Friday, March 30, 2012

In which it's my 1-year anniversary at bootcamp

Two weeks before I started bootcamp (left), 54 weeks later (right).

A little over a year ago, my friend Deb said, "You should come to bootcamp!"

We were sitting in her kitchen talking about this and that, and the conversation eventually came around to weight loss and exercise. At that point, I had lost around 70 lbs and was in the middle of the Couch to 5K program.

Deb had been going to bootcamp for 2 years and raved about it. "It's hard," she said, "but it's worth it."

I greatly valued her opinion because neither one of us were jocks. Plus, I knew she had a bad back. If she could do it, enjoy it and keep going back for more, maybe I could, too.

I had been watching Biggest Loser and I was intrigued by the bootcamp/trainer idea. I didn't want to get yelled at, but I wanted the results and expertise, and I knew I had to start toning up.

I hated (and still do hate) free weights and I knew I could not self-motivate in the gym to regularly get through a Nautilus circuit. Plus, you know, I didn't know what the hell I was doing.

I really started to think about joining her at bootcamp. I told myself that if I could make classes in my very limited availability, then it was meant to be and I would give it a go. Well, what do you know, I could actually make the classes. Maybe this would work after all.

"The only thing is," Deb cautioned, "you get addicted."

Pffft, as if.

I contacted Paul, the owner and lead trainer (right), about signing up and the rest is, seriously, the very best thing I have ever done for myself.

I distinctly remember walking into my first class. It was Friday, April 1 - fittingly, April Fool's Day - and it was snowing. A lot. So much so I wondered if class was on.

I was super nervous about my first class. I was an overweight world-class gym class hater in high school and here I was, still overweight and paying money to attend what was like an adult gym class. What was I thinking?

I was so tempted to bail due to the weather and my rampaging nerves, but I sucked it up and just kept thinking, OK, Deb does this. She would not set me up for something bad.

So I walked in, made it through class and never stopped coming back.

I have written about bootcamp - a lot - so I won't revisit everything, but feel free to peruse, it's all pretty good stuff, if I do say so myself.

I will say it took me about a month to get over being nervous before every class. But every class I did, I got a little more confident. There was no yelling, just encouragement and quiet form correction, and no other campers were paying attention to me because they were just trying to get through the circuit themselves.

One great thing about bootcamp is there is still so much to learn, so much more at which I can get better, faster and stronger. Just when I think I'm awesome, I'll get some crazy upper body circuit that leaves me so sore that I wince when I put on my bra the next morning. Or intervals, like this morning, when I started sucking wind after the first exercise and didn't stop until after cool down.

Or the humbling times, like two days ago when I was slamming the medicine ball repeatedly in the ground, took my eyes off it and it bounced straight up and hit me in the business. Eight pounds, right to the groin. Thankfully (or not), only Paul and I witnessed it. Too bad he wasn't taping it, we could have made some cash on America's Funniest Home Videos.

Or this morning, when I went to do rows with tubing that is secured to the wall. Except instead of going to the secure tubing I went to the wall where it hangs unsecured and just kept ripping tubing after tubing off the rack, wondering how the hell I all of a sudden was as strong as the Hulk. I may be smaller, but still occasionally just as dim.

When I was overweight, I lived in a world of self-imposed can't.

I can't do that because:

I am too fat.

I will look silly.

I will fail.

I will embarrass myself.

Bootcamp has shown me through sweat (no blood or tears) that I can.

The leaps and bounds I have made in my physical development have been exceeded only by my gains in self-confidence and self-esteem.

I could then and I can now. All you've got to do is try. It's a lesson that took me 40 years to learn, and one I want to pass onto my children much, much sooner.

Monday, March 26, 2012

In which I don't want to be thin

All my life I wanted to be thin. Skinny, slender, you name it.

But I was running recently, trying to think about anything other than running and my thoughts wandered to the word "thin" and how I always assumed thin people were fit.

I've realized over the past year that is not the case.

I've seen plenty of thin people in bootcamp, bent over sucking wind while heavier people continue hopping, jumping, pushing up or what have you.

I've run races in which I've breezed by trim people puking in the bushes or being attended to by medical personnel.

"Thin" doesn't always equal "fit" or "strong."

I caught my reflection in the mirror the other day. I had my hair pulled back under a baseball cap (Hint: If I'm wearing a baseball cap, I haven't done my hair, which means I haven't showered. Fair warning). What I saw took me by surprise. My face was all angles. I had one chin - weak, for sure, but only one. My skin looked streamlined, not inflated and doughy like it used to, my features and cheekbones pronounced.

All I could think was, "I look strong." And, also, "I need a shower."

Plenty of people lovingly call me thin and I would never turn down the compliment. But I'd rather be called "strong" or "fit" because that's where the rubber meets the road - at least on the road or in the gym.

