Monday, May 30, 2011

Congratulations Alex Voigt! ...And what was I thinking?

First and foremost, congratulations to Alex Voigt for his awesome time in the 10Kato! He ran the 10Ks in about the same time as my little team walked the 2Ms, so big props to Alex! I'm not sure of his time exactly or what number he placed, but ROUGHLY, it was about 39 minutes, I think. I know exact seconds are important to runners, so I mean it when I say roughly. I'm sure he will update everyone on his blog, so be sure and check it out.

As for me, well, I got up this morning ready to walk. "Two miles," I thought. "No biggie." So I showered. I put on jeans and a T-shirt. I put on makeup. Dried my hair. Just like I was going to run errands or out to lunch. I had three cups of coffee like usual. And I headed out to meet my walking buddies at Dickinson and Emerson for the big race.

File all of the above in the "What was I thinking?" category. ... Boy, that file is getting awfully big. ... Jeans? Makeup? Really?

The temperature was fine, but the humidity was pretty darn bad. By 1 mile, I was sweating AND I had to pee. (Three cups of coffee?) By the finish, I was a mess. A hose would have been lovely. And a bathroom.

Next year, I guess I'll know to show up in gym clothes and a ponytail. But either way, it was a good morning and all for a good cause, so congrats to all who walked or ran!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Stagnation Nation

Month 5: Turning out to the be the month of bad choices and recovery and then more bad choices and then recovery. I feel destined to keep teetering between 45 and 50 pounds lost.

By June 3, the official month 5 mark, I think I'm going to be right at 50 again. Fifty was the weight I lost at the month 4 mark, as you may recall. Now, some people may look at that as maintaining. Who wouldn't want to say that after five months, they've maintained a 50-pound loss?

True. But I can't congratulate myself on the means with which I "maintained," which is to say: eat pizza and Cheetos, gain three pounds; eat super, super healthy and exercise like a madman, lose two pounds; eat pizza and ice cream, gain another three; eat super healthy, lose a couple more. That's not maintaining, is it? Seems more like a vicious cycle to me.

And you know what, people? I know better than that. So I'm not entirely sure why month five was such a disaster.

The drive seems to be missing here. The chutzpah. The fire. I need something. A boost of some kind.

Hey, remember that girl who was the biggest contestant on "Biggest Loser" and, at the end of her season, Subway decided to pay her $1,000 per pound that she lost by the next season's finale? I think her name was Shay. ... That'd do it! Hey, Subway: I will be your next poster gal if you give me some cashola for each pound I lose. I'm way cheaper than Shay, too. How does $100 per pound sound?

Can you imagine? I'd be sick frickin' thin in no time!

But, seriously, I gotta get back to bidness here. I've decided 77 pounds is my goal weight, for the purposes of this public weight-loss campain, that is. I've never been in super great shape before, so I have no idea what my weight will be when I'm all toned and stuff with visible muscles and all that. So I'm sure I'll have a bit more beyond 77 to lose. But I can only ask all of you to stick with this whole process for so long. Reading about it will only be interesting for so long. I know that. So 77 seems like a good number.

Why 77 and not 75, you ask? Could it be that my starting weight had a 7 or a 2 at the end??? Which would bring me down to an even 0 or 5 at the end of that goal weight number? Food for thought ...

P.S. I'm open to any and all ideas about how to reignite the flames of victory here. All of you weight-loss pros out there, how did you maintain your drive?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Readers abuzz about Mankato girl on '16 & Pregnant'

Kayla Jackson, an 18-year-old former West High School student, went and got herself moderately famous Tuesday night, but feedback is certainly mixed as to whether that’s a good or bad thing.

Jackson of Winthrop was on an episode of MTV’s “16 and Pregnant,” which was taped mostly in the Mankato area last summer through part of the winter. She gave birth to her son, Preston, Nov. 4 in Mankato.

