Saturday, April 30, 2011

The mighty hunter is back

There is a short window of time when walking my dog, Squishy, is actually fun. When the temperatures warm enough for the snow to melt, there's a good couple of weeks in there before little critters begin to stir, and the Squish and I can take to the streets and enjoy a nice walk together.

That time is over now.

The Squish is a slow, chubby, sweet, stupid lab-husky mix. She's got a goofy smile, she's great with kids and she's afraid of absolutely everthing, including, but not limited to: rustling plastic bags, the act of putting my laptop on my lap, adolescent boys, sunglasses, hats, and balloons being blown up.

This is why it is absolutely dumbfounding what happens to her in late spring: She becomes a cold-blooded killer. Last summer, she killed and ate five bunnies that made their way into my fenced-in backyard. One day, I walked into the dining room and there she was, laying down with the decapitated head of a rabbit between her paws, gnawing away on one of its ears. I thought I would faint.

So, on our walks this time of year, I have to be ever vigilent to make sure I see the bunnies or squirrels or birds first so I can steel myself and prepare for her to lunge forward with her full fat/strength and just about rip my arm off.

It's not the live animals that are the most bothersome, however. Luckily, when she sees a live creature, she tends to pause for about three seconds before she lunges. With dead critters, there is no pause. She turns into a gator and snaps them up instantaneously. Sometimes, she's so fast, I don't even know she has one in her mouth.

Like today, in the middle of our hour-long walk, I looked down, and she had the deadest, flattest squirrel hanging out either side of her mouth.

I can't even explain to you the rush of adrenaline and terror I feel when I have to deal with a situation like this. Today, I grabbed a stick and tried poking at her jaws to see if she'd open up and drop it. Didn't work. I had to take an empty plastic bag and pull on the dead head of the corpse until I finally won the tug of war. After years of playing tug of war with her with stuffed animals, she always thinks it's a game, so she growls and pulls. ... It was awful.

When it was taken care of, I was shaking from head to toe. I could still feel it's little claws against my palm with only a thin sheath of plastic between it and my hands. And the Squish was looking up at me with a sort of joie de vivre, anxious to sniff out the next dead thing to snap up.

Outdoor exercise just got more interesting.

Friday, April 29, 2011


And the winner of the first-annual Battle of the Blogs is ...
KATOTAINMENT!!! Winning with 2,695 hits over PucKato's 2,031 hits, which is a pretty healthy win, I must say. 664 hits? A 24 percent margin of victory? PucKato got schooled!

This is so unexpected ... I didn't even have a speech prepared. I'd just like to thank all of you!
You did it, dear readers. You have crowned me blog champion of the last week in April 2011. What significance does that have? Very little, if any at all. But it feels GREAT!

Shane Frederick's hockey blog, PucKato, has blown us all away here in the newsroom for a very long time. But as my "fight to be fit" has gained popularity, I started creeping up on my dear cubicle neighbor, and I had to see, if just for one week, I could take Goliath down. Victory is SWEET.

Something Shane has reminded me of this week: It's not hockey season. During hockey season, he would have won by a wide margin. True. The first week in February, PucKato had 3,228 hits, which would have beat my blog at its best week by 530 hits. But he also mentioned that he posted the MSU season schedule this week, which he said would result in numerous hits.

As a grassroots little operation here, gaining steady readership without a big, huge, popular sports team to write about -- just a girl and the battle against her tush -- I'm feeling on top of the world! Wahooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

50 is my new favorite number!

Fifty pounds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wahoooo!!! YayYayYayYayYay!!!!

This morning after 1/2 of a Step class and half an hour on the bike, I braved the scale in the locker room. I had to know. Was Monday's failure a fluke? Was it just water retention? A bad scale reading? Did I do enough this week to ensure victory by the end of the month?

Indeed! It was actually teetering ever so slightly between 49 3/4 and 50, but I'm calling it, folks. Fifty is here!

