Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's the little things that make the best mornings

Jackie has a wonderful way of putting things into perspective for me. I think, even more than kicking my butt in the gym, this aspect of the trainer-trainee relationship is absolutely priceless.

This morning, I came clean about my behavior this month. She, of course, knew I'd been struggling with a plateau, and I told her that I had done pretty much nothing until a few days ago to start combatting the problem. In fact, I'd really been lazy and done my best to work against myself. So, I said, by Monday, my hope is to have lost 40 pounds so far. And I reminded her that our original goal was to have lost about 50 by now.

She said, "Forty pounds, that's still two pounds a week (this month.) That's healthy weight loss." She also said that 50 pounds is a lofty goal for three months. The weight comes on slow, and it needs to go off slow.

I know that's simple advice, but it really parted the clouds for me. I was like, "You're right. That is two pounds a week. Wow!" I mean, this isn't "The Biggest Loser." This is real life. I'm not forgetting my mistakes this month at all, but breaking it down in those terms really made me feel good about where I am.

To top it off, as we were leaving the weight room, we bumped into a girl I ALWAYS see at the gym. She and I are about the same size, and we always smile and say hi, but we've never chatted. So I stopped to ask her name this time. We introduced ourselves, and she said, "You've really lost a lot of weight. I can really tell." When your friends and family tell you that you look good, it feels great. But there's something a little bit extra special when a stranger says it, because they really don't have any reason to, so it feels more true some how. It absolutely made my morning.

So, smiling from ear to ear and knowing I had four more days until Monday (which is my month 3 weigh-in day), I decided to see where I'm at on the scale: 38 pounds lost so far. : ) I ran out of the locker room to find Jackie again and tell her the news. Only two pounds to lose in four days to be at a 40-pound loss.

Really, really good day. : )

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Foot update: Seriously, it's all good, people

The blog post on my foot injury was Feb. 13, six weeks ago, and it's still one of the top things people ask about. It must be because so very many people have dealt with plantar fasciitis: a painful inflammation of the thick, fibrous, connective tissue along the heel bone and sole of the foot, commonly associated with long periods of weight bearing.

So, I thought I would update everyone on the foot situation. Basically, it's fine. It really doesn't hurt that bad. And according to a nurse I spoke to, it probably isn't plantar fasciitis at all because my muscle and/or tendon ache is at the back of my heel, not the tissue under my foot. Maybe it is. I don't really know.

So far, it hasn't stood in the way of activity. It mostly just aches in the morning when I first step on it and also after I've been sitting for a long time. But when it gets warmed up, it's totally fine.

I actually forget about it until people start asking. Because in the meantime, many other muscle injuries have come and gone. My knee has acted up. My back had a spell where it didn't feel like working for me. It's all bound to happen when you've gone from sedentary to moderately active.

So, it's all good, folks. Thanks for the concern, but the foot's doing just fine.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Watch Jackie on TV!!

My trainer, Jackie Vroman, will be on TV in about 20 minutes! She's on the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. news today on KEYC TV giving fitness tips for spring/summer. Neat! If you missed it, watch the video here.

I got no time for pansies, so MOVE!

Monday morning I gave myself a pep talk, a la high school football coach tearing the kids a new one in the middle of a bad quarter. (Quarter, right? In football it's quarters? I'm improvising here. Shocking admission: I was not a jock in high school. I was on the naughty kid list, much more interested in having a great time doing bad things than joining anything. But then, I bet a lot of journalists fit that description.)

Anyway, I was sitting here at 6:30, still sort of wallowing in my diet rut and thinking about my last post that suggested April 1st would solve all of my motivation problems. Suddenly, I realized how stupid that sounds. And the internal ass-chewing commenced.

It went a little sumthin' like this ...

VOICE OF REASON: What the hell?

Me: Huh? Who ... what?

VOR: Listen, you're getting creamed out there. What's this about a cupcake and chocolate on Friday? What's this about skipping the gym on Sunday? And you're actually blaming a plateau on your lack of weight loss this month?

Me: Well ...

VOR: You're not doing anything to help yourself here. YOU are the problem. You're not pushing very hard at all. What are you gaining from sitting in that recliner and feeling sorry for yourself?

Me: Um ...

VOR: Get out your food journal. Instead of recording what you eat after the fact, write down exactly what you will eat today and stick to it. And after that, GET UP AND GO TO THE GYM. And while you're there, I want you to think about what more you could be doing to reach your goal. No more thinking about why you think your body is working against you. YOU are working against your body. Got it? I got no time for pansies, so MOVE!