Each episode of the show focuses on a different girl and her unique struggle with teen pregnancy. Jackson’s episode focused primarily on recurring symptoms of anorexia, even going a day eating almost nothing while pregnant, resulting in a brief hospital stay. But mostly viewers are reacting to how her mother was portrayed on the show.

During the 90-minute episode, Jackson’s mother (who was also a teen mom) allows Jackson at 17 to live with her then boyfriend, Mike, in Jackson’s home while she spends most of her time with her own boyfriend an hour away. Her mother then starts charging Mike $300 rent, which he doesn’t earn as a teenager, so Jackson has to help pay it. That leaves them $60 to buy food and baby supplies.

When Jackson repeatedly complains about her mom’s lack of help with her pregnancy and later her baby, she’s met with little sympathy. Even the night Jackson’s water broke, her mom wouldn’t get out of bed, but rather told her she was probably still wet from being in the shower. Jackson and Mike drove to the hospital, and almost a full day later, she delivered by C-section.

Perhaps worst of all, after the baby was born, her mother asks her anorexic daughter if she would go on a diet with her.

Jackson now lives in Winthrop with her dad, whom at the start of the episode she said she hardly knew.

Jackson’s official fan Facebook page has been filled with comments denouncing her mother’s behavior on the episode. But many comments are positive.

Mandi Matz wrote, “Loved your episode!! I live in Mankato, too. If you ever need a babysitter, I have a profile on!!! :) Lol!! ... .”

Feedback on The Free Press Facebook page also has been mixed. Doug Mulville wrote, “Why would you promote this trash? This show basically rewards irresponsible decision making by teens. What a terrible joke journalism and entertainment have become.”

From Shelly Neville Berger: “I felt bad for how her mom acted last night. Her mom needs to grow up! But (I’m) also glad that she is with her dad and happy! Living in a small town is the best (way to go). Kayla, welcome to Winthrop.”

Mankato folks have been buzzing about the show for more than a year, calling and emailing The Free Press about where they saw the MTV camera crew when they were here. The Coffee Hag, Mayo Health Systems, Dino’s Pizzeria and Target were a few locations featured in the show.

Jackson herself has been mum to interview requests. Her mother e-mailed last summer to say her daughter wasn’t at liberty to discuss the show. That may have changed now that the episode has aired.

Here’s what I can glean from the fan page: Jackson plans to finish high school and graduate in June. She has plans to live on her own this summer and attend college in the fall or next spring. She and Preston’s dad are no longer together, but he is involved in Preston’s life. So far, Jackson appears to be OK with the attention. Ashley Brown posted the question: Do you think you will regret doing “16 & Pregnant” after seeing the negativity all the other girls have gotten? “No” was Jackson’s response.

Here’s when you can catch repeats of the episode: 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. today/Wednesday; 2:30 p.m. Thursday; 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. Saturday; 8:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday; and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mankato on MTV tonight

Folks -- especially those who have called and emailed me the last year with tips and secrets about where they spotted the MTV camera crew while they were here -- tonight's episode of "16 and Pregnant" is the one you've all been waiting for! It's Kayla Jackson's episode, the former Mankato West High School student who now lives in Winthrop with her dad and her son, Preston, born Nov. 4.

Plenty of Mankato area places and people will be on TV! How fun. Be sure to tune in at 9 p.m. on MTV. Otherwise, the episode repeats a billion times this week.

Here's some background if this is all news to you:

For almost a year I have been hearing buzz about MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” reality TV series. Kayla Jackson, 18, who gave birth to her son, Preston, when she was 17, is on the third season of the hit series, which kicked off weeks ago.

Already -- or, perhaps more accurately, still, after all these months -- people are talking about it. Dining at Dino’s in North Mankato one day, I overheard several people talking about how they might see the restaurant on the show because Jackson was filmed dining there last summer. In a class at Minnesota State University, I overheard three students talking about how they knew someone who might be seen in some of the footage. A woman even e-mailed me at one point saying Jackson’s pregnancy was part of a student pregnancy pact (untrue).

