herb)

  • Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender. (This is very important! They must be very tender.).
  • Drizzle sheet pan generously with olive oil.
  • Place tender potatoes on sheet pan, leaving plenty of room between each potato.
  • With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the masher 90 degrees and mash again. (One reviewer suggested using the bottom of a glass for this step. I tried it, and it works MUCH better than the masher.).
  • Brush tops of mashed potatoes with olive oil.
  • Sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs.
  • Bake in 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

    Now, a few important notes from me:

    1. I only make one large red potato per meal. If I made 8 as suggested, I would eat them all. When I've made 2 or 3, I've eaten them all. Little self control for me on this dish. The picture above is 2 potatoes. It's an old picture. I've since learned the limits of my willpower with this dish.

    2. I use 1/2t EVOO on the potato and don't "drizzle sheet pan generously with olive oil."

    3. I weigh my potato before devouring to figure out the Points+. A 7oz baked potato is 4 Points+. If my potato is, say, 8 oz, I multiply 8 x .57 (the rough Points value of each oz of baked potato), for a value of 4.5 Points+. I also add .5 Points+ for the EVOO.

    4. Make sure you use Kosher salt, not table salt. It makes a difference.

    Yet another winner of a recipe from Flo. Read her blog, great, great stuff.
  • In which I recommend you get a RoadID

    Visit enough running sites and you're going to run into ads for RoadID.

    And there's a good reason for that - it's a pretty important piece of equipment to have.

    Basically, if you're running, cycling, walking or working out without your wallet, the engraved plate lists your important contact and medical information in case you were (God forbid) unconscious and in need of help. Just read the sobering testimonials.

    I ordered one before I began running outside, I even wear it in the gym. The gym? Yes! When I work out there is no gym staff on duty. What would happen if I passed out on the treadmill? No one knows my name or even which workout bag is mine.

    My RoadID lists:

  • My full name.
  • My town and state.
  • My husband's first name, his cell and our home number.
  • The fact I have no known allergies (NKA), no medical history (No med hx) and my blood type.
  • A "inspirational saying," in my case a nod to this man's philosophy.

    A couple of months ago I was at the gym on a Monday morning and was wrapping up an elliptical workout. In the last 5 minutes, I felt lightheaded and woozy, like I might faint (turns out a stomach bug was approaching). As I sat down on a bench to collect myself, I was really glad I was wearing my RoadID. If I passed out, at least someone would know who I was, whom to contact and my medical details.

    I won't work out without one now. In fact, I should probably wear it all the time. It's something you may want to consider. And they come in all sorts of pretty colors.
  • In which I buy a new swim suit

    Isn't it cute? Don't I look really different in it?

    Just go along with the pretending as I assure you, I will not be posting a pic of me in a swimsuit, even if I get down to a super-toned size 10.

    I bought this, Size 16, fully knowing it will be way too big at the end of the summer.

    And that's fine by me!

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Week 32 Weigh-In: Soooo close

    So, so close to Onederland today, but not quite there yet.

    The Bad News: .5 away from Onederland.

    The Good News: -3.8 lbs this week, for a total of 82 lbs gone for good.

    Take that, last week's unfair gain.

    It's funny, I put in the exact same effort in exercise and eating the past two weeks. One week I gain .2. Another I lose 3.8.

    In the end, it's all up to my body to decide what it's ready to drop on any given Tuesday morning. Just gotta hang in and hang on for the ride.

    When Donna The Wonderful Receptionist gave me the news, I said something like, "Argh, so close to Onederland." She had some pretty sage advice: "You've waited this long, what's another week?"

    A very good point. There are a lot of hard aspects of weight loss, but the most difficult for me is patience.

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    In which I recommend Sweaty Bands

    I stumbled across an ad for Sweaty Bands on some weight-loss blog or another (I read too many to remember) and it piqued my interest.

    I have a lot of hair and it's very voluminous, so when I sweat it's gross and gets in my face or takes on some life of its own like a white Afro. Not cool.

    Sometimes I wear a do-rag to the gym, but that doesn't do much for the sweat, it's too thin. I've run wearing a wicking baseball hat, but the bill is pain indoors. I've tried regular headbands before, but they aren't made to trap sweat and I'd feel like a dork wearing an old-school sweatband.