I had a feeling something was funny about Monday. You can't go from a 48 loss back down to 45 in two days, can you? I would had to have eaten thousands of calories. And I didn't! I swear, every time I step on a scale I get a different reading. ... So you may be thinking, "Well, how do you know if today's was the accurate one, then?" Well, friends, it's a straight-up fact that the lowest reading is always the right one. I mean, that's just a given.

Bad news now, though. These weight-loss numbers are starting to get embarrassingly high. Which is a good thing, but with any luck, the number will only get more and more embarrassing. I'm not sure how many more hard numbers I'll be willing to share. But there will be other ways to keep y'all updated on my progress. So don't go away.

Woo hoo!

Did we do it? Did we beat PucKato?

Today's the day!! One week ago, I launched a campaign to get more hits than PucKato. Shane Frederick's hockey blog about the Mavvies has traditionally been the most popular among readers of Free Press blogs.

However, thanks to all of you, he has a rival! ... ME! Wahoooooooo!!!!

So stay tuned ... Did this little blog that could take down Goliath just for one week? FIND OUT LATER TODAY!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lonely circuit training and the race to 50

This morning was really the first time that I did circuit training without Jackie. It was weird! I can honestly say I did all the reps and sets that I set out to do, and I didn't decrease weight just because she wasn't there watching.

...I did, however, wuss out on cardio. There was no cardio onslaught between circuits, such as, but not limited to, burpees, mountain-climbers and THE STOOL. I noticed that the lack of those exercises made the hour much easier, which isn't a good thing, I suppose. So I think I'm going to have to work those things back in. Jackie would pee her pants with happiness if I told her that I ran the damn track in her absence. She's big on running.

The weirdest part of this morning was having boys wandering around the room benching a ton of weight while I was doing my little squats in front of the mirror. It was easier to do that in public when I had a trainer who was obviously telling me to do it. Now I just look like the weirdo in the corner bending over in front of a mirror.

On the weight front, I've been too scared to check how I'm doing. By this weekend, my goal is 50, as I'm sure you recall, since I've said it like a billion times. I think this number will be the last that I obsess about. It makes me nervous. When I get fixated on being at a certain weight, my instinct is to be unhealthy to get there. So, after 50, slow and steady wins the race, and who cares what the number is when I'm feeling so good about where I'm at?

I can't wait! I hate worrying like this.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The photo that haunts my 'fight to be fit'

Readers of the paper-version of this "fight to be fit" campaign give me lovely compliments when they spot me in public. It's wonderful! And then immediately following, many of them say, "You know, you look NOTHING like your picture." I'm so used that -- which I sort of consider to be an unintentional insult -- that I always say the same thing in response: Oh yeah, well, that was five years and a few pounds ago (laughs).

Just today at the gym, I was taking a Step class, and a lovely woman comes up and says, "I think it's so wonderful that you're writing about all of this in the paper." I said, "Oh, thank you so much. That's so kind of you. You know, you're the first person to recognize me from my picture. Most people say I look nothing like it." And she said (lol), "Oh, well, you don't. I just saw you talking to Joe Tougas, so there's The Free Press connection, and then I asked someone if it was you."

: |

My column mugshot (taken from my family picture, above, with my mom and sister) has to be the most conversation-generating of any other at The Free Press. Who knew someone could look so different from a photo that complete strangers feel the need to point it out so often?

Let me just say, in my defense, I'm sweaty and non-makeuped at the gym, and my hair's tied back, and ... OK, so maybe I've got a few pounds to go before I resemble that picture again. But hey, we all put our best mugs forward around here.

Monday, April 25, 2011


This afternoon was my 16-week weigh-in, the last with Jackie as my trainer. We were shooting for 50. ...Try 45, AGAIN.

Saturday morning I was down 48. It's unlikely I would put back on three pounds of fat in just two days, so some is probably water weight from the big holiday meal. Still, that feels like an excuse. I'm disappointed.

Jackie and I started working out together as pals on Saturday morning. She wants to make it a regular thing, and so do I! This coming Saturday we're meeting to run/walk the trail, and she wants to weigh in that morning and forget about this one. She says that will be the true four-month mark, and this was just 16 weeks. Barely any significance at all, right? ... By then the water weight situation will have righted itself, and I'll have five more workouts behind me.

