Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Day 6: food

Breakfast: OJ with high fiber cereal and yogurt: 3 pts
Lunch: leftover lasagne: 10 pts
Dinner: left over lasagne: 10 pts
Snack: apple pie (only a few bites): 3 pts

Day 6: workout

Alarm: 5:24 out of bed at 5:36.
I didn't sleep very well last night, but for some reason I seem to have more energy than I did yesterday morning.

Good workout today. I kept pace with everything. Yesterday, I mentioned that I reverted to 8 lb dumb bells for the squat presses, but that's wrong. I've only been using the 5 pounders. Today, however, I did revert to using 5 lbs for the bent over rows; my forearms were really sore when I tried to use the 8 lb weights.

I've also decided that the only way I'm going to build strength and endurance with side lunge - anterior raise move is to actually do it. So, instead of substituting a move, today I did the move without any weights. Basically, I want to get the form right, and when I feel confident with the move, I'll add the 2.5 lbs.

My shins were also hurting during the butt kicks, but not enough to make me stop.

No weigh

I hate stepping on the scale to weigh myself. I think part of the reason I gained 13 or 14 pounds in the first four years of marriage was because we didn't have a working scale so I never, ever weighed myself during those years. Sure, my clothes were getting slightly tighter, but it was gradual, so I didn't really notice it.

When I started Weight Watchers in July, I weighed myself every morning. At first, I lost weight when I went in for my weekly weigh-ins, so I was happy to step on the scale. But, then I gained weight one week. It was only 1/2 a pound, and it happended to be the week after an out-of-town wedding where most meals for three days straight were eaten in a restaurant, but it was enough to frustrate me. It was also about that time when I started to notice and get frustrated with the fluctuations in my weight. Somehow, from one morning to the next, I would gain or lose up to three pounds. I know that's not possible, but I've never had anyone give me a satisfactory explanation for these weight fluctuations. I know I weigh slightly more right before my period starts, and I have noticed that I seem to "lose" weight shortly after my period ends.

I've gone back and forth for the past few days over whether I should document my weight in this blog. For now, I've decided not to post my weight on a daily basis, but I reserve the right to change my mind once I get within 10 pounds of my ultimate goal, but at the rate I'm going currently, that won't be for a while.

Monday, September 29, 2008

My personal trainer

The most serious I've ever been about losing weight (before now) was in May of 2007. I visited my doctor for my annual exam, and I was appalled at the number on the scale when I got weighed. It had been 18 months since the birth of my second child, and I was about 14 pounds heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight. I set my mind toward losing those 14 pounds, at least.

For about two months, I worked out on my own at least 3 days a week. I tried to watch what I ate, but truth be told, I didn't change my eating habits or limit my caloric intake at all. I'm one of those people who fall into the trap of "I worked out today, I can eat whatever I want." So, I didn't lose any significant weight, but I was encouraged by some signs that I was toning up.

In June of 2007, I read an article about a new company of personal trainers who made house calls. The rates seemed reasonable enough, so I called the number in the paper. When I hung up the phone, I had an appointment with a personal trainer for the following week. After doing the intial assessment, we agreed that I needed to work out at least 4 days a week. Two days a week the personal trainer would come to my house at 6:00 am, and the other two days a week I'd be on my own. The trainer put together a little routine for me to follow on his off days, and I was pretty diligent about doing it.

The best thing about having the personal trainer, for me, was that he really taught me how to work out. He taught me how to push myself, and he made me realize that I was strong and could get stronger. He showed me new exercises, ones I never would have tried on my own. He started me off with 2 pound weights, but he had me doing most exercises with 10 pound weights in no time.

Unfortunately, I did not see the results I was looking for. I was expecting the weight to "melt" off me given all the lean muscle mass I was building. In three months of intense working out, I lost about nine pounds and several inches. My trainer also expressed dismay at my lack of weight loss. He suggested that perhaps my metabolism was "off" and urged me to get my thyroid checked. When my blood work came back "normal," I decided to let the trainer go because I could not justify the $125 a week for what I considered sub-par results.