    So I was pretty interested in Sweaty Bands and ordered a pair (one thick, one thin) to try.

    After several workouts, including Bootcamp (which I use as the sweaty high-water mark), I gotta say they are quite awesome.

    They trap the sweat and don't move - at all. Pretty impressive. They're not too tight nor too lose, itchy or uncomfortable. And they are cute.

    If you're plagued by sweaty hair-control issues like yours truly, check them out.

    And since I'm, like, 12 years old, saying "Sweaty Bands" makes me think of this, every time.

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    In which I continue my outside run training

    Went for another outside run today.

    It was sunny, but windy, and even though I changed directions on my 1/3-mile loop, I kept running straight into the wind. Not sure how that happened.

    I was out for 40 minutes, running 2/3 of a mile, walking the next third, then repeating for the duration, which totaled a little over 3 miles. Pace was a shade over 13 minutes a mile, quite good for me, especially since I walked one-third of each.

    My hip also felt OK, which was very encouraging.

    My plan is to up my running ratio by 1/3 mile every week until I run a 5K straight through. That will help me build up my road legs and ease my hip into sustained straight running on asphalt.

    I think the combination of continued strength training via Bootcamp and outside runs will set me up quite nicely for 5Ks.

    Another nice bonus, today's mileage put me over the top and vaulted me into the Orange Level in my Nike+ iPod training. Now I get a nice Orange background on my dashboard instead of yellow, but it does signify I've run 50K with the Nike+.

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    In which the Spring In2 Action challenge ends

    The 6-week Spring In2Action Challenge has ended and Rebecca and I finished an excellent fourth.

    Not sure how many teams were originally entered, that would be fun to know.

    Anyway, over the six weeks we combined to lose a combined 5.45% of our body weight. Not bad for a month and a half.

    When the challenge began on March 2 I weighed 215.4. This week at weigh-in I was 204.2. Good stuff and so close to Onederland.

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Bootcamp Week 2 Wrap-up

    Decided to wear my heart rate monitor to bootcamp this morning to see exactly how hard I work.

    Answer: Very.

    Before starting I forgot to turn off the watch/receiver alarm that beeps when you exceed your maximum heart rate. The damn watch was beeping all workout long: Stop! For God's sake, stop! Are you insane? You're going to die!

    Luckily it wasn't very loud.

    This week at bootcamp was great as I felt relatively competent. I worked hard and still had enough left at many of the intervals to really jam and finish strong in the last 10 seconds.

    This morning one of the intervals was punching the heavy bag, wearing boxing gloves. Really, really fun.

    When the 10-second warning rang out, I thought, Speed it up. I had enough gas in the tank (first station out of the six so I was pretty fresh) and in a split second thought of people and/or things I would like to punch.

    I seriously beat the shit out of that bag. So much so it got the trainer's attention, and he yelled, "Melissa! Good!"

    Bootcamp is expensive, but it's cheaper than therapy.

    I really had fun this week and I was super proud of myself for getting it done. I feel like I'm getting stronger and my form is improving.

    I've stopped comparing my performance against others in the class. Instead, I just focus on my form and doing as much as I can properly with maximum effort. Sometimes I can really kick ass in a station, and other times I do whatever I can, as well as I can. It all seems to even out.

    I love the feeling of walking out of class at 7 am Friday morning, knowing I put in a great week of effort - and knowing I don't have to do it again until Wednesday.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    In which you finally get a picture

    This blog is heavy on words, clip art and pictures of food. But short on pictures of me.

    Reason being, unlike every other self-respecting weight-loss blogger, I suck at taking self portraits.

    But I was in the bathroom at Foxwoods recently (waiting for my friends, so you don't think I'm a perv who hangs out in casino cans) and was goofing around with the camera. And I actually took a relatively decent shot.

    And you get to see the loudest shirt I own, which actually was nice: My friends could not lose me in the casino. Pretty sure they could see me from space.

    I'll be getting my better half to snap some non-bathroom progress pics soon. Well, as soon as I can figure out how to smile without sporting my double chin. Seriously, I've lost almost 80 lbs, can't that damn thing disappear already?