So, new goal of Saturday, the four-month mark, to lose 50.

Sigh. I feel like a real suck-face. Should have said no to all that food.

50? Maybe not, thanks to my Easter saboteur

It must be stated first: My mother is the BEST mom on Earth. Love, love, love her. She gives like no other.

Having said that, was she the best person to spend 24/7 with for the two days before my final weigh-in with Jackie during which I hope to hit a 50-pound weight loss? Nosiree.

In her defense, it was a holiday weekend, and on holidays, my mom is fueled only by the drive to make her family happy. How do moms do that? Food. And hugs, but mostly food.

Exhibit A: Saturday, on a high from a good morning workout with the plan to walk later, I say, "Hey, how about I make tacos tonight?" Subtext: So that I know what exactly I'm eating and how many calories are in it. Mom: "No, honey, we're taking you and your sister out to eat." Friday's is where we ended up, with only a preliminary scan of the online menu's limited nutrition info before we went.

Exhibit B: Snacks on Saturday night. Hot Tomales, Milky Ways, giant sugar cookies from Barns & Noble, and kettle corn were highlighted items. I managed to steer clear of all except for a bag of Smart Pop Kettle Corn. After my mystery dinner at Friday's, I didn't need the calories.

Exhibit C: I take my dog for an hour-long walk Sunday morning, and when I get back, mom had a 280-calorie fruit and yogurt from Kwik Trip with a fountain pop waiting for me. Oh, and, "I found those honey mustard pretzels you like, and I bought M&M cookies so we all have enough food if your sister's boyfriend brings her brother." There on the counter were 12 cookies, a giant bag of the pretzels, and various confections for the non-dieters' desserts.

Exhibit D: Lunch. Ribeyes, twice-baked potatoes, potato salad, deviled eggs, fruit salad, green bean casserole and Hawaiin rolls. Sighhhhhhhhhh.

I managed to weasel out of the angel food cake for dessert, but who knows what was in the eggs and salad and potatoes? I tried not to eat too much of it, but then, of course, there's mom with things like, "Did you get an egg?" "I already had one." "Well, you can have another one."

So, yeah, I walked for half an hour this morning with the pup, and I plan to eat super, super light today before I weigh-in with Jackie at 4 p.m. (which is the 16-week mark exactly today, by the way. Crazy!) But I doubt all those mystery calories will just dissipate before then.

We'll see! Love you, Mom! ; )

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Cadbury Egg Conspiracy revealed

So my one Easter treat allowance was my favorite candy of all time: The Cadbury Cream Egg. It's like a gooey, sugary bomb in your mouth. For 150 calories -- albeit empty ones -- I had to go there before they're removed from shelves for a whole year.

However, eating it reminded me of how much the eggs have changed over the years. Cadbury Eggs were twice the size when I was a kid, and they used to be a challenge to eat. The white, creamy center used to be runny, so when you bit into it, the goo went down your chin the way the Easter Bunny and much more intelligent, customer-friendly candy-creators intended. Now that cheap, money-grubbing CEOs have clearly taken over the company, the eggs are miniscule, the center is more the texture of nougat, and while I still very much enjoy them, the experience pales in comparison to the old days.

An interesting side note: Cadbury's website used to deny such shrinkage claims until eggs from the old days were found and compared to the new size (including a public display from "The Office's" B.J. Novak). The company took its denial down, which, in response to comments about the shrinking size had said, "They haven't gotten smaller. You've grown up!" Whatevs, Cadbury. B.J. and I know our chocolate.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

So close to 50 ell-bees I can taste it!

48 pounds, people! Woo hoo! Two more to go before Monday, so I'm putting in extra workouts this weekend. Nothing crazy, but maybe a long walk both days with the family, who are coming into town for Easter weekend. I also worked out with Jackie this morning, but as friends! I lost a trainer, but gained a friend. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing.