When I started working out, like running or bootcamp (stuff outside my comfort zone) I was petrified of being embarrassed or standing out because when you're overweight, all you want to do is blend in, hide in the background.

But I quickly realized: No one was paying attention to me, but me. When it's 6 am and you're hoping on and off a box or pushing a metal weighted sled up and down the gym, frankly you don't give a shit about anything else but getting through the next 60 seconds until the damn bell rings.

When you're in the gym on a treadmill, you just want the boring miles to pass as quickly as possible - and, if you're me, not fall off said treadmill and hopefully find a Law & Order episode on the TV. Trust me.

If you're holding back from trying something because you're worried someone will think ill of you or you may embarrass yourself, I can tell you, don't worry. If anything, the trainers and your fellow classmates want nothing but to see you succeed. Because it means someone else is as crazy as they are: Another soul who could be sleeping in but is busting hump trying to get fit - not thin.

The best thing I ever did fitness-wise is gently, tentatively step outside my comfort zone. The more I tried, the more I could do and the larger that comfort zone got. The braver, stronger, more confident and kick-ass I got. And humble, let's not forget that.

If there's something you've been dying to try, fitness or otherwise, dip your toe in the water. Do some research on what you need (time, money, equipment, experts, a class) to try what you want and go for it.

It may not be your cup of tea, or it may be the best thing you've ever done. Either way, it's a victory, and who can't use another one of those?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

In which there are surprises in my drawers

If you're like me, the minute you read "drawers" you thought "pants" and laughed to yourself as if you were 12.

However, I meant "drawers" as in "where you keep your clothes." Interesting side note, "drawers" is one word I absolutely cannot pronounce due to a lifetime of living in New England and my natural aversion to the letter "r". If I try to say it correctly, I sound like I'm having a stroke.

Regardless, this week like most of the country we here in Massachusetts have been enjoying unseasonably, wonderfully warm summer weather. March to July, boom, just like that.

Needless to say I didn't have any of my summer clothes readily accessible, so I was digging around in my drahs for T-shirts, light jackets, capris and the like, all of which I haven't worn since last fall.

On Tuesday I dug out a cute knit zip-up hoodie from LL Bean. I put it on, zipped it up and thought, Didn't this use to be much tighter? This must be a Large. Wow, it's big.

When I shed it later that day I checked the tag. It's a Medium. Damn, I am way smaller.

What's really interesting is that since last fall, my scale has stayed in the same 5-lb range, so numbers-wise, nothing has really changed. But, body-wise? Thanks to bootcamp, my upper body is suddenly much smaller than it used to be.

You hear it all the time: "It's not just the scale." And it's true, especially when you get down to a healthy weight range where your body is happy. At some point, your body will be like, "Nuh-uh. I am done losing weight. I ain't movin'."

At this stage of the game, the numbers on the scale may not move like they used to, but the numbers on your clothes still can. There are victories still to be won. This is also where strength training is so key - not just for your physical health, but your mental health, as well.

However you do it, strength training builds strong, healthy, lean bodies. And the mental lift you get from wearing smaller clothes is a big ego stroke and mood enhancer.

Later in the week, I dug out some T-shirts that were, shall we say, "snug", when I last tried them on in the fall. They were in the bottom of the drah, the "Well, I Don't Like How They Fit Now But I Don't Want To Donate Them Yet" category. But I needed Ts because I was behind (again/still) on laundry. I tried them on and, what do you know, now they're loose and comfortable.

Previous to the past 18 months, my drawers usually only held bad surprises. They were full of clothes that barely fit or were too tight. Now, a season later, I can pull out anything, everything and it fits or, worse, is too big.

Nice problem to have.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Food Of The Day: Quinoa

I believe I am the last veggie on earth to get into quinoa.

I've been hearing about it for a year now, as much as I heard about kale chips. I've had a box of quinoa in the pantry for months, but I never got around to making it. I think I was relatively intimidated by the fact I have historically stunk at making rice (I always seem to burn it even though I follow the directions) and quinoa is in the same ballpark.

However, I finally made a plan to try it and I am very happy I did. It's delicious, fluffy, light and tastes nuttier than rice. And it came out perfectly on the stovetop.

Last night I had a bowl (240g cooked, 5 Points Plus) with some baked almond feta, lemon juice and a little kosher salt. So good. 240g is a lot of quinoa, another reason to keep using your food scale.

Today I was jonesing for a light stir fry, so I went to the store and nabbed some carrots, red pepper, peas, zuchinni and scallions. I put 2t olive oil in my wok and stir fried the veg until they were crisp/tender. Gorgeous.

Then I added the 240g of cooked leftover quinoa from last night and heated it all up in the wok. I added a little lemon juice and a touch of kosher salt. Delicious and crazy filling, just what I needed on a day when I was low on Points and high on a need for being full as long as possible.