MTV, you clearly have our attention. Jackson herself, who moved to Winthrop to live with her dad, has been mum, perhaps due to a confidentiality agreement. Jackson’s mother e-mailed me last summer to say her daughter wasn’t at liberty to discuss the show. That may have changed, as she has a Kayla Jackson Official Fanpage on Facebook, which she and her sister and friend administer, where she interacts with people’s posts and has photos and biography information displayed. But so far, she hasn’t responded to interview requests.

Here’s what I can glean from the fanpage: Jackson is finishing high school and plans to graduate in June 2011. She has plans to live on her own this summer and attend college in the fall or next spring. She and Preston’s dad, who isn’t named, are not together, but he is involved in Preston’s life.

According to a couple of sneak peek videos and trailers, which can be viewed on the fan page or MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” web page, one angle the episode explores is Jackson’s battle with an eating disorder for which she was hospitalized at age 13. In one clip she’s lamenting to a friend about how she feels fat, to which her friend responds: “You’re not fat. You’re pregnant.”

So far, about 1,600 people have “liked” Jackson’s fan page, with more to come when her episode airs, I’m sure. She posted that she created the page because more than 50 people per day were trying to friend her on her private Facebook page.

But so far she appears to be OK with the attention. Ashley Brown posted the question: Do you think you will regret doing “16 & Pregnant” after seeing the negativity all the other girls have gotten? “No” was Jackson’s response.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Save the planet, shrink your tush

The Mankato Area Bike and Walk Advocates couldn't have asked for a more perfect week for Bike and Walk to Work week. Can you believe this weather? I'm in heaven. If it never got colder than this and never rained again, I would be so frickin' blissful that I'd be giving random hugs to strangers and, you know what? I would like to buy the world a Coke!

I've been walking to work this week, and aside from weather issues, I can't imagine why I never did so before. I live really close. Just, maybe, 12-15 blocks away. Takes just 15 minutes.

It made me think of the article we ran on the Health & Fitness page on Monday about the Bike and Walk advocates. There was a quote about how people are creatures of habit, and because many of us habitually drive everywhere, it's difficult to change the behavior. I'm definitely a habitual driver. I drive everywhere. One day I caught myself driving to the gas station for a fountain pop (I love fountain pop). The gas station is three blocks away.

So, I think I'm going to try to make that change. Whenever it's not pouring or freezing, I'm walkin' to work. (I'd bike, too, but I haven't owned one since I was 16. I was out riding it when one of my high school classmates pulled up beside me at a stop sign in his sporty ride, pointed at me and laughed to his buddy. I've had a negative connotation to bikes ever since.) ...That was a strange aside.

Anyway, walking to work will provide an extra 180-calorie deficit to my day. Join me! Save the planet, shrink your tush.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Way to go, Fitty

... Or should I say, “Formerly Fitty.”

This morning, I braved the scale at the Y. It was time. And, in the back of my mind, I think I knew what would happen. For the past couple of weeks, I have enjoyed myself. Too much. Losing 50 pounds felt really great. I was proud of my accomplishment, I felt good in my new clothes, and I went out A LOT to celebrate.

It’s funny, because, going into this weight-loss journey, I knew that was my MO. I knew that losing the weight was always the easiest part for me. Granted, I lost it through unhealthy means, but it always came off. And then, when I achieved a healthy weight and started feeling good about my appearance, I seemed to forget all the work it took to achieve that figure, and I started to “celebrate.”

In my world, “celebration” means consumption. I wish I wasn’t that way. I wish a “good time” didn’t mean sugar and margaritas and French fries and pizza. I wish it meant a walk on a gorgeous morning, or maybe window shopping at the mall, or a movie (without snacks).

But despite knowing full well that I was doing it again, I turned a blind eye, and I hit the bars and restaurants. Hard. The past week, I was seeing my behavior for what it really was.