She and I wrapped up our 20 sessions this week. Very bittersweet. I was so happy for how far she'd taken me, but sad that our partnership is over for now. However, then she suggested we meet and work out this morning as buddies. And that was fun! Of course, she put on a ton of weight to the Smith and other weight-lifting instruments, all the while developing nothing but a healthy glow about her. Meanwhile, I'm working with my 10- and 15-pound dumbbels and sweating like a fat New Yorker. But hey, whatever works, right?

Anyway, it sounds like we'll be working out together more frequently, so for all of you who gasped and e-mailed and said, "Oh Amanda, it's too soon to lose your trainer! I'm worried!" Lol. Fret not! It seems Jackie will still be a part of my life.

Now onto this weekend's biggest challenge: avoiding Easter candy. Dun, dun, dunnnnn. (Why does it taste so much better on Easter and Halloween?)

Friday, April 22, 2011

My campaign to outhit PucKato (Hi Shane)

For whatever reason, you're reading this blog. You are! Right now! That's so awesome. My readership has steadily increased the past four months to something crazy like more than a thousand hits a week. I can hardly believe that. It's so exciting!

In the midst of my "way to go" from the boss, he said, "That's about as many hits as PucKato." For the one or two of you who don't know, PucKato is hockey writer Shane Frederick's blog about the Mavvies. None of us even bother being competitive with our blogs because it's a given that Shane will always win the hits contest, and the rest of us will just be happy with our small, but loyal readerships. (Except for Ed Thoma's baseball blog, of course. He blows us all away, including Shane, by an obscene number of hits. Y'all have proven your love of baseball, that's fo' sho'.)

Anyway, my boss's innocent little comment sparked a tiny bit of a competitive drive in me. "About as many hits as PucKato" ... does that mean an equal number? More perhaps? Hmmm ... Shane is my cubicle neighbor, so naturally I turned right to him and announced the news with a big smile on my face. His reasoning was that, of course, it's not hockey season, so fewer people are reading, and I wouldn't be able to hold a candle to him in the winter. ... True.

But right now, I want to beat him. Just once. I want to say, "For one week, I got more hits than PucKato." How cool would that be?! So I'm going to post something new every day, and I promise it will be super interesting stuff.

So come back often! Hit me, readers!

(P.S. Shane likes the Packers. A lot. Just in case that might incite some of you to hit refresh a few hundred times on this page to help me win.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Want to be on my (walking) 10Kato team?

So, a few weeks ago a woman from the 10Kato phoned me and said they wanted me to run the race to help raise awareness about the 15th anniversary of the event. I was not at the time, nor am I now, in the shape to run 10 K's. I can't even visualize what 10 K's looks like, but I'm assuming more than, say, one minute of running would be involved. So I politely declined and terribly disappointed this woman who seemed to be banking on my "yes" at the time.

This morning at the gym I had the idea of just doing the walking portion. I can walk two miles, for goodness sake, and I'm betting a lot of you who have been so kindly following my blog can too.

So how about we do it together? We can get a huge team together, maybe all wear something that's the same so we look like a team, and take a morning walk on Memorial Day weekend -- which HAS TO BE warm by then, people. I can get to know some of you, and it's all for a good cause. Sounds fun, right?

So the 10Kato is Monday, May 30, and the start is at Dickinson and Emerson streets. Registration before May 13 is $17, it's $20 after May 13, and it's $25 the day of the race. There are brochures with registration forms to mail in at the Y, or go to this site and print out the form there.

E-mail me at if you want to join my team. I hope you do!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I can have a sugar cookie, OK?

I'm about to commit the cardinal sin of blogging ... doing so while I'm a little miffed. I'm doing it anyway! ...

Please, please, please, people: STOP TELLING ME WHAT I CAN AND CAN'T EAT! Just please, OK? I so appreciate the concern. Really sweet. Seriously. But AND a food journal AND a trainer AND the knowledge I have gained the past four months are the sources I use to tell me what I can have.

"Are you eating Chipotle? Can you have that?" YES. A bowl with rice, chicken and any kind of salsa is fine. It's less than 500 calories, and as long as I come in under my calories and fat requirements for the day, I'm good to go.