The 1c of quinoa and the mountain of vegetables made a ridiculous amount of food. Almost embarrassing. Almost.

I can see why quinoa is such a hot topic among foodies and vegetarians/vegans. It's so versatile. A friend asked, "What else can you do with it?"

I answered: "I think it's easier to list what you can't."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Recipe: Baked Almond 'Feta'

I'm going vegan.

I can almost hear the noise in your head, like a needle being pulled across a record: "What? Didn't you just go vegetarian?"

Yes and no. I finally got around to posting about it, but I actually went veg months ago.

Regardless, that is all a post for another day and I swear I will get around to it sooner than later.

Anyway, I've been scoping out vegan recipes and I admit the one thing I was having an issue parting with was feta cheese.

Then I stumbled upon this wonderful blog and this recipe for Baked Almond "Feta."

Could it be good, like real feta? I was game to try.

I got to do all sorts of new things while making this. I blanched almonds. Then I had to peel the skins off, which was kind of a PITA.

Then I got to buy and use cheesecloth for the first time. It's not as exciting as the last sentence makes it sound.

The mixture has to drain in the cheesecloth overnight (or at least 12 hours) so it's not a recipe you can whip up in an afternoon. But it is worth it.

My kitchen smelled insane when it was baking and when it came out of the oven it was golden brown and gorgeous. I measured out a half-ounce and, wow, it was really, really good.

How do almonds, salt, water, lemon juice, garlic and oil end up tasting like cheese? Damned if I know. The only bummer is it's very Points-y if you're a Weight Watcher.

Here's my math on the Points. I am terrible at math, so if I made an error, let me know. I ran the recipe through Recipe Builder and it came out to 47 Points for the whole thing. I will say, blowing my Weekly Points Allowance on this big ball of awesome crossed my mind, it is that good.

I weighed the cheese when it was out of the oven and it was 255g. A typical serving of regular feta is 1oz (28g), which means there were 9 servings in this recipe. 47 Points Plus divided by 9 servings is 5.2 Points Plus - I round down, so 5.

Regular feta is 2 Points Plus for 28g, so that's double, hence the half-ounce I tried. It was really good and if I need to veganize a recipe that calls for feta, I would definitely use this and adjust the Points accordingly. But, when it comes to, say, adding it in a salad, I could live with 14g for 2.5 Points Plus. It is very good.

After draining overnight in the not-exciting cheesecloth:

After coming out of the oven. The horizontal lines are where I smushed the ball with a fork to flatten it out before baking. Looking at Lee's picture on her post now, I realize she baked it as a ball. It looked much better her way, follow her lead. The picture at the top of this post is the feta after I crumbled it up.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In which I (finally) like a race photo

Lotta "finallys" this week.

Anyway, when you run a big race, there is usually a race photographer who takes your picture as you head toward and/or cross the finish line.

A few days later you get an email with the proof, urging you to buy a poster-size print of the exact moment you looked like you were stroking out. Or, at least, what I usually look like. Exhibits A-K.

So when I got the email last week, I opened it with my usual low expectations, but what do you know, I kinda like this picture.

Even though I look like a dude thanks to the hat, I also look like I am actually running, not quickly shuffling, and that I know what I am doing.


Putting them side by side from last year's race, nice apple-to-apples glance. But, two things stand out the most:

1. I have apparently the exact same exhale face.

2. Look at the difference in my legs year over year. Thank you, bootcamp and running.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

In which I (finally) come around on oatmeal

I swear, I may be the last veteran Weight Watcher on earth to finally get into oatmeal.

It's not that I didn't like it, but rather I didn't think it was worth 4 Points Plus for 1 cup. So many of my successful WW friends are big oatmeal fans, but I could never get over my perceived bias of the portion-Point ratio.

However, these days low on Points and high on a need for satiety, I decided to reconsider good, 'ol steel cut oats, the breakfast (or whenever) of champions.

I bought a bag of Bob's Red Mill and cooked it up. But before I got out my trusty stainless steel dry measuring cup, I headed for eTools and looked up oatmeal to see how many grams were in a 1-cup serving. Why dirty the measuring cup when I can measure it right into my serving bowl?

According to eTools, 1C of oatmeal is 234g. I got my cooked oatmeal and put in 234g. Wow, that is way more oatmeal than I envisioned via the measuring cup.

This proves two things:

1. Once again, weighing and measuring your food is the way to go.

2. I can always learn something new.

I added a little agave nature sweetener and bulked the whole thing up with 0-Point blueberries and strawberries, some White Chia seeds and tucked in. It was excellent and, even better, kept me full for hours.

Now, I get it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

'Like' this Loser on Facebook

I set up a Facebook page for this blog and realized that many of you coming here may not know it exists.