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    In which I make Sausage and Peppers

    Seriously, I don't know what I'd do without a nearby Trader Joe's.

    They offer so much delicious, healthy (or healthier) food at good prices - and good Points+ values if you're a Weight Watcher.

    Two of my favorite TJ products are their Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage (in the fresh meat section) and the Fire-Roasted Peppers and Onions (frozen section).

    I'll stir fry 2 (or 3 if I have the Points) sausages (3 Points+ each) and the entire bag of veg in 1t EVOO.

    It smells amazing and tastes very much like what you'd get outside Fenway, minus the gross old grease.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Week 31 Weigh-In: Mental Milestone

    I was up .2 today at the scale, but I gained something else:

    For the first time, ever, in any of my weight-loss efforts I honestly was not disappointed or frustrated with an undeserved gain.

    This is a big mental milestone for me.

    Going into this weigh-in, I figured I'd have a small loss. I'd lost 7 lbs over the past two weeks, way too much to expect a decent drop. But when I heard Donna The Wonderful Receptionist say, "I don't consider this a gain, it's maintenance!" I really was OK.

    Over the past week I made excellent food choices and ate very nutritionally. I kept my workout schedule and continued to work harder than ever before at bootcamp or on a run. I could not have done any better in either department. Obviously, my body need a catch-up week, a time to adjust to all the changes going on.

    Getting an undeserved gain is usually a kick in the gut. It's like preparing for a test that's extremely important to you. You study hard every day and take the test. You get your paper back and you got every question right! Yet, there in bold red ink is your grade: D.

    You feel cheated. You feel frustrated. You feel angry.

    This is one of the hardest issues to deal with in weight loss. And, for a lot of us, a week like this represents a crossroads. Either you drag your disappointed self ahead and plow on, or you figure, "What the hell? I do all this work and I still gain? I'm going to eat whatever I want. I'll gain, but at least I'll enjoy it."

    Sitting and waiting for the WW meeting to begin, I ticked off all of the NSVs I've enjoyed, just in the past two weeks:

  • Getting better at bootcamp.
  • Running outside.
  • Finally buying better clothes in smaller sizes.

    All great stuff that I wouldn't trade. So when you get down to it, .2 really is no big deal. It will come off and take more with it.

    I'm not exaggerating when I say this acceptance took years to achieve. And leaving the meeting this morning with this true peace of mind was far more valuable than losing a couple of pounds. I'll do that next week.
  • Monday, April 11, 2011

    In which I'm associated with "the gym"

    A few times a week I escape get out of the house solo to run errands.

    Lately, every time I leave my oldest asks, "Are you going to the gym?"

    I gotta say I like that. I really like that she associates me with "gym." The amusing part is the answer is always "No" as I do that before she gets out of bed.

    One of the unexpected side benefits of this WW project is its effect on the kids. For instance, we have about 500% more fruit on hand than ever before, so the kids are eating more fruit. And there's an increased emphasis on being active, which rubs off on them, too.

    My hope is my kids grow up moving more and eating better than I did as a child, hopefully helping them sidestep any weird food issues that followed me into adulthood.

    And on the heels of the above, I got a similar comment this morning, at a playgroup of all places. I ran into a mom whom I see every once in a while. One of the first things she said was, "I see you at the gym all the time!"

    That's a hell of a lot better than, "I see you at McDonald's all the time!"

    In which it's time to grill

    The weather is getting nicer, which means it's easier to grill now than it was when the deck was covered in snow. I also won't be worried about opening the grill and finding mice running around.

    That happened once and I screamed so loud my husband thought I lit myself on fire.

    So now I will be eating piles of grilled veg all summer.

    Last night's mountain: red peppers, Vidalia onions and zucchini, grilled in 1t of EVOO.

    Fire' er up.

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    In which I run...outside

    Went out for a run this weekend - outside.

    You're probably reading this thinking, What's the big deal?

    For me, outside is a big deal.

    I'd been somewhat scared off running outside as the first time I did it this season it did not end well. Most of that was poor planning on my part, and since I've been trying to psych myself up to move my training outside.

    This is how my internal dialogue has been going on run mornings:

    Outside today?

    Too cold!
    Too dark!
    Too cold and dark
    ! etc.