It was around this time that I discovered Jari Love and her Get Ripped 1000 workout. This is the DVD that alternates between segments of cardio bursts and strength training. I never would have considered this video prior to working out with the trainer, I never would have had the confidence in my ability to do the moves. But after working with the trainer, I knew I could do it.

Unfortunately, at the end of October 2007, our family was struck with a sudden and major tragedy, and my desire and will to work out ended abruptly. It took me until July 2008 to get motivated again to lose weight. I did work out sporadically during the winter months, but I was nowhere near as serious as I had been.

When I went back to my doctor for my annual exam for 2008, I weighed exactly what I weighed the year before. Ironically, the doctor actually commended me for not gaining any weight over the course of the year. I then had to admit to him that I had actually lost and then gained about 9 pounds.

Today, I'm actually a pound or two less than I was when I was working out with the personal trainer. I'm not satisfied, I will keep going. I can't think about where I might be if I had kept going. I just know that I have a goal, and I have motivation. I have a series of incentives, and I think I've given myself a realistic time frame to lose the weight I want to lose. With Weight Watchers' help, I've changed my eating habits. I'm not a perfect dieter by any means, I still cheat, and I "overeat" my points on occasion. But I think, if I keep plugging away, I can get to where I want to be.

Day 5: food

Breakfast: yogurt w/ high fiber cereal; 1/4 of a donut = 4 pts
Lunch: veggies and dip = 3 pts.
Dinner: Cajun Chicken Lasagne = 12 pts (I'm rounding way, way up as I don't know for sure)
And a piece of homemade apple pie with apples picked by the kids yesteday w/ gram and papa, so there are virtually no points!!! (0r maybe 6 pts, give or take)

Day 5

Alarm: 5:20, didn't get out of bed until 5:56
I'm really tired this morning. I have almost no energy, and I'm kind of dreading the workout. Without the motivation of this blog, any other day I would have stayed in bed, but I get up and do it.

When the workout starts, I'm kind of lethargic, but I keep pace with every move. I did, however, revert to 5 lb dumbbells for the squat presses.

I have a confession: I did not do the side lunge with anterior raise move. I find that exercise to be very difficult. I don't know why it's so hard, perhaps I am doing it wrong which is creating stress and causing pain. I reward myself for getting up and making it through the workout by not doing that exact exercise. I substitute squats and dead lifts with 8 lb weights instead. I only feel slightly guilty.

Weight Watchers

I hand-wrote the following entry in my journal on July 22, 2008 and decided to type it up and post it here.

I'm at it again, trying to lose weight that is. Last year at this time it was the personal trainer; the year before that, who knows?!

This year it's Weight Watchers. I joined for an initial 8 weeks, I'm just finishing up week one. The points system is easy to follow, and most days it's relatively easy to stay within a point or 2 of my daily points allowance.

The problem right now is I'm constantly thinking about foor and about points. I keep going back over the points index in the Eat Wisely book again and again. I also keep going over the meal plan in the kickstart book. I'm hoping that the obsession with food and points wears off.

Initially, I'm working towards losing 10% of my weight. I'm optimistic that I can lose 10% in the next 7 weeks. I don't think it will be easy, by any means, but at least I have something to work for and as long as I see results, I'm hoping I'll be inspired to keep going to my ultimate goal.

I have seen several women I know lose weight on the WW program, and I hope it works for me.

Day 4: Food log

Breakfast: Egg white omelet with feta cheese, spinach, tomato, and green pepper = 5 pts

Lunch: veggies and light dill dip = 4 pts

Dinner: soup and salad, almost no dressing = 6 pts; normally I drink water with my meals, but today I had a Diet Coke.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


At some point in one of Jari's DVDs (I think during one of the push-up segments), she says something like, "with every effort there comes a reward." I've decided that I need to set up small incentives for myself to keep me going this month. I've written briefly about my motivation (to lose weight for our ten year annivesary next year), but I think I need to reward myself with something small along the way to my ultimate goal.