"Don't do it ... Don't take that sugar cookie." You know what? Once in a while, I can have a cookie. It's 180 calories. If I choose to spend them that way, then I just have to eat less at dinner, OK?

I publically blog about weight loss. I get it. But that doesn't entitle anyone to management duty over my food intake. Gee whiz ...

For those of you saying, "Anything in moderation, honey. Have that cookie and eat it, too," seriously, bless you. I heart you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Debunking "butt-squeezy" myths

The support from readers has been so awesome on my little fat-fight, and some of them have had really great questions that I think a lot of dieters might not know about weight loss that I have recently just learned myself. So here's some food for thought:

Comment: "So you know how you complain that your booty isn't shrinking at the same rate as your mid-section? You can do this butt-squeezy exercise. You lay on the ground, lift up your butt and squeeze a whole bunch of times."

Lol. ... Butt-squeezy advice probably falls under the category of things I never thought I'd talk about with a reader. ... But actually, this brings up a good point for dieters. Did you know that you cannot choose where on your body you will lose weight? Your body chemistry decides that all on its own. For instance, you can't use the Thigh Master every night and expect it to shrink your thighs. At most, you will be build muscle in your thighs. Cardio exercise burns fat, but it could come off of anywhere on your body, regardless of what machine you're using or exercise you're doing.

Comment: If you're working out an hour a day, why can't you eat whatever you want?

Metabolism, metabolism, metabolism. It's a very delicate balance, and it's different for every person. The one thing that is true for most people is that the food is 90 percent of the battle. For the most part, it's simple math: You have to have a calorie deficit to lose weight. So if you're burning 300 calories at the gym and you go home and eat whatever you want, you'll make up that deficit with just one bag of chips, for example. So you have to make sure that the calories you are consuming are less than the total calories required to sustain your current weight. There are calorie calculators online that can help you determine that. Keep in mind that they are just estimates, however, based on your height and weight. Many other factors enter in.

Comment: You should try a low-fat diet. That's what I do, and then I can eat more.

Low fat doesn't necessarily mean low calories. Many candies have little or not fat, yet they are extremely high in calories. A family-size box of Hot Tomales has more than 1,000 calories. A bag of gummi bears has 600. Calories are a big factor in weight loss.

Lots to consider, isn't there? No wonder my booty got so big! ; )

Sunday, April 17, 2011

After 18 years, I finally own a dress

Well, it was time. I'd been resisting the temptation to buy new clothes. My argument was that I'm in transition mode. So why plop down a whole bunch of money on clothes I hope to not fit into in a few months, anyway? My mom's argument was more convincing than mine: "The waistband of those pants is practically doubled over, held up only by a belt, and there's so much extra fabric, it's making you look puffy around the middle. I never want to see those pants again. Like it or not, you're buying new pants."

What do you say to that besides, "OK, mom"? I should realize, when my mom has that certain look on her face, arguing is futile. So I did what I hate to do most: I headed to hilltop on a Saturday to shop. Dear God, hilltop on a Saturday. The things we do for our mothers.

My favorite store in the WORLD is Maurice's. They have the cutest, trendiest clothes for all sizes of girl. You will find no matronly pieces in the place, even if your booty is bodacious. And thanks to the clearance rack, I found two pairs of work pants for $16 apiece and a jean skirt for $8. I also got a non-clearance pair of jeans with a great wash for $32. I mean, seriously. Bargain City.

Then we went to Gordmans, where there's always something unexpected (wink, wink). If you've never been and you like a good deal, ladies, go check out their tops. Cutest summer tops ever. I bought several. ... And get this ... I bought a dress. I did. I bought the first dress I've owned since ... oh, jeez, I'd say my choir concert in sixth grade. So yeah, it's been a while. I had tried on a similar dress a few weeks ago that from the front was all right, but then I turned to the side and it was all butt, baby. Way too much butt. So I waited it out. And now, it's not bad at all.