    As I was due for a run this weekend, I got up early and went downstairs to have my usual Diet Coke and Luna Chocolate-Cherry protein bar before changing and driving to the gym. I sat on the couch and looked outside. It was gorgeous. Sunny, not too cold. Maybe today was the day to run outside.

    I want to run 5Ks as they're good, attainable fitness goals. Running one race to another will keep me motivated, keep me running and, most importantly, help keep me fit. But in order to do that I have to, you know, actually run outside.

    But I was worried about my hip. The last race killed it, mostly because I was an idiot didn't run outside to prepare (it actually was too cold and dark 6 am Jan.-March). The last thing I wanted to do was rip it up again and really sideline myself from running, bootcamp or any other activity.

    So, what to do?

    I figured out a plan. The cul de sac one street over is a 1/3-mile loop. What if I ran one loop, walked the next and repeated for, say, 37 minutes, the length my next scheduled treadmill run?

    I nutted up, laced up my sneakers, turned on the Nike +iPod and took that first step.

    The first running loop sucked. I felt like a marionette, arms and legs flailing all over the place. It was Week 1, Day 1 of C25K all over again. But I settled in, my form improved and the time actually went by pretty fast. It was just me, a blinding spring sun and a million Orioles darting about.

    There's a slight incline on the loop, although it doesn't feel that slight when I'm running it. But I remembered tricks from my old running days - shorten your stride and keep your eyes at the top of the "hill." There was running into the wind uphill. Ah, yes, I didn't miss this at all.

    But, overall, it wasn't half bad. I had a great workout and my hip was a little tender, but nothing of the magnitude I faced last month. And, most importantly, I was very proud of myself for stepping outside my comfort zone and actually giving it a go.

    I hope to jam in 2 runs outside per week and ramp up the running ratio until I can run a 5K straight. Then I can be confident about racing without major pain.

    One thing occurred to while running: I automatically, subconsciously, approach any fitness-related activity with What if I fail? C25K, bootcamp, running outside - it's all: What if I can't do it? What if I don't do it perfectly?

    And that, I realized, is crap. What if I can? And, note to self, I have been, um, canning really well as of late. What if everything falls into place? Sure, I may not be the best, but at least I try.

    I think that's going to be my new mantra: Try. At least give it a try.

    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    In which there is bling

    Just realized I never posted an updated shot of the keyring, now with the 75 lbs lost charm.

    If you're a civilian, here's an explanation. You get the 10 keyring for losing 10% of your starting weight. At 12 o'clock is the -75 charm, 2 o'clock is -50, 5 o'clock is the Stay and Succeed charm for attending 16 meetings, and 6 o'clock is the -25 charm.

    There's room for one more...the -100 charm.

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    In which it's Bootcamp, Day 3

    I figured it out: Bootcamp is an activity I don't like while I'm in the middle of it, but one I love after.

    Even though I'm sore in places I didn't even know existed.

    Today was a good day in that I actually felt relatively competent in some of the stations.

    And I realized the exercises fall into a pattern:

  • Those that look fun are not.
  • Those that look easy are hard.
  • Those that look hard are very hard.

    Trainer P was his usual supportive self: Quietly offering form corrections and encouragement. He's not a screamer a la Jillian Michaels and that's a very good thing.

    Typing of Jillian, on The Biggest Loser did you ever catch the contestants doing a rope wave? Where there are two big ropes attached to the wall and the contestants snap the ropes up and down to create waves? Not as easy or as fun as it looks.

    Finally got a chance to talk to my friend Deb today, she's been going to this boot camp for 2 years now and put the bug in my ear that I should give it a try.

    She read my post about being discouraged about not making it through the whole minute. She noted, basically: You'll get better, but it never gets easier. And no one makes it through the whole minute.

    That made me feel a lot better about my performance.

    I'm feeling really good and less nervous about bootcamp. I'm very glad I'm going as it's pushing me harder than I would ever push myself.
  • In which it's Pancake Day

    Fridays during Lent I don't eat meat, so that restricts my food choices a bit.

    The good news: I get to have a carb-tastic pancake lunch.

    Every Friday in Lent, I've been making Fiber One pancakes. They're very filling and a whole batch is 10 Points.