Anyway, if you enjoy reading this, head over and Like the page. New updates and other small stuff I like (but often can't find the time to blog fully about: news, studies, products, playlist suggestions, etc.) will pop up in your timeline.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

In which I start my modeling career

A few weeks ago, I was asked to take part in a cool event at my Weight Watchers center: a fashion show.

A joint venture with Coldwater Creek, the afternoon would feature Weight Watchers members in various stages of their weight loss and how one can dress well regardless of where you're at in the process.

Before I went in to pick out an outfit, I had never stepped in a Coldwater Creek store. Frankly, I figured they wouldn't have anything in my size. Well, it turns out they do. In fact, they offer clothes up to Size 20.

I met Gail, the Coldwater employee who would be speaking at the event.

"What colors or styles don't you like?" she asked.

I told her I was open to pretty much anything: "You're the expert and I've never been very fashion-savvy. Pick something you think will look good."

Gail returned with an ankle-length reversible (hey there!) skirt, cardigan and shell. "Try these. I got you a Medium for the skirt. I think you may need a Small."

Oh, Gail, I love you.

The Medium fit just fine and I ended up with the outfit you see in the photos. I stepped out of the dressing room and Gail was very complimentary. She turned to an associate and said: "That skirt is perfect. She's tall and has no hips."

Seriously, Gail, run away with me.

The day of the event, Gail & Co. brought the outfits to the Center. We changed and then one by one she brought out "the talent" (I refused to answer to anything other than "the model" or "the talent"). She explained why she picked our outfits and how different cuts and styles flatter varying shapes and sizes.

After what was really a pretty interesting tutorial, each model (thankyou) got to share her story. I, of course, brought out my old pants - 3x LL Bean chinos. It's always a fun visual.

I gotta admit, I suffer from a bit of body dysmorphia. When I look at myself in pictures or in the mirror, I think I still look wider than I should at this stage of the game.

However, this picture - this picture - I really love it. It's probably one of the best pictures of me I've seen because it reflects how I think I should look: one long, straight, thin line.

And, bonus, my hair looks fabulous. And my head is angled justso, therefore my insanely weak chin (thanks, Dad) doesn't detract from my nonexistant profile.

I got a great compliment this weekend from another member. She was at the event and just made goal. As a gift to herself, she bought the outfit I wore: "I loved it. You looked amazing."

I certainly felt that way, that's for sure.

Below are my fellow models, Jami, Becca and Amy, whose husband took the great pictures. A big thank-you.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

In which I become a vegetarian

In January, I just happened to sneak the fact I'd gone vegetarian into a post.

I wasn't trying to hide anything, the true point of the post was the recipe, not my lifestyle change. I intended to expand more on going veg, but never got fully around to it.

Until now.

If you asked me a year ago, "Would you ever go vegetarian?", I would have said, "No." ("Ha, ha!" replied the universe.)

At the time, such a move seemed restrictive, unappealing and unnecessary.

But as 2011 came to a close and I started thinking about what I eat (and reviewing my food journals, thank you, Weight Watchers), I realized I hardly ever ate meat, maybe once a week.

I was bored with my current food lineup and I needed a new challenge for the new year, something to get excited about.

The idea of no longer eating animal protein popped into my head and seemed like a good one. What once seemed restrictive, now seemed interesting and worth pursuing.

I could say I became a vegetarian because I am against animal cruelty and all that nasty jazz that goes on in slaughterhouses. Which I am. However, to be honest, I was a person who up until Jan. 1 would have no problem eating veal (it is yummy), so that'd be disingenuous.

I could say it's because of all the crap they put in/use to process meat, which is nasty and gross. And it is. But I fully believe just living in the 21st century we're exposed to so much horrible crap, we'd have to live in a bubble if we didn't want to be exposed to any of it, so one more carcinogen or whatever the hell they use in the processing/rendering process wouldn't kill me any quicker than I'm already going. I mean, I still drink Diet Coke and that has formaldehyde in it for God's sake.

No, the reason I went veg is three-fold:

1. I was bored.

2. I'm too lazy to cook meat in the winter (too lazy to grill in 30-degree weather).

3. I feel my body runs more efficiently without animal protein.

Seriously, isn't #1 the worst reason ever? But I was somewhat bored with my food choices, and I thought sticking to F&V only would be a good way to mix it up. I think it's pretty funny (and telling) that the numerous health benefits had zero to do with my decision.

This is all personal preference, surely. Your mileage may vary. Always feel free to order a burger when we're out to lunch, I would never tell you how or what to eat, that's not my style.

I knew embracing a vegetarian lifestyle would encourage me to try new fruits and vegetables and new recipes. One of the things I'm realizing about weight maintenance: You have to keep it exciting and fresh when it comes to eating and activity. Get bored and, all of a sudden, going back to the bad, old ways doesn't seem like such a terrible idea.