Subtle cues started implanting lingering doubts in my brain. That little puffy area on my tummy came back. When I looked down in a tight shirt, there it was. The puff.

I also had avoided the scale for two weeks, which I realized when I didn’t have a new number to plug into so I could see my little ladybug on my ticker counter move a bit farther toward my goal-weight number.

That’s what really woke me up. When I start avoiding the scale, it’s because, subconsciously, I know it will be bad news, and rather than face that, I avoid it and say, “Before you get on the scale again, eat really, really good this week so it won’t be so bad when you do weigh-in.”

Denial. Bargaining. I knew it was time to face the music. I went to Step class this morning and had an awesome workout. (Despite the food and alcohol becoming a problem the last two weeks, my exercise is still very much in line.)

Then, I headed down to the locker room. Before I stepped on the scale, I sat down, took off my shoes, and I gave myself a little pep talk in my mind. “No matter what the scale says, you’ve got this. You’ll deal with it. Facing the truth is the first step.”

And then I stepped on.

Five pounds. I gained five pounds back.

My hope was that I had merely maintained, that I hadn’t lost anymore, but that I hadn’t done any real damage. The truth was harder to take.

But I truly do believe that this is the best thing that could have happened this morning. Had I stepped on that scale and maintained my 50-pound loss -- despite a two-week drinking and sugar binge -- it would have validated my behavior, and I likely would have kept going down the wrong path.

Gaining five back, well, let’s just say it woke me up, slapped me in the face, whatever cliche you want to use.

I didn’t cry. I didn’t get down on myself too much.

I went home. I showered. And I walked to work.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spring Planting Day!!!

Seven hours of yard work, purchasing flowers and planting flowers ... definitely counts as exercise. And it's so pretty!!!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Focus is tricky business

I'm in an odd state of transition. A couple of posts ago I wrote about wanting to relax and stop obsessing so much about losing X number of pounds in X number of days.


But doesn't a lack of focus cause a person to stagnate? I'm still exercising a lot. And I do eat pretty well most days. But I've been going out a LOT. And I'm not good about watching my calories in a social setting.

Take last night. I went to see my friend's band, Fish Frye, at Cedars Grille with my sister and a friend. Had a burger for dinner. No cheese. Didn't eat my fries. That's pretty good. But I had a glass of wine. Which lead to another, and then, yes folks, three more after that. During all of this wine drinking, my sister and I ordered a dessert to split. And the band gave us their bruscetta when it was time to take the stage. I'm not sure how many calories that totals, but I know for sure it's a lot more than my daily allowance.

So I'm sort of stuck right now. Maybe it's important to set goals so that you're likely to set boundaries in order to get there. It doesn't have to mean obsessing, but setting a weight-loss number I'd like to reach in a certain period of time gives me something to aim for.

So, here it is: In three weeks, at the five-month mark, I'd like to be down a total of 62 pounds.

Let's do this!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

'Hit the showers, Rocky. Hit the showers.'

It became official this morning: I once again OWN the Reebok step. I slay it. I crush it. It is mine.

Years ago, I went to Step class every day it was offered. In the morning, if I felt I didn’t get enough of a workout on the Step by an instructor who I didn’t particularly care for, then I went back to the 5:15 p.m. class the same day for a second go-round. Cardiovascularly, I was in damn good shape.

I haven’t been -- and I’m still not -- in the shape I was then. But once again, I feel confidant in saying, I am conditioned to a level where an hour in Step class doesn’t kill me. Still pushes me. Still tires me out. Still makes me sweat. But, folks, I got this.

Feels good! Feels really good to say that. I forgot how good it feels to be “conditioned.” There were two newbies in Step class this morning, both of whom were quite skinny, who were uncoordinated and tired out by break, and I could tell they sort of didn’t understand how hard it was to keep up. Here I am, a tush six sizes bigger than theirs, yet I was handling the class a lot better. Cardio stamina isn’t necessarily about size; it’s about “conditioning.”