    Combine it with 1T of sugar-free maple syrup and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and they are Points well spent. Plus, it's a mountain of food.

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    In which I bulk order Popchips

    I had never heard of Popchips prior to a few months ago, yet now I am hooked.

    I try to keep my carbs low, but each day I almost always save 3 Points for one serving (28g if you're counting at home) of Popchips.

    I like the original flavor and the BBQ, but I love Salt & Pepper, which is surprisingly hard to find in big bags and impossible in the single serves.

    So that's why I had to bulk order them from Amazon. Actually, it works out to less than $1 per bag (if you sign up for a regular subscription order) and I have a stash for close to a month.

    I was very happy to see UPS arrive yesterday.

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    In which it's Bootcamp, Day 2

    If someone asked you to do jumping jacks for 1 minute, that doesn't sound so bad, right?

    It doesn't. Until you try to do it, than it's, like, Frak, when is this minute up?

    That was one of what I thought were the "easy" intervals this morning. Ay yi yi. A good ay yi yi, but still ay yi yi.

    Today was my first regular Wednesday class. There are 8 other people in the class, all ages, shapes and sizes. Our trainer on Wednesdays is different than Fridays, but she was just as nice and helpful.

    Again, after just the warmups I'm sucking wind. But at least I know I'm burning calories along with my impending stroke, so that's nice.

    Each of the six stations had different exercises from last Friday's class. They were all new and interesting. And exhausting. But overall the workout is great, I'm sweating like a draft horse, and it's all done all by 7 am.

    I think the hardest part of this experience is mental. I can't make it straight through the whole minute doing whatever I'm supposed to do. I either run out of breath or my muscles are so fatigued I can't continue straight through.

    That's OK, the trainers say. Take a break, try again and do your best.

    But I'm so all-or-nothing in my thinking in this (and many other areas) that I automatically feel like I "failed" by stopping and restarting. I'm having to employ a lot of positive self-talk in order to beat back the negative thoughts.

    I keep telling myself: This is all new. You're learning. You're getting stronger and better each time you try. Just keep trying.

    And I should be able to dead lift a Kia by fall.

    It's funny, last night I felt a little anxiety about class this morning. It was sitting there, in the back of my head, You have bootcamp tomorrow morning...You have bootcamp tomorrow morning. Then it hit me: It was the same nervousness I had before gym class as a kid.

    If you're wondering, What's with boxing bell? A boxing bell sound effect plays at the beginning of each interval. It dings again at the 30-second mark. Then it dings several times in a row when there's 10 seconds left.

    I'm convinced the length of time between the first ding and the 30-second one is, approximately, 3.5 minutes.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Week 30 Weigh-In: Whoa

    I've determined weigh-ins fall into one of four categories.

    There's the good, in which the scale gives with one hand or generously gives with two.

    There's the bad, in which it gives you the finger, or gives you both fingers.

    I've had all of these, several times.

    But today, I enjoyed the rare giving-with-both-hands variety.

    I didn't expect much this week as I had a large loss just last week. Going in I'd be thrilled with -2.

    I stepped on the scale and Donna The Wonderful Receptionist gasps. Gasps!

    "You're down 3 lbs!" she says, wide-eyed (seriously, I'm not making that up for effect). "How do you do it?" *

    Can't remember what I said as I was quietly ecstatic/stunned.

    I checked my weigh-in book and I weighed 204, -78.4 gone. Just 1.6 from -80 but, more importantly, just 4.1 from Onederland.

    Behind reaching Goal, Onderland is my next biggest goal. It is such a huge deal. When the scale starts with a 1, even if it's followed by 99.9, it signifies normalcy and, in my case, the home stretch to goal.

    * So, how did I do it? I wish I knew the exact combination of food + exercise so I could bang off 3 lbs each week, but that's not going to happen.

    I changed two things over the past two weeks:

    1. Bootcamp class.

    2. Eating more protein. Whenever I wanted a snack, I tried to choose fruit or protein over carbs. One favorite is sliced Boar's Head deli ham or turkey (surprisingly Points- and heart-friendly). I also tried to eat a good portion of protein with each meal.