After making the decision to go veg, I happened to catch the documentary Forks Over Knives (on Netflix, if you have it), which was very thought-provoking.

What I liked about FOK (hee) is it didn't scream at you about switching your lifestyle. There were no scare tactics, horrid crime-scene slaughterhouse photos or guilt, etc. It simply stated, "The more (or all) plant-based you go, the better off you'll be." Then it backed its theory up with research. Nicely done.

Since going veg I realized that I don't eat any differently than I did 95% of the time. It wasn't a big adjustment because apparently I rarely ate meat as it was.

It has been an adjustment going dining out and remembering to check in, say, random products for meat. For example, once I was offered bacon ranch salad dressing as a choice. Dressing is one of those foods I don't enjoy low-fat. I'd rather fork-dip the real deal and have a little than more of something unleaded.

Anyway, I was going to go for the bacon ranch (love ranch), when one of my friends reminded me, "That's got bacon in it."

Oh, yeah. Thanks. At this point, I'm actually concerned if I ate meat. I'm worried I'd be in some, um, gastrointestinal distress if I do.

What I've Learned So Far

Vegetarian doesn't meant low-Point.

I knew this going in. Rice, grains and beans are staples of a vegetarian diet, and they are not Points bargains in the Weight Watchers world. However, they are healthy and promote greater satiety, so they are worth it. But don't go veg thinking you'll have all these leftover Points to spend. I still have an equally difficult time stretching my Points budget now as I did when I ate meat.

Vegetarian doesn't automatically mean healthy.

You can still eat poorly if you choose. I remember a person in my Weight Watchers meeting who called herself a "junk food vegetarian." She didn't eat meat, but was still overweight because she didn't make healthy choices. I could easily, completely eat like crap without eating meat.

Being a vegetarian doesn't make weight maintenance any easier.

It doesn't make it harder, either, but I could still go off the rails eating a host of non-meat foods in large amounts (hello pizza, ice cream, pasta, baked goods).

I'm still adjusting a bit to my new identity. I have a meeting coming up and the organizer asked if I had any special dietary concerns. I replied, "I'm a vegetarian." That was the first time I ever typed that. Seemed pretty real.

I've had people kindly question why, whether I was depriving myself, punishing myself or feeling I had to do this to maintain my loss.

No to all three. Do I miss meat? Truly, I don't. If I did, you can be sure I'd go back to eating it because depravation brings bad juju. I also don't see it as trying to do something I think I should do to maintain my weight. I know I could maintain if I chose to eat meat.

The truth is, basically, this seemed like a good idea at the time. It's still a good idea and I'm a pretty happy herbivore. And, bonus, I know the correct pronunciation of "quinoa." Hint, it's not: Kwee-no-ah.

Friday, March 16, 2012

In which I ponder my thighs

I was supervising my youngest's bath/prune stewing, sitting on a stool out of splashdown range.

I glanced down at my jean-clad legs and thought: "Wow, my thighs look thin."

Then I realized: "Damn, I have never, ever thought that before in my life."

It's Non-Scale Victories like this that help you keep the train a rollin'.

We put a lot of emphasis on the scale, but it's really important to continue to remember it's about a whole lot more than three digits.

Make sure you remind me of this next time I'm bitching about the scale.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review: Zaggora Hot Pants

If you've been reading this blog with hopes that one day I would post a photo of myself in my sports bra, well, today is your lucky day, my friend.

That picture is below. But, first, some background. And a nifty picture of me, post-bootcamp. Check out how great my hair looked after that hard circuit. Wow. Go me.

So, last December, Flo bought a Groupon for a pair of Zaggora Hot Pants. I was immediately intrigued because of the name: Hot Pants. How awesome.

I had sudden visions of women roller-discoing down Venice Beach wearing those those shiny, skin-tight '70s pants, tube tops and giant radio headphones with antennas.

Zaggora claims you can lose significant inches around your midsection just by wearing these pants while you workout. Flo said they functioned as a great "sports girdle." Pretty sure she did not test the earlier claim, I know I would have heard about that if she did and it actually worked.

What intrigued me most was the sports girdle concept because I really needed one. When there's repetitive hopping in bootcamp, such as jumping jacks (which there are every class), the significant only-surgery-will-get-rid-of-it flab around my midsection goes flap-a-flap-a-flap. It's embarrassing and uncomfortable. I discovered this sad phenomena last spring and quickly devised a solution.

I started wearing a one-size-too-small tank top under my T-shirt. This MacGyver girdle kept my stomach from slapping against itself during class. However, wearing two shirts to bootcamp is hot and relatively uncomfortable, which is why when the Hot Pants Groupon popped up again this January, I bought a pair.