Me: Actually, yeah. That makes sense. You're right! It's on, man. I've got this!

And that's exactly what I did. I even had a social engagement last night where fried foods and numerous alcoholic beverages were at my fingertips. I drank Diet Coke all night. What the what!?

I feel much better this week. Hopefully my inner coach will come out more often.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Excuses, excuses. I've got a million of 'em.

Well, I'm ready for this month to be over. I'm in the worst rut, and there's something about the first of a month to really refresh a situation. It's like a system reboot, a clean slate, a shot at renewal.

I have really sucked lately, to put it mildly. I'm not motivated. I've been stuck in a plateau and rather than invigorating me to really push harder, exercise more and eat lots more lean protein and veggies (and less carbs), I've just kind of coasted and felt crappy about it.

Then Friday, I had a small medical procedure (nothing serious), and so I was home in the afternoon feeling a little bit lousy, and so I used that as an excuse for a free day. I had a cupcake. I had chocolate. I ate popcorn. I vegged on the couch and watched movies. Barely moved all day. Saturday, to make up for it, I ate too little. Didn't exercise except for a dog-walk. And today, Sunday, I have absolutely no motivation to go to the gym. I ALWAYS go on Sunday. Always. I make sure I'm there right at 10 because the place fills up pretty fast on a weekend.

I don't know, I just feel a bit deflated. Kind of stuck. I would never, ever quit. I don't want anyone to worry about that. But I'm sort of in that place where I feel like making a great deal more progress requires an amount of effort I just don't want to put forward right now. It's hard to reconcile this because there's nothing I want more than to be thin and healthy, and yet, I'm willing to kind of sit back and coast and not do anything to get there.

I've been blaming the weather. I know it's an excuse. It really is. But I know that on that first 45-degree morning, I'm going to want desperately to get out there and enjoy it. And when I get off work, I'm totally going to want to take the dog for a long walk. So weather is part of it.

I'm told by the lovely Chikage Windler that April 1 and warm weather will coincide this year. So I'm really looking forward to that as my big refresher. I know I'll have to get on the scale for the month 3 mark and see what I DIDN'T do during the month of March. I'll be shocked if I've lost more than 35 pounds total, which would be a two-pound loss in a whole month. That will hurt a little. It'll feel like a lot of wasted time. But maybe that will help me feel re-motivated.

Until then, I sit here like a lump and drink coffee and wonder why, when rereading this very post and letting its truth sink in, I still can't bring myself to go to the gym this morning.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dear Spring, I can't wait for you much longer.

Dear Spring,

Why are you acting like we don't even know each other? Don't you remember the plans we made? Walks to work, long walks with the dog, hours-long trips to the park? You promised I'd be driving around town with the windows down. You encouraged me to unpack my short-sleeved shirts. You tempted me with ads for sandals. I painted my toenails a cute shade of pink in anticipation.

Spring, I don't mind telling you, you've let me down. It's pretty darn hard to stay motivated to drag my butt out of bed and head out into the wicked winds and icy streets to get to the gym. This time last year, you were so eager to be with me. Don't you remember? The tulips had emerged by mid-March. The snow was long gone. You pretty much told Winter to get lost at the end of February, and she was so afraid to come back, we didn't see her again until November.

I have no choice but to give you an ultimatum: Show yourself within a week, or I'm moving on. Florida, maybe. I'm told Summer lives there all year round. Until now, Summer didn't have my favor like you did. But I'll take him over Winter. You will have left me no choice.

With fond memories,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The dog is out-eating me

I think my dog is now consuming more calories per day than I am.

8 a.m.: Dog eats bowl of Beneful Playful Life. (What is that, like 350 calories maybe?)

8:45 a.m.: Dog won't come inside -- loves snow, that traitor -- so dog gets a Kraft Single as a means of luring her in. 50 calories.

Some time between 8:50 a.m. and noon: Dog digs through the trash, finds a pizza box from yesterday (not mine, so stop worrying about my diet), chews through the box and consumes two slices. 500 calories.

1 p.m.: Dog licks plates clean full of taco sauce, cheese and meat (again, mine didn't have cheese). 75 calories.

6 p.m.: Dog will eat another bowl of Beneful. 350 calories.

9 p.m.: Dog will inevitably have to be lured in with some sort of treat so I can lock up. 50 calories.