But, anyway, as I was headed down the hallway to leave the Y, my pal Joe Tougas popped out of his office and said, “Hit the showers, Rocky. Hit the showers.” It’s funny because I kind of felt like Rocky after the stair-climbing scene. The only thing missing was the theme song.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In America, being social and eating go hand in hand

American social engagements seem always to consist of two main components: talking about yourself in between mouthfuls of food or drink. The first aspect I obviously have no problem with. I do, after all, rush to this blog several days per week to spew forth my thoughts and goings-ons, fully believing you're all so extremely eager to hear all about it.

The latter aspect I'm having trouble with.

As spring has set in, I'm finding myself going to a lot more events. There have been family holidays, parties and other nights out with friends, and all seem to revolve around consumption of food and alcohol. I haven't been handling these situations very well. I go with the intention of just drinking water, or maybe having one glass of wine and sipping on it the whole night. But, at a certain point, I decide to just write the night off.

Do you know what I mean by that, fellow dieters? It's as if you all of a sudden throw your hands up and say, "Well, it's a party, I'll be extra good tomorrow." And then you stuff a cupcake in your mouth.

It's weird because, what difference does it make to anyone else at these gatherings if I put something in my mouth or not? Would anyone notice if I didn't eat or drink anything? Would I seem anti-social? I think, save for any events where my mom is included, I doubt anyone would care. Yet, there doesn't seem much point to go, in my own mind, if I'm not going to join everyone else in having a good time, and in our culture, that seems to include lots of calories.

So, I'm hoping for your thoughts on this. What do you do when you have a social event to attend where there will be lots of food and drinks? What do you tell yourself? Any mental tactics? My biggest problem is self-control in these situations, so any advice would be great. I'd hate to sit home all summer because I don't trust myself to go anywhere. Help!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Reminder to come walk with me at the 10Kato!!!

Reminder to register for the 10Kato and come walk with me!!

Only a handful of people have joined my little walking team, so there's plenty of room left, not that we could run out of room, I guess. It is a public sidewalk, after all. ...Anyway ...

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!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Do men suffer from blind confidence syndrome?

There's a reason many hands of elementary school boys shoot into the air at twice the speed and frequency of girls when the teacher asks a question, regardless of whether they actually know the correct answer. Is it genetics that make boys more assertive and more confident than girls? Should we blame their mothers for treating them like little princes that, surely, the whole world should admire and look to for answers?

It's amazing to me the gall of some men, ready and more than willing to half listen to a conversation and loudly interrupt with an opinion in a tone that suggests there is no room for a counterpoint.

More amazing is the blind confidence when it comes to women. Take the Life Center at the Y, for example. Sometimes I feel terrible for the women employed there. Naturally, they are young and in great shape. They're all very pretty and sweet. And quite often, I'll see men sidle up to the front counter where one of them is folding towels and proceed to flirt. There's one guy in particular who is absolutely relentless. One day I was on an elliptical next to one of the Y employees who was there on her own time working out, and three or four guys -- older than her by at least 10 years -- interrupted her workout to come talk to her.

Imagine if it was a guy in his early 20s, working out on his own time. How many women who age him by at least 10 years would come and interrupt his workout to make fools of themselves? I'm betting not a single one. I never see women gathered around a male Y employee, saying ridiculous things and hoping he'll flirt back.

Must be nice to live life without shame. But, guys, just so you know, many of you are just wasting your time. Leave the pretty Y girls alone. Jeez.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Time to relaaaaax

The time has come to relax. I'm feeling pretty good about where I am, health wise. Fifty pounds gone feels good. And I'm thinking it's time to just enjoy that and not worry so much about losing X number of pounds in X number of days.

I can honestly say I think the "lifestyle" has changed. Even without a trainer, I've been putting in at least five hours of exercise per week. I have many more good eating days than bad, but I don't stay totally away from bad foods. If I really want nachos, I have a few. If candy is all I can think about, I'll eat some Hot Tamales. No biggie. Because as long as I get up the next morning, have low-sugar oatmeal and go to the gym, it all evens out in the end.