I've been wearing them - and washing them - by hand, thank you very much - 3x a week since early January and here's what I've found: They are a terrific sports girdle.

When they arrived, I opened the mailer and was immediately overcome by the smell of rubber. As in, a tire. As in, these are rubber pants, people. Or, rubber-like. (The rubber smell goes away after you wash them.)

I tried them on. They were thick and seemed to be made of a wetsuit-type material. I pulled them on and they landed just below my breastbone. Perfect. See the porn-y, pervy bootcamp bathroom shot on the left.

(As an aside, I feel like I need to explain that I don't usually go around taking pictures of myself in bathrooms with my shirt up. Reason I did it is I wanted you to see how high these suckers go - and that's a good thing. Between my industrial-strength Enell bra and the Hot Pants I have, like, an inch of skin showing. Why the bootcamp bathroom? Because the mirror was at the right height and it had perfect lighting) I know I look like some total Twitter perv snapping a pic of his junk. I'm pretty sure no one's gonna get all sexed up over a picture of me in the least-sexiest (but most-effective) bra ever, holding up the least-sexiest breasts ever, atop the the least-sexiest pants ever. I mean, I hope not. Anyway...)

Not-too-tight and not-too-loose, these pants really do the trick for bootcamp. And, much like C+C Music Factory, these pants are gonna make you sweat. Loads.

I'm not an insane sweat-er, but after my first bootcamp class sweat was literally running down my legs and heading into my Vibrams. Eeewww. Not a great sensation. But I guess that's to be expected because if you're running, jumping and hopping around for a half-hour in half-a-wet suit, you will be, let's say, damp.

I'm used to working out in tights, but this is different because those are lightweight and wicking. The Hot Pants are not. When you peel them off (and you are peeling them off), the pants are wet and your bod is wet. Seriously, you will be so excited for a shower. And if you, say, get in a car and drive while wearing them after a class, make sure you're sitting on a beach towel.

Another thing I dislike is at the bottom of the left pant leg it screams: "HOT PANTS" in neon yellow, you can see it in the pervy pic above. The logo's too big, even though I love saying "Hot Pants."

So, in review: These pants will hold you in place comfortably if you need extra support below your breasts and above your groin. They were a good deal with the Groupon, $29 I think. Full-price I think they're north of $70. No way would I pay that I'd stick with the $10 tight tank from Target (say that three times fast).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In which I enjoy sexy fruit salad

Who has two thumbs and eats fruit salad out of a mixing bowl?

This gal.

Is it wrong that this fruit salad turned me on a tad? It was very good.

Under the old Points program, I hated "wasting" Points on fruits & veg because WW wanted you to have five servings a day, which usually meant 5 Points spent on F&V. Five! Points! I can tell you, I rarely got to five.

Fast forward to November 2010, when Points Plus rolled out. I distinctly remember heading out for errands one day. I would not be back at the house for a few hours. Normally, I'd grab a Fiber One bar or something to tide me over. But then I remember: "Wait, fruit is free! 0 Points!"

I grabbed an apple as a snack and remember thinking: "I am 40 and have never grabbed an apple as a snack before in my life."

That was a big turning point.

Thanks to Points Plus I've been exposed to - and enjoyed - far more fruits and vegetables than I ever had in my previous 40 years. This means I have a ridiculous amount of fruits and veg on hand, which in turn leads my kids to naturally snacking on fruit more than ever.

Sure, they still eat a lot of crap, but they're kids. Veg? That's a bigger hill to climb, we'll get there. Because if I can turn into a major fruit-and-veg lover - a vegetarian, no less - there's hope for anyone.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

In which I talk myself into a good decision

I swear, 99% of my weight-loss/maintenance life is talking myself out of a bad decision and into a better one.

With food, it's almost always the "I want this, but I'm not hungry and don't need it" variety. If I want something - and am hungry - I will have it. I won't deprive myself. However, head hunger is a far tricker foe.

I have these self-dialogues regarding activity, too. For example, this very morning, a designated run day. I got up at 5:30 am, it was pitch black and raining. I ate my breakfast and read the newspaper, listening to the rain hitting the skylights.

When it came time to think about changing, I heard that voice in my head and that set off a mental conversation that went something like this:

"You don't have to run this morning."

Yes, I do. I have a half-marathon in 7 weeks for which I am already behind in my training.

"But, it's raining out."

I have water-repellant clothes. My watch is waterproof and there's a pocket for my Nano, so there will be none of this business.

"Well, it's still dark out."

*checks iPad*

Sunrise is 7:04 am. I have reflective gear. I will not get killed or eaten by a coyote.

"You could run tonight after Keith gets home."

I could, but it would hang over me all day and I will be pissed off all day knowing I should have and could have run this morning instead of wimping out and having to go out later, when I am more tired than I am now. Plus, if I run this morning, I get to eat a bowl of cereal right now to carbo load.