Grand total: 1,375 calories. The nickname Fattie Doughnut remains.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

At last, a reprieve!

After a weekend of feeling horribly deflated, I had a moment where the clouds parted. After a tough workout with Jackie, I braved the scale again, just to see, and it had budged. One pound. I'll take it! I'll take any movement in that direction at this point.

So yesterday I was feeling better about things. Less depressed. Focused again. Ready to hit veggies and lean proteins really hard to help break out of my plateau.

I was feeling so good, I thought, well, I'll just pick through a pile of my favorite old clothes and see if I can get into anything yet. I found my favorite shirt. The one I used to wear once a week without fail because the beadwork is so pretty, and the bell sleeves are so flattering. And I was so sad when my tush made it impossible to pull it off any longer.

It fits! My God, it actually fits.

The last time this happened, I resisted the urge to post a picture. I didn't want to be all, "Look at me! Look at me!" Because I still have a long way to go, of course. But today, what the hell, LOOK AT ME! HURRAY! HURRAY! (Ignore the no makeup and messy hair, if you would please. It's early a.m. in this camera phone pic.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Diet Depression has settled in, hard core

A candy binge in the middle of an inexorable plateau, and yet, I'm still surprised to see my weight hasn't budged.

Diet Depression has set in. Officially, I'm losing hope.

I looked around at many of the women in the gym today, fit, toned, sizes 2-6. These are the kind of women who don't just workout an hour in the mornings and call it good. They're active all day. They get home from the gym and walk their kids to school. They jog with the dog at lunch. They take a family walk after dinner. They clean up the house before bed. They run 5Ks on the weekend.

That's not me. My weekends are for hours upon hours of HGTV. Relaxation.

If this whole thing is about a "lifestyle change," then it has to be enjoyable. It has to be a change I want and can sustain. The above gym-lady scenario with all the walking and jogging and 5Ks? I don't want that. That's just not me.

I'm not going to do this, but do you see now, skinny people? All you born-thin girls who think, "I could never starve myself! Pizza and French fries are just too yummy! Lol. Smiley face. Giggle, giggle." For many women, like me, it seems like drastically cutting calories is the only way to lose weight. Even if it's not "sustainable," a girl starts to think, "Well, temporary results sound a lot better than no results at all."

Sustainable ... that word is just kicking my ass. At least I know I can sustain a plateau. Clearly, I am an expert at sustaining NOT losing weight.

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. At this point, I would just love a day where I don't have to think about this at all.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Candy Binge Alert!

Like many dieters, nighttime hours are tough. Sometimes I sit here and imagine how many calories I could rack up in a single day if I hit Walgreens' candy aisle and put everything I wanted into the cart: Kit-Kats, Butterfingers, kettle corn, Hot Tomales, Mike & Ikes, Reese's Pieces, the list goes on.

I hadn't had a problem combatting such thoughts until last night. I have several friend/family special occasions coming up (birthdays and the like), and I bought candy at Walgreens to give with cards. Mistake No. 1: The events aren't for at least a few days, meaning the candy just sits around in the house. Mistake No. 2: I hadn't eaten dinner by 8 p.m. so I was quite peckish.

Well, long story short, I ate candy. A lot of candy. This was the first time since I started this whole thing that I had a moment of total willpower meltdown.

Here's the reason I'm not worried about what happened: In the middle of chowing down on Starbursts and Almond Joy Pieces, I turned the packages around, read the nutrition information and calculated exactly how many calories I was consuming. I NEVER would have done that before. In the past, if I didn't know how much I was eating, then I couldn't feel as badly about it. This time, I forced myself to compile that information, open up my food journal, write it down, and total up the damage.

The rest of the day I had eaten: two clementines, a bowl of pineapple, beef jerkey and a 6-inch sweet onion chicken teriaki from Subway. All of that was 870 calories. This is the embarrassing bit: The candy total was an additional 800 calories. (Trust me, it does not take a truckload to get to that number. Sugar is very caloric.)

So, at the end of the day, my total was 1,670. My daily goal is 1,200, so certainly, almost 500 calories over is not a good thing. But it could have been much worse had I not armed myself with information.

So, honestly, no guilt today. I've said this before, and I mean it: It's OK to mess up once in a while. It's what you do after you mess up that matters. And today, I'm heading to the gym.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Stiff, kind of whiney, but otherwise feeling OK

No. 1 question I'm being asked today: "Oh, hon', are you limping?"
Deja vu all over again, I tell ya.