The trouble with owning a dress in Mankato is that I have nowhere to wear it. No women at work wear dresses. And if I wore one, people would look at me like I was trying to make some sort of statement about my new body. And I'm not. Plus, I have a ways to go on my journey, so I don't want anyone thinking I'm making statements yet. I can't really wear it to a bar, or to the park with the dog, or out shopping. And those are the only places I go. So, I guess I'll have to think on that.

The funnest part of the whole experience was seeing I'd gone down about four to six sizes. That's always fun. : ) Hopefully, I'll go down a few more in the next few months. But then what will I do with all my pretty new clothes? Hmmm.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

'Thank you' to Jackie just isn't enough

I only have three more sessions left with Jackie, at least for a while.

I debated for a long time about whether I should come up with another $500 for 20 sessions to continue our weight-loss journey together. But with summer coming, I’ll be down to only one job. (I’ve been an adjunct at Minnesota State University during the school year.) I’ve also got a trip to New York planned with my baby sister, the first time we’re traveling together, actually. So the $500 would have to go on my credit card, and after hitting the big 3-0 in December, I’ve been trying to be more fiscally responsible.

There are other reasons, as well. When I weigh-in for the final time with Jackie the morning of the 25th, I will have been on this journey for 16 weeks, with her guiding me in many ways the whole way. At some point, this little chick has to learn to fly on her own, right? I have to prove to myself that the lifestyle she and I have tailored for me during the past four months is something that I am capable of sustaining for the rest of my life.

So, this bird’s leaving the nest.

Thinking about it makes me a little emotional, actually. Jackie and I only met for an hour twice a week, but we’ve gotten to know each other a little bit, and I’m not sure how I will be able to express to her what she’s done for me.

Now, granted, a trainer can only get you so far. If I had worked out with Jackie two hours a week and not exercised at all on my own the other five days, or if I had eaten whatever I wanted, I wouldn’t have lost weight. So self-discipline has been a major component of my success.

But she has provided so much more than just an hour-long butt-kicking on Mondays and Thursdays.

For one, she’s given me the right tools -- more information than I ever thought I would know about calorie deficits, metabolism, the importance of strength-training, the amount of cardio recommended for weight loss. She taught me proper form and technique, what a lunge and a bicep curl and a shoulder press feels like when I’m doing them correctly.

She’s been my cheerleader and confidante. No one else knows my starting weight or goal weight, and despite having the perfect body herself, she never made me feel like mine was anything to be ashamed of, not even on day one. Every step of the way -- every pushup I’ve snarled at and every reverse crunch I didn’t think I could do -- she was there telling me I was strong and that I could finish.

Most importantly, she’s been someone to whom I feel accountable. When I do badly, I feel like I’ve let us both down (even though she never sees it that way). And when I’ve done well, it’s been an enormous motivator to see how proud she is.

For all of these reasons and more, I will always be grateful to you, Jackie. Thank you so much for all you’ve done for me. I hope, when I weigh-in on the 25th, we’ll be able to celebrate a 50-pound weight loss together.

And when I get to the final few pounds before I hit my goal weight, I’ll sign up for a few more sessions, and we’ll cross the finish line together, girl.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Haven't we covered this already?

I got my butt kicked at the gym this morning. Jackie book-ended our workout with six minutes on the stair-climber machine. This is the first time this particular machine has made its way into my workouts, and let me now say, it has replaced Jackie's BOSU torture as my most hated gym experience. After an hour of pouring sweat -- doing such crazy activities as stepping sideways across a two-foot stool and doing lunges and squats off the BOSU -- the very last thing I wanted to do, like the LAST THING, was another six minutes on the stair climber. But I did it. And then, just for fun, when I was ready to collapse, we did abs.

When I got home, my T-shirt was clinging to my body. And even after my shower, my face was apple red. I could barely lift my arms to shampoo myself.

Here's the thing about today's workout, though: I deserved every torturous minute of it.

You may have seen my column that came out in today's Health & Fitness section. It proclaimed my 42-pound weigh loss and 23-inch loss. And it made a point at the end to say that, by the time the column was put on the page, I was on track to lose another 5 pounds by today.

