Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Good Start

I weighed in today, about a week after starting to use Jillian Michaels's website. To be honest, I really haven't gotten fully on the program yet. I tried the one workout from her site, tried a lot of the recipes (most have been amazing so far, though the Asian Chicken Wraps were only so-so). But I also had a couple of days where I didn't exercise at all, and days where I know I ate more than I should.

Still, in the first week I lost 1.5 pounds. That's a lot, for me. Especially since the scale has been moving in the other direction for so long. Sure, part of it is dropping the commute, and just cooking more at home. But the site has helped me to organize things a little better, and to get more motivated. Just knowing I'm logging my weight at the site once a week makes a difference. Just doing something new instead of the same old thing makes a difference, too.

On Monday I'm going to start the program, using the 30-Day Shred video I ordered instead of trying to do strength exercises from a piece of paper. I'll let you know how it works out. So far, I'm happy that Weight Watchers and I are taking a little break, and learning to see other people. Sorry WW, I know, it's not you, it's me. (My new girlfriend is a lot hotter, though!)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Jillian Michaels Wants Me Dead

So I joined Jillian Michaels's program last weekend, but it took me until today to try one of her workouts. The site works like this: You fill out your profile with your height, weight, goal weight, age, and some other basic information. You choose one of two workout levels. You fill out a quiz about what effect eating various foods has on you. Then the site designs a workout program for you.

I thought, wow, you know, I'm a former triathlete and all, so this should be fine. I originally signed up for Level 2, but then my brain kicked in and replayed some of the scenes from Biggest Loser where contestants were crying and throwing up. So I backed off to Level 1. Yesterday was supposed to be a day off so I just did a short run (I have some things coming up this weekend that might interfere with my workouts, so I was getting them in when I had time). Today I tried one of her circuit workouts and it was pretty intense. I made the mistake of trying to jump rope for my 5-minute warmup. If you are like me and haven't jumped rope much since you were 8 years old, let me tell you, jumping rope is tougher than it sounds. And, I couldn't find my jump rope and had to go out and buy one. So I was already low on time and this warmup got me sweaty and tired even before I started the real workout. I did about half the workout and went for my cooldown walk. I felt a little dumb about it but realized that this meant the program was doing what it needs to do: Challenging me.

I've had more fun with the meal planner and grocery list tool. Jillian's podcasts have made it fairly obvious that she's no cook (her menus for callers are always boring: Vegetables, chunks of grilled protein, and quinoa). The recipes on the site are pretty amazing though. I made the Miso-Glazed Scallops with Soba Noodles and they were almost restaurant-quality, especially once I added a drizzle (about a teaspoon) of sesame oil and a squeeze of lime. I do wish the site had a calorie tracker built in. I've been using FitDay. If I were able to follow Jillian's meal plans completely, though, all the calories would be pre-counted for me.

The one tool I haven't had as much success with are the message boards. The problem is actually that the site is so successful: There seem to be tens of thousands of people using the site, and the discussion threads get so big and messy that it's hard to know where to jump in. But people do seem friendly.

I'm using my same handle, toledolefty, on Jillian's site so if you see me, say hello. And if you haven't listened to the podcast from July 20 yet, I recommend that you run over to the website and download it. There was a great bit on the way that people hold themselves back from living becuase of concerns about their weight. Just because we're working on something in our lives, doesn't mean we have to negate all our other good qualities. "We're always going to be working on something," she said. I can't really give you the sense of how powerful it was, so like I said, listen to it. It was an eye-opener for me.

Maybe if I'm nice to Jillian, maybe she'll go easier on me tomorrow...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

more on the commuter weight

I saw the movie WALL-E last night. I loved it, but of course was clobbered with the none-too-subtle message that our has made us fat, disconnected, and unhappy. (Because the movie so rightly criticizes the way we are burying ourselves in unnecessary junk and drinking billions of calories, it seems especially ironic that you can buy a plastic WALL-E cup with a built-in straw.) The movie takes place in the far-off future, but it's easy to see echoes of our modern commuter lifestyle.