Jackie decided to whoop my butt yesterday at the gym. Forty minutes of legs. I had no idea so many variations of squats and lunges even exisited. I did jumping squats. I did lunges with my back leg propped up on stuff. I did combination squats. I did sumo squats. It was crazy!

So this morning I woke up and knew it was going to be tough getting around. Stairs are the worst. I haven't had to scoot down on my rear like I did two months ago, but I have been holding on to the railing for dear life, imagining myself tumbling all the way to the bottom.

Maybe a few more sessions like this will launch me out of Plateau-ville. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Plateau City, apparently that's where I live now

I know I said I wasn't going to get on the scale again until the three-month mark, which would be the first week of April. But around mid-month, a girl gets kind of curious. So Wednesday, after a grueling hour of Step class WITH risers, thank you very much, I headed down to the women’s locker room to check things out.


I’ve lost 33 pounds.

Why am I not raisin’ the roof? Dancin’ a jig? Kissin’ my big rump good-bye? Because this was the news two weeks ago, at the month 2 mark.

I’ve lost only one pound in two weeks, and it’s beyond frustrating. I knew I was due for a plateau, but I didn’t know they lasted so very long.

Here’s what I don’t understand about plateaus: You read websites and hear people say all the time, “Your body just isn’t used to being a smaller size, and it wants to equalize, so it’s hanging onto the weight.”

First of all, my booty doesn’t have a mind of its own, so no, it can’t sit down over coffee with my triceps and thighs and say, “You know what guys? Something just doesn’t feel right here. Let’s just hunker down until this storm passes.”

Isn’t it just simple math? If I am consuming, at max, 1,200 calories per day, and I am burning at least between 300 and 400 calories at the gym, then that leaves 800 calories for my body to use in its daily goings-ons, what with keeping my organs functioning and my heart pumping and all that important stuff that takes energy to accomplish.

So, if my body needs energy to do all of these things, and it’s not getting that energy from food, then WHY IS IT NOT GETTING IT FROM FAT? Where!? Where is it getting it from!?

I’m still breathing, aren’t I? Systems are go -- I’m still alive -- so where could my body be getting its energy?

It’s just baffling. And beyond annoying. And if I hadn’t been working so hard for the past 2 1/2 months, I’d want to tear through a bag of Cheetos as a spiteful, frustrated, “I don’t even care, so there!” kind of gesture.

I guess I need to do something to change it up. Maybe I’ll just eat lean protein and vegetables for a while so the reserves of carbs and fat in my calorie intake aren’t there.

Or maybe I’ll have a talk with my booty later on, in case it is in cahoots with my triceps and thighs. It’s time I tell ’em who’s boss.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I have chosen not to live without my beloved

Confession: I had ice cream for the first time in almost three months Tuesday.
But wait! It's not a sin!

Ice Cream Lovers -- those of you who are watching your figure, anyway -- I have news that will be a godsend: There are various kinds of ice cream in town ... that you can eat without guilt!!!

How can this be, you ask? Well, check it out ...

The junior size 4-ounce chocolate Frosty at Wendy's is only 155 calories and 4 grams of fat. And it's AWESOME. If you go there for lunch and have the grilled chicken sandwich, the Jr. Frosty can be your dessert, and you leave there having consumed a respectable 525 calories.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I used to drive clear across town in high school in Fairmont just to get a twist ice cream cone from McDonald's. Nowadays, the twist cones at McDs are all but extinct, due to ice cream machines getting replaced with ones that only serve vanilla. (It's a cost-saving measure because chocolate shakes and sundaes can be made with hot fudge packets instead of chocolate soft-serve.) However! There is a machine left at the Adams Street McDonald's location that still serves chocolate. AND IT'S ONLY 150 CALORIES AND 3.5 GRAMS OF FAT!

Hanging out at the mall? Your boyfriend or husband, or worse, your skinny best friend decides to get a Cheesequake Blizzard to wash down the KFC they just ate? Head over to Leann Chin for the Red Cherry fro-yo! You can choose from two flavors or a mix of both: citrus or raspberry. And there's a ton of cool fruit to mix in: kiwi, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries. Only 150 calories for the small and 280 for the large.

This one you just won't believe. You can actually purchase ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery that won't make you hate yourself in the morning. Ever try the Sinless Sweet Cream with bananas, raspberries and yellow cake (or Nilla wafers)? It's an ultra sweet treat that won't ruin your diet day. You can order whatever mix-ins you want, but lean toward fruit as the main ingredients to keep the calories down (even cherry and apple pie filling only have about 50 calories per serving). My above creation in the Like It size is only 270 calories.