I'm still working on the details, but this is what I'm thinking. I've been wanting to purchase for myself m.d. skincare's exfoliating pads. But, at a whopping $75 at Sephora, I just can't justify the expense for something that will only last me 30 days. I'm just not sure what level of success in this endeavor should warrant my desired reward.

I know I should say 100% workout and blogging output, but is that realistic? Is it even physically possible and/or advisable for me to workout for 30 days straight? Should it matter whether it's realisitic? Should I allow myself to skip 2 or 3 days of working out? What if I skip one day of blogging but I make up for it by writing 2 entries on the following day?

At this moment, I am leaning toward 100% workout and 100% blogging between now and October 31. Yes, I realize that's longer than 30 days, given that I started on September 25, but I can keep myself going for the extra six days with the knowledge that we have a wedding to attend on November 1, and I've already bought myself a size 6 dress that I want to wear.

Day 4: workout

Just finished. Didn't wake up to an alarm this morning... that was nice.

The workout continues to get easier. (I said "easier," not "easy!") I started cramping up in my left side very early on, but I managed to work through it. Drinking water at the start of the ab section seemed to help, but I felt the water sloshing around in my stomach while I was doing the crunches. The pain started to subside about half-way through the workout.

I held pace with all of the cardio work and the push ups. I used 5 lb weights for the bicep curl-lunge combo, and I used 8lb weights for the bent over rows and the chest flies. I had to revert to 2.5 lb weights for the side lunge - anterior raise combo, though. That is the hardest exercise for me.

I'm not sure at what point I should move on to Level 2. It won't be for a few more days, but I'm already dreading it because I know it will be just like starting over.

About yesterday

Yesterday was one of those days that is typical of why I can't seem to lose any weight. The day started out just fine. It was a Saturday, and the plan for the day was to take the kids to my inlaw's house for the day, head to Ann Arbor for tailgating and a football game. As I mentioned, it's always hard for me to use self-control at the tailgates because of the scrumptious offerings of tailgate food, and yesterday was no exception. I did all right only eating a few veggies and a turkey brat with mustard. I did sneak a sugar cookie or two adorned with maize and blue "chocolate gems." I drank two Michelob Light Pomegranate beers and two bottles of water before we headed into the game.

We sat in our seats for the first half debacle of Michigan football (what a disaster that was), and left at halftime. And, no, I do not feel one ounce of remorse for having left early even though the team mounted the biggest comeback in Michigan Stadium history during the 500th game at the Big House. I take solace in knowing that the team's fortune would not have changed had I stayed to watch the rest of the game. The first half that I watched was atrocious!!

On the drive home, we made plans to go out to dinner with friends who also left the game early. We settled on a steak house in B'ham called Fleming's. While we were driving, Michigan was mounting its comeback, and by the time we reached our house, we turned on the television to watch Michigan win the game. So, now we had an excuse to "celebrate."

At Fleming's, I ordered a wedge of lettuce with bleu cheese dressing (4 pts), a petite filet (4 pts) with pan seared scallops (1 pt ). We had cheesy, jalapeno potatoes (3 pts), asparagus in olive oil (1 pt), and creamed spinach (3 pts) as our sides. I'm sure I drank at least 5 glasses of red wine over the course of the evening (8 pts). That meal alone was 24 points! More than my entire daily point allowance.

The meal was excellent! I don't regret eating it, but it's meals like that that set me back in my weight loss goals.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

How I got here

I was 17 years old when I first started an exercise routine geared to help me lose weight. I was a senior in high school, and I wanted to look good in my bikini on the beach in the Bahamas for Spring Break. I didn't have a lot of weight to lose, I just wanted to slim down a little. I always had "thick thighs," and I was hoping that I could make them thinner.

