Monday, November 30, 2015

This week’s mantra: 4 pounds down!

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m more than a little overwhelmed at the prospect of losing 7.5 pounds in the next 2 weeks.  People at the gym and on Facebook are talking about the final week’s “special diet” and “special instructions” we’ll receive, but I don’t think I can leave it all until next week.  If I only lose another 2/2.5 lbs this week, that will leave me with 5/5.5 lbs to lose the final week.  So, my mantra for this week is: 4 pounds down!  As I pushed myself during this morning’s workout, that’s what I kept repeating to myself to make me work harder. 

While I was working hard, I kept thinking about the following inspiration: “What the mind can visualize, the body can achieve.”  I wasn’t sure where this “quote” came from, so what did I do, I “googled” it.  Turns out, the original quote is from the author of a book called Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and the actual quote is: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve no matter how many times you have failed in the past.”  Hill’s book was written in 1937 near the end of the Great Depression and was a financial self-help book that has sold over 20 million copies. When I found that quote, it rang true with me, but I knew there had to be a fitness angle to it.  With some further internet sleuthing, it turns out that there is a fitness related version of Hill’s inspirational quote, and it is attributed to none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Apparently, Arnold is a huge proponent of visualizing fitness goals to coax your mind into believing that it’s possible to achieve what you’re working toward.  He believes that “your body can achieve what your mind can conceive.” 

So, that’s my mantra for this week.  With hard work and determination, I believe I can achieve a 4 pound loss this week.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Weigh in: Good news/bad news

This week's weigh-in has me down another 2.4 pounds for total loss in four weeks of 12.5 pounds. That, of course, is the good news. The bad news is that I still have 7.5 pounds to lose in the next two weeks to make it to my 20 lb goal.  In a word, that feels insurmountable.  Technically, I'm still "on track," but considering that I've only lost 7.5 lbs in the last three weigh-ins, I'm not sure how I lose 7.5 lbs in two weeks.

"They" say not to stress about it. "They" say to stick with the program and follow the instructions, which I have and I will.

I'm also aware of the final week's "emergency instructions," which I'm fully prepared to follow when the times comes. (I'll write about those instructions later.)

Here are a few things I'm planning to start doing this week in the hopes that I might drop 3 or even 4 pounds this week.   

1. I put my Jawbone back on my wrist.  I don't really now why I stopped wearing it back in September, but starting this week, I want to make a concerted effort to crack 12,000 steps, possibly more.

2. Along with number 1, I'm going to increase my ESC to at least 45 minutes a day, and hopefully get a full hour of ESC on the days when I can.

3.  I'm planning to eat fish for dinner each night.

4. I need to keep pushing myself even harder during the boot camp workouts.  One of the trainers reminded us today that with fitness, you only get out what you put in.  If you only give 50%, then you won't see 100% results.  This is not to say that I have been "dogging" it during the workouts, believe me, these workouts are tough, and when I started this challenge, I was really out of shape.  However, as I begin week 5, I can truly feel that I am stronger, and I have more stamina.  I need to remember to push myself further  now that I can do these moves for longer and am stronger. 

I really want to hit that 20 lb mark because this isn't the beginning of my weight loss, as I've mentioned, I'd like to lose 20 lbs more, and in order to keep going with these challenges, I have to lose this initial 20 lbs.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The struggle is real

Doubt is creeping in.  I'm trying to push the negative thoughts out my head, but it's a struggle.  I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far, but now that the holidays are here, I'm just not sure if I'm going to make it to my goal of losing 20 pounds by final weigh-in on December 13.  Losing the first 10 pounds was not easy, but those were relatively "low key" weeks where I didn't have to struggle to fit everything in, meal planning and prepping, workouts, empty stomach cardio, work and family obligations, and sleep!  (Yes, it's important to rest these 43 year old bones!)