Yeah, well, Ms. Cocky got served by the scale this morning. I didn't lose a single ounce this week. Wanna know why? It actually took me a minute to realize why, but then I remembered, "Oh yeah, you ate and drank stuff you weren't supposed to."

That's why today's column is going to sound quite repetative. You're going to think, "Amanda, didn't you write something similar to this a few weeks ago? Didn't you learn your lesson? That you can't eat crap and think you're still going to lose weight?" Simply put, people, no. No, I have not learned my lesson, and I will never learn this particular lesson. Eating right and exercising is such a delicate balance, and I will ALWAYS have to reteach myself how to do it right.

Let's take this week for example. Last Monday I'm riding high on my 42-pound weight loss, so what do I do? Hit the gym even harder the next morning? No. I take my sister to Number 4 and have blue corn nachos and red, red wine. It flowwwwed, that red wine. Delicious. ... Then I had a couple of good days, and then, because I had a couple of good days, I decide to have more wine and a piece or two of pizza. Then I had a couple of more good days, and on Sunday night I thought, "I had more good days than bad this week, so I think I'll finish that bottle of red wine in the kitchen, and I'll go get Cold Stone with my sis." Granted, I had the sinless sweet cream, but it was extra calories I didn't need.

So after I stepped on the scale this morning and saw I hadn't lost a single pound, the week's activities came flooding back, and I re-realized that weight loss doesn't just happen. Every single day I have to be aware of what I'm eating. My body doesn't ignore bad eating days, even if my mind chooses to.

I always do that. I always achieve something great and then get comfortable and reward myself way too much. I wish my reaction to good news was to push myself even more, but unfortunately, only bad news seems to drive me like that.

Well, the zero-pound loss this week was certainly bad news. So consider me fired up again, people. (But I'm sure you'll be reading a post like this again in the future.)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

23 inches gone from my body!

For the three-month benchmark this week, Jackie decided we should assess how far I’ve come since day 1, and the results were pretty astonishing. For once, the numbers were actually on my side.

As you’ll recall from Monday, I lost 42 pounds. That’s a 4-year-old, to help put the number into perspective.

Today, we took my measurements. When I started this in January, Jackie measured my chest, waist, abs, hips, thigh and bicep. As of today, I’m down 23.25 inches overall. I’ve shrunk 2 feet!

The funny part is where most of the inches came from. My chest? Down about 5 inches. (Greeeat.) My waist? Another 5. Abs? A whopping 8.5 inches!

Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about how my booty is always the last to come around? That I always lose from my mid-section first and the ol’ derriere hangs onto the chub as long as possible before finally giving in?

Well, I definitely know my body. Listen to these numbers in comparison to the big’ns above. Hips: 2.75 inches. Thigh: 2 inches. Bicep: a measly 1 inch. (Ho-hum.)

Jackie says we’ve been strength-training my thighs and arms so vigorously that the lack of inches lost has to do with muscle gain. I’m more cynical. I think my body is as stubborn as a Minnesota winter, and it enjoys toying with my emotions.

Regardless, I can’t complain too much about what I’ve achieved. My plateau seems to have finally broken, and judging by my week’s progress so far, I’m on track to lose another 5 pounds by Monday. That would put the total at 47 pounds lost, which means by the following Monday, I’ll have surpassed the 50-pound benchmark.

Amazing what a person can do for their health in fewer than four months, isn’t it?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A shout out to an awesome reader and her mother's knapsacks

One of my wonderful readers -- who has nearly conquered her own fitness mission to get ready for her daughter's wedding (woo hoo!) -- dropped off a lovely surprise today: knapsack bundles of chocolate cookies.

The newsroom wants to give a shout out to Jane Savage Horton for the treats, which are as fun to look at as they are to eat. (That's what I'm told, anyway. I didn't eat any, but they LOOKED amazing).

Chocolate cookies were wrapped in little red bandanas and tied to sticks from trees, to make them look like old-fashioned knapsacks. So cute!

Jane's mother had once saved the day when Jane forgot it was her turn to bring snacks to Girl Scouts. She showed up with bundles of these treats. What an amazing mom!