I really noticed a big change in my life when I started commuting a long distance to work by car. I had been spoiled by living within walking distance to work for a long time. Once I started getting into that car every day, I put on weight quickly. I didn't even pick up the worst commuter habits: I never hit the drive-through on my way to or from work, I didn't usually eat at my desk, and I didn't start loading up on fancy coffee drinks. Our office rarely had food-related celebrations. I tried to get a walk in at lunchtime, even if it was to lunch and back. The biggest bad habit I picked up was eating lunch out most days. I also found it hard to find the time or energy to hit the gym. Plus, I was traveling a lot and had very little control over the food available to me at events. So, in less than a year, I put on 10 pounds of commuter weight to go with the 10 extra pounds I was already struggling with. I won't say that I left that job only because of the weight concerns, but it was one of the symptoms that I wasn't living the kind of life I wanted.

I am not sure how people who do this for long periods of time -- some do it their whole working lives -- don't pile on megapounds. There do seem to be some people who manage it. The only thing I can guess at is that they keep their diet very strictly regimented, and that they go to the gym every day, maybe on their lunch hours. Anyway, I give them a lot of credit, because it must be very difficult.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

need another new start

I decided, after all that time listening to the podcasts, to give Jillian Michaels's online program a try. I don't feel like going back to Weight Watchers right now -- I feel like I've learned all they have to offer already, and the meetings don't seem to jazz me up like they used to. I am surprised that the online program doesn't have a calorie and exercise journal like on -- that is one disappointment. I am told if I want to try to lose 2 pounds per week, I should shoot for just over 1200 calories. Yikes. That's pretty close to what I got on Weight Watchers, except that I can't earn Activity Points. We'll see. I had some flexible spending funds from my old job that I needed to spend, so I thought this was a good time to try it out. If any of you are on the message boards, what do you tend to do there? What do you find most valuable about the program? I set my start date to Monday to give myself a little adjustment time to try to figure out what I am going to do for meals, etc. I still am working until Wednesday, and my husband has surgery on Thursday, so my first week may not be all that kick-ass... but I thought if I kept waiting around to start, I might never do it. I have a little break in the action between the end of my old job and the beginning of my new one, so I want to get the fitness program off to a good start. I sent away for Making the Cut and Jillian's 30-Day Shred video.

I bought a bunch of clothes yesterday at the Gap Outlet, so that at least I don't have to spend the rest of the summer doing laundry so that the one pair of capris and the one pair of shorts I like are clean. I am hoping that getting serious now will mean that I will fit into all the new clothes I bought for my old new job (remember, the one that helped me gain 10 of these extra pounds?) to my new new job.

Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows that I've had a lot of fresh starts. I have to keep trying until something sticks.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

5 x 5 meme (with a cheat)

5 things found in your bag:

1) Wallet stuffed with millions of crumpled receipts -- I never throw them away until I've had a chance to go through them for possible expense report needs.

2) My personal mobile phone and my work BlackBerry (will miss that one).

3) Less than $20 cash, most of the time.

4) 3 or 4 tubes of Burt's Bees chapstick, tinted and not.

5) Pocket pack of tissues to support my constant nose-blowing needs.

5favorite things in your room (bedroom)

1) My king-sized bed with nice sheets and down pillows and comforter. I could end the list right here because it's all I'll ever really need.

2) Our first-ever nice bedroom furniture, purchased by us rather than some random relative or person my parents know.

3) Large-ish closet, which is a nice thing to have after our last house with teeny ones.

4) Dozens of for emergency ponytail needs.

5) My jewelry box, which is a pretty minimalistic collection but has everything I need.

5 things I have always wanted to do

1) Write a book that gets published

2) Go to a spa for a long weekend

3) Learn how to paint watercolors

4) Get a full-time faculty gig (working on that one)

5) Go to Europe with my husband

5 things I am currently into:

1) Twitter (I )

2) Gardening

3) Jillian Michaels's podcast

4) Cooking at home

5) Making elaborate plans for what to do with all my free time when I'm not working at my current job

5 People I want to tag:

I am a buzzkill about this, I hate tagging people. So if you want to do this, consider yourself tagged and post a link in the comments.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I hate reality

I was running today with my husband at my current snail's pace when someone passed me. "I hate getting passed, but I always do," I said. He told me, "We just hit 15 minutes." I said, "Boy, it seems like a lot longer. I hate reality!" Really, in my happy place, I am faster than everyone else and I never get tired. And I can eat whatever I want, exercise only sporadically, and never gain weight.