I've been doing so well, but I'm worried about making it through this Thanksgiving weekend and then the following two weekends.  We have quite a bit going on.  I knew it would be rough going into this challenge, but really, there's never a time when we're not busy with something.  I know I need to take each day one at a time, but it's hard not to look ahead and get overwhelmed with all of the parties, events, and activities we will be attending in the weeks ahead.  I know it will be a struggle.

I need to take a moment to think about how far I've come.  For sure, this week the trainers at the gym have amped up the workouts.  I've come to realize that the old saying, "the workouts don't get easier, you get stronger" doesn't mean what I thought it did.  The saying is true, but not in the way I expected.  Certainly, the workouts have not become easier than they were the first week, of that I am certain.  However, I am definitely stronger.  By way of a few examples that were evident during today's tough workout, here is a small measure of the progress I have made:  I can hold a plank for much longer than I could three weeks ago.  I can do a full swinging sit up and touch my toes for the entire timed set without stopping. I have even made progress with the Russian twists, whereas in the beginning of this challenge I couldn't even keep my heels off the ground for a simple "c-sit," today, I did Russian twists for 20 seconds before I had to rest... not that impressive, I know, but so much better than on Nov. 1. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Two pounds

I'm only down two (2) pounds this week.  I had a feeling it would be a low number.  It's not that I've been slacking or cheating in any way, I just had a feeling that I wouldn't have a big week.  I'm still "on track" to lose 20 pounds by the end of this 6 week challenge.  Three weeks in and I'm down 10 pounds.  Of course I'm happy with that, but I still have a ways to go.  According to the chart provided by VIP, I'm exactly where they think I should be, and in fact, the chart shows that at the end of this week, I can expect to see another low (i.e. 2 lbs) result.  I'm going to keep plugging away.

I suppose one thing I could do is increase my ESC (empty stomach cardio) from 30 minutes to 60 minutes every day.  I could also, for these last 3 weeks, get up 30 minutes earlier and ESC in the morning, before boot camp class.  That will be tough (getting up at 4:00 AM) but if it's only for a short time, maybe I should think about doing that.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Ready Responses for the Holiday

So, the holidays are coming up, and I will still be involved in this 6 week challenge.  I know I will find myself in situations where I will have to decline food and drink so that I can strictly follow the nutrition plan we've been given. 

On the private VIP Facebook page, someone posted a thoughtful piece about being prepared for the holidays.  I have discovered through the first 3 weeks of this challenge, that the best advice I have been given is to be prepared; layout my workout clothes before I go to bed, grocery shop ahead of time, prepare meals in advance, especially breakfast when I need to ne up and out the door by 5:10 am.

The VIP post encouraged us to think about how we're going to handle the holidays, and the writer encouraged us to role-play situations, if necessary.  One technique offered by the author of the post was to think of the "food pusher" (i.e. the one saying things like, "it's ok you can have just one piece of pie"; or "you look great, you don't need to lose any weight")  as a bear.  That is, someone who is more afraid of me, or more specifically my success/ my resolve/my willpower, etc. than I am of the food that's being offered.  I like that idea, and will try to implement it.

I also have some responses ready for those moments when my willpower and resolve will be tested.

1. No thank you. (Sometimes that's all you need to say.)

2. That looks delicious but I'm trying hard to watch what I eat. (When you don't want to offend the person who's offering the food she made.)

3. Thank you, but I'm fine with veggies and water. (Really, I am.)

4. No thanks.  I'm in the middle of a fitness challenge, and I've lost [insert number] pounds since November 1, and I'm getting stronger and closer to my goal, and I don't want to jeopardize all of my hard work by eating that [insert delicious food item]. (For those who need an explanation and won't take "no thank you" for an answer.)

5. Thanks, but I am in the middle of a fitness challenge.  It may seem silly to do this during the holidays, but I need to do this for me.  I need to prove to myself that I don't need that [insert food or drink].  I'm putting myself first and making me a priority. (Again, for those who won't take "no thank you" for answer.  The person who may (or may not) need to be put in her place with a moral reason for why I'm declining dessert).