Monday, April 4, 2011

And the month three weight loss total is ...

Today was the big day! I put in a full hour with Jackie before stepping on the Iron Man scale, and it's all I thought about the whole time, even when I was hoofing it up two flights of stairs to run the track three times. (Yuck.) I was fairly confident because I've been so disciplined the past week or more. But there's always that lingering doubt that the scale will defy logic and slap you in the face. When that happens, it's a dreadfully painful blow that stings for, like, days.

Not today, friends.

(Drum roll) ... 42 pounds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woohoo!! 42 ... it's a good number. I like it. I like it a lot. I am a fitness master!!!

There was another number I was excited about, too. The Iron Man scale provides all kinds of information about a person's body composition, including hydration level, metabolic age and visceral fat reading, which is the fat you carry around your mid-section. The latter is what Jackie was excited to see today. My visceral fat is now in the HEALTHY RANGE. Like Heidi Klum and I, we now have about the same risk of cardio vascular issues. Well, OK, let's not go crazy ... but essentially, my risk of heart troubles has practically diminished. I'm really thrilled with that. So cool that in three months you can improve your health to that degree. (The booty, well, that's another story.)

Anyhow, I'll be talking about all of this on KTOE at 4 p.m. today. Tune in if you can!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A little TLC and North Broad could be like NORTH North Broad

Well, today was the second Sunday in a row I didn't go to the gym. ...But that doesn't mean I wasn't exercising!!! I couldn't imagine the thought of doing my two hours of weekend exercise inside. The weather was just way, way too gorgeous. So I bet, given the hours upon hours of yard work and dog walking, I put in a good six hours of exercise time yesterday and today. Didn't even feel like work, it was so gorgeous.

My favorite hour was this afternoon (Sunday), when I took the Squish for a walk down to Tourtellotte. I live on North Broad ... let me stop you there. This is the part where, if we were speaking face to face and I had just told you I live on North Broad, your face would light up and you would say, "Ohhh, North Broad is a beaut-" and I would immediately cut you off. "No, no," I would say. "I live on North Broad, not NORTH North Broad. I'm on the dodgy end. The ghetto. You know, the stretch between Mulberry and Madison." And you would say, "Oh, right. Yeah, well, um, there are some nice places there, too. It's really hit or miss, isn't it? But, yeah ..." And you would trail off, trying not to insult me with apologies for making assumptions that I was on the beautiful, wonderful, neighborhood-y end of North Broad.

I take the Squish up that way often in the spring and summer, and I always longingly think the same things: The lots are about the same size as they are on my end of North Broad. The houses are about the same age. The architecture of the houses is just as diverse. And, yet, NORTH North Broad is where you want to live. North Broad, by me, is where you HAVE to live when mucho moola isn't part of your day-to-day.

It's such a shame. The only difference between NORTH North and North are owners that have loved and cared for the properties. They've resodded when needed. They've painted and sided. They've replaced windows and doors. Every house the Squish and I pass is another one that is actually fun to look at and think, "Oh wow, look at that stone walkway. Gorgeous," or, "The shutters were such a good idea. They really frame those windows."

This weekend I wondered why I was one of the only people out in my yard on my block preparing for spring. It's not that the neighbors didn't have work to do. They ALL do. And yet, all was quiet. During my walk to Tourtellotte, I passed six rakers, all of whom said hello or "Nice weather, right?" Another couple were mulching and said, "Couldn't ask for a better day than this, could we?" I agreed and wished I lived next door so we could trade such pleasantries again.

Sometimes I wonder what it would take for North Broad to turn into that kind of neighborhood. Zero-interest city loans to update facades? A natural disaster to wipe out everything and have insurance foot the bill for an extreme neighborhood makeover? An investor to buy up all the dumpy rentals and flip them, thereby improving the neighborhood, upping values and maximizing his or her investment? Maybe my only hope is that, one house at a time, the few of us who care will inspire another to care. Maybe my neighbors will see it doesn't take that much money, just time and sweat, to improve curb appeal. And who wouldn't want to put that in on a day like this?