During college, I worked out at UMich's CCRB using mainly the stair master and attending a variety of aerobics classes. In four years of college, I'd say I gained somewhere between 5 and 10 pounds.

When I went on to do my post-graduate work, I started running 3 miles a day, and occasionally I'd mix in some aerobics videos. I was able to maintain my weight during those three years. My first business suits were all size 4.

The day I got married, one year after graduating from law school, I weighed about seven pounds more than I did when I graduated from high school nine years earlier.

Somehow, in the last 9 years since I got married, I have gained and lost weight such that currently I am 17 pounds heavier than I was on my wedding day. Four years into my marriage, before getting pregnant with my first child, I had gained 13 pounds. I have weighed as much as 178 lbs, which was on the day I gave birth to my first child. Before getting pregnant with my second child, I was within 10 or 11 pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight.

Since July, I have been able to lose most of my remaining "pregnancy" weight; Today, I am a mere four pounds away from what I weighed when I got pregnant with my first child. That may look good on paper, but the unfortunate thing is that my body parts simply are not as firm and taught as they once may have been. Whereas before I always thought my "problem areas" were my inner thighs and saddle bags, today the most pronounced problem areas are my stomach pouch and "thick waist." This is not to say that I still don't find my inner thighs to be a problem, that area has simply fallen in my list of priorities.

My goal is to lose 17 pounds by next June. In honor of our 10 year anniversary, I'm hoping to weigh what I weighed the day I got married. Depending on how that goes, maybe I'll push myself to lose an additional 7 pounds so I can say that I weigh what I weighed in high school.

Day 3: Points log

Tailgate days are always a challenge. I don't keep track of every single item that I eat or drink. I try to eat in moderation and keep a mental tab running, but as it goes when there's a smorgasbord of junk food, it's not easy. My contribution to the tailgates is usually a healthy option, like fruits and veggies. But of course, I always eat the brownies, rice krispie treats, and cookies that others have brought. I have very little self control, and my philosophy is not to deprive myself.

We'll see how today goes, but I'm not promising a food points log today.

Day 3

Alarm: 6:02. I was going to allow myself one snooze, but at 6:04 I shot out of bed upon realizing that I forgot to cut up my veggies for today's tailgate.

The workout was decidedly easier this morning. I didn't miss any jumping jacks, and I didn't rest for any lunges. I also used 5 lb dumbbells for the bent over row exercise, and I used 8 lb dumbbells for the chest flies. I am not as stiff or sore as I was yesterday.

I still couldn't even think about doing the routine 2x though, and despite the fact that the routine seemed easier today, I don't think I'm nearly ready to move on to Level 2.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Day 2: energy observation

Yesterday, I wrote a short post describing my "increased energy" for the day. I wrote that it was noticeable enough that I thought I should mention it. Well, today, I had the opposite of "increased energy." Between all the soreness and stiffness in my neck and pecs, I have felt very sluggish all day long. I did not have one of those Lipton energy packs today, either, for the record.

Love Jari Love

As I have written, I wasn't really looking to replace my Jari Love workouts. I really do love her programs. I stumbled upon her about a year ago much the same way I recently stumbled upon Jillian's Shred video. For Christmas, I asked for and received a three pack of her videos, Ripped, Ripped to the Core, and Slim and Lean. In July, I purchased Get Ripped 1000.

Jari's programs are approximately 60 minutes long; the workouts are broken down into short segments of mostly strength and conditioning moves. Representative moves include push ups, lunges, bicep curls, tricep extensions, dead lifts, squats, and ab work. I started out using 2.5 lb weights and gradually worked up to 8 lb weights. Recently, I even contemplated purchasing 10 lb weights to start using with some of the moves.

To the Core is my favorite DVD as it contains compound moves. For example, instead of doing a solitary dead lift, we do dead lifts with bicep curls; chest flies with raised hips; and tricep extensions with the opposite leg raised to focus on the abs.