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Shortly after walking into the informational meeting about the 6 week challenge, the first thing the owner of the gym asked those of us who wanted to accept this  challenge was: why do you want to do this?  He asked us to really think about our motivation, and he hoped that our answers would be something beyond just wanting to lose weight.   For me, a big part of why I'm doing this is to lose weight, but losing weight is a result.  Why do I want to put myself through all of this hard work?  Getting up at 4:30? Pushing myself through hard workouts?  Planning all of these meals, some of which I literally have to choke down... hello egg whites and raspberries.  Here are my top 5 reasons for accepting this challenge:

1. To prove to myself that I can do it!
2. To set a good example for my kids.
3. To look better in pictures.
4. To look better in my clothes and to wear clothes I haven't been able to wear.
5. To conquer the Blue Course at the Adventure Park with my son!

First, I need to prove to myself that I can do this.  I've tried and failed so many times to lose weight, be healthy, and get fit.  Instead of having 24 lbs that I wanted to lose when I weighed 144 lbs, now I have 40 lbs to lose to get to where I'd like to be.  I realize it won't happen in one 6 week challenge, but I can get a good start and get back to a better place.

Second, setting a good example for my kids is important to me.  I offer them the food that I'm eating, but they still turn their nose up at the veggies and want rice or pasta on the side.  Because they are both pretty active, and I figure they'll burn off the carbohydrates, I accommodate their desire for pasta and rice.  I require them to eat some sort of vegetables; they like and eat the same ones (cucumbers, carrots, corn, and peas) over and over, but it's better than not eating any veggies,  I suppose.  I keep telling them that their taste buds will change, and one day they will enjoy the veggies I'm eating.

Third, with the proliferation of Facebook and other social media, I find myself being forced to be in pictures.  I don't like the way I look in them.  Ironically, in my mind's eye, I don't see myself as "fat" or "overweight," and then I see a photograph of myself, and I'm appalled at what I see.  I'm doing this so that I feel better about myself and I how I look and feel when I see myself in the bathroom mirror or in photographs.

Fourth, I want to look better in my clothes. When I first started noticing that I was gaining weight, I taped a note to my night stand near my alarm clock that read, "your pants don't fit!"  I was hoping the note would serve as a reminder and motivation to get out of bed and work out.  Truth be told, the note didn't work.  But, 2 weeks into this challenge, I have noticed that my clothes are fitting better, and I look better in them.  That is certainly motivating for me.

Fifth, two summers ago, I took my kids to an Adventure Park.  One of those places where you climb and zip line through the trees. The park we went to only had a limited number of lower level (green and yellow) courses. After conquering those, my son was up for a bigger challenge and begged me to try the blue course with him.   At  eleven years old, he needed an adult to accompany him.  I reluctantly obliged.    Mind you, blue is not even the highest level, there are 1 if not 2 more levels beyond the blue course.  After the first element, which entailed climbing a rope ladder to a platform about 200 feet in the air, I knew this endeavor was not a good idea, but I didn't want to disappoint my son and make him turn around.  By the third element, I was in real trouble.  This element required me to walk across an expanse (I'm not sure how many feet) between two trees.  It was essentially a tight-rope with two ropes at arm-level. Sparing you the gory details, I ended up losing my balance and falling off the tight-rope.  Of course, the harness saved me from falling to the ground, but I COULD.NOT.GET.BACK.UP.  The Adventure Park lifeguards (not their real title) were wonderful, and a young woman rescued me out of the trees.  She tried to encourage me to keep going, but I honestly did not have the arm strength to pull myself back up onto the tight-rope. My son was very disappointed; I, on the other hand, was happy to be alive.  Thankfully, there are no pictures to memorialize this failure.  Next summer, I hope to be in good enough shape to attempt to conquer the blue course!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I got old!

The last time I was serious about losing weight and being fit, about four years ago, I:

1.      was thinking about re-entering the         
  workforce full time
2.      wasn’t forty years old, and
3.      weighed 130 pounds.    