So no more obsessing. Weight will come off slower with this attitude, sure. But who says that's a bad thing when you're happy with where you are now? Any progress is good, and not feeling so consumed by the journey will feel even better.

I'll still have lots of junk to write about, though, so stay tuned!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sorry, folks, I'm not a runner

I'm convinced that southern Minnesotans are addicted to running and they're eager to hook others, kind of like heroin dealers hoping to build a clientele by offering free samples. I've received so many offers for weekend running partners, 5K trainers and marathon-training buddies that I'm running out of humorous/polite ways to say, "Have you met my butt? Because it's not ready to move that quickly."

Even if I was tiny, I cannot imagine having the desire to run. I often wonder what these people are getting out of it. Must be good, considering they hit the streets at least several days a week and post status updates on Facebook about whatever hill they conquered and how many miles they did in however many minutes. I've heard about "runner's high," which I'm sure must feel good to these people. Maybe that's the secret to the addiction.

But you know what feels good to me? Recliner's high. Or at least An-hour-of-exercise-that-doesn't-take-me-miles-away-so-I-can-easily-quit-when-I'm-tired high.

It's not that I don't appreciate the kind offers to turn me into a runner, which clearly many people hold in high regard around here. But it's just not something I want to do. The funniest part is being honest with said runners and saying these exact words. I get a sense that some of them don't understand me, like saying "I have no desire to run" sounds as strange to them as someone saying to me, "I don't like sweets."

To each her own, I guess. (And, yes, I have heard of couch to 5K programs, and, no, that doesn't change anything. You are a persuasive bunch!)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I hope bin Laden feared for his soul

Ten years ago, I was in college, commuting from my mom's house in Fairmont to MSU every day. Some days I would get home at 2 or 3 in the morning, having driven an hour from school (working at The Reporter), and have to get up the next morning at 8 or 9 to get back to school.

So, on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I was sleeping when the first plane hit the tower. My sister knocked on my bedroom door and said, "Amanda, something big is happening. You should turn on the TV." I was 20. My sister was 17. She had absolutely no credibility in my mind. So I yelled something about how she should know how late I'm up, and she should keep quiet.

It nagged at me, though, and I couldn't sleep. So I turned on the TV in my room just in time to see the second plane hit the tower.

I remember not fully getting it. Not understanding what I was seeing. Not understanding why the NBC anchor lost his composure. Were we at war? Was I in danger in Fairmont, Minnesota? How many people worked in those buildings? How many deaths was I witnessing?

Later that day, my best friend, Sara, came over and we started to piece the puzzle together, spouting our theories about the tragedy and what would happen next. Studying the news coverage and letting it sink in that we were sharing in a very important, solemn moment in our country's history. Still not understanding what would cause someone to commit such a horrible act.

In the years that followed, the 9/11 wound scarred over. I say that with ease. I didn't know anyone involved in the tragedy. I was only affected in the way the majority of Americans were, peripherally, in the way that we embraced nationalism and identified ourselves as Americans on a united front against our enemies.

But it wasn't until tonight that I felt a sense of closure. Until now, it has felt like the murderer of 3,000 Americans has been allowed to go free, arrogantly releasing videos and threatening further attacks.

I do not believe in the death penalty. Usually I equate eye-for-an-eye punishment to barbarism. But, tonight, I'm glad Osama bin Laden is dead. I hope he suffered. I hope he prayed for his life. I hope he thought about the horrendous acts he committed and questioned his motives, feared for his soul. I hope he believed at the moment of his death that he would not be forgiven, that he would burn. And I hope his fears came true.

But, mostly, my heart swells for the family of the 9/11 victims. My thoughts go out to you, and even though this doesn't bring your loved ones back, I hope you, too, feel a sense of closure.