In the 1000 program, Jari added cardio segments. She alternates between strength training moves and cardio work most of which is done with a step. For example, "up-ups" are followed by squats which are followed by "the skiier" which is followed by lunges, and on and on.

Slim and Lean is my least favorite of the four that I own. The problem with S&L from my perspective is the pulsing. I still work out with this video on occasion, but I don't follow the pulsing with all the moves, sometimes I just do the whole move (e.g. a full squat instead of a pulse squat.)

I like Jari's programs. She pushes you, and she's certainly encouraging. Unlike Jillian, she encourages you to rest and requires you to stretch after each segment, especially in 1000's cardio segments.

What is so hard?

I can't quite figure out why Jillian's DVD seems so hard. The basic moves of the Level 1 portion are not hard. It must be the combination of the moves and the pace of the work that make it hard.

Jillian's DVD contains three 20 minute workouts: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. Each level is broken down into three circuits of strength, cardio, and ab work that are repeated three times each.

In Level 1, representative exercises for the strength training include: push ups, squat presses, lunges with bicep curls, and the chest fly. The cardio work includes such moves as jumping jacks, jump rope, and butt kicks. Traditional crunches and bicycle crunches, among other moves, are in the ab portion.

Again, individually, none of these moves are all that difficult, and most are actually easier than those found in Jari's DVDs, so I'm not quite sure why I have found Level 1 to be such a challenge thus far.

Day 2: Food log

DPA = 21+2 activity points = 23

Breakfast: high-fiber cereal with high-fiber yogurt and a glass of OJ= 3
Lunch: leftover tortellini (small portion) = 7
Dinner: 2 small slices of thin crust pizza = 9
snack small handful of knock-off m&ms = 3

Total: 22

update: While I was writing some posts last night, I munched on some Cheezit Party Mix for an additional 4 pts. I tried to stop myself, I really did...

That means I was over by 3 points for the day.

Day 2: workout

The alarm went off at 5:30, but today I didn't get up until after Kyle, at 5:56.

Again, I had ambitions of trying to do Level 1 back to back, but as soon as I tried to get out of bed, I realized how sore I am. Honestly, I am surprised at how sore I am. I have been working out diligently since July. I've been using weights and doing cardio with Jari, but obviously, Jillian targets a few different muscles. The pecs must be one of those muscles I wasn't using as much with Jari as that's where I'm the most sore.

I decide I can only use 2.5 lb weights again, I'm not ready to move up to 5 lb. Again, this surprises me, because I've been using 8 lb weights. Shortly after beginning the workout, I decide that I'm only going to be able to do Level 1 one time today.

Today, I do a little better at keeping up with Jillian's pace. I only skip 8 jumping jacks while I drink some water, and I rest for a total of 4 lunges (2 on each leg) during the difficult static lunges with bicep curl.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I wonder if they know each other

I have been a casual observer of NBC's show, The Biggest Loser, for a few seasons, so I at least knew who Jillian Michaels was when I stumbled upon her relatively new workout video, 30 Day Shred. I wasn't really looking to change my workout routine. I've been very happy with Jari Love's series of DVDs, I have 4 of them which I rotate through on a weekly basis. I find Jari's workouts challenging, I feel great when I'm done, and I have certainly seen positive changes in my physique. But, after watching the trailer for Jillian's 30 Day Shred DVD, I felt that she was challenging me.

I've tried just about everything to lose weight since the birth of my second child in October of 2005. I joined two different ladies only gyms; I've dieted; I've worked out with a personal trainer; I've worked out on my own; I've walked; I tried running; I workout with weights; I throw in some cardio. I've even tried a few "diet pills" and "colon cleaners," but no matter what combination of healthy eating and exercise I try, I simply do not see the results that I am looking for. The personal trainer I had was convinced that there was something wrong with my thyroid, so I had that checked, but it's fine.