I thought maybe we could all use this helpful bit of good news as the temperatures finally begin to warm around here. What's summer without ice cream, right? Right!

I'm sort of strong, but not that invincible

I had a blog post all planned out in my head yesterday after meeting with Jackie (my trainer, in case you are a new reader. If you are, hello. Welcome.) As you may recall, it had been a month since I had seen her, so I was super nervous going to the gym. I thought for sure my muscles had weakened because I was mostly doing cardio during our four weeks apart.

After chatting about her awesome spring break in Arizona and Las Vegas -- where she spent almost no money, by the way, because she's so pretty (oh the joys of the young, thin girl) -- we got right into it. Jumping jacks, jumping lunges, pulsing lunges, upright rows, hammer curls, skull crushers, Roman Something-I-Can't-Remember, power skates, sit-ups on the body ball, another kind of sit-ups on the body ball, overhead press, chest fly, two kinds of tricep thingies, the list goes on.

And you know what? I tore through it all like a champ. Like not a single day had gone by since I had seen Jackie! Like I was the strongest woman in the world!

My headline to my blog post was going to be: I am strong. I am invincible! Get it? The lyrics to I Am Woman? ...OK, not that clever. ... It's a good thing I was too busy Monday to sit down and write one of these because waking up this morning, I had certain lingering doubts about my strength and invincibility.

Remember my second or third post with the picture of the screaming woman? Hair flying around? Clearly in pain? Well, it's not quite that bad. I was able to descend stairs today, unlike after my first session with Jackie. But yowza, my abs are on fire and my arms are like noodles.

Muscles sure like to know what's coming, don't they? I think I shocked mine a little bit yesterday.

In other shocking news, and at the risk of oversharing (but that's generally what people do on blogs, isn't it?), I have a booty update. I mentioned in the past that my booty is the last to get with the program and start shrinking along with the rest of my body. Well, folks, the booty has started to take shape. Instead of an overstuffed couch shape, or maybe a large ship of some kind, or a giant, fluffy Cumulonimbus, I now have an honest-to-goodness booty shape (albeit much larger than is optimal). Wahoo!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Am I too dressed down for the gym, of all places?

Besides my signature Hannah Montana water bottle, here’s how to find me at the gym. I’m the one who rolled out of bed in a wrinkled T-shirt, threw on a pair of unflattering sweat pants, put my tangled, unwashed hair in a high ponytail, laced up my sneakers and called it good. I’ve probably got yesterday’s mascara smudged under my eyes. It’s not always a safe bet that my T-shirt is clean.

Until recently, this was just fine with me. Sure, you bump into people you know and then you want to kill yourself when you pass a mirror, but it’s the gym, and people come here to sweat, so whatever.

I started noticing in the locker room, however, that some women are putting much more effort into their attire. The other day there was a matching pink track suit. It was 8-ish a.m., pre-workout, and she appeared to have a full face of makeup on. Then I remembered back a few years to when I took Step classes at 5:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Many of those women seemed to put thought and $$$ into their ensembles as well.

Am I supposed to be conscious of my appearance at the gym, of all places?

My interest was piqued even more when I read a story on the AP wire on this very subject. Here’s a snippet.

Those vows to hit the gym more often or adopt a new exercise regimen seem to be part of the human condition. And although your choice of outfits is secondary to the search for motivation, the right clothing can't hurt.

“Women want to look good while exercising,” says Kelly Cooper, vice president of merchandising, design and product development for Athleta, the Gap-owned athletic and lifestyle manufacturer and retailer. “When you're wearing things that are more flattering, then you're more motivated to work out.”

Could this be true? If I wipe away my mascara smudges, apply a little rouge, gets some slimming black stretch pants that actually fit, and a stylish zip-up black hoodie with a pop of pink underneath, maybe a girlie stretchy fashion tee, will I feel more motivated to kick some butt in the gym?

The article goes on to say: Many of us appear to agree with (Cooper). In 2010, Americans spent more than $30 million on women's fitness clothing, a 2 percent increase over the previous year.

Wow. $30 million. ON CLOTHES TO POUR SWEAT INTO. ... Yeah, no. Sounds a bit asenine, to be honest. So if you’re looking for me, ignore the black-and-pink fashion outfit I outlined above. Look for the tired girl in the dirty T-shirt. That’ll be me.