At least that’s what I gleaned from reading the last post I published in September of 2011.

Since then, I:
1.      went back to work full time
2.      turned 40, and
3.      gained 30 pounds.

In my mind, it is not a coincidence that I gained this weight. In the past four years I simply lost control.  I lost control of my eating habits.  I skipped breakfast replacing it with a skinny vanilla latte or other such coffee drink from Starbucks.  I failed to pack a healthy lunch, opting to either go out or eat a frozen meal.  I lost my work out mojo.   I rarely worked out.   I did workouts here and there and even had a trainer coming to the house for a few months back in 2013, but I have not been able to sustain healthy habits for any  significant period of time since going back to work full time.  I have a mostly sedentary job, this fact became crystal clear to me when I began using an activity tracker, specifically the Jawbone Up.   

So, I have resolved to take control of my weight and get back down to a reasonable weight.  

Let me stop here for a moment and talk about my weight.  Before I started this six week challenge, I was not even certain if I had gained 30 pounds in the last 4 years because honestly, I had not stepped on a scale in over a year, if not more.  I loathe the scale.  I hate the idea of stepping on the scale because I know it will reveal an obnoxiously obscene number.  Before I started this challenge, what scared me most was the possibility that I weighed even more than I thought I did, and that came true when I had my official weigh-in for this challenge.

Today, the scale is still not my friend.  I still tremble at the thought of stepping on it because though the numbers have been dropping of late, I know there will come a time when the scale will disappoint me... it will show no loss or a small loss despite all of my hard work and effort.  I'm not sure how I will handle that when that day comes...

Monday, November 16, 2015

From Friday: Follow the Rules (FTR)

Note: this post is out of order.  I had hand-written some thoughts at work, but never had a chance to type them up.

I've been following the rules of this challenge about as best as I can.  That is their motto: FTDI (follow the damn instructions). Certainly, I haven't been perfect... getting up at 4:30 am for a 5:30 am work out makes it pretty tough to do my ESC before breakfast, so I've been doing the ESC after work, before dinner. I've followed the nutrition plan almost perfectly... some days my schedule gets "off" and I'm not eating at exactly 2/3 hour intervals.  Having a full time job makes it challenging to stick to a perfect schedule, but I've done my best.  I have also not cheated on the nutrition plan, even once... no Halloween candy, no coffee drinks, no wine! So where has all of this rule-following gotten me? Well, the first week, I was down 5 lbs, which in my book was pretty darn good. Leading into the weigh-in for week 2, I'm a bit nervous... what if the scale hasn't moved? what it it's only 1 or 2 lbs?  I finally stepped on my bathroom scale, and it suggests a loss of 4.5 lbs for the week, if that's what the official gym scale shows, I'll take it, gladly!

Tonight will be another test of my will power and resolve. Earlier this week, I passed the football banquet test (made and frosted brownies without even a lick and bypassing an entire table full of treats).  I also passed the Halloween candy test (not even a sniff of the kids' candy bags). I passed the book club test (no wine and no appetizers).  When the Planning Department here at work had their open house,  I avoided the donuts and other sweet treats. On Veteran's Day, I didn't take a piece of pizza or any cake. However, tonight is a wine tasting event at the club.  Tomorrow is weigh-in and I don't want to do anything to jeopardize the work I've done all week.

I'm proud of myself for FTR and FTDI.  Have I been spot on perfect... no, of course not.  But I've done the best that I can do given all of my circumstances.  I need to keep going. As long as I keep seeing results on the scale, that will be great motivation for me.

*** UPDATED ***
As noted above, this post is out of order, so here's how Friday night and Saturday went:

I did awesome at the wine tasting. I didn't have any food or wine. I kept my wine glass full of sparkling water. Afterward, when some friends came back to our house, I nibbled on a few cucumbers, broccoli, and cauliflower.  I know that's not following the rules, but it was after mid-night by that point.  Having gone to bed around 1:15 am, unfortunately, I did not get up for the 7 AM workout or weigh-in.  I was disappointed in myself, to say the least.  I did do a longer ESC walk.  I followed the meal plan pretty well, except because I woke up later, my meals were pushed back a bit and I never ate dinner... it would have been at 9:00 pm.