I logged in to this site today and my weight ticker was complaining that I hadn't updated it in more than 80 days. And that's because, you know, I never have the right conditions for weighing: alone in the house first thing in the morning, no food or water yet, no clothes on. OK, so I've been avoiding the scale and making excuses for it. So even though it's in the evening, after a whole day of food, water, etc., I went ahead and weighed myself. Sure, I might be a pound or two lighter under the ideal conditions, but that weight gain is mostly real.

I have been cutely calling my weight gain the "______ 10," for the name of the place I worked when I gained it. It really is 10 pounds now, I think. And I do believe that like Anne's mushrooms, the weight, though it makes me cringe a little, wasn't the real problem. It was the stress of the job and the travel, and the driving all the time, and no real time to exercise, and lunch being the biggest bright spot in my day. The lifestyle was really unsustainable, in the long run. Sure, I was making more money, but I wasn't happy. Maybe, if I were more enlightened, I would thank these 10 or so extra pounds for pointing that out to me, the way Anne's mushrooms made her look behind the wall and find the leaky pipe. But I'm really just kind of looking at it and saying, "Yuck."

Now, though, I have a couple more weeks of excuses before I'm going to have NO excuse. Thinking very seriously of trying the Making the Cut plan. Or something. I have to do something!

Saturday, July 05, 2008


We had a smallish yard at our old house and an even smaller one here. There is no grass in the back yard at all, just a little patio garden. Our front yard is nice-sized, and thanks to all the rain lately, looking pretty lush.

My husband insisted on a when we bought our old house. It cost all of $50, I think, and we have never had to buy gas. He usually is the one who cuts the grass, and it is pretty nice -- no smell, almost no noise, and the yard looks pretty good. The one downside is that it doesn't handle tall weeds as well, and if you put off mowing too long, it can get pretty tough to get through the grass.

I did our yard today and my neighbor offered to lend me his power mower (I was struggling with some longish grass). I said that this was just going to be my workout for today.

I'm picky about how it looks so I went over the lawn a couple of times to make sure it looked really good. I think it took me about an hour to do the lawn and sweep the sidewalks. I figure it's a combination cardio and resistance workout, with some core training built in. I wouldn't recommend this if you have actual acreage but if you are a city dweller it's worth a try. Saves gas, saves money, and it's better for the environment. Plus, if you feel like mowing at 5:30 on a Sunday morning, it won't bother anyone.

There are all kinds of variations: get rid of the noisy leaf blower, use a rake. In the wintertime, of course, you can ditch the snow blower and pick up a shovel.

I may have to think about taking over the yardwork. Maybe there's a way to market this: I could call it Backyard Bootcamp or something.

Friday, July 04, 2008

declaration of independence from crazy beliefs?

I was going to title this post: "What crazy belief would you like to declare your independence from?" and then realized that was horrible grammar. And "From what would you like to declare your independence this Fourth of July" was probably worse. But pick the version of the question, and feel free to answer it (grammatically or no) in the comments.

I would love to declare my independence from the crazy belief that if I were just pretty enough, I would never have any problems. I know, intellectually, that this is a crazy, irrational, ridiculous belief. But somewhere deep down, I just know that if I could lose the weight for good, and also somehow permanently reverse the aging process, that I would be happy forever and nothing bad could ever happen to me. No one could ever hurt me. It would be like wearing a very beautiful suit of armor that deflected pain.

ElasticWaist's Weetabix muses on the fact that normal-weight teens feel fat (and quotes me, thanks!). As I've written before, I don't find that surprising at all, given the hyper-attention to celebrities' imaginary figure flaws. If you're waiting for a time when you feel good enough, and beautiful enough, to never have to worry that you will be hurt or scared or sad, you might as well stop waiting. LaurieWrite's post title says it all: "Sometimes (even pretty) people jump out of windows because they're sad." This looks game is a sure loser. Everyone wants what they don't have.

I have a very faint memory from when I was a very small girl of sitting on my grandmother's lap and being fascinated by the crepey skin on her neck. I reached up to touch it to see what it felt like. She was upset. "Don't touch that, it's ugly." That moment might have been the start of the awareness that looks were good and bad and not just a fact of life. I imagine that until then it was more like, "This is what my grandmother looks like, and I love her, and that skin looks kind of interesting." If so, it might have been the last moment of sanity about looks in my own life. I'd like to get a little of that back.
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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07