    I tried to swap carbs for protein to give my muscles (which have been getting a workout thanks to bootcamp) the fuel they need to rebuild and strengthen. Don't get me wrong, I still eat carbs, just fewer than normal.

    I can't quantify the exact role they played, but I know neither worked against me.

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    In which it's a weekend of good decisions

    The past few days have been filled with hard-fought good decisions and good results:

    Good Results

    On Saturday, I got the blood test results from my recent checkup. The upshot: My cholesterol numbers, etc. are awesome. The doctor is thrilled. Gold star. I can't imagine what it would have been just 6 months ago.

    Good Decisions

    Our schedule this weekend was crazy. A lot of on-the-run, which did not leave me much time to eat at home and, most importantly, plan what I was going to eat.

    However, I rolled with it and made good choices, but man, was it hard Saturday night. I was at Foxwoods Casino with my two best friends to see a show. We decided to grab dinner beforehand, and since I arrived before they did I walked around to find a good place to eat.

    Healthy eating options are few and far between at that joint. And it seemed as if every time I turned around, there was a bakery (the hardest place for me), an ice cream shop, a candy shop, you name it.

    I was walking around, alone in a sea of thousands, and I thought, You could stop and have whatever you want and no one would ever know..

    This is where it gets so, so dangerous.

    Were I not on Weight Watchers getting something to eat would automatically be one of the first things I would do. Something big and something sweet. I spied display cases full of towers of fudge, huge baked goods. Ugh, I had to keep walking, fast, and in the opposite direction.

    I knew that were I to give in, it would have led to "In for a penny, in for a pound." Since I had already "blown" the day, it would have led to a high-Point, off-plan dinner, drinks and dessert. Then I would have been really mad at myself until WI on Tuesday, if I even went.

    For me, this is how downward spirals begin and how good momentum comes to a screeching halt.

    So instead, I sucked it up, booked the other way and waited for my friends. Now, yes, some day when I'm below Goal and I have more leeway in terms of a monthly weigh-in vs a weekly one, I can enjoy an off-plan meal and dessert. Just not then.

    It was too close to my weigh-in and those are just sacrosanct in my life. I've been out to eat while on plan and I've eaten all my Weekly Points Allowance and had a great time. But those days are early in my WW week - Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays, maybe a Friday. But Saturday and Sunday are just too close for comfort.

    When my friends arrived our best options was at a sit-down deli, which actually had a huge grilled chicken salad. It was perfect. A gigantic salad and plain grilled chicken. Couldn't have asked for anything more.

    Cut to this morning, a gym morning. I decide to sleep in because I was out late (for me, that is). I managed to squeeze my run in later this morning and I was so glad I did. I would have loved to skip it, but I didn't. I had a good run and near the end I hear my Nike +iPod say, "2 minutes remaining. 2 minutes remaining."

    I'm not sure what it was, other than a perfect union of mood + music. I felt great. I was proud of myself for not skipping my workout, for making good decisions the night before. My legs felt strong and powerful, and I could feel every stride and every kickback.

    I was sweaty and warm from the run and when a favorite part of one of my favorite workout songs kicked in (just before the last verse of the Night Version of Duran Duran's Girls on Film, if you're curious), I thought, Let's crank this up.

    I kicked the the speed on the treadmill faster than I've ever gone before and sprinted for the last 2 minutes.

    It was awesome, runner's high-type stuff. I was running fast, but in control and, amazingly, really, really loving it. It was a great end to a great two days.

    Saturday, April 2, 2011

    In which I have achieve a Kohl's

    I went shopping for new clothes last night as I'm going out with my best friends tonight and I wanted to look less schlubby than my norm.

    And I desperately needed some new clothes, most importantly, clothes that fit.

    I walked into Kohl's and automatically headed for the euphamistically-titled Women's section, which is a nice way to say "Fat."

    Then, I realized: Wait. I may not need to shop in this section. Ever. Again.

    I wandered over to the heretofore-uncharted territory of Misses, code for "Normal"-sized women. I found some size 16 pants, some XL tops and headed to the dressing room.

    I tried on a few pair of the 16s. They fit. I tried on some shirts. And they fit.

    You know, all of a sudden, I like clothes shopping.