"Wait, there's cereal? What are we waiting for? Let's go."

So I ate my cereal, got dressed, warmed up and headed out. Yes, it rained the whole 3 miles, but I was pretty dry and the temperatures were good (45), so I was not cold. In fact, wearing the light waterproof jacket left me pretty darn hot.

But here's the kicker, while running all of a sudden I remembered: I really like running in the rain. It's the getting-out-there that's the tough part.

Eleanor Roosevelt said something like: "The easiest person to fool is yourself." That is definitely true in my case, sadly before, during and currently after my weight loss.

I'm annoyed I still try to play tricks on myself, but I'm glad I'm getting stronger that fighting them.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Recipe: Easy Crustless Spinach-Feta Pie

There's a reason I am a very lazy vegetarian.

I enjoy cooking, but trying to cook with the kids awake takes three times as long. And, since I don't prefer a European dining schedule of 9 pm on, I haven't been cooking much.

However, Flo posted a link to this crustless (read: low-Point) spinach-feta pie and it looked easy and delicious - two winners in my book.

Got the ingredients today and eventually ("Mom, I need..." "I can't find..." "I want..." "I gotta poop...") got it in the oven.

Look at this gorgeousness of the spinach, herbs and feta before you add in the egg and flour mixture:

Three notes:

  • Where the hell can I find Bob's Red Mill White Whole Wheat Flour? I searched two large grocery stores and found every other obscure type of Bob's product, including: "Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Organic Gluten-Free Buckwheat Steel Cut Biscuit Mix For Sundays in March." If you've ever searched Bob's offerings, that is a very funny joke. On Flo's advice I subbed in King Arthur's White Whole Wheat, but the smallest size was a 5lb bag, so I guess I'll be making this pie quite often.

  • I bought the smallest bunch of fresh dill I could find and I've now got enough to last me through 2013. If you're in Central Massachusetts and need some fresh dill, I'm your gal.

  • The "hardest" part of this recipe is getting all the moisture out of the thawed spinach. Especially when you had three kids sitting at the kitchen island, watching you do it, and providing unrequested color commentary: "Eeewww. What's that?"

    Regardless, this recipe was easy and really, really good. Gina says to cut it into 6 to 8 servings and if you can eat that little you're a better person than I, Gunga Din. I quartered the pie and called it 5 Points Plus per serving. Totally worth it.

    You'll be impressed that I considered adding kale, but abstained.
  • Race Report: Celtic 5K 2012

    As I stood at the race start yesterday I spied a cool shirt just up ahead.

    Runners are a weird, creative lot and one of the fun things about racing is there are a lot of funny shirts on display. This one wasn't so much funny, as it was spot on:

    "Running is a privilege. Every step is a gift."

    As I waited to start my first race of 2012, I knew that was very, very true.

    In November 2011, I hurt my back and, subsequently my right gluteus medius, which forced me to take two months off running (December 2011 and January 2012).

    I started easing back in on Feb. 2, unsure how - or if - my back and glute would hold up. I stated a run-walk rehab regimen, which eventually led me to a 4-mile run last Sunday. I, thankfully, could run again.

    I was dying to run the Celtic 5K this year because this very race last year was my first. I should not have run that race last year. I knew it was a bad idea at the time, but I did it anyway because, well, I was stupid.

    However, that inauspicious start led to a nice running season in 2011, in which I completed 10 more races. I trained a lot. I ran a lot. I learned a lot. But what I learned most of all was I really loved racing.

    Training? A necessary evil. It's boring. You get up at the crack of dawn to run around in the dark, cold, hot or wet. The only one pushing you is you, and that gets old quickly.

    However, racing is the payoff. A fun day of excitement and camaraderie. You get a cool shirt. You get a bagel and banana (you can have mine, I don't like them). And all the bottled water you can drink. My personal record: 8 bottles.

    Anyway, racing is great because it's exciting and it's a goal. To me, running without racing is like driving around in your car with no destination. Yawn.

    So yesterday I was thrilled to be back where I began. Last fall, before I got hurt, I was so excited for this race because I knew I could PR it because it's flat and fast. I knew a PR wasn't in the cards yesterday, I just wanted to run, feel good and enjoy the fact I was back one year later, still running.

    I met up with my domestic running life partner, Sandy, who has turned into an impressive runner herself. We've been friends for 15 years now (wow) and last year we both took up running.

    I love racing with her (or, behind her as she's faster than me) because it's so much fun to share the excitement and accomplishment with a friend, especially a good one. There's always someone to take your picture, hold your place in the port-a-potty line and watch your stuff.

    It was beautifully sunny yesterday, but windy, which made it feel a lot colder than the 42 degrees it was. Before I left the house, I needed to grab a sweatshirt or something to keep me warm before the race. But it had to be outwear I didn't care about, as I was leaving it at the start, and something nice would surely disappear before I came back in.