I went to the 7 AM class on Sunday, and as I mentioned in another post, I was only down 3 lbs for the week.  Disappointed, sure, but better than the alternative of a gain or 0-2 lb loss.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Another aspect of this 6 week challenge is the mandatory check-in on Facebook.  We're supposed to check-in at the gym, tag the owner and the manager of our facility, and write something inspiring.  Usually my check-in reads something along the lines of this: "Workout # x/30 done! Feels great! #waytostarttheday." Once a week, normally on Saturday, we are supposed to weigh-in.  I did not make it to the gym on Saturday because we were out way too late on Friday night.  We went to a wine tasting at the country club, and then invited friends back to our house afterward. (I didn't have any food or wine.. I was really, really good.) But, after being awake since 4:10 am and staying up until after 1:00 am, I simply didn't have it in me to get up a 6:00 am for a 7:00 am workout.  That means, I didn't weigh-in until this morning, Sunday.

I will admit I was more than a little disappointed with my 3 lb loss; my bathroom scale suggested a bigger loss of 4.5 lbs, but I've seen some fellow challengers' Facebook posts stating that they had smaller than anticipated losses for the second week, and some saw no movement on the scale whatsoever. So, I will take my 3 lb loss, be happy, and move on to week 3!

Looking ahead for this week, I'm going to continue to follow the meal plan as I have been doing.  Because I had to workout today, I'm going to switch up my morning workout schedule just a bit, M,T (off Wed) Th, Fr, Sat, (off Sunday).  Then I'll go back to my M, T, W (off Th), Fr, Sat schedule.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hello, it's me....

Adele's new single, "Hello" seems quite appropriate for the title of this blog post.  How many times have I started and stopped on this weight-loss journey in the past few years?  It's well-documented here in my blog. 

What am I doing this time? Well, I'm participating in a 6 week challenge at a local gym.  The premise of the challenge is this: they give you all the tools you need to lose 20 pounds, and you pay them $600 up front, but if you lose at least 20 lbs, you get your money back.  In addition to following the meal plan, you must commit to working out 30 times in those 6 weeks (or 5 days a week).  They prefer that you do the workouts at their facility with their certified trainers, but you may ask permission to do at-home workouts if you must.  The class times are more than convenient as they run every half hour starting at 5:30 am until 9:30 am and then start up again at 3:00 pm, and run every hour until the last one at 8:00 pm.

The meal plan is simple enough to follow.  They say it's important to eat the food in the order that's given!

Breakfast: egg whites, spinach, and oatmeal
Snack: Isopure with strawberries and raspberries
Lunch: Either chicken or turkey with a sweet potato and either broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts
Snack: Isopure with strawberries and raspberries
Dinner: Either white fish or chicken with a salad made with Romaine lettuce along with up to 2 cups of a veggie such as celery, cucumber, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, or spinach

In addition to the meal plan and the workouts, they want you to do 30 minutes of ESC (empty stomach cardio).  Squeezing in the ESC has been, remarkably, one of the more challenging aspects of this routine.  As it is, I am attending the 5:30 am workout class.  Ideally, they want you to do the ESC before breakfast.  Also, ideally, they want you to eat breakfast before the workout class.  That means, I have to wake up at 4:10 am, do my ESC, prepare and eat breakfast by 5:00, so I can be out the door and at class by 5:30.  Needless to say, I have been saving my ESC for after work, before dinner.  It's not perfect, but it works for me.  When I can, I do the ESC when I wake up.

I'm two weeks into this program, and I'm officially down 5 lbs.  Tomorrow is our second official weigh-in, and if my scale at home is any indication, I'm down about another 4 pounds, for a total loss of 9 lbs.  I will post results tomorrow. Fingers crosses until then.