    Before Friday, for pretty much my whole life (except for brief, shining moments) I was relegated to the Women's section. And the Women's section is full of the ugliest clothes on God's green Earth.

    I don't know what blind man designs them - and I know it's a man because no women would ever commit such felony-level couture crimes against her own gender.

    With plus-size clothes, most designers have you trussed up like either:

  • A Mardis Gras float.
  • Funky '70s wallpaper.
  • Nana heading to the casino.

    When you're overweight all you want from clothes is one thing: camouflage. You just want to disappear and blend in. You're not pleased with the way you look, therefore you don't want to call attention to yourself with unflattering cuts, designs, you name it. Yet, that's most of what is offered.

    OK, rant over.

    Anyway, I wish you could have been in the dressing room with me. Wait, not literally, mind you, but you know what I mean.

    Full of confidence (and clothed), I triumphantly sauntered backed to my new favorite place on Earth and scouted out workout clothes. Brought some XLs back to try only to find them too big. Seriously, I checked the tags three times to ensure I wasn't seeing things.

    This is when I thought, I need to stop and play the lottery on the way home.

    Fitting in "normal"-size clothes is a huge, huge milestone. Size 16 is not my final destination, but I'm happy to have at least landed in the area where I will shop from now on.

    Oh, and don't GIS "Kohl's dressing room." I was looking for some art to go with this post, and, um, just don't. Yikes.
  • Friday, April 1, 2011

    In which it's Bootcamp, Day 1

    Remember the old Army slogan, "We do more before 9 am than most people do all day"?

    I now know why it's true - they went to bootcamp.

    Hell's bells, what an experience. I've never worked out so hard in my life.

    Thanks to a spring snowstorm, only me and two other members of the 9-person class were on hand, but that was actually a good thing, given two of us were new.

    After the warmup, we were on the ground doing (or trying to do) ab work and at one point I tuned into the music playing in the background:

    Welcome to the jungle, baby/You're gonna diiiiiiiiiiiie

    All I could think was, "That is a distinct possibility."

    After the warmup and ab work came the 6-station circuit. Two exercises at each station, 2 minutes each. A 15-second rest between each minute. There was a mix of everything: cardio, strength training, upper body, lower body, you name it.

    Some of the stations had equipment for the exercise. One didn't and I realized that's the one you will hate the most because it means you're doing horrible stuff like planks, Mountainclimbers, some insane move in which you're on the ground balancing off the ground on one arm and, hell, I don't remember, except it wasn't fun.

    Did you ever watch a show like The Biggest Loser and watch Bob or Jillian (most likely, Jillian) holler at a contestant, telling them to step it up. And you're sitting on the couch, drinking a Diet Coke and wondering why that person isn't pushing harder? I do. I'll sit there and wonder why they're not giving it more. Today I realize why: They're friggin' exhausted.

    At one point I was near the end of the circuit and the exercise was punching the concrete wall wearing boxing gloves. I've seen them do this on Biggest Loser and other shows. That looks easy. And fun! I'm going to crush that. Um, by that station I was exhausted. My punches were so pathetic, my arms were tired and heavy, and I realized if I was watching myself on TV, I'd be all, "Why is she dogging it?!?" LOL, payback is a bitch.

    So, yes, it was a challenging predawn extravaganza, but sometimes going outside your comfort zone is what you need to really grow and go further than you ever have before. Three months ago I stepped on a treadmill and after running 60 seconds was sucking wind dangerously hard. Now, just 12 weeks later, I can run 35-40 minutes safely for a great workout. Running was definitely outside my comfort zone. And, insanely, now running looks like the "easy" workout.

    If my workout today was a DVD I could do at home, I would have FF'd through half of it. Going to the gym and being with other people and a trainer forced me to move outside my comfort zone and try - at least try. Some things I did well. Most I didn't, but that's OK. Everyone has a first day. I loved being moved outside that comfort zone because it forced my hand. If left to my own devices, I'd do only what I knew I could do.

    I can only imagine where I'll be in 6 months. I will have Batman-like strength and fitness.

    After cool down stretches I sat up. The trainer (who, by the way, was great) walked by and said, "Are you OK?"

    "I'm great."

    And I meant it.