    I grabbed the only old thing I could find, a fleece. Size: Men's XL. Seriously, it was like wearing a Snuggie, but it did its job. As Sandy noted: "We could both fit in there."

    Warm in my fleece tent, we meandered around, of course hit the porta-a-potties and took pictures. We joke we only run so we can put stuff up on Facebook, and it's more true than not.

    Soon it was time to line up, Sandy headed for the 10-minute milers, I went back with the 12s, as I was still about 2 minutes off my year-end pace of 2011.

    It was a big race, around 2,000 runners and soon we were off. The air horn sounded and everyone began "Woooooo!"ing and shuffling toward the start line. There was a lot of traffic in the first half-mile, as expected, and I went out too fast. Adrenaline got the best of me. But I relaxed, settled in and listened to my Celtic playlist (see the bottom of this post).

    There was no marker or time clock at 1 mile or the turnaround, but by 2 miles there was the time: 21 and some change. Not bad. I had avoided looking at my Garmin the whole race as I was determined to just enjoy the experience and not try anything stupid.

    We hit the 3-mile mark and I could see the finish line in the distance. The gun time was nearly 29 minutes, not bad again, I thought.

    I sprinted the final tenth and crossed the line at 31:47, for a 10-and-some-change pace. I was really happy with the time, all things considered. Last year I finished the race in 47 minutes.

    I headed for the water table and soon spotted Sandy, who did PR, coming in at 28 and some change. We drank water, ate a piece of pizza (seriously, I need to eat more pizza) and gloried in our overall awesomeness. Because if there's one thing runners love, it's talking about running. Preferably with other runners.

    It had been quite a running year and, hopefully, the best is yet to come.

    The Celtic 5K Playlist

    Didn't need the last song. Woo!

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    In which I may be addicted to kale

    I was sitting on the couch this afternoon, reading my iPad and snacking out of a bag of raw kale.

    Eyes on the screen, my kids yammering and wandering about, my right hand hopping in and out of the bag, snatching up bits of leafy greens and mindlessly popping them into my mouth.

    My husband walked in and asked, calmly, "Are you addicted to kale?"

    After chewing and swallowing, my mouth opened to dismiss his joke: "Of course not. You're cra-"

    And then I thought, Damn, I do like it a lot.

    My new favorite salad is above, a large bowl of raw spinach and kale, mixed with 30g feta (2 Points+) and 2 Eggsland's Best medium hardboiled eggs (1 Points+ each). No dressing. I tried it with dressing and it overpowered the taste of the egg and cheese. And, you know, the greens.

    The good news: The salad is tasty and super healthy. The bad news: No one is lining up to kiss me after lunch.

    It's funny, I've never been a huge salad junkie because I was never really a big lettuce person. But this spinach-and-kale thing? I can get into that.

    I will say one thing: Kale is not everyone's bag. I've had some friends try it. Some think it's great, others think I'm high ("It's like I tore a hunk off my lawn and put it in my mouth!"). I believe it's either a "You love it or you hate it" thing.

    I know my family is less-than-thrilled with my kale love. My daughter reported that yesterday she informed her kindergarten teacher: 'MY MOM EATS A LOT OF KALE AND IT SMELLS!" Thankfully, I don't have any more parent-teacher conferences scheduled.

    In other news, I totally want this shirt.

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    In which loved ones worry about me

    Twice in the last two months I've had Very Serious Talks with loved ones.

    Or, rather, one-sided, well-intentioned declarations from them.

    In both cases, I hadn't seen either person face-to-face in about 2-3 months.

    Both times, the person sidled up to me and quietly said, "Are you still trying to lose weight? You need to stop losing weight!"

    To which, in my usual eloquence, I replied, "Huh?"

    "You're smaller than the last time I saw you. You should stop losing weight. You look great. You don't need to weigh any less."

    To be honest, their sincere concern/worry washed off them in waves and confused me. This was not a statement people have ever had to make to me, so it really caught me unaware, especially since I'm not trying to lose weight.

    Well, yeah, there's the 2-3 lbs up and down I bounce, but that's life. Hence, the title of this blog as I will, for the remainder of my life, always be losing a bit here and there.

    Anyway, once I caught my bearings I replied: "Honestly, I'm not trying to lose any more weight."

    "But you're smaller than the last time I saw you."

    Then it hit me. "Well, I do go to bootcamp. I strength train quite a bit, that's going to make me smaller."

    "Oh..." they both said with the realization. It was pretty funny as both conversations were almost identical. "Well, then, good job."

    So, a minute ago I was bordering on some mental illness weight-loss condition, but since it's bootcamp (which could also be called a mental illness, LOL) it's fine.

    All right then.