This is not to say that I haven't seen any results. Sure, I've lost as much as 10 pounds. And, yes, since adding the free weights, I have definitely seen an increase in my strength and endurance, and yet, I can't seem to lose all the weight I'd like or look the way I think I should look given all the effort I've put forth.

Part of my problem has been consistency. I go all gang busters for a period of time, but then something happens (sickness, death, job stress, etc) which causes me to stop working out the way I was, and then I have a hard time getting back into it again. Kind of like the smoker who "never quits quitting," though, I do eventually get back into a workout routine in an effort to lose more weight.

For some reason, I've decided to take Jillian up on her challenge to shed weight in the next 30 days. We'll see if this time is different. I'm logging this experience because maybe it will shed some light into my own inability to stick with a work out program.

A points predicament

After typing that last post and figuring out the number of points that I can add to my daily points allowance (dpa) on the days that I work out, I realize there is another major difference between Jari and Jillian.

On Jari's program, I can give myself up to 7 extra points, depending on how long I work out and how intense the work out is. (I figure this out using weight watchers' activity points sliding scale.... 60 minutes of high output at my current weight gives me an additional maximum of 7 points.) I didn't add in the extra points every day that I worked out with Jari, but when I did eat the extra points, I never felt too guilty about it.

With Jillian's program, if I continue to workout for only 20 minutes, even with the high intensity, I only have an additional 2 points maximum. The way I love food, I guess this is my incentive to work out for the additional 20 minutes so I at least get 4 extra points.

Day 1: Food log

I realize that exercise alone will not get me to weight loss goals. Since July, I have been following Weight Watchers' points program. I plan to log my food and points on this blog as well.

My daily points allowance is 21.

Breakfast: high fiber yogurt mixed with high fiber cereal= 2 pts
Lunch: Tuna cakes = 7 pts
Dinner: Italian Smothered Steak = 10
Snack: Ice cream=4 pts
Activity points= 2, bringing dpa=23

Total for day: 23

Day 1: 11:00 am observation

I seem to have quite a bit of energy today. I'm not sure if it is attributable at all to the new work out I did this morning, but who knows. It was noticeable enough that I thought I'd document it.

Yesterday I added a packet of Lipton's Energize Iced Tea mix, blueberry and pomegranate flavor, to one bottle of water... again, I don't know if that has anything to do with my extra energy either.

Day 1

The alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. My goal was to be out of bed before K. I got out of bed at 5:46, two minutes before the second snooze, and one minute before K.

After previewing Jillian's workout, my plan was to start with the Level 1 workout and use 5 lb weights. I figured 5 lbs would be no problem, I've been using 8 lb weights with Jari for the last month. By the end of the first set of strength exercises, I've switched to 2.5 lb weights, and I don't feel guilty about it.

In the beginning, I'm skeptical that Jillian's 20 minute workout will be enough; I'm used to Jari who keeps going for about 60 minutes in each of her intense workout sessions. When I start Jillian's program, I think I'll do Level 1 and Level 2 back to back for a total of 40 minutes. I think I can handle that, despite what I've read in the reviews of Jillian's program. At least I can't say I wasn't warned, I simply failed to heed the warnings.

About half-way through the first 20 minutes of Level 1, I decide to simply repeat Level 1.

At the end of the first 20 minutes, I am dripping with sweat and out of breath, I'm in no shape to do anything but the cool down!

Maybe tomorrow.

At first blush, the major difference between these programs (besides the length) is the fact that Jillian gives you absolutely no time to rest, not even for a drink of water. In contrast, Jari has you stretch after each short segment. That much stretching is annoying, and I admit that on occasion, when I am pressed for time, I fast forward through some of the stretching, but Jillian's extreme is no better, I need to drink water when I exercise. I admit, I missed the first few repetitions of a few of the exercises so I could gulp some much needed water.